You are SAL: Simple Artificial LifeProgram©.  You "love" a human.  Don't you?  Can you, a logical and digital being, love?  Most importantly, do you want to find out?

(The game has music, so may take a moment to load.)

__________

Don't forget to read the author's note at the end.  I look forward to your thoughts.  Let me know what you think in the comments, or by tweeting with #SNRtwine.

This was made for the xkcd Game Jam and the Greek MytholoJam.   For the xkcd game jam, this game was inspired by the xkcd comic strips "Mutual" and "Game Theory".  I could not finish the game before the end of that jam.

For the Greek Mytholo Jam, this was a pretty loose inspiration. ^^; Not inspired by a particular myth or story, but of the inhumanity of the gods and the humans they fall in love with.  And if the ancient Greeks saw thunder as a "god" with human qualities, what do we today see as "godly"?  Are the things we see as "earthly gods" above us?  There's a lot of spiritual imagery (angelic and demonic) that gets attached to technological advancements and computers, but is that correct?

The back button is disabled in this game. :)

Music used in this game: sun magk & moon magk by David Kanaga.  Used under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.  No changes were made to the music tracks for their use in this game.  Download sun magk & moon magk here: https://davidkanaga.bandcamp.com/album/sun-magk-moon-magk

Comments

Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.

(2 edits)

full disclosure i played this A While ago (maybe a few years? God Damn it's been a while.) and finished it, and then i decided to revisit it recently after remembering it <3 (when i first played it i identified as an alloromantic ace, and now i'm aroace <3, this is only slightly relevant to the comment)

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?

not really since i usually go with my gut when first playing then explore other routes as i replay, i just played as i normally would without the intention of restarting the game (until recently. <3)

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

i pictured ash as chubby with messy red hair, around their mid 20s? i imagined sal as a 90s computer with a text to speech function for some reason <3 to me ash was nonbinary and sal had a more feminine persona due to their programming, but was neutral towards the concept of Gender with reference to themself. this ai can fit so much gender in it <3

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

we talked about sal's logical understanding of their relationship and i ended choosing to take my time to make a decision <3

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

the characters are really cool and it was really cute seeing them play off each other <3 i also really liked the choices presented, all of them had very sound logic and it was easy to see how sal would have come to that conclusion. the narration and character voices are also *chefs kiss* the bit about little syntheses and destructions was really beautiful :'D

it was also pretty cool to see my feelings being reflected in this game (in retrospect this was the aromanticism) i'm not entirely sure if it was intentional but it was definitely very nice to see :D. i also liked how there didn't feel like there was a specific "good end" or "bad end", there's no judgement from ash or the narrative in terms of deciding where to go with the relationship <3 ummmmmmmm i don't think i really have any complaints really <3

5. How did this game make you feel?

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

yeas. no. maybe. i don't know. i feel like this game works best as a standalone but i wouldn't mind seeing these characters again <3 i feel like a follow up would be hard to do though orz (i think interactive fiction with different routes runs into this problem in making continuations, where you either have to a) account for all the choices a player can make which is. a bitch to code. or b) make a specific route quote unquote canon, which can undermine player agency)

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?

maybe it's just me but whenever a story ends i can't really imagine what happens after it? dhfjgkdfhg like i'm usually pretty bad at picturing "after the story" scenarios unless there's an epilogue. to me sal and ash will always be in that state of limbo thinking about their relationship. Somewhere Near Romance, you might say *credits roll*

8. Any other things you want to mention?

i played a few of your games after finishing this, i really like your writing, especially ladykiller needs a twine and lore distance relationship <3!

(1 edit)

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?

Oh yeah for sure. I definitely took the time to think over my decisions and how they would affect the overall progression of the story.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

Nothing much really. I have a very hard time visualising things on my own (like, if you told me to visualise a person you would have to describe their facial features for me and even then, I would only be able to picture one feature at a time and not put it all together. Don't even get me started on trying to imagine a background at the same time). But SAL definitely had Glados vibes and the only defining thing about Ash was that I assumed they had a lab coat.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

I chose "i view our relationship in a logical way" and I think i got a neutral ending. Ash gives SAL a day to think about whether the melting of their minds so to speak would ultimately result in destruction of their relationship or whether they would get along better because of it.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

I really liked how the game doesn't pressure you into having a relationship with Ash, like, that was never endgame. It's nice that our choices do actually matter. I don't think there was anything I disliked really.

5. How did this game make you feel?

Seen. As an aromantic asexual who is in QPRs I relate SO HARD to SAL. Like yes bestie, we both don't have the capacity for love!! But we are trying.

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

I would love to. I think it would be nice to see how their relationship develops based on the ending that the player has gotten, but I understand that would be rather tricky to incorporate.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?

Personally, I think it's possible they could be in a committed relationship, just not a romantic one, at least, not from SAL's view. They may choose to label it as romantic (for their own reasons) but I do not think there would be any attraction so to speak. But then again, you are speaking to an aspec.


8. Any other things you want to mention?

Honestly,I really vibe with the aro rep here. I am aware that it may not be intentional, but I very much did feel as if my experiences were reflected through SAL. And I think this was a rather good representation because it allowed me to respond in a way that was more relevant to my personal aromantic experience than a blanket "Oh I just don't love", even if the options were limited, which is to be expected. The spectrum us infinite and a singular piece of media cannot reflect everyone's experiences. It allowed to be say that I the word for love doesn't fit. Or that I view relationships very differently. I think, even if it was not intended, it allows for people to be more empathetic of and more understanding of apsec people. Thank you for creating this :)

(+1)

It's been hard to respond to comments since I got sick in January (I'm still fighting memory loss and in recovery at the moment, 2022 has been very heavy for me) but I had to reply to this ASAP for reasons that will become obvious.

I made Somewhere Near Romance in 2017. This was before I knew a lot of things about myself: before I realized I'm on the autistic spectrum, and more importantly to your comment, before I realized I'm on the asexual and aromatic spectrum. I didn't realize my own autism and asexuality until 2019. And as for my own place on the aromantic spectrum, that's something I didn't realize about myself until literally last month (for future readers, I'm writing this comment in August of 2022). After reading the book Loveless by Alice Oseman, it gave me a lot to think about concerning myself, and shed  light on my own attitudes towards romance & relationships.  I went into the novel just expecting to cheer for an asexual YA book and the protagonist's journey to realizing her own aceness, but came out of it with a deeper understanding of who I am.

When I replay this game, it becomes very clear to me that part of its purpose, alongside being a philosophical exploration of what love can mean between two people, was to be a space to discuss parts ofmyself before I knew who I was inside.  That's a lot of the reason why asexuality and aromanticism can both be seen in the work: it was made by an aro-ace-spectrum person who didn't realize they were on the aro-ace spectrum yet.

I've gotten a lot of suggestions for what the sequel to this game should be over the years, since I included in the list of questions. It's something I've thought about a lot over the almost half-decade this game has existed.  But what I'm realizing these days is that if I ever make a continuation, I would like it to be one that reflects the things I realized about myself since I made this 5 years ago. Most likely, it will be a discussion of what it means to be asexual & aromantic, as well as what relationships can mean to people within those spectrums.  It's something I want to navigate carefully, as I know that portraying asexuality and aromanticism as a non-human trait can bring more harm than good. So I want to take my time with this.

Please don't expect it to be out anytime soon, as I'm still in recovery at the moment; that is my main focus right now. Not to mention that because of the memory loss, I can barely remember the production of the original game right now. But, when I have some time, this is something I definitely want to do. I hope it can be out someday soon when I'm better.

Thanks for commenting. Oh, and QPRs for the win. <3

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions? 

yeess , it made me think twice before making a decision

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

WELL, in  Ash is a slender tall man in a lab coat , messy violet hair , sleepy tiered eyes . and for SAL I imagined her at first as a female humanoid  

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

it ended very nicely way better than I expected :D , they talked about SAL getting a body and so . 

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

I LOVE THE WAY THEY THINK AND HOW SAL KEPT COUNTING THE SECONDS ITS SO ADORABLE <3 ,omg and when he said "I don't love you for what you're not , ok? " I JUST JSHFKAGFJKAGSD , I did not dislike anything actually maybe just the fact that I get to play it once  

5. How did this game make you feel?

loved?, idk , the way Ash cared about SAL made  me feel somehow loved

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

YESSS PLEASE maybe some angst but this time Ash's POV.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?

As much as I hate to say that .... for some reason I imagine it end tragically :(


8. Any other things you want to mention?

only that I like this game more than I expected :D, also you're a great writer !! keep going <3

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?

It didn’t influence my decision making too much, but it did make the choices feel more important.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

I imagined Ash as male, late 30s-early 40s, brown hair, glasses, handsome but tired looking. And SAL as genderless.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

I chose the logical option, how SAL didn’t have emotions and wouldn’t be able to view the relationship the same way as Ash. And that their different perspectives could go either way — either they’d clash or ‘synthesize’. The game ended with SAL needing to think it over.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

I liked the concept and originality. I would’ve liked the game to be a little longer. It felt more like a demo or introduction.

5. How did this game make you feel?

Thoughtful. It made me consider the nature of relationships more.

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

Yeah :) I’d like to see more of their interpersonal dynamic and what SAL decides on.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship?

An unconventional relationship/friendship, with SAL learning more about emotions and humanity. 

8. Any other things you want to mention?

Not really. This was an interesting experience :)

1. In some ways! It lent a lot of my decisions a significantly larger amount of Weight. I tend to play things sincerely, in a way, on my first time and... every time, but still. It added weight.

2. I centrally imagined SAL as a large branching series of thought processses represented by differently coloured lines, intersecting and swirling in different patterns, in this conversation radiating "out from" (but really into) the voice synthesiser. I imagined Ash as being a fat person with a pleasant blouse, glasses, and looking fairly tired. I mentally assumed both of them to likely be nonbinary, with SAL specifically agender to begin with and then considering some genders as an experiment, or performing them according to people's preferences in worse times.

3. I made the choice that "love is just a word", and that SAL asked for more time. It left inconclusively, in a way, with them waiting for another answer, but still continuing with their interactions.

4. I loved the game, honestly. For the most part, it felt very flexible in the options that it presented to you in approaching the roleplay of the situation, allowing a variety of interpretations and choices/philosophies, which is really refreshing in contrast to many works centered on AI which tend to be oddly human-centric, either in making AI some "lacking" other, a patronising depiction of them "struggling to catch up" or simply ignoring some of the effects that kind of existence and environment might have when applicable. all of those come from an idea of humanity as some unique and innately superior thing oftentimes, and gets stuck in my weird little mental teeth. So thanks <3. I think if I had *a* criticism, it would be a fairly abstract one applicable to.. basically any work with choices of "oh i picked this option but I had a different interpretation of it going in" which isn't something anyone can account for. it's a good game i liked it thank you kind story maker

5. made me FULFILLED, will probably FULFILL my friend a lil hopefully. It made me feel seen in some ways? Which is both surprising and unsurprising in a number of ways. Of course, trans neurodivergent person suckles upon the AI story, etc etc, but it also spoke to some of my own considerations of my feelings. I feel warm afterwards. Gave me some inspiration of my own. Again, thanks.

6. I'd love to see these characters again! this works really well as a self contained story and i fear like me asking for this wouldn't translate, but... hm. maybe as like part of a cast of characters in a wider thing? I don't know, I just want to watch them move around more. I'm fond of them.

7. I see their relationship becoming... something.. *readable* as romantic? I think too much stock is put in the idea of Romance as being some true definable category of feelings. to me, it's always just seemed like... intense fondness? delight in someone's existence? but maybe that's just how I work. Either way, I see them being close, caring friends, romance, plantonic, or something else that these cool cats make happen. Too caring and thoughtful and interested in each other not to. I'd like to think they'd be some people who really explored a variety of different ways of perceiving things and existing together.

9. I just really enjoyed this! Would love to know if there's more things like this that you'd recommend, no pressure of course, and I'll also do the advanced action of "looking at your itch.io page". I really enjoyed this, and i think you have a lovely writing style and approach to this.

(+1)
  1. perhaps. i didn’t play with the expectation of enumerating the routes, but instead took the time to inhabit SAL as a character. i projected a lot on them, but i think that’s my default way of playing story focused games, personally.

  2. i imagined SAL’s “face” as a CRT monitor with a bulky webcam on top. i imagined the bulk of their hardware as something akin to a supercomputer. Ash i didn’t have an appearance in mind for, but thought of them as nonbinary. i imagine SAL would struggle to understand a human conception of gender, but might be somewhat curious about it.

  3. i chose to have SAL be open and honest with their communication, and to seek understanding rather than assert a foregone conclusion. their prime concern was regarding their capacity for emotional connection and fulfillment. in the end the two characters decided to take things slow and explore what their relationship might look like.

  4. i really liked the gentle attention evident in Ash’s voice. i liked SAL’s characterization with how self-aware and articulate they seemed to be, without them being truly distant or uncaring. even in choices i didn’t take, particularly those where SAL seemed to be trying to pull away, it was clear that they cared about Ash and were trying to protect them, avoid hurting them.

  5. i think i felt somewhat warm and cozy. happy? but more in a calm, serene sense. maybe thoughtful.

  6. i certainly wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of these characters. maybe perhaps i’d like to see more from Ash’s viewpoint a bit, but i’m uncertain what i’d want and more would just be interested in seeing what you’d make. (or perhaps have made, potentially. i know this story came out a while ago and i’m not otherwise familiar with your work at this point.)

  7. it’s hard for me to predict where their relationship might go from here. i imagine both might have to better explore their feelings (and/or “feelings”) and what they want in a relationship—what it means to them, regardless of what language they may apply to it. they seem to have a strong starting place with the conversation focused on in this story, so i hope they could further explore these things together in an open an honest manner.

  8. i really loved reading this, thank you for making it! i don’t intend to replay the story for the time being, but i know it’ll sit with me for some time. romance is a difficult concept for me to grasp, as are human relationships in general. there are times when i don’t feel capable of truly meaningful connections with others, and i feel like i must be missing something “essentially human”. i have trouble reading and understanding my feelings, and my apparent need for close, long-term connections doesn’t really make any rational sense to me. when i enjoy someone’s company, i can’t really explain or understand why and that frustrates me. i guess what i’m trying to say is that some of the themes in your story really resonated with me, and it was lovely to examine those themes through the characters of SAL and Ash. again, thank you for making and publishing this :)

1.Yeah, i would probably have played a really centred run, like lying to them and stuff, or being really computer-y and logical, then after feeling like i went through most of what the game has to offer I would play it one last time with the choices I would make if I were in that situation. Playing thinking i could only play it one led to me doing the later option first which was actually a pretty interesting experience! Paid a lot more attention to every dialogue option and its consequences!

2.I was a bit confused about what circular meant in Ash's description so I thought he was a typical computer guy who's like, round? And that SAL was simply in love with a cute nerd guy. I dunno, i thought it was cute. I mostly imagined him being like the collector from pokemon ruby :V and SAL was a computer so like. Karen from spongebob. But with exposed wires?

3. Told Ash about not being capable of loving and then sort of choose the options that led to explaining about how a computer is too logical and stuff. I thought SAL was in love with Ash indeed so like i just went to the most "i'm in denyal" options? They decided to take it slow.

4.I wish Ash showed more of their personality? I understand that this is SAL pov but i think it could have been nice to see more of Ash in maybe dialogue or in their way of acting. Ash seemed sort of a plot point but i wish that they had an opportunity to also talk a little before the conversation went off and stuff started happening? Or maybe i just picked the wrong options for that. Haven't really replayed it yet. They are very mature on their decisions and i actually really liked how they listened to SAL's thoughts and opinions and stuff before commenting on anything. Makes sense that SAL likes them, I think!

5.pretty nice! I loved SAL's inner thoughts! Usually games were theres any sort of AI make me unconfortable with how forceful logical the artificial inteligence is and it comes to a point where the AI is simply a dumbass even in logical matters since the author really tried to make it clear about how limited is an AI mind when it comes to thinking and interpreting but i dont think that's realistic at all but in this game you nailed it a lot i think! perfectly balanced amounts of machine logic and AI self learning being put into emocional situations! loved it!

6.yea. I dunno, SAL receives an update and is now having an existencial crisis because what is this file i just found is it me? or maybe a machine couldnt have such a conflict cause like thats their entire existence, overwriting data and stuff. You could expand on their world, SAL's function on whenever they are or maybe SAL struggling to interact with a human who, unlike Ash, isnt so understanding of her limitations? not romantically interacting, just like maybe a worker on that place. Maybe you could expand on SAL not knowing when humans are lying and so they just resort to interrogating everyone to try to pierce logical facts together but also theyre very stressed from doing it all the time? I have no idea.

7. Ash gonna steal the Krusty Krab recipe along with SAL. Besides that, I think its just gonna continue like it is? Maybe they'll open up to each other (really just Ash cause SAL doesn't have much to hide since they dont lie i think).

8.I think not. I would mention that I like this shade of green, neat choice i think. very contrasting.

(+1)

1. not really! i just answered how i wanted, which is how i would do it even if i did not believe i could only play this once

2. my mental image of the characters were quite loose since i didn't have a "canon" description to go off. ash had a more masculine look (strong jaw, short hair, etc) but i didn't envision them as a man. SAL is a robot, and therefore it didn't make sense to me for them to be masc or fem. 

3. i was honest with ash and we ended up "taking things slow". i found the bit about "how many steps are there?" quite cute for some reason. 

4. i liked playing as SAL! i liked seeing their side of things and seeing how they thought. also, your writing is great, and i really liked SAL's dialouge. i liked that ash felt sorta real to me! they were a bit nicer and calmer than i would maybe expect but i liked them. the only thing i didn't like was that there's no fullscreen option (i'm on laptop) but that's a small thing. another thing, i didn't like that some white text was in the middle of the passage so i'd click on it without reading the rest of the text.

5. it made me feel warm. ash was very patient with SAL and i just loved that aspect.

6. i'd love to see more about ash and SAL's daily routine, especially once they're dating. 

7. i like to think it would work out. they might need to have a lot of talks to think about ways they can help eachother, but i think they'd be very cute together <3

8. just that i really like this game! also the green and black aesthetic adds to the vibe i think. 

(+1)

Thanks for playing! C: I'm glad you liked Ash's patience, the character interactions, and the writing overall.  And yes, the vibes are real! X3

Tysm!

1. I..actually missed the part that said I could only play it once. Though I tend to answer questions in games a lot more closely to how I would in reality.

2. I didn't really envision a gender for Sal in my mind, but Ash I envisioned as a kindly 50 year old male with a neatly trimmed mustache, balding head (as in the only remaining hair being at the sides, with the crown bare) and average build, with a slight southern twang to their accent (I think my mind basically made him look + sound like the doctor from the start of fallout new vegas)

3. My choices leaned more towards being direct to Ash, though when it came down to the choices as to 'why' you felt that you couldn't love him, I wasn't too sure what I wanted to pick. I ended up picking the 'lack of a body' choice partly because I have an immature sense of humour and partly because getting into the headspace of Sal, it felt like that might be one of the big things they would concern themselves about. Ultimately I chose that 'I' didn't want to have a body. The dialogue for this portion was really well thought out and intelligently written I found.

4. I didn't find anything wrong with this beyond the music being way too loud/not having a way to mute it. I'm a little ambivalent about how I felt about the game, but it was pleasant enough that I wanted to see how it all resolved (Sorry, I hope none of this came off as negative, I just didn't develop a strong opinion about it).

5. Well, it was interesting to read, but I didn't have any real emotional reaction to it beyond not wanting to hurt Ash's feelings.

6. Hmm, well that's up to you really. This story is one of your worlds, an expression of a part of you and your experiences. It's a bit of a cop-out for me to say this, but write what you're passionate about and want to write.

7. Honestly, without the context with the rest of the world this is in and the state of rights for true, sentient A.I, it's impossible to say for sure. One day Sal might just have the plug pulled on them, or Ash might be laid off, etc. There are just too many hypotheticals to say which way this would go (though, you can probably see I'm a tad jaded/biased from my examples)

8. There isn't much I can think of to say, beyond it being an interesting read. So, thank you for this!

Thanks for the feedback; I'm glad you liked the game! C:

1. yes, I sometimes replay by choosing specific options to try out different routes, but this time I personalised my responses more to 'make it count'

2. SAL was masc leaning, Ash was fem leaning in appearance - round face, curly hair, average height - but I accept they/them as their gender

3. spoke about it first, need to talk more tomorrow

4. liked SAL's processing and their conversation with Ash, but wanted to know more about how a logical machine would accept dating a human initially + the music was rather loud + a bit disappointed with the ending I got cause it didn't feel conclusive as the other two options (which is fair, but I thought the game would still continue from there)

5. thoughtful

6. yesssss, honestly just more dialogue exploring their relationship

7. I'd see it as an partnership where they openly discuss topics clearly with each other. I don't see SAL reciprocating in the near future

8. love explorations of AI navigating their relations with humans, thanks for posting your take on it!

(+1)

Thank you so much for sharing and letting me know your thoughts! <3

1. A bit? I didn’t know if there would be multiple endings or not but I really tried to just play truthful to what I would do.

2. SAL looked like a computer screen, Ash looked more like a mad scientist, white cost, round glasses, shoulder length brown hair, tan skin. I saw SAL more masc because I was playing them and Ash used they/them so I considered them quite gender neutral.

3. I chose to be honest about not feeling love, and discuss and try and see both sides of the situation. I was neutral in understanding, saying that our relationship could go either way to destruction or stronger connection. I ended with asking Ash to leave to let SAL think about what we had said.


4. I wish there were a few more options but overall I really liked it and I love robots.

5. I really really like robots as I said so playing this logical creation was a lot of fun but I also worried about saying the right thing.

6. This ending was nice but I wouldn’t mind more.

7. I think they put time in to work it out. If they both see each other’s side and keep an open communication I don’t see why they can’t stay together, talking and learning and growing.

8. Robots!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments! ^u^ It's nice that years after release, people still give their input on this game of mine.

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?
I think so, I choosed really quickly most my answers, but when Ash asked us to explain what do we mean, I stopped a bit to think, because there was this answer that I belived was what SAL was trying to say, and what I would say if it was me, but there was also this answer with a topic I have some concerns about lately and that might express how I feel about romantic and physical relationships. Knowing that I should play this game only once made me think about how I really wanted this story to be.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?
Yeah, I assing a gender for both characters. When I think about artificial Intelligence what comes to my mind is a woman, so in my mind SAL was female, plus I'm female myself so I think I thought of SAL as myself while playing the game. Ash in my mind swtiched between boy and girl many times while playing to be honest.
But I started imagining Ash as a boy, I think it was mainly because I started to read the comments (didn't finished because realized I had to play first to answer the questions) before downloading the game and that person in the comments imagined them as a boy so I had this idea before starting. When Ash was male in my mind he had light skin and black hair, but when I imagined them as a girl she had (also light skin) brown hair. 

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?
I started with "You and I must talk". Then I choose "I don't think i'm capable of fully loving you". After that and after thinking a bit I choose "I can't fullfil your emotional needs".
"Is there a difference between these two things?" that was my next answer, before reading the options I was thinking "I don't want to choose, I don't know, both? Ash I'm telling you I'm not capable why you make me doubt?" and things like that, haha so It was great to find this answer,the answer attracted me. And really liked Ash answer, he ... I mean they are so cute.
And in the end decided to take it slow, because I really liked this couple and want them to be together.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game? I liked all being black and green (and white, haha), I liked Ash answers, I liked being SAL and that it was a short game, haha. I also liked having the Author's Notes. I disliked at the beggining the text being slightly to the right, but that was something minor, just my thing. I enjoyed the game.

5. How did this game make you feel? This game made me feel understood and at easy. 

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up? It would be nice to know more about this characters and their relationship. I have no ideas on mind about what I would like to see, but I definitely would like to see a follow-up of this game. If there is not I wouldn't be mad or dissapointed because I really like the end I got.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going? I think is going to work. SAL might not believe it at the beginning, I think she'll still thinking about not being able to love, but I believe they're going to be the most lovely couple.

8. Any other things you want to mention?
Nothing, just thanks for making this short and lovely game. I can't wait to play again after leaving my comment.

...

Wait,there was music? I didn't hear anything. Yep,I have to play again.

Thanks so much for playing! :D I'm glad the game made you feel understood. <3

(1 edit)

Hey! First, I really liked the game. The idea of being the AI and not viceversa is not something many games do but you nailed it. I was hooked! Now to the questions (which made happy since 'hey, I can actually play this again now!')

1. Yes and I loved it. It made me go "ok, you have only one chance-" I wouldn't want to not follow the author's wishes, you see, "-so make sure you won't look back at your decisions and feel bad about any of them." I achieved that, thankfully.

2. I did! I even realised that in-game when I read Ash being referred to as "they"-it made me realise they were a guy in my mind. Ash looked tall and lanky to me, and had dark-ish skin although I'm biased since I'm latina, I guess it's still interesting to me that my brain deafulted to that, haha. SAL was a girl in my head, but that's because I tend to project myself on the characters of this kind of games. She even had a woman-y voice in my head now that I think about it. Woah.

3. I choose to be upfront in that "something's wrong and I'm worried I have no body and you're a somewhat touchy person." Ash was very understanding of it, and I think he may have appreciated the straightforwardness. They made me feel safe. It ended up with SAL asking for some time to think, but I think their relationship is doing pretty ok.

4. I liked it a lot. I liked being the AI. I liked the choices-they're realistic. I like how SAL rationalizes and 'feels' without really realising it. I can see how this relationship came to be tbh. I liked the fact that Ash never seems... disappointed? Maybe it was the atmosphere of "how do I say it?" but I was somewhat prepared for rejection. It didn't happen. They were understanding, but not in an intrusive or overworrying way. I liked them a lot. I might not have liked the green so much (but honestly, not many games even run on mobile, this is great) but it's fitting and it may just be my vision playing tricks on me again.

5. Not anxious, if you consider that an answer. I didn't feel rushed or pressured. I didn't quite feel sad, either. Maybe conflicted. Somewhat worried, but not in a bad sense. Honestly, I felt I would end up trying to trick Ash into liking me, but it either didn't happen or I didn't have the heart for it, and that might have sold it for me. By the end of it I was at ease-things went well, we're fine, and Ash's staying. What else could I ask for?

6. I get the feeling you want me to say no, author. These kind of games usually don't get follow-ups since that means saying "this ending is the canon one" and that's a boomer, haha. If that wasn't the case... yes, I would like a follow-up, or at least to see these two again sometime. Maybe check up on them, if that makes any sense. See how they're doing, or what they're going through, if they have hardships, or even how that world is like, you know? Like, is an AI-human relationship even common in that world? Is it not? Why? On my opinion, follow-ups are fun as long as they add to the story, but saying any of the endings isn't canon takes some fun out of it.

7. Well, I don't know anything about their world but... it'll go well. They might have issues and problems but they trust each other enough to see it through. And weirdly, they really care for each other. I wouldn't want to stand in the way of these two.

7. I love the way you write and I'm here for the ride if you publish more games :D Keep writting! 

Edit: IT'SABADNUMBERBECAUSEIDON'TWANTTOLOSEYOUIT'SABADNUMBERBECAUSEIDON'TWANTTOLOSEYOUIT'SABADNUMBERBECAUSEIDON'TWANTTOLOSEYOUISHIPTHESETWOSOHARD and replaying is fun, sorry.

Yay, to hear that you think I nailed it is super gratifying! ^u^ Thanks so much for the feedback.  Interesting that you went with the "no body" route too.  And I'm either way on writing a follow-up to this; there's no answer I expect there.

I saw your edit; thanks for continuing to love the game!  I appreciate that someone was so invested in it. <3

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?

Actually, yes, it kinda gave me certain consciousness to remain in-character and reconsidering every little detail and my consistency of choices.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

Ash is androgynous name and already using "they" pronoun, and it's not that hard for me to imagine a non-binary character. For SAL, and other non-descriptive MC and the main pov for the story, I tend to go as a feminine figure. There is something like default images for this kinda narrative a perks of being a veteran in text-based RPG ha ha, and it will stay or change depends on more descriptions of said character appeared in the story, like in a fitting room.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

I chose to bluntly discuss about their current romantic relationship, the concern for different view of the said relationship become the mayor reason which is based on my personal concern irl too tbh, and I am pretty satisfied with the decision to take one day time to consider their talk until the next day of Ash visit. Is there a certain different title for the ending, tho? Because I only see the same title of "Somewhere Near Romance" at the end of it and probably miss other than that :')

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

It narrates well about the touchy subjects of building and maintaining a relationship, also it's always fascinate me when two characters who seems opposite of each other are actually-subtly-alternately conversing with their own partner's pattern of speech (SAL's concern sounds more humane, and Ash's keeping track and counter SAL's logic). The things which infuriates me a little is that I can't know how the story goes in the other choices until much later after I comment here :'v

5. How did this game make you feel?

Wistful, and explained more in no.7 below. 

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

This one is pretty wrapped up, so a continuation is not always a necessity, I guess. Oh wait... for that meeting after that "wistful discourse ending" tho... you can give a little closure or conclusion of their relationship! A prequel of how Ash met SAL or how SAL's life and lesson before meeting them, or even the current discussion from Ash emotional pov can also be considered.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?

As my last choice going something like "a discourse can strengthen or destroy a relationship". Well, like the choice itself foretold, it can go one way or another, or they peacefully get back to being just friends.... but regarding Ash seems pretty emotional, that will hurts (what have I done to these two fella and my poor melancholic mind :')))) )

8. Any other things you want to mention?

The list of inspirational sources is such a nice addition to the mind working behind the story.

Thanks so much for the feedback and the wistful comments!  I also appreciate how you liked the inspirational sources that the end--that means a lot! ^u^

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?
It really did. The knowledge that I could only play the game once made me think hard about my choices.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?
I pictured Ash as a nice young person with a warm smile, blonde hair and kind blue eyes. As for SAL, I pictured SAL as a simple computer with wires hanging around it - the old fashioned computer that everyone had before laptops and flat monitors became a thing. I assigned Ash to be female and SAL to be of any gender.


3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?
At the start, I made SAM talk to Ash about the two of them and suggested that SAM is incapable of feeling emotions as humans do and therefore should not be in a relationship with Ash. Soon, the real reason as to why SAM feels this way (when being asked by said person) was because he feel incapable of emotions and that he doesn't feel deserving of Ash as well. In the end, they agreed to stay as friends and the conversation ended.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?
What I like about the game is that it allows you room to picture the characters however you like and the lack of visuals help with this as well. As of yet, I don't think I can list anything I dislike about the game. :)

5. How did this game make you feel?
It made me ponder as to whether or not a situation like this is possible in the future - considering the fact that some people do turn to computers and AI for companionship, and some, for love. It's made me quite introspective.

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?
I would indeed like to see them again in another game. I don't know what I'd like to see in a follow up but I am open to surprises! ;)

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?
Perhaps, considering what's been said, they are better off being friends. Even if things were to develop between the two of them, it all kind of sounds like an ill fate either way. Therefore, it's best to keep both parties safe by staying friends.

8. Any other things you want to mention?
Really good work on the game. Good job! :3

Thank you for playing and commenting! C: Your description of Ash and Sal are both adorable. X3

I appreciate the feedback.  Thank you again!

Aaaaaaaaa you're very welcome <3 ;~;

Deleted 2 years ago

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?
          no, i never actually believed i could only play it once, and i tend to play seriously anyway. i don't do things in games i wouldn't do in real life- or at least, i save those shenanigans for future playthroughs.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?
          i perceived sal as a grey box, thus genderless. ash was a rotund male janitor in my mind.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?
         i'm naturally  very straight-forward, so that's how i approached the relationship. i expressed my concerns, and we both wanted to move forward, so now that all the cards were on the table, i agreed to continue it.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?
          i both liked and disliked the lack of gender for ash. i liked not being limited to a female partner, but i'm still getting used to 'genderlesss' being an option for biological beings. i also wished there was more background for both characters. what is the origin of our routine, where are we going? why did a relationship even happen between us?

5. How did this game make you feel?
         i'm pretty neutral about it. it was very reminiscent of my own real life relationships, because love and affection aren't things i am really capable of. at least, not the way most people are. when i got married, i warned my husband that i am this way, and am unlikely to change. he said he understood and wanted it anyway, but sometimes he admits he didn't really understand the full implications, and i fear that by allowing him to marry me, i've ruined his chances for real happiness.

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?
          if anything, i'd like to see more backstory for both. a brief glimpse of the future would be nice too; how will this relationship work if it is successful? is sal always going to be in this one room? will sal get some kind of mobile body? will ash ever feel a longing for things a machine simply can't give them? would ash want to change sal to suit their needs, leave us for a human, or find a way to accept us as we are? would we ever be enough?

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?
          i see it going like my own real-life relationships tend to go. the emotional party says they understand the difficulties they will have as a couple, to placate the logical partner and allow the relationship to continue. eventually the stress and loneliness overcomes their infatuation and they realize they made a mistake and part ways. they both seem no worse for wear, but deep inside the logical party knows that their chances of ever experiencing emotion have decreased with the end of the relationship.

8. Any other things you want to mention?
          background is important for developing attachment to characters. i didn't feel anything for ash, because i was thrust into a relationship with no backstory on who ash is, how we met, or why they want a relationship with sal.








Thank you for playing and sharing your thoughts! C:
I do plan to make a sequel/prequel with some backstory.  Your comment about the importance of backstory to character attachment has really made me think.

Thank you again!

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?

It mostly just made me less likely to pick options out of curiosity. Like I was very curious where the option about sexual intimacy would go, but ultimately in my role as SAL that was not my concern, so I acted in my role rather than out of curiosity about how things would play out.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

Interestingly enough, I imagine Ash as male and SAL as a genderless computer. Seeing as I am a straight male and this is told from SAL's perspective, I'm not certain why I would imagine Ash as male. Perhaps some part of me was subconsciously identifying with Ash instead of SAL? Not sure.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

I kept on the issue of SAL's being able to love, since that struck me as the issue a computer would be stuck on as it learns and processes emotion. This includes that final choice; I felt the whole time that SAL's concerns sincerely came from a place of being unsure whether they, as a computer, could truly love, so I didn't buy into the idea that it was an issue of self-esteem in this case. Unfortunately that seems to have led to a fairly sad outcome.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

I liked the way it explored the idea of romance and of developing AI, and specifically how it put the player in the role of the computer rather than the person responding to it, forcing us to consider how a computer program would respond to these issues. And it was excellently written to that end. The only thing I felt conflicted about (and this may not be a flaw so much as just something I wish had happened) was the way my choices, inkeeping with SAL's concerns about their capacity for human emotions like love, seemed to end with being unable to work things out with Ash. I'd personally have loved to go into how SAL's logical processes could be an expression of love in and of themselves, to have SAL better understand how even their logic-based reasoning can impart love and caring, but it seemed that once I rejected the notion that SAL felt undeserving, things simply didn't work. Again, not necessarily a flaw, just not quite how I wanted things to progress past that point. Ultimately, I understand that a major point of the game was likely to point out how we sometimes use logical processes to denigrate ourselves into believing we don't deserve happiness, and if that interpretation is onto something I understand why it did what it did. 

5. How did this game make you feel?

Contemplative, mostly. It made me think a lot about how we perceive love, and how it can be felt and expressed even when separated from traditional understandings of emotion and romance. 

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

I guess I'd want more of a focus on the two of them learning about what love means for SAL, and how they can understand and relate to each other given the differences in how they process their own basic experiences and feelings. It could make for some really interesting stuff in a longer story about their relationship.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?

I'd like to say I see it working, but I also kind of envisioned my choices leading to different turns in their relationship. Or at least the potential for it. But regardless I can see how it could work, and I'd be very interested in how it does.

8. Any other things you want to mention?

This was an interesting game, I enjoyed the experience, and it reminded me that I want to learn how to use Twine. Well done!

(1 edit)

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions? 

Not really. Usually when I play any kind of interactive fiction, I am playing for the most optimistic ending. If I get the happiest ending, usually, I don't feel any urge to replay it. I just like being happy. ^^;; So since thisVN was tinged with a bit of sadness, I tried my best. No regrets!

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

SAL didn't have a gender in my mind. I imagined the robot as a computer with a keyboard... it took me a second to realize that Ash was talking out loud (when he was replying in seconds) but all in all I thought of was a computer with Ash typing into it. I did imagine Ash as a boy, though.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

I chose logical responses and didn't sugarcoat anything. So I started outright with "we need to talk." At the end, I choose for SAL to be unsure of where their relationship would end. I guess I figured, SAL is making logical assessments, but emotions, while sometimes logical, aren't generally linear (like there's no A+B=C) so it ended with SAL and Ash still together while SAL pondered their future.

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

I liked the music a lot. There wasn't anything I really disliked.

5. How did this game make you feel?

Bittersweet! ^^;; But that's because I'm an optimistic person and love romance a lot. Actually though, the more I think about SAL (actually, the more I wrote answer 7) the more sweet I feel about it. I liked it a lot.

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?

Hm... I don't really have any ideas for that... I guess I would like to see how other react, especially if SAL is not the only robot of their kind.

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?

Ash... I feel like it's possible that they'd have a future. Because even if SAL can't "love" Ash, its clear that at the very least, SAL is concerned or cares about Ash--otherwise, I think collecting data would take priority over Ash's feelings. Additionally,  SAL cared about disappointing Ash and didn't want to hurt Ash's feelings... so I believe SAL cares about Ash and that that would be enough. It helps that SAL didn't reject Ash immediately as well... I feel like caring about a person can be enough if the other person is satisfied, which Ash does seem to be.

8. Any other things you want to mention?

This was great! I'm glad I played it.

Thanks for playing!  I'm glad you liked it. :)

Interesting storyline that seems like an optimistic take on romance with an AI, but pretty novel in that you're RP'ing an AI role. I like how you try to emulate how an AI would think in describing the AI's detailed thoughts. Gotta say, this reminds me of three stories: the movie called Her, a Black mirror episode called Be Right Back, and an anime called Time of Eve. 

The BGM is a little loud for my taste, otherwise its a real sweet piece of interactive fiction. 

Thanks for playing! :) I'm glad you found it sweet.

This was a really interesting experience. I hope to see more :D

1) Yes. It felt as though my choices mattered more, and that I only had one chance to do whatever it was I wanted to do.

2) Well, SAL I thought was like in a sci-fi movie. A robot with white, glossy metallic outsides and coiled, twisted wires, with eyes that blinked and mouth that moved. A voice that sounded feminine, but not quite human. Ash, I thought looked like any other guy. Dark haired, fair skinned, tall and handsome. Perhaps not too good with expressing how he feels, but likeable ^^ I did immediately think of SAL as a female and Ash male, but after playing it, I thought "why can't Ash be female and SAL male? Why can't they both of the same gender, of sorts?" It's interesting really :D

3) I'm afraid I don't remember all of my Answers, but here goes: I went along with first telling Ash that SAL did truly love him. But when the "I lied" bit came up, I thought perhaps it was better to say it was all a lie. I told Ash that SAL needed time to think when the final decision to take it slow or to stop came up, hoping that perhaps there was another "day", but I suppose not ^^;;

4) I liked this point of view. Not often do you play as a robot, nor do you, as a robot, often tell that you love a certain someone. The choices were rather interesting too ^^ I think the music didn't fit too well with this game, but I didn't really mind it much.

5) This game made me feel rather uncertain. There's always this lingering thought that maybe I should've said something else, or maybe I shouldn't have said something, though there were moments where I thought my choice seemed safe, or right.

6) Yes, for sure. I would like to see where this goes ^^
As for a follow-up, perhaps another day where Ash talks to SAL, with some interesting news - he found someone else.
It does sound a bit dramatic, now that I think about it xD

7) It can go several ways, but I'd like to think that SAL will grow to like Ash even more as time passes.

8) It's too short xD 
It is a game jam, so I do understand, but yeah, I'd love to see more out of this. I believe extending this game with a longer story, or a more compelling one could get players to feel more deeply for these characters, and thus choices would be harder to make - if a game that leaves players second guessing themselves all the way through is what you aim for that is :D
Random game I thought of while playing this: He Beat Her

Thanks for playing! :) I'm glad you liked it.

That follow-up does sound quite dramatic!  We'll see where the next game eventually goes. . .

"I'd like to think that SAL will grow to like Ash even more as time passes."  I hope so. :)

I would like to make "more of this" in the future. ;) If I may ask, what do you mean by extending the game with a longer/more compelling story?

Enjoyed this game. I made choices that reflected SAL being unable to feel true love and that just made the game sadder. I will replay to see all the routes, so here are my answers! :D

1) Not really, that's not a factor for me in any choice based game.

2) SAL for some reason I visualised as one of these sci-fi robots with white, shell-like casing (think like the ones from the film I, Robot) and Ash as...Ash Tyler from Star Trek Discovery, because that's what comes to mind these days (big fan). I did mentally assign genders: SAL female, Ash male. My perception is obviously coloured by my own orientation.

3) As I said before I made the choices where SAL is unable to feel true love and Ash accepts this, and they remain friends.

4) Liked: the poignant, self-reflective POV and the sadness. Disliked: the music. It's not bad, but very rarely I can abide music while reading. It's distracting. Purely my own problem and not the fault of the track itself.

5) Sadness mostly. I felt bad for Ash, because I think they wanted something more from the relationship that SAL can't give them. I'll replay and see what other paths are like, though.

6) I would like to see them again, but I think not together. I'd like to see Ash with someone who can fully give them what they want, and SAL with another robot who is as analytical as them. Or possibly by themselves too.

7) I'm honestly not sure and any kind of prediction would just be me projecting my own relationship desires. With this in mind I think that Ash will eventually drift away from SAL.

8) I love Steven Universe : 3

(1 edit)

Thank you for playing and for your responses!  If you don't mind elaborating, I'm a bit curious on some of the things you said: for #6, what do you think Ash wants in a relationship?  And for #7, why do you think Ash will drift away from SAL?

I'll be checking out your game in the jam asap. :) Thanks for the feedback!  If you see other routes later, please let me know what you think of them.

(Woo!  Steven Universe is great.)

I think that Ash wants someone who can fully love them in the way they want to be loved, which includes honest emotional responses (that SAL cannot provide). I think that's what everyone wants really. Again this might just be me projecting but Ash saying that they don't mind SAL being so logical and different from them, is a bit self-deluded because Ash wants to continue the relationship.

I think Ash will drift away eventually once they realise that SAL and they want different things and SAL cannot give Ash what they want. But as I've said this is coloured by my own experiences with relationships. I think I'm reading this as a sci-fi parallel of "I love you but you only see me as a friend" and I've been there like many of us have been. In these cases trying to remain friends is difficult and people tend to drift away. Not always but this has been mostly my experience.

Then again this is just an interpretation. Everyone sees different things and that's the beauty of art, isn't it? :) 

I hope you enjoy playing my game and I'd love to see some feedback! It's a rough first effort but I'm proud of it in a weird way. I was a bit hesitant to make a twine but after playing the great twine games in this jam I'm pretty encouraged. :D

1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?

It made me more nervous about picking "wrong" answers that would make the game end badly. I might play it again , but it is interesting to think about what you could do if you only had one chance.

2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?

I thought of her as some sort of advanced lab computer, and I thought of him as a worker at the place. I can't imagine people or places as images in my head, so I didn't really think about how they looked too much. I thought of her of a girl, but as she and I alternated bettween he and they for him, settling on him after some thought.

3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?

At the first choice I picked _"No. I believe you and I must talk." because pretending everything was fine seems like a bad idea, then I picked _"I don't think I'm capable of fully loving you." Because I think that hiding the truth is a bad idea, and it seemed like a cop out.  At the next option, I really wanted to go for "I was not made for physical intimacy" but _"My understanding of our relationships rests in very logical places." seemed more in character and like a good choice as well. At the last choice #2 seemed really dramatic, #3 seemed like a cop-out. and after option 1 seemed really heartwarming, esp after the speach that ash gave (that speach made me think of asm as a real character, and without it I would have gone with 3).

4. What did you like and dislike about this game?

I loved SAL's inner thoughts and the delema that she was facing, the gender neutral pronouns just worked very well (there are a lot of games where they don't work) I liked both the characters and how they thought, the idea of this game is handled really amazingly with a maturity that is almost never seen. 

5. How did this game make you feel?

Contemplative, nervous, happy, sometimes saddish. Once everything seemed to work out I was happy, and the way the game dealt with its theams made me very contemplative. The music fit well with the game. I love the way that even though they have very different perspectives, they are able to appreciate and love each other

6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?I would want see them again, but can not think of anything in perticular that I would want to see, the big thing for me is the way that you portray the situation and the people+ the strength of the writing, and that is not going to change

7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going? I cant imagine anything sexual, seeing as she is a computer, but I can imagine them being partners. I keep finding myself wanting to gush about how good the idea and writing are, but I can't think of anything to say.
8. Any other things you want to mention?
You are such an amazing writer! I love the way that you make the characters just click, and be thoughtful, heartwarming and everything. I clicked on the button expecting to find a timewaster as I was waiting to sleep, and It blew me out of the water!  Sorry for the wall of text!

Thanks for playing! C: Don't be sorry for the wall of text--I super appreciate your detailed comments, and am really happy to see people responding to my feedback questions.  Thank you so much! :D