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TIGSource ForumsCommunityTownhallSave the Date. It's a game about having dinner.
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Author Topic: Save the Date. It's a game about having dinner.  (Read 11260 times)
mysteriosum
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« Reply #40 on: June 18, 2013, 09:34:42 AM »

Wow, yes! This game delighted a few times. It's interesting how much I put myself into the character. There are always choices I'll choose because I don't want to lie to her, or I think they'll be funny or whatever. The moments that stuck out for me were when she references pop culture. I've not played FFVII, but I have seen Groundhog Day and Chrono Trigger. Since I only saw those trees once each, the outcome was determined by my own experience, and nothing else. It really says something for my importance in the story.

There's been a lot of discussion about the endings. I loved the endings to death. The hacker ending was just hilarious and really seemed like a hacker ending (easy mode). More of a side note than part of the narrative.

The ending that really got me was the 'Don't go on a date' option. It was there from the beginning, but I felt like I only unlocked it when the game told me that I had to change. I never wanted to pick that option because I was determined to find a way not to have her killed. I also didn't think it would work based on the plane crashing into her house.

I want to discuss that ending as the only good ending that's 'part of the game'. The hacker ending could arguably be 'within the rules' or whatever, and the 'make up your own' ending is encouraged, but the only desirable end screen out-of-the-box is just not to go on the date.

It feels like a meditation on doomed relationships. Think of Felicia dying as a metaphor for, say, entering a relationship which ends badly. It was never really meant to be, you just don't mesh as a couple and never would have. There's nothing you could have done differently to save the relationship, except not enter into it in the first place.

I've felt this a few times in various relationships, and it's a powerful feeling. "What if I had just never called her?" I would ask myself. How different life would be...

In this case, ignoring the meta aspect of the game, the narrative is about acquiring the knowledge not to enter into a bad relationship. As a young person I would try to date anything that moved. As a slightly-less-young person, I know to make a more informed decision before committing to a relationship. The game telling me that the game is telling me something made me realize I needed to realize this.
My Word!

Save the Date, to me, is a microscopic version of that journey, and I love it for that.

Great job :D
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tanyaxshort
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« Reply #41 on: June 18, 2013, 09:36:51 AM »


Ultimately though, I needed one character to die a lot.  And swapping their gender to avoid complaints about "why does the [female] always die!" just means that now I have a male always dying now.  And if the first one was sexist, I couldn't think of any reason the second one wasn't also.

So I left her Felicia, and hoped that the best thing I could do would be to ignore gender all together - She dies a lot, and happens to be female, but it's not like she dies BECAUSE she is female.  The two are (hopefully) entirely unconnected traits.

One thought I've had for a while is that it would be nice to be able to play where the person you're going out with isn't female, if you want to.  (Not all potential players want to date women.)  So I may still make an update for that at some point.  I just have to figure out how to present it in the right way, since I'm dead-set against having the game actually ask you "do you want to date a man or a woman".


I totally agree with most of what you wrote! I think it's all logically and internally consistent and not misogynist or anything... but I disagree with one minor point, and have an idea! Smiley So here I am replying again!

The reason why "a man dying all the time" isn't as potentially harmful as "a woman dying all the time" is because A) the player feels somewhat complicit in the violence after playing awhile (which is part of the point in the well-crafted narrative), and B) women are murdered by their significant others all the time. Like, at the rate of 3 per day in the U.S. alone. So... it's not like you're glorifying murder or anything, not at all! It just made me wonder a little bit if you'd thought about it. And since you have, I'm sure there's no worries. Smiley

As for the gender-swapping... the way I handled it in one dating game I made was having two contacts in your phone to call, to set up the first date. You could either call person A (a lady) or person B (a dude), and that determined who you dated the rest of the game, while the player was always a genderless "you". It felt elegant to me, and also allowed people to date dude-dude or lady-lady if they preferred. Smiley


And of course, grats on being picked up by those sites! Completely deserved. Smiley I hope people make more dating games, and more thoughtful games in general!
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mtarini
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« Reply #42 on: June 24, 2013, 05:47:51 PM »

Played the game, "finished" it, read all about the author's intentions in his own words.


!!!PLENTY OF SPOILERS BELOW THIS LINE!!!


PART 1: a minor (conceptual) bug report

At a certain point the protagonists predicts that either her or both or them are going to die, but up to that point the player has seen only her dying, never both. Naturally it could be just a lie, but it seems unjustified. Rather, it makes the player think that he maybe remembers something wrong or that the game is sloppy.


PART 2: the sterile criticisms

Real nice game! Thanks! Great ideas in it! Really neat execution.
Hat down, thumbs up!

But. But your intentions are totally... how to put it politely... stupid?
Ok it wasn't polite. Let me explain.

So you want to tell us that a story being told is only that: a story being told, and that any alternative we could imagine ourselves in our mind would be just as "real" and "official" as the story we are told (it doesn't matter if we are told it interactively, as in a game, or not, as in a movie or a book). Well, thank you for the revelation, but everybody knows that all to well. More: that's exactly what we try to forget when we are told the story. Instead of helping you forget that, this game slams it on your face. But I don't want to just "imagine" it: how could I then immerse in it and be able feel at least a bit of the sense of accomplishment or the joy or the sadness or the terror etc I would feel if it was real? If sterile, one-sided imagination was enough, I would never have opened the book or clicked on the exe.

In other words: it is true that any storytelling is intrinsically interactive: there the narrator narrating, and the listener accepting the story. Ok, in games and in other situations the two role mixes to a larger or a smaller extent, but that's irrelevant. The point is that there is *two* of them. You propose to do without one (the narrator) and claim that the other should do everything on his own. Bah!

In short: playing the ending of this game is like having a girlfriend who, after the preliminaries, tells you that you should masturbate alone in another room rather than have sex with her, because "after all it is the same thing, really". I suspect most would just dump her.



PART 3: the *constructive* criticisms. Tongue

Notwithstanding its questionable motivations, the game is just... GREAT!

The part where it leads you abuse the save/load mechanisms is hilarious.
Note: the game stops being a game about a guy dating a girl and becomes a game about a guy trying to win a game about a guy dating a girl. It's meta, but it is still a game! The fact that you tell her and levels mix is overly cool. Between other things, it makes some intelligent fun of the genre us, its players.

Keep it that way, but find a decent finale! How?
Here is a nice possibility.

Keep her suggesting the "just imagine it" way out, as she does now.
You quit the game. But that's not the end!
You reenter the game, and she asks: why are you still here?
You confess you quit the game at first but you weren't satisfied and you wanted to really beat it.

(At this point you maybe ask her how life felt without you playing the game, but naturally time didn't pass for her because when you restored you reappeared at exactly the moment when you "left", so she cannot even tell you left)

Maybe she curses you for not "just imagining" and dooming her, but, after a little experiment, (in which you the player are asked to "imagine" something unspecified, then the two of you verify that it didn't happen), she has to agree that pure imagination is not the way to save her life. Well well, so what to try next? Think outside the box, but, how? She leads you into it: you abused of load/save mechanisms, and that wasn't enough. Next you tried Quit, and it didn't work either! Is there any other mechanism you can abuse of? The answer is... the settings. (you the author: choose how much guidance the player gets from the girl). And look, there is one setting! "Difficulty", one properly hidden in the options. (maybe hidden in advanced options or something. Or maybe it appears only then, but that means to cheat in game design). So you set it to super-easy and... no more deaths! If you start a new game on Easy, she survives, but she's not interested in you. You have to restore a game from where she is in the park fearing death by aliens. Happy ending.

OR maybe make it go even deeper, going further on like this:...

In the Easy settings, you don't die to the aliens anymore (you are saved by some miracle) but she still does! Oh no! Near miss. Naturally you restore and tell her about that. She's desperate: are you sure there isn't any other settings? (there isn't). She gives up hopes. She tells you that, as a little girl, she played a video game which only her brother knew how to set up properly for her. So the player is brought to think, maybe this brother of hers has something to suggest? So you start a new game, and this time when you are on the phone you ask to talk with her brother (to her puzzlement). You ask him about that old game he used to set up for her sister (to *his* puzzlement). Well, turns our he had to "run the game as  administrator" in order to unlock all the settings. (Find a real story where a real game has to be run like that, there's plenty). So you exit the game and you do that. Or, if that's too difficult to do right in a cross-platform way, let it be that this: the borthed had to run the game from command line; or this: he had to run it after disabling system sound... so that the sound settings disappear and they leave space for *more* settings, which normally fall out of the screen due to a "bug". Either way, the trick reveals a new setting, and that's... Parental Control! The panels inform you that it disables all sex and violence. You set it on! You restore the game. Almost happy ending: no deaths, date successfully, and you score... or do you? If you didn't disable parental control by the very end, it is just a kiss in the cheek! :D
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 03:46:11 AM by mtarini » Logged

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Montoli
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« Reply #43 on: June 26, 2013, 12:08:32 AM »

First off, a big thank you to everyone who has bothered to write things about their reactions!  Even (especially) the criticisms - it helps a lot!


Also.  We're far enough down in the comment thread that I'm going to assume that anyone reading this far is ready for spoilers, so in the interest of readability, I'll just do a big warning instead of trying to black the whole thing out.

***SPOILER WARNING ONLY KEEP READING IF YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT SPOILERS***

re: Mtarini

I've actually had a couple of people complain about the theme of the game.  "If the whole point of the game is that the game isn't needed, then why bother making a game in the first place?" is one I've got before.  Also, "Isn't the whole message of the game that the game's message doesn't matter?"

And it's a fair point!  I AM basically saying that what the game wants is no more valid than what the player wants.  But what I'm trying to say (maybe not always succeeding) is that, hey - it's a game.  It's interactive.  The player is ALREADY mucking about with the story.  So why not just take full responsibility?

I think I'm really just trying to make people think about the fact that it IS a game, and exactly what that means.  So to use your girlfriend analogy, I like to think it's more like you and your girlfriend have the preliminaries, and then she's like "Ok, so what if you just went off into another room?  Would it be the same?  What exactly are you hoping to get out of this, and what part would be lacking in the other room?"

I think that's what I'm trying to do here.  Make people think about what would be lacking, and decide for themselves if it's worth it or not.

I like your idea of having her being there, waiting, after you restart the game.  That would be a pretty amusing surprise, and would certainly be in keeping with the sorts of meta-game surprises I tried to create.  Unfortunately though, it would break one of the hard-and-fast rules I made for myself:  Felicia is NEVER ALLOWED to do strange things.  There is no way for her to still be there waiting if you restart.  Part of what I wanted to do was explore exactly what it MEANT that she was part of the game. (and so restarted every time the game did)

Weird game manipulations are fine for you, the player.  But I wanted to keep strange persistent things (like the foreknowledge) limited to the player.

Also...  Maybe I'm just a jerk, but I really wanted to avoid having an obvious "right" ending.  There are a couple of endings, and there IS an ending that is in the game where you can save her.  But I wanted to make sure that all of the endings required at least a little bit of effort from the player to decide "ok, that's the real one."

I like your ideas for a puzzle based on "bugs" in the system menu - those are clever!  They're just not the right puzzles for the metaphor I was trying to make, I think.  (You should totally remember those and do something cool with them though!  A game that did that would be rad.)


re: tanyaxshort

The reason why "a man dying all the time" isn't as potentially harmful as "a woman dying all the time" is because A) the player feels somewhat complicit in the violence after playing awhile (which is part of the point in the well-crafted narrative), and B) women are murdered by their significant others all the time. Like, at the rate of 3 per day in the U.S. alone. So... it's not like you're glorifying murder or anything, not at all! It just made me wonder a little bit if you'd thought about it. And since you have, I'm sure there's no worries. Smiley

I still disagree I think. 
(A) is pretty gender neutral.

(B) This is true, but I'm not sure that it really affects this situation.  Since while you may be complicit in her death, you're (probably) trying to actively prevent it.  (And heck, it's not even clear if the two of you are romantically entangled - I left it pretty ambiguous aside from the title, which is mostly just there because I like puns too much.)

But yes - it's definitely something I've thought about.  I just wish I shared your certainty that that translated into correct decisions. Smiley
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mtarini
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« Reply #44 on: June 26, 2013, 04:22:11 AM »


---SPOILERS BELOW!!!----
Actually, this thread is full of spoilers.
There not been a single post without spoilers well before this point.
You didn't play this little beautiful game yet? Close this browser tab now!
Come back to this discussion after you do play.
Don't worry, we will wait right here.



Hello Montoli, interesting points.

So basically you are saying that (1) a common misconception is that you the player (or even, I'll add, you the reader, you the story listener, you the movie watcher) is totally passive and just receiving the story, while in reality the two brains, of the teller and of the receiver of the story, are unavoidably interacting, and the imagination of either is equally necessary (or, even, equally sufficient) for the story to "happen"... and that (2) you want to oppose that misconception, and to do so you propose the opposite fallacy, which is: that the listener should do completely without the narrator. What stroke me is that your counter-fallacy is, if anything, much worst than the one you are opposing.
But I understand that you intend to be provocative.

--------

As for my suggestion, I think you are misinterpreting me. I don't propose Felicia to do anything special. From her point of view, you quitting and then returning to her has no effect at all. She's not waiting. No time passes, for her, between the moment you quit and the moment you return. That's why she just ask you why are you still here, why are you not quitting and imagining that she wins the lottery, and stuff like that. You would then reply her that you did actually quit, but you rerun the game because on afterthought you felt like you didn't really beat it.

To be even clearer: in my proposal, from the gameplay perspective, quitting and returning enables that dialog option, which eventually leads to her giving the right hint to go on (see my post above). As a cosmetic effect, she would also insist in the "imagine a good finale instead" thing, but the two of you would then verify that the game (her universe) doesn't care. That's because... maybe in another universe, the one of yours-the-player's imagination, another Felicia is safe and happily winning lotteries; and maybe that Felicia is just as real (or just as imaginary) as the Felicia you are talking to; but still the Felicia you are talking to is the one of this game, and as such she is still bound to imminent death by aliens, no matter what you imagine.


-------

Oh, and I also have another very minor suggestion:

The first time I played I got "dead by peanuts". Was I just lucky in that the first death I encountered was the most believable one, so that the real nature of the game would came out, so to say, softly? Or did you do things on purpose, predicting that most players would have picked "thai" first? (counting on the fact that burgers aren't the ideal scenario for a romantic date).

If so, well done, but the effect was in part ruined by the way events are currently described: you read that you almost expected that the medical staff would report her death. Maybe it would be a nice touch if the first few deaths you encounter were described as a total shock and a surprise to you, and only after a few bad experiences you started expecting the worst every time something starts going wrong. I would do that with minor modifications of the descriptions, like just a word here and there.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 05:05:52 AM by mtarini » Logged

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mtarini
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« Reply #45 on: June 26, 2013, 04:49:50 AM »

(apologies for double posting -- see my post in the prev page!)

PS: but don't get me wrong, I had it clear that you
Quote
really wanted to avoid having an obvious "right" ending.
and I can see that my suggested puzzles are
Quote
just not the right puzzles for the metaphor [you are] trying to make.

I just wanted to remark that I had perfectly clear that you
Quote
wanted to keep strange persistent things (like the foreknowledge) limited to the player.
and that my suggestions fully respects that.
That's the aspect I liked the most in the game.

In summary, I would personally prefer that the game dropped the focus on your favorite "metaphor" just a little, thus becoming maybe a little less provocative and, many would say, "pretentious", so that it could exploit more the "meta" aspects which I liked most, e.g. in the ways I suggest. It would still be a "one of a kind", intelligently humorous, fun-to-play, very thought provocative game (yes, even if it had one unquestionably good ending). But that's only my personal preference.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 05:03:17 AM by mtarini » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: July 05, 2013, 09:00:38 AM »

As for my suggestion, I think you are misinterpreting me. I don't propose Felicia to do anything special. From her point of view, you quitting and then returning to her has no effect at all. She's not waiting. No time passes, for her, between the moment you quit and the moment you return. That's why she just ask you why are you still here, why are you not quitting and imagining that she wins the lottery, and stuff like that. You would then reply her that you did actually quit, but you rerun the game because on afterthought you felt like you didn't really beat it.

I may be misunderstanding your suggestion then...  I assumed you meant that the player would quit, and then next time you started the game, you'd start out right where you left off.  (Which WOULD be giving Felicia special powers, since normally she has to start at the start of the game every time - saves and loads have to come from the player.  Either that, or it would be a place where the game behaved inconsistently, which amounts to basically the same thing.)

On the other hand, if that's NOT what you meant, then I have no idea what you're suggesting, since otherwise that's basically how save and load works already - you can save your game and come back to it and no time has passed for Felicia and she hasn't noticed anything changed.  I suppose I never give the player the option to say "hey, I just shut the game down and came back, see how you never noticed anything?" but the logistics of putting that in everywhere would be kind of daunting anyway (and I'm not sure what it would add to the experience) so it's probably a bit impractical.

Sorry, not trying to be deliberately obtuse here, but I have no idea what you're suggesting.

In summary, I would personally prefer that the game dropped the focus on your favorite "metaphor" just a little, thus becoming maybe a little less provocative and, many would say, "pretentious", so that it could exploit more the "meta" aspects which I liked most, e.g. in the ways I suggest. It would still be a "one of a kind", intelligently humorous, fun-to-play, very thought provocative game (yes, even if it had one unquestionably good ending). But that's only my personal preference.

And here's the part that will be tremendously unsatisfying, I suspect:  Ultimately, I made the game specifically because I wanted to explore that metaphor, so to me, that IS the point of the game, and the meta-commentary is there specifically to draw attention to and service the point I wanted to make.  So at the end of the day, that part really isn't going anywhere.

On the other hand, in the words of the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard, "The best way to criticize a movie is to make another movie."  Heck, that's part of why this game was made:  I'd played Stanley Parable, and really liked some of its ideas, but was somewhat frustrated by its scattershot approach.  It just sort of threw everything at the wall to see what stuck.  And a lot stuck!  I liked some of Stanley Parable's themes a lot.  I just wished that he'd explored them more deeply.  So since he didn't, I picked the ones that were interesting to me, and tried to explore them myself.

So what I'm saying is - if you play my game and say "neat and all, but there is a REALLY INTERESTING TOPIC that you are hinting at and never fully explore or realize, why can't you see how awesome it could be if it focused on _____"...  Then don't wait for me to randomly bumble into it, if I ever do.  Make that game and explore it as fully as you think it deserves!

And let me know when you do, because I want to play it! Smiley
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« Reply #47 on: July 06, 2013, 02:29:03 PM »

I may be misunderstanding your suggestion then...
[...] If that's NOT what you meant, then I have no idea what you're suggesting, since otherwise that's basically how save and load works already - you can save your game and come back to it and no time has passed for Felicia and she hasn't noticed anything changed.

Sorry, not trying to be deliberately obtuse here, but I have no idea what you're suggesting.

Don't worry, I know you are not being deliberately misunderstanding, it is just me explaining myself badly.

Just for clarity, what I was suggesting was the following:

In the current game, there is a point where Felicia begs you to (let me over-simply a bit) quit the game and just imagine a better ending for her. My suggestion was that at this point, only if you do quit but then return, then, when she goes on (as she does anyway) with "well Y U not quit", you would have the reply option I describe above (telling her about you quitting and then returning, and why). And /that/ new reply is what you need to continue the game (as I described). Quitting would just be the solution to another "meta puzzle".

(She clearly doesn't know you quitted, but the game does)

Quote
the logistics of putting that in everywhere would be kind of daunting anyway (and I'm not sure what it would add to the experience) so it's probably a bit impractical.

That reply option would only appear in the few dialogs where she is suggesting that maybe you should quit; i.e. in the current, if it can be called that, "final". Basically, what I was proposing is an additional stage after the current "final".

Quote
Ultimately, I made the game specifically because I wanted to explore that metaphor, so to me, that IS the point of the game. [...]

Yes, clear, I understand.

I offered my suggestion just in case you happened to like my preferred views more, when I shared them. I hope that didn't come out too arrogant of me. I didn't mean that you had to like them more, or that they were objectively better. And BTW I think I can see what you like in your original idea.

Quote
if you play my game and say "neat and all, but ..."
It is exactly as you say.

(specifically, the topic I really loved is the meta-puzzles idea, the part which I just liked but looked a bit pretentious to me is the "no good finale, quit-the-game-instead" philosophy, even if I admit it is, at least, very original.)

Quote
Make that game and explore it as fully as you think it deserves!

Of course... maybe I will.

In case I do, would you mind if I "borrow" your entire game as the first piece (actually, the 75%) of mine? Naturally I would recognize the authorship accordingly. That's because not only the idea is great, also the execution is very neatly done. Dialogues are well written and polished.



In any case, apart from my possibly a bit inappropriate "shift the focus into what I liked" suggestion, let me remind that I also had a minor suggestion, just a touch, which is: maybe the game, in the initial parts (the three resturants) could adapt the descriptions of the deaths, with small variations, to the current death count (of which the game keeps track anyway). The first encountered death or two (whatever they are) would be described as a shock and a surprise to you the player; in the subsequent deaths (even if they occur in totally different ways and places) you would read things like "you are not surprised to find out that..." or "but you know the that doctor is lying" etc, as you do now.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 04:49:56 AM by mtarini » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: August 02, 2013, 04:02:03 PM »

Hi all,

I think I found another ending that I did not read about in here: the lame hacker one.

I was like:
It's too damn easy. Is there any reason why the only file we're "supposed to hack" (how exactly can that be compatible with the "come on, be imaginative and create your own ending"?) insists so much on the case-sensitive nature of this boolean?

So yes, I tried "true", because hey, I'm a rebel.
And it indeed kind of broke the game.
Just to make sure it was not some scripted joke, I also tried something else. "Nope" ended with the same result as did "true". And "No fucking way" simply raised another exception :
Quote
I'm sorry, but errors were detected in your script. Please correct the
errors listed below, and try again.


File "game/I_AM_A_HACKER.rpy", line 5: invalid syntax
    I_AM_A_HACKER = No fucking way
                              ^
   

Ren'Py Version: Ren'Py 6.15.4.320



Just to add to the ambient noise Smiley
Very nice one, by the way. I don't exactly know why, but at some point I reminded of the starting airport in "Operation Stealth", a looong way back in time :p
On my first run, Felicia died pretty fast from of her peanut allergy. I thought "Damn, that was short!". Two hours after that, I was still playing "Save the date".


One question I did not see the answer in here : how many ways of having Felicia dying exist in the game? I found 11, but still I'm guessing if I'm not missing some lethal issue... MWAHAHAHA !
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