Thursday, September 29, 2011

After Hours

I've been looking forward to making this post, but it's only now that I have anything interesting to show. Ladies and gentlemen, I am slowly but surely building Hypnophobia as we speak and I am doing everything in my power to ensure that it's at least 20% more abstract then Insomnia. But don't take my word for it, let the pictures speak for themselves:

The Paranoia Zone is deadly, but fair. If one manages to avoid stupid mistakes they could find the dream-world to be surprisingly hospitable. However, if one insists on plowing through walls in their truck without considering the consequences Paranoia will make them pay the price.

It was only after I made this that I realized the lasers look like an inverted cross. While offending people's religious sentiments or drawing unneeded parallels to black metal were never my intention, I'm keeping it. It's a reflection of my subconscious that's integral to the work at hand, it must be preserved, in the spirit of Dali's psychoanalytic period.

This is the only photo-graphic evidence of the super-secret new area, more on this later.


One thing that I love hearing is people's interpretations of the maps perceived themes and backstory. I saw this one Polish website that did a article on horror-themed maps including Paranoia and they were convinced that the chairs represent hospitalization and psychosis.

For the most part, people think the maps take place between Half-Life 1 and 2, apparently Paranoia is the stasis that the G-Man left Gordon Freeman in between games. Others think it's a nightmare Gordon's having. I don't think these interpretations are bad, I just never thought of the maps being particularly well connected to the Half-Life mythos. I've actually tried to avoid having NPC's refer to the player as Freeman, but that's almost impossible.

Few of my peers know it, but I actually have a pretty extensive backstory for the maps already, involving Swedish-American's kidnapped from airports among other things. I have several notebooks full of possible explanations for what's going on, none of which agree with each other.

Given the surreal setting, I think it would be unfair to claim any one interpretation is correct, especially at the expense of another. For this reason, it is now official that any and all explanations, theories or fan fiction of the maps is official canon, including (and especially) those that contradict each other.

With that said, here's some of the explanations I've come up with:

  • Paranoia is actually an inter-dimensional vehicle of immense size, similar to the TARDIS. It's crashed and it's malfunctioning navigation equipment is kidnapping people from across all of time and space.
  • It's actually a sentient Universe that seeks to consume all of reality and turn space-time into more of itself.
  • The player is crazy and is having a hallucination.
  • It's the domain of a race of telepathic chairs that aspire to conquer the galaxy.
  • It's a "dimensional-intersection" where several alternate realities collide, often violently.
  • Paranoia is a giant super-computer, built to calculate a way to extract free energy from the quantum foam, ultimately averting the universal heat death.
While I said that every interpretation can be correct, I will make an exception for the people who say it's based on Inception because. That. Is. Wrong. My maps came out first and I refuse to be shackled to some movie just because it's popular.

So no, I am not going to make a map called Inception.


Feel free to share your theories in the comments, because if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the world doesn't need another Twin Peaks.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Final Day

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Hypnophobia is complete.


Just kidding, we're no where close to being done with that but don't feel down-and-out, you still have something to be excited about. I'll give you a hint, they're brightly colored, walk around on four legs and there's going to be a new season of them starting tomorrow.

That's right, My Miniature Equine! Tomorrow is the start of the new season and you can bet your salt-licks the entirety of the D.O.E. including myself will be watching it. I don't want to give much away, but I saw a promo of the first episode a couple days ago. I'll just tell you that the new villain looks brilliant, much much better then what the fans were speculating.

For starters, the voice actor is John de Lancie. Many of you may know him as Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Think Q but as a bizarre amalgamation of animal parts and a goat head with absolutely no change in personality and you have the new villain summed up pretty well. I swear, they did that on purpose, now the first two episodes are going to be an extended Star Trek homage and it's going to be wonderful.

The wait is almost over, we will have our ponies soon enough!

(Picture by willdrawforfood.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life! Death! Cupcakes!

I've been holding off making this post for almost a week now. I've wanted to hide it from the world, I've been tense and nervous. I can't relax. But now I have no choice but to face up to the facts: for the past week I have been psychotic killer in my dreams. Every night once I go to bed, I'm transported to a world where suddenly I'm murdering everything around me with impunity. Does this reflect badly on my sub-conscious desires? Absolutely. Do I feel ashamed? No.

Can I dig it? Absolutely.

It all started on Thursday. I found myself in a luxurious hotel room with white leather sofas and white shag carpet. I was in a sharp-looking business suit and my hair was slicked back. I think I was some kind of stock-broker. I was sitting on one of the sofas, oblivious to the fact that I was dreaming. Suddenly, who else but Pinkie Pie appears. She's happily bouncing around the room, probably singing, I don't remember.

As some of you know, Pinkie Pie is often reinterpreted by Bronies to be a psycho killer mainly for the way she murders Rainbow Dash and bakes her into a cupcake in the fan fiction "Cupcakes". With that in mind, it would make sense that Pinkie would appear. But I've never read Cupcakes, more on that later.

As she's running around my hotel room a large knife materializes in my hand. I storm out of the room, with the little pink pony following me. I see some anonymous malefactor down the hall and immediately stab them. I stab everyone I see for the rest of the dream in an unrelenting stab-fest. I remember there were Team Fortress characters there, I stabbed them all to death.

What's strange is I seemed to slay everyone the same way: I would hide behind a corner and watch my victim's reflection in the tile walls all over the dream-hotel as they crept past me. Once they were near me I jumped in front of them and landed a single jab at their chests. Why none of my victims saw me in the tile walls, I have no idea. All I do know is that Pinkie Pie was the only one sparred on my killing spree.

When I woke up I immediately started writing a post for my blog, but as I wrote it I started to think that maybe the people reading this don't want to hear any more about ponies.

Skip ahead to Friday night, I listen to Electric Six before bed, as has become my custom. Once I'm asleep, I'm in Las Vegas. Unlike real Las Vegas, this one is a sprawling hanging garden of bizarre abstract forms and enormous geometric constructions. There's no "buildings" in the traditional sense, just these giant frames holding up colonies of creeping ivy-like plants. In a few places where the frames are starting to break apart from disrepair, people are having tail-gate parties. The smell of barbecue fills the air. As I go further into the "city" I see less people.

Soon, I'm the only one around, these sections of the city have been completely abandoned. There's no sound, just the blistering desert heat as I wander around these Dali-esque ruins. Suddenly, thousands of despondent children appear, moaning and complaining. The dream ends and I find myself totally apathetic to their fate. But I do want to recreate the parts of the city that I still remember in a map, that would be cash.

Finally, last night. I'm grocery shopping with someone. I have no idea who they are but I'm carrying all the groceries. There were three boxes and a single roast chicken, I remember because it was very hot and I had to constantly shift it around in my arms so I didn't get burnt.

As we walked to the car a bunch of kids on tiny motorcycles circled around us.

"Hey, did you just come out of gay-mart?" They said mockingly, over and over. They kept laughing and threatening us, suddenly one of them pulls out a gun.

I probably didn't recognize it as such at the time, but now I'm convinced it was an NAA Mini Revolver.

"I'm sick of this, you're gonna die!" I yell at the one with the gun. He shoots me and I drop my groceries. I inspect the wound to find that the bullet is absolutely tiny, like a tic-tac. I charge at him, head down and reach my hands around his throat. He drops the gun as I make a fist to punch him in his stupid-looking flabby face. The dream ends before I can beat him to death.

In retrospect, I've come to only one conclusion: Pinkie Pie is an avatar of death that visits people in their dreams to convince them to do evil deeds. Also, punk-kids seem to get away with everything.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Vira is one of the many fictional planets I've made as part of my plan to become a rich and famous science-fiction writer. It is a planet with a population of over fifteen billion people who, through no fault of their own, are locked in an endless war of attrition after Vira was knocked out of orbit in a freak asteroid related accident. Now completely frozen and millions of miles away from the star it used to orbit, Vira is a constant battleground as enemy factions struggle to stay alive on their frigid homeworld as it jettisons clear out of it's star system. Vira moves so fast in fact that it's scientists have predicted that it will be in intergalactic space within a generation. Of course, few believe their civilization will survive long enough to see the day when their planet is flung well out of their galaxy. Nuclear war threatens to end all life on the planet on a daily basis.

It isn't all hopeless on Vira, medical science is an exciting field that develops new technology at a startling rate. The hero of today's story is about to find that out the hard way in a piece I like to call...

The Cyborgs of Death

Sergeant Liam Moore's dropship was shot down by enemy fighters less then an hour ago. The entire crew escaped miraculously unscathed except for himself who was now missing an arm and rapidly loosing blood from the remaining stump. The nearest Coalition base was over a hundred kilometers away, leaving the entire squad isolated in the freezing wilderness of Vira. Sergeant Moore couldn't help but notice that he wasn't quickly freezing to death or suffering from massive blood loss but was instead strapped to an operating table quickly moving down what looked like an automated assembly line.

His head was swimming, his vision was blurred; there was a dull throbbing pain where his left arm used to be. The operating table slowed to a stop, suddenly Private Booker appeared on a nearby catwalk. His shaved head was wrapped with a bandage but otherwise fine.

"He Sarge, how're you holding up?" He said.

Sergeant Moore could barely muster a half-hearted mumble to respond.

"Hey yeah don't strain yourself, you've been injected with, like, a ton of tranquilizers. Yeah as it turns out we crash landed right next to a Cyborg Nationalist base. Crazy right? They don't show up on radar. Anyway, they said they'd fix your arm for free. Just sit tight, it'll be over soon."

The table started to move again, leaving the Private behind on the catwalk. For a while Sergeant Moore was at ease. He had heard about the Cyborg Nationalists, they were a peaceful people who had remained neutral for most of the war. They're cybernetics technology were supposed to be unparalleled; they were able to bring men back from the dead, giving him a new robot arm should be easy by comparison.

As Moore went deeper into the assembly line electronic eyes appeared, staring at him from the walls. The table stopped again and a field of laser beams passed over his battered body.

"Scans indicate subject is eligible for total conversion." A harsh electronic voice said.

Suddenly, dozens of robotic arms appeared, painfully probing his bare skin before receding back into the wall.

"Prepare for total conversion!" The voice said again.

"Wait, what?" Moore said, starting to wake up. "I didn't ask for this. Booker! Tell them to stop!"

The lights in the assembly line turned to a dark red as the table switched to the track to his left. More and more arms appeared, grabbing at the Sergeant, puncturing him with needles.

"Convert! Convert!" The voice chanted. "CONVERT!"

The table moved into a more horizontal position as it traveled, leaving Moore to stare at the ceiling which he just noticed was flecked with droplets of blood.

"I didn't ask for this! Stop it!" Moore yelled at the assembly line.

The table stopped in front of an enormous metal arm ending in a circular saw. More arms appeared to restrain Moore as he jerked from side to side. The saw slowly started to spin, accompanied by a high pitched whine. It effortlessly swung into position just above his knee-caps and did a quick pass, spraying blood all over his face. Two robotic claws appeared to dump his legs into a nearby disposal bin. The saw made another pass, quickly removing his other arm and what was left of his stump.

Now totally limbless and screaming in pain, Moore moved to the next area. New arms and legs were moved into position as claws held him down.

"We will now install your prostheses. Be advised, they will be connected to your pre-existing nerve fibers and you may feel momentary discomfort." The voice said.

Smaller, more delicate looking claws moved into place and pulled the wires in the legs towards his stumps. A camera-eye took a quick look at the bloody mangled flesh and the wires were crammed in. Moore felt a sensation like being electrocuted as the new limbs were connected to his nervous system. A giant gun appeared, driving huge metal bolts into the stumps to keep the mechanics in place as a team of arch-welders appeared. There was a bright light, leaving Moore blinded, when his vision returned he was in a huge warehouse, surrounded by hundreds of other unfortunates who were receiving total conversion.

The Sargent tried moving and felt sick to his stomach. He could feel what was left of his bones scraping against the metal surface of his new limbs.

"You're augmentations are not yet complete and have been disabled for your safety." The voice reminded him.

Suddenly, the table made a sharp turn, returning to the assembly line. Another saw appeared and made a deep cut from his neck to groin. Moore's stomach split open effortlessly, spilling his organs onto the table. He could feel himself about to faint when a giant needle appeared, stabbing him with something. He was suddenly completely awake again, staring at the surgical machines scooping his organs out, cutting large sections of intestines into ribbons.

"Your gastro-intestinal system being upgraded, please remain calm." The voice said.

Long sections of plastic tube was placed in the now empty cavity in Moore's chest. His stomach, heart and what assumed to be his pancreas were returned, modified, covered in mechanical augmentations. The surgery was being performed with industrial speed, the claws moving so fast he couldn't focus on just one. When they left his chest was blinking mass of cybernetically enhanced meat. He felt like fainting again, another needle appeared to pump him full of whatever chemical cocktail had kept him awake so far. Another saw appeared, removing his sternum and replacing it with a shiny metallic alternative in one swift motion.

The table turned over so he was now facing the floor which, with little exception, was a thick pool of blood and metal grates. He felt something puncture his spine and drill deep holes down his back.

"You're entire nervous system is being augmented." The voice said.

Moore could feel every electrode get placed in his spine, one by one, until there were twenty-six of them that ran the length of his back. A huge incision was cut into what was left of his natural arms and legs as another machine tore into his shoulders and hips. Metal structures were placed as the table flipped right-side up again. Moore saw that he now had what appeared to be large pistons jutting out his stumps, connecting his artificial limbs to his now very artificial shoulders and hips.

He felt himself faint again, but there was no enormous needle to keep him awake this time. When he woke up, even more of him had been replaced, his ribcage was now a shiny chrome imitation and two large valves had been place in his chest.

"You're nose is now obsolete, so we removed it. Congratulations, you can now breath through your chest!" The voice said.

Sure enough, his entire nose was gone, replaced with yet more metallic armor.

The assembly line came to an end and Moore was back in the warehouse. Other patients were moving in lines beside him; naked and covered in blood. Their bodies had been mangled and replaced with robotic substitutes. Some of them had their skulls cut open, revealing brains covered in glowing electrodes. Another saw appeared above Moore's head, making a clean cut above his eyebrows in a circle around his skull which made a popping sound as it fell off. Everyone on the assembly line was exchanging nervous glances at each other, some where still screaming for help. There were both men and women being modified.

A cable reached into Moore's brain and plugged into something he couldn't see. In an instant millions of images and words flashed across his now-artificial eyes as he suddenly understood every language on Vira, the essentials of quantum mechanics, space flight, everything. Sergeant Moore was rapidly learning everything.

"Congratulations!" Said a voice from inside his head. "You are now running CyberOS Version 5.42. You're procedure was a complete success. You are now an estimated fifty times as efficient as you were before. Our troubleshooting hot-line is open at all times, feel free to open a communication channel if you have questions about your conversion. Thank you!"

The operating table finally released him, dumping the Sergeant into a waiting room full of soldiers from his squad. Their eyes turned to big white saucers staring at his mutilated body as a shocked silence filled the room.

Sergeant Moore stood in the center, not saying anything and taking quick glances at his new cybernetic body.

"" Booker finally said. "They didn't say they were gonna do all...that."

The room was silent again.

"So...does it hurt?" Private Charles said.

"At first, yeah." Moore said as looked at the holes in his back.

Everyone in the room was looking over the Cyborg's handiwork. Even the Moore couldn't help but examine it, especially the places where the new limbs connected to the old. He was now slightly taller then anyone else in the squad. His arthritis was gone too. He hated to admit it, but Moore actually felt augmented. His entire body felt better then it was before, more powerful and sturdy. He didn't even mind that everyone was staring at him. He was glad, he wanted people to see his new form.

"Actually, I have to admit, I feel pretty good. Anyone else feel like running a few laps?" Moore said.

"Sure but put on some pants first." Booker said.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Album Covers of Doom

It might be hard to believe but more often then not I'm wallowing in a pit of depression. I'm overcome with ennui and self-doubt with startling frequency. It's been happening much more often recently, I just sit around thinking "What's the point?", "Why am I even here?". At times like these I'm all but inconsolable, there's only one thing that can pull me up from the depths of my own depression.

Album covers are not it.

Manners by Passion Pit

Manners hearkens back to Jack Pollock's "prozac" period.

Lionel Richie by Lionel Richie

Lionel's producer wanted to show the world the "real" Lionel Richie with his first album. To make sure the picture was authentic, the camera-crew hastily threw an orange background behind him as he was strolling down the street and took the photo right there. This ground-breaking technique later came to be known as the "surpise photo-shoot".

Ridgo the 4th

"You storm my castle, you kill my knights and now you claim my daughter as your bride!? Who are you traveler!?"

The warrior simply stood in the hall of the King, with the princess upon his shoulders.

"I am Ridgo the 4th," He said. "I claim your land in the name of smooth jazz."

Entertainment by Fischerspoon

Fischerspoon has defeated Ziggy Stardust in mortal combat and now he's come to conquer the Earth. Resistance is futile, with his hypno-helmet no one can escape his weaponized "elektro-muzik".

"Can I Borrow A Feelin'?"

In this case "Feelin'" is a codeword for "a couple dollars".

And no, you can't.

Love Beach by Emerson Lake and Palmer

It was almost the end of the 70's and ELP had come to embody everything people hated about Prog Rock. They were called over-blown and pretensions by critics and fans the world over. Unfortunately for them, and for all of us, they were contractually obligated to make one last album.

And thus, ELP released their final weapon of revenge against the world, codenamed "Love Beach".

Amazing Grace by The Celebration Road Show

Call me cynical, but I don't see much to celebrate about.

Burn This Town by Battleaxe

Billy's previous magnus opus depicting Mrs. William being disemboweled by biker-sharks received little critical acclaim (and got him detention for his efforts). It was finally his time to shine when Battleaxe approached him to design the cover for their most recent album.

Eulenspygel 2

Eulenspygel put an end to the "chicken or the egg" argument the only way they knew how: with extreme prejudice.


Heino beckons you to join him at Menudo's next photo-shoot at Sears.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Gallery of Anguish

Before today's post I would just like to clarify that the maps are indeed for Half-Life 2. Garry's Mod is fine and dandy but it breaks singleplayer, it just plain breaks it. Most of my downloads come from poor confused souls on Garry's Mod that have no idea how to play my maps, it's a sad truth I must live with.

In the meantime, I have pictures from the continuing ennui that is The Construction of Hypnophobia.

Here we see a...

...No I just can't do this right now.