A "Meetup" Game in Twine

I enjoy forum meetups. There’s something delightful about the opportunity to meet people who would be strangers if not for an extended shared history, especially if you’re all staying together in some sort of unusual setting. That said, between the ongoing impact of the pandemic and a lack of time and disposable funding, I haven’t been able to justify any meetups for a while. Since another web forum I frequent is having a meetup next week, I thought I’d organize an activity for the other users who aren’t able to attend: a collaborative, virtual meetup in Twine, and to maximize the variety of contributions we get, I’ve posted this invitation on multiple web forums.

The premise of the game is that forum users from all over the world have met up at a huge house of dubious layout. The meetup organizer, @Oscar, needs to go on a grocery run, and while attendees have prepared shopping lists, most of them have left the house to check out local restaurants and other amenities. @Oscar charges the player with exploring the house and collecting all the shopping lists; meanwhile, he has to stay with the car to make sure nobody parks in such a way as to block his exit to the store. The shopping lists are really just an excuse to have the player wander around and check out all the rooms people contribute.

I want you to write up a room for this project!!
I want you to invent and describe a room, put a shopping list in it somewhere, and either send it to me in a PM or email it to jalove AT gmail DOT com. (If you wanted to be credited, put your preferred name in the room title! I’ll be using my username “jsnlv” in room titles, but I’ll have my name Jason Love on the upload, so let me know if you have any preferences along these lines as well.) If you’re comfortable with Twine, I’m using the default Harlowe format: feel free to use its features here, though I’d recommend prefixing any variables with your name or initials or something just to be on the safe side. It doesn’t have to be complex, and while it can be described as connecting to rooms folks have already created, that’s not necessary, either. Like, writing just this would be more than sufficient:

The closet under the stairs (by your-name-here)
This is a walk-in closet without a door beneath the staircase; the rest of the lounge is behind you. A number of board game boxes are sitting on shelves here: “Not So Sorry”, “Collect 5”, “Tactica”, and “Hint” stand out, although on closer examination, all of the boxes are empty. There’s also a MacBeth board with none of the pieces or instructions.

There’s a bedroll stretched out under the lower steps towards the back. This must be where @IntangibleFancy plans to sleep, since their shopping list is propped up on their pillow. Upon reviewing it, it’s not clear whether the raw volume of syrup they are requesting is a mistake, a joke, or a sincere threat concerning the number of flapjacks you are likely to encounter in the days to come.

That said, if you want to make something a little more involved, that would be fantastic. I’ve prepared a demonstration prototype to give you a sense of what I have in mind, but to access it through itch.io, you’ll need to provide the password, which is the word “wrong”.

The Twine source is under this link.
The Meetup
(if: visits is 1)[(set: num-type $jsnlvGoal to 0)]
The north end of this hallway leads to [a brightly-lit bathroom]<jsnlv1| flanked by bedrooms to the [east]<jsnlv2| and [west]<jsnlv3|; the hallway continues [to the south]<jsnlv4| on one side, while stairs climb [[back to the main level->main level]] on the other.

There's [a puzzling piece of wall-art]<jsnlv5| on the wall opposite the staircase.

Stacked [halfway between]<jsnlv6| the bedroom doors (and thus, nearly blocking the bathroom entrance) is a pile of [**`@solemn_coelacanth`**'s luggage]<jsnlv7|, which you can identify by the [oversized satin fish-mask]<jsnlv8| sitting on top.

(if:$jsnlvGoal is 0)[You have the sense that there's a shopping list in the area that you need to collect.](if:$jsnlvGoal is 1)[You have the sense that you've collected the shopping list you needed from this area.]

[]<jsnlv-x|
(click: ?jsnlv1)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>On the bathroom door, someone has taped a drugstore receipt with a warning written in marker on it: "TOILET's BROKE **>:-(**"<br><br>An unpleasant odor discourages further investigation.]]
(click: ?jsnlv2)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>(This explanation would be replaced with a direct link to another room once someone has written it, or if no "east bedroom" ever winds up being created, I'd just update the text to be "...an empty bedroom to the east and..." or something like that.)]]
(click: ?jsnlv3)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>(This explanation would be replaced with a direct link to another room once someone has written it, or if no "west bedroom" ever winds up being created, I'd just update the text to be "...and an empty bedroom to the west;..." or something like that.)]]
(click: ?jsnlv4)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>(This explanation would be replaced with a direct link to another room once someone has written it, or if no "south hallway" or similar downstairs rooms ever wind up being created, I'd just replace the extended hallway with a maintenance closet or something. I'm flexible like that.)]]
(click: ?jsnlv5)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>This looks like one of those "live / laugh / love" wall decals you sometimes see, but the text on this one is "laugh / pie / cry" instead. Underneath the text, there's a picture frame containing one of those black-and-white American flags, but one of the middle lines is sort of a rainbow spectrum instead of a solid color, and in place of the field of stars, there's a monochrome photo of a frowning clown winking and pointing a single finger-gun at the camera.]]
(click: ?jsnlv6)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>Was [**`@solemn_coelacanth`**]<jsnlv9| unable to figure out which room to set up in? Claiming beds can be fraught with complexity at an event like this. Folks can figure out sleeping arrangements once everybody returns to the house.]]
(click: ?jsnlv7)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>The precarious stack includes an oversized purple suitcase as the base, a battered black backpack, and then the aforementioned mask on top. Oh, there's a [piece of paper]<jsnlv10| sticking out of one of the backpack compartments.]]
(click: ?jsnlv8)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>Wearing a goofy mask like this to portray the "coelacanth" part of your persona rather undercuts the "solemn" part of your persona. Nice mask, though.]]
(click: ?jsnlv9)[(replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>He introduced himself as Jacob when he arrived at the house earlier today. Friendly guy, if a little weird: last year he admitted to being behind like six different novelty accounts on the forum, but you'd never seen a post from any of the accounts in question.]]
(click: ?jsnlv10)[(replace:?jsnlv10)[piece of paper](replace:?jsnlv-x)[<hr>This is **`@solemn_coelacanth`**'s grocery shopping list!(if:$jsnlvGoal is 0)[ You collect the necessary details as requested. Looks like you can move on to other parts of the house.]](set: $jsnlvGoal to 1)]
(In the actual game, this will be the room that [[the downstairs hall builds from->Downstairs Hall, North End]], but I've only included it here for demonstration purposes.(if:$jsnlvGoal is 1)[ Since you found the shopping list, you've won the demonstration! There's nothing more to see here.])
Forum meetup events are a lot of fun, but it's kind of a bummer when you can't participate due to expense, health issues, other obligations, etc. Since I'm stuck in that situation myself at the moment, I thought it might be nice to try to recapture the feeling of a meetup in a game.

For me, one of the most magical feelings about a meetup is when you've got this weirdly designed oversize house with way more rooms than usual, and it's filled up with all these people who often know each other by reputation but who haven't had the chance to interact in-person. The best way that I could approximate this feeling is to make a Twine project to map out such a house and then invite the folks on my forums to contribute rooms.

The premise of the game is that before the event, the meetup organizer **`@Oscar`** told everybody to prepare shopping lists so that they could do a grocery run on the first day, but the attendees have already scattered and many of them have left the house to explore local attractions and restaurants nearby. As such, the game begins with **`@Oscar`** charging the player with the task of exploring the house to collect all the shopping lists.

I've created a sample room to demonstrate the idea. Let's say I've been reviewing contributions people have made so far, and there was a staircase into the basement described at one point, so I might write up something like this: [[Downstairs Hall, North End]] This builds off of the staircase and provides three potential avenues for further expansion (two bedrooms and a hallway south to the rest of the basement).

I know the timing isn’t ideal—IFComp and EctoComp are both still going on, which is why I wanted this to require as little of participants as possible. If you’re willing to contribute, feel free to post in the thread what kind of room you’ll make, and if you’ve gone into that level of detail, you can describe possible room connections as well. For example: the starting room’s going to be a kitchen connected to a dining room to the east, a bathroom to the north, and a utility closet to the west. People can build these or ignore them; it will not matter. I don’t care if this house winds up with 17 kitchens, two bathrooms, and no bedrooms—that’s perfectly in-character for this kind of space.

In around three weeks, I’ll take the submissions I’ve received, put them all into the game, and create any necessary connective tissue, as well as wire up the tracking to collect all the shopping lists. Let’s set an initial deadline of November 7 and see where that gets us; when it’s finished, I’ll upload the game to https://borogove.io/. I hope you’ll accept my offer and write something!!

I’ll keep an updated list of rooms here that have been suggested to exist which haven’t yet been created. Feel free to make one of these, or something completely different:

  • A dining room east of the kitchen
  • A bathroom north of the kitchen
  • A utility closet west of the kitchen
  • A patio with a gravel path toward a small patch of woods and sliding doors into a TV room
  • The TV room with sliding doors out to the patio
  • A sitting room connected to the main entryway
  • The master bedroom west of the living room
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This sounds like it could be really fun! Assuming that we don’t need to do any complicated coding (going off your example submission of plain-text prose) I’d be interested in possibly contributing? I did want to ask first however if you would consider uploading a copy of the game to itch.io as well, since I’m very fond of the collections feature on there and would like to be able to add it to my profile as something I’d contributed towards, if I did participate.

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Certainly, itch makes perfect sense! I don’t have any opposition to this appearing on the ifdb as well, but I haven’t tried to figure out how to upload with multiple authors yet, so that’s beyond me for the moment.

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I’ve sent Jason a PM with a little study on the north-eastern corner of an ambiguous landing I put together for this project (plunking this here for the sake of the updated list!) This project seems really sweet, and I’m excited to see what comes of it.

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I’d love to contribute to this! Don’t know what room I’ll make, but I’ll make one.

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I think this can be done by listing them separated by commas in the “Author” box, right?

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THE MEETUP GAME RETURNED

This is still going! We had both IFComp and EctoComp going until this past week, to say nothing of at least one actual meetup, so it seemed prudent to relax the schedule. I definitely didn’t just forget about this.

ANYWAY, if you’d like to contribute, write something up this weekend! Or this week! Soon, basically. Again, send me your write-up via PM, DM, or email.

COMPLETED ROOMS I’VE RECEIVED:
-My own downstairs hallway, north end
-My own closet under the stairs
-Mikey’s boathouse
-Sophia de Augustine’s study
-Charm Cochran’s basement
-Readyfire’s great hall/common room

PROPOSED ROOMS I HAVE NOT RECEIVED (I can make these for you if you want):
-My own kitchen (with a dining room to the east, a bathroom to the north, and a utility closet to the west, plus a connection to the main garage)
-hngkong’s unfinished basement storage area
-Sharkey’s Castlevania hallway
-gary’s dueling entertainment centers basement room
-daphaknee’s uncomfortable bathroom
-eska’s mirror staircase puzzle
-Chaz’s main driveway
-Silversong’s parlor (first floor, front room with windows)
-Upthorn’s undescribed room

IMPLIED ROOMS I DON’T YET HAVE ANY EXPECTATION OF RECEIVING (I will probably also make these if nobody claims them first):
-a dining room east of the kitchen and north of the great hall/common room
-a bathroom north of the kitchen
-a utility closet west of the kitchen
-a bedroom to the east of the downstairs hallway
-a bedroom to the west of the downstairs hallway
-the south end of the downstairs hallways
-a downstairs TV room with an exit to a patio
-a landing at the top of a flight of stairs with rooms to the east and west
-the room to the west of the landing at the top of the stairs
-a large unfinished storage room with one long rug passing through a second laundry room before connecting into gary’s basement entertainment center - possibly hngkong’s, as described above?
-the main garage connecting the main driveway to the west and the kitchen to the east

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(The utility closet and the bathroom connected to the kitchen above have both been claimed.)

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I sent you a room on October 18th, lemme know if the email got lost and I’ll try to send it again!

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Sorry kit, I did receive your submission already and copied it to my master file, but I forgot to update my notes document. Adding your water closet to the Completed list! Thank you for the reminder!

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