So much blood!
July 18, 2013 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Viscera Cleanup Detail is a free PC game that casts as a space station janitor mopping up after a hero who left the station encrusted with gore. Via Gamers With Jobs' podcast on 'mundane games'. It's actually the third game about a space janitor, after Space Quest and Space Station 13.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (49 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
It's actually the third game about a space janitor

We are living in great times, my friends, great times.

Actually, did Super Mario Sunshine have a space section?
posted by 23 at 10:24 PM on July 18, 2013

...and Space Quest II.
posted by pompomtom at 10:26 PM on July 18, 2013

Space Station 13.

I have no desire to play this game but I've watched about 60 hours on PlumpHelmetPunk's youtube channel.

It is fascinating.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:33 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I tried Space Station 13 once and decided it wasn't my thing. I love, love, love reading SS13 stories, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:34 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Space Station 13.

I have no desire to play this game but I've watched about 60 hours on PlumpHelmetPunk's youtube channel.

I feel like somebody who knows more about it should post an FPP, but from what I've seen its a Goon's griefling playground, like EVE Online.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:36 PM on July 18, 2013

There are at least six Space Quest games, I guess for the sake of this count the franchise as a whole counts as one?
posted by trackofalljades at 10:37 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe the followup will be "Lieutenant Handkerchief: Widow Informer."
posted by notyou at 10:38 PM on July 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Cute concept, and rife with possibilities for expanding into a more fully actualized prototype:

* Having to deploy wet floor signs and avoid painting into a corner while floor dries
* Trundling a push cart of medical supplies around the station, replenishing first aid kits
* Same with a huge ammo cart, ferrying supplies from the armory to the assorted weapons caches throughout the station
* Using a forklift to distribute new crate stacks from the warehouse, after which new oil barrels must be rolled into place next to the guard stations
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2013 [15 favorites]

Goon's griefling playground

You can get banned for straight up griefing, but the roleplaying has a particularly trollish quality.

The Final Adventures of Captain Spiderman shows this. He somehow becomes the leader of a mutiny and takes over the station.

Professions on SS13 get sort of troll items they can use as makeshift weapons. The janitor gets a spray bottle, he can spray water on the floor to make other players slip.

Hopefully someone here has awesome stories to tell.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The thing about SS13 is that it's griefing if you're just randomly being a dick, but the actual situations that the game encourages you to get into can very easily explode into incredibly hilarious dickery, like slowly replacing the crew with intelligent monkeys.

My favorite was the one where somebody managed to rewrite the AI running the Station to believe that humans breathe helium.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 PM on July 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

I'm imagining playing this game set on the Von Braun.

posted by vanar sena at 10:53 PM on July 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

Mario is a plumber, and no, I don't think it did.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:53 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aren't you a space janitor in Infocom's Planetfall? How soon we forget. It's only been 30 years...

please kill me
posted by Justinian at 11:06 PM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Idle Thumbs did a great stream of this. Well, "great" if watching a let's play of someone picking up every shell casing in sight is your idea of a good time.
posted by juv3nal at 11:11 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eww, didnt know the youtube version was so blurry. I remember seeing better image quality on the twitch version of that stream.
posted by juv3nal at 11:14 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dustforce has a lab environment that's kinda space-stationny, though I don't recall it actually being in space. It is definitely an amazing score-attack platforming janitor-'em-up though.
posted by emmtee at 11:20 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

SS13 is fantastic.

It's the only game where I have been locked in a closet and had to use a radio to talk someone to death.
posted by mikurski at 11:30 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Isaac Clarke (of Dead Space) is also like one step removed from a space janitor. Space maintenance man.
posted by Nomiconic at 11:50 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

R.I.P. Floyd. Gone and forgotten.
posted by straight at 11:59 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cute concept, and rife with possibilities for expanding into a more fully actualized prototype:

* Elevator inspections.
* Changing keycard codes after they get hacked/stolen.
* Cleaning alien cages and feeding them.
posted by empath at 12:10 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Changing filters in air-ducts.
posted by empath at 12:10 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also MDK and MDK2. Kurt Hectic was a space janitor.
posted by Wemmick at 12:16 AM on July 19, 2013

Changing all the flickering light bulbs.
posted by FJT at 12:18 AM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

* Cleaning alien cages and feeding them.

Aww yes, opening up all the nonsensical Doom-style monster closets, checking the ravening horrors inside are okay. You guys getting enough air? You back there, the upside down head on spider legs guy, you doing ok? Great, great, remember your cue is when the dude presses the elevator button, the wall rolls back two feet for no reason. Awesome.

I like the keycard one as well, you'd have to take the blue key out of the blue door and put it in the most labyrinthine-ly inaccessible spot on the station.

This has actually made me want to pitch a game where you're just an average minimum-wage worker trying to get through your day on a futuristic space station that happens to be designed along video game lines, so every time you want to get into the maintenance closet you have to trek nine miles to retrieve the key, you're forced to play the same minigame over and over to turn machines on and off for cleaning (getting through giant deactivated corridor filling fans requiring repeated seconds-to-spare death dashes etc), whenever you call an elevator or open a major door a load of cubby holes open behind you. There are no monsters. It's just weird and annoying.
posted by emmtee at 12:21 AM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Like a German-style working-vehicle simulator set in outer space. Mag-Lev Simulator 2153
posted by empath at 12:29 AM on July 19, 2013

Reminds me of SomethingAwful's "Life and Times of a Holodeck Janitor" (probably NSFW).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:32 AM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Changing all the flickering light bulbs.

Tapping the perfectly good light bulbs with a screwdriver until they flicker just so.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:43 AM on July 19, 2013 [11 favorites]

(from EOI's link): Maybe they can simulate a giant world-spanning fire, turn off the safety locks and then see if the fire will spread to the ship.

Swear to god, I've seen that happen in SS13. It turns out there's a difference between creating simulated fire and creating simulated simulated fire.
posted by mikurski at 12:46 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Idle Thumbs did a great stream of this . Well, "great" if watching a let's play of someone picking up every shell casing in sight is your idea of a good time.

This was oddly entertaining. It reminds me of the current-gen Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, which have so much JUNK everywhere that you can pick up and move around. I don't know why you would, and I'm not sure why every tin can and wrench needs to be invidually modded, but playing something like this in FO or Skyrim would be insane.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:02 AM on July 19, 2013

empath: "Cleaning alien cages and feeding them."

Now it's time to go sleepy-bye, you worthless piece of garbage.

[a short time later]

So then it's just flew across the room like a balloon! I guess it was just full with gas. Hey guys, how could it live if it was just full with gas?
posted by Pinback at 2:19 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I believe you move crates around with a forklift in Shenmue.

Filling red drums with flammable liquids and distributing them at random around the space station.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:24 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Filling red drums with flammable liquids and distributing them at random around the space station.

"Hey, do you see "10-key skills" anywhere on my resume?"

credit to notmydesk, of course.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:31 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah now, explosive barrels, those are a different area entirely.

You see, the Grand Multiversal Barrel Authority is an organisation devoted to enforcing a rather absolutist brand of fairness upon the realities under its purview, by means of shipping immense quantities of exploding barrels to evil empires/criminal gangs/mercenary companies that vastly outgun and/or outnumber their opposition, and forcing people to stand near them.

It's a sliding scale: say you're the head of a PMC in MGS Rising. You've got a good couple of hundred basic cyborg guys and some of those mooing pooping robot things, maybe a robot dog with a chainsaw tail that never shuts up. Your opponent is a lightning-fast cyborg ninja with a sword that can deflect bullets, who literally feeds on your dudes' spines. The Authority maybe sends ten or so barrels total to even things out and calls it a day. And indeed, there are very few barrels in that game.

Now imagine you're the locust queen or whatever in Gears of War. Your basic grunts are really dumb, discipline is poor, you're technologically actually a little less sophisticated than the humans you're invading. But there are a shitload of you. Your opponents are trained military muscle guys, almost as thick as they're wide and with the latest hardware in hand, but at a disadvantage because there are hardly any of them left. In the interest of fairness the Barrel Authority might impose a one-explosive-barrel-per-ten-grunts penalty. That's not so bad. They're mandated to stand kind of semi-near the barrel, but honestly it'll only take out a couple at worst. You can work with that.

Then you have the Combine. Immense multi-universe-spanning empire, presumably near-infinite resources, forces consisting of previously conquered species twisted into weapons, technologically miles ahead of almost completely demoralised human resistance. Opposition: one theoretical physicist. They get one of the harshest barrel penalties ever handed down, actually into positive numbers. It's about two barrels per guy, near-unheard-of levels of barrel. Gordon actually encounters bridges with like ten dudes standing on them which are almost solely supported by explosive barrels. There are individual guards looking nervous next to an actual pyramid of barrels. Doctor Breen only just gets away with having no barrels in his office on a technicality, which is that there's a huge reactor thing just outside the door. Which does indeed explode later.
posted by emmtee at 3:29 AM on July 19, 2013 [19 favorites]

Now I kind of want to play as an NPC in a FPS game. Or a civilian in a Call of Duty game.
posted by empath at 3:32 AM on July 19, 2013

This is my favourite SA SS13 story: My god, it's full of butt

One of the round types in SS13 is Wizard, in which a powerful wizard is tasked with completing several objectives, while the crew must attempt to kill him. Wizards get access to a huge variety of spells, but can only choose four of them from the list at the start of the round; these are the spells they are limited to for the whole round.

One such spell is Curse of the Cluwne. This spell is generally considered a choice for "advanced" wizard players, since it has an extremely long cooldown, only targets one opponent, and can only be used at melee range, making it quite risky to use. It's still a popular spell, though, as it is far and away the griefiest spell of all. The Curse instantly transforms its victim into a Cluwne: a morbidly obese, subhuman, epileptic, brain-damaged, amazingly annoying ur-clown named "the cluwne" and wearing utterly hideous neon green clown clothing that is cursed and therefore cannot be removed. Cluwnes are traditionally marked for death by their non-cursed former comrades, and even when they manage to escape being murdered by an angry mob, they are so terrible at everything that their very existence is torment and they commonly wind up begging for death since their incompetence can actually make it difficult for them to successfully commit suicide.

I have played in quite a few Wizard rounds, but one still sticks out as my absolute favourite. The wizard retrieved a murdered Cluwne and dragged it back to his lab; ordinarily this would be a reason for the Cluwne to rejoice, since a Cluwne brain can still function perfectly normally if transferred into a cyborg, granting the player a new lease on life.

The Roboticist did not borg the Cluwne. He had other plans. Butt plans.

The deceased sad-clown was delivered to Genetics, where the Roboticist and a Geneticist entered into collusion. Now two people were in on the butt plans.

I have no idea what madness they got up to in there, but I do know that the second Roboticist was put on Butt Duty, bringing the known number of butt plan conspirators up to at least three. It is also likely that a delivery man was involved so as to speed the process along, as Butt Duty was a full-time job. All those butts had to come from somewhere, however:

They were cloning Cluwnes.

The mastermind behind it all sat contentedly at his operating table and worked with astounding assembly-line efficiency. Behind him was a locker with a seemingly limitless number of twitching, honking, weeping Cluwnes stuffed into it; he would grab a Cluwneclone, slap it onto the table, neatly slice off its butt, indifferently cut out its brain, hurl the dead body and retarded brain down the disposal chute while he set the butt to one side, and repeat. The man on Butt Duty would then grab the Cluwne butt and slap a robot arm onto it, creating a Buttbot, a butt on wheels that served no purpose except to be a butt and say the word "butt."

The efficiency and hard work of the Butt Conspiracy paid off, and before long Medbay was entirely crammed with Buttbots, to the point where the entire area was rendered non-functional and impassable due to the surging ocean of little wheeled cyberbutts happily beeping "butt" in a tinny chorus. But(t) crowding was not the issue - Buttbots do one thing aside from simply say "butt" now and again. When a Buttbot hears someone speak, it has a chance to repeat what was said, with "butt" substituted in place of random words.

This became an issue when the Captain strolled into Medbay and was aghast at its sorry state. "What the fuck is going on here?" he shouted.

The Buttbots chirped up in a gleeful, deafening chorus. "What the butt is butt on here?" "Butt the fuck butt going on butt?" "What butt butt is going butt here?" and so on and so forth, in a disorienting wave of auditory butt. This infuriated the Captain further, but his hollering and order-giving only further excited the Buttbots, making it totally impossible for anyone nearby to hear what was said or get any idea of what the fuck was going on amidst the titanic cacophony of butt. The Captain flew into a rage and decided to destroy all of the Buttbots, but he forgot that they leave smears of poo when destroyed; it was not long before he slipped head-over-heels and wound up prone and stunned in a puddle of human excrement, cursing relentlessly while the legion of Buttbots around him babbled back page upon page upon page of buttified imitation.

Seeing this, some jokester took a radio, turned on its microphone so that it would publicly broadcast anything it picked up, and tossed it into the room.

Well, shit, now nobody could hear anything. Every radio on the station became a hellish noise cannon, blasting out an incomprehensible wall of recursive butt laced with garbled cursing and butt-riddled mockeries of the crew's anguished cries for silence. At some point a bunch of the Buttbots came within hearing distance of the Cluwneclone closet; this is significant because Cluwnes will randomly and uncontrollably burst into fits of screamed honking. There were dozens of Cluwnes in that thing, and their eerie wails of HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK soon became a HONK HONK butt HONK butt blared forth from uncountable Buttbot speakers, received by the radio and broadcast throughout the station, magnifying upon itself until it was quite literally impossible to divine the slightest scrap of understanding from the game's text box as it was choked by dozens of pages of recursive buttspam per second. The Captain was helpless to stop it. The Roboticists were churning out Buttbots faster than he could destroy them, leaving him effectively stranded in the middle of the deafening, butt-packed hell that had once been Medbay.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:46 AM on July 19, 2013 [34 favorites]

Oh jeez, I've never heard of SS13, but these stories sound amazing. It's like a comical version of Dwarf Fortress.
posted by painquale at 4:52 AM on July 19, 2013

Which is to say it's exactly like Dwarf Fortress.

In space.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:05 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

So I see they've done an unintentional tie-in game to Space Janitors.
posted by plinth at 5:43 AM on July 19, 2013

Now I kind of want to play as an NPC in a FPS game. Or a civilian in a Call of Duty game.
posted by empath at 3:32 AM on July 19 [+] [!]

Not quite an NPC, and definitely not FPS, but have you tried Bay 12 Game's WW1 Medic?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:56 AM on July 19, 2013

It's actually the third game about a space janitor, after Space Quest and Space Station 13.

Aww, no love for Janitor Joe?
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:01 AM on July 19, 2013

Pinback has been waiting 9 years to deliver these lines with relevancy.

Well done, Sir!
posted by davemee at 6:30 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am half-convinced that Space Station 13 is not an actual game you play but rather an elaborate con and exercise in communal lying.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]

twitching, honking, weeping Cluwnes

I have my new band name.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:14 AM on July 19, 2013

I am half-convinced that Space Station 13 is not an actual game you play but rather an elaborate con and exercise in communal lying.

I tried playing it once but the controls were indecipherable (another reason it's like Dwarf Fortress I guess).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2013

Which is to say it's exactly like Dwarf Fortress.

In space.

Some of the Dwarf Fortress community run their own SS13 server. It's highly simulationist - opening a door to a depressurized compartment will suck you into vacuum as atmospheric pressure equalizes.

In fact, there's actually several branches of the SS13 codebase. A while back, the Something Awful goons (who run the version of SS13 that most people are familiar with) made a single revision of the SS13 source code public. At least two communities that I know of took the code and really ran with it, starting up their own servers and diverging from the original codebase as time went on. As I mentioned before, the Bay 12/Dwarf Fortress community run a simulation & roleplay-oriented server, which feels really damn weird when you come from the SA servers - it feels like you're in that one episode of Sealab 2021 where everyone is a calm, competent, and friendly professional.

The other major SS13 group I know of is the one that's being run by 4chan's /tg community. /tg falls in the middle ground between Bay12 and SA - not as sim/rp oriented as the former, but not as griefy/murderboner as the latter. They also have corgis. I used to play a lot of SS13 with the /tg community, so that's where most of my knowledgebase comes from.

But enough with the background info. Let's talk about how messed-up SS13 is.


On the surface, being a quartermaster seems pretty easy. You have points. Points are spent to order crates. Order crates of stuff, open crates, give stuff to people who want it, then return crates on cargo shuttle for points. Circle of life.

The one weakness in all of this is the people. The goddamn people who want STUFF. Crates of electrical supplies cost like 15 points, and are you going to order a whole load of wirecutters and batteries for the greyshirted peon who just wants some insulated gloves and a wirecutter so he can wreak havoc on the station's electrical grid?

Hell no, you're not going to do that. Especially when Security catches the little ass and blames YOU for giving the gloves to such an irresponsible person in the first place.

But. But but but but (butt). You can't just NOT have insulated gloves around. If the AI goes rogue or someone makes it think that the mean human pulse rate is zero, the first thing it's going to do is electrify every single door on the station. So you have to order some to keep in stock when the captain lurches in, smelling of ozone and demanding hand protection.

Now, where're you going to put them? You can't just leave them out on a counter. That can lead to (a) someone breaking in, grabbing them, and running off while you holler for security assistance, (b) someone seeing them, asking for them, and dealing with denial by murderously hating you for the rest of the game round (say, thirty minutes or so), or (c) both of the above. (Swear as God's truth, I've had (b) happen to me when an atmospheric technician decided that venting O2 out of the cargo bay was the best response to not getting some insulated gloves.)

Solution? Shove them in your backpack and deflect, deflect, deflect. If the captain wants some gloves, give him some gloves; everyone else gets told 'Sorry, you should check Engineering - maybe they have some spares.' Don't say 'We're out of stock', because then the immediate response is 'ORDER SOME NOW NOW NOW'. Be passive-aggressive, this is SS13.


Botany is a low-stress job. You plant seeds, grow plants, harvest crops, give crops to the chef. Plenty of time to do stuff like grow space weed and set up a fruit stand (I ran a chili-eating contest once. Even the involuntary participants had fun. Or third-degree burns. One of those.).

One day, a round starts and I find myself assigned as a Botanist. A half-second later, I find out that I'm a traitor who has to kill some cargo technician down in the cargo bay. The cargo bay I don't have access to.


Okay, let's improvise. Grow a load of apples and limes and oranges and haul them down to the cargo bay, ask my target and his buddy if I can set them out for people to grab on a free-access table. They're all 'Sure, whatever, can I have an apple?' This is good. This is cover I can use while stalking my prey.

Fruit unloaded, I find a secure (and camera-free) spot where I can spawn some traitor gear - an energy sword that I can conceal in a pocket, and a PDA cartridge that lets me blow up other people's PDAs.

After that, it's just bringing different varieties of produce back to the cargo bay to 'restock' the display. On my final trip, I find out my target's ordered some costume, and is now pretending he's a Wizard.

'Wait wait wait,' he says as I turn to leave. 'Wanna see me cast a spell?'

I peek at my PDA and access the detonation cartridge menu. I see his name, but I don't detonate yet. 'Sure, buddy. Cast a spell.'

'ARGLEBARGLEMOOSH!' he hollers. And then his PDA explodes, dropping him to the floor. His buddy just... stares. Completely flatfooted. This is good - it gives me enough time to pull out the sword and break through a damaged wall, cutting him down and delivering the coup de grace to my target.

While totally awesome, this was really poorly thought out. I have no way to hide the bodies, and they're in a somewhat high-access area. Buuuuuut there's usually a long line for the cloner this late in the round, so I might be clear. Once I wash all the blood off and ditch my weaponry, that is. While I'm doing my cleanup, the call for the evac shuttle comes over the radio, and then it's just ten minutes to a glorious win as traitor.
posted by mikurski at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2013 [11 favorites]

I need all those games.
posted by Shouraku at 1:33 PM on July 19, 2013


I literally cannot imagine how a game like Like, what pixels are on your screen?
posted by effugas at 2:24 PM on July 20, 2013

Like, what pixels are on your screen?

SS13 is sometimes referred to as '2d spessmens' by the player community, and I think that's a pretty accurate description.

The game's primarily rendered through a 2d sprite-based display that includes line-of-sight calculation (so you can't see what's around corners, forex.) When a player moves around, their character changes orientation to face appropriately, and 'slides' from tile to tile.

When you interact with objects like computers, pieces of paper, or PDAs, the game client spawns a text-only popup window for you to work with.

People have commented on the SS13 difficulty curve, and it's honestly a little true. Even the starter guide unabashedly walks you through the nine-step process that will get your character to pick up a pair of shoes and a jumpsuit.
posted by mikurski at 10:15 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

After spending a lot of my weekend watching youtube videos and reading wikis about SS13, and even downloading the BYOND client and still wimping out from giving it a go, I did find out that there's a group working on an updated version, where one of there priorities is a more streamlined interface. So for some of us it is a case of 'watch this space.'
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:55 AM on July 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

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