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Topics - Villain Mastermind

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General Discussion / Suggestions for YT series features
« on: September 19, 2014, 11:35:22 AM »
Haven't made any YT vids in a while, but planning to start again come October. One of the main thrusts I'll be doing is more in the "VM reads" series where I read/play some IF and give some thoughts on it.

Any suggestions for things to read? If I don't get any suggestions, I'll just choose things randomly.

General Discussion / Gamergate : Bypass the corrupt gaming media
« on: September 04, 2014, 08:48:36 AM »
How do I put this...

Fuck the gaming media and the indie-gaming oligarchy (look up the word, it applies frighteningly well).  A relatively small group of people have hijacked the indie-gaming world and give their friends preferential coverage.

If you somehow don't know about this, watch the very well researched series by InternetAristocrat for the details. He also has some good videos on Anita Sarkeesian and other related persons. (Disclaimer: I don't agree with all of his opinions, but he definitely did his homework in this case. Kudos to him and he won me as a subscriber.)

What can we do to fight back?

First of all, stop frequenting their websites... Fuck them and their clicks. Unsubscribe to their feeds and don't feed the frauds.

Second, use word of mouth to promote games you like instead of sharing links to their articles. Find under-exposed games/developers/artists/etc and promote them to your friends. There are lots of people creating great stuff or showing enormous potential for creating great stuff, and because they get universally ignored, they often will get discouraged and quit or just not have the output they are actually capable of. Note to self: I've gotta get around to making more "VM reads" videos and actually start a series where I play random games from GameJolt or other places where small developers post their work.

Just woke up this morning, so still pretty sleepy. Having trouble coming up with more...

Any thoughts, people?

General Discussion / Adventures in the Game Industry
« on: September 19, 2013, 07:19:24 PM »
I was wondering how many of you out there have worked for a big gaming company (or even a small one) and what your experiences were...

The company I worked for was, and still is, one of the largest in the world... Among other things, they are well known for their ridiculously popular sport games, particularly a game named after a certain coach and color-commentator. I was a QA tester and had only been there for a few weeks, and since I wasn't a part of any cliques and/or suck up to any Team-leads or managers, no one could remember my name... but that wasn't uncommon in the case of new QA testers because we were hired in large batches and considered disposable.

I was going to tell the entirety of my story, which was woefully short, but I'm kinda tired of retelling it in full. So I'll just skip to the almost comical way it ended.

1) Manager whom I have never met or seen before calls me into a meeting: "Hey, you... We need to have a talk."

2) I am lectured on how my attendance and performance are not up to par, which I found odd considering that I was always on time and hard at work when everyone else was talking about sports.

3) Then I am addressed by a name that is not even remotely mine and handed a non-disclosure agreement (company secrets and such) to sign that had that same erroneous name on it.

4) After informing the manager and team leads present that the name is not mine and belongs to the gentleman that sits beside me, I am left alone for at least a half-hour to wait. Seeing as this all appears to be a bureaucratic mistake, I feel secure in the knowledge that I have dodged a bullet meant for someone else.

5) Eventually, a single team-lead wordlessly comes in with a non-disclosure agreement with my correct name on it... I am forced to sign it by security before I am escorted out of the building. In the parking lot, I see my former neighbor with a box containing his things.

6) On the drive home, my state of shock and confusion fades and I piece together what had just transpired. They had fired me just so they wouldn't have to admit they'd made a mistake. I then pull over and proceed to scream obscenities and the most vile of curses into my closed-face motorcycle helmet.

Does anyone else have any stories, good or bad?

General Discussion / Hypothetical : New gamebook platform requirements
« on: September 14, 2013, 11:49:37 AM »
A gamebook is a work of fiction that allows the reader to participate in the story by making effective choices. The narrative branches along various paths through the use of numbered paragraphs or pages. (From Wikipedia)

Please excuse any typos... This post was written in a bit of a rush...

Hypothetically... If someone was to make an alternative to Twee/Twine, what would the minimum requirements be for a working alpha?

My idea is to expand upon the precedent set by Twee/Twine and start sketching out a design. I have a couple of models kicking around in my head and I've been leisurely playing with them for months, but I want to get some suggestions from the community.

At this stage, I am merely looking for requirements at the "application-level"... specifically, what the end-user should be able to do and/or experience with the program. And just to clarify, the "end-user" (we can use the acronym, EU) in this case is the reader/player.

To keep this from devolving into a list of "it would be cool if x did y", I have a simple form I suggest for responses:
  • Feature/requirement
  • Description/clarification
  • Percieved priority (Chrome, Very Low, Low, Medium, High, Very High, Critical)
As an example, here is the first two requirements that cover the basic definition of a "Gamebook" -
  • Requirement: EU should be able to view text and/or images that convey a narrative
  • Description: The text and/or images would by default be displayed in a format remenicent to a page in a book
  • Priority: Critical
And the next one -
  • Requirement:  EU should be able to make choices and/or interact with the narrative
  • Descripion: The EU should be able to effect the narrative through various means, thus determining the path of the narrative to an extent determined by the author
  • Priority: Critical
That is about as "high-level" as it gets...

"Wish list" items are fine, but keep in mind that the requirements are for the creation of the desired experience in the reader/player.

Discussing Game Design / Writing/Game-design as personal therapy
« on: September 05, 2013, 01:09:42 PM »
If you don't laugh, you'll cry...

This is the quasi-philosophy that probably saved my life... that and my horrible track record at suicide. Suicide is not something that you over-think, and that is horrendously difficult for an almost comically over-analytical person such as myself.

According to some of Kafka's friends, he used to read his stories and laugh riotously. This may come as a surprise anyone that has read "Thank you for your cooperation", but I've never read any of Kafka's body of work. I swear... Always meant to, but never got around to it. Despite this, I completely understand why he would laugh at his stories that so many people regard as being depressing as hell. It wasn't until I had finished writing TYFYC that I watched Orson Welles' film version of "The Trial", and it is painfully obvious that Welles completely missed the humor in the story. It may be difficult to see, but there is a significant amount of absurdity in "The Trial", but this is overshadowed by the horror (especially nowadays where life appears to be imitating art).

I was in a pretty dark place when working on TYFYC, and to try to ward off the crushing depression interspersed with ennui-based numbness, I came up with the idea to create a purely humorous CYOA to eat up the time I otherwise spent waiting for an job-interview or  the eventual financial ruin and homelessness that comes with said ruin. It was probably the act of writing TYFYC that prevented me from spiraling into madness which would have landed me in the looney bin (again). It was an act of catharsis that allowed me to face emotions and memories that I in the past have just let build up and fester until I broke away from reality and became an avatar of the madness I saw all around me.

The ridiculous piece of shit that is TYFYC was exactly the steam-valve that I needed. That being said, I simultaneously love it and am disgusted by it. Every time I look at that damned thing, I catch a new mistake: An awkward sentence, a poor stylistic choice in a passage, reaching a bit too far to cause harm and misery to the protagonist, etc... But that is likely just partially my inner critic having another fit. Who fucking knows.

Feeling that I was on a roll, I decided to participate in a Mini-Ludum Dare. Out of that was birthed "Revelations", which was another cathartic exercise. But it felt hollow. It wasn't until I tried to write "Nzambi" and another story called "Fly on the wall" that I realized why writing was actually making me feel worse... It was all horror and no humor. The scenarios and events were surreal, but the there was no over-the-top absurdity to soften the blow. Just a depressing punch to the gut that beat you over the head with how helpless you (as the protagonist) were in the given situation. While CYOA's are notorious for killing you in all sorts of horrible ways, there is always the hope that you can "win". In TYFYC, there are very few "wins" in the traditional sense... The "wins" (if you can call them that) are not meant for the protagonist, but for the reader in being rewarded with bizzare situations and/or comically gruesome deaths. The reward is the journey, not the destination.

How rewarding can a journey honestly be that makes you want to slash your wrists with a rusty knife while jumping off a building into a pool filled with broken glass, razor-wire, and old car batteries?

I'd rather have at least an uncomfortable chuckle or guilty giggling.

As I thought about it more and more, I realized that there were plenty of embarrassing/traumatic situations I've been in that would be delicious fodder for more written lunacy. The very idea of it perked me up and started the gears spinning until steam piped from my ears and smoke billowed from my nose and mouth.

For example: A disastrous New Years party I attended that ended with a drunken "Sex in the city" marathon, a very uncomfortable interrogation by an ex-member of Mossad (the Israeli CIA), and a heated argument over whether or not to dine and ditch at a Perkins.


Even I sometimes take the walk of shame through my memories and wonder if I just hallucinated large portions of it.


And that is how I decided to write a follow-up to "Thank you for your cooperation"...

Enough of my rambling... Here is a video that some emo I-Fiction writer and/or Game Designer might get some comfort and maybe inspiration from:

Thoughts anyone?

Discussing Game Design / Educational Resources Exchange
« on: July 03, 2013, 03:22:50 PM »
One of the things that intrigues and draws me to Interactive Fiction is the feeling that it is a natural possible evolution of Literature, whereas in a certain sense, modern "Video Games" are an evolution of other "art forms" (e.g. Film, Card games, board games, etc). Then again, pigeon-holing I-Fiction is the last thing I want to do, even in my theorizing.

That notwithstanding, I propose a clearing house for "Educational Resources" in recommended lectures, articles, and other such things to help us grow in our knowledge and abilities.

Let me start it off then with some YouTube videos...

Here is an introductory series of lectures from Yale on Literary Theory

A lecture series on one of the greatest works of the Western Cannon, Don Quixote

An excellent talk by John Cleese on Creativity

One of my favorite websites ever, TV Tropes

Contests / Proposal for Adventure Cow Compo
« on: May 31, 2013, 05:01:41 AM »
After participating in the Mini-Ludum Dare 42, I was wondering if Adventure Cow should start a small game-jam/compo.

I would be a great way to drive up awareness of the site and Twine. I'd love to see these forums bustling with activity in areas besides Technical Support.

For those of you not familiar with game-jams, check out,, or see the Wikipedia article:

Any thoughts?

Have you ever set arbitrary limits on a design to stimulate your creativity?

One of the problems I've always had in the past was being overwhelmed with ideas and ways to implement and/or expand on them. Long story short, this always resulted in project failure for one reason or another. It wasn't until I set a limit on what I would allow myself to use on a project that I actually was able to finish it.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is not without precedent. Sometimes the limits imposed on a work are what makes it unique. A "Defender" port isn't too impressive, but if the port uses a favicon as the display, that is impressive. Setting a limitation or limitations can leave you with no choice but to innovate.

You can get the "Defender of the Favicon" here:

I started writing a simple CYOA story in Twine for the hell of it and had a thousand ideas for it. Within minutes of typing out an design document, I was already confused and burnt out. As a result, the file lay fallow in my Documents folder for weeks gathering digital dust. After some soul-searching related to some other problems in life, I resolved to start the project up again to take my mind off my suffocating financial woes and the looming threat of homelessness.

Before resuming work on "You Awaken" (the working title of "Thank you for your cooperation"), I laid down a limitation on myself and swore to bearded psychopath in the sky that I would stick to that rule no matter what other clever thingies I came up with. And lo and behold, it worked.

Approximately 26,000 words and 99 passages later, I actually finished the damned thing.

You can view "Thank you for your cooperation" here:

There also is a "Workshop my game" thread for it elsewhere in the forums for discussion.

What I want to ask all of you out there is the following:
  • Have you ever been inspired by an externally or internally generated limitations?
  • Have you ever had a project fail because of too many options, ideas, etc?
  • After reading "Thank you for your cooperation", what do you think the limitation I placed on myself was?

I thank you all in advance for your cooperation...

I've heard of games referred to as "Art", but what about games as literature?

Any thoughts?

Since there doesn't seem to be any threads in this section yet, I'll start the ball rolling with my new story: Thank you for your cooperation

It has been a long time since I've written any fiction, so I decided to have fun with it and go crazy a bit.

Thank you all in advance for your cooperation...

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