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Carmen and Seri are lesbians. Brandy is bisexual. All of the girls are queer, but what exactly does Candace identify as? I know from writing the comic that Candace is queer, but I could have done a better job of exploring Candace's sexuality in Grunge. It is only touched on at the end of the game.
Candace’s experience is most like that of my own: she spent a long time in a monogamous relationship (which also made her pretty miserable towards the end) and after ending it, realized that she didn’t know as much about herself as she thought she did. Further, she realized that she had skipped a lot of opportunities to learn about herself when she was younger. Her newfound freedom leads Candace to question her sexuality.
If you chose to go to Brandy’s house in chapter two, Brandy comes out as bisexual, and reveals that she is very attracted to Candace, but would never say anything about it. In a way, Candace and Brandy’s relationship is more complicated than Carmen and Seri’s, because Michael is present. You might think that Brandy should be the catalyst for getting their relationship started, but she is not. While the girls all rib on Michael, he is their mutual friend, and even Brandy wouldn’t want to overstep her boundaries and ruin someone else’s relationship intentionally. Plus, Brandy (at first) isn’t so deeply in love with Candace that she would seriously pursue her. The Brandy that we first meet in Grunge is uncomfortable with monogamy, mostly because she doesn’t want to be tied down to anyone. Brandy can be monogamous, but she has to feel really comfortable with another person in order to be in a serious relationship.
Candace and Brandy do become canon. :-) This is something that I hope to explore in Grunge’s companion story, title TBD.
So Candace doesn’t come out until her mid to late 20s, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Candace didn’t actively suppress her sexuality or feelings for women; she just hadn’t really thought about her feelings for women. Candace eventually comes to the understanding that she is pansexual, as she is most comfortable with that label. Everyone comes out at different points in their life. Some take a little longer than others, and that’s okay, and doesn’t make their identity any less valid.
CW warning - discussion of suicide
I made this post in the event that people were struggling with Sheng, or were wondering about how many different paths you could take with Sheng's route.
Sheng’s quest is one of the most complicated in the game. For those of you who are familiar with programming in RPGMakerMV, it relies on a handful of switches to determine the endings.
Here are the choices that result in an immediate win.
- You helped Elijah by agreeing to keep his relationship with Sheng a secret
- You helped Sheng when Kenny was bullying him in Chapter Two
- You didn’t out Sheng to Winston in Chapter One.
Here are the choices that result in immediate failure.
- You didn’t help Elijah by agreeing to keep his relationship with Sheng a secret
- You didn’t help Sheng when Kenny was bullying him in Chapter Two.
Here is the one unique pathway that will allow Sheng to forgive you.
- You helped Elijah by agreeing to keep his relationship with Sheng a secret.
- You helped Sheng when Kenny was bullying him in Chapter Two.
- You outed Sheng to Winston in Chapter One.
- Here’s how you can resolve the situation and unlock the secret route:
- Stand directly in front of Winston when you’re at Candace’s track meet. He will get angry with you and tell Sheng what you said. Sheng will pull you aside and talk to you and ask you why you did that.
- You can tell Sheng your reason why. If you admit that you did it out of concern for his well being, he will be willing to forgive you for this action. This doesn’t negate the fact that you did something horrible, but Sheng grants you leniency.
- If you do NOT talk to Sheng and explain yourself, you will lose.
I want to make something clear to players, if I haven’t made it clear already:
There is no option that you can take that results in Sheng’s death.
No matter if you’re a good friend to Sheng or act like his worst enemy, Sheng survives his attempt, and lives on to seek treatment and work on his mental health. When starting off Sheng’s route, I knew that I wouldn’t want the player responsible for whether or not Sheng lives or dies.
One of my favorite games, Life is Strange, uses a situation in which a character, Kate, attempts suicide. The player’s goal is to convince Kate to not kill herself. The scene and the emotional impact is powerful, but honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to communicate to a player that they are responsible for whether or not someone commits suicide-- and then if you fail, see the actual person commit suicide.
Your responsibility to Sheng is not to save his life. It is not to talk him down from suicide; it is not to treat his depression. Your only goal is to be a good friend to him and support him through his difficult coming out experience, and then when he’s going through treatment.
I wanted to talk more about the purpose of the hearts in the game. They are the items that you will need in order to win the game. But what exactly are they supposed to represent? Your morality? How much Carmen loves you?
The hearts are meant to be a representation of your reputation, or how Carmen perceives you. The more hearts you have, the better your reputation is. If you have a decent number of hearts, Carmen will view you as worthy of being her friend, or she will be interested in rekindling her romantic relationship with you. If you have a lower number of hearts-- i.e., you played the game like a total asshole-- she’ll think that you have a lot to work on, and will be distrustful of you.
I was worried that some people might view this mechanic as being “too harsh”-- that Seri is expected to help others and dole out free emotional labor to others in order to be worthy of Carmen's love. While the mechanic is flawed in that sense, this was not my intention. I wanted to take the time to explain it in further detail.
The thing with getting the "alone route" is that you have to be playing it like you either 1) don't care about the other characters or 2) like you actively enjoy being a dick to some people. There are some seriously nasty ways that you can treat others in this game. While a few characters are tricky in terms of dialogue (looking at you, Lapis), most of the quests are fairly straightforward. So you're either totally selfish and don't care about anyone's problems but your own, or you just like being an asshole. Those are the two ways you can view how you made your choices in the "alone route."
Towards the end of the game, it's revealed that you have been treating Carmen poorly after she went away for six months. Rather than talking about your feelings, you took them out on her. You found little ways to "punish" her or make her life frustrating. You accused her of having an affair. While you paid the bills on the apartment for the past six months, keep in mind that Carmen has been the one who has consistently worked a full time job and paid the bills for years. This puts a lot of pressure on Carmen. She's taken on the role of breadwinner while you have been able to more extensively explore your passions, like writing. She sees your attitude towards her as being extremely unfair, and honestly, she's right. You haven't appreciated her, and in some ways, you've arguably used her. Then what do you do, after treating her so poorly?
You dump her. Yikes.
During the time that you're apart, Carmen reflects on you and your relationship. She thinks about how you have treated others, and how consistent your awful behavior has been. Were you frequently mean to others or acted selfishly? If you play the game and don't get enough hearts, she will view you as someone who refuses to confront their problems and who has been consistently selfish and mean. She will acknowledge that you have depression and that impacted your relationships with others, but ultimately, you chose to take your issues out on other people rather than seeking help. More importantly, you chose to use her as an emotional punching bag. She isn't willing to forgive you because of how much you have hurt her. In the other routes, Carmen is willing to forgive you because she recognizes that you are a good person and were respectful to others, even when you were hurting. In the friendship route, she just isn't quite ready to take you back yet. With both the alone and friendship routes, there are still hypothetical opportunities for romantic redemption: one pathway is just rockier and longer than the other.
When writing this aspect of Grunge, I really wanted to call attention to the fact that no matter what you are going through or dealing with, it is not an excuse to treat those who love you poorly. You don't get to attack, insult, or belittle those who love you and use depression/your mental health as an excuse. You also don't get to treat people like medicine. Similarly, people are not obligated to put up with your shitty treatment of them, and they have a right to walk away. In a relationship, whether with friends or romantic partners, you are supposed to support one another, but you aren't allowed to violate boundaries in order to obtain that support.
Grunge has hit almost 1,500 pageviews and nearly 170 downloads. I wanted to check in with y'all and see if you had any questions or concerns regarding quests? If people are interested, I could also make some walkthrough videos on the game. Just let me know what you need from me! :-)
Ahh, Becky. She’s the absolute worst. In my life, I have written some really terrible characters, and Becky honestly makes top five. Yet despite all her horrible qualities, she somehow has a great life: popularity, good grades, and even… friends? What’s all that about?
I completely understand if people think Becky’s character is nonsensical. How can she be so horrible and still have friends? This is something that even I asked myself. Becky is very clearly a racist and isn’t afraid to voice her opinions-- however, her friends are people of color. So why would people be friends with her?
Many times, I thought back to my own high school experiences. Many times that I was friends with people not because I genuinely liked them or saw a lot of good qualities in them, but because I believed it was better to be friends than enemies. I didn’t want to be on their bad side, because I saw how they treated people that they didn’t like. I wanted to avoid being a target.
When you grow up with a certain group of people, as did many of the kids living in Copper Junction, you’re going to spend a ton of time with them. You’ll share the same classes, and at times, the same clubs and activities. We do strange things to fit in as kids. We sacrifice our self esteem so we can avoid being bullied. We internalize self-hatred to avoid external hate. We do all of these things so that we can avoid confrontations. It takes a long time to learn that it is better to develop trustworthy relationships than it is to have many meaningless ones. More than that, you have to learn that you are deserving of healthy relationships, and people who truly love you and appreciate you for being you.
Eventually, and it takes a lot of time, but Becky’s friends pull away from her in the end. When she graduates, she’s standing by herself. Even if you don’t complete their quests, Inez, Tara, and Winnie all avoid her. Why? Because they have no reason to treat her like she’s one of their own anymore. They’re not on the cheer team, attending classes, or even living in the same neighborhood. As you grow up, it becomes easier to pick and choose your friendships, because you have more freedom. So this is the end result for Becky-- she has no friends, except for her boyfriend Kenny, who is in jail.
Maybe some of you think that Becky had a chance for redemption at the end of Chapter Two. After all, she extends the olive branch to Seri by offering her a heart. But Seri rejects it. Some of you might ask… why? Why does Seri automatically reject it?
Throughout the game, Seri and her friends put up with a lot of abuse from Becky. They are met with indifference by their school administration, and the cycle repeats itself over and over again. Everyone who has been bullied can say that this type of behavior and abuse is emotionally exhausting. And honestly? An apology wouldn’t erase the years of abuse. It wouldn’t even begin to break the ice.
Worse, Becky’s apology isn’t even genuine. For one person to go from “Hey loser!” to “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” within the course of a single conversation is bizarre. Their final interaction is meant to come across as strange, not touching. Becky’s offer of a heart, to me, comes across as an action meant to reassert control rather than repair a friendship. The hearts have the power to change the course of a game, but you don’t need to take it. Seri’s words hold truth: she doesn’t hold any power over you, and she never has. To reject the heart is to not give her the satisfaction.
Perhaps Becky’s final conversation with Seri motivates her to be a more empathetic person. We’ll never know for sure, as we leave Becky behind at the end of chapter two. But it will take years, at the very least, for Becky to unlearn all the toxic behaviors that she enthusiastically developed. And honestly? It’s not Seri’s job to teach Becky how to be a better person. It’s not anyone’s job to invest that level of emotional and mental effort into another person. Becky has to work on being a better person, and moreover, she has to want to be a better person.
Wish I could think of a better title for this, because it comes across as pretentious and implies that I am some sort of expert about writing on people of color, when I’m literally going to spend my time explaining why I am not. I am a white, non-Latinx person. I am by no means an expert on writing characters of color, nor could I ever hope to authentically and honestly replicate the experience of a person of color. I can only, at best, provide an imitation of that. I wanted to formally acknowledge that here.
When making this game, I knew I wanted to have characters of different backgrounds. It would be boring to have all white characters. On top of that, it would be wholly inaccurate to have all white characters-- not just to the comic it's based on, but on demographics in reality. I could have created only a FEW characters, but then I would've played into tokenism, and that's… gross, to put it simply. So I set off to create characters all different from one another. They would have not only different backgrounds, genders, and sexualities; but hobbies, interests, and professions. I didn't want anyone to be a stereotype, or just a generic background character. I wanted these people to replicate those that you would meet in real life.
When writing these characters, I did my best to do my research. For example, when writing Carmen, I researched Puerto Rican customs and culture. I also made Spanish an important part of the story and incorporated Spanish dialogue into many of the scenes. My friend Christian Castro Romero was there to double check for grammatical errors and in some ways also served as a sensitivity reader and helped me rewrite portions that are problematic. Some of that was weird for me. I consider myself as someone who is aware of what behaviors and actions are racist or problematic, but that just reinforces my previous point: I'm not an expert nor should I claim to be. During these situations it's best for me to listen, be receptive, and make the appropriate corrections. If you claim to be a writer, you have to be!
In other instances, like when Candace is talking about Becky's racist comments, I borrowed from stories I had read about, or heard about either via the news or from a friend. One thing that I wish I had done, in retrospect, was hire and consult with more sensitivity readers. While this wouldn't have perfected the writing, it would have double checked and eliminated any problematic elements. In future projects, I hope to make better use of my time and resources so that I can utilize them appropriately.
No one has publicly (to my knowledge) brought up these criticisms as of yet, but I still wanted to address it. My hope is that Grunge didn't offend or hurt anyone in it's portrayal of a certain heritage or race. I hope it didn't eroticize, fetishize, or demean anyone. I did my best with what resources I had and with what time limitations that I had.
If you thought Grunge misrepresented anyone, I just want to say: this is why it's so important to support creators of color. And it's not hard to do that! Play their game, make a recommendation online or to a friend; contribute a dollar to their Patreon or Ko-fi account!
Below are just SOME devs and organizations out there that are really making a difference in the gaming world:
Gensuta is one extremely talented dev. They are making Skate and Date, which is a rhythm game AND visual novel. Probably one of the coolest concepts that I’ve seen this year.
The Game Devs Of Color Expo is an annual event dedicated to showcasing the many talented devs of color who work in the industry!
Aubrey Scott is a Native American game developer focusing on engineering and design. Sbe is known for her work on NASCAR games.
Christina Zero is a game designer, level designer, and games scholar who has completed a lot of research in the video games industry.
Shawn Alexander Allen is an activist and game developer who is currently working on the upcoming Beatdown City.
Black Game Developers focuses on highlighting and celebrating black game developers. They recently hosted a game jam showcasing the work of devs from all across the industry.
Black Girl Gamers is an organization that focuses on “heightening Black Women’s voices in gaming” through creating a safe environment to discuss and enjoy games, as well as advocating for diversity within the industry.
POC in Play is an organization that focuses on “Creating initiatives & events to amplify the visibility & inclusion of People of Colour in the UK video games industry.”
And there are countless more in the industry that have been doing this work better than I can, and for far longer than I have!
If you are a dev or if you know of a dev whose work you’d like to share, please comment below. :-)
I'm a little late to putting my game on this thread (it came out on the 9th) so please forgive me as I just learned about this!
I recently published my FIRST game, an RPG adventure called Grunge.
It starts off in the 1990s and follows a group of queer high school girls as they're growing up. The game primarily focuses on protagonist Seraphina "Seri" Baum, an aspiring writer who is struggling with her parents' divorce, her uncertainty about the future, and most importantly, her feelings for her best friend Carmen.
While the game has a strong focus on romance, there are plenty of other things to do and explore! Grunge features over 100 quests, secret romances and story lines, and a fairly easy turn-based combat system.
(I know the art looks cutesy, but this is a game meant for those at least 16 and up! Full content warnings are included on the game's page.)
You can grab Grunge here for free and you can check out the animated trailer for the game below if you'd like!
Hey, I loved the game and I'm planning on covering it for my YouTube channel. One comment though: on my second school day, I selected to hang out with Natalie, but I ended up randomly hanging out with Keith instead? Not sure if that's a bug or something?
Hello! With update 1.5, you will be required to transfer over your save file. This is a guide that will show you how to do it for the Windows version.
Mac players - I need your help! Please let us know how you transferred over your save files. Did you follow the same steps? Leave a comment below or send your screenshots/guide to email@example.com.
Open up your Grunge folder. Locate the www folder. You should see your save files in a folder called "save." Copy this entire folder.
Go to your folder for Version 1.5. Locate the www folder. Click into it.
Paste your "save" folder from the previous version into this one! When you boot up the game, it should allow you to continue and select your previous save file!
Thank you for your patience. Please let me know if you are having any problems with this method!
Freddie was born in Alabama and moved to Tennessee to start his career as a detective. After a bad situation occurred, he moved to Copper Junction and started a job with the local precinct. He is one of Seri’s best friends, and is passionate about protecting his neighborhood. He is dating Dwayne.
Dwayne is another one of Seri’s closest friends. He identifies as bisexual. Previously he was in a relationship with Brandy, but he is now happily dating Freddie. Dwayne is a talented chef and is currently working at Tommy’s diner, but he hopes to open his own bakery and cafe in the near future.
Tommy is African American and is also of Italian descent on his Dad’s side. Unlike his dad, Tommy has a very relaxed personality. He is calm and collected and has a mind for business, but is also quite creative in the dishes that he creates.
Amaya is a counselor and grant writer at the youth center. She is also dating Manolo, Carmen’s brother, who she one day hopes to marry. She is a transwoman and uses her spare time to advocate for trans rights through writing and organizing.
Akila is a new mother who is returning to the workforce. She works in real estate and is married to Blue. She one day hopes to move her family to Silver Heights.
Mei is Maddie’s mother and recently divorced her spouse. She is a flight attendant and moved back in with her mom so that Maddie would always have someone to go home to.
Jamiya is a nurse at the local hospital. She enjoys working with kids.
Eman works at the Dairy Freeze part-time while she attends community college classes. She would like to be an electrician.
Iggi works at a facility for differently-abled adults. He was born without an eye. He is married and has two young daughters.
He works at a call center and he absolutely hates his job. He just recently became a father and is so excited to start this new chapter of his life. He is married to Akila.
Cesar is a bit of a hothead. He enjoys technology and computers, but he doesn’t actually understand how to use them that well.
Dick is Sid’s Dad. He struggles to understand his son due to the generational divide between them, but then again, he doesn’t make much of an effort to learn.
Sol works at the auto shop with Harmond and also enjoys volunteering and cleaning up the park on weekends.
Eko is an opportunistic businessman who is always looking for his big break. He’s a creative individual but sometimes lacks focus.
Jaxton is one of Eko’s closest friends. He is the oldest out of his siblings. His father is very sick, so he spends a lot of time at home taking care of his family.
Father Francis is a Catholic priest. He has lived in the neighborhood for many years and in his spare time organizes food and clothing drives.
Brianne is a young woman who is in the midst of applying to nursing schools.
Danielle is a young woman who is actively searching for her passion in life. She enjoys ceramics and glass blowing.
Phyllis is a judgmental woman who lives in the neighborhood and seems to think that she lives in some sort of telenovela. She likes gossip and starting drama.
Marisol is Mateo’s older sister. She is a Goth and enjoys listening to Metallica.
Dolly is Polly’s mother. She is an avid bird watcher. She occasionally works at a preschool in Silver Heights.
Jasmyn is Luther’s mother and a stay at home mom.
Florence - “Flo”
Flo recently became a widow. She has one son, and he lives in another state. She is a social butterfly and enjoys being out and about.
Dulce is a fitness instructor and has a passion for running. When not working part time, she can be found jogging around the neighborhood.
Loretta works at an accounting firm on the edge of the neighborhood. She is single and is the mother of Colton.
Maddie is known as the “weird kid” and has a lot of energy. She likes to be creative and play pretend. Although she’s 10 years old and probably should have outgrown that habit, Maddie wants to stay young for as long as possible. Carmen is her instructor at the Watanabe dojo.
He is a sweet and intelligent 10 year old boy. His mom often works overtime to make ends meet, so he usually ends up hanging out at Dwayne and Freddie’s place after school with Maddie. He enjoys having positive older male role models in his life.
Polly is a three year old girl and is Dolly’s daughter. She loves to swing.
Finn is a boy who lives in the neighborhood. He is Javi’s best friend. He is a troublemaker.
She is Candace and Michael’s daughter. She is a kind girl who is struggling with her parents’ separation. She can be found playing with Colton and Maddie.
Latoya is a tomboy who is unafraid to speak her mind. She resents the color pink although her mother makes her wear it.
Abby is a shy girl who recently moved into the neighborhood.
Like Latoya, Mateo is pretty rambunctious. He enjoys action movies and superheroes. His older sister is Marisol.
Luther is the leader out of his group of friends and tries to keep them out of trouble. He has excellent problem resolving skills and is emotionally intelligent for his age.
He runs Copper Tower apartments. He is Jewish and a veteran of the Korean war. He gets along well with Mr. Jordan. He has one daughter who lives in the Midwest.
Talulah runs the strip club/burlesque club in the shadier part of the neighborhood. In her younger years, she was also a dancer, and bought the place from the misogynistic owner. She is an out lesbian and has been in a long term relationship with her partner, Wendy.
Jessica is a dancer at the strip club. She enjoys the flexibility that her job gives her. She hopes to find her true passion in life.
Vicki is another dancer at the club. She is interested in going to cosmetology school in the future. She’d like to be a nail artist.
She is your homeroom and English teacher in your freshman year of school. Mrs. Robinson is just a few years away from retiring, and has pretty much checked out. She’s the most abrasive out of all the teachers at school-- even Heines is scared of her.
Mr. Heines is a biology teacher and a mathematics teacher at Nina Simone High School. He is married and has two kids. He is a veteran and served in the Air Force. He is quite strict and believes in leading with a firm hand. He often butts heads with Will, who has a completely different teaching style.
Ms. Winters is the leader of the drama club. She is not technically a member of the school faculty, and is actually just a volunteer from the community. She was able to retire comfortably, and is now dedicating her time to her biggest passion. Her lack of experience in teaching and mentoring others definitely shows.
Georgia Turner is a nurse at the high school. She recently got her credentials and is a bit nervous about having her own office and being away from her family, who reside in Charlottesville. She has a sarcastic sense of humor. She gets along well with Steph.
Steph spent most of her late teens and early 20s aimlessly wandering the country playing folk songs. After running out of money and contracting a serious rash (yikes), she decided to return to her hometown and get a job. While being a janitor isn’t glamorous, Steph enjoys the work.
Gulliby has worked at the school for decades and has survived multiple layoffs. He is hardworking but is slowing down in his old age; he is looking to retire in the next couple of years. He enjoys working with Steph because she respects the profession and his leadership.
Like Gulliby, she has worked at the school for a number of years. She considered being a teacher when she was younger because she liked working with kids, but couldn’t afford schooling. Still, she loves her job, and serving food to kids each day. She considers herself very lucky.
Mr. Ramirez lost his eye in a baseball accident in his youth. He is a good natured and kind individual who likes making recommendations for books. He doesn’t really understand computers, but is actively trying to learn more about them.
Marco is thought of as being very attractive and is frequently cast in the role of the hero or the heartbreaker. He has been acting since he was in the fifth grade, and is seriously considering a career as a professional actor. However, his uber-Catholic parents want him to be a priest. He has yet to tell them that he is an atheist.
Like many of the drama kids, Billy is passionate about his craft. He’s a bit of an enigma, though. He doesn’t talk much, and not a lot is known about him.
Rachel wants her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and will manipulate and cheat her way to get to it. She frequently competes with Keke for roles and is definitely a sore loser. Despite her atrocious personality, she is quite talented, and has the vocal range of Barbra Streisand.
Keke is the unofficial leader of the drama club. She is less likely to get caught up in her own ego, and is more organized than the other members of the club. She is dedicated to her craft, and is debating whether or not she’d want to be involved in theater or film.
Ali is interested in tragedies and dramas, as opposed to his friends, who generally enjoy musicals or more comedic plays. Ali is frequently cast as Marco’s counterpart, which irritates him.
Wade has been Keke’s friend for a long time. When she first expressed an interest in joining theater, Wade wanted to join her, but found that he was too overwhelmed by the idea of being onstage. He found great joy in being a stage manager and technician. One day he hopes to be a producer.
Carlos is the passionate leader of the anime club. Although he isn’t always the most confident leader, he is fair and balanced in how he conducts sessions. He is a huge fan of animation in general, but his favorite show is Astro Boy. While his parents find his interests childish, Carlos is unswayed by their criticism. He would like to be a professional animator. Rat has been his best friend since 3rd grade.
She serves as VP on the anime club. She enjoys having a more laidback role in the club, but will step up if Carlos is getting carried away (which he frequently does.) Like Carlos, she’s interested in being an animator. She has a strained relationship with her mother, who desperately wishes that she would be more feminine.
Sasha is a military brat, and was born in Okinawa. She lived there for ten years before her dad retired from the military and moved the family back to his hometown. Like her peers, Sasha enjoys Japanese animation and culture. She is fluent in Japanese and also understands a bit of Korean. She can be a bit of a snob.
Craig enjoys everything and anything Goth. He spends a lot of time listening to music and writing poetry. He thinks that he’d like to be a writer when he grows up. His father recently remarried, but he doesn’t get along with his stepmother. Craig is close to his grandfather and joins him for fishing trips.
Glenda knows that she wants to be involved in science, but she’s not quite sure if she wants to be an engineer or instead become a software developer. She is the middle of three daughters. She is currently dating RJ.
RJ spends a lot of his spare time working on inventions in his father’s basement. On weekends he can be found carrying box after box of metal scrap from Harmond’s auto shop. He is currently dating Glenda.
Shaniqua is the most shy out of all the nerds. Eighth grade was a really rough year for her. She lost her cat, her dog, and her grandma all in one year. She is attending a grief counseling support group on the weekends. She loves spending time with her little sister, or hanging out with her friends in anime club.
This is a complete character booklet. If you're looking for major characters, please see this thread.
There may be spoilers in here, so proceed with caution, folks.
One of the preppy boys at school. He is a huge Radiohead fan and enjoys watching Star Trek with his friends. He’s snarky and is a bit hotheaded. Musically, he’s very talented, and knows how to play the guitar. He often butts heads with his father.
Another one of the preppy boys. He has been Sheng’s best friend since the second grade. He is a devout Catholic and when not in school, he can be seen helping out Father Francis in Copper Junction.
One of the preppy boys. He is the leader-- and only person-- on the environmental club at school. He is generally good natured and upbeat, but is so passionate about taking care of the environment that at times, his personality can be a bit intense.
Josefina, the Hall Monitor
You can run, but you can’t hide from the hall monitor. Josefina is the daughter of a police officer and one day aspires to be like him. She’s very intense and a stickler for the rules. She wields a yard stick like it’s a sword, and watch out-- if you try to run from her, she will smack you with it. And it will hurt.
Inez is very sweet, but a bit high strung. She’s a dedicated athlete, being on the track team and competitive cheerleading team. She’s determined to keep her GPA over a 3.6, because she wants to go to college in the future. Unfortunately, her personal quest for perfection has significantly impacted her self esteem.
Although she is a cheerleader, she resents the idea of being thought of as “just a pretty face.” Winnie’s ultimate goal is to go to M.I.T. She’s a talented inventor and has come up with a variety of useful products, but unfortunately, she’s not always taken seriously by her male peers. She’s fiercely competitive and confident.
Tara Lynn is of Vietnamese descent, and was named Huong after her maternal grandmother. She generally tries to be nice to everyone, unlike Becky. She comes from a household of musicians, and was taught how to play piano by her mother, and guitar by her father. She loves to sing, and her favorite artist is Dolly Parton (thanks to her dad’s influence.) She adores her family.
Michelle Robinson is the highly talented and dedicated coach of Nina Simone High’s dance team. She was a dancer throughout her youth and college, and competed in high stakes national and international competitions. She is a mother of two kids, and recently divorced her high school sweetheart. She’s won Teacher of the Year a couple of times.
Monae is one of Karenina’s best friends. She moved to Copper Junction from Louisiana a few years back. She enjoys ballet and hip hop, and is interested in finding ways of blending the two. She hopes to one day open up her own dance studio, or become a choreographer for theater companies.
She is Lapis’ twin and Karenina’s BESTEST friend. (Karenina hates it when she says that, so she just keeps saying it.) She is of Nicaraguan descent, and immigrated to the United States when she was four years old. Her and Karenina’s parents were actually in citizenship classes together. Clarissa is passionate about dance and is a bit of a perfectionist, but her organization and time management skills are something to aspire to.
Kelly lives with her grandmother and is quite shy, but is friendly when you get to know her. She’s a bit of a pushover and has a hard time saying no. Her closest friend is Uzuri. She’s not particularly passionate about dance, but enjoys being on a team and contributing to something “bigger than herself.”
Uzuri is of Kenyan descent and immigrated to the United States with her parents only a couple of years ago. She is often made fun of for having a thick accent. She is close to Kelly, and enjoys dancing. She enjoys math, and thinks she wants to be an accountant when she grows up, but is still unsure about the idea. She's also does a lot of volunteer work in the community.
She is Clarissa’s twin sister and is of Nicaraguan descent. Lapis is the complete opposite of her sister. She has a bit of a sullen personality and doesn’t get along well with her parents. For the most part, she knows how to keep her cool, but don’t even think about pissing her off. Seriously, don’t. You’ll regret it.
He is a running back for the high school football team. Brendan hopes to one day pursue a professional career in the NFL. He is fairly good looking and enjoys having fun with his friends, but knows when to buckle down and get serious. He is single and ready to mingle.
Charlie is used to being thought of as the class clown, and enjoys making other people laugh. He’s been lacking a lot of laughter in his life as of late. He is a tackle on the football team, and is the cousin of Chris, the quarterback. In his spare time, Charlie enjoys playing games at the arcade.
Carson lives with his mom and her deadbeat boyfriend. He tends to spend a lot of time at his friends’ houses. He is a wide receiver on the football team. He loves playing football and in the off season, plays baseball. He loves action movies and Top Gun is his absolute favorite film. He loves listening to Tupac.
DeAndre is dyslexic and was only recently diagnosed. He is thought of by teachers as “lacking focus,” but this is not the case. While DeAndre struggles with reading, he actually loves literature and writing. His favorite author is Langston Hughes. He is a tight end on the football team.
Marquis is a guard on the football team, and also enjoys break dancing in his spare time. He was taught how to dance by his older brother, who he is extremely close to. Like Charlie, Marquis doesn’t really enjoy school and struggles to think of what he wants to do when he grows up. He thinks he’d most likely want to be a broadcaster for ESPN.
Chris is the quarterback, and is Charlie’s cousin. He thinks very highly of himself, and takes pride in his appearance. He follows a very strict diet so as to preserve his physique. Sometimes Chris struggles to have empathy for other people, so Tony has to keep him in check. He was previously in a relationship with Becky but dumped her after she insulted his haircut. Chris doesn’t stand for that shit.
Diwali is Native American and is a member of the Cherokee tribe. He is painfully shy and has a lot of social anxiety. He spends a lot of time looking after his younger cousins and siblings, and aspires to be a good role model for them. Diwali enjoys cooking and woodworking. He is another guard on the football team.
Margarita is Mexican-American and when not at school or kicking it with her friends, she can be found running her family’s food stands. Tamara is her best friend. She has a mind for business, but is unsure of what she wants to do in the future. While she frequently argues with her parents, she loves her abuela, who encourages her to live her life to the fullest.
In the seventh grade, Tamara set a section of the local elementary school on fire. She was tried for arson and sent to juvenile detention for a year. Part of her rehabilitation program involved fostering dogs, and Tamara has continued this practice. She thinks she wants to be a vet, but also would love to run her own shelter. She is dating Malik.
She absolutely adores punk and goth rock music. Jada may seem scary, but out of all the tough girls, she’s actually the most approachable. She loves going out with her friends and getting into reckless adventures with them. Oddly enough, Jada really enjoys learning about history, and knows a lot of facts about the 1920s.
Malik used to be pretty nerdy, but after enduring years of bullying, he decided to change his image. So he dyed his hair and took up weight lifting. While he can be intimidating, he is kind to those he is close to. He absolutely adores Tamara, and when not spending time with her, he can be found joking around with Edd and Ale.
Ale is of Mexican and Spanish descent. His parents divorced when he was little, and his mom returned to Barcelona to pursue her career in business. Despite his dad having been remarried for a few years, he is still irritated by his step mom’s presence. But he does what he can to help out around the house. Ale wants to be an engineer, and ideally, would love to design cars. He’s only 5”2, and is pretty insecure about his looks. Part of him joining the punks was to appear tougher than he actually is.
Like Ale, Edd puts on a front, and isn’t actually as mean as he seems. He’s the tallest kid in the school, standing at a whopping 6 foot 3 inches. He enjoys is boxing, and he really admires Carmen’s older brother Diego. Edd is fiercely protective of Ale, who has been his best friend since he moved to town in the fifth grade. Unlike most of the kids in Copper Junction, he comes from a wealthy family. However, he doesn’t get along with his parents, and is seen as a disappointment by his father.
Sexuality is a major theme in Grunge, and at the forefront, there is a discussion of sexual identity. In chapters one and two, Seri spends a lot of time questioning her sexuality and is conflicted over her feelings for Carmen. By chapter two, she comes to the understanding that she is in love with Carmen, but is still unsure as to what this means for her identity.
While Seri has never been interested in boys, she also recognizes that being a lesbian in 1990s North Carolina is no bueno. But despite societal pressures, Seri has a strong desire to understand herself and solidify her identity. Sadly, Seri isn’t really exploring her sexuality in a positive way. She’s more so doing this out of her own anxiety over being alone, being unsure of herself, and if her hopes for Carmen will ever be fulfilled.
Now, Seri can absolutely solidify her identity by abstaining from sex. In real life, you don’t need to have sex with someone of a particular gender to confirm your sexuality, but for some people, that can help them. So in the game, Seri has the option of sleeping with either Tony or Kiriko, depending on what the player chooses. Regardless of who she sleeps with, Seri comes to the same conclusion: that she’s definitely a lesbian. Her identity isn’t any less valid after sleeping with a man or a woman; it is the same.
The toxicity of purity culture is also discussed in certain stories and quests. Monae tries to keep her feelings and desires for Marquis a secret out of fear of being slut shamed. If you make certain choices, Carmen is horrified by the fact that you think she isn't a virgin, meaning that she views a lack of virginity as synonymous with being slutty. While I wanted this game to be sex positive, I found that it was hard to avoid talking about the internalized fears women have about slutshaming, especially when they are in high school.
Brandy's character helps to counteract this. In the comics, Brandy is a woman who is vocal about enjoying sex. In her teen years, her feelings about sex are much the same. I wanted Brandy to be a character who felt entirely empowered and in touch with her sexuality. She is unphased by slutshaming. Most importantly, she knows what she wants, clearly establishes boundaries with her partners, and even helps others work through their relationship problems or feelings surrounding sex.
Now I'm going to pause for a minute here, as I want to address something that may be surfacing as people play the game. I think a lot of people may be upset by the conversations about sex in this game, given that it starts off when they are teenagers. Many teens are not sexually active, and not all the kids in Grunge are. Some teens are, and for the few that are, it's important to discuss sex frankly and carefully.
"But teenagers shouldn't be having sex!" -- mmmkay Karen except some of them do and you can't stop it from happening. And as long as the experience is consensual and the persons involved are using protection, I mean really, who cares?
“Nunya business” is what I'd normally say to people like Karen, except in Grunge, you see the world through Seri's eyes, so everything is personal. I knew that Seri would view her first time with Carmen as an important experience. I wanted to capture Seri's thoughts and feelings in a tasteful way. More importantly I wanted to address consent clearly between the two. A certain action is described, and then one of the girls asks the other if it's okay to perform said action.
At the moment when it becomes clear that they are going to have sex, I cut to black, because while I'm fine with discussing consent and teens making out, I think it's inappropriate to depict teens having sex. My hope for Grunge is that I was able to discuss sex in a positive, healthy way. However, I understand that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to addressing sex in the context of a game.
Out of all the places that I could have chosen to set Grunge-- New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago-- I chose to set it in a fictional city in the middle of North Carolina. The simple answer for this is that Grunge is based off of my webcomic, Copper Junction, and that also takes place in the same city. But then you could also ask why Copper Junction takes place in North Carolina.
Why would I have a story about queer people that takes place in an area that’s not thought of as queer-friendly?
Sometimes, there are news stories that emerge from the South that focus on how X state is attempting to roll back rights for a certain group of people-- usually women, people of color, or LGBT people. When I read those stories, sometimes I see comments such as, “If these people don’t like it, they can just leave!”
Those statements are ignorant, and make a lot of assumptions. One, they assume that you can afford to move out of the state, but obviously, not everyone can. And not everyone-- gasp-- wants to, either. For another, when someone says that you can just leave if you don’t like it, they are saying that they are okay with you being oppressed. They are perfectly fine with your rights being eliminated, and you should put up with that.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting your state to not roll back your rights.
There’s nothing with pushing for change and progress.
There’s nothing wrong with advocating for yourself and trying to make your home better for not only yourself, but others around you.
This is something to be praised, not mocked. This is something to be celebrated, not sneered at. At the very least, your right and desire to feel safe in your own community should be respected. After all, you deserve to feel safe and have the same rights as everyone else, no matter where you live. Yet time and time again, I’ve seen people criticized for trying to make things better within their own communities.
Queer people, women, and people of color exist throughout the South. They always have, and they always will, for one reason or another. Copper Junction and Grunge are meant to reflect this reality. I wanted to illustrate a community of people that bonded together in the fact of adversity. They are each other’s advocates and allies. They aren’t going anywhere, and in fact, they are going to thrive and fight for their rights. Perhaps this is something too idealistic, and not close to reality. But I hope that when you witness their interactions while playing the game, it gives you a sense of hope.
One of the earliest pieces of criticism that I had about Grunge was in regards to the fighting mechanics. Someone played the game and suggested that there shouldn’t be a fighting in the game at all.
Now to be fair, I was pretty terrible at programming battles. In the earliest builds, every thirty paces you took resulted in a battle. You were spammed with battles. When I was refining the battle system later, I discovered what was causing this issue and was able to fix it.
This particular person wanted the game to be more like Always Sometimes Monsters, which is an RPG that does not involve fighting. Your goal in that game is essentially to save up money and travel across the country to stop your ex from marrying your old best friend. You need to “grind” at different jobs to earn money, save up your funds, and get there before time runs out. Honestly, while Grunge does have some influences of Always Sometimes Monsters, I wanted it to be more influenced by Rockstar’s Bully than anything else.
Like Bully, I wanted Grunge to take place in both a school and city environment so that players felt like they were immersed not just within a “world,” but a community. I wanted you to be able to play the game and recognize faces as the years passed, and I wanted to show the change of a neighborhood over time.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Always Sometimes Monsters, but at times, there are lulls in the action. Sometimes you get to certain levels or areas of the game, and I felt that there wasn’t too much to do or interact with. Rather than get to know characters, I was over-eager to leave an area. To me, fighting adds another entertaining element to the game to keep the player engaged.
This is a less significant aspect, but the fighting mechanics also reveal a bit about each of the girls’ personalities and interests. Seraphina, a dancer, primarily attacks through dance moves like the Moonwalk Dropkick and Grapevine Grapple. Carmen, a black belt, uses a roundhouse kick and a karate chop. Brandy, like the mean girls, will slap people and pull hair. And Candace, the aspiring nurse and sweetest one in the group, will try to heal people and talk enemies down using moves like “Kill ’Em With Kindness.”
Some people may be confused about the fighting element because Grunge is supposed to be about empathy, forming connections with others, and supporting people through a difficult time. But the reality is that no matter how kind you are to others, there are some people in this world that want to harm you: either physically or emotionally. There are people who will even go out of their way to hurt you.
When I was building the game, I thought about the types of people that women encounter from high school throughout adulthood. I thought about creeps who catcalled me while walking down the street in sweatpants at 12 years old. I thought about girls who incessantly mocked me over my interests, the way that I dressed, or the people that I spent time with. I thought about boys who punched me in the face, stole or hid my things, and stuck tape in my hair when I was riding the bus home.
And I thought about how we punish women for fighting back.
You don’t have to search extensively to find evidence of this. Within the past few years, I’ve read numerous stories about girls who were expelled, suspended, or punished for defending themselves at school. The women who end up incarcerated for trying to defend themselves against their abusers. It’s a pervasive problem that hits especially close to home for me. Apparently, we expect women to cower in fear until help arrives, or to be assaulted and killed, rather than giving them the freedom to defend themselves. To make matters worse, we’ll then take to social media to criticize women or to question why they don’t stand up for themselves. We don’t live in a world that protects women who protect themselves.
The girls in the game rarely start fights for the sake of starting fights. In fact, there are only a few times when this happens: when Seri confronts Becky in homeroom on the first day of school, and when Edd asks Seri and Carmen to fight him so that he can train for a match. Both of these instances are optional, and in Edd’s case, it’s completely consensual with both parties. Otherwise, all other fights in the game are started by other people, when they choose to lay their hands on you.
My girls aren’t bullies. They don’t go out of their way to physically attack people. But they aren’t pushovers, and they aren’t defenseless. I wanted the girls to be able to defend themselves from attackers. Furthermore, I wanted them to feel empowered to do so. That isn’t to say that they aren’t punished by authority figures for defending themselves at times-- after all, that wouldn’t be realistic. Seri is shamed by a police officer when reporting her assault. Brandy is suspended from school for defending Candace from Becky. It is mentioned that they develop a reputation for “fighting” when really, all they’ve done is protect themselves. But even when these incidents arise, they keep defending themselves. They are their own heroes and each other’s protectors.
Is this mechanic perfect, and without error? I wouldn’t say that. Does it successfully convey its message? In retrospect, I think that I could have been better about conveying this message, but then again, I didn’t want to oversaturate the narrative with this idea.
When I began Grunge, I knew that I would want the project to be available for free. It was only within the last couple of months in development that I decided that I would be open to the idea of a suggested donation. I have several reasons for this, some of which revolve around the fact that I have a finite amount of time to complete the game, and my limited experience in making games.
I did not want to charge people money for a game that may not entirely work, or would break. I didn't want to deal with processing refunds for people who played the game and either didn't enjoy it, or it didn't work for them. Charging people money for the game upfront would have created more problems and stress for me.
Additionally, many of the assets (tilesets, plugins, audio) I use in the game are supposed to be for noncommercial purposes. I forget what assets those are specifically, but I didn't want to risk it.
Another large reason for making the game available for free is because Grunge is an RPG. You might be sitting there and asking yourself, okay, well, what’s your point? There are a lot of RPGs out there. While this is true, there aren’t a lot of RPGs with LGBT content. The only one that I can think of at the moment is Newfound Courage, which is a beautiful and excellently made game. (Check that one out.)
If you’re looking for a game with queer content, you’re better off playing a visual novel. Coming Out on Top, Yearning: A Gay Story, and ebi-hime's games are only a few out of the hundreds, possibly thousands that exist on the web. But while I love visual novels and I love LGBT content, I realized that I wanted to play a different kind of game.
I questioned why there were hardly any RPG games primarily focusing on queer characters. I think that part of the reason as to why there are so many LGBT visual novels relates to the fact that a lot of them are built in ren'py, which is a free software with a delightful number of capabilities. The software that I used to develop this game, RPGmaker MV, is not free. It normally retails for about $80, and I was able to get it on sale for $25. Game development is hard when you have a finite amount of time and funds. I was very fortunate and privileged to be able to invest the time and money that I had into making my game. For those like myself who wanted an LGBT game that wasn't a visual novel, I wanted to make it free to play.
Grunge is a massive game with hours of content, and its narrative is entirely dedicated to four LGBT characters, all of whom are women. Not only that, but many of the characters are people of color and have different identities and developed personalities. Grunge is dedicated to exploring complex narratives and addressing mental health. Although the exploration of these kinds of themes in games is becoming more prevalent, there are still not enough games right now that do this. As a young bi kid struggling with my own identity and insecurities, I would have loved to play a game like Grunge. It would have saved me a lot of grief, self loathing, and time spent trying to change myself.
This is primarily why I wanted to make Grunge free. I believe in making games that include diverse characters and address complicated subjects. I feel like games can be an important educational tool, and not just to teach people about a particular issue, but when designed well, they can also teach people about empathy. Representation is also important in games, and while the video game industry is getting better when it comes to inclusivity, it still has a long way to go. Grunge is available for free because I believe in making games like this accessible for many people who need it.
That being said, I’m also able to make this game available for free because I’m privileged enough to do so. Other indie devs may not be able to do what I did, and that’s okay! I don’t want anyone to get the idea that indie devs shouldn’t be compensated for their work, because they should be. I just had my own set of reasons for making this game available for free.
Carmen is from a Spanish speaking household. Her language is apart of her Puerto Rican culture and heritage. It’s a critical aspect of her identity, even though she primarily speaks English in the game.
Because Spanish is important to Carmen’s identity, I knew I wanted her to speak the language throughout the game, and that I wanted her to engage in conversations with her family members in Spanish.
Mr. Rosales can speak English well, but at times it makes him anxious, and therefore he is more comfortable speaking in Spanish. Out of respect for him, Seri chooses to learn Spanish.
In real life, if people are speaking in Spanish and you are not involved in the conversation, no one is going to stop and translate sentences for you. To avoid breaking the immersion of these conversations, I did NOT translate the Spanish conversations.
I am bilingual, but Spanish is not my first language. I am extremely grateful that my friend, Christian Castro Romero, served as a Spanish language consultant for the game. He double checked my grammar and helped rework some of the sentences to be more conversational. Verb conjugation is rough for me even after all these years of studying!
I didn’t add a ton of Easter Eggs in Grunge. While there may be some references to 90s pop culture, I didn’t really think about adding in much beyond that. I guess one Easter Egg that I can think of are the names for the characters. Here are some characters whose names reference popular culture or other well-known figures:
- Sheng Lee = named after Li Shang, the bisexual icon from Mulan, and my forever crush. (Sheng, however, isn’t bi.) I just knew I wanted him to be named after Shang, but I didn’t want his name to DIRECTLY copy Shang’s, if that makes sense.
- Monae = named after Janelle Monae.
- Karenina = she is of Russian descent, and I loved the book Anna Karenina as a kid, so I named her after it.
- Nina Simone High School = named after a famous singer and civil rights activist, who was actually born in North Carolina.
- Keke = named after actress and singer Keke Palmer
- Rachel = named after Rachel Berry from Glee because, of course
- Edd = named after Double D from Ed, Edd, and Eddy
- Billy = named after one of the characters from the movie It
- Mrs. McGrady = named after the lunch lady from the PBS series Arthur
- Brandy = unintentionally named after singer Brandi Carlile? I literally just liked the name Carlile, for some reason, and then found out it was attached to an actual famous person.
- Kenny Rogers = unintentionally named after country singer Kenny Rogers. I knew I got the name from somewhere. It’s weird because Kenny isn’t even into country.
- Michelle = Michelle is named after Michelle Obama, and shares her maiden name, Robinson.
I borrowed the names Malik, Eman, and Dulce from people that I’ve met in real life, but those actual characters do not have their namesakes’ personalities in any way whatsoever. The Malik I knew wasn’t a bully, he was actually super sweet.
I really enjoyed the voice acting in this game, although I was a bit confused as to why they had different accents, I was willing to overlook that out of the strength of the narrative.
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Thank you so much for reporting that! I figured out what happened. Essentially there were mismatched switches in the code that was causing the game to think that you actually decided to spend the night alone, rather than hang out with Brandy. I went through and fixed it! Unfortunately, I'm not going to be releasing a new build until August 9th, when the full game releases. I would say to try to find a way around this either by opting to hang out with Tony or Kiriko instead of Brandy.
There are over 100 characters in Grunge. I recognize that it may be hard to keep track of some of them, so here’s a list of characters and their faces, so that you can recognize them. These are the most important characters at the start of the game.
Seraphina “Seri” Baum - Protagonist
- You play as her in the game. You’re an aspiring writer who is coming to terms with her parents’ divorce. You have difficulties making lasting friendships. Could high school change that for you?
Carmen Valentina Jiménez Rosales - Ally and Love Interest
- Your best friend and love of your life. She is proud of her Puerto Rican heritage and is the only girl in her family. She’s into karate and is wickedly good with programming and using computers. She wants to be a software programmer one day.
Candace Wilson - Best Friend
- One of your best friends. She’s dating Michael and is on the track team. She wants to be a nurse one day, preferably working in the ER. She lives with her mom, and has a strained relationship with her father. She's an incredibly kind person, and dedicated to her studies.
Brandy Carlile - Best Friend
- Another one of your best friends. She’s a cheerleader who is a bit hotheaded, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She vocal about her sexual experiences and is unashamed to talk about them. She’s very loyal to her friends. She lives with her aunt. For a long time she had a rivalry with Carmen. Can you help them resolve their differences?
Michael Burnett - Close Friend
- One of Seri's close friends that she meets in homeroom. He is a nerd who really enjoys watching Twin Peaks, and in general loves discussing sci-fi. He has a tendency to be a bit of a know-it-all, and while he has some self esteem issues, he also tends to think that he's smarter than everyone else around him... which naturally rubs some people the wrong way. He's hopelessly in love with Candace.
Sheng Lee - Potential Friend
- He’s in the preppy crowd. He is of Taiwanese and Chinese descent. He likes watching Star Trek with his friends. He’s struggling with coming to terms with his sexuality, and is in a relationship with Elijah. Sheng likes writing poetry, but also has a mind for economics, and thinks he’d like to work in the corporate world when he grows up.
Elijah Washington - Potential Friend
- He’s one of the nerds. He’s known for being one of the only openly gay kids in school. While this in the past made him the target of harassment, he's proved that he can hold himself in a fight. He’s into fashion and playing D&D with his friends. He’s also super talented and plays multiple instruments. His closest friendship is with Rat Park, who is also in the nerds clique.
Mr. Will Carver - Teacher and Confidante
- One of the English teachers at school; he teaches a creative writing class for seniors. He lives in Copper Junction and it’s rumored that he’s in a relationship with another man. He’s known for having a biting sense of humor, but also for being one of the nicest teachers at Nina Simone High.
Harmond Johnson - Confidante, local activist, and repair shop owner
- He lives in the neighborhood and works with Carmen’s father. He’s known for being active in the community and charitable. He’s led a lot of initiatives around the neighborhood such as clothing and food drives. When not working at his car repair shop, he can be found spending time with Will, his longtime partner.
Karenina Abramov - Rival and dance team leader
- Although she’s only five foot two, Karenina is a force to be reckoned with. She is an aspiring professional dancer and views you as an obstacle to that pathway, because you’re nowhere near her level of talent.
Rebecca "Becky" Taylor - Rival and cheerleader
- She very much wants to be the top dog, and will manipulate or bully others into getting her way. She lacks compassion for others and will frequently use racist slurs. She lives in Silver Heights, which is a more affluent neighborhood, but because of how the districts were drawn, she has to attend Nina Simone High. She despises Candace, but hates Brandy even more, since she's a better cheerleader.
Kenny Rogers - Rival, local punk, and Carmen’s boyfriend
- He is dating Carmen at the start of the game. He was held back a year and that’s a bit of a sore spot for him. Kenny is known for causing trouble and starting fights. He’s a dangerous individual.
- Seri’s mother, who recently got divorced. After spending so many years as a stay at home mom, she is struggling to adjust to the working world and life in her hometown.
Mr. Leonidas "Leo" Gomez Rosales
- Carmen’s father. He works at the shop with Harmond. He is a widower, and doesn’t want to remarry. He enjoys gardening, cooking, and playing poker in his spare time. His kids are his whole world.
Manolo Jiménez Rosales
- Carmen’s oldest brother. He is dating Amaya, a woman who works for the local youth shelter. He is working as an insurance agent and is very dedicated to taking care of his family, but he is frustrated with the lack of privacy in his household. He may soon be looking to move out.
Diego Jiménez Rosales
- One of Carmen’s older brothers. He is a local champion boxer and a full-time part-timer. He was the one who encouraged Carmen to get into fighting after she saw the karate kid. He uses her as a sparring partner. He’s completely the opposite of Manolo in that he likes to avoid his responsibilities and is very much a free spirit.
Javier “Javi” Jiménez Rosales
- Carmen’s youngest brother who is still in elementary school. He has no memories of his mother as she passed when he was a baby. He loves cats and playing video games. He can be seen playing with Finn, one of the neighborhood kids, from time to time.
- Although he's not the quarterback, he's the leader of the football team. He is nicknamed "Stressed Out Tony" because he's always anxious about something, and it's usually in relation to his friends. If you help him, he'll be a really good friend to Seri. But does he hope to be something more than that?
- Track star with a loud mouth and absolutely no filter. She hangs out with the tough girls. She is very open about her attraction to women, and other than Elijah, is the only other openly gay kid. After she came out to her parents, they sent her to live with her grandma, who runs the karate dojo that Carmen practices at. Although she can be a bit abrasive, she's actually really sweet.... and is particularly sweet on Seri.
- Like Elijah, she enjoys fashion, and runs a small business out of her parents' basement making and selling her own clothes. She's bubbly and upbeat, and lives to find the beauty in everyone. You can purchase armor from her in the game.
- He sells weed, and hates Ronald Reagan with a passion. He often talks about the health benefits and many practical uses of pot. While he is good-natured, he can be very snarky. He is forever running away from Josefina, the school's #1 hall monitor.
Mr. Zachariah Jordan
- A decorated Vietnam War Veteran who runs the local convenience store and pawn shop, which contains many useful wares. He's a close friend of Harmond's and Mr. Katz. He is a proud father of two young daughters. He is the only character that you can sell things to.
There are over 100 quests in Grunge, but it is NOT necessary to complete all of the quests in order to get the romantic ending.
If I was a cooler, more talented dev, I could have made some sort of secret special ending that you get after achieving ALL the quests, but alas, this is my first game, and I am incapable of such a feat.
Endings are determined on the number of heart tokens that you have when you reach the end of the game.
32 or less - you end up with the alone ending.
33 to 80 - you end up with the just friends ending.
81 or more - you end up with the romantic ending.
The Alone ending and Just Friends ending have special surprises if you play the game a certain way. I don’t want to give it away completely, but certain choices you make in Chapter Two add another event to your ending.
So I guess that means that there’s really more like… five different endings, if you take that into account.
While Grunge primarily focuses on the relationship between Carmen and Seraphina, there are other romantic relationships in the game as well!
Some of them are just in the game naturally, like Elijah and Sheng’s, but plenty of them actually rely on the completion of quests in order to make the two couples meet up!
Which characters do you think are in a secret romance? Which romances have you unlocked or witnessed in the game?
There are exactly 104 quests in Grunge. Previously I thought it was 105, but I had miscounted.
With each quest, you will earn a heart token, which impacts your final ending.
Below is the total list of quests that you can complete:
Josefina (Hall Monitor)
Michelle (Dance Coach)
Mrs Robinson (English Teacher)
Mr. Carver (Will) (English, Creative Writing Teacher)
Mr Heines (Biology and Mathematics Teacher)
Ms. Winters (Drama Teacher)
Steph (Janitor in Training)
and Gulliby (Janitor)
Mrs. McGrady (the lunch lady)
Mr. Ramirez (librarian)
Mei (Maddie's Mom)
Rick/Richard/Dick (Sid's Dad)
Mrs. Loretta Lane (Colton's Mom)
Alexis (Related to Candace)
Seri (YOUR OWN HEART)
- Carmen’s (not physically added to inventory, but determines the ending.)
If you’ve encountered a bug or an error in your game that you need to report, you have a couple of ways that you can report this in a few different ways.
Please pick one method to report a bug; do not spam multiple sections and do not reply to this thread with a bug report.
If you do this, I will delete the post.
- You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can make a post in the Troubleshoot/Bug Report section.
It’s helpful to include what section of the game that you are in, and either a screenshot or a video of the specific error. Be as descriptive as you can as to where you’re at in the game, what you were doing, and what the issue is.
If you’re having trouble remembering what section of the game that you’re in, you can use the How Long Is Grunge post to narrow down your location.
I estimate Grunge will take 10 hours to play, but honestly, it could be way more or less than that. It’s all dependent upon how you play the game and how much time you want to spend trying to obtain all the quests.
Grunge is broken down into five chapters, some of which have their own subsections.
Epilogue Part One: January 2004
Chapter One: September 1990
- Part One: The First Day Of School
- Starts off in high school before homeroom
- Part Two: The Project
- Starts off on day two of high school right before homeroom
- Part Three: It’s Over, Kenny!
- Starts at Candace’s track meet
Chapter Two: August 1993
- Part One: Early In Year
- Starts with Seri’s Dream
- Part Two: School Year
- Starts with Sheng’s story
- Part Three: Graduation
- Starts with Apartment Shopping
Chapter Three: December 1994
- Part One: Looking For Work
- Starts in your apartment
- Part Two: Missing…
- Takes place the day after part one, starts in your apartment. You’ll know what exactly is “missing” when you get to this section.
Chapter Four: April 2004
- Part One: The Transition
- Starts off in your apartment.
- Part Two: New York City
- Starts off in your NYC apartment.
- Part Three: Back To North Carolina
- Starts off in Freddie’s car
- Part Four: The End
Grunge doesn't have any weapons other than a tampon (which you can't equip, because yuck). So a good way to build up your attack and defense is actually by wearing different types of armor. You can purchase these items from Wendy. These are all the final armor pieces that you can wear in the game:
- Little Black Dress - Body
- Adds 50 to a player’s defense
- Baseball Cap - Head
- Adds 30 to a player’s defense
- Stiletto Pumps - Accessory
- Adds 200 attack, 10 defense
- Ruby Mood Ring - Accessory
- Adds 30 defense, 30 luck
- (Fake) Fur Coat - Body
- Adds 30 defense
- Bedazzled Gloves - Accessory
- Adds 20 defense, 20 agility
- Sports Bra - Body
- Adds 50 defense
- Sapphire Mood ring - Accessory
- Adds 100 attack and 100 defense
- Silver Bangle - Accessory
- Adds 50 attack and 100 defense
- Safety Goggles - Shield
- Adds 10 defense
- Lacy Shawl - Body
- Adds 20 defense
- Sharktooth Necklace - Accessory
- Adds 100 attack
- Pink Bow - Head
- Adds 10 attack, 10 defense
- Crown - Head
- Adds 30 attack, 50 defense, 10 agility
- Band T-shirt - Body
- Adds 30 defense
- Denim Pantsuit
- Adds 200 attack, 100 defense
- Tartan Ruffle Skirt
- Adds 100 attack, 100 defense
- Hip Huggers & Tube Top
- Adds 300 attack, 300 defense, M.Attack 30 and M.Defense 30
- Baggy Cargo Pants
- Adds 50 attack, 100 defense
- Butterfly Clip Dress
- Attacks 500 attack, 500 defense, M.Attack 50, M.Defense 50
There are four different classes in Grunge. One is dancer (Seri), two is 7th degree blackbelt (Carmen), three is aspiring nurse (Candace), and Cheerleader (Brandy.) Each have their own unique set of skills. Skills require the usage of MP points. In the final game, you will only have two bars: an MP bar and a HP bar.
Your Mom - Attack - All Girls
- Everyone has this skill initially
Too Cool For School - Guard - All Girls
- Everyone has this skill initially
Slugger - Attack - Seri and Carmen
- They both have this skill at level 1
Roundhouse Kick - attack - Carmen
- Gains this ability at level 3
Throw Eggs - attack - Brandy
- Gains this ability at level 5
Read A Book - MP recovery - Candace
- Gains this ability at level 2
Grapevine Grapple - Attack - Seri
- Gains this ability at level 5
Kill ’Em with Kindness - Attack - Candace
- Gains this ability at level 3
Hair pulling - Attack - Brandy
- Gains this ability at level 2
Bitch-slapping - Attack - Brandy
- Gains this ability at level 3
Pirouette Kick - Attack - Seri
- Gains this ability at level 2
Karate Chop - Attack - Carmen
- Gains this ability at level 6
Slap A Bandaid On It - Heal - Candace
- Has this skill at level 1
First Aid Kit - Heal - Candace
- Gains this ability at level 8
Moonwalk Dropkick - Attack - Seri
- Gains this ability at level 10
Blow Kisses - Attack AND poison enemy - Candace
- Gains this ability at level 6
Headlock and Shock - Attack - Carmen
- Gains this ability at level 10
Macarena Madness - Attack - Seri
- Gains this ability at level 15
Song of Silence - Attack AND silence enemy - Brandy
- Gains this ability at level 10
Hope this is helpful for some!
This list includes ALL consumable items that you'll find in the Grunge game, and what their effects are.
- Alcohol - recovers 20% HP
- Water - recovers 60% HP and 30% MP
- Weed - removes ANY state and recovers 20% HP
- Josta - recovers 30% HP
- Mello Yello - recovers 30% MP
- Crystal Pepsi - recovers 40% HP and removes Poison
- School Lunch - recovers 10% HP
- Tampon - recovers 20% HP
- Pad - recovers 40% HP
- Candy - recovers 5% HP
- Popcorn - recovers 100% HP
- Doritos - recovers 50% HP
- Dunkaroos - Grow Max HP by 20 points
- Carrots - Grow Max HP by 100 points
- First Aid Kit - full recovery of HP and removes almost all states EXCEPT knockout
- Bandaids - 30% HP recovery
- Squeezit - 100% MP recovery
- Sunny Don't Die Revive - revives player