A Glance at Technobabylon – Part I

Today, and over the next few days, I am going to be doing something different.  I am going to take a look at a game I have enjoyed and discuss it.  I feel the game has gone overlooked by bloggers, particularly those looking for a good indie game that casts a critical look on the future.  The game is called Technobabylon, and it currently has three parts (with one on the way), so I will be making three posts (and another when the next one comes out).  I bet you’re wondering, “What the hell is Thechnobabylon?” and I don’t blame you for not knowing what it is.  Technobabylon is an indie adventure game made by a person under the name of Technocrat.  It can be found on the Adventure Game Studio [AGS] games page (here).  It like a number of games found on that website, are often overlooked, most of the gaming community don’t even know they exist.  Technobabylon owns some fame to regulars of the AGS site, as it was recently picked as a game of the month (for November 2010), but it still has only a few looks at the game outside of the site.  The following may contain spoilers, and I’m not going to try to beat around the bush trying to keep spoilers from you.  Play the game first and then read.  At this time I have played the first and second parts, but not the third.  I will try to confine myself to as if I had only played the first part for this post, and then expound on the first part when I get to the second part (provided there are connections, and trust me, there are).

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Illuria, the MMO That Will Never Be

This is a prose-piece followed by a look at MMO design.  If you want to skip the prose, then click here [tl;dr].

Teleah stared across the plain at the lonely, empty hut so far from the city she called home.  She knew it was empty because just a week before, she had entered and killed all three people who lived inside.  Killed, or murdered?  She wondered about it.  Sure the three were outlaws under penalty of death and the coin flowed through the mercenary’s purse like any other contract, but this time it was different.  One of those three had been a child.  Teleah couldn’t help but think that she was no better than they were: filthy murderers and heretics.

It was different, too, because they were gone forever.  Teleah had needed to carry the heads back in a sack to satisfy the bounty, but she had buried the bodies in the earthen floor of the hut.  They wouldn’t just spring back up like they did in the training days or the games.  Still, every few days Teleah returned to the hut just to check, and each day it was empty.  The mercenary looked down at her sword.  It was notched in a few places to provide speed and it screamed just before a blow landed.  She had made it herself; no one else in the whole world had one.  As Teleah crossed the barren field, she sheathed the sword, her mouth a thin line.

When she approached the hut’s opening, a wolf leapt out, vying for Teleah’s throat.  A few quick punches and a swift kick sent the wolf on its way.  Teleah knew wolves.  She’d earned that accolade on her ear when she was thirteen.  But what was a wolf doing this far south, Teleah wondered.  It must be some straggler that thought this hut would offer shelter for the coming night.  Teleah glanced around the inside and cringed.  The wolf had done some digging.

Behind her, the mercenary heard a series of yips and her blood froze.  A quick pivot and a flick of her wrist readied Teleah’s custom sword for battle against the pack of wolves she had just angered.  The wolves were no match and Teleah dined on wolf meat for the next three days, traveling into the north to see what drove the wolves away.  When she arrived there, a new town greeted her, one that had not been there on her last trip that far to the north, and run by a man much like herself.

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The Last Six Months — In Brief

So I promised that I would give an update of what happened while I was not here.  And a number of things did happen.

In November, I applied to my first grad school.  This I announced in my last post before I came back.  I did not apply for another one until December.  The problem?  Money.  With it being the holiday season, and I having only been at my job for a few months, I had not the savings that I needed to be able to pay for a) application fees and b) transcript processing.  The drive to work was killing my gas tank and I wasn’t able to save much money for anything I did.  So the second place I applied was the school I graduated from, Arizona State University.  The defeated feeling I felt from having to do this was strong and likely kept me from being social for a while.  I probably hedged out friendships and pushed people away, some of whom aren’t going to come back.  At the time I couldn’t help it, but it didn’t make anything better.  So, December was a slow spiral for me.  December was also when I abandoned my attempt at making a very good writing sample for my applications, and instead revamped an old paper into a much better paper [You can read it here!].  This was still a lot of work, mind you, but it means that I still have not written my paper on player styles.  It will probably become one of my seminar papers.

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What I’m Doing Right Now

To start things off, I figured that I would let people know what I’m working on right now.  My last post before my lacuna had a lot of information about all the projects I was trying to get done at that time.  I have finished two of them, but I haven’t worked on a number of them for a while.  There are reasons for this, but I will not go into them (it will become apparent soon, as the posts roll out).  I thought it would be nice to talk about what I’m doing this summer, even if it really doesn’t affect anyone but myself.

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Hiatus and Lacuna

Hiatus and Lacuna are two characters in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony.  They were the grandchildren of Merlin (the first King of Xanth).  Hiatus’s power was to grow eyes on whatever he wanted, and Lacuna could make words appear wherever she wanted them to, or alter text that exists.  Hiatus was never a major character, but Lacuna had her own book, Question Quest.  This book was, perhaps, the most arduous and boring of the books that Piers Anthony had ever produced and so Question Quest ate up a large amount of my time, which seemed even longer as a result.  I think this may have been intentional, as Piers Anthony was playing upon the concept of text in the novel.

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