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Strip ’Em All – The Egocentric

The Egocentric - Strip Ém All - Logo


Play Strip ’Em All,
the story building game where you use psychology to solve puzzles and play with comics!

Play The Egocentric,
the second game comic in Strip ’Em All!

Six panels this time but they more or less all look the same; a truck driving guy dominates the picture. However, in three of the panels he is noticeably more muscular and also bald. Besides that, it looks like the same guy. The corresponding speech/thought bubbles confirm the discrepancy. A bodybuilding supplement seems to be the center of topic in the panels with the very muscular guy. The other topic appears a little less clear but seems to revolve about someone named Bengt and his birthday. According to the text, the supplement is remarkably effective, and it may be that the six panels all portray the same guy, but some are before, and some are after the supplement regime.

We try to rearrange the order and make something coherent out of the panels at hand but fail. We then press the publish button and the message makes it clear that we need to have a panel set with either the drugged bodybuilder or with his blond and somewhat younger ego ... That makes sense. A drug that powerful is bound to distort not only a guy’s exterior but also his interior, and a vain, megarectic bodybuilder seems like a prime candidate for the personality trait our comic is supposed to illustrate, doesn’t he?

How then can we homogenize the panel set? Let’s hover the mouse inside the panels and search for something to interact with. Neither the bodybuilder nor the blond guy seems clickable. In the panel with the song from the radio, however, a mouse hover over the crown of his head displays a new thought bubble. The meta text inside the bubble hints that this mechanism can be expected elsewhere. We therefore try it in the other panels and it works - but only in one of them (the one that does not already contain thought bubbles) and it reveals no new information (merely an exclamation mark).

Strip em all - The Egocentric by Daniel Ahlgren
Mind reading is easy under the assumption that everyone thinks just like you.

The panels are actually almost devoid of other things to even try to interact with. The sole exception is the panel that shows some of the interior of the truck. Searching aimlessly inside this panel would eventually reveal the radio as a clickable object, but as it is the source of the panel’s speech bubble it is really quite an obvious choice.

Strip em all - The Egocentric by Daniel Ahlgren
Don't like what you hear? Switch the channel!

So let’s click it! As expected, there is a switch of channel and its matching speech bubble. Perhaps less expected is the transformation to the blonde guy. Apparently we switched to a radio channel back in time. More important, the subsequent panels have also adjusted to the change and now all show the blonde guy.

This introduces a new game mechanic: clicks can sometimes provoke changes in other panels than the clicked panel itself. This should typically concern objects that are shown in only one panel but – in one way or another – influence other panels. The radio is shown in a single panel but its voice can be heard in a second panel and it obviously influences the thoughts of the truck driver in other panels. By only changing subsequent panels, we follow the sequential rule of a comic page but we also allow the player to choose what panels to change. This time we actually wanted all the panels to conform, but that might not necessarily always be the case.

If we click once again, there is only a broadcast interruption but no change of channel and no change to the subsequent panels. However, yet another click brings back the bodybuilder and the following panels conform to the change. Depending on the position of the panel with the radio, we may already have all six panels portraying the bodybuilder. If not, we simply place the panel in the first position and then repeat the process.

Before we try to rearrange the panels to form a meaningful comic, we hover the mouse over the bodybuilder’s head in the same panel that previously revealed the mind reading trick. This time, we go deeper into his psyche. The radio voice warns about the bodybuilding supplement and our protagonist shrugs this off as jealousy. Further, he even suggests that they are jealous of HIS muscles in particular and that his ex-girlfriend left for the very same reason! This speaks of a complete inability to relate to other people’s emotions and motivations in any other way than through his own emotions and motivations. This is what egocentricity is all about.

Let’s make the whole comic then. After a short while of trying different combinations, we manage to make the comic below.

Strip em all - The Egocentric by Daniel Ahlgren
All around nice guy who'd rather die than do anything illegal.

While there can be no doubt about the egocentric personality of the depicted bodybuilder, the comic actually focuses on the obsessive (to put it mildly) part of his personality. He is willing to die - in pain and agony - for the sake of bigger muscles. A press on the publish button confirms that this is not the sought-after comic. So maybe the egocentric trait was there all along and it is merely the muscle obsession that separates the bodybuilder from his former and smaller self.

Before we continue let’s check out those eyes in the very last panel. They winked at us when we pressed the publish button! Aha, you can now click them to close them and the picture and text will, as a response, change somewhat. The modified panel serves to follow through and force the punch even harder, but seems to be of no other value, so we click to open his eyes again.

By placing the radio panel first, we should be able to change all the panels to the blond guy alternative with a single click on the radio. This time, the radio plays a song and congratulate someone named Bengt on his birthday. There is also a broadcast interruption about a traffic incident as an alternative to the congratulation message. The other panels all refer to the congratulation message, so we may assume that it is the correct alternative. The broadcast interruption panel may still hold information of value, so let’s examine it closer. Doesn’t the mouse hover activated thought bubble seem familiar? Yes, it is exactly the same as the bubble on the title screen and it exposes our guy as the cause of the traffic incident! You may have heard a common joke on the same theme, and while it is often told to make fun of the stupidity of the driver on the wrong side of the road, it is really the perfect illustration of an egocentric world view; no matter the odds, the ego is the norm and everything else is outliers, oddities - and simply wrong!

Strip em all - The Egocentric by Daniel Ahlgren
A classic joke.

Alright, how do we reveal the guy’s personality with all six panels relating to Bengt and his birthday? It should be rather straightforward by now, but if you have not warmed up to the previously discussed examples of egocentricity, the outlandishness of this final portrayal may very well trip you up. It’s made easier by the fact the order is exactly analogous to the order of the bodybuilding variant. If you instead think that the song should be played after the radio host’s presentation, you may come up with a rather different order, which works but perhaps feels a little stilted.

Finally a comic that matches the title. Suppose the publisher has changed his mind and wants a comic about paranoia instead (because that's funnier to most people). How would you modify what you already have? Click the TITLE to discover one way of doing it!

We let the final comic speak for itself this time. Before we continue to the next level of the game, we have to check out blondie’s flashing eyes. Again, closing them delivers a follow-up to the punch-line (or rather a follow-up to the follow-up as it is the fifth panel that delivers the actual punch). Driving with closed eyes seems like a quite drastic action that could have far reaching consequences. What if there were subsequent panels? Let’s place the eye panel at an early position and close the eyes from there. Just like the channel switch action, there is a change of the following panels. Unlike that action, the following sequence is always the same regardless of what was depicted before. These panels are not meant to be used; they are more meant as an Easter egg and refer back to one character from the previous level and to characters of upcoming levels. One of them is Txx. He is a narcissist and the subject of the next level!