I thought I was the last person anyone would want to hear from regarding these games, being so inexperienced with the medium and gameplay idiom. More and more I found myself having Something To Say, though, so here we go with a few quick insights!
Fix Your Mother’s Printer
This game gave me a taste of how difficult it must be to build a player-morals game mechanic. The game gives you two or three options of things to text your mom to help her fix her printer remotely, but they’re fairly transparently nice or mean. I always chose the nice answer, obviously; I didn’t want to say anything that would hurt my mom!
Now, I did get the printer going, but I feel that the road to get there was pretty straightforward— just be patient and don’t put your own ego above her needs. I feel, however, that Mom herself was strangely uncomplicated in personality. There was never a moment when I couldn’t predict her reaction based on picking the nice answer!
Maybe not everyone has this problem (part of my specific neurodivergence?) but I kept expecting one of my innocent word choices to offend her, for reasons that would only have been obvious afterward. It would have been an interesting complication if you had to vary your answers, lest Mom start to think you were patronizing her or being sarcastic with your niceness.
Anyway, Mom is absolutely right about printers. They are unforgivably arcane by design.
Looking forward to the sequel, Program Your Mother’s 2005 TiVo.
I came into this one with a bad attitude. I’m not a fan of frat comedies (“This Bra Bomb of yours had better work, Nerdlinger!”) and have honestly struggled to reconcile the continued appeal of Harry Potter with my belief in a basically good universe, so I expected two bad tastes that make waste together.
To my surprise, I found myself quite taken by the whole concept and ended up finishing with only a couple of peeks at the encoded hints, some of which I didn’t even need to decode!
As a non-potterhead, I may have been the ideal reader for this story, whose backstory almost felt more like Diana Wynne Jones in its flavor; I kept being reminded of Witch Week. These witches aren’t living in hiding from the rest of humanity, they’re an openly persecuted second-class citizenry— despite the fact that there’s apparently no magical blood or midichlorians or anything, and being a witch really is just about learning magic spells that anyone can do! At first blush this made me think, “but wait, now there’s no reason for them to be persecuted”… then I realized how much more realistic that was.
The game loop is great fun: Nail one of your paintball pals with a SPLORT spell, then go back to the loser’s lounge and hit them with a spell that lets you relive their memories through their own eyes, learning new spells along the way that will enable you to SPLORT someone else. Some other reviewers have seemed uncomfortable with this open (and consensual) merging of minds, but I found it a fascinating validation of the fraternity setting. What better way to make brothers out of strangers, than to share experiences of the past? The idea of building empathy by literally experiencing another’s most defining moments, what they thought and why they thought it— that isn’t just radical, it’s futurist.
I was able to acquire seven collectible coins. Did I miss an explanation for why I never got SPLORTed myself? Do you get that when you collect all the coins?
Looking forward to the equally suggestive wintertime sequel, Snowball Wizard. (Alt. title: The Snowhurler’s Apprentice)
We All Fall Together
This game put me in an unexpected and uncomfortable situation.
I’m not actually that big of an IF player. I’m a console guy, side-scrollers and RPGs are my jam, so I didn’t play most of the games that this community was built on. (Does Shadowgate count? Phoenix Wright? Trauma Center?) I think this gives me an advantage in some ways; being used to learning new controls for every game means I don’t get mad if a game doesn’t use standard parser lingo or whatever. The flip side of that is, what if I create something too similar to things everyone’s already played??
I’ve only made two IF games myself just yet, but my last one, The Hole Man, has a lot of things you can do in it: at one point, you find yourself falling from a tremendous height, seemingly for hours, and along the way you meet someone really cool who is also falling and is seemingly unafraid of meeting the fate awaiting the both of you.
This is ALSO the plot of We All Fall Together.
I don’t think this is ripping off my game specifically, of course. The Hole Man is still obscure enough that I’d be pretty surprised if Mr. Gonzalez had played it!
In a strange way, that coincidence makes the game the story of itself. Two people who’ve never met drifted close enough to have this same specific thought, and from there it’s either one’s choice to fall together or separately, but fall we do all the same.
(I do think mine was better, though— no offense!)
Looking forward to the cozy sequel, We All Winter Together.