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.

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!

(Edited 1 time)

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

(Edited 1 time)

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