The Mary Jane of Tomorrow

mj_of_tomorrow.jpgFor IF Comp 2015, I offered as a prize to contribute a piece set in the same universe as the author’s game. Steph Cherrywell chose this prize for Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!, which was exciting, since I’d enjoyed Brain Guzzlers a lot; and also slightly daunting, since Steph obviously didn’t need any help in coming up with art or feelies. Originally I was going to write a short story, but as I replayed the game and reviewed transcripts, I was hit with an idea for something more interactive. The result is The Mary Jane of Tomorrow, a not-too-difficult parser puzzle game set a few months after the events of Brain Guzzlers. (Estimated play time roughly 45 minutes, give or take.)

In the tradition of fanfic, it focuses on the relationship between a couple of the characters in the original game, Mary Jane Minsky and Jenny Yoshida. In canon, their closeness is demonstrated in various ways but never given center stage.

Gameplay-wise, The Mary Jane of Tomorrow is about training a robot to demonstrate certain personality and knowledge traits. To do that, the game makes extensive use of procedural text, borrowing the text generation library and even some of the corpora I used for Annals of the Parrigues. After the fold, I’ll talk about Mary Jane as a procedural text project, but it’s spoilery, so you probably want to play it first if you think you might enjoy it.

Steph decided she wanted to share her prize with the public, so The Mary Jane of Tomorrow is now available to play — and she even very kindly made some cover art for it, to match up with the rest of her work.

The game’s been uploaded to the IF Archive; in the short term, there’s also a Dropbox link for it, which I’m hoping will hold up until the file moves out of Archive Pending.

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IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: Janice M. Eisen on Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!


As part of the ongoing project to get new reviewers talking about IF Comp games, Janice M. Eisen has written about Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! Janice is a long-time player of parser IF who beta-tested for Infocom.

Continue reading “IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: Janice M. Eisen on Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!”

IF Comp 2015: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)

The 21st annual Interactive Fiction Competition is currently on, through mid-November. Voting is open to the general public; the only prerequisite is that you not be an author, not vote on games that you tested, and submit votes on at least five games. (You emphatically do not have to have played them all! In a year with 55 entrants, it is very unlikely that most judges will get through anywhere near all of them.)

Cover art for Brain Guzzlers from BeyondBrain Guzzlers from Beyond! is a parser puzzle game set in the trope-world of 1950s alien invasion movies. The author is Steph Cherrywell, author of Jacqueline, Jungle Queen! and Chlorophyll, both thoroughly enjoyable easy puzzle games. It promises to be polished, with this nice cover art and an attractive feelie as well. There were teasers for it on the IF forum months ago, and the blurb is charming and confidently written.

This is basically as good a first impression as a comp game can make.

I played to what I believe is the only winning ending. It took me most of the two hours of comp judging time, and I had to get a hint from another player for one bit, but I didn’t need to take any notes. Some players may find they want to map.

Continue reading “IF Comp 2015: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)”