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Tycho / on Fri, Jul 9 2004 at 4:30 am

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An Alternate Lifestyle, Part 4

The behaviors that result from a combination of their mobile refreshment stands and carts is so obvious, so naturally arrived at that it must be their intention.  We can assume we have the imprimatur of the clubhouse when we drive with our eyes closed, or cut straight across the fairway because we think we saw a “cool bird.”

After doing my first Task Force, Task Forces being a kind of hard core marathon of crime interdiction that takes several consecutive hours, my City of Heroes fixation became something more than an anecdote I could relate.  I would imagine it is something like when gin has finally bored a hole through an alcoholic’s esophagus, so that the next time they tip up their cup it just flows out their neck and gets on their shirt.  I needed games I could apply directly to the source of pain, and I’ve found one that has managed to curb the cravings to a certain extent.

I’ve been playing Missing, which is sometimes subtitled “Missing: Since January.”  I’d seen this game at E3 actually, wandering through the Adventure Company booth after checking out Guilty Gear Isuka.  The guys who were demoing it seemed lonely, and I always feel for these people anyway so I initially feigned an interest which would become genuine almost immediately.  Here’s the hook, essentially - two people went missing, oddly enough, while unraveling a series of murders.  One of these guys is an investigative journalist, and so when his company receives a CD from the killer - complete with odd fragments of the journalist’s own footage - they determine that it’s a little more than they can handle.  They open it up to anyone who wants to try and figure out this nutjob’s crazy CD, and maybe track down our two lost souls.  Once you sign up, your paired with other people into a sort of “team” - these other “people” being scripts on a webserver somewhere, but I’m honestly not sure sometimes.  This team of yours communicates with you via actual e-mail, amounting to a tip dispensing mechanism should you require it, but also just progresses the plot outside of the CD-ROM itself. 

The puzzles in the game usually aren’t always puzzles in the Myst tradition, and often involve using Google to research information which is sometimes legitimate and sometimes has the trappings of legitimacy but is actually a website created out of whole cloth for the game.  Already, you’re beginning to draw parallels between this game and Majestic, the ill-fated conspiracy game slash social experiment.  Unlike Majestic, this game doesn’t fax or call you, and there’s certainly no monthly fee to play it.  The mails are interesting and relevant, and can even be replied to, which made the hair on the back of my neck twitch.

The thing that sucks is that, yes - they have this great thing that smudges the line between the game and the larger Internet.  There are false web pages out there that you dig through and correlate, tons of writing when into these portions of the game.  But since you are searching the real Internet, every time I try to play the game right, links to FAQs with all the information on puzzle solutions are right there in the link description, along with the planted websites.  I guess I’m not sure what they could do about that, but I do envy those people who played the game first.  Being able to search the real Internet, as opposed to some database on the disc, and getting mails to real accounts, as opposed to some proprietary program - those are the elements that really get ahold of you at times, so it’s been something I’ve made my peace with.

The new WoW beta patch has a couple features I’ve been agitating for - auction houses, to get right down to it - but a man needs to be careful treating his MMO related condition with another Massive game.  Thirteen readers who entered the contest will know exactly what I mean when they win next week - we’re heading down to Texas this weekend, but I want Gabe to get a chance to see the last batch of entries when he comes back.  Look for the exciting conclusion next week, I’m going to say sometimes Wednesday.     

(CW)TB out.

he’s terrible man

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