Child's Play

An interactive fiction by Stephen Granade (2007) - the Inform 7 source text

Chapter 5 - Commentary Track
Include Footnotes by Stephen Granade.
[Instead of re-writing the game-ending restore-restart-undo-quit code to shove in mention of the commentary track, mention it in the AMUSING text.]
Rule for amusing a victorious player: say "If you'd like more information about the game and its design, you can play through the game with the commentary track on. At any time in the game, type COMMENTARY ON to turn on the commentary track."
Understand "commentary" as giving the footnote state. Understand "commentary on" as turning on footnotes. Understand "commentary off" as turning off footnotes.
The first report turning on footnotes rule: instead say "Commentary track on[note commentary-intro]. To read commentary track notes, type NOTE #."
The first report turning off footnotes rule: instead say "Commentary track off."
The first report giving the footnote state rule: instead say "The commentary track is currently [if footnotes are on]playing[otherwise]off[end if]. You can turn the commentary track [if footnotes are on]off[otherwise]on[end if] using the command COMMENTARY [if footnotes are on]OFF[otherwise]ON[end if]."
Table of Footnotes (continued)
Name   Note   Index   Read
commentary-intro   "Welcome to the commentary track of Child's Play! I'm your author and host, Stephen Granade. In this track, I'll be talking about design decisions I made, some of my goals in writing the game, and fun things to try."
baby-desc   "The player description doesn't mention the player's diaper or other clothes that are presumably being worn, though the diaper does exist, and is searchable."
pulling-up   "The major conceit of the game is that the player is a baby, and must interact with the world as a baby. That leaves the player with a limited range of actions. Sadly, unless you've become a parent recently, you've probably forgotten what it's like to be a baby and what a baby does. That's why the game has to re-teach you babies['] limited actions, like pulling up[note wait-on-mom]."
crying-in-darkness   "Crying is a great baby way of manipulating parents."
the-mom   "The protagonist doesn't really think of the parents in a possessive way. They're just people who provide food and toys."
wait-on-mom   "By the way, you should wait for a while and frustrate the mom."
relative-sizes   "A challenge in showing the world through a baby's eyes is portraying how big everything is in relation to you. As Dan Shiovitz pointed out, I needed to emphasize how you're looking up at the world most of the time."
pushing-footstool   "Babies are notorious for trying to pull up on things and instead accidentally pushing them or knocking them over. This initial footstool puzzle serves to introduce the push-on-things mechanic in a setting where there's little else to do."
disappointments   "Sometimes it seems that kids exist to prove their parents don't know what they're talking about."
baby-containment   "One of the fun things about parenthood is figuring out how to contain your kids so you can run off and do chores or other necessary things like World of Warcraft."
hhgttg   "Later your aunt will give you a thing you don't know what it is."
others-do-your-bidding   "A theme of the game is the PC getting others, both animate and inanimate, to do his or her bidding."
no-aiwa   "Clearly the parents haven't bought stereo components since the 1990s."
kid-hint-giving   "To help teach the player how to act like a baby, I have the other playmates in the playgroup model ideal baby behavior."
drink-mimosas   "While the playmates['] parents aren't based on specific people, the bit about mimosas is based on an actual playgroup Misty went to."
jemison-fascinated   "Babies are all the time becoming fascinated by what other babies do. Stupid babies."
inventory-limit   "Babies have a built-in inventory limit. I, of course, use this for puzzles."
chewing-stuff   "Babies are all the time chewing on things. They also -- and I swear this is true -- chew on things to get around their inventory limit."
red-haired girl   "I'm pretty sure that, when she's older, Zoe is the little red-haired girl Charlie Brown is in love with. I'm also convinced that Zoe isn't really all that bad."
butt-paste   " Ask for it by name!"
stuck-onesie   "Babies have this unerring sense of what they shouldn't be playing with and a nearly-unstoppable drive to mess with things they shouldn't be touching."
take-all-from-backpack   "Admiral Jota is a madman and managed to break the backpack puzzle by the judicious use of TAKE ALL, requiring me to fiddle the rules regarding what's included in ALL."
antagonist   "I like games with an antagonist. Wandering around exploring is fine, but it's nice to be working against someone. With that said, I wanted Zoe to start out passively working against you, in effect pursuing her own separate agenda, only working directly against you as the game went on."
parent-convo   "All of the parents['] conversations are exaggerated versions of conversations and arguments that parents really have."
parry-opens-backpack   "Babies are masters at destroying the flow of your actions and plans. Eventually you learn how to break your plans up into tiny chunks separated by what you have to do for your kid."
purpose-of-interludes   "Interludes like this one help delineate the three-act structure and give clues to later behavior that you'll need to exhibit as the player."
coaster-falls   "Several beta-testers had issues with this puzzle, and weren't sure what to do. Dan Shiovitz suggested adding something that would demonstrate what you were trying to do without accidentally solving the puzzle for you."
squeeze-behind-footstool   "Having seen a baby cruise her way into a space she couldn't have gotten into, I knew I wanted to use it as a puzzle."
parry-entering   "Parry's the foil to the rest of the group. He's an outsider and can thus make comments that are probably closer to your reactions to the groups['] comments. Plus he does things the more experienced moms don't."
jemison-in-Parrys-lap   "This is the first example of the ongoing theme of using other people to do your bidding (assuming Alfadog doesn't count)."
ruined-tumbler   "Poor Parry. It's like he's never been around babies before[note spoiled-by-watson]. He's fallen prey to the common misconception that, if you keep pushing babies away from something they're interested in, eventually they'll grow bored and wander off."
spoiled-by-watson   "More likely, it's that Watson's so low-key that Parry is lax in his baby defense."
Cassie-falls-down   "Take that, overactive baby."
baby-cancels-baby   "It takes a baby to stop a baby, clearly. Since Zoe has upped the ante by blocking your actions directly, you get to stop her by using Jemison."
Zoe-pushes-door   "Zoe is now actively thwarting your plans, raising the stakes."
those-annoying-blocks   "Man, these blocks. They seemed like such a good idea at the time. I wanted a way to get you off the ground and give you access to higher-up things. In this game, which has a new and brittle world model, that's like giving you a rope that burns things. I didn't think through all of the ramifications of the blocks -- as Sam Ashwell pointed out, logically you should be able to climb onto the blocks and then onto furniture. I dealt with access cases in a piecemeal fashion before finally grafting on a more systematic model of heights."
Jemisons-bells   "I get tired of games where you're introduced to a certain game mechanic that you then never use again, so I deliberately re-used mechanics like Jemison's fascination with stuff throughout."
tumbler-falls   "Poor Parry. He's responsible for you getting the toy once again."
stupid-costumes   "So much of baby life consists of being dressed by your parents in uncomfortable or embarrassing outfits."
squid-costume   "You know what's more fun in IF than only being able to carry a few things? Being able to carry [italic type]nothing[roman type]."
spitting-up   "Isn't it nice that the solution to your problem makes more work for the mom?"
parry-knocks-the-toy   "Since Parry had helped you accidentally in the first two sections, I wanted him to help you directly in the third. Plus I figured he'd be on the side of truth and justice -- yours."
believable-baby-action   "Another theme of the game is you getting around adults['] attempts to control you in ways that you would (mostly) believe a baby could do. The results are all attributable to random baby actions, so that the adults have no idea it's all a part of your scheming."
Zoe-cooperates   "I like you having to team up with your antagonist, even if only for a little while. Though it's not a perfect arrangement: try pushing the oval with the poosh stick on the side where Zoe is."
babies-love-cheerios   "True story: at my son's first birthday party, he knocked over a small cup of Cheerios, spilling them near my feet. Instantly, every baby at the party crawled towards us, swarming around me.
Cheerios are baby crack." baby-state-machines   "I modeled the babies as state machines, which they essentially are in real life, and implemented the state machines using rulebooks, with one master daemon to trigger the rulebooks. That turned out to be an excellent design decision, as it allowed me to swap rules in and out on the fly, share sets of behavior among babies, and slot in some hint-giving rules like this one." meta-joke   "Some day I will get tired of meta-jokes about interactive fiction, but clearly today is not that day." fiddled-scope   "Lucian Smith suggested that you be able to examine things in other 'rooms' within the large living room. It was an extremely handy addition to the game, since then I could see where things were and go to them. Shame it was such a headache to implement. I managed to get it working for this small game, but I'd hate to try it for a larger game." introcomp   "I entered this first part of the game in Introcomp 2006. The competition helped, as it really made me think about what I wanted the player to see in the first few moves. I wanted to have a few simple puzzles that nevertheless depended on baby-like actions, introduce the writing style I'd chosen, and have a very clear direction. The last was critical -- without that throughline, players are increasingly likely to type QUIT." instruction-book   "Originally, when you pushed the blox bucket over, the instruction book stayed inside. You had to look into the bucket to find it, remove it from the bucket, drop it, and then open it. About my third time playing through the section I realized how totally un-fun that was and changed it so the booklet comes falling out." favorite-conversation   "This is my favorite of all of the parents['] conversations, mainly for this line right here." mason-jar   "Perhaps a Mason jar. Ha! I crack myself up." mom-telepathy   "As best I can tell, mom telepathy comes from moms having had a large shared pool of experiences when it comes to babies." collated-reports   "Many turns there's a heck of a lot of text printed as parents talk and playmates romp around. To cut down on how many paragraphs are printed, I collated the descriptions of the playmates into a single paragraph." randomness-sux   "I randomized the babies['] behavior and action descriptions to keep things fresh. It also made debugging a nightmare. NPCs suck; randomized NPCs suck more." reacting-to-others   "It's nice how the NPCs occasionally react to what you or other NPCs do." stranding-zoe   "So, funny story. My beta-testers pounded on the bit where Zoe cooperates with you to get the toy. They did all kinds of things to trip her up. When they finished and I'd fixed the bugs they found, I released the game. It turned out you could push the climbing blocks away from Zoe while she was cooperating with you and she'd be perfectly happy. Of course, once the playpen was open, she was then stranded, letting you get the toy easily. Both Jonathan Blask and Emily Boegheim told me about the problem."

The source code to Child's Play is licensed under a Creative Commons NonCommercial Sampling Plus 1.0 License.