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Three Words Musing No. 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade

September 30, 2010 1 comment

The following was inspired by @Funslayer on Twitter, who submitted three words for consideration: Bacon, shortage, and blockade. This is the opening segment of a work in progress. All rights reserved, wot-wot.

October 2012

The man had died with his face planted in a white plastic bowl of chili, his curly black hair glimmering in the white-blue ghost light of flatscreen TVs mounted on the walls of the darkened employee cafeteria.

Undignified way to go, Lloyd Porter thought. Of course, the Skitters didn’t offer much in the way of dignity for any of its victims.

He grasped curls in a gloved hand, pulling the man’s face clear of the moldy brownish-black goop, which buzzed with flies and squirmed with maggots. An oval name tag on the left breast of the vomit-stained white button-down shirt identified the victim as RANDY. A small decorative globe above the name signified that the late, lamented RANDY had worked at the happiest place on Earth for a good long time. Maybe five years. Ten? Twenty? Hard to tell in this light.

Details used to matter much more to Lloyd, a few weeks ago in another life. Now, all he knew was that RANDY put a lot of his time and energy into a dream factory that ultimately killed him. He wondered what RANDY had been thinking in those last desperate seconds as the plague consumed him. Sorrow? Regrets? Surprise, almost certainly.

Lloyd gave the corpse a nudge so that it slumped sideways to lean against the wall of the orange-cushioned booth. Then he gave a little hallelujah-amen to the makers of the filtration mask he wore under a sweat-soaked green paisley kerchief to mute the miasma of nasty odors that punched through the shadows from the dead and the rotting. It was awful down here in the tunnels, where the theme park workers used to hustle about. Up above, though, was much, much worse. Down here, at least, it seemed the Skitters had killed more than it reanimated. RANDY wasn’t going anywhere. No frothing. No growling. No trying to chew on the tasty, well-bundled flesh morsel that used to be a journalist, husband, and father of two.

Something clanged in the kitchen. Sounded like an aluminum kettle toppled off a counter and onto the tiled floor. He turned to peer through the scuffed lenses of his amber safety goggles. He supposed it shouldn’t surprise him at all. Come this far, beat the odds, only to find one last obstacle standing between him and the treasure he so wanted to claim.

The flashlight didn’t have much juice left in it, but Lloyd took the chance, anyway. He flicked it on, aiming the beam toward an array of cash registers between the main dining hall and the serving buffet tables on the way to the kitchen double doors. He counted six Skitter shamblers – mutie humans who succumbed to the plague only to endure the misery of reanimation to make certain that the disease continued to spread. Their eyes glowed a familiar sulfurous yellow-green. The kitchen doors swung open beyond the shamblers to reveal one of the beasts Lloyd had dubbed “animatrogs,” which were seemingly more self-aware than their foot-dragging counterparts and had taken it upon themselves to augment their bodies with bits and pieces of audioanimatronic hardware scavenged from throughout the park. This one had replaced its left arm with a fake crocodile leg, complete with clawed foot, and wore the mechanical head of George W. Bush as a hat.

“Well, fuck a duck,” Lloyd muttered, tucking the flashlight back into the pocket of his blood-stained cargo pants. He pulled up the hood of his gray University of Central Florida sweatshirt so that it covered his shaggy brown hair, then reached over his right shoulder to take hold of the Mile Marker 74 sign he had picked up from the weeds along Interstate 4.

He hadn’t come all this way to turn back now.

Lloyd Porter gripped the post in both hands and charged for the cluster of cafeteria freaks, wailing a battle cry that was only barely muffled by his mask and kerchief: “BACON!”

An OtherSpace Update

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

There’s something liberating about the chance to make a relatively fresh start, even with something that’s been around as long as OtherSpace.

Earlier this summer, the frustrations just kept mounting. Players grew tired of old inventory replacement requests sitting dormant in our staff request queues, with half-finished systems, and with a space system that was too complicated for its own good. Staffers, me included, got frustrated with player apathy.

It came time for a break.

So, we closed the game to players and circled the wagons on the Director channel, intent on doing more than just slapping a new coat of paint on the game. We’ve got some fundamental things going on that will change the game to its core and take it back to its deeper roots.

Some examples of what’s in store:

* A new grid-based space system, with a simple-to-master interface. It’s intended to allow for exploration and cinematic roleplaying. We’re not keeping HSpace.
* A new skill system. We’re developing a new core mechanic that moves us away from FUDGE and drastically slims down the roster of skills. This new skill system will require the investment of points and real time (similar to how time passes before you learn a new skill in EVE Online).
* Simplified OOC currency. We’re eliminating the separate concepts of Roleplaying Points, Crafting Minutes, and Saga Points. They’ll all be merged into Saga Points.
* Expanded world grids. We’re building up the universe to make it more interesting to explore. You can expect more than just space travel. You’ll also be able to explore on sea and land, once we’re done.
* More customizable crafting. We want players to have more of an imprint on the things they make and sell.
* Old races reopened. We’re going to make the classic OtherSpace races available for newbies and veterans alike to play.
* New factions. We’ll have three factions for players to choose from, including the Multiverse Commonwealth, the Zarist Supremacy, and Akazar’s Syndicate. Joining a faction and investing Saga Points in them will yield rewards for players.
* No +voting. The era of the Roleplaying Notables is over.
* Log anthologies. Here’s how we’re going to recognize and reward players for their creative contributions to OtherSpace. We’ll assemble a showcase of logs. Participants who want to be included in the credits will be, but everyone involved will receive Saga Point rewards. We’ll offer the anthologies in ebook and print formats through Lulu.com. Proceeds go toward our server and marketing costs.

We’re just getting started, and these are only a few of the ideas we’ve been bouncing around. I hope to have more precise information about when we might reopen as soon as possible.