5 – Asides

I believe the first time anyone implemented Footnotes in Interactive Fiction was when Steve Meretzky and Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. During play, after certain actions, you would see something like [footnote 4]. This was an invitation to type >FOOTNOTE 4, and a fun footnote would print out.

This of course is an homage to Adams’s Hitchhiker novels and radio plays. Footnotes were common, and were a large part of the beauty and humor of those books.

So I decided to implement Asides. These are similar in that they reveal things that may not be game-related directly, but are fun facts about either my real life or things that happened in the game, filtered through the unreality of the fictional world I have created for Put-Peep(tm).

And I trigger them during certain actions.

Whenever you see a * in the text, you are being invited to type >*, which reveals some fun fact, detail or other thing I wanted players to know.

Often these asides have jokes in them, or are just humorous in their own right.

The first one comes when I say that this is an autobiography, but the names have been changed.

Then the first Aside goes on to say what the names have been changed to but then hilariously, if I do say so myself, what they were changed from.

Of course neither pair relates to any real names, but I found it funny to let players think I changed the names, but then gave the real names, negating the point of changing the names. And even then I have one name that is mentioned only once, and that is only if you get a particular Aside, and then one name which is never mentioned, but gives me an opportunity to give the old “We don’t talk about Bruno” line from Encanto.

There are asides about the Quarter.

The Quarter is an object that has zero use in the game, but is a bit of a reward for >SEARCHing things. It is a game of searching after all, and if you search the Comfy Seats in the Lobby, even before you get to enter your office (why would you????) you find a Quarter.

The Aside for the Quarter even mentions that it has no use in the story, and you should think of it as a virtual Feelie. Something to carry around for no real reason.

You can >READ QUARTER, and you can try to >PUT QUARTER IN KEYCARD READER, and >PUT QUARTER IN CRYSTAL CASTLES, but there is no valid result except some info. And if you do try putting it into the arcade cabinet you lose it. (But you can pick it up in the morning when you get the key from HR.)

But the quarter is special because it’s the Canadian Poppy quarter, which has a red poppy etched on it. There’s a fun story about US Customs and this quarter in the Aside.

And in a case of dual Asides, I actually put a * in the Aside for the quarter when I mention the Poppy.

The second Aside talks about the Poppy being the international symbol of the end of the World Wars, and a commemoration of the dead, and that for some reason it has little significance in the US but is known almost everywhere else in the world.

Other Asides talk about Crystal Castles, and if you play Crystal Castles, you can get an Aside that talks about you once owning a Polybius Arcade Cabinet.

There’s an Aside about the rules of Put-Peep(tm).

There is an Aside about Glenmorangie.

There is an Aside about the stresses of game development.

There is an Aside about the “Armontadillo” crate, which fesses up that it’s just a joke item put there for funzies.

There are a few others as well.

Asides are triggered during gameplay, and if you do not read the current Aside before another one is triggered, you may never get to read that Aside, so always >* when you see a *.

And most are only ever triggered to be read once. Once you read and Aside, you never trigger it again. Mostly. I think there are a few that will re-trigger if you examine the object.

And while the Asides have zero to do with the game, they have plenty to do with the story.

If you play, I hope you get to read them all.