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MSpaintAdventures: Choose your own adventure, kinda

Okay, so I admit it.  I’m writing this for somewhat selfish purposes.  It’s been several months since I started reading Andrew Hussie’s current mega-epic, Homestuck, and I have no idea what exactly is going on.  What’s worse, my two Faceplant amigos, as well as a disturbing majority of people who I seem to encounter in my somewhat unusual life, absolutely refuse to pick it up, leaving me to wildly speculate and guess at the plot’s direction alone.

Homestuck is technically the fourth installment on Andrew Hussie’s mspaintadventures site, and looking to be the second one actually finished.  The site is filled with a unique kind of web comic that mirrors and pokes fun at text-based adventure games.  The first two adventures, Jail Break and Bard’s Quest, were both incomplete, with the ever popular Problem Sleuth adventure being the first adventure that has a beginning, middle and end.

When you're this hard-boiled, you only have one form of diplomacy.

Problem Sleuth followed the trials and tribulations of three top-notch, hard-boiled detectives as they build forts and get plastered while trying to figure out how to escape their offices.  True to adventure game format, the three sleuths encounter tons of unnecessarily complex puzzles, game mechanics, and glitches that makes things rather difficult for the player (you) to follow.

And why not?  Problem Sleuth was heavily shaped in the beginning by mspaintadventure fans through a comment box to give each sleuth a direction for approaching their office-bound problems.  With so many voices at play during the adventure, Andrew Hussie had to pick and choose which commands would actually move the adventure forward instead of say, endless commands to ride explosives like a mechanical bull.

The adventure lasted for about a year before its completion.  There are plenty of animated .gif files, jokes, and general ridiculousness to be found, and it is worth a read through if for no other reason than to see Ace Dick do the most elaborate Truffle Shuffle ever seen on the internet.

Homestuck, which began on April 13, 2009, is following a very different format.  Andrew Hussie stated that he still uses reader commands occasionally (and if you know what to look for you can pretty much tell when they’re being used) but he is mostly making up his own commands in order to tell a much more complex and epic tale.

The story begins with John Egbert (who was named via the opinion box on the game’s release day) as he celebrates his thirteenth birthday, while chatting with three internet friends who are, to all intents and purposes, scattered to the four corners of the continent.  John, a prankster by trade, is hyped up for a new game called Sburb, which he was supposed to receive in the mail three days prior.  Unfortunately, leaving his room to check the mail is a challenge, what with all the hideous harlequins in his house, not to mention his father’s unholy alliance with Betty Crocker.

This is probably my favorite animation currently on mspaintadventures, seriously.

NO NO NO TOO MANY PIPES

All isn’t well in the Homestuck universe, however, and Sburb seems to have a more sinister nature to it than even the reliable periodicals of GameBro Magazine believe.  Playing Sburb quickly becomes essential for survival, not just for John but for his three internet friends as well.

I originally stumbled on mspaintadventures shortly after the conclusion of Problem Sleuth and plowed through the entire adventure before I realized Homestuck was live and being updated.  But, after reading about thirty or so pages, I determined to shelve the adventure and to come back someday when it had progressed a bit further.  Therein lies the major problem with Homestuck:  It’s incredibly difficult to get into during its early stages.  A web comic with the heart of an adventure game, most of the early pages in Homestuck focus on the main character’s problems with managing their inventory management systems.  Items are catchalogued into the character’s sylladex, and each character has to follow different rules for placing, storing, and removing items based on which sylladex modus they have to be using.  While many of the problems they face in with their inventory systems are pretty funny to watch, it is in no way easy to follow.  If Homestuck were actually a game, it’d have a learning curve of about three days.

The second problem with Homestuck is that it is not a comic to pick up if you’re not into story comics.  Updates are usually just one panel at a time, or maybe an animated gif file or flash file if something particularly important is happening, and each one builds on the comics of the past.  If you were to open up the most recent update on the site on your first trip in, you would have no friggin’ idea what is going on.

Oh, also, if explicit language bothers you, you should probably stay away.  Though the worst you have to worry about with Homestuck is a couple of eff-bombs dropped here and there.

POW WHAM KAPOW BIFF

Okay, all that aside, Homestuck is definitely something you want to pick up.  The story keeps you guessing.  After months of reading this adventure, I still have absolutely no idea what to expect next, and there’s so much at stake you want to see just how it all turns out.  The story is broken up with some of the best, most epic flash animations I have ever seen on the internet, and the completely original music soundtrack adds an atmosphere of mystery and suspense to the whole shebang.

Yeah, I said shebang.  I’m bringing it back.

Oh, and here’s the best part.  Homestuck is better than a daily comic.  Because of the condensed form of each update, the site usually updates randomly throughout the day, sometimes with several updates a day.  Of course, this also means there might be a few days of nothing while Hussie works on the next flash animation, but it’ll be something you can keep checking over and over again through the day.

Just remember, though, that once you really get into the story at say, oh, halfway through act one, you won’t be able to put it down.  And when you try to explain anything that is happening to someone who doesn’t read Homestuck, you’ll come off sounding like some kind of maniac.  That’s half the reason I’ve been avoiding mentioning the plot here.  The other half, of course, is that I think it’s much more fun if you go into this without a single clue of what to expect.

Things are not going Rose's way.

By far, the most interesting part about Homestuck is the vast universe that Andrew Hussie has created.  The adventure is filled with pop culture references, links, fake blogs, and an in-comic-comic called Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, which was designed to look as horrible as possible, and is simultaneously the best and worst comic I’ve ever read.  Conversations are stored in collapsible logs through the adventure too, so make sure to click every button and link Hussie throws at you.  It’s all safe.  I think.

Like I said, each adventure lasts about a year, and with Homestuck already past the one year mark, there can’t be much left.  This is probably the best time to pick it up, tear through the archives, get confused, and read through it all again to try to figure out what the hell is going on.   I have no idea what Andrew Hussie’s plans are after Homestuck has reached its conclusion, and I have no idea what he could do to top Homestuck in sheer scale and story, but as the ONE person I know who also reads Homestuck pointed out, no one has even scratched the surface on the concept of wizard bears yet.  So we have that to look forward to.

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