March 1, 2014 12:12 PM | John Polson
Social interaction can be exhausting; however, Lannie Neely III's puzzle-RPG Social Caterpillar offers a glimpse of the world that awaits a gamer-introvert who steps out of his or her cocoon.
In your 1-2 hour quest, you begin in your bedroom unable to travel or socialize far from your comfort zone. Even trying to relate to your family is a struggle.
At the end of every day, you recharge in solitude mashing buttons on a random game. If your social interactions went successfully, your social stamina will increase, allowing you to go even further during the day out.
The puzzles are somewhat abstract conversation patterns you must complete, with some conversation pieces only obtained through other interactions. Not all of the puzzles are meant to be "figured out," either, the developer explained to me.
"One of the ideas I tried to implement is that not everything you do in a social interaction is something you figure out. Sometimes you figure out an answer that works and continue to use it without knowing why. I could explain the logic behind the solution, but it's irrelevant in the face of the matter because, to put it simply, you can bullshit your way through almost any social interaction!"
Put differently, Lannie says, "The true beauty lies in the fact that you can say the right answer without knowing why it's the right answer." I found several of the puzzles to be logical and a few even stimulating, but they aren't what I'd recommend the game for.
Social Caterpillar connected with me at a fundamental level, especially the last interaction which I just struggled with in rea life. I'm not sure the logic used to "defeat" the stage would be how I'd overcome the real-world-parallel, but it gave me a bit to think about, as I think it would anyone dabbling in the games industry.
Lannie's Social Caterpillar is available for $3 for Windows users.