Alter Ego for MS-DOS, C64 & Apple computers of the time was an ambitious attempt to simulate a human life from birth to grave
there were two separate editions released, one with a male protagonist and the other with a female protagonist. there is an online version available: http://www.playalterego.com/ which also has iPhone and Android app versions. something about the HTML interface bugs me though... i still play it on dosbox...
life in Alter Ego is split into seven phases (Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Adulthood, Middle Age & Old Age). in each phase you are presented with dozens of situations (total of about 400 in the game) and asked to choose how to handle them in a choose-your-own-adventure type way
you pick which vignette to do next with an interface that resembles picking up cards laid out on a table. how things play about affects a bunch of stats (Intelligence, Confidence, Physical Health, Money, etc.) and states (Employed/Unemployed, Single/In a Relationship, etc.) and these will sometimes affect how things play out later on...
the game fascinates me, so, like my alter ego's dad's cherished electronic calculator, I cannot help but ruthlessly take it apart & have a look at what's going on in there...
ok so, in the MS-DOS version at least, the game's events are written in a simple scripting language stored as individual files in the game folder (*.VIG, *.SIE, *.SIC, QUOTE* and INTER*)
i don't know everything about this little language yet but here's what i have worked out:
these files are also compressed using a simple dictionary compression:
here is a zip of all the files uncompressed, also sorted into folders:
there are a few exploitable bugs (both editions)... for example:
- on a beach trip during Infancy, selecting "creative"/"talk to dad" gets you an Intelligence Sphere boost, but since you are returned to the same options you can just make the same choice & keep getting that boost...
- every time you open the "College" screen in Young Adulthood you get a boost in your Calmness Sphere... even if all it does is say you don't have enough money to go to college...
seems the female edition was a mod of the male edition (hereafter "F.E." & "M.E.") after the fact (often along p. sexist lines... rock-throwing competitions become dress-up competitions, slashing a hated teacher's tires is transformed into getting a risky new hairdo, etc.) rather than the two being developed in parallel from the beginning
- F.E. is a noticeable improvement in terms of fixed bugs & additional proofreading throughout
- scenario filenames remain unchanged. e.g. the scenarios about getting your first erection & getting your first period both called ERECT.VIG
with some things it's not really clear whether it's an intentional male/female contrast or just a general gameplay change due to feedback or w/e
- penalties to Physical Sphere are generally less severe in the F.E. and also there is a lower Physical Sphere score threshold to being called "healthy" in the life-phase wrap-up summary
- there are significantly fewer ways to die in the F.E... for example, in the child abduction scenario, very deadly in the M.E., but in the F.E. you are invariably saved from the worst outcome by a last-minute deus ex machina... later in another scenario, the F.E. is changed so you lose the one opportunity to die heroically trying to save a life
- as a guy, if you ask a girlfriend to move in with you, it's a random 1 in 3 chance she will. as a woman, asking your boyfriend to move in works if and only if your "Trustworthiness" is high enough
other miscellaneous things...
- as a man, you have a 50-50 chance of either going bald or winning $250 in a fishing tournament
- if you have a kid and he/she ends up getting married, you only find out what happens in the months after the wedding if you are a mother/daughter, no other combination