Alden’s ITP Home

Cybercaves 2: Return 2 Cybercave

You can play Cybercaves 2: Return 2 Cybercave here. Setting out on making my original Twine game I had just wanted to play around and have a laugh, working with typical choose your own, cyberpunk, and text adventure genre conventions like so many Lego blocks. I also had two games on my mind: Porpetine’s drown in 2 inches of humid bathbomb water, a game much more serious than mine but that uses Twine to ambigously shift between genres, and Frog Fractions, which I think of frequently as an apotheosis of a kind of cultural overflow, of media objects so steeped in referential circulationism that the joke becomes their own lack of essence. A junk heap of associations somehow given cohesive life. All of that’s still absolutely true in the reboot, but in the making of the first an idea had come to me about this particular style of game’s place with American Gen Xers, about how those same Gen Xers would be on the early internet, how they were or believed they were creating technoutopian cyber dreams of the integrated circuit, about their vision for the world and what they believed the future would hold. At the same time I started having fun with the ambiguous narrative layering of the story I was telling. Are you playing a game in which you play a character who is playing a game, or someone who is jacked into their console, is the Cyber Net the new internet of this world? In order to really bleed through all these layers I wanted you to be able to make decisions that have the game spit you out back into the “real” internet, to have you so fully leave the game that you could possibly end up on Twitter or something while still “playing” it. Not actually Twitter of course, because this is a 199X vision of the network. So I remade a bunch of interesting website I had found in all my old internet guides and put in them real links to that take the player to the Internet Archive. So the player can decide to have the player leave the Cybernet and just check out the regular old web instead, which can lead to the Internet of Now. The game as a whole got very complicated and I lost track of exactly how many endings there are, but I think there are about 14, and progression through the game twists and turns around depending on what items you have and decisions you make. I tend to really like quick games that hide a lot of little secrets and bits and bobs in them depending on the player actions and that was my gameplay model, a little snack you might want to eat three or four times in a row then never eat again. The quickest death screen is to keep eating cybercheese, but if you never eat the cheese there are a couple of ways to win the Cybernet but no way to return to your old reality, whatever that means. Actually that’s not true, but it becomes very tricky. You’ll have to play to find out. In terms of what’s going on under the hood, the game keeps track of your items and then most rooms check what items you have to decide what happens in them. So lots of if statements. Randomness becomes a factor if you choose the more traditional text adventure game route of exploring the cybercave, and whether you live or die can be determined by a dice roll. Very dire. If I were to continue to work on this, and I haven’t decided whether or not I will but I do have a lot of fun doing it, I think I’d expand various narrative outposts. Like making a more fully functional cookie clicker type game in the market and making the depths of the cave bigger. I’d also like to make some more websites that, instead of being reconstructions of old ones, are new websites based on what net users would have imagined future websites to look like. That would be considerably more work but I think would give the game more oomph.