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Infocom

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Blue Man Group | Examine Meth.

“What, exactly, does it mean to be a ‘man’? It’s a question that sits at the dark, warped heart of the entire series and its anti-hero protagonist. A nerdy chemist whose brains haven’t earned him any power or respect from the world at large, the terminally ill Walt decides that he’s finally going to get that power and respect through whatever means necessary (and whenever possible, using science). The show doesn’t just trace Walt’s arc from Mr. Chips to Scarface, as Gilligan famously described it, or from Walt to Heisenberg; it also maps his journey from being a ‘pussy’ to being a ‘man.’ And while he succeeds in his goals, it’s a transformation that comes at a high price.”

You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole! In a well-thought-out and close reading of the show as a whole, Wired’s Laura Hudson discusses “the toxic masculinity of Breaking Bad.” “The series begins with what seems like an odd image: a pair of pants, flying through the air. Much of what follows is about who gets to wear them.”

Also among the many farewells, homages, and critiques of Breaking Bad as it departs: screenshots from the Breaking Bad text-adventure game. Admittedly, this sort of article is basically just egregious click-bait, only one step higher on the content chain than Buzzfeed listicles. (Breaking Bad as a Nintendo Game/Choose Your Adventure Book/series of commemorative plates!) Still, I’m always down for a little Infocom nostalgia.

wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka…


‘Pretty much anyone could watch someone playing it for 10 seconds and understand everything about it,’ said Steve Meretzky, a veteran game designer who created famous Infocom titles like Leather Goddesses of Phobos and the game version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘It was a game everyone felt comfortable playing, even in the setting of an arcade, and that’s why it became so universally popular.

Also turning thirty this weekend, those original Ghosts in the Machine — Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde. Gratz, guys, and thanks for the handy, binary thumbs-up/thumbs-down reviewing scheme. (Oh, yes, it’s Pac-Man’s birthday too, and the coin-operated Google homepage today is a great way to pay one’s respects.)

You are entering a world of pain.

“Teamwork and competition do make the game much more fun, but everybody’s stuck in the same grind. With little at stake, your quests feel less like Frodo and Sam’s trip to Mordor than a night shift at Hardee’s. Every new level brings more of the same, and fatigue sets in the 10th time you’ve run through the same high-level dungeon, or when you’re trying to crack level 38 but can’t bring yourself to kill another goddamn swamp jaguar.” Also in Slate, Chris Dahlen calls out World of Warcraft (while, unlike too many contrarian Slate pieces, offering valuable suggestions for improvement.) I only recently tried out (re: binged on) WoW for the first time — I’m at Level 29 and climbing — and he’s got a point. The game is good, addictive fun, but I do wish there was more Infocom-style problem solving involved and less repetitive point-and-click pixel-bashing.

> Examine Film.

“In the early years of the microcomputer, a special kind of game was being played….in the early 1980s, an entire industry rose over the telling of tales, the solving of intricate puzzles and the art of writing. Like living books, these games described fantastic worlds to their readers, and then invited them to live within them.” Found via Genehack and Recursive Bee, a filmmaker by the name of Jason Scott is prepping Get Lamp, a documentary on the Golden Age of text adventures. I’ve said this several times here in this space, but I’d pay top-money for a new Infocom game any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

West of House.

You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded
front door. There is a small mailbox here.
PHP Zork. (Via Must See HTTP://)

The Lurking Horror.

> EXAMINE CHAIRS
They are two several chairs arranged around the center of the room, along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton’s shoes.

> FILL SHOES
You are unable to fill Clinton’s shoes.

This may be the funniest political Internet post I’ve seen since the Cheney poker game: By way of WebGoddess and from the brain of Defective Yeti, it’s the George W. Bush text adventure. Beware of lurking grues, special prosecutors, and that goshdarned Constitution.

Crazed and Lost >

Two links of note courtesy of other fine blogs: LinkMachineGo points the way to online scans of Dave Sim’s Cerebus notebooks, and Fresh Hell discovers Lost reconceived as an Infocom game. I only caught the first episode, but perhaps the mystery creature is a lurking grue…?

Floyd, get the frelling board.

By way of Boing Boing, a collection of text-adventure responses to cursing. Should bring back some memories, even if Infocom is woefully underrepresented.

Examine Nunnery.

Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t. By way of my sis-in-law Lotta, the Hamlet text adventure game. How cool is this? I look forward to playing it through once I finish up my freelance work. Here’s a tip…don’t jump out of Ophelia’s window. Update: Ok, I got distracted and went ahead and beat the game. It’s pretty clever, except for one really dumb and annoying puzzle that involves screaming a word in a theater. I used the hint to beat it…and the author basically admits that he intended it that way. Oh well, other than that one hiccup, it’s great text-adventure fun.

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