P2: Zauberkurg Kartoffel Farm

Zauber Kartoffel 2



  • It is difficult to see how this idea came to my mind. The concept of a sorcerer that makes people peel potatoes came from my favourite childhood tale from Germany, the Great Robber Hotzneplotz. However, the setting in Kansas, the entire event revolving around was something that I did not think of when I was beginning this story. The moment Christina said ‘Interactive Fiction,’ this was the story that I had in mind.
  • This story is set in Kansas. I don’t know why it was meant to be Kansas, but it somehow just happened naturally. I was able to think about there being a sorcerer, who’s German (or German heritage), the potato farm, the characters, the setting of the map and etc. (after all, there are really only two settings). The dystopian world is the one that exists at the basement of Mr. Zauberkurg’s farm. There are 100 people locked up, who are doomed to peel potatoes for the rest of their lives. I think it’s very difficult to be more dystopian than that.
  • Sorry for using the Teaching Team & Friends’ names. I was hoping to change them after development and never really got the time to do so.
  • CLARIFICATION: The Bill Gates VERICHIP conspiracy is a humour and I don’t believe in it, just so you know…

Iterations and how things changed

[Some playtesters were slightly reluctant to posting their photos on a public blog]

I tested the IF with four different people.

Playtest 1

  • The first iteration of the game had it only until halfway of the game. I didn’t know what I wanted to teach using the game. The story is ridiculous and humorous more than anything else, and it didn’t really have a clear goal that I wanted to teach people.
  • Even though the story was very short at that point, I did get a useful suggestion. My friend Eve (alias) suggested that if the plotline is going to flow in one direction anyway, it might be funny to introduce a few points leading to the demise of the main character. I decided to introduce a mechanism of GameOvers.
    • This means that there are points in the plot where if you make a rash decision and not act strategically, you end up getting caught by the sorcerer, forever doomed to peel potatoes at his basement, or turning into a frog. I think this adds to the playfulness of the game.

Playtest 2

  • Originally, the plot had a very simple ending, where you go and slay the sorcerer. My partner pointed out that he would prefer a less dark ending, especially given the fact that the IF reads a bit like children’s tale.
  • I accepted his suggestion and decided to make it three different endings.
  • You’re rewarded based on how kind you act to the villain. We were recently both very moved by Waymond in ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’.

Playtest 3

  • It didn’t change from the version for playtest 2. One comment that I got from my friend Ivy (alias) was what I was teaching with this game if it was going to be a serious game.
  • That was really a good point and I decided that I’m teaching patience and strategic thinking through this game.

Playtest 4

  • My roommate found this really funny and said every time he’s peeling anything, he’d think of this ridiculous story.
  • My partner thought the ending was a bit abrupt, but then it was sort of suitable given the theme and the overall mood of the game.



  • I rushed the actual playtesting at the very end. The biggest takeaway from this project was that I would love to playtest my games starting from earlier, as the insights benefit you even if the game feels really incomplete. That’s something that I’d do differently, if I’m doing this again.
  • I would like to thank my partner and roommate for playtesting this numerous times, and giving me suggestions such as ‘Wait, so you cannot eat cheseburgers?!’ and ‘LOL this is really funny, but where do they diverge and how?’ which were really helpful and aided my decision a lot.
  • With that said, I had sooooo much fun writing this story and would love to develop this further using Unity and Chuck if time allow for it.


About the author


  1. This was a hilariously unique experience! At first, it took me a while to come to terms with what was going on in the story, but I gradually got what the story was trying to say. While fantastical (or at least, some version of fantastical where there is a dash of real-life references) in nature, it was clear by the end that the story was making a commentary on the exploitation of labor that large companies have today. The (not-so-subtle) references with the character of Mr. Zauberkurg and the “mindless” workers doing tasks were the clearest factors in making the value apparent. The characterization of the workers made it abundantly clear that this was a horrible situation to be in.

    The game definitely re-affirmed my own concern and opinions regarding how large companies can treat their workers today. The story premise itself set everything in a hilarious world, which added a more lighthearted feel to the otherwise real issue, but it didn’t detract from my understanding. While it was fun to make choices in the story through Twine, things felt generally linear to me. Which isn’t necessarily bad! You got to have more context if you chose certain actions, and I liked having the 3 ending options at the end. They did feel a bit abrupt, as there is no chance to develop the protagonist’s/player’s personality beforehand. The choices were mostly natural to me, save for the sudden tonal shift in any of the 3 endings (particularly the “kill him” ending, that had me pause for a second just to acknowledge that it was a possible choice).

    I really appreciated the humor of the story, and found all the references to be really funny. For improvement, I’d suggest filling out the text to create a richer world/protagonist, as well as making the dialogue more clear (where do you use/not use quotes, how to distinguish the protagonist’s words from other characters).

  2. I had SOOOOO much fun playing this game. I felt like it communicated a few different lessons: gig workers are treated like they are dispensable and are given no say in the work they do (e.g. working for the McDonald’s and disappearing), a few very rich people have too much control over others, and the work that we do as Stanford students/alums can affect a lot of people and have unintended consequences. I wasn’t entirely sure how the machine learning and neural network jokes fit into the story elements, but maybe it was just to help the player make the connection to big tech?

    I liked the different endings – and I’m very glad that the game let me go back and change my choices so I could read through more of the story 😛 I also like how the “best” choices are the ones where you help others. I feel like that communicates another value of caring for your fellow humans, even when it’s difficult (and you’re going against an evil sorcerer).

    My favorite part of the game was the writing itself. There was a lot of character in both the options and dialogue, and the pacing was fast and full of entertaining twists. I especially liked this reference: ‘Mommy don’t know these are veri hot, these are beastly marks, doing something VERI un ho ly o-e-o-e-o’

    One way to improve for P4 would be to clarify when someone is speaking by adding quotation marks. Overall great job! It really felt like you had fun writing this, so it was fun to play 🙂

  3. Very funny! I’d strongly suggest you go to Hass center for writing and get some editing for grammar and punctuation, it’s distracting from this funny and weirdly fascinating tale! I also wonder what your message is… my guess is capitalism is the work of evil sorcerers, who are basically computer programmers. 😉

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