Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tales from Steam Chat: Gonzo Edition

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the ponies began to take hold. I remember saying something like...

"New plan, we play tomorrow because I'm watching a film right now."

Ou812 sighed for ages as the shark swerved back and forth. He was obviously suffering the beginning stages of estrogen overdose. I figured the poor filly-fooler had only hours to live so I didn't bother mentioning the bats to him. He would realize soon enough.

"It's ok, I have some good news! Turns out it's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I figure that since I can't READ the BOOK I might as well watch the movie." I said in some desperate attempt to get him to stop crying. Of course he knew what he did. After all, he stole my book and expected me to play Supreme Commander. As if I owed him.

"I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive."

Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like Pegasus ponies, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, and a voice was screaming:

"Great Celestia what are these awful animals!?"

"Maybe you should actually buy the book then?" My attorney said, totally oblivious to the demonic equine circling the car and his own estrogen-induced psychosis.

"I can't because a certain Mrs. Man took it!" I screamed as the car swerved off the road and into the desert.

"Now you're making excuses," My attorney said. "Look, I know you don't like to spend money, but seriously just go out and buy it."

At that point I had had enough of his attitude. The Grand Canyon was only 42 miles away from our current position. I would drive us both into that abyss, assuming the beasts circling the car didn't pick our bones clean first. Either way I knew I had to put a stop to him. Ou812 was one of God's own prototypes; to effeminate too let live, too rare to let not-die.

"Be ready for your precious blog post. It's yeast is rising as we speak." I said.

But my attorney was already in the depths of an adrenochrome binge. Foaming at the mouth and turning blue as pure woman-hormones pumped through his rapidly deteriorating veins, he was only able to muster up a bubbling self-reflective burp.

"Gay." He said.

He had already sampled the worst of our collection, pure adrenochrome, harvested from the powdered essence of a baker's dozen of parasprites. He was acting like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel. Of course that wasn't all we had;

We had two bags of Applejacks, seventy-five cupcakes, five sheets of high-powered apple slices, a saltshaker half-full of fluoride, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored Twilight Sparkles, Lunas, Celestias, Pinkie Pies... Also, a quart of Sarsaparilla, a quart of gemstones, a case of carrot juice, a DVD of the first season of My Little Pony, and two dozen cupcakes. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious baked-bads collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the Ponies. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an My Little Pony binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.

I knew we wouldn't make it to the grand galloping gala, but if it meant avoiding facing him alone in my ACU with nothing but a couple of hobbled together megaliths to protect myself with then I had no choice but to plunge myself, this car and this collection of dangerous narcotics into the bottom of the Colorado River.

[Tallerence] Ou812: HAHAHAHAHA
[Tallerence] Ou812: oh man.
[Tallerence] Ou812: The way you incorporated my meaningless, "Gay." Pristine.
Shadgrimgrvy: I try my best, after all, I am a doctor of journalism.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Somewhere Hofstander Weeps...

I've really wanted to write a recursive story recently, not a good one necessarily, that'll be for a later post. Instead, I would like to (shamefully) present to you...

The Droste Effect

Patrick was in the Red Room, getting some writing done. He had been working for several weeks trying to make the perfect opening for his most recent short story. It was a recursive story, and the complicated structure of it all forced him to stop several times just to get it all straight. Despite the constant false starts, he finally wrote a beginning he was happy with.

He put down his pen and read through the notebook...

Droste was in the Green Room, getting some writing done. He had been working for several weeks trying to make the perfect opening for his most recent entry to the local pulp magazine. It was a recursive story, and the complicated structure of it all forced him to stop several times just to get it all straight. Despite the constant false starts, he finally wrote a beginning he was happy with.

With a sigh, he lifted his tired hands from the typewriter and read what he had written...

Debbie was in the Blue Room, writing for her next literary club meeting. She had been working for several weeks trying to make the perfect opening to her recursive novelette and the complicated structure of it all forced her to stop several times just to get it all straight. Despite the constant false starts, she finally wrote a beginning that wouldn't be laughed out of the literary club.

With a contented nod she put down her over-sized quill pen to read what she had written...

"No," Patrick thought. "It's not good enough, not yet."

He scratched out large sections from the notebook and started writing a replacement in the margins, laughing as he did so. In only a matter of minutes he had an entirely different story. Patrick looked over the notebook again; the pages were crumpled, wild ink marks ran up and down the sides while huge black scribbles covered everything but the corners.

Still, he read it as best as he could...

Droste was in the Green Room as it rapidly filled with water and hungry eels. He lept onto his desk and fought the eels off with his waterlogged Italian loafers in one hand as he cradled his typewriter in the other. The swarming sea-beasts circled around his desk, snapping at his heels. In between wild swings with his shoe Droste made a revision to his story as best he could with the same hand he was holding the typewriter with...

Debbie was in the Blue Room, writing for her next literary club meeting when a letter miraculously appeared on her desk:

Dear Debbie,

Patrick is causing problems for me, make him stop.


She pushed the letter to the side with a heavy sigh. Picking up her quill pen, she went to work changing the novelette she had worked so hard on for the past week...

Patrick was in the Red Room, laughing as he added as many ridiculous monsters as he could to his flimsy notebook. It quivered in his hands as he scrawled in such abominable beasts as "ice scorpions" and "sharktopus". Suddenly, a giant spider appeared behind him. Without even stopping his pen, Patrick started to grapple with the arthropods many legs as it tried to snatch the book from him. Just as it wrapped it's arms around it's face to crush him he scrawled onto the last page "and it's all on fire"...

Droste was in the Green Room which was thoroughly on fire and full of strange monsters trying their best to impose the will of their creator on Droste. He had hid himself behind the water damaged and yet on fire shelf as he typed another hasty message...

Another letter appeared on Debbie's desk;

Dear Debbie,

He's still sending me monsters. Tell him that if he doesn't stop I will smash my typewriter.


She stared out the window of the Green Room for a long moment as she contemplated her next move. Slowly, she made a tear in the corner of her parchment. She continued to pull the rip further until it tore into the words on the page...

Patrick had managed to kill the spider, not even noticing the thin crack that reached across the south wall of the Red Room. Convinced he was alone again, he started to write even more monsters into his story. As he did, more and more cracks began to split his walls apart. The floor shook. The walls creaked and groaned under their own weight.

In that instant, he knew he was doomed. The Red Room split in half, the overstuffed couch and coffee table in the center fell through the floor into a deep colorless abyss below. Patrick watched as the entire room dissolved around him.

"If I am to be destroyed, then so shall you be." He said to the notebook as he tore out it's pages in large handfuls...

The Green Room started to dissolve, the monsters who had claimed it as their domain were melting and oozed through the cracks of the now crumbling room. The once mighty Sharktopus faded away, releasing Droste from it's mighty tentacle. With the monsters gone and the room breaking apart around him, Droste had no choice but to throw his typewriter into the abyss...

Debbie sat at her desk, playing with the scrapes of paper that used to be her parchment. The world around her was getting faint. The color washed away from her vision. With no one to write her ending she would have to face oblivion alone.


Again, I would have been ashamed to put this here if I wasn't thoroughly convinced that nobody reads this anymore. You can't stop progress!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Album Covers of the Gods

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time...



Wouldn't You Like It? by the Bay City Rollers

No, I wouldn't like it. At all. Honestly, were you boys even aware that they had taken the picture!? Look at that one at the bottom, he's transforming into a were-squirrel. That one to the right? He was thinking about how much he would like to be wearing footie-pajamas right now instead of doing a photo-shoot, he was startled out of his day-dream when the camera flashed. The one in the middle thinks he can get all the ladies with that poofy bird's nest do and pasty chest.

The only one who looks like he knew what was going on is leftie there and I'm still questioning his sobriety.

De-Loused In The Comatorium by the Mars Volta

"No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."

Many Moods by the Al Russ Orchestra

The elves of Rivendell are well known for their music and merrymaking so it was a big surprise to everyone that their debut album did so poorly.

In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson

That is the face of someone running from Tarkus if I ever saw one. Incidently, it reminds me of another color-themed monarch.

And don't worry, there is a My Little Pony version featuring Spike.

You know, in case you were wondering.

Polonase Blankenese durch Gottlieb Wendehals

Gottlieb ähnelt mein Biologielehrer aus der Mittelschule, dies sowohl erschreckt und verwirrt mich. Ich kann mir nicht helfen, aber denke, dass sie einen in die gleichen sind, und er ist nur mit der Farce, um das Gold aus den verbotenen Tempel zu stehlen.


Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun

Just in case you were wondering what it would look if David Lynch and David Bowie did a reboot of the Star Wars franchise.

Butterfly by Cheryl Dilcher

Skittles got into Cheryl's "special" tea bags the morning of the recording. By the time he had regained consciousness he was covered in exotic feathers and glitter. It was only later that he realized he had painted a self-portrait in the style of Louis Wain. The producer loved it so much he decided to make it the official cover art. They saved a bunch of money on an artist, Cheryl avoided explaining the tainted tea to the record company and everyone was happy.

Except Skittles, he's still having acid flashbacks.

Reborn by Orion

Ethel Merman had succeeded in destroying Don Elliot after he harnessed the power of jazz for his evil deeds. Afterwords, she went on to have a successful film career. But soon, a challenger appeared. Her old nemesis, Orion, had returned.

"But you were eliminated by the mighty Tarkus!" She cried from atop of the Pink Flamingo Hotel.

"I have returned, I am...Reborn." Orion said as he fired his bedazzler beam.

Michael Bolton by Michael Bolton

Tasteless, cheap and just dripping with sleaze. I defy anyone to find it attractive.

Plus the cover is awful too.

Get Away From Me by Nellie Mckay

If my sister was ever an album cover she would be this one.


It was a great day for everyone. The boys got those fancy new windbreakers that they've been wanting and still had enough money to get their picture taken at Sears.


El Toque es Unliiigolazo!!! Por Rulli Rendo Orquesta y Coros

Cosmo Kramer no permitió que su mutación inesperada bajarlo, con el fondo amarillo que apenas se puede decir que él sigue siendo brillante.


Country Church

What secret is so terrible that they must hide it behind those mustaches?


Heino! Do not dare to hide yourself from his dapper blue sweater.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thinking About Them Things

If there's one thing I like it's underground parking structures. They seem so futuristic to me, in a cyberpunk kind of way.

If there was ever a calamity that ended civilization I think I'd try living in a parking garage, even if it was for a little while. It wouldn't even be a big disaster either, 75% of the population would still be around and there I would be, hunkered down in my garage. Like a spider.

Keeping the electricity on would be an issue most likely and the threat of hobo invasion is an ever present one. Still, I could create my own garage society down there. They're practically bunkers. I could ally myself with the aforementioned disenfranchised invaders and we could set up a free market economy down there. We could use bottle caps as money.

Even if the garage itself wasn't viable for habitation I would still try out the air vents at the very least.

I'd like to think there's a secret shadow-civilization of people who have adapted for life in air vents. Perhaps in earlier generations the air vent people were secret agents sneaking into bases but got stuck, or maybe scientists fleeing their labs but got lost. They could even be hobos.

Either way, an entire generation of people got lost in the depths of the air conditioning system and started to mutate. We just don't know they're in our vents because their snake-like bodies don't make sound when moving through the vents. Plus, since they only feed on algae and whatever they can scavenge from the snack machine they hardly make a dent on the garage economy (after all, who's going to notice a few missing twinkies ever month or so?).

Who knows what they could be doing up there; staring at us as we dress, rerouting the pipes to create a makeshift spa from the redirected water heater, stealing cable, maybe they're even planning on stealing our precious bottle caps.

No, that won't do. I'm moving to one of those decommissioned ICBM silos. I heard they're actually cheaper then most houses.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Archives

As you all know, mapping is a monumental undertaking. It requires planning, forethought and plenty of experimentation. When making Insomnia I had several other maps built for the purpose of testing various features. Think of them as the books Gehn stole from the D'ni library to practice The Art; they're shoddily put together and hard on the eyes. These rough, blocky laboratories are some of my very own prototypes, never intended for mass production; too ugly to let live, too rare to let die.

Here we are in lesaw.bsp. Even though it's a cramp little cabin (with no obvious exits) in the middle of nowhere, it would be a bit inaccurate to say that it's nothing spectacular. This was where the experimentation with sprites happened and it made the over-all "sparkly-ness" of Insomnia possible.

Technicians didn't like to go in redroom.bsp. It might be the color scheme or maybe sheer loneliness. Whatever it was, the whole crew made an effort not to go in there during development.

Won't you stay a while?

Here's where we tested various light sources. I'm not sure what's going on with that blue aura on the far right. We condemned the whole map, just in case it was radioactive.

sweepy.bsp was always the life of the party during development. Everyone hung out here, trying on new ai_actbusy entities. Here's Sweepy himself, toying around with the scripted_sequences and generally keeping the place neat and tidy.

Oh, and here's Paul. He was awful to work with. There wasn't a fiber of professionalism in his whole body. It got so bad that we had to break off all creative ties with him. Good timing too, we avoided some costly litigation in the process. His drinking habits were a serious detriment.

Seriously, pull yourself together.

train.bsp is a long, starkly minimalist tunnel. There's nothing here except a single rusting engine that speeds on through and reappears on the other side.

There are no sounds except the wheels of the train.

There are no people.

That train will keep on like that forever.


Here's something interesting. Back when abstract_hallways was still being built a friend on Steam asked me to make a city for him. Thankfully, he didn't want a city in the same way Paris or Los Angeles are cities. He just wanted a bare-bones group of blocky buildings to work with. On one hand this was good for me because it meant that I wasn't condemned to spend the rest of my life planted at my desk duplicating brushes. On the other hand, he had given me permission to make a hideous maze of plaster blocks. Considering that I had just started mapping and had no idea what I was doing this was especially dangerous.

I made the abomination in a matter of days and promptly forgot about the whole affair. For almost two years it didn't enter my thoughts again. Well, just recently I had the opportunity to look at his modifications from way back when.

What I found was twinworlds.bsp, a terrible memory of the past.

Here's the only source of light in the entire map, everywhere else is pitch black. It took several minutes of searching just to find this little spot, after I found it I didn't want to leave. The darkness suddenly seemed too terrifying to contemplate.

Eventually, I worked up the courage to leave the warm glow of safety and explore the building I found myself in. Waves of memories came back as I saw the crude architecture. "All those hours of toil..." I thought, "And this is what it's turned into?".

The map is so dark that it's impossible to take a picture of the whole thing. But know that it is a giant cave, with moss all over the walls on either side with the city at one end and a duplicate of it on the other.

I traveled to see the duplicate city, maybe there was civilization on the other side. If I was searching for signs of people I found it...

This is one of the many pools of blood on the other side, all of them dried up as if nothing has lived here in years. Everything in the duplicate city seems older, more broken down then the other side. I don't dare go inside the buildings and keep to the crumbling street, my only protection being my flashlight.

Many of the buildings can't even be entered. The "door" on this one was painted on to the wall.

I stuck to the street the whole time, eventually it just stopped and dropped off into nothingness.

I don't know if I'll ever return to Twin Worlds, perhaps some things are better left forgotten.