While John is brooding about the lack of SBURB in his mailbox our unseen player tries to get John to do something fairly gross. John resists the urge and continues his search for the elusive game. He sees a green package in the car, but can’t be sure whether or not the box is in fact his game. John peeks into the kitchen window, where he sees that a package has arrived and there is a SBURB logo.
John heads inside and when he goes into the kitchen he finds his father, who has apparently just finished making yet another birthday cake. (The animation here is pretty funny. There’s video game style music accompanied with a heartbeat as we’re shown a montage featuring 50’s era sitcom father get up accompanied by the dreaded cake.) What follows next is a video game battle between John and his father. There are two clickable options in this flash animation, Aggrieve and Abjure. On the next page is another option, “Abscond” which you will not be able to do. Instead, John is going to get a pie in the face.
After some fumbling around John eventually manages to escape with his game, and heads to his room. On the way to the room, we get a better idea of the scenery and the various areas both inside and outside the house. (Chekov is leaving at least one or two guns around in this part.) When he returns to his room another friend is pestering him on Pesterchum. This is gardenGnostic and is basically just her saying “hi.” He gets a second message from turntechGodhead, who give John a lot of grief about his favorite movies and favorite actors. Then John goes to MSPaint Adventures where the current story is “Midnight Crew.” (John is not certain if he likes the story or not.)
Then he installs SBURB beta. Or rather, he tries to. It seems that the game has two parts, one is the client (what John has) and the other is the server. John dithers for a while and reorganizes his sylladex. Much accidental destruction occurs and when he checks back to his computer he sees that an SBURB “host user” (his friend tentacleTherapist) is trying to contact him through the game. She explains what’s going on and John hits enter.
The SBURB downloading sequence is made of shiny and awesome.
In the next few pages it’s shown what game play is supposed to look like. Apparently, a host player helps the client set up the game and is able to interact with the client’s environment. The host supplies the client with items that will be needed by the client such as the “Alchemiter,” “Totem Lathe” and the “Cruxtrader.” (However, a host is not able to directly affect the player, just objects around the player for a certain distance.) There’s some shenanigans with the game and figuring out how to use it that more or less follows the pattern of the first few pages where we were getting a feel of the gameplay of the text game John appears to be a part of.
We also learn that tentacleTherapist has both the server and client parts of the game on her computer. John at this point in time only has the client. This is therefore a game where cooperation is needed, with the client making things and the host building things for the client. (Your thought puzzle for a day: Try to figure out why a game that enables you to affect things in the real world is treated as nothing especially remarkable within the reality of the comic.)
While all this exploring and discovering is going on, John gets contacted by gardenGnostic, who reports that there has been some kind of explosion near her house. After some more adventures, John manages to take off the lid of Cruxtrader, which starts a countdown. He learns that he needs to “prototype” a jittering thing called a “kernalsprite.” tentacleTherapist prototypes the kernel sprite using a harlequin doll. After some playing around with the Alchemiter, John discovers what the countdown is for: the meteor heading toward his house. Meanwhile, the entity directing John tries to get him to eat some of the building “grist” which of course, John can’t do as they are a game abstraction.
We learn that the walkthrough tentacleTherapist has been reading through are written as if by very panicky, alarmed people. (Who were dedicated enough to continue the walkthroughs despite their general panic.) We also get a conversation between turntechGodhead and John concerning the game and the meteor of impending doom. turntechGodhead seems upset at the prospect of John getting blitzed by a chunk of space rock, but feels the need to snark about disaster movies that apply geographical size (such as “the size of Rhode Island”) to chunks of space rock.