Greetings all. This is just a quick update on my one and only gamebook: Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed-run. It’s a novel length romp through a fantasy land, but each path is only about as long as a short story. Every decision gets you closer to one of many wildly different endings, some complete duds, some mastery of reality itself, and some in nooks and crannies between all that.
This gamebook is heavily infused with the format of video game speed running, with the protagonist usually on a quest to complete her life as quickly as possible (a handy time is provided at chapter’s end). A fresh edit has just been completed, so I’m reposting the introduction to maybe catch a few new eyes. The whole gamebook is free to read, same as all my other work. So forge ahead and pick a path in the lands of Shook and Cain!
Through the Bottom of the World – beginning
The palm reader couldn’t find his friends. He knew he was their friend because he had read that information right off his own third hand, of the four that he had. How he got four was a mystery. One day the second pair was just there, one scratching his back while the rest stretched into the air with a morning yawn.
There was no one to mentor him in the skill of palm reading; it was just something he learned by immersion, like someone dumped into a foreign land adjusting to the language. Almost everyone had palms, so it seemed strange nobody else responded to that pressure the way he naturally did, by struggling to understand them. Continue reading →
Respawn Chat Log
There was a place inside the hanging gardens of Babylon where ghosts gathered. It was sealed off from its endless colorful sky, lit only by the pale white energy of a crystal formation at its center, standing more than fifty feet tall. It had tree-like branches, more than thick enough to support the weight of living creatures, but only the ethereal dead were present.
The ghost of Flippers sat on one such branch, kicking his feet, just waiting. Nothing in the game stayed dead forever. The crystal tomb was much more like a waiting room or a penalty box. Really it was an admirable extra step from the game’s developers. A lot of other multiplayer games just cut to another active player’s camera when the countdown to respawn started. Continue reading →
Atlantis wasn’t the only advanced civilization to suffer a sudden and precipitous fall; there was also Ys, Norumbega, Arcadia, and others… at least according to the lore of the hit video game Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Jenny Handerly (who goes by Handzy online) is also seeking her own path to paradise, through the game. If her ragtag team of friends can win the next Hanging Gardens tournament she’ll be set toward the future of her dreams, but there are plenty of obstacles in the way, in the gardens and well beyond them in the ruthless, youth-obsessed, and often bigoted world of E-sports.
Tourney at the Hanging Gardens
The party had journeyed deep into the caverns of the hanging gardens of Babylon. It was not a place that knew true darkness, so no matter how far down they went they would always be able to see their way. Still, it was as dim and cool as it ever got in their paradise, and it had them all on edge.
They hadn’t constructed the gardens, and they didn’t know any of those who had, so all of the small questions about its functioning were allowed to fester and grow into giant frightening shadows in the back of their minds. Continue reading →
(Spoiler warning: full spoilers for Little Nightmares 1 and 2)
If you’re unfamiliar, Little Nightmares 2 is a horror puzzle-platformer video game developed by Tarsier Studios. It is a prequel to the first game, and features the first game’s protagonist as a computer-controlled companion. Players are tasked with navigating a hostile 2.5D world as grimy feral children populated by distorted monstrous adults that attack on sight and, more often than not, kill instantly.
In this post I’ll look to form a cohesive narrative theory of the second game, using only my personal play time and a little light Googling as resources. This is inherently difficult, given that the world of Little Nightmares, somewhat implied by the title, operates based on dream logic. Its surreal society draws a distinct line between children and adults, as if the two belong to different species. Continue reading →
This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of posts about video games that did not get a fair shake in the marketplace. The Sexy Brutale is the ideal first candidate given its rich atmosphere, immersive music, distinct art style, compelling gameplay, and inexplicable failure to puncture the gaming public’s imagination. Continue reading →
Prompt: While drunkenly setting up your avatar for a simulated world, you find a developer’s Easter egg and end up with the rarest character class in the game. There is only one: the village idiot.
I was at a point in my life where I was doing a lot of things drunk. It was like a game; how intoxicated could I be while still getting the task done and not getting noticed? I shopped for sweaters drunk. Hiked drunk. Even coded drunk. It’s very strange to look at a program written by an intellectually-meandering version of yourself. It’s like seeing a toy train’s tracks cross over each other a hundred times, and never in the same place. Continue reading →
Regular Romp is an interactive fiction activity over on our Twitch stream where I ask a regular a series of questions before turning their answers and a corruption of their username into a short story. Stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade if you’d like to participate.
Lucid Maddyn had a passing thought about wordless hours. How many wordless hours had he racked up sitting in that desk chair? Sometimes it was the whole morning, as he avoided eye contact with any of the hundreds of people passing through the arcade in its early hours. It was a skill unto itself, as many of them were children, their eyes drawn by Maddyn’s impressive height. Continue reading →
Warning: This post will discuss the video game Hollow Knight and its story in great detail; it will be filled with spoilers.
For those of you who don’t know, Hollow Knight is a hand-drawn metroidvania action/adventure video game developed by Team Cherry as their first large-scale game. Its art style is a melancholy mix of insects, Tim Burton, Studio Ghibli, and a few play-sets full of Gothic architecture. Continue reading →
Pet Shop Campaign was getting to be a little long in the tooth. The video game was more than five years old at this point, and most augmented-reality-massively-multiplayer games died off in the first two. There was always something new to try that siphoned the public’s adrenaline drops. Continue reading →