Beneath the gaze of the luminescent orb, Moralia Mooncharmer fixated on its glow. Amongst the entities moving about this glade, sculptures grew massive underfoot. A dance played out here; one of celebration and sorrow, a mournful jubilee for the celestial sphere. Here, in this momentary sliver of life, a peace echos distant across the plains, a cry for Luna.
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It’s become something of an in-joke within the greater games community that Nintendo is not an entity to be trifled with. Between DMCA notices against ROM sites and fangames utilizing their IPs, attempting to tango with the corporate monstrosity has a predictable end. It makes sense from a business perspective: Nintendo doesn’t want anyone marring the oh-so-marketable franchises they’ve produced over the years, and they certainly don’t want anyone accessing their creations without paying for them, regardless of the ability people have to legally play them.
Enter the bootleg. Where demand was not met by the official channels of distribution, pirate groups took it upon themselves to fill the niche. Creating their own cartridges with ripped games implanted, these groups would sell their wares on a black market at a far more affordable price and with a greater selection than typically available in these areas. Naturally, the companies these pirates were profiting off of were none too pleased with their actions.
I feel sick. It’s my third time in this room, and I still can’t stomach the way it stretches in and out, walls pulsating, music thumping. The drink in my hand is going stale; despite my body’s best efforts to refuse, I down the rest of the swill and push through the crowd of gyrating rats. I think I’m gonna puke. I overhear one passerby shouting to a friend, “A game? A downloadable game?”
[Content Warning: This piece is pretty gay. Discussion of sex scenes, smoochin’, and how we view gender as a society ensues. Genitals are also discussed.]
Trying to sum up the average college experience always comes across as trite, belittling, or painting in strokes too broad to relate with most folks. For many, it’s the first time away from parents or familiar friends, thrust into a world of responsibility and curiosity. It’s a vulnerable time rife with shameless self-indulgence in an effort to explore the horizons of oneself to understand who you want to be. Ultimately, it’s a life-event that can define a lot of a person’s future for the next several years, and one that is all too often summed up in stoner comedies or coming-of-age dramas intent to approach the topic with nothing more than a navel-gazing story made up of cheap morals and feel-good solutions.
“My entire life I suppose. How old am I now? God, like it even matters anymore, what’s the point of keeping track when you’re just running down the clock? I can hear them scrabbling about out there, in the mist, the damned impenetrable mist, I can always hear them. I can’t get that note out of my head. Is it even worth the risk of trying to get to the top of the Solar Cathedral? … Fuck it, maybe for once in my life I can finally know what it’s like to not be alone.”
Just what is a Thin-Blood, anyway? According to some in the lore of Bloodlines, they’re fledgling kindred with a tenuous connection to their forebears, earlier generations of the clans aren’t just more powerful but necessarily more in tune with their origins and the primal energy that drives them. Bloodlines has it’s own in-universe equivalent stand in for the apocalypse for all kindred- the belief that the grand ancestors of yore will once again rise from their slumber only to consume their descendants as the blood runs so thin as to be impotent and dry.
Exhaustive repetition of a concept, once-unique traits with diminishing returns, the newest members inducted into invisible, involuntary social pacts with unwritten etiquette that has visible and harsh consequences for failing to correctly guess them, a paranoid fear of the end times, the belief that the most affected fledglings somehow portend such an ever-present, overshadowing threat. Petty politics, presumed loyalty to an unelected prince, anarchs running rampant, violent sabbat overthrowing all around them to establish furious fiefdoms. Is any of this sounding familiar? If not, it should- in a sense, we’re living it right now.
How has it come to this? As far as I can see from my apartment, lofted high above the deserted streets — save a car or two — there’s nothing. Nothing but property management companies and liquor stores. A never-ending sprawl of grey, lifeless, dead nothing. Why bother? Another rejection letter from another application to another company. The bills pile high, high, higher and I drown. The rain outside trickles through the cracks in the walls. I check the fridge for a bite, decide against it. But, even after walking away from the kitchen, the hunger in my stomach bares knots that demand something be put in there. I go back, take another look: empty. Ah. Right.
So many of my memories within Kingdom (developed by Thomas van den Berg) linger on the small silence of a fiefdom functioning smoothly, of escorting lost pilgrims into the shelter of my barricades and enlisting them into breathless confrontation. Luring the wilderness into the waiting embrace of my archers, and seeking out conscious points of deforestation to construct looming spires and the natural arisal of meadows brimming with rabbits for the slaughter. Of simply resting amongst the soft murmurs of wind-chimes and piano melodies. The moments of stillness that arise in between points of intrigue, as my steed stirs breathlessly and each journey is taken in careful consideration of the setting sun. The small practiced meditations of systems so deeply-internalized they feel almost second nature.
A dying world gasps, echoing into the void. Eventually, a still nothingness, but prior, a harbinger skips across the fractured remains still clinging to this realm. A pocket full of starseeds provides company, food for the fish they’re incubating beneath the orb hanging atop The Garden. The hand extending from the wall, the Numen, beckons further coloured varieties of fish with the promise of a treasure to come. Anahel stands stoic outside, desperate to meet with the Numen but a curse restraining them from passing the threshold.
Writer’s Note: This is an older piece from earlier in the year we found rummaging around in the archives, a piece from a different time with a little different style, enjoy!
Half-Life 2: Episode One is one of the most competent VR experiences I have ever played, surprisingly so for a game that was never built for it.
Something a lot of people struggle with in Virtual Reality is how there’s a sense of presence that people find hard to articulate. Using the Oculus Rift felt very underwhelming until, out of the dark rubble of City 17, Dog’s hands smashed through to pull a piece of rubble blocking my sight.
Moments later, I found myself standing under Dog. A faithful robot companion I had spent many years fighting alongside in the troubled setting of Half-Life 2. But there I was, truly standing underneath Dog, towering over me like a giant! Any person I put inside of that headset to experience that opening scene was as shocked as I found myself in that moment.
And that was just the beginning of seeing Gordon Freeman’s exploration of the ruins in a whole new perspective.