My Life In Neon

Sci Fi / Fantasy writer Autumn Nicole Bradley – Dream in digital, live in neon

Archive for the category “Writing”

Trash Magic and Queer Love at Trashmance.com

Trashmance.com is now live!

Trash Romance is a serial romance fiction available for free at Trashmance.com. However, in order to keep it free for everyone and keep new updates rolling in several times per month, I need the support and patronage of folks like you.

From the patreon page:

The coolest thing about magic? Duh, it’s magic. The worst thing about magic? It’s magic. No one understands how the fuck it works. Yet for Mackenzie Chen, whose magic power is limited to manipulating the broken, cast-off junk of society, it’s hard to not feel the world owes her an explanation. Or an apology. But when she meets magical girl-turned-barista Natalie, she learns just how valuable broken things can be.

Contributors get access to a DRM-free monthly digest in any eReader format, as well as free copies of my other short fiction: “Mercy Killing the Dragon”, “The Last Warband”, and part 1 of “Parts: A Steampunk Tale of Love and Mechanomorphosis”.

The “Your Enemies Don’t Have To Die For You To Win” Game Jam!

Your Enemies Don't Have To Die Game Jam June 7 to June 11

You don’t need to sign up. Just create!

Share or Reblog using the #CreativeConflictJam tag on twitter and tumblr.

If you need hosting space, you can find my email address on my contact page.

 

The Theme: Conflict with creative resolutions

(Alternative Theme: Consequences of the protagonist’s violence)

 

The Dates: June 7 – June 11.

(It’s a jam, so think about what you can do in a weekend. No guilt if you need to start early in order to finish in time; I want to make this accessible to everyone!)

 

The Tools: Anything you want.

Credit to Pauli Kohberger for this list:

  • TwineHub is a great place to start if you’re interested in playing and making Twine games. Its resources section is really helpful. If you want a good starting place, definitely check out Anna Anthropy’s Twine tutorial. Leon Arnott’s blog has some fabulous Twine scripts as well to add a little extra functionality, as well as easy to tweak CSS.
  • Ren’Py is a great visual novel engine, and it has a pretty good Quickstart guide on the website. If you want to do more complicated things or just make your game a little jazzier, I’m really fond of the Cookbook as well.
  • Need some music or sound effects? Try nosoapradio.us or Freesound!
  • Need art or fonts? Try Openclipart and Lost Type!
  • Yes, you can use concepts and artwork you’ve made in the past as a starting point!
  • Yes, you can collaborate!

Other options include:

  • Construct 2 is free for those who feel inclined to dive into HTML5 games
  • One of the most tried-and-true tools out there: RPGMaker! (I would personally love to see some examples of using JRPG combat mechanics in creative ways that are not combat as we think of it)
  • Or something else entirely!

The WhyDoom gave us conveniently inhuman, mindless hordes of monsters to kill. Wolfenstein 3D gave us hordes of mindless Nazis to kill, as though the average soldier weren’t human. Deus Ex made us choose between violence or stealth, and to Human Revolution‘s credit, there was the moral nudge of more XP for non-lethal “takedowns”. In CounterStrike the only way to deal with terrorists is to kill them, because their ideology is inherently evil and wrong, right? Bioshock and Spec Ops: The Line tried in vain to tell us violence and obedience are a choice while only allowing the player to kill to reach the end. Even JRPGs have elaborate combat modes. Their tabletop RPG cousins like Dungeons & Dragons focus almost exclusively on combat, even when stats are nominally available for conflict resolution without it. In Anita Sarkeesian’s latest video, Tropes Vs Women: Damsels in Distress pt 2, she takes aim at the way developers box themselves into a corner by making combat the core mechanic: keep swinging that hammer because this level is just full of nails.  Why do games make us kill the bad guy before we can call it winning?

This is where you come in!

[Edit 6/8/13: Correction to the title of Spec Ops: The Line.]

Sandals With Glitter

Another in the series from my old blog. This pertains to a paper I wrote as a teen in my early college years.

I used to own the comfiest pair of sandals ever made. They were these cheap, $10 things hanging on an aisle end cap that I bought on a whim. I have yet to find more comfortable footwear.

During a performance of the play Prometheus Bound, I was playing the role of Hermes, and so I volunteered my sandals to be part of the costume. I figured, hey, they were $10 and I can replace them pretty easily. (I was totally wrong there, they were sold out and I never found anything like them since.) But it involved painting them with glitter and adding wings. After the show was over, the wings came off but the glitter paint was permanent.

That’s when I said: fuck it; these are the best sandals ever made. I’m not gonna stop wearing them just because of some glitter. People made jokes about it, but my attitude was always one of, “Yeah, there’s glitter on them. And?” And that usually shut it down.

Then, in first semester of my sophomore year of college, I was taking a human sexuality class. I don’t remember what the assigned topic was anymore, but I wrote an essay about the sandals and what they say about gender roles.

While packing to move this past week, I came across that essay:

My first lucid moment on my way to full, conscious memory came when I was less than a year old, standing naked in Nana’s sink, taking a bath. I was still too young to be bathed in a full size tub, so Carol, the next door empty-nester who took care of me while my parents were at work and I called Nana, would use the sink instead. I don’t remember much more than the image of her kitchen as it was two decades ago, being delightfully naked and thoroughly enjoying splashing water all over her counter tops. That would be the last time I was comfortable with my body for a number of years to come.

Children have a way of discovering one’s greatest flaw, whether it was in fact a flaw or not, and amplyfiying it to a size that can only be described in two places: an astronomy lab and an elementary school playground. Physically speaking, I was significantly larger than the other boys in all proportions, and I had a lack of coordination to match. This gave my would-be taunters the advantage of teasing with impunity, for no matter how large I was, I could never catch them. The object of their scorn was my stomach, and I still carry the mental scar of five years of relentless playground harassment.

It was no surprise, then, that my closest friends tended to be female. From R— that lived upstairs in the duplex to J—r, my neighbor, I socialized with girls more than boys. I was fascinated by my babysitters’ skirts, and earrings. For a long time I dreamt of actually being [emphasis in essay] a girl. I wondered why boys couldn’t wear dresses, like pink, or have long hair. My staunch Catholic mother explained that it was because boys just didn’t do girl things, and that pre-adolescent and adolescent girls have a language of their own that boys could never possibly understand. I was suddenly one without a place in schoolyard society. I had earned the boys’ scorn, but I had one penis too many to be one of the girls.

I was not completely without friends, however. One boy that lived on the end of the block named J— was the first to sate my sexual curiosity. I had seen my mother naked before, and knew girls didn’t have a penis, but until J— came along I didn’t know what they did have either. As soon as I heard it, I set about burning the word vagina into my mind so that I could be the one who knew what no one else knew. Knowing the word alone, though, brought a barrage of questions, the most significant of which was: What does it look like?

My physical insecurities plagued me in middle school. The one time I was not keenly aware of my stomach sticking out that unacceptable inch further than everyone else’s was when I was with my girlfriend of ten months, L—. It was an astonishing length of time for a relationship, and what drew us together was that we were both outside our traditional gender castes. She was the tomboy who was always regarded as dirty, or in some intangible, ephemeral way wrong. So we celebrated our relationship in secret, knowing well the social implications it would have for both of us. Our relationship ended when she moved to Ohio, but I knew what I strong relationship was, and suddenly wanted it again very badly.

I saw high school as my chance to start over with others that never knew me as the big kid with the bad temper in elementary school. [“Reaction to harassment?” This was the note my professor marked in the margin on this line. I’ve said elsewhere in this blog that yes, that is indeed the case. No one sees the first punch, they see the second one.] For the most part it was a success, and my freshman year was a year of many firsts. My curiosity was never sated though. Health class was fine if you wanted to know how to conceive a child, but sex was solely for reproductive purposes. When I gained access to the internet, however, things changed significantly. Suddenly I had access to all the information I wanted, uncensored. Sexual health websites offered all the insight I had been looking for all along. While my parents would always have been willing to explain things, they were clearly uncomfortable with the topic, and very biased toward Christian ideals. It was also around this time that I turned away from the Catholic Church, which had a surprisingly large impact on my decisions sexually.

No longer was I confined to strict rules mandating that sex should only take place within marriage. Armed with my new-found data, I was free to form my own opinions, and make quite a few decisions I still adhere to today. I can say “no” to sexual intercourse, even when presented with the opportunity, and I can offer a stronger argument than just simple religious opposition. More importantly to me, though, is that I can say “yes” as well, and for my own reasons.

Most of my friends are still female, and I admit to having quite a number of so-called “effeminate” habits in my daily life such as the amount of time I spend on my hair in the morning, crying at movies, or choosing female avatars in computer games. However, I am still confidently heterosexual, and I wear sandals covered in glitter to prove it.

Initial reactions:

  • I came right out and said I wanted to be a girl. Seriously. Read it again if you missed that.
  • I am indescribably reassured to have hard copy evidence that yes, it’s not in my head, I have always been this way.
  • The wording is a bit clumsy. This was written almost a decade ago while I was still a college sophomore.
  • There’s an awkward transition that could be misleading. I tied my desire to hang out with girls to the bullying by the boys, but my desire to hang out with girls went back much further than that. So the cause-effect relationship I hint at with that transition phrase simply didn’t exist. If anything, it was reversed; I was bullied because I didn’t identify with the boys.
  • There’s a lot of this that I could clean up and make more clear. It reads like a first draft, and I’m pretty sure it was.
  • One other thing that has always been this way? My love of commas.
  • I forgot the gender flipped relationship I had with L—. I remembered the relationship, I forgot that she was bullied for being a red-haired tomboy, and how we had bonded over that.
  • I didn’t really come out and say this in the essay: my sexual curiosity really was one of wonder and longing, not sexual desire. I wanted to experience vaginas first-hand because I was lacking one of my own, not because of some innate sexual desire to stick things in them. This is one thing I know I’m not playing revisionist history with. I really did spend hours reading womens’ health websites to find out everything about the female pelvic region. I spent hours reading about how the clitoris worked so that I could please a future partner. This was in 7th or 8th grade, contrary to the implication in the essay that it was in high school.
  • Clearly, I was still confusing sex and gender. But c’mon, it was ten years ago and this class was my very first dip in the academic gender studies pool.

What do you all think?

The Neon Test – A Transgender Bechdel Test

This is a repost from my old blog

Inspired by yesterday’s Guardian article, I propose this reinterpretation of the Bechdel Test for trans people:

  1. It must feature a character that the audience knows is trans
  2. In a non-principal role
  3. Where their trans status is neither the source of comedy nor tragedy

Fangirl

Resetting Reset – Call for submissions for Reset: Expanded Edition

Deadline: Feb 2nd, 2013

(I have to put a deadline on this because classes will be starting and I want to be able to get this all done)

Turtles All The Way Down

“Turtles all the way down…”

First off, I’m glad so many people enjoyed Reset!

One of the things I heard most was that it was too linear. Mea culpa, I was working within the time constraints of the Big Chaos Twine Jam so I made the choice to limit how far the story could branch. After all, I had a very particular story I wanted to tell, and finding clever ways to branch and then still reach that ending isn’t a trivial task! After all, one of the best things about Twine is its accessibility for people with limited spoons (or another metaphor of choice).

That’s where you come in.

There were breadcrumbs of subplots scattered throughout the game. I want you to pick one and develop it further, and submit your work for inclusion in Reset: Expanded Edition.

Submission Guidelines

1) Download the source.

2) Choose one of these three nodes as branch points: “your apartment”, “wrong”, or “turtles 2”.

  • turtles 2: If you choose this node, you are going to write an alternate loop. Essentially, this means the player will play through an entirely new loop designed by you that will in turn lead to “recurring”, closing the loop and continuing to the ending. The first node in your submission will be where a link in “turtles 2” (that I will add, don’t worry about this) lands.
  • your apartment: If you choose this node, rather than following the Alison breadcrumb, choose one of the other breadcrumbs and take the plot that way. Your first node in your submission should be where you land after clicking a link from your apartment to your first node.
  • wrong: Branching from here means allowing the player to refuse Alison entirely. Your first node will be reached by a link in “wrong” that provides an alternative to the forced acceptance.

3) You must end on “Turtles all the way down” in some form, whether kink or not, in order to kick out of the loop you’ve created.

4) Do not modify any of the existing nodes. Instead, create your nodes below the existing nodemap.

5) You do not need to worry about scripting anything fancy, but you may if you wish. If you have something minor that you can’t figure out, feel free to simply include an explanation of what you think the code should do.

6) Style Guidelines: Italics are reserved for first person memories and communications with and via headware. Communication follows the format //[ message ]//. Use single brackets, double brackets will create links and we don’t want that.

7) I encourage you to expand beyond the realm of kink.

 

I reserve the right to make edits as needed to ensure the story flows and is able to be completed.

 

Completed submissions can be sent to AUTUMN (at) LIFEINNEON.COM

Good luck!

 

<3 Much love. Take care of each other.

_-*

Reset: Code Snipets and Source

Node map of your apartment

Your apartment, as seen from above

“So, can I trust you with my source code?”

In the interest of sharing resources with others using Twine to create, here’s the code snippets for all the things that used javascript in Reset:

Color Changing

This is what is used to create the color changing effects. The passage they were placed in was called “Style Changer”. The macro layout here was modified from the Timer script by Stefano Russo (right click to download).

The macros were then called by <<display “Style Changer”>> <<typical>>, <<redgreen>> etc…

<<silently>>
<<set $StyleChanger = 
function()
{
 macros['typical'] =
 {
 handler: function(){
 document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].style.backgroundColor="#333";
 document.getElementById("passages").style.color="#ddd";
 }

 }
 macros['redgreen'] =
 {
 handler: function(){
 document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].style.backgroundColor="#333";
 document.getElementById("passages").style.color="#ddd";
 }

 }
 macros['cb'] =
 {
 handler: function(){
 document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].style.backgroundColor="LightSteelBlue";
 document.getElementById("passages").style.color="DarkSlateBlue";

 }

 }
 macros['badcolor'] =
 {
 handler: function(){
 document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].style.backgroundColor="#b38201";
 document.getElementById("passages").style.color="#009900";
 }

 }
}>>
<<print $StyleChanger()>>
<<endsilently>>

Prompt Box

Rather than just show off how to create a prompt box, this is the segment in which the result the user types in is actually used immediately to determine which of the color schemes should be displayed. Since the user is given one of the Ishihara plates and asked which number they see, the two common answers are 29(typical) and 70 (red-green deficiency), and I also included a guaranteed answer in case either they saw nothing or entered something other than the two options. This is from the “erozha gnuj” passage.

<<set $numberSeen = prompt('#?')>>Not-you see you. Not-noise.
<<if $numberSeen eq 29>>[[Two touch things. Five-and-four touch things.|typical]]<<endif>>
<<if $numberSeen eq 70>>[[Five-and-two touch things. No touch things.|redgreen]]<<endif>>

The useful thing to note about this is that you can use a variable collected in a prompt on the very same screen the prompt appears.

Alert Box

For the alerts, I wasn’t able to find a macro to simply display the alert. So I set it to dump the result into a variable which means it has to be evaluated as JS. You can find this in the “Plug it in.” passage.

<<set $alert = alert('Warning: Attaching device could allow unauthorized access to digital as well as biological function.')>>

I think(?) the value  $alert will evaluate to is true if the player clicks “Ok” and false if the user escapes/closes the box without responding. But I’m not certain on that.

Confirm Box

Ah, yes. Turning yourself over to Alison’s control. I wanted to use this moment to mimic the normal experience of having to explicitly permit a different user to use administrator or root privileges.

The way this works is that clicking “Ok” sets the value returned from confirm() to true, while clicking “cancel” or “X” sets it to false.

<<set $confirm = confirm('You are about to grant user [Administratrix] ALL access privileges. Are you sure?')>>
<<if $confirm eq false>><<display "wrong">><<else>><<display "surrender">><<endif>>

Again, just like with the prompt box, you can use the result of clicking “Ok” or “Cancel” right away. In this case, I have two other passages, and whichever gets displayed depends upon whether the user accepts Alison’s control or not.

Full Source

You can download the full source of Reset here.

With regard to the license, this was a tough one for me. 99% of the work of this lies in the writing, not the code, though the interaction between JS and Twee code makes some obvious things in JS not so obvious in Twine, which is why I wanted to share those insights here. As far as the “code” stuff, I don’t really have any particular attachment to it. Use the JS stuff as you see fit, since much of this is so trivial (from a development standpoint, not necessarily a learning standpoint) that protecting a function call under copyright seems a crass assertion of that power. The CC license is meant to protect the prose, setting, and story arc from unattributed use before I turned it loose.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Complete nodemap of Reset

Complete Nodemap

Reset: Post Mortem

Rediscovering My Art

So, I can’t even start this without mentioning CYBERQUEEN by Porpentine. There’s really nothing I can say specifically besides this: it pushed all the right buttons in just the right order at just the right time to remind me of something terrible I had forgotten: I actually really love games and writing. For the past two years, transition and school have taken up so much of my focus that I, essentially, forgot why I love them.

Frankentwitter’s Game

This is the fateful tweet that started this game:

LifeInNeon: In the future, "I'll let you play with my source code" will be the ultimate offer of dom-sub trust

“I’ll let you play with my source code”

See, Reset started out as a bunch of ideas cobbled together from mostly-sometimes-joking replies to Porpentine on twitter. My usual conversations with her go something like this: Porpentine posts some decontextualized short-form genius, I invent a context and reply with an equally decontextualized statement that presumes we’re inhabiting the same context. Powerful emotions ensue, one hopes. Or just laughter, camaraderie, and the erotic validation that only nice hard faving can supply.

Then I have a moment of:

Other Lydia: Hey Lydia.

Lydia: Yeah, Other Lydia?

Other Lydia: We just came up with something really cool.

Lydia: *Blink* *Blink* *Scrambles to find a pad to scribble an idea fragment down*

The words are scrawled at an angle to the lines of the paper. It feels proper. It's your way of signaling to yourself that this was an idea you wished to be reminded of so you could develop it further in longer, with-the-lines writing.

Reset: the Crumpled-up note

In fact, there’s a scene in the game that reflects this:

I actually have a bin in my cube shelf just for collecting notebooks, note pads, torn notes, and all the other things on which I have scribbled idea fragments. (Fun trivia fact: the text of the note is from an idea I had nearly 7 years ago for a different story. It fit perfectly, and also foreshadows the situation the character is trapped in before the player realizes the nature of the trap.)

The inclusion of the note the character couldn’t remember the significance of was yet another idea fragment spawned by twitter banter:

 

The emotion of finding something you had written down but realizing it no longer means what it meant then

A very complex emotion

 

The Horror of the Transhuman World

My relationship to my body has changed a great deal in the last two years, but in doing so, it has also changed my relationship to the transhumanism movement. I grew up on stuff like Neuromancer, and the fastest way to hook me into your story was to provide a world where body replacement was feasible and accessible. Now, don’t get me wrong: I only see this as a trans thing in retrospect; back then, transsexual was not something I even remotely associated with myself—I just wanted to be free of my bodily limits entirely. However, these days, now that my body is sliding into alignment and *gasp* I actually like it from time to time, my pressing “need” for settings to include body replacement is gone, but in its place is a different need:

I don’t need body replacement to like your story, but if you include it, you must also tell a more mature story.

If you simply project modern day forward and add this one aspect, I want to hear the stories of the people who don’t have access to all the cool stuff because capitalism has prevented them from getting it, or the ways in which enhancements become tools of exploitation to serve the needs of the still-at-the-tops. I want to hear the stories that don’t just sweep disability away by saying “we fixed that”, but rather the stories that talk about the new disabilities created by technology when someone comes a long that it doesn’t work for (after all, every disability arises in a social context) .

So I spend a lot of my time these days fantasizing about the nightmarish horrors of the transhuman future, not the idealized dreams. Dreams are easy. Horrors are hard to face, and if we don’t, they’ll be what we get.

But there’s another aspect of meditating lovingly on the horrors. For some of us, the belief that we can overcome these nightmares keeps us looking forward to this future. This game is not meant to be a Luddite warning that brain hacking is too scary of a possibility and therefore we should halt all progress (impossible, but folks try). I do not raise the spectre of the worst that can happen in the hopes of frightening others away from the future. If I’m being candid, in this hypothetical future, I imagine the absence of scarcity will remove much of the threat of unwanted violation, such that violation as expressed in the game becomes an erotic and dangerous but ultimately recreational act engaged in consensually,  not a selfish or criminal one.

Simultaneously, I’ve been playing a lot of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. So I have a lot on my mind regarding the shortsightedness of Get Augments -> Become White Upper-class Demigod Corporate Enforcer in a setting beset by racism and poverty, and virtually defined by the way everyone except the player needs a drug, Neuropozine, just to survive. I had a very involved conversation recently with Merritt Kopas about that very shortcoming. So that genre was already tumbling around my head when the Big Chaos Twine Jam came along. (I’ve also been working on another game that deals with this: Cuts, which I hope to finish by the end of January, that deals directly with the issue of access and affordability in the era of print-on-demand organs.)

The Mechanics of Sensory Control

One thing I wanted very much to include in this game, as fitting with the “mind got wiped in a cyborg kink scene” theme is the idea that when a person’s brain computer got switched back on, it would need to be recalibrated. With a text based game and no 2D art talents to speak of, I had a limited palette of senses to play with. I chose to focus on two: color vision and language.

Luckily, one of the themes of the challenge was CSS formatting, so I decided to use some fun javascript to alter the colors on screen throughout the game. I chose to make the text onscreen deliberately difficult to read before the calibration takes place, and the color scheme makes it even harder for people with red-green color deficiency to play without highlighting the text on screen. Very early in the game, I alleviate this strain (I made it the first recalibration so as not to go from immersion to punishment of the player), and I do so using one panel of the Ishihara test. A pop-up box appears asking for what number the player sees, and depending upon either of the typical answers (29 for full color vision, 70 for those with r-g deficiency, nothing for full color deficiency) it recolors the game to something more tolerable.

The macro for the color changing:

<<silently>>
<<set $StyleChanger = 
 function(){
     macros['typical'] =
     {
          handler: function(){
          document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].style.backgroundColor="#333";
          document.getElementById("passages").style.color="#ddd";
      } 

}>>
<<print $StyleChanger()>>
<<endsilently>>

The CSS for anchors (links) and backgrounds were set to “inherit” from the body and from the passages, so changing one background and one text color overhauled everything relevant. Since Jonah loads the page once and just fills in the passages <div> each time a new passage is loaded, styling it once each time does it for the entire page until the next time the player hits a style point.

Update: For those looking for more code snippets from the game, I made a followup post here.

I used a reversed rot-13 cipher to garble the text and simulate aphasia. I chose a cipher instead of simply random text strings because language has a structure, and just because the character doesn’t understand the language being used doesn’t mean that structure disappears. I have auditory processing problems; occasionally people speaking to me sounds like wordless babble. I could even repeat the words back to them, but they have no meaning. So I occasionally have to ask people to repeat themselves even though they might be the only person in the room with me and no other sounds to distract me. But there’s still some sense of meaning that gets through: I still understand tone of voice, I still understand that I am being spoken to and not the wall, I might have an inkling of the subject being discussed. But the words themselves are incomprehensible for a few seconds. Like a mental hiccup. So I leaned on another test: the Rorschach test, to “re-align” symbolic language processing, allowing the player to freely input whatever they saw in the ink blots.

I wanted to simulate that experience of aphasia: the words being said by the doctor still have a structure and a meaning; there is still a purpose and if the player chooses, they can actually use a translation tool to decipher the text. It’s just like I have to in my real life: I think about what was said to me, playing it back from memory like a recording, and “re-hear” it, just as the player must (if they are dedicated) re-read it to translate it.

Likewise, the narrative has a greatly reduced vocabulary palette to choose from: concepts like “touch-thing” for finger, or “not-you” substituted for any person that you recognize isn’t yourself. It felt incongruous to use a full linguistic spectrum when simulating a scene in which the character-as-player-as-character has no access to their words. “What would it be like to be reduced to the vocabulary of a 2 year old?”

The color vision one is dipping into dicey territory because unlike the language, I do have full color vision (and from what I’ve been tested, on the high end of my ability to discriminate colors). So I absolutely could not go forward with that in the game without providing a safe way out: there is a color-fuckery-free way to play the game because as hard as it is on those with full color vision to look at the absolutely garish color palette, it’s even harder on those with color deficiency. Likewise, the intended compensation mechanic—using the mouse to highlight the text—is not available to players who play on many touchscreen devices or who have difficulty manipulating the mouse. (Full disclosure: as a stimming method, I compulsively highlight and unhighlight any text I am reading, so it still forces players to play as I would in a roundabout way.)

The Kink Metagame

Both of these things constitute a metagame layer: the game is playing with the player as much as the setting is manipulating the player character. Since the second-person article “you” is used throughout, it seems appropriate.

That makes the kink scene a lot more complex, because I’ve already established a dialogue with the player that they are in fact the one experiencing what the character is experiencing. I wanted to provide incentive to keep going with the kink scene: the further you go, the more the story gets revealed in memories. Likewise, to emphasize the submission and control held by the Administratrix, I realized I could undo the re-calibration done at the beginning. This also bookends it, giving the sense that it was a scene like this one that led to being in the hospital in the first place. Indeed, one could end the game on that belief when it loops back to the beginning.

The Safe Words and the True End (SPOILER ALERT)

Because of that metagame layer, because the game was telling the player they were experiencing the kink, I wanted to provide the player as much as the character a safe way out. So I made the choice to make everything from beyond the beginning of the kink scene entirely optional. Like kink off-screen: it’s there if you enjoy it, but if you don’t, no worries, mate. Likewise, it ends when one of the players says it ends.

Therefore: the safe words are always available to the player from the initiation of the kink scene to the end.

If a player ends at the initial loop back, thinking the Administratrix reprogrammed their head and put them in the hospital, I think that is a satisfying-ish ending as a story, but it says some deeply fucked up things about kink (or what folks might think I feel about kink).

It was very important to me that the game actually end without it being some nefarious plot: there was no murder, no jealousy, no cheating, no revenge fantasy, or any of that. It ended when the player/character said it ended, and reaffirms the trust placed in the Administratrix. If anything, I feel I was a little rushed with the ending and may not have provided enough aftercare in the form of confirmation that the player/character is back in the “real” world.

Recursion, Foucault, Soc1ety

Obviously recursion is a big deal in this story. The player/character is breaking out of consecutively deeper loops until they arrive at the real world. This is echoed by the very safe phrase used: turtles all the way down, a concept of cosmic recursion when one postulates that the universe rests on the back of a turtle. What’s the turtle standing on? Well, it’s turtles all the way down.

If you haven’t read anything by Foucault, you probably should. If you enjoyed this game enough to reach this line of this post mortem, you ought to know what the man had to say about the nature of power and control and structures to maintain them. Even if you can’t get through his full-length works (guilty), get the notes from someone who has. And grab a strong drink and prepare for some soul-searching on how to get by in such a deeply fucked up world.

Soc1ety is, of course, a panopticon qua social network service accessed through one’s headware. The analogues to it in our present world should be obvious. But I had to include it, since this entire game was spawned by a transhuman version of “Hey everyone, I lost my phone. PM me your number!”

Thank you

I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Much love. Take care of each other. <3

_-*

Reset: A game by Lydia Neon

Screenshot of Reset by Lydia Neon

Play Reset

Reset is a game about the bizarre, frightening, and exciting possibilities for kink in the cyborg / transhuman future.

Who can you trust with your source code if you can’t trust your Administratrix?

Reset was created with Twine as part of the Big Chaos Twine Jam.

 

Play Reset Here

 

 

Parts – Part 1: Egg is available now!

Parts

Cover By Autumn Nicole Bradley

When Professor Grey was invited to the mechanical biology symposium, he thought he had finally gained the respect of his peers. In truth, his colleagues simply could not be bothered. Their loss, for that was where the professor met the brilliant (and by all accounts sociopathic) Doctor Ileana Winthrop, and his mechanomorphosis began.

Told in epistolary form, Parts documents the journey of Professor Grey in his most remarkable mechanomorphosis. It originally appeared online, and is republished in complete form here.

Get your copy at Smashwords.com!

Follow along with the latest updates at the Parts tumblr. And don’t forget to follow!

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