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Forever Suspended
Apr 1st, 2015 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My friend Jason recently tweeted that Mike Berlyn is fighting cancer and just had a stroke. He encouraged us to say thanks. I’d like to say thanks.

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The Last Game Left
Apr 20th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

“There’s going to be a point,” I thought, sniveling in a glass of Gatorade and white chaw, “where the rate that good things get made exceeds my ability to enjoy them.”

I thought it would be years from now, in a terrible, dark dystopia when people were forced to drink Gatorade. It happened on April 11th, 2012.

***

I was surprised by a gift from my girlfriend at the beginning of the month: scuba diving! Everything I know about scuba diving can be neatly summarized from the box to this Infocom game:

The following things, therefore, quite clearly happen in scuba diving:

1) Someone cuts your air line
2) Someone sinister comes up from behind you and cuts your air line (I know this shares a lot of the same qualities as #1, but I feel this can’t quite be overstressed)
3) There’s panicking
4) Look at that gentle blue and serene ocean! Quite beautiful, that

Implicit in the box artwork to eyes most deft is the fact that someone, both the “stunt throat” as they say in the biz, and the men who would cut it, can swim. I couldn’t swim. Couldn’t swim! And had scuba lessons in a week. To put a nice bow on all this, I’d probably rather get my throat cut in a two-star text adventure than disappoint my girl, so a week’s worth of swimming lessons were to begin. Which meant I’d miss a whole lot of freshly-released games.

***

First up was Lone Survivor. It is, as far as I can tell, a horror-themed side-scrolling graphical adventure. Rock Paper Shotgun did an article on it, and I purchased it after I had read the article, but before I had descended into the typically abhorrent RPS comments.

I would love to play and solve this game.

Next up was Wasteland — the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter became funded to the tune of two million (and later three million) dollars. I played Wasteland in the 90s, well after its initial release, but I wanted to solve it. I wanted to make sure I would get every reference that might be in Wasteland 2.

It wasn’t made by an 11-year old girl or anything, but I would love to play and complete this classic game.

I was sent Blur, the racing game that reminds me of Road Rash, except that it existed in the 2000s and didn’t suck pole. I’ve tried to not mentally refer to it as “Shut up, Blur.”

I would love to play Blur long enough until I got the Subaru WRX that I assume is in there.

Legend of Grimrock was released. Naval War: Arctic Circle. The contents of the new Humble Bundle. You know, I wouldn’t be totally against trying frigging Cutthroats, too, by the way, number of stars be damned. There’s A Colder Light, Muggle Studies and this year’s crop of Spring Things. It’s not a computer game, but the new BBC show “Sherlock”? I don’t want to say it’s brilliant, but I would say that I like it quite a bit and each episode is an hour and a half. It’s the sort of programme you have to pay attention to. All that, and I’m working on a new text game, I’m testing a friend’s text game and I also enjoyed swimming so much that I joined a gym.

I wish I had time for this (waves hands) ALL of this.

***

There’s one game left. It’s the only game that I have been able to play, because it’s the only game I have time for. It goes like this:

Remember bulletin boards? It was even more primitive tech than games that gave you cyan and magenta color schemes. There are quite a few aspects of bulletin boards that I miss, but one in particular was the whispered asynchronous communication: I called the telephone of someone in Rochester that I didn’t know… I accessed his or her phone line, the modem, the computer, and read messages. I scoured the file bases hoping that someone accidentally uploaded warez. I might have even hoped that they would read my posts and call my BBS.

And the only thing I seem to have time for is to do the same over Twitter. I logon to my @Cryptozookeeper account, where I follow everyone back. I try to find people who are also trying to make their fortune on Twitter by posting fun timelines and following others who haven’t taken off in meteoric fame yet either. Most of the time nothing happens, but sometimes… ah, sometimes two people do make that asynchronous connection and follow each other. When this happens, I consider that we both “won” this little, horrible, stupid game and gained a point. Or level? OK, a point. I know it’s not a great game. It’s not a good game, in fact, it’s a terrible game! But at the moment, it’s the only one I have the time to play.

The IF Theory Reader
Mar 7th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I’m trying to backfill a little bit, having been away from a computer for much of last week, trying to help orchestrate the revival of the Old Man Murray Wikipedia page from a cruddy mobile phone. One such event that happened to me was the release of the IF Theory Reader.

Edited by Kevin Jackson-Mead and J. Robinson Wheeler, the IF Theory book contains over 400 pages of articles on the art and theory of making games in text. I wrote a piece on NPC (Non-Player Character) Dialogue. Here’s how my piece starts:

The very first time I recall being completely smitten by NPC dialogue, I was a kid playing “Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All The Girls.” The game depicted a group of role-playing college students engaged in a round of ‘Malls n’ Muggers.’ I had plenty of things I could do in the game at that point – classes to attend, spells to find, co-eds to maybe seduce once my parents had gone to bed and it wouldn’t be quite so weird – but I had my player character stay put in the dorm and just listen to this group of NPCs play a game with each other.

I wrote whoever I could find on my phone when the news dropped earlier this week, but I already received a comment, which I’ll post here, because the comment was in a private e-mail, and 2011 is all about transparency. In between rounds of driving my dear friends away from my bulletin board, Benjamin “Pinback” Parrish had this to say about non-player characters:

The best NPCs I ever saw were in Infocom’s “Cutthroats”. Not because they had great dialogue, but because they would talk to you, and then tell you to meet them somewhere at a certain time, and then leave, and then go do other things, and then meet you on time, but not a minute before. At that point, I’ll listen to what they have to say.

I have never played “Cutthroats,” never even started it. I have a boxed copy I bought from eBay years ago on a stand downstairs with some other games. I dated a girl who was a cutter many years ago, playing that game together probably would have saved the relationship. That and a spork.

Er, anyway, you can check the entire IF Theory Reader out as a PDF here, or buy a printed hardcopy.

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