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Enceladus
Oct 4th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The 2019 Interactive Fiction Competition is live!! Check out all the games in this year’s comp here at https://ifcomp.org.

The game I made is called Enceladus, you can download it through the IF Comp site here. The Windows version is included in the zip file, but you can get what you need to play it on Linux and a Mac by going here.

Enceladus is a science fiction game with jokes. On a small saucer-shaped spaceship, a werewolf has somehow boarded your ship. You play as an ensign, just an x-ray technician and attempt to navigate the crisis. If you have never played any of my games before, it’s a great jumping-on point.

Play the games in this year’s comp, write some reviews, let people know what you think about all the games. This year’s pool of authors are one of the nicest groups of people I’ve ever found myself a part of and any feedback created is going to inspire some great people. Enjoy!

The Comp
Sep 27th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Many, many years ago I was trying to get a job with any of the three computer game companies in Colorado. I interviewed with two of them and noticed how they used the term THE INDUSTRY to talk about the video game-making industry. I’ve seen that same thing as a casual observer to other fields like photography. It’s always been a “stop for a second” kind of phrasing to me, where people that speak that way are almost sounding to me like they are on the edge of a cult. But then I realized that I refer to the yearly Interactive Fiction Competition that way. THE COMP. It makes me happy to think of it that way, I’m okay with doing it too.

After a 15 year hiatus, I have entered a small game into this year’s comp. And I’m really excited and nervous about it, I feel like a kid again. I never meant to stop entering. I did a little better each time I entered a game and learned a lot each time. (Though I give mad credit to Mike Sousa for our collaboration on our last game together that we did in 2004.) I just got going on a Spring Competition game, so no fall comp that release for me… and then five years of development for what has become a commercial game, then a quick one for a Hugo Competition, and then the last seven years I’ve been doing the text game / RPG. I took a break from it for my entry for this year’s Comp. I took a break from that for a couple of months to do this.

The making-text-games scene has changed a great deal since 2004. I got a chance to meet the great majority of my Internet online text game eFriends in 2009 and it was awesome. And over the years I’ve had more chances to meet up when they have come to where I live, or when I have flown out to where they are. The community has been a real positive for me, I’m very lucky in that regard. There’s a dude somewhere out there really into frogs who went to a frog convention and wound up sitting in a room with 15 unwashed enthusiasts of Pepe. This has not been that for me.

I don’t mean to be cagey with the game I am submitting, that all comes out on October 1st and I’ll make an update here. It’s good to be back.

Everyone Has a Frobozz Story
Mar 11th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Frobozz died on Wednesday, January 23rd. It is the worst day of my life.

Frobozz was killed by a rescue dog that we had adopted. The rescue dog got downstairs. She wanted to get downstairs because that was where we kept the dry cat food and the wet cat food. She was food obsessed and I didn’t train that out of her, not yet. I had a camera pointed to the stairs so I could see if she was trying to get downstairs. I checked around 10:40AM on the 23rd and saw that the stuff I put in front of the stairs had been knocked away.¬† As soon as I saw what happened I drove home from work.

Reggie was sitting in a dry sink. He was OK. Two of our dogs were still downstairs in the arcade. Everything I had placed to block the stairs (some pots filled with dirt, two gates, some chairs) had been knocked down the stairs. Everything I had placed as a barrier was broken. Chunks of the pots lay scattered against the floor of the basement. Dirt had been tracked everywhere. I searched the normal spots that Frobozz had hid in since we moved into our home. He would hide behind the water heater, in the storage room, behind the furnace, on top of the Asteroids machine. He wasn’t at any of those places.

I saw that a stool had been knocked over and I looked into an arcade game of mine that didn’t have a back door. That is where I saw Frobozz’s body. He had wedged himself into the game. I don’t know what happened. He was too far in there for the rescue dog to have bit him and killed him. He was just frozen in place. The dog was covered in slashes and cuts – presumably she attacked him and Frobozz fought back and somehow in the process he died.

* * *

My ex-girlfriend Dayna brought Frobozz home as a four-week old barn kitten on a day in August of 2006. We had just moved into a house in Thornton, Colorado. She had brought two older female cats to the relationship before we got Frobozz. We had a lot of space in that house. I had never really had a pet that was my sole responsibility before. She had mentioned that she encountered litters of kittens all the time in her job for county invasive vegetation species enforcement. I remember just saying that I wanted a cat with a” preposterously large head in proportion to his body.” She brought this fuzzy, nigh-feral kitten home and he definitely had a head that was way too big for the rest of his body.

The name “Frobozz” is from the text adventure computer game Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz – Frobozz itself is a province in the game where you attempt to get treasure, solve puzzles, outsmart a wizard and type curse words into the prompt. Frobozz (I’m back to my cat now) as a 4 week kitten had these shocks of hair just jumping off him. He looked that he had just been struck by lightning and as a way to chop up the rest of his day, decided to go toaster bathing. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at cats on the Internet in my day … and your day … and I have never seen any cat go from bizarrely-sketched oddball to a shining example of the perfect feline form like he did. Of course I loved him from the moment I saw him, but I became a little proud in how he prospered and bloomed.

We would wrestle all the time as I took the role of father, mother and sibling for him. I would go to work with long scratches over my arms in order to give him someone to rough house with. He never attacked anyone or anything for any length of time out of malice, it was just the way we played together, the two of us. We played less as he got older as he was more content to sit and nap and observe. I moved out of Thornton, got married to my wife Melissa and we brought all our pets together. My wife spent so much time with Frobozz, he had two people in his life that cared for him terribly.

In telling people what happened, I’ve learned that Frobozz (of course) didn’t cease to exist when people were over and when people spent the night at our place. Everybody has a Frobozz story. Guests at my place(s) tend to wake up before I do a lot of the time. I learned that Frobozz would be the cool companion hanging out while my friends played arcade games. (While Frobozz usually would sleep on the bed with me, he is the only cat I knew that would wake up earlier than myself but not also wake me up.) He liked being around people and I don’t get the sense that he was annoying about demanding attention from them. He just liked watching, liked hanging out. He liked being chill.

He would make a trilling sound when he was about to jump towards me and an “Eh!” sound when he was asleep and someone (the someone usually being me) would pick him up. He was probably taken from his mother cat too early, although there wasn’t any protection from some hawk getting him where he came from. He imprinted on me. We imprinted on each other. Looking back at the years we had together, Jesus, we spent an enormous amount of time just staring at each other as morons together. He would jump onto my lap wherever I was sitting. I would stop what I was doing and we would just look at each other, happy in that.

He was an indoor cat, but occasionally I would think to let him outside so he could experience the outdoors. There was a small storage shed across from the fence at my old house. One day when I had let Frobozz out for a second to get some sunshine, he got away from me. He scaled the fence and hopped over to the barn’s roof… and had no idea how to get down. He cried for help! I was able to knock on the neighbor’s door and get a ladder and get him down. He wasn’t great with being held by most other people for the first few years of his life. When I had him neutered, he was kept in a series of cat cages until he woke up. I had to go back there to get him out because he was back there, squashed as far back as he could go, hissing at the vets that were trying to get him. He came right out when he saw me and we went home. He had been the constant companion in my life for so many years. I had a long period of time when I was single before I met my wife and for the most part it was me living with Frobozz, Boggit and Reggie in a house that was big but not at all empty because I had those three happy¬† clowns to share it with.

* * *

He’s gone forever and it still hasn’t hit me. It hits me all the time, but it hasn’t fully hit me, if that makes any sense. There was a mix up when it came to getting his ashes. I took him to the crematorium the day he died while my wife took the rescue dog back to the rescue. Someone was ahead of me in line at the crematorium trying to negotiate some multi-animal plan or discount or something. I went to one of the rooms they had there with Frobozz’s body. I had wrapped him in blankets and we just sat there waiting. I’m glad I had that time now. He was as long as a cat should be, he weighed what a cat should weigh. In the end wrapped up tight and had to leave him and drove home.

I got a call a couple days later. His ashes were ready for me to pick up. There was a mistake though and it’s funny to me just how little you parse in grief. The weight of the ashes was wrong, it was too low. The wrong name was written on the container. None of this registered with me. I got a call a few days later from the crematorium. They had given the wrong ashes to me. I drove back and made the exchange and all is right now.

* * *

What really hurts the most right now is that I failed him. I utterly and totally failed him. Maybe if you are stacking obstacles in front of the downstairs to stop a new dog to where you are spontaneously generating a new Q*bert level before heading to work, you should consider your housing situation and adjust. I told this four-week old kitten that I would protect him and raise him and ensure he had a good life. Every time someone stayed at our place I would have to explain or have my wife explain the rules about closing the outside doors. He could get hurt outside. We’ve been in endless construction since we moved into our place and contractors, without exception, do not fucking shut doors. So I would have to make sure that he and his brothers and sisters were locked in a room with what they needed so they wouldn’t get outside, get lost, get hurt. I was a paranoid lunatic about all of that because Frobozz needed a paranoid lunatic to stick up for him. He was friendly, sociable and handsome. He was happy to see people and ever curious. He was always kind to his brothers and got along effortless with girl cats. He was all the things that I can’t be but admire in others and I couldn’t imagine raising a creature of any species that would have turned out better than he did.

Each day I get up and feel either grief or rage. It’s usually one or the other. I think of him fighting for his life in an arcade game and how I was too late to save the day. I think of all the wishes I had, I wish that I had worked from home that day or called it on the rescue dog or found a better way to buy time. I didn’t and it haunts me. There is a loss I cannot comprehend because he was the first and only creature that has ever walked the earth that was 100% truly dependent on me from start to finish and I failed him.

He died weeks ago and I do still see him out of the corner of my eye. My brain is tricked into thinking he is just around the corner and then he is not. He was truly the greatest guy there has ever been and if you spent any time in real life with me you liked him too. I hope you know, buddy, that I am so, so sorry.

I love you, Frobozz.


Frobozz, my baby

Frobozz, 2006-2013

Cryptozookeeper IndieGala bundle
Jan 13th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

If you’d like to pick up Cryptozookeeper for Steam for a low price, you can get it through this IndieGala bundle for 12 more hours. Thanks for reading:

https://www.indiegala.com/monday-motivation-65

Cryptozookeeper is on Steam
Jul 16th, 2018 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Cryptozookeeper, my 2011 graphical text adventure, is now available on Steam. The Windows version is up now, the Mac and Linux versions will be there as soon as I figure out how to use Valve’s interface to get different versions up. Enjoy!

Memories for Things
May 28th, 2018 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Boggit died a year ago today. In that time I’ve had a great deal of life events – the girl cats, of course passed away after he did. The summer was a total … I dunno. I wish there was some word to describe how terrible it is when three of your feline friends die that was a pun that started with the word “cat” or something. But I also got married, helped get more good code delivered than ever before for work, added tens of thousands of lines of code to the next game I’m making and tried to learn something about photography. I have a picture of him in my wallet, I’ve told the story of how he died about a million times to a million people and my wife had our wedding cake decorated with our pets all around the edge. Boggit had a halo and when I saw it, well, who knew? I actually did cry at my own wedding.

I check the local cat rescue sites to see if there’s any like him, a male tuxedo cat that is also a domestic longhair. I have only ever picked out longhair cats, they are cats on the highest difficulty in terms of being presentable in public. I’m sure someone better at searching could find one two blocks from my home but I haven’t found one like him yet. Not that I am going to get another cat – we still have two dogs and two cats and that number really is the maximum, as far as ensuring that everyone gets attention – but it makes me happy to think of just how unique he was physically. I’m objectifying the hell out of you buddy, you are just that special.

I “saw” him in the corners of my eye for at least six weeks after he died. He visited in dreams for a while afterwards. I will say that as of about three months ago something changed and I don’t feel a wave of anger as soon as I remember any more. I do think about him but it’s slowly transitioning into me not being sad that he left but happy that he was here. He is the standard that I hold all other animals up to, if not life forms in general, and I think that’s just fine. There’s a picture of him in my wallet and I can print out as many as necessary when that picture gets beat up. I like that I see him for a second as I grab my ID behind his photograph before I buy a drink. That makes me happy.

I’ve taken thousands of pictures of the other cats and dogs. They will be well-documented. I think that as a less angry person I can talk about other things on this blog now. I think it will be okay.

We Are All Who Remain
Jul 30th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My cat died four months ago today. I was going to write this a month after Boggit died, but before I could, Willow died.

I was going to write this a month after Willow died, but before I could, Noelani died.

We didn’t grow up with a lot of death in our family and I am experiencing now what millions of others have. I should have taken Boggit in at two weeks and not assumed that him bouncing back with strength was just good health and not the steroids. Maybe I could have switched treatments. I would have drained my saving to put him on chemo now, easily.

But yes, I hadn’t finished grieving the premature death of my tuxedo kitty before Willow and Noelani died.

This has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me. They were beautiful. I think, aside from all the anger, the worst part is that my wife and I became “good” at our pets dying. What I mean by that is when Willow died and my wife handed her body to the vet, she didn’t support her head and it rolled backwards. When Noelani died, I made sure to cradle her head as I gave her to the vet because we’d had so much experience at this by now.

I’m going to post some photos now.


Willow


Noelani


Boggit

My Sweet, Sweet Boy
May 29th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

We had carne asada a couple weeks ago. The medications were working great. Boggit was bouncing around on all the levels of our house, watching the world perched on a blue plastic bin that we left upstairs for him. He was rolling around the garden when we adventured outside. I, a man that has been shunned by normal, polite society when it comes to cooking for humans, drafted a culinary tour-de-force for my little buddy, especially as his appetite returned.

The Creamery is a Denver institution and they make an amazing carne asada. “It’s for my cat,” I said, as I paid.

“Mmmm-hmmm,” they said in reply.

I went into a 7/11 to get him a big bag of Temptations cat treats. “It’s for my cat,” I said as I paid.

“Mmmm-hmmm,” they said in reply.

The nearby Safeway has this open bin that you can grab chicken wings from that I have mostly stopped participating in, due to the fact that Mel convinced me that it might be a tad “germy” and the fact that I am trying to eat better. I got some for him. “It’s for my cat,” I said, as I paid.

“Unexpected item in bagging area,” they said in reply.

Boggit loved it all. He gobbled up the food and put on weight! He went from 8.8 pounds when first diagnosed to 10.2 pounds. We tasted a lot of great foods. He got “Instinct” wet cat food for each meal, which some say is one of the best wet cat foods ever made. (#1 on Meowster Breakfast.com) He got to try Robb’s Famous Sockeye Salmon and Robb’s Famous Adjectiveless Curry and we had our little thing going. He sat right next to me or on me as I programmed at night. This is how well he was doing for the last month: we went from having him sleep upstairs in the bed to not having him sleep upstairs in the bed because he was so outwardly healthy that he was rambunctious. I was told that some cats don’t respond to chlorambucil and prednisone, many do respond and can prosper for a while, and some do great and live a long time. I just made the natural assumption that he was in one of the two latter groups.

He started getting sick again a few days ago.

Bad health came quickly. Cats, I have learned, will try to isolate themselves if they feel they are dying. He started trying to hide again. (We found him in the washing machine one day.) He stopped eating and was just vomiting yellow bile, which is just their stomach acid when empty. He stopped drinking water. I made an appointment with the vet for today. He got so weak. For these last two days he was pretty much bolted to me until we could get that vet visit. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home Friday afternoon and we got that extra time together. He had his moments where his tail wagged, though his breath was starting to go bad. I didn’t know what that meant at first. I don’t think he actually fell asleep over the last few days. He tried to get off the bed in the middle of the night just be near the water. Mel saw him try to get down and said he just dropped. She brought a couple cushions and slept with him on the floor till this morning.

The vet said that although he perked up, the lymphoma was still spreading and had shut down one of his kidneys. (One of the side effects of that is bad breath.) He was not doing well. He couldn’t really walk – he would put his tiny paws out and they could barely support his weight. The vet said that it could be hours, it could be weeks, but he didn’t recommend we try to extend this any longer.

We came home from the vet and he just couldn’t stand upright. He was having seizures throughout his thighs and legs and chest. I called a euthanasia company so that they could put him to sleep with us here, near the garden, next to Mel and me. They said they could be at our house at 1:00PM.

Mel and I held him, held our sweet little boy until then. He was getting worse by the hour and although we gave him a narcotic, I wanted the seizures and the pain and everything else to stop.

There is a thing I want to tell you, however. Because while I am not sure if I believe that there could really be an Afterlife, I am fully converted about the concept of the Rainbow Bridge.

Right as the euthanasia worker arrived, Boggit took four difficult breaths. He was already snuggled against my chest for the last half hour, but I held him even closer. He died hugging me, with me holding him tight, being told how much I loved him and how good a boy he was.

And, I mean… I have been a wreck on and off for the last month, but the one thing my little guy could have given me to maybe think that there is going to be a Sun again in the world is in passing away when he did and saving us the euthanasia fee. That is a sweet and thoughtful cat right there, everybody. I used to think that I dreaded strangers coming to the house, but I think Boggit sets the new high score there. He gave me the slightest bit of farce in the way that he could. He died in a loving household, being told about thirteen thousand times that his daddy and mommy loved him. We got to spoil him extra-hard for the last six weeks and I choose to believe that he knows how much he was truly loved in life.

I love you, buddy. I miss you so much. You will always be my sweet, sweet Boggit.

The Pinnacle Specimen of Feline-inity
May 10th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Every twelve hours.

Boggit takes prednisone every twelve hours and chlorambucil every 24. Prednisone is a steroid and he’s had enough of it at this point that even Bud Selig would have had to do something. The thing is that before this, I hadn’t kept up with anything on any sort of regularity or discipline. OK, I can with my job but other than that a perfect life for me is a day with no firm plans.

It’s been a couple weeks and I haven’t missed one application yet. I’ve stuck at this without fail longer than I did most college classes. The place we get the drugs from is called Diamondback Drugs of Delaware, which — I will give them credit for this — was certainly catchy enough that I was able to memorize it. As it turns out, you cannot actually get drugs for a snake with them, only catties and doggies and blobpets. I can’t have anyone else give him medicine because if we mess up and he gets double doses that won’t be good for him. So I do it and it’s fine. It’s like that episode of Battlestar Galactica called “33” except that nobody is making the decision at any point to zilch out 1,200 cats because they spent three mystery hours with lymphoma cells.

Boggit is doing well. I have a sliding scale that measures good days versus bad days. If he is having a good day then he is a holy hell terror when I am trying to sleep. His favorite activities include jumping from person to person, jumping to person to person, talking from midnight to 4AM literally more than anyone else in the house that day and being adorable. When he’s having a bad day he just curls up in a small ball. That does have the side effect of me feeling well-rested, but I’d rather the former. Look, my understanding of what parenting is comes the well-acted and wholly touching concern that Nicholas Cage showed regarding John Travolta’s face at the end of Face/Off. But right now we’re getting more good days than bad days. I don’t know how many of either we’re going to get, but this picture is a couple days after he first started getting medicine and right now I have more time with this perfect goddamn cat.



And If This World Runs Out of Lovers
Apr 25th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Pets at the pound have the worst names. My friend once got a mutt whose name original name was “Sarge.” “Sarge” (renamed Caffrey after adoption) is the most docile dog I’ve ever known. If he ever was the Sergeant for a group of soldiers, then I don’t think Dog Nation is winning that war. The thing is, nobody can say anything to people who drop animals off at the shelter, especially if they are no-kill shelter, because doing that is a kindness. But I think Boggit would appreciate it if we dropped the politeness going forward here. No, just kidding, he loves everyone.

Boggit’s original name was “Boppity.” He came to the shelter with two siblings, “Bippity” and “Boo.” I couldn’t remember the name Boppity, not that he was going to keep that anyway, so I called him Boggit after a character from the text adventure Knight Orc. “Fungus the Boggit-man” is a villain in the game where everyone is a villain. My boy is too nice, he couldn’t get a paw in that game. He could not get a single extended nail in the area between the floor and the bottom edge of the door in that game. He’s just too good, which is why I like that name.

The vet called yesterday. Confirmed: Boggit has lymphoma. OK. We figured as much. I was hoping someone left out a can of extra-white blood cells and he ate it, but no. This is bad but there are options. Well, choices.

You can put cats on chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The cost is anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 depending on your sources and age of the Geocities page it was originally presented on. Here’s the thing, if there was a cure I’d roll up my sleeves and get to work. Get a second job, put money away each week, charge it, sell some stuff. Christ, there’s enough tchotchkes to sell around here to fund the discovery of the actual cure. But no, no cure exists. If it were just money, if I just had to sacrifice or whatever, we’d be doing this.

There is not a cure.

And in fact, from what I understand, while radiation can put the cancer in remission it means that the cat doesn’t have a great life for the five months of treatment. I want my buddy to have a great life for as long as possible. I decided to go with the other treatment option, which is a couple of liquid pills. Cats respond to this option in three ways: those that show no improvement, those that will live for another year and then a group that does great, longer than a year. I’m just hoping that Boggit is in that second group and anything else is a bonus.

On Sunday, Boggit and I went out into the garden. I never let him go outside that much before because I wanted him to be a healthy indoor cat. Well, at this point unless a hawk swoops down and flies off with him, I think that ship has sailed.

He seemed a bit overwhelmed at first. The newness of the environment has him hopping from location to location, digging his claws into the earth, meowing at me in solidarity. While he curls up into a basket we made for him for most of the day when we’re at work, it’s great to see him run around in the garden when outside. He knows not to go under the deck and frankly, while I’m out there, I can use the sunlight myself. At the end of our last time out, he hopped onto a chair and took a quick nap.

We are supposed to get some drugs to hopefully get him that extra year. We are putting the order in today. There is a bit out of my control here. The vet is calling the drug company to get the initial order. They are making them liquid and we got to pick the flavor. After confirming that they did not offer the taste sensations of pizza, saag paneer or Ice Cream Cones cereal, we went with chicken. The vet said that the idea is you get a month’s supply at first and see how the cat does before ordering a ton of it. OK, but if they ARE chicken-flavored and Boggit doesn’t like them then, hell, I’ll take them. (Cats don’t lose their hair during lymphoma treatment, so while I can’t shave mine for solidarity, I can just down the chicken medicine with him if there’s extra.) There’s a lot to go wrong here because the USPS has not been delivering our packages for two years. I finally – and this is after two years of trying – got a hold of a guy at the post office that is supposed to run things. I mean, who knows, maybe he’s not the end boss but just another clown to defeat to get to the end of the level. I am going to try very, very hard to not yell at this person to make sure we get our fucking packages now because this isn’t a box that contains some dice with extra THAC0s or a bust of Sinestro that I ordered though Amazon, this is medicine, so no more fucking around. My dad would scream at someone if I were the one who was sick. He’d revel in it. Sometimes you just want to scream.

One more thing. There is a difference when it’s a cat that has cancer instead of a person, of course. Well, there’s probably a hundred but this is my first time going through this with anybody. You don’t … you don’t have to appear outwardly strong around the cat. When I break down thinking about what life is inevitably going to be like without him, he cocks his head up, stands on my lap and licks my tears. I hope he forgives me for tasting like a chicken through all this.

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