One of the few downsides of being a gamer is the post-"new game" crash. No matter how into a game I may be, I always feel the need to seek out something new and different. If only I were a millionaire the constant urge to play something new wouldn't be such a problem. I just can't afford to feed my habit at the rate I'd prefer.
That is why I love the gaming community. New games, new mods, and new play groups are always within reach. If only Tantalus had the internet, he may not have suffered.
And. there really is no conceptual boundary that some aspiring programmer won't cross. Making tea, experiencing the life of a fly, or a psychedelic space romp have all been put to code. Given that my favorite genres are rpgs and sims the creators who put out content with rpg maker are a community I follow.
I know I could program games for myself to play, but it's like running your finger down your side to test if you are ticklish. It's always a let down. But, as soon as someone else comes along and does the exact same thing you wind up begging for mercy.
A few weeks ago I was in a particular doldrums and strayed a bit further from my usual download sites than usual. After a while I found a forum post linking to a game simply called "Milgram's Bunny". The post said it was made with rpg maker and was designed to test your ability to manage a rabbit farm. I wouldn't be surprised if you had an idea where I got it; it's from one of the places of the internet where only the brave dare go.
Installation was a breeze and the controls seemed intuitive enough. Which was good, given that the only onscreen prompts were "Reward the good bunnies and punish the bad ones. Don't let a bunny die or you lose."
The play screen was comprised of about half a dozen cages, each with its' own bunny sprite. With the right buttons I could reward them with food, water, and clean straw. I could even given them a "rabbit treat" which appeared to be some kind of special food item. I could use a demand button to ask a specific bunny to perform a single task such as be petted, do a trick, or dance a rabbit jig.
I have to admit, it was an addictive game. I spent a lot of the first few days trying to learn how to maximize the happiness of my farm's inhabitants. If I wasn't at work, I was in the game.
The sheer number of options of commands left me dumbstruck. There was a Scribblenauts-esque system allowing for hours of experimentation. Maybe I let the power go to my head a bit, but what good is being a god if you can't throw a few lighting bolts. I can't be the only person to remove a swimming pool ladder or two.
My favorite rabbit, Jasper, danced on command for me for over an hour. Morris' cage might have been slightly on the damp side when I gave him a few extra helpings of water. Jenny literally ran in circles when ever I felt like it.
Once, just for the hell of it, I asked one of them to eat it's poo. Shrugging was it's only response. I asked again. A vehement "no" motion with it's head was the only response. I asked again, but met with further resistance.
Remembering the unused punishment icon, I gave the bunny a slight taste of what to expect should he keep resisting. An animated jolt struck with Looney Tunsian flare. For a few seconds, just long enough to make me nervous that the game might have froze, it did nothing onscreen. Then, with a start, he obeyed my command.
I wish I could say my newly discovered ability went underutilized. I guess my gaming wanderlust was beginning to set in again. Besides, It was just time efficient to terrorize them into doing what I wanted. I didn't have to wait for a sleeping bunny to wake up naturally, so I had a lot more to manage in the game at any given time. Also, I never had to deal with a back talking bunny again. At least not until Morris began to bite me every time I wanted to pet him.
No number of special treats could coax him into good behavior. Surly and argumentative to a fault, my patience had reached its' limit with him. I hit the punishment button and watched the animation. He bit me again. I replied in kind only to have him continue his defiance.
I started experimenting with the setting on the punishment button, and found I could turn the voltage up. Again, I chided him. He showed no improvement. I kept increasing the voltage until I reached the maximum safe amount, as I didn't want to hurt him seriously. Only defiance met my kind restraint.
That was it. If he wouldn't obey his god, he earned his fate. I adjusted the voltage to maximum and let loose the punishment icon. Suddenly, the game simply stopped and said "A Bunny had died. You Loose."
I was about to reset the game when the text changed to "communicating with server. Leader board Updated. Congratulations, You have earned the high score." As I typed in my name, I barely suppressed a chuckle. My dim-witted bunny with a deathwish, Morris, was at the very bottom.
"He couldn't even do that right," I thought.
Unusually, the game resisted my attempts to load it again. It simply returned a message of "Game Completed." I thought about trying to seek out the source file again and do a clean install, but it was time to experiment with something else.
A few weeks passed and I moved on to new games. It was barely a memory by the time I awoke, struggling against an unknown assailant. Despite my efforts, the attacker had too much of an advantage against someone who'd been asleep just moment prior.
When I awoke, again, I was in a metal lined room with only a computer, a desk, and several tubes for the delivery of food and water. The slight hum of electricity could be heard behind one of the walls. Several dozen familiar names, those from the high score list, were roughly hewn into the desk. The computer was already on, with some variation of Milgram's Bunny already running. Instead of the normal controls, the layout looked more like something out of a sims game where I could directly control the rabbits actions. At the top of the screen were the simple instructions, "If you want to live, try to be a good bunny."
I have been a good bunny haven't I? I have never bit you once and I dance all the time. The only bad thing I have done is find the debug mode and use it to send you this message. But please, don't punish me for it . I did it when you were sleeping. You never even noticed.
Or, at least I thought you hadn't noticed. Did it make you mad? Is that why you won't feed me. It's been almost two days since you gave me anything to eat. Just tell me what I did and I will stop.
Do you not like the dancing? Or, do you want me to dance in time with the sprite. I tried it once, but it seemed to have no effect. Have I not let you pet me enough? Did I not perform enough tricks? Anything, I swear to god I will do anything to amuse you, just please don't kill me.