the uncle who works for nintendo

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My new Twine game, the uncle who works for nintendo, is now available for all to play.  It will take some time to get through one game, maybe 15 to 20 minutes at its shortest.  It has five possible endings.

The original commissioned artwork (some glimpsed in the above thumbnail) was made by the talented Kimberly Parker, who was absolutely amazing to work with.

The abstract artwork was made in the program Icosa by Andi McClure.

My inspirations are listed in the credits game itself, but I think it is appropriate to repeat them here:

Lights Out, Please by Porpentine, Vicky He, John R., Meghan, Jericho Bull, Ashley, Carli Velocci, Kitty Horroshow, Stephen Wilds, Aisley, Cathleen Macdonald, Sarah, and Kira, and the original story by Kaitlin Tremblay that preceded the collated anthology

Her Pound of Flesh by Liz England

You Were Made for Loneliness by Tsukareta

The Yahwg by Emily Carroll and Damian Sommer

History Lesson by withoutpillow

“Glitches: A Kind of History” in Arcade Review #3 by Alex Pieschel

My game uses a horror framework to think about misogyny and emotional abuse and manipulation, as it was (is) fostered particularly among children in the broader culture of videogames.  If you follow games culture at all, there are some resonances with current events here, and given that, I think it would be remiss not also to point you toward Liz Ryerson’s blog, which hosts not only excellent games writing, but some of the most incisive commentary on our recent troubles.

Special thanks goes, as always, to my beta-testers: Spam, Matt, Jeremy, Dan, Ivy, Alex, Harrison, and Victor.

The Tower of the Blood Lord

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to make a twine game (ie, a hypertext game) about a haunted house, which is a thing I still have in the works.  But in the meanwhile, I’ve made a twine game called The Tower of the Blood Lord, which is based on the time I played the first twenty minutes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  Obviously 20 minutes isn’t a lot, so you’ll have to forgive me for some of the liberties I take with the game’s overall narrative arc.

Play it online here.

I figured it’s probably appropriate to lay out some of my thanks and acknowledgements for this project in this space.  I’ve been playing a lot of twine games lately, and they’ve all taught me something about the form (though there’s much more yet to learn, I know).  The first one I played several months ago, for the record, was Mastaba Snoopy by gods17, and I instantly fell in love both with that story and with this platform.

Porpentine‘s work in twine is basically some of the best there is.  Of particular influence on Blood Lord was the rightly famous Howling Dogs, though she does amazing work all the time.  Some I want to point out: All I Want Is for All My Friends to Become Insanely Powerful is beautiful and weird and makes me super stupidly happy every time I play through it.  There’s also (very NWS, and also triggers for some sexual violence, regular violence) Cyberqueen, which is terrifying and darkly hilarious and disgusting and the best System Shock sequel we never got.  J Chastain’s Rat Chaos also moved me in the weird surreal seriocomic way all of Chastain’s work does.

Leon Arnott does a lot of Twine-specific coding, and I’ve used plenty of it in my game.  I explained to a friend that while I was writing and testing it often felt like I was walking into Arnott’s office and digging through his desk while he was too busy doing a sudoku or something to notice me.  Anyway, he has his own usual and striking games.

Very, very good examples of twine games with less of a direct influence on Blood Lord include Anna Anthropy’s Aegis Wing and Conversations with My Mother by Merritt Kopas.  Just in case you were wondering.

Other influences on Blood Lord: Metal Gear Solid, because of videogame military magic realism, John Milton for describing how angels have sex in Paradise Lost, John Crowley’s 600-page fairy tale Little, Big, which I am about two-thirds through and it is rattling in my head a lot, and lastly, the newest album by the Handsome Family, Wilderness.

Also thanks to my friends Spam and Victor for the reading and debugging they did with Blood Lord!!!!

I went to the DHS and all I got was this lousy certification that I am not a terrorist

Things don’t seem to be very smooth for Esme, and it’s less than a week until her wedding!  Oh no!  How will this drama come to a close in the next few days?  Again, I remind you that Alissa’s twitter the best way to follow the action up until the finale post on the blog.

In AtME news, the visa application paperwork is all turned in, including my biometric appointment with the DHS, and should be mailed out by now, so it’s just a question of whether or not I paid the $260 fee for nothing and my application is rejected.  I thought I had more to say here but I guess I didn’t!  You can expect some kind of Halloween post from me around the middle of the week.

Halfway point

Esme has a tiny bit to say herself before the big finale at the end of the month.

Alissa’s twitter, I am sorry to say, has not progressed quite as much as I wanted it to.  There are various reasons for this, but the primary one is that I have been scrambling to get my paperwork in order for the UK visa application.  It seems like I’ve been talking about this fucking thing forever now, and it’s a wonder why I haven’t gone ahead and completed it yet.  Well, that’s the rub — my college has changed the way they handle the program, and this is the first year with the new system, so there’s a bunch of paperwork that I had to given before I could even start the visa and the International Programs Office here didn’t manage to get me that stuff until last Monday.

So now I’m on a short vacation (a midsemester break, which the college confusingly refers to as an “early semester break”) and after I get some books read and get a haircut you bet your ass I am going to be getting this visa app over and done with.  OH, YES, BUT THEN AFTER THAT I HAVE TO GO ALL THE WAY TO INDIANAPOLIS AND GET BIOMETRIC READINGS DONE BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A HORRIBLE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE WHERE EVERYONE TYPES IN ALLCAPS.  Anyway, I suppose I’m technically entering the home stretch as far as this crap goes, so I should consider myself lucky.

Also: Halloween is coming up and I am ostensibly some kind of horror fan and I write about horror as a genre more than I write about other things, so I feel I should throw something up here in celebration.  I’m not sure what that will be yet, maybe I’ll bitch about movies some more.  We’ll see.

Quick word.

It’s October first.  In thirty days Esmeralda Sinn will be married.

Because things are a little weird around the Sinn Ranch currently, the update schedule won’t be quite as regular — there may be something I put up on the fifteenth, as is my wont, but at the moment I’m not sure.  In any case, whatever goes up then will be a little non-traditional as far as Esme’s entries usually go, as the fiction will have progressed further in a different medium.  If you happen to be reading this and you are one of like the 20 people who read the Esme series, I direct your attention to her personal assistant Alissa Montfrere’s twitter.  Esme’s take on events is going to become a little less coherent as she enters a time of high emotion, and while Alissa is not precisely a stoic she’s going to give you a better idea of just what is happening.

Keep an eye on it.

A number of things

And we have this month’s very special Esmeralda Sinn story up and live.  Also, here is a secret bit that is not secret at all because I keep linking it.  I have never had to read an Esme story out loud before, and doing so for this actually made me feel embarrassed for myself.  But being embarrassed in public is what the internet is for, right?  Incidentally, the background music I used is from Metal Gear Saga by Harry Gregson-Williams, it appears on the soundtrack to MGS4 and incorporates motifs and themes from the previous games and is generally pretty awesome.  I have absolutely no right to use it and I’ve sullied its existence by including it in this story about pseudobestiality, and I’ll probably get some cease and desist notice over it sooner or later.

On other fronts:

  • I’ve touched on the genre-lit-death-of-culture thing here before and written a lot of boring stuff about it.  This essay by Nina Siegal, grabbed from The Daily Dish, does a good job of summarizing the arguments of the various sides and pointing out how all of the factions use more or less the same tactics to get us to sympathize.  She makes the very good point (that few people seem to be aware of) that literature often manages to transcend genre; Ada or Ardor is pretty blatantly sf, for instance, and Shakespeare wrote wrote things we would classify as thrillers or fantasies.  In the end, though, I still seem to come down on the side of guys like Chabon, who argue for that “well-told tale” and insist that strictly divvying things up into genres and pronouncing some unclean and others sacred is to some degree detrimental to the diversity and health of the literary establishment and blah blah blah.
  • I haven’t talked about films much here outside of horror movies, but I can safely say that Inglourious Basterds is a wonderful, beautiful thing and it is the best movie I have seen in a very, very long time.  I have literally not been that pleased while walking out of theater in maybe five or six years.  Tarantino delves into some trippy metafictional commentary (seemingly designed to win my heart) on how cultural fictions (be they movies or books) shape and inform our conception of the past, or even the present, and how these things could be used for good or evil.  Please, see this movie.
  • I have my paperwork turned in for the London trip, finally.
  • 28 rejections.

The Desires of the Doppelganger

Esme puts up a new chapter of a new Chastity Thorne novel this month.  September will be the last true “Esme” update, with a story excerpt and everything, so if all goes according to plan that will be something special.  October, as it stands, will have a few mini-updates where Esme simply lets us know how she feels in the lead up to the wedding, I think.  I have nothing else of importance to say today.

Rejections: 27.

July, July (Seems Pretty Normal So Far)

Esme graces us with her presence today and gives us some insight into her personal life and relationship with Mr. Menelaus Parks.  The invitation I threw together for this thing is very obviously based on this one, but isn’t as high in the departments of “quality” and “originality” so there you go!  It is probably the closest thing the actual Esme LJ has to an explanation to what is going on.  Really, the only readily available explanation is the one I give here on CorCon, and anyone who runs across the LJ at random isn’t going to read that, so the entire thing seems a little crazy.

Actually it’s crazy in any context.  Friends of mine who have attempted to explain the Esme project to people who don’t actually know me have often said they find themselves sounding insane:  “So I have this friend, see, and he pretends to be a woman on the internet and writes short stories about women having sex with werebees, and it’s just like Twilight except it’s supposed to be funny, and why are you looking at me like that this totally makes sense.”  Oh well!  Three months and the Esme saga will be over, anyway.  A storm approaches, Dear Reader.

Rejections currently stand at 25.  The latest was one of those really positive “Wow, great story but nope have to pass” rejections that I’ve discussed at length.  No more needs to be said in that regard.  But I’m a quarter of the way to the golden 100!