IntroComp 2016: Grubbyville

Next IntroComp demo: “Grubbyville”, in which we’re on a quest to one-up our scholastic rival in order to make high school valedictorian….

This level of scholastic rivalry isn’t really something in my personal experience, but I’m familiar with it enough to actually think it’s not that unrealistic. It is played for laughs, though: the amount of calculation that goes into figuring out what’s wanted to boost one’s GPA just a notch higher is … rather extreme. I don’t think we’re supposed to follow the math, only to marvel that anyone cares this much.

That said, I’m not entirely sure that the only winning ending in the completed game will be the achievement of valedictorian status and the defeat of our rival. The choices we’re given in this demo suggest that we can play either as though we were that driven, or as though we care significantly less than our highly-competitive father. Our interactions with the other characters also seem to bear this out. The game keeps score of whether we’ve been friendly or antagonistic with others, suggesting the possibility of multiple solutions and situations dependent on whom we’ve formed alliances with. This would add another layer to the story beyond the simple achievement of a 4.6 GPA Macguffin, or possibly even another ending.

What’s presented in the demo definitely has the “work in progress” feel. The map feels much too large and sprawly for the action we’ve got, and I believe it’s meant to be filled up a lot more in the finished game. There are multiple references, as well, to things which will be implemented in the full game but which aren’t yet. I’d have to see the full game to really say for sure, of course, but I actually think the map may want some rethinking. I can’t really see it being filled out with stuff to such an extent as to justify the current sprawl.

This map is organised around a central hub with exits in all directions. The different school departments are on the diagonals, and here’s the problem: diagonals tend to get confusing. I am of the opinion that diagonals in maps should be used as sparingly as possible, and probably not for major corridors. And then there are the closed-off sub-departments. I don’t know if the full game is going to involve breaking into any of them, but I doubt if all of them are going to be visited. As such, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to assign them directions from the department node. And if only one sub-department is open, perhaps it isn’t worthwhile to have its department node as a discrete location at all.

It’s a prelude to breakfast, and it makes no bones about being only a prelude; it does leave plenty of room for what might be breakfast–it’s like complimentary toast, unbuttered, on an oversized plate–with a hint of what might be a bit of a twist on a fairly traditional fry-up. Maybe there’s a bottle of soya sauce served with the complimentary toast, and what on earth are we going to be having that would want that?

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