A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond


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Rating: 4.4/5 (293 votes)
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A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond

TrickyYou wake up disoriented, unsure of where you are. There is a screen telling you a story, but you aren't sure if you can trust it. It's time to ask some questions. A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond is an experimental adventure game from ScriptWelder that has you trying to get information from a source not too eager to give anything away. The interface of A Small Talk is text-based, and you communicate by inputting questions and statements to get responses. On the right, though, is a view of the room you are in, and your observations will be key to coaxing the answers of your situation out.

A Small Talk is a short but intelligent sci-fi yarn that uses its imposed limitations to incredibly atmospheric effect. It has a lot twists packed in very quickly, which makes the pacing seem a little rushed, but there's a thematic coherence behind it that makes it all come together in a satisfying way. A Small Talk's parser is quite up to the task of telling its story, though as the game is currently in late-beta, there are still some words and commands it should recognize that it does not. Still, as the author has been quite open to feedback, the game has seen an impressive response from the browser gaming community in suggesting ways to make the parser ever more comprehensive. So go ahead and have A Small Talk At The Back of Beyond. Just don't believe everything you hear.

Note: As mentioned above, A Small Talk At The Back of Beyond is in late beta. Should you have suggestions for logical questions for which the game's parser does not give a satisfactory response, please post your feedback in the comments.

Play A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond

Walkthrough Guide


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A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond Walkthrough

A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond is narratively divided into two parts. This walkthrough will first give a list of commands to progress through the game, with as few spoilers as possible, followed by listings of interesting commands to try in each section.

Part 1 - Walkthrough

  1. Hello

  2. No

  3. What is AGS?

  4. Why do I need Artifical Gravity?

  5. Give me food.

  6. What is astro food?

  7. At this point, the computer should admit its secret.

Part 2 - Ending 1 Walkthrough

  1. What can I do?

  2. I will leave

  3. Yes.

Part 2 - Ending 2 Walkthrough

  1. What can I do?

  2. I will stay

  3. Yes.

Part 1 - Things to Try

  • Answer "Yes" when the computer asks if you know where you are. Then, when he asks you where you think you are, answer "In Space" or "In a shelter".

  • Agreeing to play chess, view the computer's pictures, or listen to his story will lead to a game over. Once you know why, it becomes quite chilling.

  • What government?

  • Why was I chosen?

  • Agree to play chess, then select the info option of the chess program.

  • Open Vent

  • Open Window

  • What is esc pod?

  • Turn on the Light. Turn on the Light.

  • Can I go?

  • Is there anyone else still alive?

  • Can I turn you off?

  • Where is the shelter?

  • Who are you?

  • What is the time?

  • What year is it?

  • How long have I been here?

  • Kill me.

  • What is the auxiliary generators system?

  • What do you want?

  • Try repeatedly swearing at the computer.

  • Part 2 - Things to Try

  • Why should I stay with you?

  • Can you come with me?

  • Why did you lie to me?

  • Can you fix the ship?

  • Do you want to play chess?

  • Are you lonely?

  • I love you.

  • I hate you.

  • 50 Comments

    shanisek Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 9:58 AM

    It was very quick, but nicely put together. Actually, it was so quick I might have missed something... I am going again.

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    Thanks for the review !

    Just 2 things:
    - game is in beta but even when it's out of beta and I get a good feedback I won't ignore it. Thanks to live updates game can be patched at any time and I'm going to improve the parser/computer's database as long as I feel there's a need for that.

    - balancing game difficulty was really, really hard so still there might be a case that you win the game in 3 or 4 "moves" while others won't figure out what to do at all.

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    BubbaJoe Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 10:37 AM

    I really like the tone and the feel to it. There are some quirks in the grammar that I found jarring, however. Scriptwelder, if you want to post the text, surrounded by "spoiler" tags, I can make some edits for you (I have a hunch that English isn't your native language).

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    Good guess ;)
    Go to my site and leave comment there or drop me an email. Thanks! :)

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    jamie.malekoff Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 11:12 AM

    I was able to shut the computer down by cursing at it but got a game over.

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    LeonardBanks Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 1:48 PM

    I hate asking but after 20 min I need a little direction.

    i've found esc pod but the computer refuses to believe it exists. I ask to turn on the lights it aske me why but nothing I say works. I have no hazard suit but it then prompts me to ask about what I found out.

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    https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm_0MNw6T2dJJX4vjKJJNkx0FSrWFVtc3Q Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 2:08 PM

    LeonardBanks

    Try the chess program, but don't play a game, pick option #2 That will give you a hint.

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    LeonardBanks Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 2:12 PM

    yea POP

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    teiderlopes Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 2:59 PM

    Some suggestions

    1 - More options on how to find the truth. The only way I found out is to ask about astro food, couldn't find another way. There should be a way to either open the window, open the door, ask about the war, or simply being persistent.

    2 - There should be a way to choose to stay with the computer. I tried "stay here" and "wait here" "stay" and "wait", but none of them allowed me to end the game by choosing to stay with the computer.

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    Teiderlopes:

    You can stay. Try typing in "I will stay."

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    bwrwglawyma Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 3:32 PM

    I really enjoyed this one, quick as it was.

    I ended up staying with LDAC. I have a weakness for AIs, especially those afraid of dying. Darn them.

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    VanellopeVonShweetz Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 3:46 PM

    Wow. This game was amazing. And it was in such a small package. I wish there was more. Honestly this game was a piece of genius. Very eerie and dark, but at the end it tugs at your heart a bit. I enjoy the combination of the graphics on the right and the conversation on the left. It's like having the best of both worlds. Wonderful job! I'm going to have to review this for my site.

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    terry281 Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 4:17 PM

    Excellent game. I'm a sucker for these kind of games that allow you to formulate your own adventure.

    To that end, I'd suggest adding a small backstory to the war when asked. How it happened, who won (probably no one!) etc.

    Also, asking for options like "Can we fix the navigation systems", "Can we send out a distress call", and "Are the engines still operational" should also yield a response. I'd rather be damn sure that I've exhausted all my options before going for that hard or harder choice.

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    XyzzySqrl Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 8:24 PM

    I think the question

    "Are you lonely?"

    is a very important one, towards the end of the game.

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    onedernerd Author Profile Page March 5, 2013 11:21 PM

    Meh... it was ok. I have some ideas:

    It really needs to be longer. My suggestion, if possible, would be to add the ability to move between rooms of the "shelter"/ ship and being able to interact with the computer more before learning the truth. As it is, the reveal came too fast for it to have any real impact.
    I have one big problem with the story. At the beginning, I asked about AGS. The answer (Automated Gravity System, I think) made it obvious that I was in a space ship, which I'm sure I wasn't supposed to know yet. You should probably take that out.

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    I love this game! I think it deserves more than a "meh" and doesn't really need to be that much longer. My only complaint would be

    as mentioned in previous comments, that the only way to stay with the AI is by typing "I will stay" but typing "Stay here", "Stay with you", "Stay and die", etc. aren't recognised. That was frustrating.

    If the game was to be expanded I think entertaining a third option of survival through problem solving with the computer would be the kind of game I'd enjoy but then you'd lose the moral dilemna of dying alone or dying with someone. So... maybe not.

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    ILikeCrows Author Profile Page March 6, 2013 8:51 AM

    Another one who was annoyed that

    "I will stay" was the only way to stay. Because of that, I thought leaving was the only option.

    I also think "Can I bring you with me?" should give a response.

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    terry281 Author Profile Page March 6, 2013 8:53 AM

    @ILikeCrows There is an option for that actually. Try it out.

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    Thanks for all the feedback. There was actually over 20 statements about "staying", but weirdly enough - none of them as simple as "stay here".

    There was lots of "I'm not going" or "I'm not leaving" or "I can't leave you" + variations, even "I'm staying"... but I've missed the most obvious ones.

    Moreover, I had "I'll stay" and all variations but not "I will stay" - sorry for that, I'll add all the suggestions in nearest update! :D

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    warriorofgod13 Author Profile Page March 6, 2013 4:03 PM

    Great game! I really enjoyed it.
    Suggestion:

    My first time through, I wanted to shut down the computer, so that it wouldn't die alone, then use the escape pod. I don't think this should be an option, but there should be a response to things like "Can I shut you down", "Can I turn you off" and "Shut Down".

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    Great game. I found a few things that need to be updated though. Asking questions about the other survivors of the war got no response. Nor did questions for details about the war. I also asked AI questions about why the speech parser was partially disabled, but got no response.

    same thing later when I asked about my fellow crewmates.

    My larger complaint is that after I found out the truth, I waited around to talk to the AI before deciding what to do. When I decided to stay, he didn't recognize the command anymore, so I went to play a game of chess, and it triggered the ending where you don't know you're going to die.

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    Other things I was wondering why they weren't viable commands

    At the beginning on a later playthrough, I tried to confront the robot, telling him exactly where I was when he asked. He used the same dialogue as if I had given a wrong answer. This may have been an artistic choice though,

    After I had selected to stay, the AI asked me if I was sure, and told me I would die. I told him I would die either way, and said "let's die together". He didn't know what I meant.

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    Good game, albeit a short one.
    I spent a sizable amount of time fluffing around asking irrelevant stuff, but I got there in the end.

    Gets you thinking about what it means to be human (despite the AI's sub-par language recognition)

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    Hi Scriptwelder,

    A question that came straight to my mind when I began was "Why did I survive?"

    This has very engaging gameplay and I'm impressed with how you created an awesome atmosphere using so few effects, which is clearly one of your many talents! Once again you've made a game that has me interested outside my usual genre choice.

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    A suggestion. But it includes spoilers, so anyone who hasn't finished the game is warned.

    I think the AI should respond to a question about the engine (or engines).

    Before I discover that I'm in space, it should say "What engine? Why would an underground bunker have an engine?"

    After I discover I'm in space, it should say "The engines are too badly damaged to fire. Don't you think I would have changed our course if I could? I do not want to die." Or some variant of that.

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    There is another way out.

    If you look to the left of the room there is an engine that says AGS. If you ask the AI what AGS stands for and then proceed to ask him what it is doing here, then the AI will reveal to you that you are in space. Furthermore it will give you to options: die with him or take chances. You can die with him by saying I will stay or leave him by saying I will not stay with you.

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    Cosette24601 Author Profile Page April 5, 2013 11:23 PM

    Am I the only one who played the chess game?

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    I have gotten to what I think is the end, in a super quick way.

    First say "Hello"
    Then say "no"
    Then say "give me food"
    Then say "esc pod"
    Then say "ags"
    Then say "why artificial gravity"

    The console will then state that you are on a

    space ship headed towards a red dwarf.

    Then say "what are my options"

    You can then decide to die, or skip the next step to see possible questions you can ask.

    Make your decision.
    "stay"
    "leave"

    If you decide to not die yet; these all yield different answers that tell you about the ship

    Then say "turn on the lights"
    Then say again "turn on the lights"
    Then say "what was my mission"
    Then say "is there another room"
    Then say "what structural damage"
    Then say "what was my mission"
    Then say "where are the others"
    Then say "are you lonely"
    Then say "why did you lie"

    That is all I have gotten!

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    One suggestion:

    When the computer first told me I was in an underground bunker, I asked it where the others were, to which it responded that they all died. I then asked it "Am I alone, then?" and "So I'm alone?" in a few different ways, for which it had no response. I'd love to see the computer respond with "I'm here with you/not going anywhere", especially in light of what comes after.

    This game made me cry. I'm such a sucker for

    a tragic AI.

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    inheritance.fan Author Profile Page April 7, 2013 1:03 PM

    This game is hard. I wish there was more of a walkthrough.

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    A small joke triggers is you ask

    The cake is a lie?

    Consider adding it to the top post.

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    theorangenelly Author Profile Page April 19, 2013 7:31 PM

    At first I didn't trust the AI, but then

    I couldn't just leave it alone to die, it was so nice to me! D:

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    I said "I'll pass" when it asked me if I wanted to see the pictures, and it responded as (I assume) it would've if I'd sworn at it. The exact conversation follows:

    LDAC: I know many things about each of them and I will gladly tell you some stories about them. Are you interested?
    Me: I'll pass...
    LDAC: Please do not use words like that. What did I do to be treated like this?

    That struck me as odd, but I still love this game.

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    you can try turn off the gravity system

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    diribigal Author Profile Page May 10, 2013 6:46 PM

    I had to look at the walkthrough because most of the phrases I was using to try to

    get some food were only giving me a description of the food dispenser. The hint in the corner was to look around, but since I has already talked about the AGS and the esc pod, the hint was misleading.

    Another thing that irked me was that I had to type

    "use esc pod" at least 3 times in the end game to get it to let me go. I didn't realize that other wordings would make it open the escape pod faster.

    Also, this is a silly edge case, but when the computer said "use this console to answer me" I typed something extremely quickly and responded before the "I think I should respond" message.

    Finally, you may not want to do this, but maybe a specific response like

    "do you know where you are?" "orbiting a red giant"

    should skip to the middle of the game.

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    Rosemaryx Author Profile Page May 11, 2013 5:31 AM

    i like that when the AI tries to hide something it will stutter

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    Wow, what a depressing game. Well executed, though.

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    oliveridario89 Author Profile Page May 27, 2013 5:55 PM

    WARNING SPOILER

    uao! this game let me cry. Incredible. I voted it 10 on AG. There are really few games that can make you feel such emotions, and that's only my 2nd 10

    I have some suggestions for the game:
    Lie to the AI.

    - There's no red giant, only your sensors are damaged
    - We are almost going to land give me manual controls
    etc..

    This will make the AI happy at least, so just "giving back the favour".

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    thelightningstryke1 Author Profile Page June 8, 2013 12:12 AM

    I have some that should be added to the "try this" section.

    tell the system to self destruct
    say "I do not want to die"
    saying "I do not want to die alone" will give a different response
    ask about a hazmat suit
    tell the system to fire weapons
    swearing after you know the truth gives you a different response
    turn the lights on, then try to turn them back off

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    pinkamenaslilhelper Author Profile Page July 18, 2013 4:59 PM

    OMG. I was cursing at the computer, because I was really bored, and I decided to see if it would react like I had cursed if I said MELON
    because you know, when you say MELON in facade, Trip kicks you out for cursing. AND IT FUCKING REACTED LIKE I'D CURSED
    LAUGHING FOREVER

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    noschultz4 Author Profile Page July 21, 2013 11:56 AM

    In the walkthrough, try some of those 'Things to Try". It might make you sad, but it really adds more to the game.

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    vampphoenix99 Author Profile Page August 14, 2013 2:02 AM

    I've been reading too many Mega Man comics lately. I can't bring myself to choose my own life over the happiness of an AI. So... I'm not going to try for a second ending. :)

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    hello ScriptWelder,
    I really loved your game, it is truly fantastic, (but a bit short)
    I was really happy, when:

    I said: "kill me" (mostly because I saw it here...), and the AI answered "I don't want to harm you." Then I said: well, the laws of robotics are still working" or something like that, and the AI answered: "of course Asimow's laws apply to me" it was awesome, thank you for that!!!!

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    jennykim610 Author Profile Page December 7, 2013 2:27 AM

    Woo! Let's cuss at the computer!

    I failed, couldn't complete the game

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    i told him after following the walkthrough about astro food then asked him 'am i in space?' he pauses....then says 'no'. then tell him 'you are lying' then he will tell the REAL SECRET. then follow part 2 choice 1 or 2 (although i recomend you leave)

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    (or to stay too)

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    paxdoesathing Author Profile Page April 18, 2014 12:09 PM

    I love this game so much. It's broken my heart about three times today. I was playing through, and I keep trying to thank the AI, but he never understands. If you like, I suggest a response to the commands "Thanks." and "Thank you."

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    dzpglvyd Author Profile Page June 16, 2014 12:31 AM

    If you ask the question

    "Who is your leader?"

    the answer will depend on

    whether you say "yes" when the AI asks whether you know where you are.

    Try saying "Heaven" when he asks where, too.

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    evalavelle Author Profile Page June 30, 2014 11:08 AM

    I thought this game was really clever and...well, sad. After playing a few times I got to the end a slightly different way.

    I kept mentioning that we are in space and that the AI was lying to me. It would take a minute and go "No. You are [pause] in an underground shelter". Eventually I mentioned the United Space Agency and without even mentioning food, the escape pod or the gravity thing it goes "You're not believing any of this are you?" and tells you what's up.

    I also think that when you ask who's the leader before the reveal it says "you're in charge now" but after it says "you're the captain now".

    Before the big reveal if you say "Fire all weapons" it will say "No, this is a science vessel". I asked What do you mean "this is a science vessel"? And it replied "I couldn't have said that. Impossible." (or something to that effect, which is cool) (also really sorry if I was meant to use affect there)

    This you should try -

    When I said things it didn't understand it said that language recognition is on power saving mode.
    Try asking it "Why are you on power saving mode?" It is about to say space craft or ship but pauses and says structure instead.

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