The Long Dark Stories: Jack Fiennes

Long Dark
Disclaimer: this story represents the author’s views and imagination and is a work of fan-fiction. This does not represent any story that Hinterland Studios is developing for The Long Dark game. 

February 22nd – Day One

I knew it was a mistake when I did it, but I took her up anyway. That’s the last time I ignore my gut. Hell, ignore my reason, my instinct. Every inch of me was saying, “hey, bad idea; let’s not put five miles between you and the ground when every other plane crashed simultaneously four weeks ago.” But that’s what you do when you’re desperate, you stop using your God-given common sense.

If this does end up being read by anybody other than me, congrats! You are alive and I am dead. And you will probably be easier on me than I am being on myself. You might say, “Jack, you had to take that plane South. You were freezing to death. You had one good day to get the hell outta Dodge.” Well, thank you. Maybe you are right, but it is what it is.

Either way, my plane did what every other plane did: it crashed. By some combination of my incredible flying skills (and humility) and nothing short of a miracle, I put her down in a way that didn’t crush any of my bones or major organs.

I would take the time to tell you about all the crazy shit that’s been happening to the world lately, but if you are alive enough to read this, then you know damn well what’s going on. If, by some small chance someone deciphers this thing twenty thousand years from now, well…the world went to hell in a hurry. Some insane solar flare sent our magnetic field bonkers and managed to fry every piece of electric hardware ever (my plane is a rebuild from way back so no computer, lucky right?) Not sure what the warmer places in the globe are dealing with, but up north here the weather is about as predictable as a grapefruit squirt.

So, I’m not dead…yet. In fact, I had the good fortune of crashing and not dying in a place that had been inhabited not too long ago; that, and salvaging a few items that, like me, were lucky enough not to be crushed in my plane, I might actually have a chance. I guess I have to look at it that way so I won’t give up and die right now. What’s that saying? Expect the worst, hope for the best? Well, I don’t even know what to expect at this point but I’m sure there’s some other saying for how it can always get worse… actually, I think that’s it. Not the most creative people making these things up.

As for what to hope for…how about another sunrise.

Enough of the backstory, that’s not what journals are for and I better get to it anyway before either this fire goes cold or I pass out. Goddamn, I’m out of shape. Someone shoulda had the decency to mention the world was gonna end, I would’ve gone for a run or two. Who am I kidding? No I wouldn’t’ve.

* * *

It’s sometime mid-morning and I’m standing next to this wreck of a plane, scratching my head at how I’m not dead when I realize I might literally be freezing my ass off…like my actual ass might just fall off of me, land in the snow, and I might not realize it. So I manage to grab my survival pack with the few things I could salvage and I hoof it toward something that looks less mountain-ish and more building-ish in the distance (basically something more square and less pointy). I’m not really thinking thoughts at this point; I am just realizing how out of breath I am trudging about a hundred feet through snow and that if I stop to catch my breath I might become an icicle.

But would you believe it? A poor, insignificant bastard like me gets lucky, like jackpot lucky, twice in one day. There is a building, which means I might have actually crashed near civilization, which means I might not freeze to death, which means I might find something that will keep me from starving after I chow down on this energy bar. Hell, I might even meet another person, and they might not even want to kill me and eat me. I should be dead, anything could happen at this point.

I snapped a shot of the building with the magically uncrushed Polaroid camera I had in my pack, though I would trade this camera and my left pinky for a hot burger right about now. Screw it, I’ll give both pinkies for any amount of ground beef. Did I mention this is day one of me surviving out here? Not sure what limbs I’ll be willing to trade if I make it ten days. I guess I’ll let you know.

Carter_Hydro_Dam.jpg

Hot damn, it’s a dam!

This thing is some sort of dam. I assume it’s hydro-electric, no one builds a dam without an opportunity to generate some cash flow from it. Ah, those were the days, when you could subjugate nature for your own personal gain. Well, thank you Mr. Dam-Builder you helped me live today.

By the way, I say I assume it’s hydro-electric now as I am writing this, but at the time my brain is still frozen and I believe I was thinking: “me cold, building less cold, me go.”

So “me went” and “me not freeze.” Me actually almost trip over a dead guy holding a storm lantern as soon as I enter the thing. I was horrified at seeing the corpse at the time, but it’s really crazy how different your brain acts when it knows you need to live. Let me clarify: when I’d realized I’d tripped over this corpse–this former person with a soul who died a terrible death that I might soon die–I was both horrified and relieved. Relieved because it was dark as hell and this guy is holding a lantern with fuel in it. I don’t know how he didn’t leave it on, I’m not sure how he died, but all I am thinking is, “thank the sweet Lord: I have light.”

Then, I turn the lantern on and see a giant gash in his side and a trail of blood and realize this guy made it about four feet in here before he passed out from blood loss. The snow outside must have covered whatever trail he left out there. But, I feel nothing.  It wasn’t like the movies. I know I should have curled up in a ball and sobbed for the tragedy of it all. I should have puked because it’s a body and I don’t see those, but really, I’m feeling nothing. Call it shock. Call me a heartless bastard, but unless you have been there, you can’t know.

The things I should’ve been thinking (and not doing so nearly got me killed) was, “what made that nasty huge gash in that man’s side? Could it be a thing? A dangerous thing? Could it still be around? Do I need a weapon pronto so I don’t end up like this unfortunate gentleman?”

But anyway…

Listen, my fire is dying down. I don’t want to keep you on the edge of your seat, but I’m still alive, for today. I have enough stuff at the moment that I can write a bit in the morning before I have to go continue to try to live. I’m not sure why I care so much about writing this, but I hope if you are reading it you’ll… yeah, I don’t know what I hope.

It is what it is.

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Why Heroin, Adventure Capitalist, and Clicker Heroes Should Be Illegal

ClickerHeroesDevil

I usually like to write about games that I am passionate about. Every here and there I will write a review about something I strongly disliked. The reason for this imbalance is that I generally don’t like to waste money on games that have negative reviews on Steam. To be clear, a game doesn’t need to be overwhelmingly positive, in fact I take more stock in the first page of reviews than I do overall percentages.

Today is different.

Awhile ago, I was injured and had to spend a significant amount of time sitting in a chair, which led to me creating this very blog. During that time, I fell into a deep hole that I almost didn’t climb out of. No, it wasn’t the well on my grandfather’s farm. This, ladies and gentlemen, was a metaphorical hole, and the worst kind.

I started playing Adventure Capitalist:

Capitalism

Come & play the best Soul Shriveling Simulator out there!

Oh sorry, this is the official picture for the game:

Adventure Capitalist

I thought nothing of this game at first. I wondered how it could boast 91% positive reviews on Steam, but I shrugged and exited after a few minutes of play. Little did I know that a tiny bug had been planted in my brain, which slowly grew. The next day (having no idea why) I open up the game again and I found that I was able to unlock something new, so, of course I did…

Skinner's Box

Just push that button, slave *cough* I mean, mouse.

But then I realized, “WAIT! I could have unlocked so much more if I’d just played a little longer.” So I wait to get more money so that I could buy more Car Washes, and Newspaper Routes. “Oh, but look. The Car Wash is really quite expensive and I’ve put nothing into the Donut Shop. I really should stick around a few more minutes to even them all out….OOH! I can almost buy a Movie Studio. Wait, but what’s the point of buying the Movie Studio if it isn’t automated? Then when I shut this down, it won’t produce for me. AND I WANT IT TO PRODUCE DAMMIT! OK. I just need enough money to buy a manager for my Movie Studio. NICE! Got him. Oh wait…he’d be giving me almost no money if I just have one of these bastards. I should get 5 movie studios so that my profit speed increases…”

AND SO ON AND SO FORTH…I found myself coming back and back and back to this game until I had unlocked the Moon and Mars which weren’t producing nearly enough compared to Earth and so I needed to get those up to snuff… WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? WHAT IS IN MY BRAIN?!?!

And of course, this is the entire point of the game. It is an endless pit that is designed to melt your brain, giving you little nuggets of endorphins to keep you coming back.

One Puff

…except when your weed is laced with a clicker-game.

I felt legitimately worse about myself. What am I doing? I mean, I’m injured and recovering…it’s not like I should be doing anything else…how is this any worse than spending hours on another game or watching a show, etc. AND THAT REASONING MAKES SENSE, RIGHT? I mean the point of RPGs is that you complete tasks to slowly increase your power over time which leads to more tasks which leads to more power, etc. I mean look at World of Warcraft. I sunk countless hours into that game back in the day right?

THEN WHY DOES THIS FEEL SO MUCH WORSE? WHY DO I WANT TO STOP BUT I CAN’T?

Prison Crank

This is  a prison crank machine, a meaningless device used to torture inmates.

This game has completely stripped away any value, skills, fun, or worth to gaming, yet people who play it still want to play even though THEY DON’T.

It all started with Cookie Clicker, a game designed as a joke to see if people would actually follow the increasingly large trail of bread crumbs into a pointless hole of cookie-clicking until they either passed out from exhaustion or their mouse broke. There is a great movie about Cookie Clicker that came out a few years ago, it’s called Trainspotting.

Now, despite my headline, I don’t really believe we should all become fascists and say that these games should be made illegal, but please, do your research on games. Don’t simply look at the % of positive reviews on Steam/Metacritic/etc before playing. Remember, people in a cult are pretty crazy about their cult.

Instead, look at comments like these:

AdventureCapComment

Someone give this man a hug

AdventureCapComment2

Hours played…

AdventureCapComment3

Hours played!

AdventureCapComment4

Sweet tiny infant Jesus, help!

I think you get the picture. Luckily, after an exorcism or two, I uninstalled Adventure Capitalist never to return.

If you’re looking for an addiction, for the love of God do something much healthier.

Until next time…

-ZMN

Devil picture source: http://www.dragoart.com/tuts/13941/1/1/how-to-draw-a-devil-face.htm

 

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F2P of the Week: Path of Exile + Beer

Path of Exile

There is no other F2P ARPG that comes close to Path of Exile in its depth, originality, and its lasting fun-factor. It is ESPECIALLY addicting if you have close friends who play. It is by no means perfect. It lacks a compelling pvp component (so does every ARPG), and it really needs a guild system that rewards players for teaming up with others. The graphics, especially the lighting is a bit dated, but these are gripes that are easily overlooked.

So with out further ado:

Let’s talk about why this succeeds where so many other ARPGs and F2P games fail:

  1. Virtually Limitless but Guided Customization: The fact that PoE does not include specifically bound skills for each class, but instead requires a minimum attribute to use each skill, allows for almost limitless customization. There are still the three standard RPG attributes: Agility, Strength, and Intellect and they do exactly what you might think. Each class is either a straight Agi, Str, or Int hero or they are a hybrid of the two.

POE Skill Tree

The skill tree shown above is another very fun and addictive way to specialize whichever hero you choose. You are somewhat limited by your starting location, but the tree is a much more enjoyable way to customize your character. Every time you level or complete certain quests (which is very often early on) you gain a skill point that you can use to increase your attack speed, spell damage, stats, resistances, crit chance with certain weapons, etc. The neat thing about this is you actually FEEL your character getting stronger and faster, aside from the spells they can cast.

Now with the new Ascendancy expansion, there are specialized skill trees for each class, further defining your role in the late game.

2. Balanced PvE difficulty: I always enjoy a challenge. This game delivers that especially in the later playthroughs. I will say that up until recently there have been some seriously overpowered skills at lower levels that can cause a sense of monotony. They have done a nice job of adding more variety and balance lately.

3. Heart and Soul Factor: The game is built by gamers for gamers. It isn’t built to appeal to the widest variety of audiences like many AAA games are. It feels like a unique world and a unique story told by nerds who actually enjoy RPG games.

4. Regular Content Updates: Ascendancy marks the fourth expansion since the game released in 2013. Not many developers are so committed to constantly expanding the game without charging you for it. Look at the shameful PAYDAY microtransaction scandal. Disgusting.

5. F2P Done Right: You only pay for aesthetics and quality of life improvements like storage space. People support the devs and the devs support the players. Who’da thunk it?

Have I convinced you? Download Path of Exile right now and start slaying like its yo job.

Read The Funny Version on Steam

Until next time…

-ZMN

IF YOU ARE UNDER 21 STOP READING SO THE ADULTS CAN DRINK TASTY BEVERAGES.

As Path of Exile is a dark game, a dark, robust beer should pair nicely. I recommend Three Philosphers, Ommegang Brewery’s Belgian Style Quadrupel. It is so smooth and boasts a 9.7% ABV. Enjoy!

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The Culling: Short Fiction Review (Part 2)

The Culling2

If you haven’t read Part 1, make sure you check it out.

EPISODE 3:

This is it. They got me in this room with every kinda weapon you could want. Say I can pick out a package. If I earn enough, they’ll send some airdrop in for me. Isn’t any scavenged business either; all top notch. Only the best for us cons. World’s gone crazy. I pick up a rifle, check the clip: only four bullets. No way I’m makin’ those shots. I move away from the firearms, too loud anyway, might as well wave one a those big fingers they got at ballgames. Bows, nah. Traps, make ’em when I’m in it. Close combat, now we’re talkin’. I pick up a machete, feels alright. Grab one of those Japanese swords, really light, maybe…. Then somethin’ catches my eye. Oh yeah, this’ll do, this’ll do nicely.

EPISODE 4:

Every muscle I got is tense as a tow-rope. I’m droppin’ through the sky and I can’t see a damn thing. In a box barely big enough to turn around. Like a piece a cargo…guess that’s what I am now, here for everyone’s entertainment. I’m about to give ’em somethin’ they’ll never forget.

I think about my girl…always loved you, never meant to hurt you. Now the whole world’s gonna feel your hurt.

BAM. I land with a thud that rattles my skull. I hear some announcer they got piped in through the whole stadium, “GET READY! 5…4…3…2…1!” Top flies off my cage. I’m free. My heart’s racin’ like the Indy 500.

I can’t see a damn thing, just jungle all around. Need a weapon. I pick up a rock. Another one. Got enough FUNC for a knife…well a shiv. A branch. Now I got a spear, good; we’ve come a long way from the cavemen, eh? Hah. I need to find a buildin’ before someone else does. I scramble up a hill like a madman and look out. Past the jungle I see some tower in the distance. Bingo.

Found a nice shallow stream that makes the goin’ a little easier, should reach that tower in no time. The announcer booms out, “Somebody killed another player with a knife!” One down, fourteen to go.

There it is! Building is about 400 feet away. I stop and scout a bit. No movement that I can see. Alright, let’s check this… Oh, S%!T. A rock just whizzed by my head. I whirl around and some skinhead’s swingin’ hammer at me. Duck. I clock him with the haft of my spear in the ribs. I hear a satisfying crack. He jumps back, holdin’ his side with one hand. We stand there. just breathin’ hard. Go ahead, a$%hole. Make your move….

TO BE CONTINUED

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The Culling-Short Fiction Review (Part 1)

The Culling

EPISODE 1:

Somebody killed my wife.

They say I done it, but I didn’t. I found her there, lyin’ there, lifeless. Blood soaked in the floorboard, blood on my hands, blood everywhere.

And that’s how they found me.

I never made it big, so they saddled me with some doe-eyed child as green as lawyers come. But I’m poor and he’s free. You get what you pay for. Never had a fightin’ chance. Innocent ’till guilty… hah. The thing is, I as good as did it. I owed a man money who you shouldn’t owe money, hopin’ it would float us ’till I won big, but she wound up dead before I could get in the ring.

Now they’ve sentenced me to this goddamn television show. I gotta fight 15 other murderers for entertainment. Sick world we’re livin’ in these days. No place for a decent man. That’s OK for me I guess, ‘cuz I sure as S#%! ain’t decent anymore. They say I’m a murderer, well I’m gonna be. How ever many it takes to get back out and find the men who did this. If killin’ is gonna make this world a little more decent, then hell, I got nothin’ to lose.

EPISODE 2:

They got me in this trainin’ room. Showin’ me how to make things to kill people. There’s this stuff called F.U.N.C. they give me; it’s like magic, somethin’ about nanotech-whatever. I take two rocks, rub em together with some of this FUNC stuff and I get a knife, I smash a piece of wood on that, I get an axe. Still pretty primitive lookin’, and I prefer usin my mitts, but if it’ll get the job done, I suppose in some F#%$ed up way I’m grateful.

I know they’re just doin’ it for entertainment. The better they train us, the better the show we can put on, but the way they look at me, I know I’m doin’ somethin’ special. Maybe this is why I wasn’t any good at anythin’ else I ever did. Maybe it’s ‘cuz deep down, I’m a born killer.

This mornin’ they showed me how to rig a steel trap, get someone right in the doorway and BAM, stick em right in the back. I always been the face-to-face kinda fighter, but if these are lowlife murderers and rapists, I won’t have any trouble sleepin’ at night.

After that, they got me usin’ bows, poison darts, throwin’ knives, an’ for the big finale, explosives. Goddamn, I shoulda been a military man.

I got one more day in this cage. Tomorrow they’re gonna drop me in. No rules, just brutal slaughter to please the masses. I never felt more ready for anything in my life. I’m gonna sleep like a baby.

TO BE CONTINUED

I highly recommend this game so far: Please Rate my Steam Review

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F2P of the Week: Brawlhalla + Beer

Brawlhalla

WELCOME TO BRAWLHALLA, a fantastic spin-off of the classic brawler, Smash Bros. The PC master-race finally has a strategic smash-em type game, and the best part? It’s totally free!

When I look through the most popular free-to-plays on Steam, 9 out of 10 are filled with really dissatisfied communities. The top reviews have some serious game-breaking complaints: became pay-to-win, no dev support/devs are greedy, horribly imbalanced, etc. This could not be more different from what you see from the Brawlhalla community and the game is still technically in Early Access.

So, reading the favorable signs, I gave this guy a DL, and so far, with only about 7 hours played, I highly recommend making this part of your library for the following reasons:

Unique Take on Established Genre: Rather than heroes having a unique set of special moves via Smash Bros, Brawlhalla gives heroes weapons that they can pick up during the battle and use. Each Legend has two weapons with moves unique to that hero, which actually gives much more variety to each hero. For example, Koji, the Samurai Legend, has a bow and arrow and  a samurai sword. You can only pick up and use one or the other and it is a random chance which one you will get; however, you can always throw your weapon and try for a different one. Heroes also have stats, str, speed, etc. but the weapon system is what makes the game fun and unique.

Active Dev Community: Game is updated constantly, the forums are active and devs actually listen to players when they have ideas for new legends (heroes). Some of the heroes still feel unbalanced, but that’s forgivable in EA.

Variety of Game Modes: First off. You might not have a PC for the purpose of local co-op, but as I’ve stated before, you can get up to 4 xbox controllers on your PC for less than $15. This game has 4 player couch party and it is a ton of fun. It also features online (the main mode), online custom with a variety of modes, and ranked (1v1 and 2v2, hopefully 3v3 and 4v4 coming soon).

Quick-fire gameplay: Not only does the game move quickly, but each match is 4 minutes long in standard online, which is the perfect time for a match. It keeps you queuing over and over.

The game still needs a more robust leveling system and more ranked play modes, but that should come in time.

So, stop reading and START BRAWLING!

IF YOU ARE UNDER 21, READ NO FURTHER. GO PLAY WHILE THE ADULTS DRINK….AND PLAY.

You might find yourself a bit parched after each match since you won’t be able to drink during (the gameplay is too fast). So why not make up for it with a delicious Belgian golden ale: La Fin Du Monde. This guy is as smooth as it gets and it boasts a 9% ABV… what more need I say?

Please Rate my Funny Steam Review

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Grim Dawn: Hard-Boiled Review

Grim Dawn

I sit in my office, sippin’ a bourbon and smokin’ a gasper, thinkin’ about some hop-head I put in the slammer last night. He kept going on about a Mr. Grim. Said “I might throw his keister in the jug, but I’d get mine when Mr. Grim came knockin’ around.” Well I gave him a good bit a chin music for throwin’ around empty threats, and he clammed right up.

But something wasn’t right, sure some snowed-out dopester’s usually on about some crazy malarky any time I pick ’em up. This felt different, and it was making me sweat, so I decide to make a trip back over to the joint, see what he’s on about. Just as I drain my glass and flick my butt in the ash tray, this leggy dame walks through the door like she’s giving somebody a tour of the place. I ask her if she’d heard a knockin’ but she puts out her hand and introduces herself in that self-assured way of a girlie who comes from money. She says her name is Dawn, and she has a case for me.

I say I ain’t taking cases right now, my library’s full-up and until I shut some of them up, I ain’t handling any more. She ignores me again and starts chinning about this supposed case she’s got. I’m annoyed but I figure I’ll tip another one down, so I pour myself another whiskey. I ain’t much hearing her as it’s the usual talking about her husband. I assume the cat’s cheatin’ on the broad or playing the Bruno with her, knocking her around, and she won’t have it anymore. That’s nine out of ten women who walk through my door anyhow. But it’s the opposite. She’s complainin’ about she loves him so much and he just won’t let her go. So I interrupt, saying “Doll, I don’t hear a problem here, you’re acting like pulling the Dutch act, why? ‘Cause you love a ‘fella too much?”

But she says she don’t wanna love him so much, there ain’t else she can think about and everyone who meets him is the same way. She wants me to pop him. I shake my head at her going all goofy on me. Just when you think you met the craziest broad in town, some nut goes and ups her.

I’m about to go tell her to climb up her thumb when she slips in the cat’s name, “Mr. Grim.” I nearly flop off my wheels. “How’s that,” I reply. And she says it again, “Mr. Grim, surely you’ve heard of him, he’s running the new game in town.” Well, I tell her spit it out about the bird and she does. Telling me when you meet him you start out weak, but he builds you up in whatever way you want. You wanna learn to build things? He’s got that. You wanna learn to shoot? Fight? Even give someone the old Harlem Sunset, he’ll show you that too. But you have to work for it, you’ve gotta complete jobs for him, but it’s worth the reward, and when you wanna stop, he’ll let you, but only because he knows you’ll be back for more. He’s running all the people in this town, and apparently I’m next.

Well, that convinced me. I gotta find this trouble boy before he finds me. I nod to the broad, grab my coat and my heater and take it on the heel and toe. I knew this one would be different. This Grim Dawn case was going to consume me for god knows how long.

Please rate my Steam review.

Until next time,

-ZMN

 

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