30 June 2011

Shao-Lin's Road High Score

New high score for Shao-Lin's Road: 1,113,100.

More than triple my previous record, totally shattered it. After playing (I lost track of time, but I suspect about an hour on one token!), I was a little exhausted and opted not to try for any more GORF or Zaxxon. I only wish I'd had someone to witness it and some documentation.

Maybe I'll be able to make it again, and we'll get a Youtube video out of it?

* * * *
Note: At Twin Galaxies, this score seems to place me about 6th (this is for the cabinet version known as Kicker, though they are the same game). The highest high score is above 10,000,000!

29 June 2011

Moving, arcade, Lands of Lore

Tonight: Cleaning before I packing for a move to another apartment. May be busy for some time with that, but I don't want my blog to fall too far behind in the meantime. So...

Went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk a few times. My favourite ride so far is The Giant Dipper, although I also enjoyed Ghost Blasters, the Sea Swings, the Hurricane... also the arcade. The Time Crisis 3 cabinet was out of order, but seems to be working now. Didn't play it last time I was there, though, because I wanted to play with a partner. Last time I was there with some DANMites we wanted to play it, too, but we played Panic Museum instead. It was weird because it doesn't have a reload feature, felt less rhythmic and more like I just had to click on everything as fast and as constantly as possible. Anyway, I plan on spending a lot of time at the Boardwalk with my DANM cohort. Sabrina and I want to take scuba diving classes together in the fall.

I've been haunting the Classic Corner in the arcade, taking on Shaolin's Road, Gorf, and Zaxxon. The machines reset high scores, but I decided to write mine down. Here they are:

Shaolin's Road: 335,300
(6 ships) 12190, Ranking: Space Captain
Zaxxon: 6500 (4th place)... default high score is 8900.

The default high score for Shaolin's Road is 25,800-- which means anyone who plays to the middle of the 2nd Step in the game has the high score.

In Gorf, the two levels that tend to get me are Laser Attack and Space Warp. I'd like to be able to play through to the boss a second time in a single game. I might practice it with 6 ships again soon... last time I played with 3 ships, it kicked my butt.

Zaxxon is interesting for pioneering isometric perspective. Navigating the three-dimensional space from third person in the dead of space without references for height felt tricky, but during the base assault sections it's a little easier. Still, I think I die more by just not knowing if an enemy's shot was level with my fighter or not. I wonder if it'll become more natural after a couple plays.

Another game I've been revisiting during my time off has been Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny (LoL:GoD-- a curious acronym, to be sure). I've beaten it with both endings before, but this time I've decided to go through on the hardest difficulty to test a hypothesis that the gameplay experience would differ. I especially thought that the harder difficulty would discourage combat (some foes can kill in just a couple hits on hardest) and emphasise sneaky tactics and spell use.


So far, I think that my hypothesis has generally held true. I just recently gave a set of the runes to Dawn and Father Julian and I'm in the "haunted house" sidequest, so there's still plenty of the game left to disprove it. In following blog posts, I'd like to dissect some of the significant differences in my own experience of playing at the highest difficulty. I'll start with one early example:

In the opening scene at the Draracle's Caves, a Gladstone guard is heading back toward the cave entrance. On normal difficulty, it is nothing for Luther to pounce on him bare-fisted, easily defeat him, and take his sword. On hardest, the easiest way to defeat him is to stalk him from behind until he reaches a wet area of the cave, then cast Spark.

Deeper still in the caves, the guard addressed by Kenneth can still easily overpower the player. I defeated him by doing hit-and-run spellcasting, hiding and recovering when my health or magic reserves ran low. I just recently got a Ring of H.P. Regeneration in the Hive Caves (the Bezoar Ring-- I wonder why they changed it from Bezel to Bezoar bewteen the first and second games?), but waiting for magic reserves to replenish on their own still takes too long sometimes. My fighter levels have eclipsed my mage levels, which was counter to what I had expected, but I did just get the Prism spell, so maybe I can cast that a lot to grind up my magic during exploration.

Okay, enough geeking out on Lands of Lore for now. Next time maybe I'll ramble on about the Draracle's Museum, the effects of difficulty on the game's moral choices, or the First Spawn of Belial. For now, gotta eat and get to cleaning.

16 June 2011

Short update

"The Eater of Time" was rejected by MircoHorror as a pointless vignette, for reasons I'll attempt to dissect later. All I'll say for now is that their editor is right. Probably its sights need to be lowered from the aimless cosmos to hit a human head.

At the moment, I'm on vacation with Aaron. We went to Disneyland and now we're in Utah visiting with the Reedmeister's family. Tomorrow we head out for camping. Will see if I can get another story written on this trip. May also try sending something out to Bosley Gravel's Cavalcade of Terror, which looks like another good flash horror blog. Also, sent "A Ruined House" for reprinting at Death Head Grin, we'll see how that goes. Still waiting to hear back about Teiselwalk.

Will probably brush up "Mosquito-Things" a bit more-- as stories can always use brushing up-- before I roll a d6 and randomly assign it to one of these blogs.

This post also reminds me I need to organize my tags better. I'll get to it.

12 June 2011

The Eater of Time

(The following has been submitted to MicroHorror. It uses 150 words exactly.)

It eats us as waves might besiege the walls of a seaside cliff, dying in explosive towers of foam.

Those pale cliffs block all sky from view, as if titans, resolute, but they are neither undivided nor eternal. Close inspection belies the wounds of watery premonition: droplets slide down cliff chalk, occulted in recesses where lichen oracles grow that know the sea’s power. Grain-by-grain will waves bite stone until the whole bereft cliffside one day sinks into the starving, abyssal floor.

Given aeons, the oceans might boil away to our glutting Sun. After billions of years, a red giant ejects its final signatures into space, leaving only another corpse in the galaxy. Too cold to be visible, it will be consumed by the Void of our galaxy, itself a thing that must feed.

Devouring our unstable cosmos from inside-out, let us wonder: will the Eater of Time ever consume itself?

10 June 2011

A Ruined House, update

"A Ruined House" has been published with MircoHorror. Find it here.

09 June 2011

A Ruined House

(the following story has been submitted to MicroHorror)

The rubberized suits creaked and chafed. They'd assured us our viewports would not fog over. The shoulders felt too heavy. I adjusted my helmet continuously, fearing subtle slippages.

"Commander, I need to spit."

"Hold it in, Lisa."

The house had its own pulse by the time we arrived. It glowed weirdly. A deadly haze permeated the place, a rank cloud with bits of crumb-like debris floating in it. If it touched our skin, if we managed to breathe it... we didn't exactly know. They said we wouldn't want to. We focused on our breathing instead, which now sounded too loud.

Its insides hoarded weird wreckage without any order, strewn like kelp across the floors, but all still identifiably domestic in nature. A half-liquidized assortment of cooking pots littered one room. A shattered toilet at the end of a hall, spewing shit. Rotted foodstuff, old sheets, and torn cardboard boxes.

There was one thing yet alive in there, or that looked alive, which I pointed out. A discarded bundle of grapes lay just inside a broken china cabinet. They still looked ripe and edible, except where the skin on one grape had ruptured and filled in with purplish, pulsating sores. The bunch felt unreal, plasticized like a toy, through the grip of my gloves. I pondered over it for some time, fascinated at its sadness, until the commander urged me on.

I never fully saw the origin of the plague-- only a reddish glow and a greasy, meat-like presence-- though I did identify the infected room. I only knew it for certain by the man sprawled backwards across the bed, writing wordlessly in agony. He had no protective suit, and his feet had disappeared into the head of the bed. He was that crumb-like debris in the air, ejected from somewhere else by the plague-bearer. His face had grown puffy, his eyes and veins bulged. I found a pair of glasses on the other end of the room that I tossed to him, but I never knew if he could even put them on anymore.

Our commander entered with another, hauling the long tubes of the cleansing pump. The iridescent antidote sloshed inside the tank hauled by a fourth member of the crew. Struggling on their knees, they fitted the nozzles into some orifice under the headboard, plugged the thing with it, and switched on the machine.

It didn't like that. A horrible roar pervaded the house. Everything shook in delirium. I vaguely recall hearing the commander shout, "Lisa, get us more energy!" or something else in a panic.

But the thing had gotten to me. My legs did their blind best to carry me from that room. I remembered retreating from horrors under my bed as a child, but all the beds sat too low to permit our bodies in these suits. When I finally collapsed at the doorstep, I spied with terror from the corner of my eye a single crack threading its way down my visor.

03 June 2011

Teiselwalk's Bridge submitted.

Submitted a story for publication today. "Teiselwalk's Bridge" went out to Brain Harvest Magazine. See it there soon, maybe.

01 June 2011

A re-release & a curiosity

Just a short post. This small broadcast is to mention that I have re-released the virtual human as a .exe file using ADRIFT 5. It is available from the ADRIFT website, or you can click here. I will update the IFDB page in due time, including a likely re-write of the game's description and my own review (as the current review is based off the previous version's description coupled with a low sense of self-worth). The ADRIFT 5 version apparently only works if your computer has a .net framework, but I would be pleased to know if it runs on non-PC systems with equivalent whatnots. Pardon my technical jargon.

I have also been encouraged to mention a part of Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort which had originally only been intended to serve as a sort of testing shortcut while Tiberius wrote it: Chuck Norris Mode. It probably has been noticed by no-one but myself up until recently; it was never fully implemented beyond its ability to remove characters from the game by kicking them. Though messages are displayed for anything kicked, actually using this mode to destroy every static objects in the game would have required making a variable description for every object (a somewhat tedious process in ADRIFT, especially with such a large pool of objects), or else creating an event specifically for each static object that would move it to Hidden (static objects can only be moved using events in ADRIFT). At any rate, yes. When playing Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort, one need only type TOTAL KARATE ACTION to activate Chuck Norris Mode. Maybe it'll be worth a chuckle to you.

A third release of Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort should be forthcoming some time this summer. It features minor changes to the Post-Comp edition.