Nov 162008

My new text adventure videogame, Everybody Dies, was just voted third out of 35 entries at the annual Interactive Fiction Competition!

It starts with a metalhead, Graham, realizing that throwing that shopping cart over the bridge was not the great idea he thought it was. Even if it did get him out of washroom duty at Cost Cutters.

UPDATE: Invisiclue Style Hints provided below, Windows exe customized.

You can download, unzip and run the .exe for the Windows version; or download an interpreter for Mac or Linux and then open this gblorb file through it. Nothing’s more than a couple megs.

Special thanks to:

Michael Cho for the illustrations in the game, which I feel took it up a real notch and a half. I think it’s that we both find these character types lovable and ridiculous at the same time — there was a real dovetailing of sensibilities there that made it more than the sum of its parts.

People who criticized my previous game. Punk Points came in 22nd in the IFComp 2000, and was rightly dissed for poor implementation (“guess-the-verb” issues) and I heard from several people that they never got beyond the first puzzle. This time more than half of the hundred hours I put in on Everybody Dies was in revisions. (Which, incidentally, is way more time than I’ve ever spent revising my books or movies, percentage wise, but after asking around seems to be pretty average.) Type in ABOUT and you’ll see I had eighteen beta testers, which were spread over three waves, and about what I needed to get to a suitably deep implementation. Thanks guys!

People who liked my previous game. Despite its flaws Punk Points achieved a certain cult following, an award nomination for best Non Player Character, and I came across this transcript (spoilers!) of people playing the game together online recently. It’s twice as long as Everyone Dies, and the puzzles are harder both intentionally (I like tough puzzles) and unintentionally (the guess-the-verb issues). If you’re up for it, check it out here.

People who write great interactive fiction. It’s pretty much the only reason why I write IF. My favourite game of this comp, Jeremy Freese’s Violet, is funny, touching, and clever as all get-out. Play it online here, especially if you should be writing your dissertation.

People who write about interactive fiction. It’s a super-thoughtful, honest, responsive and ultimately nurturing community. I was avidly reading the reviews of Everybody Dies. Thanks to everyone who took some time to write about the stuff that they liked and didn’t like in this years’ comp. I credited some of you in version 2 of Everybody Dies if I squashed a bug you wrote about. And the fact that my primary inspiration to write another piece of interactive fiction, Emily Short, wrote favourably about my game? Well, thrilled doesn’t quite cover it. Go play her amazing, dandy-down-on-his-luck game, Savoir-Faire either online or from her site.

If you get stuck, feel free to use the clues below — they go from 1) slight hints to 3) explicit commands. They’re coloured in white so to see them you need to click and drag the mouse to range them inverted.


I keep dying a watery death as Graham.

1) Death isn’t as permanent as it is in other games.

2) Did you keep reading? Wait around a bit.

3) You can’t avoid dying. You will continue as another character.

I can’t find the seventh cart as Ranni!

1) Remember where Graham found the cart?

2) There’s two ways Graham can help you get to it.

3) GRAHAM, EXAMINE RIVER from the Bridge will give you the incentive you need to brave the prickleys and GRAHAM, WALK NORTH from West Side of Bridge will accomplish the same.

I can’t get rid of the woman and her kid as Lisa.

1) You need to confirm there’s no peanuts in the Snax.

2) If only you knew someone who might speak another language…

3) RANNI, READ SNAX will do the trick.

I can’t figure out how to get Patrick fired.

1) Have you tried GRAHAM, OPEN GRAHAM’S LOCKER? Weird, huh?

2) If only Tim was to find something incriminating in Patrick’s locker… or even a locker he thought was Patrick’s.


  86 Responses to “Everybody Dies Takes Bronze at IFComp”

  1. Congratulations!!!! This game looks great. As soon as I get a chance I’ll give it a try.

  2. Good work from everybody involved! As one of its tester it was very interesting to see the changes between different revisions of the game (especially — surprise! — illustrations!)

    With the relative success this one achieved, let’s hope that you don’t wait so long before taking on your next piece of IF. (Maybe you’ll find that some of your back projects are well-suited for adaptation into this medium? You thought you learned valuable lessons in Time Management for Anarchists? Now put them to practice in this simulation! OK, maybe that’s a bad example 8)

  3. Text-adventure game award-winners of 2008: Everybody Dies takes bronze!…

    Writer/game designer/film-maker Jim Munroe sez, IFComp 2008, The 14th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition and keeper of the old-school text-game torch, recently declared its winners. Bronze went to my game, Everybody Dies, silver went to Eric Eve’s…

  4. Ahh takes me back to the Livingstone Fighting Fantasy game books… great stuff.

  5. Wow, this looks really great! I don’t understand why a user-unfriendly JAVA engine is used to display text though.

  6. Hey Rowan: definitely hoping to do more if, no doubts there.

    Hank: It was the best cross-platform solution that launched with a click. It has 18 or so images throughout the game, there would have been other options if it was a straight text (Parchment, for instance, which is how the link to Violet above runs in-browser).

  7. Is there a forum or discussion board anywhere for Everybody Dies? I am at a point where I do not know how to go on and am ready to give up. I don’t seem to be able to go in any direction.

  8. Feel free to ask for hints here, and I or others will respond! Where are you stuck?

  9. congratulations jim!

    it was a nice surprise to read about my wiscon bathroom buddy on boing boing

  10. Hi
    This is a very frustrating experience. On WinXp (sp2) w/ a reasonable Java vm (1.5) the JNLP “play it online” version fails completely, just fragments of text and unusable. Next I tried installing the recommended interpreter (winglulxe 0.3.5) and downloading the gblorb file, but the interpreter launches w/ a fatal error saying “the glulx file is too new a version”. I would guess you’ve lost countless potential readers as I’m technically savvy and using the most popular platform, and the links you’ve provided simply don’t work.

  11. Stuck on the locker puzzle! Have examined everything through everyone’s eyes! Run out of possible words to type!
    A hint would be lovely…

  12. I’m a bit worried about spoilers but here goes…
    I’ve died a few times. I need to collect seven carts and I have people in my head. I’ve already gone through the neighborhood so it won’t let me go east anymore. I can’t go west because don’t want to go back to Cost Cutters. I cannot go north through the prickleys no matter how hard I try. I can’t use the kirpan as a pocketknife to get through it. I’m stuck!

  13. I’m stuck at the exact same point as ivorypale

  14. @Ivorypale, remember the one time you died with a cart in your hand? The guy who died probably knows pretty well where that cart is, have him take a look ….

  15. Chris: Thanks so much for letting me know. The Windows link has been fixed.

    Ivorypale & Mike: There’s two ways to do it, and both require the assistance of someone who’s been there before.

    player: Stuck, huh? It’s a sticky part of the game. But not all labels stick equally…

  16. Thanks Jim. I’d actually already tried that a few times before but had been using a more descriptive word than “get” so it didn’t recognise it (bit vague I know but I don’t want to do any spoilers here).

    Completed it now – thought it was fun and very unique in its narrative/device. If anything I’d say it could be much longer as the multiple eyes is such an interesting device.

    I really enjoyed playing a game where I kept thinking I’d messed up (died) but the game just kept going!

    The illustrations are amazing too, and really help set a mood and style to it.

    Great job!

  17. That was fun!

  18. On the locker puzzle, can’t seem to stick the label to the right locker. I’ve tried all the verbs I can think of. Help!

  19. I perhaps was a bit misleading with my past hint, but this should PUT it right!

  20. And thanks for the post-game feedback, Ivorypale and player!

  21. Ok.. i need help.
    *biting bullet*

    My name is BooHoo, and I can’t get past the very first challenge.

    What is the deal with the river/bridge/cart-in-the-water/fish situation?
    I can’t go anywhere but in the river (spoiler, etc)..

    I only have a few more handfuls of hair left before I give up on games forever..
    *crying inside*

  22. Boohoo *grin* : Unlike other games, dying isn’t so permanent in Everybody Dies… they’re not “challenges” so much as “experiences”, tho it’s understandable you’ve thought otherwise.

  23. No, but.. really.


    “Challenge” or no, there is only so many times I can die (temporarily or otherwise) in the same way, following the only options my poor, mammal brain can detect, before I’m frustrated.

    There is nowhere else (that I can find) to go, and no way out (that I can find) of the river/cart scenario. Of course, there is a way out – or somewhere else to go – but I’m just not seeing it.

    Frankly, I was a little disappointed that my various, wile-e-esque, attempts to build an elaborate bridge/crane mechanism out of fish-bones and the laces from my Kodiaks, thus levitating the cart safely from the [cold, grey, fast] river didn’t get me ingenuity bonuses rather than repeated doom.

    Please. Spoil it for me 😀

  24. Boohoo: OK — you’re supposed to die. The game continues after that.

  25. Oh. Spoiled.

    I died over and over. Every time I saw “void”, I hit restart.

    Well, I can’t tell you how simultaneously relieved and stupid I feel.

    * Yay! because there was no other way, and I’m not a dummy.
    * Boo! because I assumed “yet, somehow, the game continues” was an incentive to try, try again.

    Thanks! Now I can change my name from BooHoo! to Duh! and go again 🙂

  26. Oh! It says “void” when a picture is displayed.. possibly a function of splatterlight, the mac interpreter.

  27. ..ok, I’m a dummy this time. Void is the name of the location, huh?


  28. Don’t feel bad Boohoo, it’s meant to be tricksy…

  29. (formerly BooHoo!)

    ..and tricksy it is!
    I’m definitely enjoying it now 🙂

  30. Locker puzzle has me stuck, too. Got it, tried to put it everyone. Nothing. Can’t get any others.


  31. Oh. Nevermind. Figured it out. Clever, fun game. I wish it were longer.

  32. Oh, so frustrating, need cart no7 but can’t for the life of me find out how to get it.

  33. Sjofels: See comment 15&16 for a hint.

  34. I am stuck with the mother and peanut allergies. I can’t figure out who to “speak” to.

  35. hmmm: Geez, if only you knew someone who could read foreign languages!

  36. @Jim Munroe: Thank you! Super Fun so far!

  37. Thanks, Jim! Great game, and your response to my query was lightning swift. Hope you keep makin’ ’em.

  38. Wow, Jim, you’re like some human invisi-clues system! Your ability to give spoiler-free hints is most impressive.

  39. How do you have your inner people look for you? Only verb they seem to recognize is ask graham for…

    Imma stuck!

  40. Thanks, this game has a really nice mood, I only wish it was longer! This is actually the first IF I’ve played in years, I guess the pictures convinced me to at least have a look at it 😉

  41. OK, I’m stuck. Only have 6 carts. Been dead twice. No more carts in the neighborhood, can’t go to the river, can’t go back to work. 2 other people are in my head, but they won’t help me…

  42. What do i do in the cost cutter bathroom?

  43. Michael: Thanks man, I’m trying.
    David: use the syntax GRAHAM, EXAMINE CARS
    Toupeira: Thanks!
    Jonathan: See comment 15&16 for a hint.
    manimal: There’s no real puzzles here. Read the text more carefully?

  44. Great, now I know I’m stuck in a common place, but the hints that helped them, aren’t helping me! I’m clearly missing the vital verb.

  45. Jonathan: Remember when Graham offered to help ya at the beginning of the scene?

  46. but all I seem to be able to do with either of them is EXAMINE things. and look as I might, they haven’t found anything unusual. Needing more help/hints..

  47. ok, now I see it, just can’t get it. Ugh.

  48. Came from Michael Cho’s blog. This was really fun! I wish it were longer.

    I wish we could have seem Patrick… although, perhaps I could have if I had played differently.

  49. […] Dies is a work of interactive fiction. It’s written by by Jim Munroe and illustrated by Michael Cho. (You can download the game and its interpreter here.) It just […]

  50. That was a great story. The changing perspective was really unexpected and made the story more interesting than most IF. It was a nice length too, not so long that I got frustrated with it. And the graphics made gave this old format new life. It’s a piece like this that makes me a little sad that there isn’t anyone doing this commercially anymore. Thanks

  51. This is great! I hadn’t realised text games were still going until a friend pointed me towards the IF competition. I was gutted when I died the first time, and the moment where it dawns on you that you’re still going…that’s really cool. Plus it reminded me of my high school job in a dire suburban Ontario Loeb store.

  52. This rocked — !! Hope you make another story!! I have not played much indie IF, but I’m a huge fan of the genre and you hit a home run with this one — nice!

  53. Wow, thanks for all the praise guys.

    Jonathan: Loeb, eh? The name Cost Cutters is inspired by the Price Choppers near my mom’s place.

    Seth: I definitely plan to work more in the medium. In the meantime you should check out the links to Violet and Savoir-Faire, in the post above!

  54. Well, finished the game and find it somehow satisfying due to shortness and nice final puzzle, also good hints in-game (like Ranni saying that the unreadable food is “really tasty”).

    But the main gimmick being unexplained gives the whole game some sense of randomness. Why are those people in each other’s heads? Why are they returned to right the wrongs? “Destinies intertwined?” How are Graham’s and Ranni’s destinies intertwined, apart from them working at the same mall? Am I missing something?

    Well, writing the previous paragraph made me rethink the game again – and now it makes more sense… Maybe I was just awaiting something less supernatural looking at the art (which is splendid).

    But, I also have some parser quips – it can’t understand things like “”open my locker” or “graham, open your locker”, so I have to type monstrous “graham, open graham’s locker”.

  55. Much fun, also loving therefore repent, looking forward to the new one!

  56. I’m just wondering how you got into this. Clearly you started out as a writer, but did you teach yourself the programming to pull this together or did you work with someone else?

    Very inspirational. Thanks for the great work.

  57. Hey Matt– Thanks! there’s a very cool programming language called Inform 7 that I use — it has really great documentation, a great community and lots of code snippits.

  58. […] 2, 2009 by baethan Everybody Dies, by Jim Munroe, is a linear, fairly easy, and short (playable in under two hours) game. It won […]

  59. It was my first interactive story and I must say I couldn’t have imagined a better introduction to the genre. Loved the plot, your writing, puzzles, and the illustrations. To be honest, I planned to save the game at some point, but simply couldn’t stop playing/reading – surprisingly engaging. Even the title is a clue. Well done, Jim. Well done, Michael.

  60. […] Incubator for the last month or two.  The AGI is a workshop started by Jim Munroe (creator of  Everybody Dies) where artists, writers and other creative types learn how to make games.  I  was a participant […]

  61. […] a photo of actor Scott Moyle talking into my lamp during the recording).  It also has Jim “Everybody Dies“  Munro’s excellent guide to running your own Artsy Games Incubator and whole bunch of […]

  62. […] "d’actions limit?es", mais certains le font avec brio et avec illustrations. Exemple : Everybody Dies Voir aussi Silent Conversation, qui n’est pas une fiction interactive mais qui s’en rapproche, […]

  63. […] Play Everybody Dies online (Requires Java) […]

  64. […] City. I in fact just came from downtown Culver and bumped into a half-dozen game journalists and creators for whom my respect has only grown the more I become familiar with their […]

  65. […] Everyone Dies is a text-based adventure game focused around Death and a guy working at a Home Depot like store called CostCutters MegaMart. Text-based adventures are a particularly hard to make as they require a great deal of patience and have a typically small following, but what strikes me most about the game is it’s great art. The incredibly detailed monochromatic pictures are gorgeous and give a great deal of emotional depth, almost driving me to play a game in a genre I abhor, almost. […]

  66. […] – Steph Thirion – Everybody Dies – Jim Munroe – Global Conflicts: Latin America – Serious Games Interactive – […]

  67. […] ’09 in Culver City, California. He was there as a finalist for his interactive fiction game, Everybody Dies, while I was there to play independent games and enjoy my […]

  68. The EXAMINE’d Life: Keeping Interactive Fiction Alive…

    As with my earlier column on the new vanguard and returning classic franchises that are keeping point and click adventures alive a decade or more past their prime, there’s one other genre that all but the hardest-of-the-core and its tight-knit commun…

  69. Awesome game! It reminds me of all the time I spent playing these things in the days before computers had graphics. I wish it were longer, though! Can’t wait till you make another one!

  70. When launching via Java WebStart ( I get prompted for authentication from my employer’s proxy. I’m unfamiliar with this authentication dialogue, but given my settings for when to use my employer’s proxy ( it looks a lot like your application is attempting to access a host called “default” (the exact message I get prompted with is “Enter login details to access on”

  71. Damn. The “exact message” from my previous comment was supposed to read “Enter login details to access {default} on” but I have put curly braces around “default” here because they are really lesser-than and greater-than symbols, and it would appear that your blogging software has swallowed it whole 🙁

  72. Help! I’m getting so frustrated, After I’ve collected the 7th cart, where do I go? Lisa keeps saying to get the carts back to Cost cutters, but Ranni won’t go! What do I do?!

  73. […] character of the brother kind of annoying; kind of surprisingly to me, because Jim Munroe can write awesome characters. But in this case he seemed to cycle through a fairly small number of every-turn behaviors, which […]

  74. Finally got round to playing this after bookmarking a few months ago – it was fun, thanks!

    There’s a chain of convenience stores called CostCutter here in the UK so the name was perfectly evocative for me 🙂

  75. Agh, so close! I had the right solution to the final puzzle but tried doing it with the wrong mcguffin. Excellent game!

  76. […] with “Spelunky” creator Derek Yu, “Braid” Creator Jonathan Blow, and “Everybody Dies” creator Jim […]

  77. […] also: Monroe’s text adventure game, Everybody Dies. This entry was posted in Zine Creation. Bookmark the permalink. ← “Indie […]

  78. […] Windows ?ci?gniecie st?d. Edycje na Maki i Linuksa znajdziecie, wraz z instrukcj? obs?ugi, w tym artykule. Do tego do?o?y?em kilka innych obrazków. Bardzo retro nie tylko z powodu stylistyki. […]

  79. […] but haven’t written in depth about any interactive fiction. So, I will take a closer look at Everybody Dies by Jim Munroe and Michael […]

  80. […] Officially — and easily — the best thing I’ve played today, from seemingly out of nowhere comes Guilded Youth, from writer and designer Jim Munroe and illustrator Matt Hammill (known best for his gorgeously illustrated puzzler Gesundheit). Originally conceived of at Toronto’s TOJam, Youth is another in Munroe’s series of interactive-fiction-plus type games that combine text-adventure tradition with illustrated & sound enhancements, like his excellent & understated 2008 suburban adventure Everybody Dies. […]

  81. Wow, what a cool adventure!!! Also, it was great that it’s not needed to install, that way i was able to play at work while looking busy! I loved being able to use Ranni’s “power” but wish there were more chances to do that sort of thing. I never had too much trouble figuring out what to do which is good ( Zork seemed so hard back in the day, maybe I’ll give it another shot). Also I loved the illustrated sections. Great work!!!

  82. […] favorite example is Jim Munroe’s Everybody Dies, a text adventure from a few years back. In the opening scene, you’re standing along a snowy […]

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