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Lore Distance Relationship

by Naomi "Bez" Norbez profile


(based on 12 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

Follow user StaircaseHaven14 on a Neopets-esque site called Ruffians as she faces life's challenges, RPs with her long-distance BFF (or more than BFF?) Bee, and encounters familial hardship, from age 8 to 18.

Game Details


Nominee, Best Story; Nominee - The Sister, Best Individual NPC - 2020 XYZZY Awards

16th Place (tie) - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Made me nostalgic for experiences I never had, October 28, 2020
by autumnc
Related reviews: ifcomp 2020

Immediately after starting the game, I was reminded of Secret Little Haven, another game about internet-mediated relationships, self-discovery, and fandom. I was a little disappointed that this game did not have the richly implemented fake internet GUI. Lore Distance Relationships is more of a visual novel, with interactivity only when selecting dialogue options in chat scenes, and only screenshots of the Ruffians website. Nevertheless, the game's story carried it through. It was consistently engaging, and I came to care for the characters. I really appreciated the uplifting ending.

The story follows the protagonist’s life, from age 8, in 2001, to age 17, in 2010, with each year being a new chapter. It takes place mostly as text conversations on Ruffians, a neopets-like website, between the protagonist StaircaseHaven14, and BusyAsABee, another user. They start out by roleplaying as their Ruffians, and eventually develop a deep friendship and might even fall in love as they grow up. The conversations felt authentic to me for the most part; maybe some of the early chats were too precocious for 9 or 10-year-olds, but overall it felt right. They felt like real people and real friends. The role-play segments were great. I liked that both characters had their typing quirks; Bee typed using all lower-case with messy punctuation and emojis, while Stair used mostly correct capitalization and punctuation and generally only used emoji in response to Bee.

In terms of structure, it seems mostly linear, but there are a lot of choices where you can choose for Stair to avoid or ignore Bee. I don’t know if these choices end up affecting the outcome, or if there are “bad ends” where Stair and Bee never get together. There are also some timed pauses, which I usually find annoying, but here, I feel like they worked in conveying the uncertainty and nervousness experienced by the characters. There is sound and music; the sound consists mostly of keyboard and mouse sounds, while music plays during the roleplay segments. The sound effects and some of the graphics changed as technology advanced from 2001 to 2010. This was a cool effect but I got a burst of anxiety when I heard the skype sound.

Not necessarily a major spoiler, but: (Spoiler - click to show)Another big similarity with Secret Little Haven is that the protagonist is a trans girl, with an abusive parent, who gradually discovers her identity over the course of the story. It was fairly obvious from the start that the plot was going in this direction, but I still enjoyed the buildup. We don’t see as much of the protagonist’s life and background in this game, but there’s a lot we can infer from her conversations. By contrast, we don't know as much about Bee. She just seems so incredibly nice with an incredibly loving and nice father; it almost seems unreal when contrasted with Stair.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the story. I was on Neopets during the game's timeline but never got into the community. Now I wish I had...

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Tore my heart in two and then put it back together, December 3, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour

In this choice-based work you play as a kid who, in order to escape a bad situation at home, goes to a Neopets-like website called Ruffians and makes a friend named BusyAsABee. The game plays out over the course of 11 chapters and 11 years (you start as an eight-year-old and get one year older each chapter). The game primarily plays out through the chat function on the Ruffians website, though in the interludes there is some conversation with your sister (including voice-overs). Over the years you have the choice of how to develop your friendship (or romance) with Bee and how much to reveal about your troubled home life.

The middle part of this game is rough, with the player-character experiencing (Spoiler - click to show)maternal abuse and ridicule at school. Some of the scenes and conversations are heart-breaking. But thankfully, in the end there is still hope and things are looking up. Depending on how warm you've been in your conversations with Bee, the ending scenes can be beautiful in how much trust and love has grown between the two of you. I played through the game twice to try some of the other options. It is possible to get an aborted game if you don't want to open up to Bee at all in the beginning, and some of the best stuff is cut if you are more aloof towards the end. So in this game, as in life, it seems best to open yourself up to those that love you to get the best experience.

I thought this game did many things well, including a realistic portrayal of a now decades-old messaging system, and the speech patterns, cadence and abbreviations of kids chatting with each other online from elementary school age through college. The images of the Ruffians website were also great to help set the mood. I also thought the voice acting was very strong and really added something to the game. I loved the character of Rachel and her relationship with the player character. Finally, I had a huge smile break out across my face when the game ended with some music, a la the credits scene in a movie. It was a great song for the occasion and I let it play to the end.

The few things that I didn't like were the parts of the game where the audio looped until a part of a scene finished. Purposefully, the audio is intrusive to match what is happening in the scene. But the more it repeated the harder it became to focus on the text. I'd recommend the audio fading out or stopping after 2-3 loops. Also, sometimes the text and graphics were so big that I had to scroll to find the right place to click to continue the story, and I think that could be polished a bit to make it more compact.

Well worth your time!

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Remember the friends you had in middle school?, March 8, 2023
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)

This game is peak nostalgia value. I spent so many hours on Neopets when I was younger. I mean, I came after they freshened up the UI, so the art was better than the janky nightmare-inducing art "Ruffians" uses, but it still felt like a blast from the past. Love the dedication to recreating a Neopets-esque interface, brought me back to the good old days. Stair even submits to a Neopian Times expy at one point, and I read those stories dedicatedly as a kid.

In general, playing this game really reminded of middle school. It hearkens back to the 2010s Internet and the things middle schoolers get up to on the Internet in their free time (read: the things I got up to on the Internet in my free time as a middle schooler), i.e. cringey roleplaying. The writing captures the earnest cringe people make fun of middle schoolers for, but because it's so earnest, instead of cringing it's easy to get caught up in how dang excited the main characters are to have epik battles with their epik ninja punching powahz!!!! This is wholesome 100 poggers content.

The voice acting and sound effects add a lot to it, makes everything feel so much more real. Rachel's voice acting is great, and the sound of the (Spoiler - click to show)abusive mother banging on the door was horrifying. Also, the ending song is fantastic. Felt like the credits scene from a movie. And seeing the kids grow up, from being in elementary school to applying to colleges and getting in, was sweet in a coming-of-age way.

I give this game a 5/5 because despite some minor quibbles with the dialogue (should the characters' typing styles be exactly the same for ten years? Maybe the earlier ones should be less coherent and the later ones moreso?), it reminded me perfectly of the shenanigans I got up to as a kid, especially the Neopets part. Also it felt bittersweet seeing Stair and Bee since they reminded me of friends I used to have. I drifted away from all of them, mostly due to changing schools and falling out of touch—though, and this is pretty personal—someone I was close to, but not close enough, who had a bad family, killed herself after we graduated high school. Playing through the game, as Stair, I couldn't stop thinking about her. Even the way Stair typed reminded me of her, she was one of the few people I knew who always ended her chat messages with punctuation. Maybe this isn't the best place to mention it, but at the same time, I don't know, I had to put it out there.

I don't know. Sorry.

I feel like many people have forged Internet relationships like Bee and Stair's, but they usually don't last as long due to being long-distance and founded on anonymity. Though I'm biased since that's been my experience. But this is a great depiction of the platonic Internet relationship, one where neither party loses interest or drifts away from Neopets and stops talking to the other. It's just sweet and mutually uplifting throughout the ten years. I didn't pursue romance with Bee, but appreciated that even if Stair gently pushes back their romantic overtures they can still remain good friends.

Playtime: about an hour.

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Lore Distance Relationship on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Lore Distance Relationship appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Extremely Online Games by autumnc
Games about being Extremely Online. Games that take place mostly on a simulated internet UI of some sort, games about online culture and relationships.


The following polls include votes for Lore Distance Relationship:

Games which take place in chat messenger systems or on a digital interface by grimperfect
Specifically, works where the main mechanic is either exploring a in-game digital interface(ala Secret Little Haven) or communicating using a type of chat/text messenger system(think Emily is Away).

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