Building meaningful connections with Hell’s other people in Afterparty
Now, you could say that there’s a certain callousness to this approach. How can you make a meaningful connection to somebody if you’re trying to constantly “game” the interaction, by playing into what you may think they want to hear? So it was necessary to make every character you talk to and “party” with in Afterparty feel real, and special, and have them react to what you say and do as honestly as they can. Talking to someone shouldn’t ever feel like you’re just finding the right keys for the right locks. Yes, you have your Big Goal™ — getting out of Hell — that you’re working towards, and all the minor goals and obstacles clogging your way, but that doesn’t mean conversations shouldn’t be as fun and unpredictable and stress-inducing and elating as a real, glancing encounter with someone new over beer pong. Achieving this means making sure the characters you meet have their own goals, their own fears, their own hangups and pet peeves. And making sure they remember how you treat them during the night.
As Sartre cheerfully pointed out, “Hell is other people,” denoting the pervasive, existential discomfort of being “known” by another person. When you see yourself as other people really see you, it can be an awful experience. Milo and Lola’s “Personal Demon” Sister Mary Wormhorn was the mechanical way of expressing this idea. She pops in and out of the story at the most inopportune times, taunting every decision you’ve made up until that point, bringing up ad nauseum the immense futility of trying to escape the afterlife. She brings up the fact that you’re sitting somewhere, probably alone, playing a video game, instead of actually going out into the world to meet people (something that’s a bit of an impossibility now). She’s a terror, and there only to get in your way. But she’s a “person,” too, in the end, with her own struggles and desires. So we hope Afterparty leaves players with at least the tiniest of comforts: everyone really is just like everybody else.