Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

The Ghost Penny Post

F&SFMar-Apr2016cover

Now available, wherever fine rare periodicals are sold, “The Ghost Penny Post” is the cover story for the March/April 2016 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. This beautiful and stunningly weird cover is by Jason Van Hollander. The issue has been reviewed by a few online websites, including Amazing Stories, Tangent Online, and SFRevue.

An idea I’d been carrying around for over 15 years, it was finally written in response to a request for stories about videogames; but ultimately, while it does involve games, the video element is nonexistent. It might be considered steampunk thanks to the Victorian period setting, but the only steam in it comes from a kettle. The keen observer might notice that it takes place partly in the bewildering village of Binderwood, referenced elsewhere on this site. There are no coherent observations to be drawn from this, however. I had simply run out of names for made-up places, I assure you. Please don’t see patterns where none exist!

Another Girl You Should Date

Date a girl who plays games. Date a girl who spends her money on games instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many games. Date a girl who has a wishlist of games she wants on Steam that requires you to scroll for quite a while to reach the end of it.

Find a girl who plays games. You’ll know that she does because she will always have more game apps on her iPhone than will fit in all the folders the phone is able to hold.. She’s the one lovingly looking at the empty display boxes in the Gamestop, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the old copy of Kirby Tilt and Tumble she’s been looking for. You see the weird chick blowing into the connector slot of an old SNES cartridge in the Famicom shop? That’s the gamer. They can never resist cleaning the contacts, even if spit probably doesn’t help matters.

She’s the girl playing her 3DS while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the Half-and-Half has formed a fossilized rim because she’s halfway between save points and if she dies now she has to start all over again. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most gamers do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she planted all the magic beans around Hyrule Field.

Buy her a can of Rockstar.

Let her know what you really think of Miyamoto. See if she got through the first level of Spacechem. Understand that if she says she didn’t beat Ninja Gaiden, she’s just saying that so you won’t feel lame. She totally beat Ninja Gaiden. Ask her if she loves Zelda or she would like to be Zelda; she will say she loves Zelda but would want to be Link.

It’s easy to date a girl who games. Give her an Indie Bundle for her birthday, renew her Live account for Christmas and celebrate your anniversaries in Azeroth. Give her the gift of passionate gaming, in midi, in chiptunes. Give her Zombies, Xenoeverything, Portals, Attack Choppers. Let her know that you understand that games are love. Understand that she knows the difference between games and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite game. It will be your fault if you can’t level up along with her.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Don’t lie to her. That’s just stupid. HELLO? If you have to, look for help in a walkthrough or Gamefaqs. That sort of cheating is okay. It’s better not to, but sometimes you just want to get to the next level where it’s fun again. If you have to noclip, be sure you have a good reason. It ruins the illusion when you can see the edges of the world.

Fail. Because a girl who plays games knows that sometimes you must fail to learn. Because girls who understand that know that all games will come to end, but that there will always be a sequel. That you can always start a new game slot and begin again and again until you get it right. That life is meant to have a villain or two, so that it means something when you get to the end and beat them.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who play games understand that gamers develop and get better. Especially in Dark Souls.

If you find a girl who games, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM throwing a controller at the TV and weeping tears of rage, hand the controller back to her and quietly step away. You may lose her for a couple of hours but eventually that boss will have been beat and she will be a better person for it. She’ll talk as if the characters and the perils and the challenges in the game are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose in a 12 person raid. Or in the jubilant climax of some TF2 Capture the Flag, or midair in some Portal co-op. Or very casually next time she’s motion sick from riding an airboat or a jetski while being chased by assassins or aliens. Over Skype, because you gave up on Ventrilo.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet, and then you’ll remember that you earned a dozen extra hearts since you met her. You will play out the game of your lives, have kids named Jigglypuff and Pikachu, who only play Japanese games on modded systems. She will introduce your children to the Elder Scrolls and Planescape, maybe in the same day. You will walk the virtuals winters of the games of the future age together and she will say “So the world might be mended…” while you shake the pixels out of your beard.

Date a girl who games because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who will join you in the most colorful games imaginable. If you can only give her Bejewelled clones, and stale point and click adventures, and “Games for Girls” no gamer would ever want to play, , then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who games.

Or better yet, date a girl who codes.

Wait, what?!

–With My Deepest Apologies to Rosemarie Urquico, Who Certainly Does Not Deserve This –

Pokky Mash

Now that Classics Mutilated is in print, Anna Tambour has posted a quite Tambourian look at “Pokky Man” at her blog, Medlar Comfits.  Anna was the first reader of the story, and a staunch champion who convinced me not to rewrite it into paste, but to leave some lumps in.  It is an honor to think she spent so much of her intense intelligence on this odd little story.  But Anna likes odd things.

PS: If you buy the Kindle edition of Classics Mutilated, you’ll get two extra stories that aren’t in the paperback.  But the bound volume is hefty and beautiful, and the illustrations by Mike Dubisch are fun in any event.

Why So Little Zothique?

Why has Clark Ashton Smith had so little influence on gaming?  Grognardia, to which I have recently become addicted, has some good thoughts on this.

(Interestingly enough, I took this photograph, along with some others of Smith’s sculptures that may be found on some CAS sites, while visiting the house of Smith’s old friend Bob Elder, in Auburn, California.  I shared my shots with Ron Hilger and some of the other keepers of Smith’s legacy.)

Death of a Duke

This is sad.  Duke Nukem is Dead.  I learned a lot from Duke 3D.  When I joined Valve to work on Half-Life, there were many discussions of how well Duke had done things.  There’s a seminal moment where Duke is about to be executed, and suddenly you (as Duke) discover that you can break free and bust out of the execution chamber and (you being Duke) go on a rampage.  It’s safe to say this particular scene had a big impact on what I thought was possible in a first-person shooter.  Although the interminable wait for Duke Nukem Forever was, well, interminable, and made a great target over the years, the fact is, many of us were eagerly waiting for it, and couldn’t wait to be blown away.  Knowing people who worked on it over the years, and hearing them hint at how great it could be (if it would only ship), I have no doubt that over the course of its development, Duke was probably several dozen sorts of minor masterpiece at one time or another.  We’ll miss ya, ya big lug.