It's kinda neat to stop and think about how the game has changed since the beginning. In an earlier dev journal, I wrote about how I wanted to step up the game's presentation: better graphics, better music, a more cohesive narrative element. And just a few short weeks ago, I decided to do the opposite, going even more lo-fi than usual and thus embracing the indie freeware game cliche. To match the new art style, the narrative elements have been drastically scaled down, with the once detailed and nuanced mission briefings reduced to a few, bold, sometimes surreal imperative statements.
This use of the imperative-- a very peculiar and deliberately "naive" sort of imperative with almost no punctuation, rendered all in uppercase letters-- extends to the game's instruction manual. For example, it prefaces the walkthrough section (detailing briefly the sequence you are intended to break) with
THIS IS HOW TO DO IT IF YOU ARE LAME
DON'T BE LAME
and sums up a particularly difficult section of the game with
THIS PART IS EASY UNLESS YOU SUCK AT GAMES
Which might rub some players the wrong way, I know. But I think the tone is actually pretty amusing, and I hope it strikes players the same way. As with most things, however, there is a delicate balance to be maintained, a line that one has to be careful about crossing.
The second mission charges you with rescuing six adorable kittens that have been kidnapped by nefarious Canadians-- which should tell you something about how seriously I'm taking the game's new narrative direction. To transport said kittens, you acquire a Kitten Gun, which will shoot them across chasms and through special Kitten Doors, et cetera.
I was telling my wife (like myself, very much a cat person) about this item, and she expressed concern: "You won't be able to hurt the cats, will you?"
"They're invulnerable to all the enemies," I explained, "but there is one way to hurt them-- something you have to do very deliberately, something that can't possibly be done by accident-- and if you do, you get an automatic game over. A screen pops up and yells at you about it and then the game blips off."
"What does the screen say?"
DID YOU JUST MURDER A KITTEN WITH THE [REDACTED]
YOU [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE]
YOU DON'T DESERVE TO PLAY MY GAME
GO KILL YOURSELF
And my wife, perhaps wisely, decided that that last part probably crossed the line a bit, and requested that I delete it.
Like I said, a delicate balance.