[pop.zip] - Pop ver.2

Author
tucan
Released
Aug. 22, 1998
Genre
Puzzle
Company
Damage, Inc.
Size
55.0 KB
Boards
34 / 42
Rating
No rating

Closer Look: Pop

By: Dr. Dos
Date: Sept. 28, 2016
Page #4/4
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345 346 347
jenner
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
jenner: bye, bye, kiddo!
/i/i/i/i/i
you: who the hell are you?
/i/i/i/i/i
jenner: let's just say... i've been watch-
/i/i/i/i/i
ing closely...
/i/i/i/i/i
you: i see. and what the hell is that?
/i/i/i/i/i
jenner: no time for talk, kid, i'm busting
/i/i/i/i/i
outta this hell-hole dimension!
/i/i/i/i/i
jenner: and remember, kid, don't go
/i/i/i/i/i
through the passage! you'll fucken'
/i/i/i/i/i
regret it!
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
357 358 359 360

Jenner is whisked away into the portal he created to escape from the tower's dimension and return back to his own. Despite warning the player not to cross the exit, there's nothing else for the player to do at this point but proceed.

361
you
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
@you
/i/i/i/i/i
you: at last... the exit...
/i/i/i/i/i
you: all that trial... all that error...
/i/i/i/i/i
you: winds down to a single doorway...
/i/i/i/i/i
you: leading to a single beach...
/i/i/i/i/i
you: leading outta this goddamned tower!
/i/i/i/i/i
you: but what am i waiting for?
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
367 368 369
Interaction
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
@interaction
#cycle 1
 
you: nyrrr... my head...               
   
/i
watchers: hello player... we've been, uh,
watching you.
/i
 
you: you have?                         
 
/i
 
watchers: moron.
   
/i
   
you: so what happens now?               
   
/i
watchers: well, having beaten the game;
essentially, you die now.
/i
you: what?! damnit, i thought i beat   
the game!                               
/i
watchers: well... er... you did. but
the author wrote it in the script. that's
indelible. you kind of have to die now.
/i
you: yeah... what, *you'll* fucking ice 
me? you're just a bunch of friggin' dis-
embodied eyes!                         
/i
watchers: i'm sure the author'll work out
some sort of arrangement. (it won't hurt.)
/i
you: but... i thought i beat the game! 
i can't just bloody die!               
/i
watchers: does it make a difference? you
had a fun time getting here, enh? (or not)
we saw you work out all those tricky
puzzles. er... good job.
/i
you: *bleedin'* good job? that's it? then
i die? the ending's supposed to be bloody
happy!                                 
/i
 
you: ...                               
 
/i
 
watchers: ...
 
/i
watchers: if it makes you feel any better,
you're not the one to blame for this
*cough* strange turn of events.
/i
 
you: who *fuckin'* well is then?       
   
/i
watchers: you've been staring at him the
whole time, damnit.
/i
<the white on dark blue smiley suddenly
realizes, with a strange, lucid sensation,
that he *has* been staring through a large
window cut into the sky this whole time.>
/i
<at the recieving end of the window is
a disappointed looking adolescent boy.>
/i
you <facing the boy>: you bloody wanker!
it was *you* that led me to this crappy 
ending!                                 
/i
watchers: he couldn't bloody avoid it.
just wanted to see what's at the end of
the road. undeniable curiousity and all.
this is the end of the road. it's quite
crappy, we must say.
/i
 
you: damn straight.                     
     
/i
watchers: look at the clown. his fingers
are trailing toward <esc>. he's wasted a
few hours, now he wants to go to bed,
damnit. of course, he's entirely ignorant
of what's building up here.
/i
 
player: nyerggh...
   
/i
watchers: you forget, of course, that it's
a wholly acceptable (and large)
probability that the adolescent boys
guiding you in this dimension are being
guided themselves in their own... to an
irreversible death, really.
/i
 
watchers: but now... you *must* die.
 
/i
 
you: how dramatic.                     
 
/i
<as a large battalion of previously unused
cerebral nerves spring into synapses,
producing many a probing thought, a large
brick hurtling from the sky at a steady
70 miles per hour buries itself into your
brain...
/i
... and empties your brain of all
thoughts entirely>
/i
you: you bastard programmer! you couldn't
think up a better death?!               
/i
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

The fourth wall is suddenly annihilated in some commentary on player agency that you'd expect from Undertale. All the talk of a game and a secret ending was literal. The mention of giving up being the only way to escape, and escaping the tower being certain death are also revealed to be true.

By playing Pop you've agreed to its rules, and a ZZT game has to end with a game over whether you've won or lost.

While today this sort of meta narrative of "is the player guiding the game's player or is the game's player taking the person at the keyboard on a journey" isn't the most groundbreaking and insightful commentary, I have to give Tucan props for coming up with this scenario in the late 90s as an early teen. Also, the very safe guess that whoever was playing Pop would be a teenage boy who wants to sleep.

If the player has more than eight gems (cheating gives you five at a time) the game cuts out here. If the player has fewer than eight, they'll go straight to the credits. If the player's managed to get all eight, they proceed to the secret ending from this point.

407 408
st. smiley
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
/i/i/i
step on to the cloud... that's right,
sonny...
/i
st. smiley: okay, kid... let's check
your record...
/i
 
you: w-w-where am i?                   
 
/i
it has many names... but for sanity's
sakes, you can call it.....
 
s m i l e y h e a v e n !
 
/i
 
you: wow. spiffy echo effect.           
 
/i
st. smiley: mrmph... let's see...
babyhood is spotless... don't get too
many of those...
/i
eck. your adolescence detracts some
points, tiger...
/i
 
your adulthood isn't too great either...
   
/i
 
you: but... but...                     
 
/i
st. smiley: no matter. i'll let you in
on account of your retrieving eight
maaagical gems. wow.
/i
you: wow! thanks! er... what goes on here
anyhows?                               
/i
st. smiley: eternal bliss, perpetual
happiness... occasionally freaking out
militantly paranoid types. it's fun.
but we don't show that in this game.
/i
st. smiley: there's also the obligatory
cameos. knock yourself out.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Cameos and closure that at least the smiley player went to heaven. It's a happy ending?

422 423 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432

The cameos are pretty straightforward additions of ZZTers, family members, and singer Ani DiFranco. Cameos were really popular within the ZZT community. z2 even had a list people could post their preferred colors and character. Most games just had relatively pointless boards like this one. Some would have a cameo mid gameplay as a non sequitor. Still others would actually have their games plot entirely revolved around cameos of other ZZTers, both in the sense of "this is a game about ZZT and ZZTers" as well as "this is a game that has nothing to do with ZZT, but is full of ZZTers as the characters of its own story".

434
credits
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
/i
·─-─-─-·
general credits
·─-─-─-·

concept ... tucan.
design ... tucan.
music (or lack thereof) ... tucan.
graphics ... tucan (some credit to hm).
 
/i
·─-─-─-·
special thanks
·─-─-─-·

andy warhol ... i dunno.

bongo ... giving a damn.

booth ... creating bizanloo.

chronos ... for that inventory engine
idea, which, a half year ago, wouldn't've
been possible for me.

cly5m ... kudzu, damnit.

draccko ... inspiration from that teen
priest beta.

tseng ... the stasis qube cameo, also
giving a damn.

nimby ... giving a damn, relieving irc
boredom.

xabbott ... being generally cool.

all those saps in damage inc. for letting
me in.

all those saps that actually visit
phish stampede.

all those saps in #darkdigital.

all those saps who were naive enough to
think this game was worth looking forward
to.
/i
·─-─-─-·
music tuc listened to.
·─-─-─-·

the beatles-past masters, volume 2.
the beatles anthology three.
beck-mellow gold-odelay.
pavement-wowee zowee-brighten the corners
crooked rain crooked rain.
the velvet underground.
ani difranco-imperfectly.
jimi hendrix-electric ladyland.
the doors-the best of the doors. 

/i
·─-─-─-·
if you liked this game...
·─-─-─-·

send me money.
wait for space otter/burning acid 2.
make sure you don't have kids with the
same taste in zzt games.
/i
·─-─-─-·
good night. thank you. bye.
·─-─-─-·
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
443 444

The linked Xoom page is pretty decently preserved and has a lot of information about Tucan and some descriptions of ZZT games he was working on including "Liquid", a sequel to Pop. Check out the cosmic melon

And that's Pop!

I went into this game remembering that it was a hit when it was released, and that I never got anywhere in it at the time. My thoughts on the game as a whole are really all over the place. The archived version of Tucan's site leads me to believe this game was made by a 13 year old, and when you realize that, it pulls up the game's flaws and makes what it does well more impressive. There's a very good sense of being brought to a strange world, and that world is built cohesively. The giant early dumps of information could be handled a bit better, but it does ensure that if the player takes what they're told to heart, they'll have a much easier time progressing through the tower grounds.

Visually, the game has a well-crafted aesthetic. Boards like the entrance hallway's inside/outside perspective really give a sense of depth compared to just a simple rectangle for a room. There's plenty of animation as well, birds flying away, drills operating, simple touches that help bring the boards to life.

I think my biggest complaint about Pop would have to be the constant backtracking. In this article I had the luxury of just cutting from one board to another, but in gameplay you'll find yourself running across large empty boards many times. It's made worse if you aren't taking advantage of the walkthrough as a wrong hunch on how to solve a puzzle can waste a few minutes of your time.

Pop's puzzles themselves also aren't the best. You'll have a harder time getting into the tower than anything else in the game. There are also the moments of inconsistencies like not being able to give the librarian the mango unless you lured the frog with it, or only being able to use the sink in one of the bathrooms to find the glyph in the soap when the other can't be interacted with at all.

There's a fun game here, but a slow one. The characters are fun to talk to, and there's a sense of humor about everything while also maintaining enough of a serious mystery. The ending is hyped up throughout the game, and I found myself curious about how the game would actually end. It kept me motivated enough, and just as the game began to wear thin it was time to end it.

The sidequest for the gems meanwhile, is a mess. First of all, the game is bugged so you can't actually get all the gems, but then most of the gems doing things repeatedly that do nothing over and over again until suddenly it works and you're rewarded. Nobody is going to kick a vending machine five times when kicking it a second time says the same thing as the first time. The guy who says 50 things may be pointless, but there's at least knowledge that every time you talk to him, you get something different.

If you read through this before deciding to play Pop, well, there's not all that much to see that you haven't already here. It's a decently put together adventure game, a genre in ZZT that's a bit lacking, and that gives it an edge as something noteworthy. Playing along with the walkthrough can make the game move forward at a fast enough pace that it could certainly be an enjoyable experience just journeying through the strange dimension that Tucan created. Playing it blind I feel will really suck the excitement out of it.

For an amateur adventure game by a 13 year old, Pop does a pretty solid job, but pitting it against the adventure game genre as a whole would be asking too much of it.

The Closer Looks series is a part of the Worlds of ZZT project, committed to the preservation of ZZT and its history.
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