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Altered Beets's blog

12:00 AM on 01.25.2009

Edge of Reality is out! (a game I made to download and heap scorn on)

Hey DToiders.

Remember my last post? HERE?

As anyone who knows me is aware, I haven't been posting much because a bunch of projects are now coming to a head. Well this one has come, all over, spurting from my head like so many grand ideas. And semen.

Here is a crosspost about it from the AGS boards:


Yes, that's right, Edge of Reality, the Longest Reality-on-the-norm game (both in production and potentially in gameplay) is complete. Nine years after I started this project, I have fixed most (not all) of the bugs, piled on extra content and made a second, very cool ending.

You already might know how long the game has been in production. Why should you play it?

Good question. It may not work perfectly on your new advanced system (may need a few changes to your resolution set-up, for example), and it will occasionally crash (save early and save often). But it is a unique game, which is why I finally completed it after all these years.

If you've seen the trailer ( or the original, funnier trailer (, you should have an idea that a lot went into this game. Some of my testers thought the game was nearly over around the end of the first chapter.

Ha I say. Ha followed by Ha, and potentially Hoo.

There are, in point of fact, four fairly long chapters and 1 that splits into two.

However, the game is more than the sum of its parts.


Edge of Reality picks up from early threads in the RON universe, just after the death of Davy Jones. Reality has been hit by disaster after disaster after delicious cake, and our friend Mika is just starting to put it all together.

Our story begins, however, with never popular Scientist, Dr. Ronald Emeritus, historo-physcicist who has collected the chronicles of Reality in a secret book. However, just as he begins his first glimmers of understanding, something arrives in Reality. A mysterious, disembodied something. And it's not happy.

No. That's not right.

It's happy all right. For all the wrong reasons.

Beginning with the startling disappearance of Reality characters, Mika must make her way through the sleepy town to unravel a mystery and reach Thakbor the Great before its too late (that rhymed!). Her journey will take her right to the Edge of Reality: to the outskirts of town, the new city centre, the woods, the beach, the deep ocean, even other dimensions. What she finds is alternately ridiculous and unsettling.

Because things get weirder as you reach the edge.


Think everything from Yahtzee style insult humour to Captain Mostlyesque psuedo philosophical avante-garde anti-jokes. Everything from Sierra style puns, to graphically violent Sombreros. Disembodied heads of celebrities. Iraq jokes. The goofy cavalcade of poorly drawn villains and the burning embers of despair, all in one incredibly ugly package. Once you get past the first chapter, it just gets weirder, and I think, funnier.

There's more to Edge of Reality than that though. While not exactly the best RON game ever made, it is long, and deep. You'll find lots to click on, and messages for nearly half the interactions you think of (you are actually rewarded for clicking on everything). Half the fun I had making this game was going back to screens I'd forgotten and running through the various interactions. There's a lot of text here, and while a lot of it is either drab or outdated, there's a fair share of bizarre lines and clever zingers. I enjoy playing it just for that.

But there's more. Numerous secrets, including a dramatic secret ending, hidden items that you collect to unlock alternate modes of play, and 4 optional mini-games (technically more like 5, if you know where to look). There's lots of way to "die" in the first half with no real consequences (you immediately come back to life) and then in the second, more challenging half, ways to actually be killed that bring menace back into your adventure.

Multiple characters, optional paths, and many puzzles that can be solved in any order is just part of the draw that kept me plugging away.

Just remember to save your game first. Much like a crowded slushy turnpike, there are bound to be crashes. I could not fix every bug, and some just crash the game at random. All gameplay should work without error messages though. Feel free to report anything with a clear message like "Line 20011. Wrong Side of Cube For Flotsam Test."

PLEASE though, read or at least skim the instructions first. Some important gameplay info and known bugs are included in there as well as a cavalcade of jokes and just strange ideas to get you set up for the game's odd mood.

The game is HERE:

It may not be your blue cup of tea. It may not be your game of the year. But it is different and distinct, and I think worth playing through for a uniquely twisted take on RON, and for more puzzles than you can shake an anthropomorphic monkey wrench at.

To remind you, check out the trailers above.

Are you ready to reach the Edge?   read

5:38 PM on 01.12.2009

Trailer(s) for my first game of the Year: Edge of Reality

This month begins my game self-promotion blitz. I intend to upload several games I have made over the years between now and March, either updates of old games, incomplete projects that I have finally finished, or updates on old games you might not have gotten a chance to play.

Before you start exploding in paroxysms of joy, know the following 3 points:

1. I am no graphic artist.

Most of my games have terrible graphics, thanks to my inept hands on the mouse. The first uses some of my own weird graphics and some from the Adventure Game Studio community, so it isn't all bad. The second will have all graphics from me, my brother and a friend of mine, but we're sort of all pretty inept in the picture department, so what you see is what you get. The third is about half stock graphics and half my own, again, expect mixed results graphically.

2. I like big, complicated projects.

Game 1 was a huge project for its time, breaking many of the limits of the scripting program I used at the time, and several clearly stated design rules for Adventure Games. The second is a platform/action game in the tradition of Jumpman, but with around 130-140 levels! The last is just an Asteroids clone, but with a few bullet-hell-like qualities that make it insanely difficult. The fourth project may be stalled into next year given my crazy work schedule.

And there are always secrets, for the completionists. That's just how I roll.

3. I am no programmer with teams of paid staff.

I make these games on scripters, such as Adventure Game Studio and Multimedia Fusion. I don't have teams of coders, or even one guy who can do everything. In other words, don't expect the good stuff that was most of the indie scene last year (your Braids and your Caste Crashers and what-have-you), but do expect solid, working games with weird humour, complicated challenges, and my own gameplay innovations. They are decidedly amateur, but largely not irritatingly so, if that makes any sense.

That out of the way, let's look at the first I will be releasing this year. Edge of Reality!

So what is Edge of Reality?

About 9 years ago I came up with the name "Reality" for a town others had developed on the Adventure Game Studio boards. Ben "Yahtzee" Crowshaw thought he would add "on-the-norm" and create the first in a series of community games featuring his own character, Davy Jones. Since then, dozens of writers, scripters and artists have created their own twist on the Reality-on-the-Norm series, adding many new characters and ideas.

I made one of the first elongated demos for an ugly but bizarre game called "Edge of Reality" Bugs and life issues, and just creating the huge amount of content this game required kept me busy since mid 2000, but I'm back, and though buggy, the game is now 99.9% complete. It's on an old engine of AGS, meaning bugs (save early and save often) and it's about 70% ugly, and it also may not run on some newer computers, but it's done, and just needs a few polishing touches.

The plot centres around Mika Huy, Journalist, and her increasingly bizarre quest to find out who wants to destroy the city of Reality, and why. It broke almost all the limits of AGS at the time, and was one of the longest RON projects of all time.

I have two trailers, one from 2005/2006, one from just a few weeks ago. Both give you the general idea. The game WILL BE RELEASED on JAN 24 2009.

First Trailer:

Second Trailer:
[embed]117830:16931[/embed]   read

11:32 AM on 01.10.2009

Coming back with presents for all!

Hey D'Toiders

This is a brief message from me, Altered Beets.

Remember me?

I haven't posted for a while due to my various projects and exhausting new job, and I'm not going back to my daily posting regimen any time soon, but I am coming back, for a very important reason.

I am about to publish 3 new homebrew games.

1. Edge of Reality, a long adventure game in the tradition of King's Quest, but with a few more disembodied heads of Ernest Borgnine

2. Flags of Doom Version 1.5 - An action platformer I co-created years ago with 2 others with over 130 levels, now updated with a better password screen, new secret bonus levels and more music!

3. Penguin Hunt '99 - A simple Asteroids/bullet hell game with over 50 waves of incredibly difficult enemies.

Expect a trailer for Edge of Reality on Monday.

Expect my Juggling instructional series to continue in a few weeks time as well.


-AB   read

6:53 AM on 12.07.2008

Last Post: Juggling Lessons Part 2

Well, last post in a while, that is.

In addition to taking a break for writing (as any regular readers will know), I'm also moving back to Canada, and will have no internet for a bit.

But I did promise another video on Juggling this week, so keeping my promises, here it is. It's not 3 parts at once like last week, but it is a substantial bit. All of Part 2 covers the basics of doing tricks with 3 balls, although some of it is actually fairly advanced. If you enjoyed part 1, this part really expands on what you've already been through. Next time I'm online I should have both some more parts of this series, and a pretty interesting gaming post, if I do say so myself.

Enjoy your holidays and don't get laid off!


[embed]113832:16233[/embed]   read

1:08 AM on 12.01.2008

Letter to My Ex-Boyfriend, NPC

Dear Tony,

It's so hard to write this. You know I love you. You've been such a great guy, always at my side and all, always there. We had fun at Rollerworld, though you insisted on just walking back and forth in a predetermined pattern, I could tell you had fun. And you let me have fun, which is really what made us work. You never let anybody get in your way either. If they stood in the way of your path, you just waited, never pushed, just waited until they were gone, and then you were on your way again, doing the rounds, up from the corner of the old Wattlers place, and then down, around the foutain, past those continually steaming pipes. It was heartening to see old Spanner Rick on those things every day. Though why he never got them fixed is beyond me.

Anyway, I guess what drew me to you in the first place, your single-mindedness, your strong, silent personality just kinda wore thin after a while. I mean, it's not your fault, it's me. I just couldn't live up to the routine you set for us.

It's also, I don't know. A girl gets tired of the same thing day after day. Good morning honey! "The Baron owns a special blade, I've seen it, I know," How was work? "Have you seen the knight that rode in from Hysidia? He's staying in the Inn," I love you, "The Dragonmaster wants to reclaim the four stars of Briaradak, he's not coming here is he?"

It's not that I don't appreciate a bit of news. I liked that you would tell me about what was going on in the world. It always made my head spin to think all those things were going on in our sleepy little village. But after a while it seemed like you were repeating yourself, over and over, just waiting for the next big thing to happen.

I also felt that there was a problem communicating with us. Why did you always have to put the Herbs in that old chest of your Dad's? You know it doesn't have a lock, and that just invites thieves. Not only that, it was inconvenient when you wanted me to make dinner to go all the way downstairs, open the chest, receive Herb, trudge back up the steps, and cut it up over dinner. Why couldn't we just store it in that row of bottles on the right side of the counter? Nobody would steal it there. And yet, all you would say when I tried to bring it up to you in open conversation, you know, let you know my feelings, you would get all "The King has transferred Be'iyomarr and the Blue Regiment to fight the Goblin King in the North." Honey, I know that. You said that while we were making love last night. Over and over.

Anyway, I guess you know too it just hasn't been working out too well for us. I like variety, spice in life, you like to walk the same route all day for seemingly no reason. There was that whole week where all you said was "Welcome to Helinicca." What was that about?

In the end, I just feel, it's not you, but I'm getting stifled in this relationship. You're a great guy, you really are, but I can't do this forever. And, well, that's not all. There's more I guess, and this is the part I've been dreading.


I may as well tell you, it's not like you're going to ask.

I'm going out with Ryan. It's really not you. Only, he's got a whole dialogue tree I haven't fully explored. It's not that orange exclamation mark over his head, I promise.   read

12:56 AM on 12.01.2008

Bowing out for the time being

Hey all you cats and kittens,

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I post a lot. Usually every day I make one or two contributions. Sometimes these are popular posts that get shown around the office water-cooler, some are ugly lampshades that you really want reupholstered, except everybody only does it in puce, which is actually a fairly nice colour, but just doesn't go with the crown moulding, and in actual fact, you never liked that lamp anyway.

Well, I've been pretty busy the last few days, and am working on a project that is not game related. I have a YA novel that I've been working on for the last few months, and it's just getting to the point where it needs my undivided attention. This means I ain't gunna do as much posting for a while. It's a great exercise for me, but it takes a wee bit too much of my time, coming up with ideas, or research, or copy and pasting from McSweeneys.

That never happened.

Anyway, I still have a lot of ideas I want to share out here, so you'll still see tidbits, but I just won't be putting in as much time, so more of the "meh" ideas may make it in, or just get dropped. If something exciting happens, like Nintendo going back to making playing cards, or Dubya going on a last minute clock-tower rampage, you can bet I'll be back here, posting boots on. For now though, I'll leave you with this sobering thought:

It's a metaphor.   read

3:50 AM on 11.27.2008

REAALLY LATE OT WEDNESDAY: Complete Juggling Lessons by Me!

Well, parts 1-3 anyway.

Look. Geeks play video games. I suppose non-geeks do as well, but if there's one thing geeks are expected to do, it's play those video games. Also, people with too much spare time.

But what do you do while that load-screen is up? Between games? While you cool off between amazingly frustrating sessions of Game X?

I juggle. A lot. And professionally speaking, when I'm not doing other jobs, I teach juggling in the school system. I enjoy it.

What I decided to do this week (well, actually last week), was put up a nice, straightforward seires on learning to Juggle for YouTube.

Now I know, you might be thinking that there's plenty of Juggling lesson resources on YouTube, but frankly, most of them suck. The ones that don't suck don't expand the knowledge in the way I usually like to. This is therefore a unique video I've put together just for Destructoid. Hopefully, you'll be able to pick up my lesson in the next few weeks. Over the rest of December, I'm going to be running a 9 part series covering everything from the very basics to some quite advanced moves.

Now some of you are going to say "I can't Juggle." Well, that's bollocks. Bollocks and balls, of the non-juggling variety.

I was born with mild (very mild) cerebral palsy. I can't weave two bits of string together properly. I know jugglers with no depth perception, legal and total blindness, only one arm and those who juggle from a wheelchair. Furthermore, klutzy people make the best learners. They enter without preconceptions or attitude.

You can learn. Anybody with any working limbs or a mouth can learn juggling. You may take longer than others, or you may shock and amaze yourself. But you won't learn on your own without a lot of good advice. If you can do two and not three, trust me when I say, you're doing it wrong. Seriously. Abandon the way your cousin who can't juggle either's way and do it the way I tell you. It's the way that will work.

Trust me.

I'm putting all three first videos in the space below. Feel free to add your comments after that, either going, "Wow, thanks," or "I'm stuck." I will try to offer advice over the next week, and maybe add another tutorial with my next 3 parts.

Anyway, enjoy. My apologies in part because YouTube cuts off the top of the frame, which might make things a bit trickier, but I think if you can listen, you'll get ample help.

Learn, and report, and don't give up, even if you want to punch yourself in the eye after your first 15 minutes.



[embed]112849:16076[/embed]   read

12:08 PM on 11.25.2008

Gears of War II as Written by Terry Pratchett

The universe, conventionally speaking, does not have corners. It has curves. Curves that spin and drop and coil into an infinite patchwork of blackness. And in the upper left-hand corner of this blackness there is a world. The one world. The final world of human habitation.


Sera is fat, poised on the cusp of realities like an especially large cake. A cake with brown and grey icing. It looms, burning bright with drifting sparkles of flame, and sinks eternally through fields of stars. Scientists are unsure what will happen if the light of Sera ever burns out, but the general consensus has been described as "not good."

This is the world on which grow the hopes of humanity, like bright blooms, or possibly marzipan roses. And there are always marzipan roses.

* * *

Dominic Santiago liked to see himself as chizzled. It was an apt adjective. In fact, if a survey had been done of the denizens of Jacinto who had ever laid eyes on him, chizzled would have come up right behind mustachioed. Chizzled, suave, grizzled and brawny were the kind of adjectives that clung to Space Marines like magnets, that stuck to them like mustache hairs stick to a suit.

It was, in fact, the heavy suits like steel ponchos that people probably noticed first, that, Dominic considered, or the enormous pointy gunsą. Everything they wore was a network of panels, a cavalcade of black buckles on black armour plates, with black designs at the centre of black pads. He had a blue light on his shoulder to draw attention to the black. His beard was black. His hair was black. Even the gloves that covered up the scar over his left knuckle were black.

The design on Dominic's chest was more or less identical to that on the others in his squad, and to all of COG, really. It consisted of a skull, locked inside a black gear. Dominic had never been sure who the skull was meant to intimidate, since the Locust hordes didn't seem to mind human skulls very much, but then, it was best not to think of such things. Maybe it was meant to remind Locusts of how bony humans could be, as a deterrent to eating them.

It didn't seem completely effective.

"Yo," Dominic heard. He made an effort to crease his muscled head toward the sound. Unit Commander Fenix (as in to rise from the ashes) had laid his enormous cerated saw-gun beside a vaguely intimidating spiral of rock and held up something speckled and rotund. "I think it's an egg," Fenix announced.

"Do they have eggs?" Dominic asked.

"Don't ask me." Fenix answered.

"Because I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to have eggs."

"I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to have that many teeth either," Fenix said, "That doesn't help matter too much, now does it?"

"No," Dominic answered. He scowled at his own reflection in a tall length of panelling. It was that kind of thinking that kept him from moving up. His mother was always saying that. "Still, it could be something else, er, Unit Commander."


"Gentlemen," interrupted a third voice. Both men turned. It was Cole. Cole was broader than Dominic and in his opinion had drifted too far from chisled toward "ripped" potentially even beefy. This made him nervous. Cole never had anything pleasant to say. "Might we cut back the argument for a moment?"

"Whyzzat?" Fenix answered.

"Well," Cole said, drawing a deep breath. He pointed with one muscled arm. Veins generally throbbed and otherwise made themselves known. "We might want to shoot the Locust standing directly behind you."

Now Dominic and Fenix turned, Dominic grimacing at the universe in general. And so far it had been such a nice birthday too.

ąThis is of course based on a study carried out by Grismal Bokeray, High Investigative Unit Manager and Professor of Sociological Studies at West Sera University in a study entitled "Shiny First Impressions: The Look and Logistics of the Space Marine" which among other things, posited that the entire concept of the Space Marine may be flawed, considering the relative lack of marine or sea-based uses for the COG suit. Unit Commander Fenix's official response to this report is said to be: "What?"   read

1:32 PM on 11.24.2008

Back in the Day Once More: THIS is Why I Brought A Wii

Hmm? Oh, I try to avoid the expression "back in the day," yeah.

Being all "back in the day" automatically ages me, which would be fine if I were made of cheese. As I'm not, it suggests that I'm no longer in the day. Many of us are really just entering our particular day. But then, games are like that. They operate on another sense of time. Between the 50's and the 90's, few things actually gained a dimension. Except games.

Back in the day is also a bit disingenuous. There wasn't really a "day" for anything. Things sucked just as much back then (whenever then was) as they do now, just in different ways. But looking back, we almost always iron over the proverbial wrinkles and fill in the blanks with delicious chocolate. Back in the day is a myth, a mirage, all maya, yeah yeah yeah, and my memories are as chocolatey as anybody's.

Back in "the day," then, there was a grey box called a Nintendo. The joy of playing Nintendo, the joy we started to lose in the late 90's was the joy of simplicity. Of variety. Games could be about nearly anything, and in almost any style. Graphics may have been more uneven than today, glitches more prevalent without patches (even flagship Nintendo products like Metroid were overrun with glitchy blocks).

All the great Nintendo franchises started in this era, and haven't changed a lot since. Other franchises on the PC, Sega and the Arcade came out at the same time, and many are still spitting out sequels. In the last 10 to 15 years though, all these titles have gone 3D.

Now, I've already done a post about the 3D action title, shooters, etc, but that's not what I'm on about here. I like a lot of great, innovative 3D titles, even a few unoriginal ones that are short and fun. But I think we can all agree that things were getting a little "samey." In some ways they still are. 3D action titles should have meant more diversity, more options, not less. But the expense of these giant flagship titles make risky idea-based games less desirable. You could Bizarroman's Quest for Ankle Warmers online, but not in any wide forum for the average gamer.

This has begun to change.

Over the last 5 years, I would argue that we've seen an explosion of new genre-bending games, new ideas, and new venues for creative concepts. We've seen the transition from blocky or grainy 3D to 3D as an expressive medium, with cartoony and hyper-realistic styles side-by-side with more innovative art direction. And we've seen each major console pick up an Online network for new, creatively risky content. From Katamari to Braid, Guitar Hero to Space Giraffe, alternate forms of gameplay are getting more and more attention.

Steam and other services have opened up the old Adventure genre, while download networks on each console have really provided a testing-ground for retro titles.

This is what still excites me about the Wii.

When the Revolution was announced, I was only mildly interested in the fiddly floaty mouse thing. I could have cared less about more Mario and Metroid (though Zelda titles are pretty much the only games my wife enjoys), and I was almost hostile to the idea of better graphics and sound. Who needs that fancy pants stuff, because you know, back in the day, our graphics were made of moose pelts, and we liked it!

All three download services have a lot to get excited over, even with their ownership problems I've already examined, but the Wii is the one that I originally became attracted to.

The Wii has both "normal" controls and "waggle" controls, opening up the opportunities for new gameplay. The Wii has the cheapest Dev kit, so cheap I almost considered purchasing it myself to work on. More cheap dev kits mean more ideas, more reason to accept the risk of new ideas, more people able to splash their ideas into the mix.

Now this has, in fact, led to a lot of crappy party-games for the Wii. I could care less. I just won't buy those games. But the opportunity to create new experiences, retro, new, or otherwise and for these to actually pay off is the most exciting part of owning a Wii.

Now, all three consoles, and the PC now have these kinds of opportunities, and I think it's all good. But the cost effectiveness of the Wii and commitment to this kind of content as part of the Wii's Online strategy could open up the opportunity for the range of gaming to grow. That's what I want to see on my Wii.

I think this is a good time to be excited about where games can go. Whether most of the new ideas out there work or not, more diversity means more strength. Now, the Wii does need to break out of a few ruts. Great RPGs would be a start, more concepts like the recent range of Adventure Games, more retro titles are all positive steps in all the major gaming platforming. But games like the new Homestar Runner series, Zach and Wiki, Mad World and even Boingz are why I bought a Wii, not because I cared that much about how many hands I needed to play golf. It's time to bring back the old riskiness, even if that means more terrible games in with the interesting.

To shorten a long story, new shiny graphics and immersive controls, whether they're six-axis or more, won't push the future of gaming. An openness to risky ideas will.   read

2:54 AM on 11.21.2008

The Writers from "House MD" Solve "Sam and Max Hit the Road."


HOUSE is walking down a hospital hallway (set #02) when he is interrupted by CAMERON

HOUSE: You're in my way.

CAMERON (Handing him clipboard): We've got a dog and a rabbit, trying to get inside a giant ball of twine, a bucket of fish, a spanner, a rasp, world of fish magnet--

HOUSE: Not interested. (Walks the other way)

CAMERON (stepping in front): They need to get into that twine!

HOUSE: Wait. Have I stepped into some alternate universe in which Not Interested means 'Please Get in My Way?'

CAMERON: We have a piece of fur and a severed hand.

HOUSE: Use the severed hand on the twine. Call me when you're done.

CAMERON: Tried that.

HOUSE: Use the rabbit. Oldest trick in the book.

CAMERON: Tried that too. Results were negative.

HOUSE (inscrutably): Why do you want into this twine so badly?

CAMERON: I don't. The Dog and the rabbit...


CAMERON: Okay, you're right House, way to dig into my psyche.

HOUSE (ponders for a moment).


HOUSE enters, pursued by CAMERON. FOREMAN, KUTNER, TAUB, and "THIRTEEN" are just sitting around with nothing better to do.

KUTNER: Got a kid with eye cancer. Four days to live.

HOUSE: Can't. Well, could, but won't. Cameron here wants us to do a case.


CAMERON: Ignore him. We've got a dog and rabbit--

FOREMAN: Wait, House, you're doing what Cameron says now?

HOUSE (batting his eyes, looking heavenward): I've found my calling.

CAMERON: Dog and rabbit.

KUTNER: Bunny.

CAMERON: Rabbit. Max and... Sam I think.

HOUSE: You know their names by heart? That's just sad. (Passes out copies of the report now in a blue folder for the others to peruse).

CAMERON: Trying to get something from a ball of twine.

HOUSE: I don't even know "Thirteen's" name, and it's been a year.

THIRTEEN (Eyeing house): Maybe it's a red herring.

ALL briefly pause.

THIRTEEN: Producers put it in there, no solution, everybody wastes their time guessing while a kid dies of eye cancer.

TAUB: They wouldn't do that.

HOUSE: Wouldn't, or shouldn't because your marriage is falling apart.

TAUB: Wouldn't and no, my marriage isn't falling apart.

FOREMAN (reading the report): Doesn't say anything about this thing they want.

CAMERON: Because it doesn't matter. It's just a thing they want.

FOREMAN: Maybe it's magnetic. Attach the magnet to the hand and boom, done.

CAMERON: Tried that.

TAUB: Walking dead?

CAMERON: It's LucasArts.

THIRTEEN: Use Max on the twine? He can get in there.

CAMERON: He can't, too tight.

KUTNER: What if it's Lupus?

Everyone stares at him. He stands.

HOUSE: It's never Lupus.

THIRTEEN: Except that one time it was.

KUTNER: I don't mean actually Lupus. What if it's like Lupus. I mean... what if it's not with you, but with the twine.

FOREMAN: Release the twine, get the item.

THIRTEEN: You're reaching.

Suddenly HOUSE seems lost in thought.

TAUB: But how do we do that?

FOREMAN: Same solution as before. Use the rabbit on the twine.

CAMERON: We tried that!

FOREMAN: Well try it again! Try it again until it works!

TAUB: Maybe we need to go back over all the locations again. See if there's something we missed?

HOUSE: Wait. (Looks to Thirteen) . Say that thing again.

THIRTEEN: Except that time that it was.

HOUSE: No, no! The other thing.

THIRTEEN (Annoyed): Um, something about Kutner, trying to hard. This a game of try to remember what you said?

HOUSE: Just wanted to watch your lips move. God! Anyway, you said it so much nicer before.

KUTNER: Did I say anything nicer?

HOUSE: Reaching. Maybe Kutner's not reaching enough.

CAMERON: We've tried the hand.

HOUSE: I'm talking. Grown up time. What if we treat the problem like real doctors?

THIRTEEN: I'm pretty sure we are.

HOUSE: Not doctors. Doctors.

HOUSE leaves, abruptly.

KUTNER: Glad to see he needs us.


WATSON--I mean, WILSON is getting into an elevator. HOLMES--I mean HOUSE blocks the door with his cane. Since he's an addict and all, he pops a few pills maybe.

WILSON: Can you never let me go down anymore.

HOUSE gives him a sideways glance.

WILSON: You're a child.

HOUSE enters the elevator, steps next to WILSON.

HOUSE: What do you know about Gator Golf?

WILSON: This never gets old.   read

4:09 AM on 11.20.2008

The Ogopogo Mystery: How A Small Canadian Town Made Waves in Final Fantasy IV

When Final Fantasy IV left the localization team as Final Fantasy II back in 1991, a few small things were changed. Like removing the Tentacle Porn sidequest and changing Gorecap Bloodbane's name to G. Rubybn. References to "Stabbing Kain in the Eye" replaced with "..." Stuff like that.

But one thing that didn't change much were the monsters. Original Japanese phonetic spelling aside, monsters tended to be shortened, but not drastically transformed from the original. To me, this makes an old mystery even more beguiling, verging ever-so-slightly towards befuddlement and possibly folderol.

This is lake Okanagan, a narrow strip of beachfront property stretching from the Cheesy town of Armstrong to the winey city of Penticton, cut through the lower portion of the Okanagan valley, in rural BC. That's British Columbia, a rather obliquely colonial name for a deeply colonized province. The Okanagan is a desert with blazing summers painted yellow by the dying reeds and languorous, snowy winters. Apparently the Governator has a house there on the lake for the Sunny bits, or the skiing, or because of free medical, something like that.

Both Vernon and Kelowna, along the edge of Lake Okanagan register in Canada's top 100 most populated cities, but that's like calling Shan Shi one of the world's best Vegetarian Stakehouses. There ain't a lot of them. We've got like Toronto, 5th largest in North America, and then it kind of goes downhill from there.

I grew up in Vernon. To give you an idea of the demographics, think Florida minus Jews. At the time I grew up there, it boasted the most churches per capita in North America and the most churches on one street. It was actually a local joke. How do you get to the church? Just take a left at the church.

All the more odd that we had our own popularized sea-monster, complete with horns and forked tongue.

In addition to being a palindrome, the Ogopogo is apparently the "most famous sea monster in Canada," which is like saying Shan Shi is the world's most famous--oh, forget it.

Ogopogo sightings, that is to say beavers and logs, are an important part of the Okanagan identity. It's like living near Nessie, or Pete Townsend. You can't come to Vernon without buying a highly flammable Ogopogo doll made in Korea.

Vernon is more or less the definition of a "sleepy" town. The octogenarian population pretty much guarantees that a drive downtown will end in hip surgery. This made it even odder when our local sea-snake became featured as the second-last boss of Final Fantasy IV.

I'll let this sink in with a dangling participle:

Playing FFIV as a kid, the Ogopogo was amazing. I still remember pausing the game to tell my mom. How the Hell did Ogopogo get into my game?

Now, it's true that the Final Fantasy series is known for drawing on myths and legends to populate its universe. Kain from Cain, as in the brother of Abel. Asura, the middle-eastern deities who seek power, Odin from the Norse pantheon, the Behemoth from the Bible. In fact, every other boss in Final Fantasy IV has roots in a well known and popular system of mythology, or just a really obvious name. The Mist Dragon and White Dragon are obviously exactly what they sound like. The four fiends are loose references out of Dante's Inferno.

Now, compare the popularity of Dante's Inferno to that of the native Okanagan myths that gave rise to the Ogopogo. We're talking a small First Nation's group, with a few water fountains and polystyrene displays in parks that the majority of Japan will never visit. Even the localization team, situated not too far from the Canadian border would have had little reason to include an obscure Canadian monster.

And yet, not only does the Ogopogo make it in as the second-last boss of the entire game (admittedly optional, but striking nonetheless), it also entitles a whole series of newsletters put out by Square in the 90's entitled the "Ogopogo Examiner."

How and why did Ogopogo end up in the international version of a Flagship RPG?

Well I have tried to find out. I researched and emailed the original director in his new studios, and I looked up every member of the translation and localization teams. I couldn't find enough contact information for many of them, but those I could, I emailed.

What did I get in answer? Nothing.

Nobody provided any information at all.

Of course, the answer is probably very simple. They were looking for another sea creature, Nessie wasn't right for the job, somebody said something about an Ogopogo, a name which fit easily on the screen, and boom, history. 4 or 5 remakes later, we're still dropping ninja magic on that Leviathan palette swap. Odin, and Zeromus, and Rubicant may hog all the glory, but killing Ogopogo, that's the stuff you don't forget.

That's the stuff that sticks.

[embed]112104:15920[/embed]   read

3:49 PM on 11.19.2008

Missed opportunities: OT Wednesday

I had a really cool project all scheduled for this Off-Topic Wednesday, but it's not finished, so it'll have to wait until next week. Until then, here's something of my own that's very much in progress and totally unrelated to next week's special development:

For now, we will call her The Overseer. The Overseer is a cluster of ideas, possibilities, an undulating mass of intersecting realities. She is watching something.

The universe is about to end.

That is to say, two uniververse.

For some reason, as the galaxies phase through one another, as the cold fingers of stars, the wisps of galaxies fold into each other and wink into nothing, she thinks of humans, one tiny race in one tiny star system in one tiny galaxy cascading through an infinity of dimensions. This is not at all unusual. After all, a being as old as herself, so perceptive, so practiced has had a lot of so-called-time to think and has thought of a lot of things. It as much raw chance as the fact of a cup of pens spilling to the floor. It as raw chance as triangles having three-sides. It, like all that she can see is a myriad of coincidences falling through their own frail order.

The being thinks of humans, then, and the vanity of the words they use. Humans have called it the dream, the world, the cosmos, the universe, the, the, uni, the. They study it, their everything, catalogue it, watch as they spin helplessly around their sun, helplessly through their star system, helplessly around the sparkling darkness, adrift in the universe that too will one day disappear. All is coincidence, all is hapinstance, and like all universes (the silly word) one day their lucky run will run out, and the multiverse will envelop them as the stars themselves dissolve together into an embrace of nothingness.

The Overseer watches intently as the stars phaze out of being. So many billions of beings, trillions of stars, frillions of worlds. It is not a slow exodus, no gentle fall, no thousand years process as some would guess, but instantaneous. In human time, maybe slightly less than the length of a moment, a second, a pause, the eyes clenched shut for the sneeze. But The Overseer sets her own hours. She watches, intent, as birds vanish into one another, as glorpeks become mountains become air become nothing, as neutrinos, shivering, bumping, dancing, crash and shatter, scatter and fall. Finally, the last iota of matter, the last speck of time, the last fluctuations of energy, movement, and mass cease and there is nothing. Less than nothing. The absence of even emptiness or space. The nadir.


In a moment

she scoops her arms down

and with a single breath

there is matter, and there is time and there is a tiny, irridescent spark.

This will be one more verse, one more turn, she thinks.

Grow, universe, sparkle, explode, bloom.

She plants this tiny bauble in between folds, warming it with the undulations of dimensions. She will wait to see it blossom, maybe to see this little collapsing thing burst with new lights, itself spawn rocks, and suns and systems, maybe just to be enveloped by other realities, incorporated into a cosmos that is so big you could not breathe there.

From this point on it is all up to chance.   read

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