Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Let's All Ruin Dad's Morning

Progress on A Dark And Stormy Entry continues apace, slowly... turns out it's just a massive work. In the meantime, I've come up with something shorter to present to you today. But first, a plug for the recently-released Italo Calvino / XKCD (?!) fangame Bigger Than You Think, an intriguing piece of Z-machine hyperfiction whose author was revealed as none other than Zarf, naturally. While I can see how I might theoretically present it here in plain HTML, I can also observe from the monumental theoretical pain in the toches implementing its inventory system would entail. This isn't always the right medium for the job.
Today's conversion, on the other hand, is another matter altogether. Originally released (er, 3 days ago) as a Windows-only executable for the .NET framework, weighing in at 494K in size, now you can play it here on any device using only 15K! My version isn't quite as pretty, admittedly.
Much is made about how most choose-your-own stories are written for children, but where are all the ones written by children? Well, here is one. Probably the rigor and focus needed to combat the exponential combinatorial expansion the medium lends itself toward result in many half-finished CYOAs by juvenile Edward Packards. But here the process was stewarded by the software engineer of the house, Dad (aka Mike Snyder, accomplished and award-winning IF author -- and not incidentally the target of the game's multi-faceted harrassment), who helped his daughter, Adelynn Paige Snyder, write and organize this small gamebook to a complete product. And here I have hacked into its compiled executable to rip all the content out without permission. I hope there are no hard feelings!

Let's All

A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure
By Adelynn Snyder & Mike Snyder

About the Authors
About the Game

. . .

The Authors

As of this writing, Adelynn Snyder is a 7-year-old second-grader. She enjoys video games, swimming, gymnastics, and is a member of the Girl Scouts. She likes to have fun and really liked the chance to create her own game.

And I'm Addie's dad. By day, I work as a senior software developer for a leading provider of software solutions marketed to K-12 schools. I enjoy reading and playing video games, with book and game collections numbering in the thousands.

Before life became so busy, I was a hobby game developer. The BBS game Lunatix and its successor, Lunatix Online, were my biggest successes. Years earlier, I wrote dozens of games for TRS-80 and DOS, and authored several text adventures (Interactive Fiction).

. . .

The Game

Addie has been interested in creating her own game for quite a while, so one Saturday morning after some pretty ruthless insisting, "Let's All Ruin Dad's Morning" was born.

I wanted to focus on something simple that we could create from the ground up, which might be practical to start and finish over the course of a single weekend. A choose-your-own adventure story (and the engine to drive it) seemed like the most practical idea.

The game is very loosely based on real-life events involving three kids who just don't like to let their dad sleep in. The specific details are mostly fiction.

Addie's 4-year-old brother and sister -- twins in real life too -- were the inspiration for the characters of Vance and Zoe.

. . .

Page 1

It's early Saturday morning. You are sitting downstairs watching cartoons with your younger brother Vance and sister Zoe. Your siblings are twins, but they often can't agree on what to watch next.

Your dad is still upstairs, asleep. This seems like a big waste of a great morning, and after a moment of consideration, you decide that something must be done about it.

"Hey guys," you say, interrupting their argument. "I have an idea. Let's wake dad up. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. It's Saturday after all, and he's missing it!"

For once, the twins agree. "Great idea!" they say together.

. . .

Page 10

Despite dad's warning, the three of you begin anew with even louder yelling.

On cue, dad appears at the top of the stairs. But he doesn't stop there. He races down, like a man on a mission, grabs the TV remote, and shuts it off without a word.

After a few moments of complete silence, he speaks. "You" he says, pointing, and "you and you" pointing at Zoe and Vance, "are grounded. Grounded from games. Grounded from TV. Keep it up, and you'll even be grounded from speaking."

You don't see how dad could ground you from speaking, but the message is clear. He's up, though. At least that part worked.

. . .

Page 11 A safer plan is to play a trick on your dad. He probably won't ground you for that. Coming up with the perfect trick proves to be a challenge, but after a few minutes of debate, three ideas seem to have the best chance.

One; you could tell dad that you just heard on TV that he won the lottery. Surely dad would jump up for great news like that.

Two; you might convince him that there is a big sale on video games starting now. For video games, he might not even question it before racing down.

Three; you could tell him that an alien spaceship just landed outside. He might not believe it, but hopefully he would humor you and come check. Dad is a sucker for sci-fi.

. . .

Page 12 Vance seems particularly pleased with this plan. You're also hopeful that at least one of these things will trick dad into waking up. "This could work," you tell Vance and Zoe.

"It has to work!" Zoe insists.

  • If you want to tell dad that he won the lottery, turn to page 13.
  • To convince dad that he's missing a big video game sale, go to page 15.
  • Go to page 14 if you think dad might get up to check for an alien spaceship.

. . .

Page 13 As you race up the steps, it occurs to you that you really don't know much about the lottery. You know that people win money -- lots of money. Beyond that, you'll just have to wing it.

"Dad!" you announce, rushing into his room. "We just heard some great news!"

Your dad groans and pulls a blanket up over his head. "What news?" he finally asks.

"You won the lottery!" Vance says, doing a decent job at not giggling. Zoe adds "It's all over the news on TV!"

"I did?" dad asks, clearly a skeptic. "And you guys were watching the news?" Dad pauses for a moment, then asks "Was it a scratch ticket, or the mega-millions jackpot?"

Turn to page 23.

. . .

Page 14

You rush upstairs and into dad's room.

"Dad! Dad! Wake up! You'll never believe it! An alien spaceship just landed in the yard!"

Your groggy dad rolls over and opens an eye. "What? What's all this about?"

Zoe and Vance are having trouble keeping the giggles away, which makes the story even less believable.

"Let me guess," dad says. "It's a big saucer, and little green guys are crawling around it probing for life. Am I right?"

Yeah, dad didn't go for it. And with the morning already wasting away, you decide to just let him go back to sleep.

. . .

Page 15

Wasting no time, you and your siblings rush to dad's door, push it open, and begin relaying the exiting (but totally untrue) news.

"Dad! Dad! You're missing it! Remember? It's a game sale!" Vance and Zoe add "Come on, dad! Get up!"

Sure enough, your dad jumps out of bed. He looks wildly around, then races past you and downstairs. The three of you burst into laughter. By the time he realizes there is no game sale, he should be fully awake.

You follow him downstairs, where something surprising happens. There actually IS a video game sale... online. Dad is at his computer, browsing and ordering. He even seems pleased with you for waking him up.

. . .

Page 16

Upstairs in the bathroom, you find two different cans of air freshner; Lavender Surprise or Vanilla Mist.

"I really like Vanilla Mist" Vance says, grabbing it from under the counter. "Let's use this."

"No way," Zoe counters. "Lavender Surprise will do the trick." She takes the can, then looks to you for a decision.

"Well," you say. "We shouldn't do both. We should leave one can here for later."

  • Go to page 18 to have Vance keep the Vanilla Mist.
  • If you want to spray dad's room with Lavender Surprise, turn to page 17.

. . .

Page 17

"Remember how dad said Lavender Surprise stinks?" you ask.

Zoe seems offended. "It's my favorite!"

You smile. "Sure, but see how the can is still full? Dad bought it but didn't like it. If anything is going to force him out of his room, this is it."

Sneaking into the room, you motion to Zoe and she begins spraying. After a few moments, it doesn't appear that dad has even noticed.

. . .

Page 18

"The winner is... Vanilla Mist!" you announce.

The three of you sneak quietly into dad's bedroom and begin spraying. After a moment, dad gets a funny kind of satisfied smile and rolls over.

"Nice, nice..." he murmers.

You all look at each other. "It's not working!" you whisper to Vance and Zoe. Vance sprays more, but if anything, dad has fallen into an even deeper sleep.

"Well," you announce. "We tried. And now we're missing our shows. Let's just let dad miss out on a fun morning. It's his loss!"

The three of you go back downstairs.

. . .

Page 19

"Like I said, we should try to trick him" Vance insists. "Let's go downstairs and make a plan."

"No!" Zoe replies. "This will work. Just wait."

  • To change plans and come up with an idea to trick dad into waking up, go to page 11.
  • To keep spraying, hoping it finally works, turn to page 20.

. . .

Page 2

The three of you race up the steps, stopping outside dad's bedroom door. You knock loudly and call out "Dad! Wake up!"

After a moment, you hear a low grunt from inside. It sounds like "Guys... it's barely 6:30. Let me sleep."

Oh. So that's how it's going to be. Dad might mind after all. This may be more difficult than you originally thought.

"We could go inside and shake him awake," suggests Zoe. "That might work."

Vance is skeptical. "Loud noise is easier and still hard to ignore. We could try that."

  • If Zoe's idea sounds good, turn to page 3.
  • Turn to page 4 if loud noise is the answer.

. . .

Page 20

You nod to Zoe, and she continues spraying. First, she makes big circles around the end of the room. Then, she creeps closer to the bed to fill the air all around dad.

In a moment, dad begins to stir. "What... what is that?" he sputters. Then he sits up suddenly, rubbing his eyes.

"Stop! No! That stinks!" The three of you giggle at his protests. It's actually working.

Dad swings his legs over the side of the bed and stands up. "Can't sleep now," he says with a sigh. "Downstairs, guys. I'm disappointed in you. I was trying to sleep here."

Disappointed or not, dad is awake. And now he can enjoy Saturday morning with you.

. . .

Page 21

"It was a scratch ticket," you tell dad.

He chuckles, then turns over. "Nice try, but they don't announce scratch ticket winners on TV. I'm going back to sleep."

True to his word, dad is quiet for a few seconds, and then begins snoring. Defeated and out of ideas, the three of you trudge back downstairs to enjoy the rest of the morning in other ways.

. . .

Page 22

Excitedly, you begin telling dad that he won the mega-millions jackpot. He listens to the whole story, nodding and adding an "I see" and an "ah ha" once in a while.

At the end, he sits up and rubs his eyes. "I don't believe a word of that," he states. "They don't announce the winner until the winner comes forward with a winning ticket."

The disappointment on your faces is pretty obvious, but dad smiles. "Okay, guys. You're not going to let me sleep, are you?"

All three of you shake your heads micheviously.

"Alright then," dad continues. "I'll get up. But next weekend, I'm sleeping in!"

. . .

Page 23

You have no idea what those things are, but the jackpot sounds the most exiting. But what if dad is trying a trick of his own, and there is no such thing? For that matter, what's a scratch ticket?

Zoe looks at you sheepishly. Vance shrugs, making gestures you can't understand while dad is safely out of view under the blanket. Both of them look to you for an answer.

  • If you decide to tell dad that he won the jackpot, turn to page 22.
  • Go to page 21 if you try to convince dad that he won with a scratch ticket.

. . .

Page 3

You open the door quietly. If dad doesn't know what's about to happen, it might be more effective. Grinning at each other, you creep slowly over to the bed where dad is turned away from you.

With a silent "one, two three" finger count, the three of you begin shaking your dad. He doesn't move as much as expected.

"Seriously, kids," he manages to say. "Let me sleep a little longer. It's too early." Surprisingly, he seems to fall asleep again despite the shaking.

  • If you want to lead your siblings in an all-out daddy dogpile, turn to page 8.
  • If you want to reconsider the physical approach and go raise a ruckus instead, go to page 4.

. . .

Page 4

Feeling a little defeated, the three of you head back downstairs.

"I'm really good at yelling," Vance says. "We could all yell at each other about nothing, until dad wakes up to come tell us to stop. That would get him up."

Zoe looks over to the TV. "If we turn up the TV really loud, dad will come check on it. We could even say it happened by itself."

"If we're going to make noise, nothing is more annyoing than pots and pans banging together," you add. "So that's an idea."

  • If you decide to yell, turn to page 5.
  • If you want to turn up the TV, go to page 6.
  • Turn to page 7 if you bang pots and pans.

. . .

Page 5

Before you even finish making your choice, Vance begins screaming that Zoe looked at him. Zoe, in response, yells at Vance to leave her alone.

You add your voice to the uproar, yelling for your dad to come down and tell your siblings to stop yelling. It's quite an ear-splitting spectacle, and in mere moments you can hear your dad shuffling out of bed.

From the top of the stairs, dad's response is pretty clear. "Stop the yelling!" he insists. "I have neighbors! And I'm trying to sleep! Do you all want to be grounded?"

He doesn't wait for an answer. In another moment, you hear the door close. Dad is back in bed. All three of you fall quiet.

. . .

Page 6

You take the remote control and crank up the TV's volume. It's loud enough to annoy even you, rattling the speakers and the walls with the sounds of dinosaurs doing battle.

You hear your dad's voice, raised but nearly drowned out by the volumne of the cartoon. "Turn it down! Turn it down! What are you guys doing?"

Of course, you don't turn it down. That would defeat the purpose. Sure enough, dad gets out of bed and comes staggering sleepily down the stairs.

"Guys!" he says, grabbing the remote away from you and turning it down to a safe level. "Really? You know better than that." But he doesn't go back to bed. It worked!

. . .

Page 7

With Zoe and Vance following close behind, you head to the kitchen and raid the cabinet under the sink. Each of you grab pots and pans, and begin banging them together feverishly.

Zoe is the first to stop, after only a few seconds. "That's loud." she says.

"Yeah," Vance agrees. "That hurts my head." You too can't take much more of that, and the lack of response from upstairs means dad must have ignored it entirely.

"New plan," you say. "Any ideas?"

  • "We could all spray lots of air freshener in his bedroom," Zoe offers. If so, turn to page 16.
  • "I have an idea too," Vance says. "We could trick him into waking up!" That's on page 11.

. . .

Page 8

Without wasting another moment, you climb up on the bed and sprawl out sideways over your dad. Vance and Zoe join in, laughing and giggling as dad struggles to free himself from the unexpected invasion.

"This isn't fun," your dad sputters. "Get off me. Go back downstairs."

You disregard dad's request at first, until a stern look convinces you he's very serious. "Come on," you tell your brother and sister. Reluctantly, they stop bouncing on dad and climb off the bed.

Back downstairs, the three of you begin plotting your next little adventure. Eventually, dad will wake up on his own.

. . .

Page 9

"That usually works," you say to Zoe and Vance.

"Maybe we need to yell more," Vance offers. "It almost worked. He got out of bed. A little more, and maybe he'll get up for good."

Zoe, the voice of reason, disagrees. "He said he would ground us. That means no games and no TV. Maybe we could be sweet and change his mind, but should we risk it?"

"Then what?" you ask.

"We could trick him!" she says, instantly pleased with the idea.

  • Turn to page 11 if you want to try tricking your dad into getting out of bed.
  • If you want to risk more yelling, go to page 10.


  1. Thanks for the plug for "Bigger Than You Think".

    I should note that I have posted the source code (http://eblong.com/zarf/zweb/btyt/btyt-src.html). I am happy for people to study it, and create new games with the same interface. However, as the file says, I have not given blanket permission for anyone to reformat the story text, redistribute it, or port it to other game systems.

    (Grr, I hope I didn't just post this comment three times. blogspot seems to keep rejecting it.)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Andrew! And thanks for your tireless work sharing the tools (and now source code examples) needed to stand on your shoulders and see further into the IF present and future.

      And thanks for the gentle reminder regarding your ownership of your material; after my chat with Emily, I'll definitely be thinking twice before laying my grubby mitts on works that aren't basically abandoned and by unreachable authors. (Or: I may step up inquiring for permission earlier in my re-implementation workflow. Anyhow I now need to find a way to reach Duncan Bowsman for Ascot-related reasons 8) Rest assured however if anything moves forward with the "book edition" of Spider and Web, this blog is the core audience to whom the news needs to break first!

      Ultimately this site may even see me posting original works; I like to maintain the conceit that reverse-engineering these earlier titles is practice of a sort getting me ready for that. But We'll See.

      Looks like your post only happened once! And much to my dismay, I only found out about it a week later when Blogspot totally failed to let me know I had a comment here! Now I'm testy at my host rather than giddy that you joined our short but distinguished list of commenters here. I hope our paths cross again someday! Cheers.