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Ten years of this nonsense

I'm still having some difficulty processing it, to be honest. Ten years. Ten years ago was when the Demented Chicken Network first saw the light of day, tossed up on some inexpensive hosting while I was lounging around in my dorm during freshman year. And having written that I've just realized that this website, as dcNET and Altered Origin and all the miscellanous constituent projects that popped up here and there and were eventually folded back in, like Insubstantiality (my sporadic "blogging") or 493 (the one-shot pokédex project that survives today as 807 mini), has been with me for almost my entire adult life so far. Oh, man. That's... that's a thing. That is a thing. I don't know what to do with this information.

I'll figure it out eventually, I suppose. In the mean time, how about a few birthday updates so you visitors can enjoy yourselves while I'm over here having my mind blown?

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porygonfinds… stairs?

Took a tiny, tiny break from being bogged down in a whole bunch of stuff to make a few brief updates to the porygonfindsskitty game: I added a few more visitor-suggested non-skitty items and finally swapped out those dull squares for poké ball icons. Thanks for the nsi suggestions, those of you who sent them in, and enjoy the little update. :)

I'm sort of tempted to rewrite the game in JavaScript instead of Flash since I've been meaning to get better at that sort of thing anyway. It'll have to wait for when things quiet down, though.

>GET POKÉDEX: Thoughts on Interactive Fanfiction

Long, long ago (the precise date is unclear, but as far as much of my audience is concerned "back in the days when Jesus battled the dinosaurs" is a fair estimate), a man named William Crowther wrote a little program called Adventure. Adventure wasn't much by today's high standards of gaming. It ran on computers that had little to no graphical capabilities and was rendered entirely in text descriptions, and the only way to accomplish anything was to type simple, imperative commands like "GO WEST" or "TAKE AXE" at a prompt and hope that it understood what you were trying to do. The object of the game was to explore a textual simulation of a massive Kentucky cave system—a slightly embellished simulation, unless it was in fact possible to find angry dwarves and giant snakes in Kentucky in the '70's—and collect as much treasure as you could get your hands on without falling into a pit and smashing your head open. Navigation was confusing, puzzles could be tricky, there were two sprawling mazes to get lost in and the aforementioned pits were distressingly commonplace. But people played it, and they loved it, and the genre of games known as "text adventures" was born.

For a while, text adventures were predominantly commercial affairs, made by companies like Infocom and Level 9 that produced stories and adventures in all sorts of genres–the best known, even to those unfamiliar with this genre, are probably Infocom's Zork games, the ones responsible for introducing the world to the man-eating, light-fearing grues and a few other things that have slipped into common fantasy parody parlance. They dominated the gaming market, people spent hours staring at command prompts and trying to guess what to type to open a locker or catch a Babel fish, and a good time was had by all. But then graphical adventures (like LucasArts's or Sierra's point and click games) found their way into the limelight, followed by games that focused less on complex puzzle-solving and more on other aspects of gaming. Computers got better and better and became relatively inexpensive, and people were no longer satisfied with simple text when the aforementioned graphical games looked more and more inviting and sparkly by the minute. The market for text adventures dwindled, most of the companies that produced it were bought out or went out of business, and the text adventure genre faded into obscurity.

But text adventures didn't just die. Many of the players who loved them so continued to play them, continued to enjoy them because they still exercised a few gaming muscles that the graphics-dependent games of the day never seemed to bother with. There was still something exciting about trying to stumble one's way out of the dark before being eaten by a grue. Gaming companies weren't making text adventures any longer, but its original fans still wanted more–and if they couldn't purchase them, they'd just have to make them themselves.

Nowadays there are online repositories and archives full of amateur-made text adventures, or "interactive fiction" as it's generally called today, and a wide variety of IF authoring systems that make it possible to create IF of your own without having to reinvent the wheel, all available for free download (though there are some commercial works available, and at least one well-known member of the IF community recently quit his dayjob to make commercial IF full-time). Playing IF also usually requires downloading an interpreter, the virtual machine software necessary to play games made in a specific format, though you only need one interpreter to play any and all games in the corresponding format. The interpreter loads the game and displays that infamous, intimidating ">" command prompt, just waiting for you to type your first command and take your first foray into the author's world. It all seems deceptively simple, but a quick look behind the scenes at any decent authoring system will reveal a pretty powerful engine, and taking a few games for a test run can show you some complex, involved games that, when made well, require quite a bit of creative thought to solve–or, in the case of some "non-game" titles, perform feats you wouldn't expect from programs the likes of Adventure. I've only just started dabbling in these sorts of things, and let me tell you, man, mind blown.

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New affiliate + sibling site + plans for stuff and things

Two shiny new buttons at the bottom of the site! I am, how you say, flattered!

Indigo Plateau is a site that's been around for a while in various incarnations, if I recall correctly, and recently they've put a lot of work into creating an awesome and promising Pokémon community. They also have several other projects and articles posted or underway, and in general the place is definitely worth a visit if you're looking for something more than Yet Another Bad Serebii Clone.

I hardly imagine I have to give the second one much of an introduction, considering that I'm pretty sure most of my recurring visitors first found Altered Origin through the forums there, but for the sake of those who have been living under a rock and don't know what The Cave of Dragonflies is I'll sum it up anyway. TCoD is a large, long-running fansite with a ton of original content, both serious and informational and fun and creative, and is home to some of the best-known Pokémon personality quizzes and (and possibly also some of the best-known fanfics) on the internet. The aforementioned forums have also pretty much been my Pokémon internets home for... oh, god, going on five years now. It's an honor to be affiliated with Dragonfree, and you are seriously depriving yourself of a lot of awesome stuff if you've managed to avoid visiting TCoD thus far.

As for AO itself, well, there should hopefully be a lot of interesting stuff on the horizon. There is, of course, the ever-present Unexplained The Thing, which in light of recent Unexplained Research I have decided I am ready to start speaking a bit more openly about; it's not necessarily that it's supposed to be a huge secret or anything, but I wanted to be sure of a few things first and I generally don't like talking about stuff until I'm properly committed to some solid course of action. I'm halfway through writing up a nice, juicy blog post about it for Insubstantiality, so look forward to that sometime soon; it's something I'd definitely like to get some opinions on if you're so inclined, because it's about rather a lot more than just me and my stuff. At this point I will go as far as to say that The Things (as there are actually two I'm sort of poking at at the moment) will be games of one sort or another; one is probably better described as an oddball, glorified quiz, but... meh. Wait for the blog post, I'll speak more coherently about it there.

Speaking of games, a recent read through the swap meet puzzle has given me a new idea for another one, possibly even one that will be updated on a regular an irregular basis instead of being a one-off thing like said swap meet if it's not too much trouble to keep up. (I'll probably also set aside a little time to come up with some more non-skitty items for porygonfindsskitty, by the way, just so there's a little more variety in there. Or you could suggest one yourself if you wanted.)

I'm also doing my best to shore up the plot, storyline, etc. of at least one of my fanfics, probably Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen, so I can finally get another working draft started as soon as possible; I probably won't start posting it anywhere until a reasonable enough draft is actually complete, as I don't want to risk getting people's hopes up if I end up taking too long to figure out where stuff is going, but the fact that this story has basically no middle has driven me crazy for long enough and dammit I want to get started. So there's that, as distant in the future as it may or may not be.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I don't have the attention span of a goldfish and that I'll be able to churn this stuff out right away, even with a slightly lighter school workload than the hellish mess I put up with last quarter, but funstuffs are definitely on the way. This includes some of the stuff on the to-do list, of course; the "cosmogony" I recently added to the list needs to be finished pretty soon in particular, as it also happens to tie into Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen‘s background.

It’s November again…

...and that means that I'll be diving head first into National Novel Writing Month in an attempt to actually get some serious writing done (since apparently I can never write any fiction unless it's for a) NaNo or b) a grade). As such, you probably won't see me around much this month. Once again, though, the story I'm going to be writing should be suitable for dcNET when I'm done editing it... and editing Incarnadine Harvest from last year... and At Liberty from the year before... and I should probably stop now. I'm depressing myself. (But I am going to try really hard to finish those up one of these days! Really!)

Unfortunately I was unable to finish the ASB for Beginners revamp in time, and it's going to have to take a back seat to the NaNovel; I did make some major headway on it over the past few days, however, so with any luck it'll only take me a little while longer to finish it up once November is over. That'll be just in time for another important deadline, as you might notice if you check out the To-Do List over there. Hm. I wonder what that is, anyway?

Just so I don't leave you all in the lurch while I'm off a-noveling, I did finish creating the prize image for the Pokémon League Swap Meet Puzzle since that was something I could do quickly. If you've already solved the puzzle you'll have to enter the answer again to see it, but you should already know what that is so it shouldn't be a big deal. If you haven't solved it yet, then maybe this'll serve as some incentive to keep trying! I've gotten some positive feedback about the puzzle relatively recently, so I'm glad to hear you guys are enjoying it! (Now, I wonder if I should update the puzzle to include fifth-gen Pokémon... probably not until we get their English names, at least... hmm.)

Lastly, dcNET has another new affiliate. AobaruNet is a neat fansite with fun interactive games and interesting reviews–do yourself a favor and go give it a look!

I think that's all for now. Happy Halloween to those of you who celebrate it, wish me luck in NaNoWriMo, and I'll be back just in time for December 3rd, whatever that might be!

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