MisanthroPlay Episode #57 Interview with Rani Baker

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We talked about the striking games of witchy Portland-based developer Rani Baker back in Episode #51, so we thought it was about time to just have her on the show! Rani Baker joins Alva and Robert to discuss her games, her creative process, her inspirations, and haunted technology.

You can find Rani's work at Itch.ioGameJoltBandcamp, and Cracked, among other places. Be sure to check out her upcoming game DEATH SWORD, which you can currently help to crowdfund, and please consider supporting her on Patreon.

Listen here!

October Terror Story #14 In the Friend Zone

by Robert Fenner

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In the Friend Zone
Get it at Itch.io

You wander dazed through a decimated cityscape. Twisted asphalt rises up in all directions. Past the highway and over a chainlink fence lies a worn-down old church. Inside, they worship blue balls. You make your way to a nightclub, the bass reverberates within your ears. The dancefloor is an unusable wreck; mostly deserted, save for a scattered simpering sausage party, its patrons crawling over each other, using each other, begging for the ability to change their lot.

They wait their turn to be called. You wait your turn. Their turns do not come. Your turn does not come. Not ever.

Entitlement has banished you to the Friend Zone. And you deserve it.

In the Friend Zone is like Lovecraft's Dagon for """nice guys""".

October Terror Story #12 Hypnogogia

by Robert Fenner

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Hypnogogia
Get it at Itch.io

Games never get drugs right.

The hallucinatory sequences in titles like Max Payne and Fallout 3: Point Lookout are heavy on the spectacle and the metaphor. And yet, it's hard to blame them too much. Even if one has experienced a dissociative experience first hand, it's such a fleeting and obscure moment that it's difficult to effectively adapt to any medium. Like pornography, it's not easy to define but you know it when you see it.

Hypnogogia [sic] is one of the more realistic trip simulators that I've played, as its hallucinations exist in the periphery. A bubble of reality exists around you, while an ever shifting, melting world of unknowable sights lies just out of grasp, as if you're the last, shrinking island in a foreign world. Or so I've heard.

A simplistic browser-based game, Hypnogogia follows the misadventures of a man who's chosen to take a psilocybin trip at the worst possible time. Visited by a number of angry guests (your boss, a possible blackmailer, etc), our hero has chosen to keep his emotions in check by scarfing down magic mushrooms. Each line of dialogue causes fluctuations in your mood, and you're given a choice of one of four mushrooms to eat to ease the pain. These can cause any number of hallucinations, whether it be slight, vivid, or overpowering--notable that the only consistency is your immediate vicinity; the chair in which you sit, the TV bathing you in static. Each mushroom has its own side effects, and if a side effect takes a mood over its manageable threshold, our hero projectile vomits all over the place and the game is over. Heavy.

Hypnogogia comes with a Mush Guide that details what mushrooms you have on hand at any given moment and what effect they have. The game is unplayable without it, but sometimes the descriptions in the guide can be vague or misleading, and what you think might even things out will end up speed-dialing Ralph, and that's just rude in front of guests.

The biggest problem with Hypnogogia is that there appears to be only one correct answer to each situation. I played around with it a lot, and only made it to its conclusion after much trial and error and memorization. A little extra room for experimentation would've been nice, or at least a checkpoint system between guests. That said, this Law of the West by way of Hunter S Thompson is worth a look before bed tonight.

 

October Terror Story #11 D E A B I R T H - R E A L

by Robert Fenner

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D E A B I R T H - R E A L
Get it at Itch.io

Sharing D E A B I R T H - R E A L with you tonight gave me pause; not because I find it objectionable, but rather because I found it when randomly browsing Itch.io. That is the optimal way to experience this type of game, rather than curation, but hey.

Brought to us by a glitch-heavy creator by the name of LOVE MERCHANT DEAD GHOST,  D E A B I R T H - R E A L is a short game about childbirth. A nightmarish childbirth. In the form of a rhythm game. Press Y in relation to the positioning of the text on screen to push; push hard enough and you'll be the proud mother of a bouncing baby something! Essentially,  D E A B I R T H - R E A L is a dissociative marriage of Rosemary's Baby and Beatmania, cheating on each other with the aesthetics of Hotline Miami and the Guinea Pig film series. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, toss LOVE MERCHANT DEAD GHOST a couple of bucks and see some technicolor babies in your dreams tonight.

October Terror Story #04 You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter

by Robert Fenner

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You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter
Get it at Itch.io

Remember the early days of the net? I do. My household was a very early adopter of internet access, first signing up to America On-Line in 1993 or 1994. Even though the world wide web was much smaller in those days, its novelty and newness felt limitless.

Aged 9 and painfully weeby, one of the first things I did when left alone with the computer was to search for pictures from anime and manga to print and put on my wall. It started with characters I knew and loved; Lum, A-Ko, Ranma, etc., but I also clicked on series and characters I hadn't heard of. The selection of manga and anime was limited and expensive in those days so I was eager to see pictures of what I couldn't get my hands on, whether it be the as-of-yet unlocalized Dragonball Z, or the obscure shoujo anime Hime-chan no Ribbon.

And then I came across the works of Toshiki Yui. His pinup style images of busty women in latex was far removed from what I was used to, and clearly not a still from a film, or panel from a manga. They were meant to be taken as is for titillation's sake, and I knew I wasn't meant to be looking at them. I secretly printed them out and hid them under my bed.

Still curious, I kept clicking around and eventually found images from Toshio Maeda's La Blue Girl. And then Hajime Soriyama. And then I didn't know what to think! But eventually I realized I could just do a Webcrawler search for "sex".

I got caught waiting for an image to load. It was humiliating, not to mention terrifying.

You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter recreates this experience to the letter. Your parents have left you home alone, so it's time to fire up the 56k and log on to AOL to have an impromptu lesson in sex education.

Rendered entirely in ASCII characters, You Must Be 18 sees you clicking through as many images as you please, or choosing to nervously look behind you to ensure you're alone. The excellent sound design does wonders for the experience; you hear to the constant buzz of the hard drive while listening for bumps and scuffles that may be happening behind you. Pop-up ads, literal pop scares, may open without warning in your face, playing sexual sounds that send you scrabbling to close them before somebody else hears what you're doing.

You can quit at any time, or you can delve further, seeking the ultimate depths of carnal knowledge, not unlike a Lovecraft protagonist. But how deep is too deep? Can you handle this, or will your mind be forever scarred?

You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter is stressful, comical, and very true to life for anyone who was once a curious adolescent in the 1990s.