Over the past several weeks/months I’ve been writing down anything I hallucinate while on the come-down of any sort of psychoactive drug. If you require a re-cap, you can check out part 1 here. Most of these current sentences were heard mainly during the come-down after tramadol, promethazine, or heavy doses of caffeine, whereas the last few are due to dextroamphetamine.
Here are 15 more.
1. “There’s like, a carpet sledgehammer that comes in rolls.”
2. “You guys planning to do? Not have a Christmas party.”
3. “Bit big is it? During the month?”
4. (Male) “We’re getting in touch with our clone soon” (Female) “HAHA! Cannae go local”
5. “We’ve been inspiring the hippies for…hundreds of years”
6. “What about 1…1….1:30. 1:30?”
7. “Fuck off cunt, you think they’re mine to limit?”
8. “You’ve gotta time it, then you’ve gotta mount their heads.”
9. “Fishy crab bath celery soup”
10. “No wonder I can’t pick up now, I feel seedy as”
11. (Robocop) “Somebody TURNED MY COMPUTER OFF” *gunfire*
12. ”Cut the goat out, man. Seriously whack”
13. “So like when did you lose your license and stuff, mate? You were going so good, and we’re glad you kicked him out. He’s a terrorist; wears a suit when he comes out for a walk around the back yard”
14 “I have no idea how that idea gives me other ideas.”
15. “Water pipe rock ‘n’ roll”
Another 15 down, another unlimited supply to go. Until then,
Everybody needs help at one point or another right? You start off life as this confused deformed looking form of life, but now you’re no longer a fetus safe from the outside world anymore. It’s time to start learning things on your own once you come out of that dark gaping hole crying, covered in blood, and other things you’d rather not think about. Of course you receive assistance while all this going on , much more than you will later in life (hopefully) because you are too young to fend for yourself and you’re probably about the size of a large house cat at this point.
This is all perfectly acceptable right now. You can’t even lift more than a hair yet, you have no idea what’s going on, people are constantly fussing at you, you can’t speak yet, and the only things you know how to do are things that are based off instincts. If you take a shit, you can’t tell anybody you feel like you need to drop a deuce, you don’t know how to change your own disgusting piss and shit filled diaper, you can’t feed your hungry happy ass whenever you please, and so on. I’m sure you guys get the point now.
Life goes on , you grow into a young budding child (who’s still a little bratty snotty nosed shit), but you still get help from the people around you when you need it. There’s so much left to learn, and you can’t fit it all in that screaming hyper child sized head of yours. Many mistakes are made by you, but at this point it’s for the most part forgivable because you’re not ‘old enough to know better’ yet. Enough time goes by, and soon you learn not to use your little smart mouth with your mother, lie about the fact that you just beat the shit out of your sibling (even though they are in tears on the ground beside you), or whine and bitch about a toy you weren’t bought at the store.
You also learn one very important concept of life. Showing up on time matters, and will matter much more when you get older. In order to do this ‘being on time’ thing you are also taught that getting a proper nights sleep is essential, because it usually allows you to wake up on time for any appointments, interviews, or important matters you may need to handle the next day in your adult life.
School bells ring in the morning to tell you school is starting, and you better get the fuck into the classroom. There are also bells that ring to signify your next class is about to start, so you better hurry and end your conversation with your sticky, dirty, and dumb little friends about who has cooties and who doesn’t. Then there’s the lovely bells that ring to tell you that you’re late to class, because somehow your dumb ass apparently hasn’t figured this out yet even though you’ve been in school for a few years now. This is supposed to condition you to learn to manage your time in order to be on time, appear reliable to your current teachers, and appear professional to possible future bosses when you’re older.
When you’re still in these young years, you thankfully have your mother, father, maybe grandparents, or some family member/guardian who gives you a bedtime and expects you to follow it religiously. Some parents or guardians are better at reinforcing this than others, but for the most part most kids who don’t get into bed when told to can expect to see a belt or some other form of punishment coming for them. At least in our years this was true. Now you can’t spank kids, so that creates a problem…no wonder they are all little shits, you can’t even so much as lay a hand on your kid to give them a high five anymore without someone jumping on you claiming you’re abusing the child. Anyway, that’s a different topic for another day.
Finally you hit your adult life, and hopefully you’ve learned how to set your alarm clock, wake yourself up, and drag yourself into whatever lame routine of life you may have set for yourself. Mommy is no longer waking you up saying, “It’s time for school sweetie, get the hell out of bed!” Mommy is no longer beating your ass when you refuse to get into bed the night before, and she’s no longer beating your ass for oversleeping in order to get you where you need to go on time. You’ve HOPEFULLY by this point trained yourself into being able to handle this basic part of life on your own. You can go to the bathroom on your own now, feed your own overweight hairy ass, dress yourself in your own horrendous outfits, and speak for yourself. Hopefully, at this point you aren’t crying for no apparent reason, crying to let people know you’re hungry, need to use the restroom, or need to play.
Here’s what inspired me to write this story. I love to help others, and I love to help my friends. However, I’m beginning to wonder if this is all getting to the point where it’s just detrimental to certain people in my life. I wouldn’t be overly concerned except for the fact that a majority of my friends are older than I am by several years, and I thought that with those years came something called “experience”. At least that’s what I was lead to believe…
I am finding it difficult to process that my 30 something year old friends can’t manage to get themselves up in time for work , or in some cases class (I know a few people going back to school). I often wake up to last minute text messages about how they woke up late and if there’s any way I could possibly give them a ride (I have a few friends who are unable to access cars at the moment as well). It doesn’t, or I should at least say it DIDN’T, used to bother me before because for the past 3 months I’ve been out of work with nothing better to do. In fact, I was the one who offered rides many times even though I know these people are fully capable of finding ways to get themselves where they need to go as well as arriving there on time. However, I’ve noticed a trend in some of these people becoming more and more reliant on me.
Maybe I’m weird, but I never found it difficult to get up and get to work or school on time. I follow a basic rule: If I have somewhere to be or someone to meet the next day, I go to bed at a time I know that I will be able to still make a timely appearance. If I made the mistake of staying out too late and partying the night before, I mentally kick my ass into gear. Why doesn’t anybody else seem to have this in them?
What I guess I’m trying to really get at is the fact that I’m realizing my help seems to be more damaging than actually helpful. I seem to be sending these people straight back into reverse, and quite honestly I feel like a mother trying to wean my 30 something year old children off breastfeeding. They have teeth which really fucking hurt first of all, and don’t forget they can talk back in a way that doesn’t send me crying for my mommy, but rather trying to collect the bits of my brain they’ve exploded with their words as well.
It’s time to fly free birdies, I won’t be off work much longer, and if you don’t make it to where you’re going to be on time, I won’t be found anywhere within reach. I’ll most likely be stuck behind a register arguing with some numbnut about why the coupons they brought with them aren’t valid, because they refuse to read, and refuse to believe that coupons have dates, fine print, and restrictions. No more help from me at the drop of a hat . It may be what I love to do , but I also hate hurting people, and in this sense I am hurting you by stifling the growth you apparently still have to do. It’s time for me to move on, and all I can do is hope that you figure it out.
This has been swirling around in my head for about the past week. I kind of quickly shoved it back as soon as I was alert enough to realize what happened to me back in January, but now I feel like I should speak out about every little detail.
Sunday January 17, 2010 around 9:30 p.m. I had just finished getting ready to go out with my friends to our regular Sunday karaoke bar. I left my apartment feeling normal, I rode in my friend’s car to the bar feeling normal, I walked into the bar, and I started to drink like normal. I had put my usual song in to sing (Portishead-Sour Times) and found my way back to where my friends were hanging out.
We sat around our table, bullshitting like we always do, and having a good time. Soon I was called up to sing, but just shortly before that happened I started feeling a pressure in the top left of my head which traveled down to the end of the bridge of my nose. I had felt this same thing about two years before while out grocery shopping once, but it was a very very light sensation that went away on its own so I continued on with life.
As I continued singing the pressure started to turn into a pain. I tried to ignore it thinking it would pass, but the more I kept going the more pain came. I got to the point where I was less able to focus on the words on the screen, or even remember what I was singing anymore. Somehow I made it through my song, and sat back down at the table in a quiet state of shock because I had no idea what was happening to me. I have a problem with anxiety disorders, and I did not want to provoke myself into a panic attack even though it was getting past the point where I felt in control of what was happening within my head. I did not want to freak out the rest of the bar which is a small place where most of the crowd knows each other, and the last thing I needed was people smothering me asking what was wrong.
I casually texted a friend and asked him if he was coming out to the bar, but I quickly noticed that for some reason when I looked down at the screen of my phone I couldn’t see my thumb or my index finger there touching the buttons. I thought that I was maybe causing this by panicking (I had about given up at this point on trying to control it), so I tried to make sure breathe, but nothing was helping. Shortly after, I started seeing a small triangle shaped pattern that had mini orange triangles inside of it, and was sort of “flashing” in the bottom right corner of my right eye.
I let the friend sitting next to me know what I was seeing, and that I didn’t feel right. She had dealt with my anxiety before , and has a general idea of what to do when I am freaking the hell out. We both went outside, and at that point I couldn’t even keep my breathing straight anymore. I was hyperventilating, and trying to force myself to cry because for some odd reason sometimes crying helps me get over my attacks.
I was too nervous about what my body was possibly doing to itself that I couldn’t even force myself to cry as much as I wanted to and tried to. My friend asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I told her no, and that I just wanted to go home to shake this off. It kept getting worse. All of it. The anxiety, the way my head felt, and the flashing shape in my eye were just feeding to the anxiety problem. I have rarely ever had it reach the level where it’s beyond controllable, and it did get to that point that night. Thankfully , my friend decided it was time to go to the hospital anyway after discussing that my mother had and still has problems with migraines, but I never had before in my life.
Everyone (by everyone I mean a guy friend who drove us to the bar, his girlfriend who is also my friend, and another girlfriend of ours) quickly packed into the car, and it was off to the hospital with me. I tried calling my mom to let her know what was going on , but she didn’t pick up her phone. Later in the night she noticed it was my number that popped up on her screen, so she texted me saying she thought it was one of her friends calling to bug her, and asked what was up.
At that point I was already at Clarkson Medical Center’s 24 hour urgent care building out west. I remember walking up to the counter, handing the man behind the desk my insurance cards, and trying to fill out the paperwork. I was so disoriented at that time that I could barely even state my name to the guy, when I was born, or my social security number. I had to think really hard to complete such a simple task such as writing in the information needed on the emergency room papers. It got to the point where I just passed the paper over to my friend and asked her to fill the rest out for me.
I was quickly called back to see the nurse who asked me to describe my symptoms to her. I was still in full on panic mode, feeling like I was barely able to function. I was doing my usual nervous habit of shaking my legs, but I was doing it so bad that she had to remind me to settle down so that I could continue to tell her what was wrong. As I told her what was going on with my eye, and the headache I felt, I noticed the right eye went slowly back to normal, but in my left eye I was seeing a blurred transparent circle. Almost like a cap covering my pupil. I remember telling the nurse this , and about jumping out of the chair because I was that terrified. I had no idea what was going on or what to do and felt like I was losing all control. Right after I jumped out of the chair, it suddenly felt like someone had stuffed cotton balls in both of my ears, and I could barely hear the nurse asking me any of her other questions.
I was sent back to the little check up room, and waited for a doctor to come in to take a look at me. Keep in mind hospitals have always made me nervous, and I hate setting foot into them even if I’m not there to see a doctor. Being in that room experiencing what I was (at this point the orange triangles had come back) was only bringing my anxiety levels right back up after I had just calmed down a tad bit. I panicked so bad from just waiting in that room for what felt like an eternity, that I decided in a dazed and almost unconscious state it was a good idea to get up and leave that hospital room by myself to get my friend for comfort.
I got out of the room, and started to make my way down the hallway. But something was wrong. My legs weren’t moving properly with my body at all. I was literally dragging dead weights underneath me that I had absolutely no feeling in. The tops of my feet were dragging on the ground too as I tried to focus on my walking and how to take steps…bring one foot up, bring the other foot up. Left foot , right foot, left foot , right foot. It was almost like dragging a puppet through a hallway, but not pulling it’s feet off the ground to make it walk correctly. I somehow miraculously made it to back up to the waiting room door, but the receptionist caught sight of me and asked, “Whoa! Where are you going?”
I explained to him that I really needed someone back in that room with me for comfort, he kindly asked me which person I wanted, and all I remember telling him was “the girl with the dark hair.” He went and got her after getting me back to my room, and somehow she managed to calm me down entirely. I was starting to get drowsy, and just sat with my back up on the bed ’til I felt like I wanted to lay down.
We chatted for a bit and tried to take my focus off of what was going on, but soon my stomach became uneasy.Thankfully, I can always tell when I’m going to vomit because my throat sends me nice little warning signs. My friend managed to get a nurse in quick, and I violently threw up into the tub a nurse was holding in front of me. When I say violently I mean it too. I had to have my entire face wiped off, and I almost couldn’t breathe through my nose because the force I had was just pushing the puke back up into my face.
I was given medicine for nasuea, and had been ordered a CT scan because if this had been a migraine it would’ve been my first. About five minutes after the vomit scene, a man came with a wheelchair to take me back to the CT machine. I felt like I was falling in and out of it, and to this day I’m not sure if it was because of my condition, the anti-nasuea medicine, or possibly both. I laid there on the bed in absolute silence, and I remember the scan not lasting more than five minutes before the guy silently helped me back onto the wheelchair.
On the way back to my room I began to feel worried again because I noticed how fast the guy was wheeling me through the halls. Neither of us said a single word, which of course led me to believe something was wrong. I can remember thinking to myself repeatedly to “please let everything be okay”. Shortly after I was dropped back off to the room, a woman came to the door and in her calmest most upbeat voice informed me, “We’re going to take you down to the medical center (UNMC) because your CT scan shows some bleeding in your brain, and they can figure out exactly what it is going on when you get down there. okay?”
My heart sank and my mind tried it’s hardest to race in my delirious state. I had seriously thought I’d be going home that night with some migraine medication in hand, and that everything would be fine again. Instead I was being wheeled down the hallway yet again, but this time it was to the exit doors to be loaded into an ambulance. I was starting to feel out of it and drowsy, and I was thankful that they allowed my friend to ride in the front seat while the other paramedic sat in back with me. Hearing a familiar voice made me feel comfortable enough to calm down, because at that moment and time I was facing on of my biggest fears ever(having to ride in the back of an ambulance strapped to the stretcher). I closed my eyes, and off we went to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The longest car ride of my entire life even though in reality it’s only about twenty minutes.
We finally arrived at the hospital, and I remembered feeling the cold winter wind for about two minutes before I was inside staring up at the flourescent hospital lights. I kept wishing I was going to be okay. Before I knew it I was finally in the ICU on the 8th floor (neurology cases).
I barely remember being stripped of my clothes and quickly thrown into a hospital gown. I do remember hoping that it would all be over tomorrow, and that I would be back in my comfortable apartment with my familiar surroundings. I do remember four of my friends (the driver of the car we came in followed the ambulance to the hospital) standing at my left corner by the door as several different nurses hooked me up to IV’s and checked my vital signs. The very last thing I remember before falling asleep that night was my girl friend asking her boyfriend if he needed to leave the room (hospital rooms make him queasy), watching him say yes and walk out, listening to her state to the nurses that he’s a medical courier which made it ironic that he couldn’t stand hospital rooms. I remember hearing laughter about his situation, and listening to another friend tell me to be strong before they all left the room for the night.
My friends informed my mother later that night that I was in the hospital because I never was able to respond to her text after all that had just happened within the past two hours. They also informed a few of our good friends from the bar who had noticed my sudden disappearance and were texting my phone asking where I went, letting them know my situation and what was going on.
My mom and my brother arranged for a flight from California as soon as possible, and arrived on that Tuesday (the 19th). It was on that day that I had an angiogram, and that day that they discovered that I had an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) in the left occipital lobe of my brain. Something I was born with, but it (my brain)finally couldn’t take it anymore for some reason, and bled about the size of a half dollar causing a hemorrhagic stroke. I am not paralyzed or anything surprisingly, but I am an extremely lucky case.
Coming soon: It’s not like it’s brain surgery! Wait…yes, it literally is.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely against them (cell phones), I mean hell, the one I own barely leaves my hands or my sight (unless I am driving or somewhere where a cell phone is inappropriate). They’ve helped me out in situations where I needed help immediately, and they have given me the ability to assist others.
Anyways the thing that irritates me is the fact that recently I’ve been having this issue with receiving several texts from several different people asking me what I was doing. Well it was actually more like, “Wut r u doin/What ya doin?” This also has a tendency to only ever happen when I’m occupied of course.
Yes, I am guilty of sending these texts as well, but they are extremely rare coming from me. If someone says that they are busy, I stop texting them. Simple as that. I also actually take the time to spell out all of the words, and use proper grammar in my messages. You know…because that whole three extra seconds was so important to my life. Don’t want to lose those!
I don’t mind letting people know what I’m up to at the moment, and I like knowing that my friends care enough about me to ask, or at least send me some type of text at any time during any given day. It’s good to know I’m at least cool enough for some people to want to hang out with, or at least talk to if I’m not occupied.
The thing that has been bothering me is the fact that when I specifically state that I am occupied in my texts a few specific friends of mine continue to text me with questions about whatever I am doing at the moment, or about things that don’t matter. What does this have to do with common sense you ask? I’m getting to that, don’t worry your pretty little head.
First of all, I am out on the road a lot. I love to drive, and my friends know this. I do not own a hands free device, or have a way of texting by or with my mouth (they know this as well). So when I get asked a question like “what are you doing?” as I’m busy driving, I will make it a point to state that I’m doing so. I make it as short and sweet as possible (usually with a text while stopped at a red light) with the simple word “driving”.
Common sense would tell any normal human being with half a brain that the person driving most likely has both hands on the wheel , and has their attention on the road. So why, why do my friends take it upon themselves to continue to ask me questions, and then proceed to follow up with a frustrated “????” when I don’t respond within two minutes. I’m sorry, but I thought making sure I didn’t endanger other drivers and focusing on the road was a bit more important than answering your question anyway. It’s never urgent or of any concern, and I would hope that if it was, my friends would have the sense to get my attention by calling me rather than texting me.
So I guess you could just say I’m irritated at the fact that people (specifically these friends) aren’t using their brains to put two and two together, and that this is happening too often. I could tell them that I was hopping in the shower, and they would ask me, “So how’s your shower going? What kind of shampoo do you use? Are you shaving your legs? How long are you going to be in there for?” I could be running around the house with my panties on fire, let them know this, and these people would still ask me, “So what are you up to?” Hello?! Anything in that space in your head? Most people have one, USE IT!
I am going to link to a flash game that breaks my heart: Zombie Assault 2 – Insane Asylum.
This is zombie survival with guns and upgradable barriers. I’d rather like to know how the zombies manage to carry cash, and what agency it is that sells you barrier upgrades that you have to fix your own self. But anyway, it’s a rather bog-standard mix of frenetic shooting, base defense, and upgrading your offense and defense to survive upgrading waves of undead. It’s a good formula. The mix this time around is needing cash to add on to the map, to find… well, it’s not the weapons themselves, like I’d expect. It’s an outline of the weapon that lets you buy them from the shop. Like pieces of a picture-menu for a mute customer.
At first glance, it’s a horrid trade-off. You buy, essentially, an increasing number of ways for zombies to enter. Some do not even allow barricades. Fortunately, the undead are stupid and stick with their assigned doors, even walking past an already-smashed barrier to beat upon one that had caught their fancy. The number of undead in each wave is static. These two details mean that you have spread out the zombie problem, so your barriers should last a bit longer. The kitchen and adjacent… porch-y area give vital obstacles to run around, exposing flaws in zombie pathfinding I haven’t needed to exploit since Lode Runner. (look it up, whipper-snappers!)
The undead themselves are a fun mix of speeds, toughness, and special effects. Clowns which are nearly unkillable… save for their own detonations a few seconds after they run near you and root themselves in place. Big beefy meat-cleaver wielders that have a few mutant tapeworms to share with you on their death. And even some demon-y guy who likes to chuck eldritch fire at you. The best bit is that you have some warning. The game’s sound effects include screeches and chilling clown laughs to let you know what a given wave is about to throw at you. But not from which direction… so that you might decide if you are using a good weapon for the upcoming problem.
All that is to the good, believe it or not. Each element listed enhances the experience. Even the pathing issues, as the difficulty is high enough to where exploiting the AI isn’t any guarantee of victory… just a slight edge.
Difficulty, as in all of this class of game, comes from a simple source… you need to buy things, and you don’t know what will help you survive until it’s too late to spend the money elsewhere. As you are spending the exact same cash on expanding your living space that you do on weapons… it becomes even more of a challenge. It is simpler if you know which areas contain which… uh, weapon potentials? Menu items? So you simply do not get to know what’s even available on the first playthru, until you have unlocked the entire map.
You do start off with the ability to buy better barricades tho. Which are repaired to full health instantly, by walking up to one and tapping a key. However… upgrading this to the point where the barriers will damage the zombies that bash them costs as much as the mid-range weapons… and represents the game’s obvious tipping point. If you get the barricades to full, and the map unlocked, you can hold off quite a lot. A sentry gun or two would also make it possible to survive to the endgame.
This is also the point the game appears calibrated to leave slightly out of reach. I’m not saying it’s impossible… there’s bound to be some cryptic range of upgrading and ultimate zombiefighting that allows a human player to survive. But the difficulty of the game… even with health restored between waves, the bulk of players are going to be stymied just short of being able to balance themselves against the ever-steepening difficulty.
Which is where the game promptly decides to break my heart.
You can register yourself with the game’s handlers to unlock a persistant profile, so your XP and character perks don’t go away (the shop and inventory is reset every time tho. Sorry!). And you are given a couple “premium” items for free. Few extra grenades, a rifle that’s quite a bit better than the starter pistol… and this brings you to the bloody shop. Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to paying money for a game. Good games are awesome, and worth supporting. This game is playable for free… but you pay to unlock certain… perks. For real cash, you can lower the difficulty of the game. There’s weapons ranging from autoshotguns to proton packs. Permanent boosts to damage, armor, health regen, and bonus income from zombie kills. You can buy the whole set of upgrades for $10 or $15 if you’re getting them individually. Clever pricing scheme, since $5 is the minimum, and would give you the most critical upgrades. But for twice the price, you can have it all. Nice marketing.
Now, if they had made this a bit like shareware, so that I were unlocking, say, an end-game boss… I could dig it. The thing that sends me into a bit of disgust is not that they are charging for the games… they are charging for things that lower the difficulty. This disgusts me. Thoroughly.
Some of you don’t need this explained to you, so I’ll try to be brief. Games used to come with a range of difficulty. There would be an easy mode so that you could experience the bulk of the game, but you wouldn’t be trying very hard. There might be a hellfire and brimstone mode where it would take weeks of training to survive the game… maybe in order to get a different ending. The ending wouldn’t really be all that great, but the elation of finally getting there… to no longer be banging your head against a bit wall in a silicon prison… that would give a giddy rush and instant bragging rights. And anyone sane would have long since found that one guy who could beat it, and watch them do it, so they wouldn’t actually have to.
But you didn’t pay money to make the game easier.
MMOs spend countless hours trying to destroy the practice of “Gold Farming”, wherein real money is exchanged for in-game currency, to allow for purchases that the player hasn’t earned. Ostensibly, you are outsourcing the grinding of the game. Frankly, the games are a bit grind-tastic, and like to keep you from having “fun” as much as possible… but the efforts to stop this industry are due to very real issues of in-game inflation (which puts prices so high that new players cannot buy any upgrades with their hard-earned cash) and of the farming activities crowding out “legitimate” gamers from vital resources.
These are beside the point, but I cannot truly express the outrage I feel without giving them as perspective.
The actual practice of requiring a player to spend money on lowering the difficulty level, and increasing fun… goes against good game design. It’s also a hideous business practice. You end up with a paying customer base of gamers who may be obsessive, but certainly do not have the skill it takes to conquer your game without your little perks… so every single customer is going to be ultimately dissatisfied with the experience, because they will know they couldn’t have beaten the game on their own. They are paying to cheat themselves of the very illusion of victory these games use as a reward for playing.
From a business perspective, you are giving yourself customers who will be disillusioned by the very game they bought into… which can’t do future sales much good. From a game designer’s perspective, I look at this and feel that there was a lot of playtesting put into making the difficulty exactly right… so the game will be addicting but impossible without paying, for most customers. The gaming purist in me scoffs at spending money to gain an edge in a game. The smart shopper who once bought a gameshark figures the price point is WAY off for cheats (But not bad for buying a full game of this type). The casual gamer in me… is intrigued, but not going to spend money when I have a book I could be reading.
I’m not sure what the target market is for this experiment, but as a mutation of the old shareware model, I can’t help but think it’s headed down the old Darwinian path.
I’ve recently run into a band via the extremely awesome mog. This band is known as the Freelance Whales. I’ve heard the music described as orchestral indie rock, and it’s a fitting description. They play an oddly uplifting kind of sound on an eclectic mix of instruments.
They’ve recently released their first album, Weathervanes, which is now one of my all-time favorite albums. From the opening track to the closing, the album is soothing, heart-warming, inspiring, and entertaining. The songs aren’t wholly lyric-focused, merely incorporating the words as another instrument. It’s a nice touch that serves to distinguish the band from the crowds of others that just use the rest of the band as a way to keep the singer in tune and rhythm.
I strongly recommend the whole album, but I especially like the first track “Generator ^ First Floor”, and its companion track, “Generator ^ Second Floor”. Nods also go to “Hannah” (which has some of the best-written lyrics on the album), and “We Could be Friends”. It’s not available on CD yet, but it’s available in all good digital music stores.
Hi. I play MMOs. At the moment, I’m going to take a bit of both our time to convey a concept about these colossal, yet awesome, timesinks. You have to learn how to play the game in order to excel at the game.
Right, points for the obvious, I know. Now, the usual method of training someone for doing well involves rewarding them for doing things right, and punishing them for doing things wrong. Right? Well… sort of. In order to actually learn, you would need to know what you did right, and what you had done wrong. If this were a sports game, you would see instant replay, and at the professional level, someone making more money than the average schoolteacher would patiently explain how someone on the team did something right in the heat of the moment, with imperfect information, and that the other guys weren’t ready for such a startling display of competence. MMOs lack this. Your random group of bored strangers may have simply succeeded on the 3rd try because one of the casters accidentally dispelled the enemy’s debuff… because he hit the wrong key at the right time. You did nothing different, so you don’t learn. Everybody thinks the other players game improved.
Now, it is possible to learn to play better… by listening to the advice of others. Sometimes this advice is actually good. Sometimes it is ranked slightly below frenching an electrical socket. I recall fondly my first serious group attempt in World of Warcraft, as a newbie warlock. I was repeatedly told 4 pieces of advice. I ignored half. One was to whip out the big ugly smoke pet I use as a tank when solo. I’m being told this by the tank. We have a tank and a healer. I can use my little imp to give everyone more stamina/hp, and set foes on fire. I ignore the advice.
I am told that I should not Fear an enemy in an instance. This makes sense. They run screaming for help, we get 5 guys in exchange for the 1 I sent packing. Bad news for the party. Good call. Instead, I use a power that prevents a foe from running. Curse of Recklessness. I’m told I should be using the mutually exclusive DPS power. I ignore this, because it’s a bad call. The foes aren’t living long enough to have a second tic of damage. And if they run, they tend to live just long enough to bring back grief.
The best advice I recieved was to “SS the healer”. SS turns out to mean “soulstone”. A bungee cord for the tunnel with the white light at the end. Brilliant! However, as a newb, it wasn’t ’till a breather halfway down the dungeon when I was able to type out “WTF is SS?” and actually get a coherent answer. Acronyms are not your friends when you try to train another person. They are used between people who already know what they are doing. When I used the power in the most tactically advantageous method, to let the healer survive a total wipe, so she could restore all of our bleeding corpses to life… it saved us all a long walk. And I got to disappoint said healer, who hadn’t known it was only usable once every 30 min.
Now, in all of WoW, the game itself never actually tried to train me on the most effective uses of my powers. It just sat there being Darwin. If I got it right enough, I survived. If I didn’t, I got to hike back to my corpse.
These days… I play LOTRO. One thing I really love in this system are the deeds. If you’re only familiar with WoW, think of them like Talents… that don’t suck, there’s far fewer of them, and you have to earn each one before you can spec it. Earning them is the critical aspect. As a game designer, you can never truly anticipate what stratagems the player base is going to roll out to break your carefully crafted balance. This is a reason that it isn’t altogether simple to train a player in using his class effectively. Sure, in the prior example, the tactical significance of letting the player who can resurrect the party rez himself is a bit obvious. But not using the damaging curse, or the biggest looking pet… is a bit less obvious.
LOTRO’s deed system encourages experimentation. Because it rewards experimentation directly. You don’t know which of your abilities will advance a deed until actually using it, once you’ve reached a high enough level for that particular deed. So, to unlock all of them, you must practice your abilities to see what must be done. Granted, they are all simply “use ability x a few hundred or thousand times over a few days.” There is still a mighty opportunity to learn from such rote practice. The Minstrel has one that is simply based on using healing abilities. A thousand times. No deeper meaning here, other than training the player to spam healing. The Lore-Master, however, has one for an ability that simply drains power from a foe into his own reserves. While it’s never a horrible thing to have a mid-battle recharge, running out of power is extremely rare in the early game. However, against foes with low reserves, it also functions to drain them to zero. Which denies them further use of their most powerful attacks. If I didn’t have gamer OCD towards such traits, I’d never have understood how useful this could be. I’d have saved it for long boss fights when I needed the boost. This system improved my competence in the game.
I’m quite curious what the next iteration of gaming is going to roll out to subtly train the player. Because this sort of stealth education is powerful, and molds a playerbase nicely… when it works. Now, if only we could use it to weed out side-conversations in movie theatres.
Heres an article I’ve been thinking of random bits and pieces for over the week, so I’ve decided to compile them and post them. So here it is – 15 things to teach your kid as young as possible – the 15 kinds of things that should never go untaught. Ever.
1) If it ends up in the toilet, its gone forever. FOR. EVER.
2) Don’t touch anything that doesn’t belong to you. Assume everything that isn’t yours is full of spiders and KEEP YOUR GODDAMNED HANDS OFF IT.
3) Walking barefoot in sand will get you hosed the fuck down. With ice cold water.
4) Throwing your food on the floor at home, or the bin at school will get you 1: belted and 2: starved in your room until the next day.
5) Touching a dog and then touching food/other people warrants a hosing down also.
6) The computer is more valuable than you are. Remember this forever.
7) Drinking daddy/mummy’s beer/wine/bourbon while they’re not looking will get you 5 across the eyes.
8 ) Assume every adult you see is a paedophile (except your family, of course).
9) Playing in the kitchen will get you belted. Hard.
10) Playing with the telephone, or a mobile phone will get you double-belted, especially if either of them suddenly disappear.
11) Touching a toilet in any way warrants instant hand washing – with SOAP. NO EXCUSES.
12) Trying to get daddy’s attention while he’s playing videogames/watching a movie will see you locked in your bedroom until the following day.
13) Liars always get found out. Being dishonest will eventually get you belted really hard. It’s much better to tell the truth and accept a small belting up front, than getting found out in the future and being belted until sitting down brings tears to your eyes.
14) Hitting your mother will result in your father hitting you in a way that will teach you not to try that again.
15) Running amok in a shopping centre, or out in public where running amok is generally not acceptable, will result in you having the belting of a lifetime, which doubles in intensity per public outing you misbehave in. Wooden spoons may snap over your arse if belting intensity reaches certain heights.
Print these out and stick them on your fridge, or laminate them and give them to your kids. Make sure you follow through with the epic beltings though, or you’ll look soft, and everybody knows soft parents breed thugs, drug addicts, murderers and general scum!
I am not a hardcore gamer. I don’t play FPS games for fear of throwing up my soul, I’m no good at RTS games (I do <3 me some StarCraft though), and I have approximately 5 games for my PS2. I much prefer to watch someone else play long-form games unless it’s some sort of point-and-click puzzle/adventure or Killer7. It’s that Kon Smith. He’s so cool.
On the other hand, I spend a portion of nearly every day playing casual games. I love these things. They are great diversions, and occasionally I run across one that turns out to be much more than I had expected. The other day I was poking around Kongregate when I discovered a new game called ImmorTall. I’ve played Hunted Forever and Alter, other games by Pixelante and I was already in it just to see some more of this developer’s artistic style. I clicked, the music started, I was ready to find out what that extra “l” in the title is for.
True to Pixelante’s style, the art is gorgeous. It’s got a retro feel, not too detailed but looking instead like something from a retro-futuristic war poster. The coloring is mostly primary with black and white. I loved the sounds: guitar punctuates every game happening as well as providing a moody musical backdrop to the action.
You begin the game as a little inchwormy alien who has emerged from a crashed ship. Over the course of the next few minutes you meet people, get snacks, grow tall, and then become a
human alien shield. There isn’t a lot to figure out and when you need to do something instructions appear on the screen to guide you. This could be said to be a linear game, in that there is a single ending which really cannot be prevented, only staved off. I won’t pull any punches here: I played this game several times to see how much I could influence the ending and I cried my eyes out every single time.
My impression of ImmorTall is that it’s a very well done tiny story about any number of things including our fear of the unknown, the ways humans are willing to harm one another “for their own good”, and -depending on the circumstances at the ending- sacrifice.
It’s brilliant in that there’s just enough there to nudge you toward some understanding of what the game means, though it might be very different from the interpretations of other players. It made me think, and according to Pixelante’s Twitter feed there are a lot of varying opinions as to its meaning. That is, I think, as it should be. Art is interpreted by the one who experiences it.
I recommend this game for anyone who’s got about 5 minutes and a little thought power to spare. From beginning to end it’s a tiny masterpiece and the newest of my favorites. It’s games like this that show me the strength of play as a vehicle for storytelling and inspire me to want to make my own.
Yes, the videogame. Been playing around with this latest sandbox game. It does a lot of things right. And it looks pretty… but…
This is a game for killing Nazis from the point of view of an Irish race driver and mechanic helping out the french resistance. Seriously. You get to run around laying dynamite and evading patrols in a sort of reverse terrorism, because it’s to give the good people of France hope, restoring color to the world.
The actual gameplay is rather straightforward. It’s a GTA style game with wall-climbing, because that’s the new thing these days. In this environment, the Nazi army has established rather a large number of guard towers. You get to remove them with dynamite. It’s a bit of civic cleanup… rather literally, as the work is akin to picking up trash off the roadside.
Fortunately, once you clear the streets and rooftops of these eyesores, the game rewards you by not actually having any of them respawn. The major benefit is obvious! Uh… well, you get paid for it. A little. And when you run away from Nazi alerts, it’s easier to lose them in an area where you’ve destroyed all watchtowers.
About the only thing that’s really new here (since transforming a landscape’s color pattern is as fresh as Prince of Persia and as old as Q*Bert) is the “Perk” system. The game has a few skills and upgrades unlocked not by amassing loot and buying them, but by achievements. Each is a line of 3 tiers, unlocking the potential to finish the next, and giving progressively more game-changing rewards. In many cases, the work is really its own reward, as you can upgrade your ability to throw folks around in melee simply by throwing a few Nazis off their towers. Or not just getting some practice in with a sniper rifle, but by lining up shots where you cap 2 soldiers with one bullet. The abilities unlocked vary a bit from minimizing recoil to letting you summon a vehicle driven by a shopkeeper. Important, as, well, even with upgraded storage for multiple types of explosives, you are only one man, and you are trying to blow up several hundred structures.
Part of me really wants to enjoy this game, for the spectacle, and the unlockables. But I’m already most of the way through them, and… realizing about all the game has to offer from here is combat and sneaking around to eliminate a gigantic number of minor obstacles. Not that this is a bad thing, but I would be far more involved in the game itself if this realization had been delayed by another layer of accomplishments.
Playing this game on the PC of course provides another layer of fun in the form of crashes. Thank god for quicksave. That feature alone has made the game go from impossible to reasonable, due to a tendency to crash after 20-50 minutes playing at anything higher than minimum resolution. Whether this represents a holdover from the console editions or my computer’s shoddy design… the world may never know. I will, however, not forgive the game for having no quick way to access the full map. You can only enter the menu, select map, and then select Full Map. Which is ridiculous, because you only ever want the full map on that screen.
Most recently, in an event that probably sums up my impression of the game, I found a spot to drive downhill through a park, hitting a few ramps to jump the vehicle for profit. The game only requires that you get the car over the ramp, not to manage to land something you cannot adequately control. It is functional, and less frustrating than many GTAs, but a bit tedious for the rewards offered. Still, a bit of fun to take care of before moving on.