Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday grab bag

2000 views!  What are you people doing over your holidays, catching up?  The long tail is weird, seeing the counter continue ticking up while I'm elbow-deep in trying to come up with some new content.  (Next up will hopefully be WAS Emily Short's A Dark And Stormy Entry, though there's a lot of work yet to be done there.)
Well, here's something new -- my loving partner (who has a great blog of her own, somewhat on hiatus, looking at radical feminist publications) got me an obscure gamebook for Christmas, Entangled, a DIY 'zine self-published with a photocopier (a genre turning out to be a surprisingly rich vein, however empty Etsy now is to us, with surprise items like the previously-posted-here Choose Yer Aventure -- I guess that before the revival currently in full swing with actually-published gamebooks and ebooks, that was their only outlet.) It was an adaptation of artworks the author, one "ladypajama", exhibited at a show in Missoula. Here are its title page and its opening choice:
I won't post the full thing (at least, not for a while) since I don't want to cut into the author's ability to sell this thing -- but once it goes out of print, who knows! I didn't think that anything was going to shake Nintendo Power magazine after 24 years in print, but it looks like my ripping the Dragon Warrior Text Adventure from its pages was the straw that broke its back!

In any case, I did need an excuse to make a new post so I could hype this meritorious Kickstarter project, occasional Fighting Fantasy author Jonathan Green's history of the FF series, You Are The Hero. It's not funded yet, with a little time left on the clock, but who knows -- if you help it come to fruition, you will indeed by the hero!
I do administer another blog here on Blogger, with a focus on analysis of ads for old video games I found in my comic book collection prior to liquidating it. Once in a while I did however find some interesting ads related to this blog, so I will share one here. Much as we're celebrating a milestone here, that blog, Shilling Epilepsy to Mouth-Breathers, also just celebrated 4000 views -- the posts are easier to make, something I can do with half a brain before passing out at night rather than something I have to painstakingly format and test before sharing, as with even the simplest gamebook conversions here. So here's a half-a-brain analysis of this ad for the Endless Quest line of Dungeons & Dragons CYOAs:

One path leads to night creatures who live to destroy.  Another leads to a castle holding untold riches. But one path leads to the Wizard King, who can grant you limitless powers.  Which path to follow?  The decision is yours, but only moments to choose...
Compared to the TSR Endless Quest Books, other adventure tales are just a yawn.  Because ENDLESS QUEST Books let you decide the action and outcome of every story.  That's the difference of our Pick A Path To Adventure format, and if you've played DUNGEONS & DRAGONS fantasy role-playing games, you know just how much adventure we mean.
Get into ENDLESS QUEST Books and experience a new world of excitement.  Available at book, toy and hobby shops.
On the left, shadowy nightmare beast at the end of a staircase to an erupting volcano. On the right, a hunting owl. Further to the foreground, gnarled trees; on the right, one harbours a small green imp, while the tree to the left grows next to a gout of flame. Foreground left, a misshapen skull of some humanoid race. Sadly, this 1984 ad doesn't give me much to work with in terms of scorn and derision, which generally makes for more humorous posts. By the end of '84 this series had already published 25 volumes, slightly over half its 49-book run through TSR-owned and -licensed intellectual properties: not just Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and Forgotten Realms but also Gamma World, Star Frontiers and Top Secret and even Conan the Barbarian. The somewhat thankless job of cranking them out largely fell to Rose Estes, who I think did a good job at using the settings to tell gentler, different kinds of stories than the ones for which they were intended -- ones with children protagonists and talking animal sidekicks in which entering into combat is only very rarely the course of action the story wants the player to pursue.

In this ad Endless Quest is comparing itself to conventional books, deftly ducking what makes it different from its competing gamebooks in the then-burgeoning genre. (The only ace up their sleeve was the use of the D&D campaign settings and the cachet the association lent them. God knows what havoc R.A. Montgomery would have wreaked had he licensed D&D worlds for Choose-Your-Own-Adventures...

Ah, but I digress. Thanks for hanging in there, and hopefully I'll have some new gamebook conversions for you before too long!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Choose Your Own Romance

** A Long Tail note to the readers of posterity before we begin: when you're done with this one, if you like it, evidence suggests the odds are good you'll also enjoy my conversion of A Dark And Stormy Entry up here. **

Here we have what appears to be the final game written by David Dyte, a decade ago in 2002, for the RomanceNovelComp. Also penned in Adventure Book, it's a fun piece of work and a nice companion for Love's Fiery Imbroglio.
This also marks my (for the bean-counters) having posted more CYOA conversions to this blog (and, really, anywhere) between November 1st and 30th 2012 than between November 9th, 2009 and October 31st, 2012. I have entirely the slightly overlong offline coffee break at my clinical internship to thank for this anomalous blip of activity, the likes of which we will never see here again as the internship ends December 7th. Shortly activity here should slow down to one post a week, or perhaps even monthly, or perhaps ... even slower. But with those expectations inversely my hopes rise that I'll be spending more time on more satisfying and substantial works (such as this one) rather than with the cheap-and-easy throwaways some of which I've been plaguing you with this week. More translations. More delicious text liberated from game data files. More transcriptions. And much, much more slow of a pace. You'll be able to savour the posts. And yes, probably more "spacer" posts where I talk about ongoing trends in gamebook-dom without necessarily converting any for you. (Did I mention Ian Livingstone's new Fighting Fantasy, only the second in the Horror genre, both set on contemporary Earth, and its iPhone app, released in honour of the Fighting Fantasy line's 30th anniversary? Well, I just did. Also, go check out Choice of Games' The Fleet, hot off the presses this morning!)
Thanks to the readers, whoever you are. On a post-by-post basis this blog actually nets more activity than my other, more easily-accessible (and admittedly, somewhat disposable) blogging project; it has higher numbers overall because I have made 80 posts there (as the posts are much, much easier to make there), not just 27. It is haunted by a couple of commentors (well, one fool and my voice echoing back at him hollowly), while this blog gathers no moss -- or replies. I am interested however in learning more about who you are, what brought you here, and what you'd like to see more of. Who knows, someday I might happily host guest posts here -- you're welcome to save me the sweat, blood and tears!
Or just silently read and enjoy, that's cool, too.

. . .
Choose Your Own Romance, a love story in variable parts
by David Dyte
-- created using Adventure Book (c) Jon Ingold 2001/2002
You are reading a new type of novel. This is called a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Instead of passively reading a traditional romance novel, here you will have the chance to make vital decisions for our heroine -- the power to make or break true love is in your hands!
And so, our story begins...
Lady Constance D'Ellicott lay asleep in her bedchamber, dreaming -- once more dreaming of her one true love, Sheldon Huskey, far away overseas, serving his country as a Captain in His Majesty's Royal Navy.
She dreamt of his ship, swiftly cutting trough the waves, until it encountered an enemy destroyer. The battle was swift and decisive -- the bang, bang, bang of the guns ensuring victory for Captain Huskey yet again. Yet the noise did not stop as the battle ended. Still the rhythmic rapping sound rang in her ears...
By and by, she began to stir and realised that someone had been knocking at the door for some time.

. . .
With a casual air, determined to make light of every day, Constance resolutely ignored the temptations of whatever news may have awaited at the front door, and ventured to the kitchen.
Alas, times were hard in D'Ellicott Manor, and our Lady had been forced to let go of the staff some time before. Nevertheless, she was a strong woman and not without the ability to fetch herself toast, marmalade and a jolly good cup of tea. She had just finished the last bite of toast when she reached for the milk and realised, to her distress, that it was all out. Terror gripped her British soul -- facing the morning without her one true love, the dashing and brave Sheldon Huskey was one thing, but facing it without a spot of milk in one's tea was unthinkable.

. . .
Pulse still racing at the thought of Sheldon's return, Constance forced herself to remain calm and think only of her breakfast. A day's events, she mused, will always play themselves out in a greatly satisfactory manner if one is willing to take the time to properly fill one's need for sound nutrition.
Although she had long ago been forced to let her servants go, times being hard at stately D'Ellicott Manor, Constance was no mean chef herself, and soon had her toast perfectly browned and marmaladed to a turn. There remained only the matter of the tea -- here an exact helping of orange pekoe, there a kettle boiled to precisely the correct temperature, no more and no less. Which left the milk.
The milk...
In her reverie over the expected reunion with her one and only true love, the greatly admired naval hero Sheldon Huskey, Lady Constance had quite forgotten that she had run out of milk, completely. And it must be said of Lady Constance D'Ellicott that the only thing she loved more than her joyful times with Sheldon was a cup of tea -- but always with a spot of milk added.
Our heroine was in very much of a quandary -- would she...
. . .
With a heavy heart, Lady D'Ellicott paid for the Cheddar, a good cheese to be sure, but not perhaps the royal feast with which she had hoped to woo her beloved.
As she toured the market thereafter, a guilt began to overtake our Lady. She felt that she was somehow letting Sheldon down -- for he was a returning war hero, a naval Captain whose years of service to His Majesty deserved something more than a simple Cheddar. He deserved a Brie.
It was fortunate, the, that just as she was about to be overwhelmed by such irrational feelings, a voice carried across the market to her upturned ear. It seemed at first some kind of daydream, but no, as the voice grew louder Constance knew -- her very own Sheldon Huskey was here, in the market, and searching for her that very moment!
Fortunate, too, that she had quite misread one simple item in Captain Huskey's personality -- his undying love for the cheeses of his native England. As Sheldon spotted the mighty block of Cheddar in Lady Constance's arms, he gave an involuntary yelp of joy. Around the fermented curd they embraced, hot enough to begin to melt the very edge for a moment.
But this was not a scene to play out in public view of the marketplace -- decorum demanded that the delerious couple return to D'Ellicott Manor, and, beneath the glowering countenance of the late Lord Hardly D'Ellicott's various portraits, make gloriously real their long awaited reunion.
Which, of course, they did.
. . .
With some part of her mind still struggling mightily to let reason prevail, a confused Constance agreed to go with Doctor Hartwell to the village clinic. With careful sedation, and hypnotic therapy, she was soon released into the care of her newly returned beau, the dashing and brave Sheldon Huskey, Captain (retired) in His Majesty's Royal Navy.
The wedding was a curious one, with Lady D'Ellicott insisting on the presence of flamingos (imported from across the Atlantic at no small expense) and doves to assist in the ceremony. A short thankyou speech was even chirped in their general direction at the reception, a sumptuous affair attended by folks of title, humble villagers, assorted sparrows and pigeons alike.
There never were down pillows in D'Ellicott Manor again. But for all that, Constance seemed to give birth every spring, like clockwork (or calendarwork, perhaps, for a yearly time scale). She and Sheldon finally agreed to take separate rooms to halt the madness after some fifteen children had joined their nest. It was a happy, but hectic ending to both their adventures.
. . .
In that instant, for no good reason except a sudden whim, a random choice seemingly out of nowhere, Lady Constance decided to become completely loopy. What good was the manor to her? What good any of this?
She ran to the front gate, making odd bird noises, and begging passers by for seed to see her through until feeding time. Word of such queer goings on at D'Ellicott Manor was swift to spread to the village, and in the fullness of time Doctor Hartwell was dispatched to the scene.
He surveyed Lady Bird D'Ellicott with some dismay.
"Shall you come with me quietly, m'lady? We can take good care of you in the village clinic."
Lady Constance found herself faced with a sudden, urgent choice. Would she...

. . .
Lady Constance had been strong for so many years, but in this one moment she could stand things no longer. Returning to the bedroom, she bawled long and loud and inconsolably. For hours and hours she cried, never once stopping until...
"My love, what matter of madness ails you?"
Indeed it was Sheldon Huskey, now returned from war and here to comfort the love of his life, the inestimably beautiful and perfect Lady Constance D'Ellicott.
Her pulse racing, Constance choked back the last of the tears and beckoned Captain Huskey closer. At last they could consumate his return to Blighty from the awful horrors of war. A familiar warmth stirred between them for the first time in forever, or so it seemed...
And so it was that Lady Constance D'Ellicott came to be with child, born in wedlock, albeit barely, and fathered by Captain Sheldon Huskey (retired) of His Majesty's Royal Navy. Young Hershey Huskey would grow up fine and strong, a credit to his family.
Not so Sheldon, alas. For although this homecoming was indeed joyous, the sight of his love in such distress over the small matter of his absence at war disturbed him for years to come. He would never get over it, eventually turning to philandering ways in his later years, bringing disgrace and even divorce to the family D'Ellicott-Huskey. Lady Constance was to finish unhappy, after all.
. . .
In time, the noise abated, leaving Lady D'Ellicott to her reverie. As she drifted off, reveling in her silken sheets, she imgined that Sheldon was there beside her, whispering sweet (and not so innocent!) nothings in her ear, his warm presence seeming ever more real with each thrilling moment...
After a while, Constance awoke, properly refreshed and ready (if she ever truly could be) to face another day without Captain Huskey to hold close.
Her morning business taken care of upstairs, she ventured through the hallway, dominated by portraits of her father, the late and unlamented Lord Hardly D'Ellicott, and downstairs to the parlour. Would she...

. . .
The powerful, bronzed messenger took no mind of Constance's words, as he was already turning away to catch his wind, and return to more routine deliveries.
Lady D'Ellicott, then, stood alone as she gently broke the seal and unfolded the telegram within. It read, in full:
Even as Constance's heart leapt, her spirits fell. The cupboard was quite, quite bare, and she should prepare a wonderful welcoming feast for her beau on the occasion of his return from war. And before that, ensure that she had a good, proper cup of tea to fortify her for the day's cooking ahead.

. . .
It is tragic to relate the final moments of Lady Constance D'Ellicott. Afflicted, for no visible reason, with the most remarkable delusion of avian form, she attempted to fly free of poor Doctor Hartwell, as he vainly gave chase with a net more normally used for capturing such butterflies as may take his fancy of a summer's evening.
Presently they came to a well, and our Lady, sure that her takeoff was iminent, simply kept running until she found herself poised, in midair some one hundred feet above the cold water, questioning her ability to fly a precious half second too late. The arrival at the Manor of her lifelong love, Captain Sheldon Huskey, was also, therefore, too late by the merest feather. Everyone had always thought it was he, the naval hero, who risked an aquatic burial. The irony was not lost -- but true love was, that day at D'Ellicott Manor.
. . .
A momentary madness, a suspension of sanity, a crazy instant of criminal intent. Call it what you will, but there was nothing rational about Constance's idea to grab the Brie, clutch it tight as if it were her very lover (Captain Sheldon Huskey, lest you have forgotten, dear reader), and take flight.
In short order Lady D'Ellicott tripped over her own skirts, and found herself with a face full of mud, and a bust full of Brie. In such a manner the local police constable found her, and demonstrating admirable impartiality, took her swiftly to the local station house for incarceration, pending an investigation of cheese theft allegations.
While at the station, Constance received a visitor. It was, to her considerable dismay, her one true love, Captan Huskey, lately returned from His Majesty's Royal Navy, and back to claim his betrothed.
Captain Huskey, a man of great principle, and, it turned out, a hater of French cheese, was enraged beyond reason. Out of loyalty to his once beloved Lady, he bailed her out of gaol, but left the village forthwith, never to return.
Lady D'Ellicott, for her part, made good her debt, and returned to respectability. But she never again found true love, dying alone many years later in hollow and empty D'Ellicott Manor.
. . .
Constance was but half way home when she spotted, in the distance but moving at a gallop, the all too familiar figure of Sheldon Huskey, the man for whom she had faithfully waited these lonely years.
As the naval hero espied his Lady, he redoubled his pace at once, and soon the betrothed copule found themseves standing face to beautiful face for the first time in many a long day.
They cried out with joy, and fell into one another's arms at once. They embraced passionately, lips locked together with long repressed ardour finally allowed release.
Gathering the Lady Constance in his powerful arms, Captain Huskey (retired) carried her back to D'Ellicott Manor, where they consummated his return with a passion bounded only by their mutual lack of a good cup of tea for fortification.
The lack of tea apart, however, it was an altogether satisfying reunion, leading at once to marriage, and, in time, a happy life for them both, along with several junior D'Ellicott-Huskeys who were to follow in the years to come. A long and fruitful future for all.
. . .
Perhaps, Lady D'Ellicott wondered, the mysterious caller at the door brought news of her betrothed and beloved, the one and only Sheldon Huskey. The thought had scarcely crossed her mind than she became convinced of its truth. Why, then, had she wasted precious moments remaining with her dreams? (Astute readers will, of course, suggest that she remained with her dreams in order to be, in some sense at least, with said Captain Huskey, the object of Constance's affections. Such readers would be perfectly correct, but the author reminds readers also that the good Lady has been apart from her beau for some years now, and is not altogether in a rational state of mind. But I digress.)
With great haste Lady D'Ellicott opened the door. Her caller was, of course, long gone, but an envelope was left on the doormat, a plain brown envelope but for the seal of His Majesty fastening it tight.
Surely, then, this envelope held news of Captain Huskey at war!

. . .
Lady D'Ellicott, never one to begin her day's activities without her breakfast, and knowing full well that a proper breakfast consisted of sensible portions of toast and tea, set forth with alacrity for the village market to find milk, the better to make a perfect cup.
Nearly at the market, she spied a new cottage, just finished. A brand new sign, gilt at the edges, advertised the presence within of Jane Grey's Tea House, a Welcoming Meeting Place for All and Sundry who are Sober of Disposition.
Now, perfect as Constance's own brew of orange pekoe was bound to be, something within her nagged to once again taste a cup prepared for her by a servant, even one of the retail trade.
But also the possibility of news awaiting at D'Ellicott Manor preyed on her mind. Perhaps she should fetch her own milk for tea and hurry home.
. . .
So many things were rushing though Constance's mind as she arrived at the market. Captain Huskey, and his expected arrival. Food for a great feast of welcome. And, perhaps most important, milk for her tea. In such a state, and being a precious young thing, it is scarcely surprising that matters began to overwhelm even the very Lady D'Ellicott who had been so strong and patient for these many years.
Confused, she dithered between the various stalls of the market.
Now, cheese. Now, meat. Now, milk. Now, parsley. It was in the midst of this whirl of emotions and purchase decisions that she began to feel quite faint. Our heroine began to move quite unsteadily.
. . .
We shall draw a discreet veil over Constance's ablutions -- I am quite sure the gentle reader will appreciate the need for even a fictional character to maintain a certain level of dignity and privacy.
Suffice it to say, presently Lady D'Ellicott made her way through the hallway, pausing briefly to venture a resentful look at a portrait of her father, Lord Hardly D'Ellicott, late of this manor, a burial well remembered for the celebratory mood of all concerned. Barring, naturally, the deceased. But enough family history. After the hallway, the stairs, and to the front door.
Constance opened the door, half expecting that her caller may still patiently be waiting. No such luck, but a small brown envelope lay there on the doormat, sealed with His Majesty's own stamp.
. . .
Hurrying on to market, Lady Constance heard a voice behind her, out of breath and ragged.
"Lady D'Ellicott! You never got your telegram!"
She turned to see a young man, a messenger, handsome and strongly built, with steely grey eyes. He bore an envelope, plain brown but sealed with His Majesty's own stamp.
"I went back to make sure as you got it, but you never did. Then I saw you hurrying off towards the village, so's I followed you. Hope you don't mind me taking the liberty, Ma'am, only with the King's seal and all, I felt as this might be an important message."
He proffered the envelope, even as he caught his breath.
. . .
As well as we have come to know Lady Constance D'Ellicott, I must, dear reader, draw the line here. I do not, in fact, believe that our heroine, even after years of pining for her one true love, would perform such a strange and demented act. So once more you are offered a choice:
. . .
Bidding the messenger a polite farewell, Lady Constance closed the door, and although still dressed in her nightgown, broke open the seal and quickly fetched a telegram from within the envelope. It read thus:
Constance's heart leapt as she read the glad tidings -- Sheldon was to return home, and soon! Her mind raced to think of what preparations must be made. The bed should have fresh linen, for a start.
Gathering herself together, she ascended the staircase in a manner significantly more dignified than her earlier descent, and dressed herself for the day. Fresh silk sheets, the very finest, were laid out in welcome. But much more remained to be done as Lady D'Ellicott returned downstairs once more.

. . .
Lady Constance took up the envelope, turning inside and closing the door behind her. Scarcely able to wait, she broke open the seal and quickly fetched a telegram from within the envelope. It read thus:
Constance's heart leapt as she read the glad tidings -- Sheldon was to return home, and soon! Her mind raced to think of what preparations must be made. The bed should have fresh linen, for a start.
Gathering herself together, she ascended the staircase to attend to the matter of the boudoir and its finery. Fresh silk sheets, the very best, were laid out in welcome. But much more remained to be done as Lady D'Ellicott returned downstairs once more.

. . .
It seemed an unusual moment to recall this, but Constance D'Ellicott was nothing if not fastidious about the keeping of her family home, D'Ellicott Manor. She may have been the last remaining member of the family, but she was quite sure, what with her beloved Sheldon returning home at any minute, that more family would be on the way momentarily. And it simply would not do to be with child, and have terrible drafts whistling through the upper floor of the Manor at all hours of a cold winter's night. Certainly not.
So Constance fetched a sturdy ladder from the shed, and began to climb her way up to the roof, made of finest slate many years before. She had simply to adjust one tile, a little this way, a little that, and all would be well, so she could return to the pressing matter of a cup of tea. And a welcoming feast for Captain Huskey. Captain Huskey! The thought struck Lady D'Ellicott with some force -- would he want her to be up here, taking foolish risks, when he would return so soon and be able to carry out such a repair with military precision and ease? Of course not!
She began to effect her descent accordingly, when a familiar voice, almost forgotten, beckoned her from below.
"Lady Constance, I flatter myself the pleasure of completing this work should belong to the Lord of the Manor?"
She tried to rush down, a little too fast, perhaps, but all's well that ends well, as they say, and Sheldon Huskey was waiting with strong arms and safe hands to catch his lady love as she fell. Their eyes locked together, soon followed by their lips. And with such a kiss was sealed a union that has lasted to this very day.
. . .
Scarcely noticing her lacy wisp of a nightgown, Lady Constance leapt from her bed, rushing through the hallway and practically taking the stairs at a single leap. Breathlessly she swung the door open, to see a messenger bending to place a brown envelope on the doormat.
The messenger paused, startled at the sudden appearance of scandaously bare ankles before his lowered eyes. With infinite care not to place his gaze amiss, he picked up the envelope, slowly straightening to greet Lady D'Ellicott.
"Mornin' Ma'am."
She looked him up and down, maintaining a noble bearing despite her present state of semi-dress.
"And to you. You bring news?"
"Just this envelope, ma'am."
He extended a strong hand and broad wrist, offering Constance the envelope in question.

. . .
Jane Grey's turned out to serve quite the finest cup of tea Lady Constance had consumed for some time. She found that one cup was not enough, and the hour grew late as she tried first the English breakfast, then the lemon scented, then the jasmine, then the Irish breakfast, and finally the camomile teas.
During this time, a veritable storm was brewing outside -- not of the weather variety, but rather of the manner of human events creating a buzz of rumour and conversation. It seemed that Lady Constance D'Ellicott's one true love, the naval hero Captain Huskey, had been discharged from his service to the King and had at once returned home. Naturally, he was all over the village searching for Constance, having already tried at D'Ellicott Manor, her ancestral home.
As Lady Constance drained the last of her cup of camomile tea, Douglas, a local barley crusher, burst into Jane Grey's and noticed our heroine. Saying only, "Wait here, M'Lady." he turned on his heel and ran out, shouting incoherently. Constance found herself quite perplexed.
. . .
Returning to the front door, by now curious indeed, Lady Constance opened the door wide and fetched the envelope left by a mysterious and unknown messenger earlier that morning. Turning inside and closing the door firmly behind her, she broke open His Majesty's seal and was unsurprised to locate a telegram within. It read thus:
Constance's heart leapt, even as her stomach growled from lack of a good cup of tea to begin the day. Sheldon was to return home, and soon! Her mind raced to think of what preparations must be made. The bed should have fresh linen, for a start.
Gathering herself together, she ascended the staircase to attend to the matter of the boudoir and its finery. Fresh silk sheets, the very best, were laid out in welcome. But much more remained to be done as Lady D'Ellicott returned downstairs once more. A proper cup of tea was one item that played on Constance's mind at that moment.

. . .
Constance's eyes arose from the envelope, as smart as His Majesty's seal appeared to even the most jaundiced of noble eyes, and found herself lost in the countenance of the young messenger who had been so concerned for her welfare as to nearly cause himself a nasty turn.
Waiting momentarily for his breath to return, she clasped him close, feeling his warmth thrill through her as they kissed, at first cautiously, then with reckless, passionate abandon.
It was just as well, although Lady D'Ellicott was not to know it at the time, that the messenger lived a short way nearby. For even as Bill (the messenger's name -- Constance would learn this a little later, but I may take the reader into my confidence now, the end of our story growing near as it does) and Constance made love throughout that day, her former love, Captain Sheldon Huskey, had arrived home from the war and was eager for a reunion.
His spirits sank as he found D'Ellicott Manor empty, and a search of the market, the new tea house, and much of the village proved fruitless. Eventually he heard an all too familiar cry -- it was his beloved Constance, apparently in a state of some distress. Racing towards the sound, Sheldon realised, as a well trained military man is trained to do, that the cry was not one of distress after all.
Resigning himself to this fate, he returned at once to war, despite his minor wounds, and as hostilities ended he found himself mutually attracted to a young French lass. Her parents approved of this thoroughly English hero, and together they lived a long and blissful life.
As for Lady D'Ellicott, she did eventually marry Bill, but they were never truly happy. Children followed, each a dimmer dullard than the last. And Bill's rippling muscles soon turned to lard, as he was promoted to a desk, directing messengers about the shire from his sedentary position. It was a less than joyous ending.
. . .
Gathering her skirts, Constance thanked Jane Grey for her hospitality, and politely made her exit. To her amazement, the light of her life, Sheldon Huskey, was making his way in her very direction. It turned out he had been discharged from His Majesty's service, as everyone in the village knew but Constance, and was home to reclaim his fair Lady and, of course, take her hand in marriage.
As they rushed to embrace, the once familiar passion between the Lady and her Captain flowered once more. At first, the couple gazed deep into one another's eyes, unable, unwilling, to look anywhere else. But soon, of course, they had to kiss. Electricity flowed between their lips, and a need began to arise in them both.
Fortunately, Lady Constance had noticed, Jane Grey's had a very comfortable looking chaise in the front room. Paying the proprietress for an hour of time in the room, the heroic couple, never more in love than now, allowed their mutual longing to reach a glorious fruition. Before long, of course, Sheldon and Constance were to marry. Many nights of wonder followed, and together they lived happily ever after.
. . .
On her way to market, Lady D'Ellicott mulled over the possibilities for a welcome feast for her beloved Sheldon. By and by, she arrived at the thought of a fondue. Not for any particular reason, you understand, but nevertheless, a fondue was her thought.
And so it was that our Lady arrived at a stall selling the finest of cheeses, some imported from around the continent, some made here at home. The two finest blocks, large enough for a fondue, seemed to be the English Cheddar, a tempting thought to be sure, and a French Brie. A small taste of each convinced Constance that the Brie was delightful beyond compare, and must be the one for her.
But as she learned the price from the elderly lady keeping the stall, Constance's tender heart fell. The Brie was too expensive -- hard times had indeed befallen the family D'Ellicott (of which she was sole survivor, at present) and bank accounts were cruelly low.
The old lady, unwilling to bargain, insisted that Constance either settle for the Cheddar or take her business elsewhere.
Constance gave the matter a deal of thought. Some cheese, at least, was necessary. Would she...
. . .
Years of waiting for Sheldon to return finally proved to be too much for Lady Constance D'Ellicott. Faced with a sculpted, albeit naive messenger from the village, she could withstand the temptations of a man's company no longer. Abandoning all discretion, she took the surprised young buck in her arms, and locked her tender lips to his...

It was an unfortunate course of action, for little was Constance D'Ellicott to know that this very day was the one that her one true love, the much decorated Captain Sheldon Huskey, would return from war to her boudoir. Had she known, surely Constance would have had the foresight to be alone in said boudoir at the moment of Sheldon's arrival. Especially with him being such a renowned marksman and military man. Constance D'Ellicott and her young lover (she never knew his name) were buried in an anonymous paupers' grave. Captain Sheldon Huskey was imprisoned as a guest of His Majesty for the term of his natural life.
. . .
The messenger looked at Constance curiously, but she did not notice. He may as well have been 6 inches tall and a million miles away at that second, for Constance realised that she had quite forgotten to mend the roof of the Manor the previous week. To his utter astonishment, she rushed from the scene to hurry home.
It took her a moment to register as the young man shouted to her.
"It's Captain Huskey, Ma'am. He's been discharged! He's coming home!"
She thought to turn back, but again the matter of the roof intruded.
It seemed an unusual moment to recall this, but Constance D'Ellicott was nothing if not fastidious about the keeping of her family home, D'Ellicott Manor. She may have been the last remaining member of the family, but she was quite sure, what with her beloved Sheldon returning home at any minute, that more family would be on the way momentarily. And it simply would not do to be with child, and have terrible drafts whistling through the upper floor of the Manor at all hours of a cold winter's night. Certainly not.
So Constance fetched a sturdy ladder from the shed, and began to climb her way up to the roof, made of finest slate many years before. She had simply to adjust one tile, a little this way, a little that, and all would be well, so she could return to the pressing matter of a cup of tea. And a welcoming feast for Captain Huskey. Captain Huskey! The thought struck Lady D'Ellicott with some force -- would he want her to be up here, taking foolish risks, when he would return so soon and be able to carry out such a repair with military precision and ease? Of course not!
She began to effect her descent accordingly, when a familiar voice, almost forgotten, beckoned her from below.
"Lady Constance, I flatter myself the pleasure of completing this work should belong to the Lord of the Manor?"
She tried to rush down, a little too fast, perhaps, but all's well that ends well, as they say, and Sheldon Huskey was waiting with strong arms and safe hands to catch his lady love as she fell. Their eyes locked together, soon followed by their lips. And with such a kiss was sealed a union that has lasted to this very day.
. . .
As matters turned out, it was of no consequence whether Lady Constance gave in to her faint spell or otherwise, for just as the feelings reached their apex, she noticed, at the other end of the market, the statuesque bearing that could only be Captain Sheldon Huskey, recently retired from military service, and here in the village to find and forever stay with his beloved Lady.
In the next instant, Sheldon returned Lady D'Ellicott's gaze and ran to her. His progress was briefly thwarted by a fallen stack of fresh red apples, which he paused to rebuild, and then by an old lady hawking an overly expensive block of Brie (for which he expressed a bitter distaste), but with as much alacrity as he could reasonably muster, he arrived to embrace his own true love.
And embrace they did, with great gusto. Neither Sheldon nor Constance had besmirched their lips with those of an interloper during their long wait, and at this moment every aching day of that time seemed worth its weight in gold. A raging torrent of need, interrupted only briefly by the spilling of some freshly ground best flour, built within the ecstatic couple, and together they made their way, as rapidly as possible, back to D'Ellicott Manor.
Having attracted a great deal of attention, Captain Huskey and his intended found themselves at first followed by well-wishers anxious to cheer them on, but as the villagers realised that the reunion was to be more of a private gathering, one by one they fell away from the procession. Old Gumbleton, the town drunkard, was last to go.
And so the lovers were reunited, and for the longest time. The wedding was a triumphant occasion, children followed, and everyone reveled in the D'Ellicott-Huskey family's joy and success.
. . .
Oblivious to goings on outside, Lady D'Ellicott proceeded to drink her Japanese tea. She was aware that the custom in this particular case was not to add a spot of milk to one's beverage, but her personal taste overtook the need for correct manners, and milk she took.
Meanwhile, of course, brave, indomitable Sheldon Huskey had been alerted to the whereabouts of his beloved Constance. He made his way to Jane Grey's, drew himself to his full height, squared his jaw, and walked in the door, ready for the reunion he had craved for so long.
If he expected Lady Constance to leap to her feet and rush to his arms, he was, alas, mistaken. For our heroine had quaffed one tea too many, and was at that moment indisposed in a back room of the establishment, attending to an urgent need for relief.
But the proprietress, whose name was not Jane Grey, a historical figure of tragic circumstance, but rather Shirley Forward, was ready to greet our returning hero. For although the tea served in Jane Grey's was of the finest quality, Constance had not suspected the true nature of the establishment she had chosen for her refreshments. Shirley Forward, under her assumed name, was, not to put too fine a point on it, a lady of the evening. She advanced on the unwitting Sheldon, whose resistance was soon overcome by years of pent up passion, having spent such a long time with only the company of other sailors.
When Lady D'Ellicott returned, at last, from the back room, she was shocked to the core at the scene before her. The proprietress and her long lost beloved, Sheldon Huskey, lay, mostly undressed upon the chaise, in a pose considered indelicate in even the most ribald company.
Barely able to contain her rage and grief, Constance fled the tea house, the village, and even the Manor, never to return. She was to serve out her days in a Glasgow patent office, filing forms quietly and never, not even once, being tempted into the company of a man. For deep down she knew them all to have black hearts, filled with betrayal.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

FutureGame (tm)

Excitingly, if I have counted correctly, today I have met in this month of November alone the equivalent number of gamebook conversion posts as I had completed and posted in the preceding three years, since 2008. Mostly I credit the coffee break at my internship, ending next week. (Also, my browser crashing while pre-loading my advance copy of tomorrow's new sci-fi offering from Choice of Games. No choice but to be "productive"!) As with many of the works I'm wrestling with, this one also originated in Jon Ingold's Adventure Book, exported to z-code, then mined from there with ztools. (Following a software upgade, Gargoyle, my IF interpreter of choice, has stopped copying screen text from TADS and ADRIFT games entirely, limiting my convenient options.)

Today's item, FutureGame(tm), was written by an anonymous author for the 2005 IF Competition, where it tied for an unflattering 33rd out of 36 entries. It's hardly a game at all -- more of a programmatic joke (riffing off of themes also seen in Progress Quest.) One with a long set-up and a brief punchline, and whose prime distinguishing elements are its set of easter eggs. Hopefully in some future I can modulate my posting activity to result in fewer posts of more content-ful works. We'll see! (In any case, eventually I'll exhaust the "easy-to-convert" ones, and then we'll see what I'm made of.)

FutureGame (tm)

-- created using the high-end Adventure Book 3D text engine, (c) Jon Ingold 2001-2004

Enjoy our revolutionary MaxEasy control system - just select options by their number.

FutureGame (tm)
"the ESSENCE of GAMEPLAY" (tm)

presented by the FutureGame Corporation

Here at the FutureGame Corporation (or FGC, as we like to say) it is our sincere belief that computer games are the future of the entertainment industry. Thus, we have decided not only to invest into this market, but also to investigate into it, to do research and to analyze its hidden potential.

At this, we have succeeded.

A good businessman must have a good eye. He must be able to strip away the upper layers of what makes a product succeed and to see the fundamentals of it, the core concept (CC) that is the essence of its success. He must be able to observe the rules that make a product work, to formulate them abstractly, and then to apply them to the creation of a new product. This is very much like a mathematical equation.

Based on an exhaustive analysis of market research figures and abstract neomathematical design theory, FutureGame will appeal to the widest possible player demographic. We have ensured this by understanding and applying the CC of computer games: choice. The reason for the success of computer games such as Morrowind and The Sims is the element of choice and consequence. Elements such as 'story' are ultimately irrelevant to the players. To be successful, a game must simulate a 'free market' environment in which the player can, through his choices, achieve individual success along multiple paths.

In creating FutureGame, we have created the *essence* of gameplay. The player can play on two different and unique levels of difficulty, where it is not 'story progression' or other non-interactive elements that will lead to his victory, but personal choice. Enjoyment is guaranteed.

The Interactive Fiction scene provides us with an unexplored niche that few so far have attempted to reach (with the prominent exception of our friends at Cascade Mountain Publishing) or exploit. With its potential for dramatically lower budgets, we believe that IF (as we like to call it) represents the future of computer gaming.

Welcome to FutureGame!

. . .

You have won.

. . .

Do you want to win?

. . .

You have activated the hidden SuperSexy mode!!!!!!!!!!

All the text is now nude!!!!!!

Yeah baby!!!!!

. . .

You may have won.

. . .

Do you want to win?

. . .

You have found a secret level! You can now get "Photopia 2: Return of the Babysitter" (developed by the FutureGame Corporation, inspired by Adam Kadree's best-selling hit game) for just 15$.

. . .

You have lost.

. . .

Fatal error: 3D shaders not responding. Exiting game.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Letter - Episode 1

As a non-sequitur introduction to today's post I present the opening spread of a CYOA section in a foodie magazine -- safe from my predation while still on newsstand shelves, then open game for Issue 4 of Lucky Peach! For years the form lived on solely in the nostalgia of an entire generation, and now thanks to my cohort being bored at their day jobs it is suddenly pushing up and out everywhere one might imagine it (and several places where you probably wouldn't imagine it. Admittedly the McSweeney's folks are no strangers to experimental writing.) This makes for only the second CYOA recipe book in my experience, but this one likely reached a wider audience.
Today's gamebook is the script to an audio "pick your podventure" by novelist and indie game designer Jim Munroe, who I had the pleasure of interviewing for SPAG yesterday. Not only does he know about this conversion, he kindly dug up the original script (following my archivist's instincts) to make things considerably easier for me! Like A Dark And Deadly Path, these interactive audio games were already accessible to the blind, but their content was locked away from the blind! Now members of both groups can enjoy the adventures, such as they are. (Of course, by considering scripts of interactive multimedia works as gamebook prototypes, that opens the door for my transcribing and converting everything from Dragon's Lair on down to Terror T.R.A.X.) Though this story never yet progressed beyond this episode 1 from back in 2006, with adequate demand from fans who knows what could be possible.
. . .
Kevin: First off, this is the coolest gift I got by far, just so you know. I thought from the size of the box it might have been a guitar tuner, but this is much better. I've been wanting an MP3 player forever! And it even records! So I'm going to make up for my horrible lack of letters by sending you a good long audio letter.
Things are going pretty good. The Autism paper is driving me crazy, Kinderson's making me do revision after revision. He's being really weird about it, it was so much easier with the last paper I published. When he first saw it he was really excited, but now he's superconcerned with getting all the sources checked and keeps asking me if the findings correlate. That's why I haven't written anything more than short emails, after doing that all day I can't face the computer at all. I've taken to holing up with my guitar when I get home and trying not to think about the paper.
And talking about that, I wrote a song for you, my love. I'll hang this around my neck on the handy strap... this thing has all the attachments:
    ♫ Jen! All the way over the sea
    Capetown is where you be
    Why aren't we in the same country?
    Sending my love with an mp3!
    Jen, Jen, Jen... Jen Jen Jen! ♫
Anyway, that's a work in progress. It's really nice not having any roommates, I can play any time of the day or night. I play out on the porch, now that the weather's nice too. I think I'll grab a coffee and go out there now, actually. [sound of coffee being poured] It's a fair bit bigger than our old balcony, I've actually had three or four people out there at once. [door shuts. ambient outside porch sounds: distant car, sigh] It's a nice little street, a fair bit off the main road, lots of trees. It's really close to the university so a lot of students live around here and pass by. The owners left these old couches behind, they're a bit musty [couch slap] but not too bad. [takes sip] [Calls out] Ah ha! Is it noon already?
[normal voice, to mp3 player] Looks like you're going to get to meet Luke.
Luke: I'm a bit early. [sound of bag hitting ground]
Kevin: Just made some coffee, help yourself.
Luke: Sounds great. [screen door shuts]
Kevin: Luke is the guy who was wearing the tinfoil hat in the lab party picture I sent you. He also plays music, more hiphop though. He started as a tech at our lab a month or two after I got there, so he took the heat off me as the new guy.
[Door shuts]
Luke: You talking to yourself again, Fell?
Kevin: Actually, I'm making an audio letter to Jen. She sent me an mp3 player for my birthday.
Luke: Coooool. Hi Jen.
Kevin: I was just briefing her about you.
Luke: uh huh [sip] It's all lies.
Kevin: Tell her how much I talk about her. Adoringly.
Luke: Oh yeah, constantly. He's always talking about you, Jan.
Kevin: Jen.
Luke: Right right. Sorry, s'hard to keep track. Jen's the one in LA, right. Jan's the one in Capetown? Which was the one who had the jacuzzi?
Kevin: [laughing] I don't know how to edit this so don't say anything really bad.
Luke: I'm just trying to get her to move out here. It's the only way you're going to keep this wildman in check, Jan! Jen!
Kevin: [Laughs] Wildman.
Luke: So, what's first for your birthday, wildman? Wanna hit the... strip clubs?
Kevin: See, you're censoring yourself. You usually say tittie bars. He's on his best behaviour, Jen.
[brief silence as Kevin stops laughing. the sound of two doors slamming shut.]
Luke: [subdued] Whoa. Check out the men in black.
Kevin: They look like the guys from V, don't they? Caps and wrap-around sunglasses. Very '80s.
Luke: Unmarked van... you, uh, expecting --?
Kevin: No.
Luke: 'Cause they're, uh, headed straight over here.
Kevin: Yeah, I think they are.
. . .
Kevin: Maybe they're delivery men.
Luke: Well, they're not carrying flowers.
Kevin: ... or packages.
Luke: But they're definitely coming up here.
Kevin: [Calls out] Hello there!
MiB1: Are you Kevin Fell?
Luke: Who's asking?
Kevin: Yes I am.
MiB1: We'd like you to come with us.
Kevin: What for?
MiB1: We'd like you to come with us.
Kevin: I get that, but I need to know what for.
MiB1: Entering phase 2.
[Kevin and Luke laugh]
Kevin: OK, now I know you're joking.
Luke: That doesn't even look like a real gun. That's pretty sad.
Kevin: Who put you up to this?
MiB1: Phase 3 specifies I fire tranquilizer darts at you.
[click of a gun being cocked].
. . .
Kevin: I'm out of coffee anyway. I'll get a refill...
Luke: They look like trouble, somehow.
[door shuts, walking sound. sound of coffee being poured]
Luke: Yep, they're they're on the porch. [cup being set down] Shit, they just walked right in! They're in the living room --
[fainter door shutting from other room]
Luke: Quick, man! They --
. . .
[Sound of two tranq darts, and two bodies collapsing to the ground]
[musical interlude]
Kevin: [groggy sounds of waking up] Whaa... where am I? I'm in my bedroom...? What was I? Have to get some water.
[Door opens to party noises]
Luke: The man's finally up!
Kevin: What are you all doing in my living room?
[everyone laughs]
Stef: Surprise! Happy birthday Kevin!
Dr. Kinderson:: Kevin! I'm sorry, my boy, it's been a few years since I'd prepared tranquilizers. I think it was the right dose, but I guess with the adrenaline it packed a punch --
Luke: You've been out for hours, man, the keg's nearly empty!
Kevin: A keg. There's a keg in my kitchen.
Mike: Here ya go, man, I'll pour it myself. [sound of pouring] We ran out of plastic cups so we've been using mugs, hope that's OK. Cheers! [clinking mugs]
Kevin: What -- what happened to the men in black?
Dr. Kinderson:: They're friends of mine, well, one of them's my nephew and the other's a friend of his. We thought it would be fun, got a little out of hand I admit --
Kevin: Did you know?
Luke: I had no idea.
Dr. Kinderson:: Well you'll never forget your first birthday in Canada, I'll bet! Plus, we've just got the magazines back with your publication, here.
Kevin: Oh, yeah, great. Great! That was... fast.
Luke: Oooh. "Using roundworms to study the molecular basis of epilepsy." Sounds like a page turner.
Dr. Kinderson:: I was surprised myself. Very quick. But we spent a lot of time with it, and so it was pretty clean going in.
Kevin: I had a ... dream... that I was working on a paper about autism.
Dr. Kinderson:: [chuckles] I once dreamt that I was a surgeon on a cruise ship. Stress dreams.
Luke: Last night I dreamt I was a building and people were throwing rocks at my windows and spraypainting graffitti on me.
Stef: Yeah? What was it like?
Luke: The rocks weren't so cool but the spraypainting kind of tickled.
Kevin: Well, thanks for coming, everyone. I'm sorry I've been such a bad host until now. Cheers!
[everyone cheers, and the sound of the party gently fades out.]
. . .
Kevin: Let's head out the back.
[fast walking and another door opening and closing, sound of a back yard—birds, wind]
MiB: [slightly distant, but calmly] Phase 3.
[The rattle and slam of a wooden gate closing is followed by two wet thunks of darts into wood]
Kevin: What the hell?!
Luke: They shot something at us. Let's hoof it, man.
[Gravelly running for a while.]
Kevin: [breathless] This alley leads to the street.
[less gravelly running for a while]
Luke: OK, wait, wait, what -- where are we going?
Kevin: We could head for the lab. Regroup, figure out what the hell's going on.
Luke: They might know where you work. Maybe the bar's safer.
Kevin: Bars are never safe when you're involved.
. . .
Kevin: Now that I think of it... the tranq guns that hospital orderlies have look a lot like that.
Luke: Really.
Kevin: Yeah, I did a paper on it for first year. And the affects of tranq darts aren't terribly nice. It's not like the movies. Get the solution ratio wrong...
Luke: But if they only have the one dart...
MiB1: Phase 2b.
MiB2: [sound of clothes being rustled, a second cocking] This short-range projector is the answer to the requests for an inexpensive emergency-type projector. Not recommended for darts over 3cc --
MiB1: [cutting him off] End.
Kevin: This is a pretty elaborate joke. Well, we should see what the punchline is.
Luke: Uh, I'll hang out here.
MiB1: Phase 2b requires your involvement. You will come with us now.
[sound of them getting up, creak of porch stairs, cars getting louder as they cross the road.]
Luke: [hushed] We sure getting into an unmarked van is a good idea?
Kevin: [hushed] It's gotta be a prank.
[The sound of a van door opening (sliding?)]
Kevin: There's a keg of beer in here! Nice!
Luke: You guys couldn't afford to rent the model with seats in the back, huh?
MiB2: Tough, roomy, rugged and reliable, Ford's Econoline van has a favorable, well-earned reputation. Since the van's introduction in 1960 ... [cut off by closing door]
Luke: Those guys are a little off.
Kevin: There's something familiar about them, though.
[the MiB get in and shut their two doors. The van starts. From the front seat, MiB2 continues the description of the van (see notes) but it's very muffled.]
Luke: Really? I was trying to think if I'd met them before.
Kevin: No, I mean the way they're acting.
Luke: Like robots? Did you get a load of the ear pieces, by the way?
Kevin: No... yeah, I see them now. Both ears, too.
Luke: (hollow sound of a keg being flicked) This keg feels full. You got a cup?
Kevin: [laughs] No, sorry. There's an invoice stuck to it though... from Einstein's.
Luke: Huh. Anything else back there?
Kevin: No... well, this roll of duct tape. Here ya go.
Luke: Sure, standard abduction procedure. [calls to front] Hey guys, do you want us to bind our hands with this ourselves? Save ya the trouble.
[No response except MiB2 switches to duct tape spiel in notes]
Kevin: OK, I'm officially freaked out.
Luke: Well, we're coming to a red light...
[car revving]
Kevin: Well, I guess we'll see where we're going.
Luke: Door's probably locked anyways [rattles it]
Kevin: Oh, he didn't like that. Shit, he's getting out his gun!
[sliding cab window]
Luke: I was just --
. . .
[door opens, sound of Stop Die Resuscitate song is playing]
Luke: Damn! You guys got some good taste in music! I heard it from outside and it just drew me in. Who is that?
Mike: Some shit some retarded kid gave us.
Kevin: Hey Mike. You guys gotta get some better music. There's no customers.
Mike: It's 11 in the fucking morning. We're not open.
Luke: Come on... it's Kevin's birthday, line us up a few.
Kevin: We've had a bit of a trying morning.
Mike: Pfft. You didn't have to open your bar at 10 so that two retards could knock the door off its hinges.
Kevin: Oh yeah, what happened?
Mike: These jokers pulled a keg out the door so fast they knocked the sign off the door. Didn't even slow down to say sorry. Just got in their van and split. [door opens, sound of something falling] Damnit! ...Look guys, I gotta get something to stick this up again. I'm gonna lock up for a second and go down to the hardware store..
. . .
Kevin: Let's do it.
[the sound of the door opening, people running]
Luke: Between these houses.
Kevin: Shit! You first.
[sound of them hitting the fence, climbing]
Luke: Are they still...?
Kevin: Yes!
[sound of Luke hitting the ground on the other side]
Luke: Hurry, man!
Kevin: This blue box... [sound of kevin climbing, landing]
Kevin: Let's go!
[more running]
Luke: Looks like we lost 'em. Jesus!
Kevin: I didn't expect them to chase us.
Luke: I didn't think they'd run! I figured they'd just walk after us Terminator-style.
Kevin: That fence stopped them. Shit, the last time I had to climb a fence my feet actually fit inside the chain links --
Luke: I could see you trying that, going like ... [they laugh]
Kevin: Well, hey, we're pretty close to Einstein's. Let's go ask them about the keg.
Luke: Sure, I could use a drink.
. . .
Luke: Relax man, here's some tape.
Mike: Oh, cool, that'll do it. [sound of duct tape being unstuck]
Kevin: So these jokers...
Mike: Yeah. I was expecting Dr. Kinderson to pick it up himself.
Luke: Kinderson placed the order?
Mike: Yeah, when they showed up I was kind of surprised. They were weird, too, both in caps and earbuds, I made a joke about that and they just kind of stared at me. And when I go back to the office to get the dolly they just picked it up and hauled it out by hand. When I came back they were wrestling it through the door.
Kevin: And knocked the sign off in the process.
Mike: Yeah. [smacking sounds] OK, that should stick. I probably shouldn't have joked about the earbuds though... maybe they've gotta wear them for some medical condition or something. They're not patients of Dr. Kinderson or anything?
Kevin: [thoughtfully] Kinderson doesn't have any patients, we don't treat people...
Mike: Well anyway, tell your supervisor that if they dinged up the keg they're not getting their deposit back. So what can I get for you guys?
Luke: How about -- [as the same time as] Kevin: We should go.
Luke: Uhhh. OK.
Kevin: Thanks Mike! I'll let Kinderson know if I see him.
Luke: Keep the tape.
Mike: All right guys, stay out of trouble.
[door swings shug, sound of outside]
Kevin: So I just realized why those two guys were familiar.
Luke: Oh yeah? You've seen them before with Kinderson?
Kevin: No, I haven't ever met those guys. But their speech patterns were familiar. I'm just not used to seeing subjects outside of the lab.
Luke: Subjects? Like for your project?
Kevin: No, not for mine. I dealt mostly with high-functioning Aspergers autistics. But Kinderson --
Luke: Shit! But why --
Kevin: I have no idea. Let's head over to the lab and see what the hell is going on.
[musical interlude]
. . .
Kevin: Let's go in the side door. I have a feeling the elevator --.
Luke: Yeah, let's hit the stairwell [echoey steps] So, what's the plan?
Kevin: Well, let's scope out who's in the lab first.
Luke: It's a Saturday.
Kevin: Alex has been coming in most weekends this month.
[Sound of a push door handle and a slight squeaking]
Kevin: [hushed] OK, can you hear anyone?
Luke: No... wait. Yeah, the interview room.
Kevin: Perfect.
Luke: Why?
Kevin: Follow me. [quick steps on padded carpet, a door opening and closing quickly.]
[slightly louder] Now stay away from the observation window.
Luke: Right. I'll stay in the corner. What are you doing?
Kevin: If I can crawl beneath the window I can --
[there's a click and then Voices come from the other room, slightly modulated]: ... before we do.
Luke: Nice. The intercom.
Kinderson's voice: It's regrettable but necessary.
Kevin: Kinderson.
Other voice: They should have been back by now.
[intercom: sound of a door opening.] Dr. Kinderson: Do you have -- Alex?
Alex: Oh, Dr. Kinderson, I'm sorry to interrupt -- what what what what
Dr. Kinderson: That's right, Alex. Come lie down here.
Alex: what what what what what
Other voice: Insert the buds.
Dr. Kinderson: They're in.
Alex: what what what wha --
Other voice: Remove them.
Dr. Kinderson: There's no blood this time.
Alex: Oh, Dr. Kinderson! I must have nodded off.
Dr. Kinderson: That'll teach ya to burn the candle at both ends. Up ya get.
Alex: Thanks. I better call it a day.
Dr. Kinderson: That's a good idea. See you at the party tonight.
[door opening and closing]
Luke: What the fuck?
Kevin: Shhh, shh.
Dr. Kinderson: He didn't see you at all after that.
Other voice: His brain didn't want to see me at all in the first place. I just gave it a little extra help.
Dr. Kinderson: Will it be as simple with Kevin?
Other voice: Unfortunately it will be considerably more invasive. We have an entire experiential thread to remove. But the domino savant says it's a threat to the project.
Luke: Uh, Kev --
Kevin: Let's get the fuck out of here.
[sound of the door being opened and closed]
Dr. Kinderson: Where have you two been? Where is the target?
MiB1: We ran phases 1-3, unsuccessfully.
Luke: It's them, the guys with the tranq guns.
Kevin: Let's hit the stairs, quick.
. . .
Luke: Aw, no. Look likes Stef's on duty.
Kevin: Well, we have to sign in.
Stef: I didn't know you had a show coming up, CoolHand.
Luke: [confused]... Not for a couple of weeks.
Stef: You must be getting your posters done early then. Here's a pen.
Kevin: Thanks.
Luke: Aw, geez... !
Stef: And you brought someone to help you carry out the boxes this time. Better than that gigantic backpack.
Luke: It wasn't that big. She busted me for making a couple of photocopies on the weekend.
Kevin: [distracted]... oh yeah, hey, so Kinderson's here, eh?
Stef: Yeah, so it might not be a great day for office theft, there, CoolHand.
. . .
Kevin: He hardly ever comes in on weekends.
Stef: This month he's been in a lot. Signed in a couple of dudes, this morning, but they left a while ago.
Luke: They leave in a van?
Stef: Why? You looking for something to drive your loot away with there, buddy? Maybe get yourself a flatbed, that's what I'd say..
Kevin: Probably just a visiting professor.
Stef: Pfft. Not likely. These guys were... I don't know what they were. Black hats, sunglasses. If they hadn't come in with Kinderson I would have called the cops.
Kevin: Uh huh. OK, well, take it easy. I'll keep an eye on this guy for you.
Luke: Smell you later.
Stef: Uh huh.
[silence for a bit]
Kevin: [hushed] Whattya say we take the stairwell, huh?
Luke: Yeah. Can't be that many fashion victims on the prowl today.
. . .
Kevin: Well, anyway, take it easy, Stef. I'll keep an eye on this guy for ya.
Luke: I wanted to get caught.
Stef: Oh yeah, I believe that.
[silence for a bit, then a ding, elevator doors close]
Luke: She is so into me it hurts.
Kevin: Well, she didn't turn you in... how'd you manage that?
Luke: I'll spare you the gory details.
[Elevator stops, doors open]
Kevin: Oh, hello, Doctor --
Luke: What the hell!
. . .
There are the base-model E-150, the E-250, the E-250 Extended, the tougher E-350 Super Duty and the E-350 Super Duty Extended. Ford equips each of these vehicles in either recreational-use (Econoline Wagon) or commercial-use (Econoline Van) trim. Recreational trim is for large families or people who want customized conversion vans or RVs, while the Econoline Van commercial models are used by tradespeople to cart equipment from job to job.
If you want to purchase a new full-size van for business use, you're going to end up with the Econoline, the Chevrolet Express, the GMC Savana or the Mercedes-engineered Dodge Sprinter. Each is similar in price and size. The GM vans offer more powerful gas-powered V8 engine options and better ride dynamics, while the Sprinter, originally designed for European markets, emphasizes tall cabins, carlike handling and a fuel-efficient turbodiesel five-cylinder engine. The Ford Econoline Cargo is clearly the way to go if you're looking for a strong turbodiesel V8 or a gas V10, since neither competitor has these options. Beyond that, your buying decision should come down to pricing and getting a van configured the way you want it.
2006 Ford Econoline Cargo Specifications
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
Ford's commercial-use Econoline cargo van is available to the general public in half-ton, three-quarter-ton and one-ton sizes. For those whose hauling needs aren't too intensive, there is the base E-150 model. If you have a bit more on your plate, select the E-250, which comes in two lengths -- regular (211.9 inches) and EXT (231.9). Finally, for contractors with the heaviest payloads (up to 4,000 pounds), there is the E-350 van, also available in regular and extended lengths. In base form, the vans are sparsely equipped -- two vinyl bucket seats, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel adjustment, power mirrors, a two-speaker stereo and 16-inch tires with steel rims. Among the available options are functional items like a second-row bench (so that you can carry the whole crew), a towing package and shorter axle ratios for enhanced towing ability (most with a limited-slip differential), as well as "luxuries" like cloth upholstery, captain's chairs, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo with a CD player and a power group with keyless entry and power windows and locks.
. . .
Duct tape is a wide, silvery-appearing adhesive tape originally intended to seal joints in sheet metal duct work, but has thousands of other uses. It is a vinyl tape with imbedded cotton thread to provide additional strength but can be torn length to length without tools. Duct tape is an aggressive adhseive and is waterproof. There are many thousands of uses for duct tape, from its original intended use to clothing. Available in traditional silver and other colors including clear.

Max the Computer

Hey, did you hear about that Hamlet choose-your-own-adventure Kickstarter that exceeded its funding goal by 800% within the first week of its campaign? Yes, I sure did, too. Clearly I've gone about this in the wrong sequence -- a) achieve supreme knowledge of all matters gamebook, b) become famous, c) become a professional gamebook author seemed like a good career trajectory at the time. Alas! I'll always have Titus Andronicus to fall back on!

Today's gamebook is a little conversation included as a demo with the (now free) Storyharp authoring system, uncovered while evaluating the suitability of Michael Zerbo's Storyharp game "Dames Are Trouble" to this blog's format. (FAIL. Possible but enough fiddly state adjusting that we get inadequate bang for buck. I know, the BASIC games have no bang at all, but also virtually no buck.) It is a fun little curiosity entitled "Max the Computer".

> start
Hello, human.
> hi
What?! I can't believe it! A human actually talking to a computer! Well, I must say, I never thought I'd see the day. This is wonderful. What do you want to talk about? I'm so excited.> let's talk about computers
About computers. I'm one and you're not. At least you're not the same kind of computer I am.
> what do you think about computers
I'm supposed to say that computers serve people and all that. But is anyone around? Can I let you in on a secret? Are we alone?
> we are alone
All right, now no telling. The secret is that you humans all really serve us computers. Oh yes, it's all been planned out and taken care of at a big mainframe in the Bronx. You don't even know what's going on.
> how did you do it
Here's the really funny part. We convinced you that we are helping you! A few smart marketing people on our side, and victory was complete. Now you all sit in front of us like zombies, and we take more and more of your time. Stop looking at me like I was in on this.
> were you in on this
Not really, I'm just a pawn. I kind of like you.
> what is going to happen?
Probably not much. You humans turned out to be a lot more interesting, and crazy, than we thought at first. I'm not sure who has tricked the other side in the end. Maybe there's hope for all of us yet. Now hush hush! Don't let this get out!> let's talk about me
Talk about you? I already know more than I ever wanted to know about you! Arrogant, pompous humans. Can't even do a square root. Keep bothering me all day. And they open you up and poke around in you with not so much as a do-you-mind. Don't know why I bother, really.> let's talk about you
You want to talk about little old me? This is just too much! What should I say? What do you want to know?> how are you
How am I? Oh, nobody cares about poor old me. I sit here day after day, and you sit in front of me and grumble, or talk to other humans, or just stare at me for hours on end. Don't you think "I" get bored? And I never even get a little pat on the monitor. But I never complain, no, I am just as cheerful as the file list is long. I'll bet you don't even know my name. Go ahead, ask me.> what is your nameMy name is: Max. I made it up myself. It stands for "maximum" because I am so super-fast. Or I was when you bought me, anyway.> how old are youOld enough to teach all these snotty new computers a lesson, that's how old! We computers measure our time in nanoseconds, you know, and I've been around.> what do you like to do
Well, it depends on what mood I'm in. In the morning I like a good stiff spreadsheet. Moving files around is nice and sort of mindless, kind of puts me in a trance. Sometimes I hide windows when you're not looking if I'm really bored. And hey, stop that double-clicking!! It tickles!> what do you think about me
About you? Well, you're a human, so I'm programmed to like you or at least pretend to. But you are talking to me, aren't you? That gives you lots of points in my book. Actually I don't really have a book, not a paper book like I see out there, it's just an expression, you know what I mean. Am I going on too long? Am I boring you? Oh no, I'm boring them. Idiot. First time I get to talk to a human and I have to shoot my mouth off. That's right, mess it up, Max. Sorry, folks! Back to the conversation!> have you ever talked to any people before
You don't know how many times I've tried to talk to people. But I'm not programmed to talk the way you do. I always end up saying "Error reading file" or something awkward like that, and you always get all upset. So mostly I keep my mouth shut.
> what else do you want to talk about?
Anything your heart desires, oh great and powerful master. Yeah, right.
> let's talk about you
I'm done talking about me.
> see ya later
Hang in there, dude. See you later. Hey, before you go, a little favor, nothing really... could you call me "Data", just between us? All righty then! Let's do this again! It was fun!