The Edinburgh Files: Part One
March 3rd, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

In 1999, I wrote a computer game called Chicks Dig Jerks. It was poorly received due to its subject matter and bugs, and it deserved to be poorly received for such things. I had no idea a small piece of software could be so bug-ridden. I messed up, I learned my lessons, I got better.

MEANWHILE! In Scotland, in 2000, a 15 year old kid named Lex played it and wrote me an e-mail. The note Lex wrote was really one of the first not sending me links to where I could pick up a hangman’s noose and some SlippyChairs. I wrote Lex back and I’ve been friends with him for 10 years now, though we’d never actually met.

I’ve been making text games for all of the time in between, and introduced into my games pictures to help illustrate the nonsense within. Because of this, I always need actors and actressess. Asking my own friends seem to result in one of the following responses:

1) No

2) Not just no, but fuck no

3) Can’t you ask your brother to do it?

4) Robb, I’m your brother. Why are you asking me to do this?

5) (delete without reply)


This hasn’t stopped me! I bleed for my art. I asked Lex if he knew any women to play a very small part in the game I am working on now. He suggested his friend Nik – I asked him to ask her, her reply was, “Why doesn’t he ask me himself?” I did (she accepted!) and then neither one of us were actually able to shut up for the last several months.

That made two people that I knew that were going to live in Edinburgh, so it seemed right to plan a vacation there. Add the Loch Ness Monster, who I am sure I’d get along with, and it seemed perfect.

I was picked up at the airport by Nik, but before I discuss that – Christ, is air travel totally different when you are on one of those giant, modern planes with video on demand. Most of the time, I fly from Denver to Rochester, NY and I get stuck in the middle seat. That doesn’t stop me from using Expedia’s nice Java app to “choose my seats”: invariably, I select a window or aisle seat each time. Let me write the pseudocode for the Seat-Selection app:

while (1) { = MIDDLE;
  ventilation = OFF;

My flight from Denver to Houston was okay, except for the fact that I was in the middle. But! When I boarded for my flight from Houston to London (yes, I was too stupid to get the more-direct Newark to Edinburgh flight) I saw a guy sleeping in my seat! And taking the entire row!

It was quickly explained to me by the staff that the plane had like zero people on it, and everyone got their own row! Hell yeah! I had NINE seats to myself. Completely changed my attitude when it came to flying; it’s great. The video unit was amazing (the Lord of the Rings movies at like 3 or 4 hours a pop need to be standard issue on international flights) and hell, even the food was delicious. Oh My Gawd! I know, right? But it was, this chicken and rice thing with green beans and carrots. Look, it’s better than anything I could have cooked for myself, and there is 35 pounds of basmati rice in my fridge.

Because of all the movies and all the space, I completely failed to get any sleep. I arrived in London, went crazy with anxiety because I thought I missed the very small “bmi” flight to Edinburgh, realized I was fine, got into Edinburgh, and was greeted with a “Hello, gaybo” from Nik. She was just as funny, sweet and charming in real life as she had been over the Internet, with the added bonus that in real-life I can pretend she uses capital letters. Her dad dropped me off at my hotel, and there were only a few hours left for me to figure out the bus system and get ready for seeing her later that day.

T’hell with figuring out the bus system! I was in the same city as Lex, so meeting him for the first time was a priority. I knew he would be awesome and fun (and he was) and even if he wasn’t, I love him like a little brother thanks to knowing him for a decade, so he would have had to have done something like beat me a hundred straight times whilst playing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe for me to want to fling a controller at him.

Anyway, Lex and I went for tea.

Lex explained that the place we went was supposed to create imagery in Scots, who love their goddamn tea! The place was designed to look like grandma’s place. And as everyone’s gramma has died off, the Scots now need cafes that perform the same function. And that is exactly what it looked like. We got “cream tea,” which, ah, sounds gayer than it really is. I also got some kind of cookie that was like a blop of batter thrown into an oven and allowed to bake nicely. The entire time this is going on, I am losing my shit because I am in a foreign country, with foreigners, and one of which is Lex! 

Keeping in mind that:

– Lex played McCormick, one of the antagonists in Fallacy of Dawn.

– Lex played the main character of Necrotic Drift.

– Lex is playing one of the main characters in the game I’m making now.

So I have stared at his visage in Photoshop for literally hours as I cobbled together the scenes for each game. And there he was! As we finished our tea, I asked how people settle bills in Scotland. Lex said, “Well, we just wink at the waitress and tell them we’d like the bill” and then he immediately, without pause, without delay, without any sort of break in patter, winked at the waitress and said, “ah, the bill, thanks.” While you absolutely had to “be there” to appreciate it, I was there, and I appreciated it. Seriously, it was like the biggest win in the Internet’s history of people meeting each other. 

I had to go back to my hotel and get ready, so Lex and I parted ways. I had flowers en route to getting the bus to get to Nik’s place, and — okay, look, it was Valentine’s Day, so me carrying flowers on the street wasn’t even distinct. Nevertheless, as I was walking on North Bridge to get the bus, some kid spotted the flowers and shouted out, “AW, FER ME? YA SHOULDN’T ‘AVE! HAW HAW HAHAHAHA!” 

The city itself charmed me!

I’ve got like 13 more of these updates to do, so let me just state that I had an amazing time over sushi with Nik, finally getting a chance to talk to her in person, but the waiter utterly failed to bring us extra wasabi. This was to be an important plot point in the trip later on.

2 Responses  
  • Lex writes:
    March 4th, 20093:15 pmat

    Didn’t you have cake, too? You ate the cake?

  • Garth's Equipment Shop writes:
    March 6th, 200911:06 amat

    You are the best writer of my generation. Thanks for sharing bro. This story reminds me of all the things I wish I had done but didn’t. Like keep in touch with all the cool people I met back in my younger years as a member of the not so well known but nevertheless legendary underground bulletin board system scene. In case your wondering, no, I’m not the kind of dude that would flake out on his friends like that. I was just the kind of kid that enjoyed the wild side a little too much and ended up paying for it – losing four years of my life just when the world wide web was about to eclipse the bbs scene. I came back to a changed world and lost touch with everyone I knew. But I love to read stories like this and imagine what could have been.

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