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by Victoria


Web Site

(based on 5 ratings)
5 member reviews

About the Story

The first thought is always the same: ‘coffee’. The warm glow of the kettle fills the van as it comes to life at an enviable pace. Suddenly, with a snap, the lights shut off, the kettle dies with dignity, you bang your head on the counter. You forgot to check the solar systems battery charge again...

A snap of that sunrise should look inspiring enough to pay for the repairs, you hope.

How long will you survive #VanLife?

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Current Version: Unknown
IFID: Unknown
TUID: is9c919yxx9plrlq


Entrant - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzling UI, October 3, 2020
The puzzle of this game is figuring out its menus. I played on easy mode with plenty of money, but I couldn't figure out how to buy the stuff I needed to keep my mood from falling rapidly to 0.

It's possible that figuring out the menus is supposed to be the point, somehow, but I don't think so… I think the game was trying to force me to consider trading off alternatives (money, power, mood). But since I couldn't really figure out the menus, I didn't get the opportunity to make those choices.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A sendup of influencer culture in gamified form, October 20, 2020
by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano (Oakland, California)
#Vanlife is an odd game whose goal seems to be to juxtapose the veneer of an enlightened life on the road with the hell of dealing with freelance work (and terrible batteries).

I was very on board with the wry humor underlying this piece, and I appreciated the design: nice visuals and interface, and what appears to be a storylet engine that generates events.

Unfortunately, there are issues that make the experience very hard to enjoy. The math problems are jarring and not very accessible, the resources don’t seem balanced, and the events feel a bit random and repetitive after a while. Above all, it was hard for me to stay motivated after losing repeatedly to obscure battery management issues, even on “easy” mode—funny the first time, not so much after that.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Prototype for an educational game, no real story, October 12, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This seems more like a proof-of-concept for an educational game. As far as I got there wasn't really a story. Your choices consisted of whether or not to use electricity (a precious commodity living in a van with solar panels) to do things like make coffee, or wash dishes with hot water. Then you had to answer math questions regarding how much power it would take to run the selected appliance.

Again, this seems like it was specifically built for an electrical engineering class. Since I'm not an engineer I didn't really have any clue what I was doing and the game didn't educate you at all that I saw. This would be more like the final test after the lessons.

Could be a lot of fun if you are in to the subject matter, but didn't really do it for me.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A difficult energy management simulator, October 8, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I think this game is too hard.

It's a combination energy management simulator and basic electrical engineering quiz game.

You are a young single adult who is living in a solar-powered van trying to make a living. Earning a living and being happy require electricity, but use too much and you die.

I started this game on the easiest mode possible. Each day I made choices to get money or be happy as it required. When you use electricity, the game quizzes you on how much electricity it will use through simple voltage/power/wattage/etc. calculations.

I'm a math teacher, but always struggled with engineering, and I didn't find the calculations part enjoyable or edifying. I think in the long run you're supposed to get good at estimating, so I guess if I stuck further? But after a few days, I didn't estimate right and died from too much electrical use.

The game suggested restarting and paying more attention to my panels. "My panels?" I thought, not knowing what it meant. I looked all over and couldn't find them.

Then today I tried again, and noticed a small arrow on the left-hand side that opened up to an enormous amount of choices, incredibly specific ones, which detail every single part of the solar panel system.

I was overwhelmed. I just decided to buy the most expensive of everything. Confident, I started the game. On my first choice, with 100% battery and fully upgraded system, I decided to use my laptop for 8 hours.

I died on the first choice, and I gave up.

The graphics are cool, the interactivity is cool, the platform is interesting. But this is too hard for me.

+Polish: This game is very polished.
+Descriptiveness: The game is fairly bare in its descriptions, except for the electrical components: that is incredibly detailed.
-Interactivity: I found this game too challenging for me to handle.
-Emotional impact: This game didn't compel me emotionally.
-Would I play again? I'm too afraid to.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Slightly Confusing Educational Game, October 5, 2020
by WidowDido (Northern California)
Related reviews: if comp 2020
Presumably an educational game about teaching simple math. On that front, I'm not sure of its success--as the game (at least on its simplest mode) repeats the same questions numerous times.

There is some information on electricity and solar arrays which will allow the player to answer some practical math questions. But I found the instructions rather unclear on how to "optimize" the array. (Spoiler - click to show)Playing it by ear and just assuming bigger is better seemed to work.

Because events are randomized, I'm not sure if a winning state is possible on any given playthrough. (Spoiler - click to show)Because of the %-mood loss is so great for going a night without using a heater, I never managed to survive a game if I was not able to purchase or review a heater before winter.

I won by (Spoiler - click to show)buying a lot of new batteries at least once during each winter. I am doubtful if this is what the takeaway should be for a game trying to encourage a minimalist living.


This is version 6 of this page, edited by JTN on 8 November 2020 at 6:43am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item