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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

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Atari 800 Flashcart – Part One
Jan 14th, 2015 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Recently I bought an Atari 800 flashcart. It’s pretty good, but not perfect. Every Atari 800 game in the world comes in the .ATR format, and the flashcart isn’t great at using that format – it prefers .exe or .xex. Which sucks, because NOT every Atari 800 game in the world uses that format. It can also fit 800 KB of stuff. I know the developer is working on a larger cart, and I’ll get that when it is available.

(The alternative to the flashcart is to use a SIO2PC cable that goes from your computer to your 800. And that works pretty well, and it’s OK with .ATR files – it’s just that you are tethered.)

Anyway, how do some of the Atari 800 games hold up? Let’s find out.

DONKEY KONG

Inspired by the fact that The King of Kong has been re-uploaded to Usenet, I picked this one out and started playing it. All four levels are represented! There’s some animation missing, like the upskirt shot of Pauline as DK drags her up another level to the building, but nothing important seems to be cut. Or everything important is cut, depending on how you roll. Much easier than the arcade, in so much as I can actually make it to the top of the first board with some regularity, instead of never on the real thing. (The nearby arcade even has it on “easy” mode and gives you five lives, which is extra-humiliating!)

You can select various difficulty options, but there is no way to tell which is which because instead of “1”, “2”, “3”, “4” and “5” they are “hammer,” “firefox,” “spring”, “barrel” and “pile of cement.”

It’s an easier game, but fuck this is fun. The molasses-encased like myself can now enjoy Donkey Kong. My goal in this project is to determine which Atari 800 games still hold up today. These aren’t in-depth reviews, in fact, some of this stuff won’t even load. Donkey Kong, however, is worthy of being on many “What’s your favorite 8-bit game?” list.

Donkey Kong: HOLDS UP NICELY!


SHAMUS

I personally believe that Shamus is one of the Top 100 games ever made, and the Atari version is actually superior to the one I grew up playing on the PCjr, due to the fact that it’s able to display more than four colors on the screen at the same time. Shamus looks great. He moves a little sluggishly when someone is going in the same direction as he is, but that won’t be for very long because everything dies nicely and quickly in this game, due to the fact that you keep throwing stilettos at them.

Apparently, Shamus is a private investigator, as the name of the sequel is “Shamus: Case II.” He also has a little fedora (well, maybe it’s a top hat: not enough pixels to really tell) and I think “shamus” means “drunken, Irish private eye.” This game is better than Berzerk in two ways:

1) It feels like you are making progress in Shamus.

2) “You can teach a monkey how to play a certain number of rooms but you cannot teach a man how to play Berzerk.”

There’s a few different skills levels to pick from and a running score so you can track your own progress.

Shamus: HOLDS UP NICELY!


CENTIPEDE

That’s Boggit, he hates buggies. I thought I would hate this game as well due to the fact that you control it with the joystick and due to the necessary changes from the arcade version’s vertical monitor to the horizontal TV. But it really is quick to respond. The extra horizontal room is nice and offers more chance to shoot down the centipede. The graphics are colorful and crisp. Centipede is the game that everyone used to point to and use as the one that women liked more than men. My theory to this is not because there are pastel colors in the game, but because of the spider. Allow me to explain. Wait! Come back!

You get 900 points if the spider is right on top of you when you kill it. You get 600 points if it’s a little farther away and if you’re some kind of baby you get 300. The game dispenses an afghan and booties out of the coin return if you’re continually trying to get 300 points from the spider. The spider can never retrace his steps. It can’t go backwards: if it enters on the left side of the screen, it can move up and down and right, but never to the left. If he enters from the right, he can’t go to the right. It’s the easiest thing in the game to avoid, so long as it does not kamikaze itself right at you before you can respond. But there is something ingrained in the male brain that will cause guys to pick a fight with an enemy that can no longer affect them, whereas a woman is more likely to have matured to the point to where they won’t make it personal with a goddamn video game spider.

I don’t have an 800 “trakball” so I don’t know how it is on that. Probably better, but there’s no negatives to this version being played on the joystick.

CENTIPEDE: HOLDS UP NICELY!


POGO JOE

What is this awfulness? I remember reading through computer game magazines and being jealous of the fact that Atari and C64 owners could play this, which had to be an awesome game, and I just had access to shitty version of Q*bert, including but not limited to the 2600 version (horrible) the Intellivision version (less horrible) and the version that came on a digital watch (surprisingly better than the 2600 version). This game is stupid. I don’t like Pogo Joe.

For starters, he looks like there is something wrong with him, like he’s been squashed in an industrial lathe accident, or somehow part of the Doug Flutie family tree. Going to cylinders instead of cubes was stupid. You have to press the button to do a “super jump” onto and off of the really high areas, and you can jump on most of the monsters I encountered, which limits the challenge. The monsters are all a single color and while you can tell that one is supposed to be a dragon and one a featureless blob, they look like rejects from Atari Football.

This game isn’t any good today, so if this was somebody’s huge favorite in 1983 I’m not saying you have no taste or that you’re dumb or anything. Pogo Joe now has competition against the MAME version of Q*bert and it does not hold up.

POGO JOE: DOES NOT HOLD UP!

 

 

The Great Kickstarter Scam
Dec 27th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Jason Scott blogged about the inevitable changes of Kickstarter here. I found one passage particularly fascinating:

I am positive, as much as I am willing to be, that someone somewhere has rented an office and begun the careful, involved process of building a backstory and a history for their non-existent endeavor. This endeavor will come at you with the warm, smiling pitch of the talented grifter, with an answer for everything and a dream that’s just this side of crazy and therefore that side of compelling. They’ll have domains, a website, a phone number. They’ll give you a feeling of being at the start of something great. And you are. You most certainly are.

This got me thinking. What form would The Big One take?

The Big One, in this case, is the Kickstarter project that generates more than a couple million dollars with the owner immediately retiring on a tropical island. Money matters. This project, the “Videogame History Museum” helped a couple guys move their arcade cabinets across the country and hasn’t done anything else since it was successfully funded on September 1st, 2011, but it was only funded for $50,000. Diaspora* is an old fan favorite of a failed Kickstarter project (coupled with the audacity of their request for more money via e-mail a few months ago) but that was just for $200,000.

Looking at the projects that were so enthusiastically funded, the first two that come to mind are the Double Fine Adventure and Ouya video game console. In my opinion, why they really took off is what will make The Big One successful: they tapped into the righteous fury that nerds feel when something was taken from them.

(And I do feel that it will be a general set of nerds, dorks, geeks and spittles that fund the killer scam in a couple years. I mean, you are probably aware what web comic geeks will fund just on their own. It won’t be sports fans: without an official license from the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA you aren’t getting far. Though I suppose there could be a Kickstarter project to do something with the Stanley Cup after hockey ceases to exist forever in two weeks.)

Did the Double Fine Adventure take off because people loved Tim Schafer’s games that much? I remember hearing for years how disappointing the sales were for Psychonauts and Brütal Legend. (Though Schafer has claimed that Brütal Legend has sold more than a million copies.) I think why the Double Fine Adventure campaign did so well was because people were sick that they couldn’t buy adventure games anymore. That was a perfectly fine genre that entertained people, but got marginalized due to the fact that you couldn’t make a five-million copy seller. I don’t believe it was because people were sick of the games or because there was suddenly something intrinsically wrong with pointing and clicking to advance a story and solve puzzles.

Ouya is another example, and I feel that it was a reaction to the locked-down systems of Windows 8, the 360, the Wii, the Playstation 3 and the iOS app store. Video game enthusiasts tolerate these models, but were clearly ready to support something open. To the tune of over $8 million in Kickstarter funding. The millions that the Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2 and Ouya generated has to have opened some eyes. Some fradulent eyes. Hell, on those occasions where I have described Kickstarter to someone, their first question is, “Why doesn’t someone make a fake one and run off with the money?”

So the idea is to protect ourselves, and to do that, well, personally I’m no longer supporting new versions of games I liked on the Atari 8-bit computer. Ha! Ha ha ha!

Ha ha ha hahaaha!

No. I Paypalled $100 to jumpman-jr-returns@kickstarter.com and that doesn’t even exist yet. No, instead I am going to try to predict what I think the scam to end all scams will be:

1) Firefly. Well, it’d have to be that, wouldn’t it? A show that Kickstarter’s target audience enjoyed that was stolen waaaaay too early by those damnable suits at Fox. Sssss! How they snake and slither! The problem in bringing this show back in order to take $10 million to the Cayman Islands is that you’d need to get the rights, which you can’t, and then the actors and actresses, which you won’t. So this won’t happen, though it is the web at its most vulnerable. At its softest underbelly.

2) The 3D Printed Assault Rifle. While typing this blog post, I’ve had to shut my window twice to drown out the sounds of gunfire from the spree shootings going on, and nobody lives in my town. The pasty dickhead’s nightmare of the government coming for your guns will pretty much happen in the next four months, because after shooting up kids someone will top it by shooting up the players during the fifth inning of a Yankees game, then a bunch of babies. At that point somebody WILL be coming door to door, individually, for your guns. It will be like the beginning to Inglorious Basterds, except that instead of cutting away to people living in-between the boards, Uzis will be in closets going like this: o_0;;;;;;;;;. Oh, and per household, the Basterds version will involve fewer guns. At that point a 3D Printed rifle project will be launched. (Though I assume Kickstarter themselves would not give the “go-ahead” for a 3D weapon, it’s the sort of thing I could see on IndieGogo, the “Gobots” of crowd-funding.)

3) A motorcycle-like piece of transportation. An open source motorcycle-like machine, delivered to your place, for a few thousand bucks that you could then totally mod? And give the finger to Big Oil at the same time? I mean, you played Rocket Jockey, you know how much fun it would be to have one of these.

4) Rocket Jockey 2. Whoops, that’s me and only me giving my life savings toward it. Don’t do this one at me.

5) Something Involving Movies. By this I mean that film is the one thing, beyond video games and music, that nerds feel they had taken from them, though in this case, they never really had it to begin with. I do know that running those anti-piracy ads at the start of theater movies has brought people to a slow boil. I could see a charismatic individual setting something up to fund indie filmmakers, distribute their stuff on-line and otherwise shape it so that the greedy pits running Hollywood (just “Hollywood”) don’t get a cut. I think this is where we are weakest and would most want a big change, one that results in some guy sitting on a mountain of money that forms his own private island.

Anyway, if you use any of these ideas, tell them you don’t know me.

Roody Yogurt’s Midwest Gaming Classic Thoughts
Oct 7th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

I intend to use this thread to chronicle the cool things I see at the Midwest Gaming Classic each year. Here are my thoughts on this year:

For some ten years, the Milwaukee area has been lucky enough to have its own gaming convention, the Midwest Gaming Classic. Now, I haven’t made it ever year- or even fully half of the years, I’m pretty sure- but I’ve always been impressed with the things they’ve done with it. In the early days, they had a strong Dreamcast homebrew presence (when I thought Dreamcast was going to be *the* homebrew console, considering the ease of playing games off of burned CDs) and, in general, welcomed a wide range of interest (the MGC was the *first* place I met Howard Sherman in person). Inviting pinball enthusiasts into the mix was also a good idea, as the increase in machines and bodies brought a quick respectability.

One year, I had a nice photo taken with Billy Mitchell. Last year, I was lucky enough to hear a great talk by Eugene Jarvis and share a story with Scott Adams (who, um, also gave a talk).

They don’t really do the best job of updating the web site with planned speakers until literally a couple before the show. I imagine this is because the speaker line-up is a fluid, fickle thing. In an case, I had no idea what to be expect. I kind of hoped that the speaker line-up would be exactly the same. That ended up not being the case, but there still were things that impressed me.

No Jarvis this year, but the arcade world was well-represented by Walter Day. He gave a talk announcing his newish line of videogame trading cards. The interesting thing is that the cards are not limited to arcade game record-holders, as one might expect from him. He also wants to make cards of influential designers (he specifically mentioned how he’d like to give Tim Schaefer a card), console game champions, and just people who have contributed to videogame culture in general (the talk also doubled as a card-awarding ceremony to the owner of Starworlds, an Illinois arcade, and the organizers of MGC).

Anyhow, I’m a sap, but the whole thing truly did seem less about making money as much as giving appreciation to those who rarely get it. I have to admit that I was touched by the whole thing.

Afterwards, we were invited to another room to pick up signed versions of the cards from the people they were honoring. Not really knowing what to say, I didn’t actually really want to talk to anyone, though, as nice as these people were, so I just tried to surreptitiously snag a couple cards and went on my way.

Unfortunately, other arcade/retro talks were by Skype, such as the ones by Ted Dabney and Scott Warshaw, but both fellows have gotten talking-by-Skype down pretty well and were generally entertaining.

Later that day, there was an open meeting by the International Game Developers Association Madison Chapter. At first, they were mentioning this event in Madison where people can show the games they’re working on, and I’m like, huh, maybe this group has some good opportunities. Of course, the talk at some point turned to Kickstarter, and the chapter president starts talking about how he didn’t contribute to the Doublefine Kickstarter like it was a point of pride and went on to brag about putting down $50 on Wasteland 2.

I guess dude used to work for Raven and remembered talking to some guys at Activision who complained about Doublefine being behind schedule on Brutal Legend (but he did go on to say that, yeah, he just didn’t like adventure games, either). He also bragged about working on Wolverine for the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. All I could think was this guy was such a company-man asshole. I bet he supported every jackassed thing that the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games do (they are pretty much the biggest example of doing the asshole thing where they stop selling DLC at some point just to screw over people who might *gasp* buy the game used or something).

Hey, I’m cool with people not liking adventure games, but I’m not cool with people being smug shits about it; you know dude will take that smug attitude towards text games or anything else his spineless soul can’t digest.

Okay, on to another cool thing- in one area, there was a setup by some high school programming class. They had designed this 4-sided (as in, controls on each side) cocktail cabinet thing and have been using their class to write 4-player multiplayer games. It is always (well, sometimes) nice to see kids doing cooler things in high school than I ever did.

Lastly, Scott Adams *did* give another talk this year. This time, he was even “beta-testing” a new game. I’m pretty sure I correctly identified Adams’ wife and daughter, too. Anyhow, what we played of the game was entertaining enough, but I do have to say that the kind of “correct commands” that Adams designs for are pretty crazy (for instance, there’s a wire you have to bend until it breaks. doing >BEND WIRE three times is not enough to break it. you have to do >BEND WIRE UNTIL IT BREAKS).

Adams said we could e-mail him and betatest the game FOR REALS (as our group session only played long enough to solve one puzzle). While I don’t expect a well-designed game, I was almost tempted, just because. Still, knowing that Adams is a 7th Day Adventist, I can’t help but remember this mysterious novel I got in the mail from an anonymous source years ago, basically the 7th Day Adventist book version of a Jack Chick tract. It tells the story of two families- one who mows the lawn on Sunday and one who mows the lawn on Saturday and how the latter dies horribly during the end of days but the former is saved. I threw the book out a long time ago, if anyone wanted it. Sorry.

I imagined I somehow got myself on someone’s radar, and in retrospect, I wonder if I had sent any e-mail to Adams back then and if it was possibly he who sent the book. Anyways, not wanting to receive anymore religious material in my mail, the chance was too great to risk.

Anyhow, in future years, I hope the convention has more attention on adventure games and RPGs and things, and I may even do my own IF booth at some point. We will see.

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 Pact
Dec 2nd, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

pinback: So, DOTA.
Ice Cream Jonsey: DOTA?
Ice Cream Jonsey: Day of the Tentacle?
Ice Cream Jonsey: Dark Age of Camelot?
pinback: “Defense of the Ancients”. The “Ancient” is the big thing that you lose the game if you do not “Defend” it.

pinback: I am watching a professional match and do not understand it.
pinback: Looks like a buncha fuckin’ nerds.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Who are these fucks?
pinback: Koreans, probably.

Ice Cream Jonsey: I heard that the best player in the world of DOTA, his girlfriend is Ms South Cleveland.

pinback: Apparently it’s a five-on-five team game, with each player controlling one “man” who can gain “levels” and “skills”.
pinback: It was the most popular WC3 mod, apparently, and now both Valve and Blizzard’s biggest upcoming releases are “DOTA 2”. They’re each making one.
pinback: It’s the biggest thing in gaming today.
pinback: Is what I hear.

Ice Cream Jonsey: I don’t like any games any more that are supposed to be “big.”
pinback: It’s BIG. Everyone’s playing it, Robb.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I don’t like Defense of the Ancients, League of Legends, Call of Duty or Gears of War.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I wish I could narrow down what those four games have in common.
pinback: I SENSE A THEME.

pinback: I don’t understand DOTA though. And these broadcasters might as well be speaking, I dunno… some sort of… what, alien language? Or something?
pinback: Man, I don’t get any of this.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I can help. I made a reference that only YOU would get in another place. Would you like to see it?
pinback: Yes.
Ice Cream Jonsey: http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=3787&start=40#p27486
Ice Cream Jonsey: You are the only person who will get the reference.

pinback: heeh eheh kekeke and the plagooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Ice Cream Jonsey: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Ice Cream Jonsey: Aw man. I wish customized jerseys were cheaper.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Because I would get a Saints #22 PLAGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
pinback: HAHahahahah
Ice Cream Jonsey: (Until they ran out of letters.)
Ice Cream Jonsey: I would hope that the Os would flip around to the front.

pinback: I always wanted to get a #79 Avs jersey with the name “PHO”.
pinback: THen I would go into Pho #79 and demand free soup.
Ice Cream Jonsey: (turns around, points thumbs at back of jersey) EHHHHH???

Ice Cream Jonsey: If either one of us ever makes more than $300,000 then that will be our pact. We get us both our customized jerseys.
pinback: PACT

The AL MVP Race
Sep 29th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I wrote this in the comments of Joe Posanki’s blog, but what the heck. Joe was talking about how the most valuable player race would go in the American League this season.

The MVP, in my opinion, is Jose Bautista, but let’s get in the minds of the voters. None of these guys are on steroids, but voting is going to come down to who is doing the most fake steroids. Therefore, to baseball writers:

4. Jacoby Ellsbury. There is not a shred of proof that he is on PEDs. But during their championship run, everyone else on the Sox were injecting themselves with any fluid they could find. So that means it’s the culture there, and Jacoby should pay for writers not seeing it earlier.
Odds Of Steroid Use: 1,000,000%, 4th place.

3. Jose Bautista: You just gotta at least ask the question! It was also proven by ESPN.com that a mysterious “man in white” was able to fire darts filled to bursting with steroids into Jose’s neck during play last year after certain pitches were released from the pitcher’s hands. Clearly on steroids, but most writers aren’t sure if they are legal in Canada or not, so he may get some slight benefit.
Odds of Steroid Use: 4,000%, 3rd place.

2. Curtis Granderson. They can’t punish A-Rod for his steroid use here, but what we saw with Bagwell being denied is that a different guy on the same team is good enough. (Bagwell the one being punished for Ken Caminiti.) Sorry, Curtis.
Odds of Steroid Use: 1,000%, 2nd Place

1. Justin Verlander. Nobody cares about steroid use on a team that lost 170 games in a season like the Tigers did a few years back. Could be punished for Miguel Cabrera’s behavior, but 1) Cabrera will be punished in this vote for Cabrera, and 2) Scotch? NOT A STEROID. 25 wins is a big middle finger to last year’s AL CY vote and, don’t ask the voters how, Moneyball as written by Billy Beane.
Odds of Steroids Use: 0%, 1st Place

SECRETS: Tommy John Surgery
Sep 22nd, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

On September 22nd, 2011, I decided it was time for the Internet to know my secrets. Told only to my Internet Comedy Partner, Pinback, the time is now right for these to get out. So I scheduled them a year in advance. — ICJ, 9/22/2010

Ice Cream Jonsey: Did I tell you the Tale of Tommy John?
Pinback: no
Pinback: he had a surgery
Ice Cream Jonsey: He did have a surgery.
Ice Cream Jonsey: There’s a list.
Ice Cream Jonsey: There’s a list of people who had “Tommy John Surgery.”
Pinback: TJS list.
Pinback: STRASBURG
Ice Cream Jonsey: Do you see this?
Ice Cream Jonsey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John_Surgery#List_of_notable_baseball_players_having_received_the_surgery
Ice Cream Jonsey: Do you see the [1] next to Tommy John’s name in that list?
Pinback: I do.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Do you know why that is there?
Ice Cream Jonsey: I will tell you.
Pinback: Why??
Ice Cream Jonsey: Because when Strasburg fucked up his arm, I edited that page and put a [citation needed] next to Tommy John’s name in that list.
Ice Cream Jonsey: And sure enough
Ice Cream Jonsey: Sure enough
Pinback: HAHAhaha
Ice Cream Jonsey: Some Wikipedian Aspergerian did so.
Pinback: AHAHAAHAhahah
Pinback: ahhah
Pinback: ha
Pinback: FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO LOOKED LIKE HITLER: HITLER [citation needed]
Ice Cream Jonsey: It’s just one of those things I’ve never told anyone. But I wanted you to know.

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