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Video Game / Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

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Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is advertised as an "anti-adventure" game, developed by Sundae Month and published by tinyBuild. It had a Steam release on September 16, 2016.

The player takes on the role of the Janitor, an alien girlbeast with a municipally-subsidized trash incineration job on Xabran's Rock. Their ultimate goal is to leave their planet, but it's hard to save up money for a ride out when you also have to worry about affording things like food. And taking a break to loot the planet's ruins doesn't seem wise, especially when an early attempt to do so leaves the Janitor being haunted by a flying skull. Pray, work, eat, sleep, and repeat until you can finally escape this routine.

This game makes use of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: The dungeons under the planet are a huge draw to adventurers, who travel across the galaxy to plumb the depths for loot and treasure. Of course, they're incredibly dangerous for normal, non-adventurous types.
  • Alien Geometries: The city map is square, but it loops around to intentionally confuse the player and make the city feel larger and more complex than it really is. Rather than looping to the opposite side, you are turned 90 degrees and loop to an adjacent side. This means that the pyramid and the valley overlook in opposite corners have four-fold symmetry, and the spaceport in the other corners has 180 degree rotational symmetry. This is most visible if the player pays attention around the pyramid, and you can also find an accurate map of the city in the sewers that features multiple landmarks repeated.
  • Alternative Calendar: The game has a nine day week with each of the days being named after one of the Nine Gods. The days are Havalana, Theday, Onday, Sprenday, Delviday, Valday, Bebday, Lausterday, and Aggrada in that order.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Subverted. You're not the adventurer. You're not the shopkeeper selling magic items to the adventurer. You're the janitor who takes out the trash for the shopkeeper.
    • And attempting to be an adventurer without any of the necessary skills or luck is the inciting incident for the whole game.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Normally shops start to close down at the end of the day/night cycle and the player has to go home. However, on festival days, shops stay open all night. This gives the player a once-per-week chance to track down vendors and buy/sell needed items.
    • One of the cheapest food vendors is right next to the Janitor's home.
    • The Janitor can't sleep on an empty stomach, but if you run out of money you can still eat garbage. It might make you sick, of course.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: The main hub of Xabran's Rock. The inhabitants are just as weird as the things they are selling (and the trash they throw in the streets).
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: The protagonist is working for the municipality. However, this is downplayed because, while Xabran's Rock is a Wretched Hive, the government itself isn't actively making it so.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: The Janitor can change her gender via a "gendershift", and actually needs to shift genders regularly, as she starts feeling sick and gross if she doesn't. Gendershifting is compared by various people in the spaceport to hacking, a drug addiction, and a beautiful variation. Genders include things like "Dirt", "Hellbent", "Beast Girl" and "Susan Sarandon".
  • Dirty Cop: The Red Scarves, who appear to be the city guard, will try to rob the Janitor if she has enough money.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Janitor needs to take gendershifting pills to shift her gender to combat some sort of gender dysphoria she has.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The people of Xabran's Rock worship nine goddesses. Praying to them and giving them offerings will increase your luck.
  • Fictional Holiday: Every Theeday has festival. This is important because merchants are open all night, allowing the player to reliably sell items they've collected over the week.
  • Flying Face: The occasionally screaming skull that constantly follows the Janitor after being discovered.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The Janitor can collect a fetish for each of the nine gods. This is necessary to remove the skull.
  • Luck-Based Mission: While it is impossible to lose, collecting the nine fetishes is heavily dependent on luck because not all of the fetishes can be found. As such, you need to buy them. However, vendor inventory is randomized each day. There is no guarantee you will be able to find the ones you need, and to try again you have to spend money on food and collect trash for a day.
  • Luck Stat: The game tracks the Janitor's Luck Index, which can affect things like the odds of finding valuable discarded items. The luck stat can be increased by currying favor with the gods. However, burning their fetishes and prayer books will lower your luck.
    • Luck is also ephemeral, seemingly going up and down at random. Although the game plays audio cues for this, it's difficult to associate them with actions you take. Many NPCs will talk about doing things for good luck, or avoiding unlucky actions. The end result usually makes the player become superstitious, and you're encouraged to develop daily rituals to modify your luck.
  • No Name Given: The Janitor is only ever referred to by her job, or more often just being addressed by others as "you".
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblin is one of the genders that the Janitor can receive.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Several Alanese item descriptions imply that the Janitor belongs to a race of legendary warrior-women. Unfortunately, she never had any of the necessary combat training, so she can't use any of those items. At least they sell for good money.
  • Shop Fodder: About a third of the items in the game, even some quest-related items, can be sold to vendors for the cash you need to stay alive. Those which can't be sold to vendors can be incinerated for a tiny amount of money.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: The majority of characters in the game are sprites, though environments and some characters (such as the skull) are 3D.
  • Trans Tribulations: The Janitor experiences dysphoria and discomfort whenever she doesn't gendershift for a while, in a sci-fi take on non-binary and genderfluid experiences. This also impacts the player by making in-game text glitchy. There are also random people at the spaceport who make a pass at her and then insult her when they decline.
  • Wretched Hive: Xabran's Rock is rife with poverty and drug abusers. Every third day you'll be cleaning up body parts left by someone who had a very bad day.