IF Comp 2010: East Grove Hills

I am bored and sleepy. So sleepy. I got a perfectly reasonable amount of sleep last night, and there is no real reason I should be sleepy, but all I want is a nap. I finally got my sleep schedule back around to normal-person time, though, and a nap would certainly fuck that right up. So what do I do? Play an IF game, obviously. Surely “foggy bleariness” is the perfect state of mind in which to undertake such an operation.

So let’s have some East Grove Hills, by someone writing under the nom de plume of XYZ. Or, you know, maybe it’s just their initials. Xavier Yarston Zanderfield, I’m wise to your schemes.

EastGroveHills.zblorb is 418 kB, and was written with Inform 7 (build 5Z71). I really have no idea why I continue to make note of this info. Spoilers begin after probably some sort of scenic landscape.


Well, it’s a landscape anyway. ‘Scenic’ is debatable.

I should note that, like the subliminal ferret from “A Quiet Evening at Home”, this game flashed some kind of sepia-tinted picture at me when it loaded. I was actually looking this time, but it went past too quickly for me to be able to tell what I was looking at. Hope it wasn’t important.

It was five minutes before the end of the world. Well, the end of the world for us, anyway. Yue, Jenny, and I spent those five minutes trying to barely scrape by on some sort of presentation in AP Lit.

Man, if you don’t even know what kind of presentation it was meant to be, it’s no wonder you were barely scraping by. Or trying to. “Doing your best is for suckers. We’re shooting for ‘almost failing’. It’s like trying to guess the actual retail price of the Showcase Showdown without going over.”

Yue looked very awkward as she shuffled papers on the lectern.

I would trot out some sort of Yue/you “Who’s on first” bit here, but honestly it probably isn’t worth it.

> x me
My name is Thomas Wu. If you don’t really care for your life, you can call me “Tom.” What about me? I’m 16. I’m a junior at East Grove Hills High School. Which sort of doesn’t exist anymore, except it does.

If this were a game, I would have restarted already.

What? Okay, whatever. Rolling with the punches here.

Man, this is some gloomy shit. What’s more exciting than a teenager constantly reiterating what an utterly debilitated social outcast he is? The list starts with “1) Tonsillectomy”. Oh and by the way, everyone is going to die somehow, or maybe they already did, but it doesn’t matter.

Another thing: I totally loves me some self-reference, but opening your text adventure game with three instances of “text adventures are crap” is not what you call a strong sales pitch.

When I first moved here, I was already a little too old for the playground. That might have been part of why I’m so antisocial now. I was deprived of a critical bonding opportunity with my fellow children.

It might also be because you’re kind of a prick. Jesus.

“That doesn’t matter right now, okay? The point is, you’re the only person I want to talk to right now. So, are you doing okay?” She returns to the generic “how are you”-type question. I hate these questions.

[1] “I’m still functioning on a basic level, if that’s what you want to hear.”
[2] Say nothing

“You’re bummed out about the apocalypse. I’m an asshole. What else is new?”

Okay, from World’s Worst Conversation we flash back to a shootout. Bets on whether I actually get to do anything exciting, or even interesting?

Nope. Hang on a sec while I restart and see if I can affect the outcome of that by getting out from under the desk as soon as possible instead of talking to Yue.

Surprisingly, it turns out you can — you can kill the two shooters, instead of waiting for them to suicide. This changes nothing.

Oh hey, here’s some more self-reference. It’s about how the main character wrote a shitty text adventure and… it’s the shitty text adventure you’re playing now! The phone call is coming from inside the house!

“How about let’s form a club to challenge the school’s social paradigms?

Oh god, that’s it. I’m out of here. The game ends here anyway, but still. “You can’t fire me, I quit!”

You know what ‘IF’ stands for? “Interactive Fiction”. This was interactive only in the barest technical sense, and as fiction it was a fourth-rate extra-bitter Catcher in the Rye wanna-be. Hateful.

I suppose I was meant to feel sorry for Thomas losing his sister, the only person in the world he cared about other than himself. But “She’s kind of creepy. We both suck. Oh but I love her I guess.” does not actually convey anything worthy of sympathy. You can say he cared about her all you want, but with absolutely no evidence in that regard I’m not buying it. The entire game thing is spent emphasizing how unlikeable the characters are, and the fact that this text adventure is terrible. Guess what? You’re right on both counts.

If it wasn’t competently implemented, I’d give it a 3. Instead, it gets a 4.

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