The Best Stuff: 5 days - Notes - 7 days - 1213 - Galaxy - Odysseus - Cowboys    

Latest Chris & Trilby


13/7/06: Gordon Wee Man

My household acquired a new computer recently so I've been shirking my duties to catch up with modern gaming. As soon as my last magazine payment came in you may have noticed a rumpled and unshaven fedora-wearing blur streaking through Brisbane to the Electronic's Boutique in the city centre to buy the last copy of Half-Life 2.

I've played it through now, and Episode 1 as well, and I'm not going to give complete reviews or fawn over the awesomeness because there have been plenty of institutions who have already done just that. So instead I'm just going to talk about one aspect of the game(s): the characters.

There are few games indeed that cause me to forge an emotional attachment with its characters. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time managed it, and I'm a cissy for James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2 (although the rest of the cast can suck on a pyramid-shaped tailpipe for all I care), but I think Half-Life 2 is the only one to do it so consistently, and with such depth. Great care has been taken to make the NPCs seem like humans. They have lifelike and realistic animations. They talk like normal people. They have consistent personalities and behave appropriately to their situations and surroundings. It's at the point where I really want them to succeed because they're actually likeable. I pity Dr. Kleiner as his attempts to tame a headcrab fall short of the mark. I worry when Barney shows up with a haggard 5 o'clock shadow and want to see him take a load off his feet and have a cup of milky tea.

Even the game's villain seems to have genuine depth, and does the things he does out of apparent fine motives rather than any inherent evilness. All in all, the NPCs in Half-Life 2 have become so advanced that it makes it all the more silly that Gordon Freeman never says anything.

The story appears to be becoming extremely character-based, and no matter how much humanity is injected into the others, the central figure remains this sort of black hole of a character with literally zero personality. Gordon Freeman must have once possessed the ability to speak, surely, or he'd never have gotten employed at a top secret research centre. So for him to never say anything throughout the entire Half-Life series just makes him seem stubborn. I know you can argue that the player is supposed to project themselves onto Freeman, but if that's the case, why give him a name? A backstory? An iconic appearance? All the other characters have known him for years, we can't really project ourselves because Freeman has a known history and reputation. Hell, he's the fucking messiah figure for the oppressed masses.

Half-Life 1 was just about running and gunning, exploring and surviving, and most friendly NPCs (a) had the same face, voice and personality as most people in the facility and (b) didn't last more than five minutes before they died from explosive kneecap death, so Gordon's silence didn't stand out so much. But now, the expressiveness of all the other characters in Half-Life 2 emphasise the silent protagonist, turning proceedings into a parody of the concept. On several occasions Alyx Vance tries to lighten things up with a joke, only for Freeman to respond with grim phlegmatic silence. What makes that even more frustrating is that Alyx is quite obviously infatuated, warm for his form as it were, which absolutely everyone seems to be aware of (players and NPCs included) except Gordon himself. All he'd have to do is make one sign of emotion and the HEV suit would be off faster than you can say 'don't forget to reload'. And then she'd be Gordon's girlfriend and could call him adorable pet names for the rest of the series. "Shoot that zombie, would you, pookie muffin?"

Let's get off this subject before I grow a vagina.

And another thing, if Freeman had a voice, he could perhaps have the decency to answer some unspoken questions the world no doubt has, like where he's been for the last umpteen years when he could have been, you know, stopping the human race from becoming enslaved in the first place. Perhaps he could have told everyone about the mysterious and sinister G-man who seems to be manipulating events and whom only Freeman could possibly know anything about. But no, he's just too shy to let other people in on what could be critical intelligence. At the very least he could have written it down.

I guess it's too late to give Freeman a personality now he's been categorised for so long as a silent protagonist. What perplexes me, though, is how the other characters remain enthusiastic about things with Gordon in the room. You know how it is; you're together with a few friends having a chat and a drink, but there's always one guy who's determined to be miserable. He never joins in the conversation, just sits there, arms folded. Soon his presence causes the talk to die down and everyone just fidgets in the awkward silence, hoping to God that the fucker will leave. He's like that guy from that one episode of Father Ted.

But no. Freeman comes in and everyone's all like "IT'S GORDON FREEMAN!!", stopping just short of letting off party poppers. Then everyone's talking to him really earnestly and inviting him to borrow their super-advanced guns or play with their robot buddies. All I can say is that Gordon Freeman either has the most expressive face in the world or secretes some kind of pleasure-inducing pheromone from his beard.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

5/7/06: Special School

Alright lads, who's for some Trilby's Notes Special Edition action? All the fun of Trilby's Notes, with the following extra features:

- Author commentary as per usual!
- Extended ending sequence!
- Full soundtrack in midi format, with composer notes and prototype tracks!
- Books of Chzo in word format, with additional chapters!
- That's it. You need more?

As per usual just donate at least five dollars to my Paypal account and specify that you want the Trilby's Notes Special Edition, and I'll supply a download URL. But don't be naughty and give it to other people because I'll change it whenever I remember.

Oh, and those boring cheapskates who are stuck with the plain jane free version can also now download a new version, which fixes the wine bottle bug and Mbouta walking around when not appropriate bug. Roushi has already updated his link so if you have a mirror then please update yours.

Addendum 7/7/06: The new issue of Hyper out now has an article by me in it. Buy it if you want to read an article of mine. You know, the sort of thing you don't get on this website anymore.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

3/7/06: The Two-Faced Thief

I'm currently working on a Special Edition of Trilby's Notes while I recuperate in preparation for starting on the last game of the series, and hopefully to bring some money in so I can buy food for my tum, and it occurred to me that I've been seriously neglecting my website with all this adventure game shit. So I thought I'd kill some time in between writing commentary to do a little update.

For want of a subject, let's compare the main character sprites from 5 Days and Trilby's Notes and see just how much the loveable gentleman rogue Trilby has evolved.

My, what a difference four years make. If it weren't for the hat, the tie and the general aura of unflappable style you wouldn't believe they were the same guy. Let's go through the ways Trilby has grown up.

- 5 Days Trilby seems to be shaded better, because he was drawn during the Odysseus Kent period when I was trying to make my graphics look at least to some degree professional. TN Trilby is not shaded at all because he was drawn after the GFW period when I realised that most people didn't give a toss and just wanted a fun game.

- In the latter game Trilby seems to have taken to standing with his feet further apart than before, indicating an increase of confidence in his poise and masculinity. Note also that his hair no longer covers his ears. This cocky fellow feels he has nothing to hide.

- Conversely, though, he doesn't shine his shoes as well as he did in 5 Days. Perhaps all that research into John DeFoe he had to do left him little time for personal grooming, and the walk through the forest to the hotel can't have helped his footwear any.

- The healthy skin tone and square jaw in DeFoe Manor is replaced in the Clanbronwyn Hotel with a much weaker chin and paler complexion. You see this is an older, more troubled Trilby, less inclined to sneer confidently in the face of danger. And his face may be thinner because he decided to omit pies from his diet. Pies reminded him too much of the Welder.

- I can't decide in which game he looks more physically fit. He's definitely chunkier on the left, but that could just be because he's wearing baggier clothes. His shoulders seem to be broader in Notes and he found a better tailor, one who understands the importance of darker greys when you're a shadow-creeping master cat burglar.

- In doffing his blazer for his second game Trilby confirms the hint given in the first game that he wears a black waistcoat. Any old twit seems to be able to wear a suit these days but waistcoats have always been the mainstay of STYLE. And snooker players.

- It's hard to tell with this resolution but in 5 Days Trilby's tie seems to be a more vibrant blue. In Notes it's become a bit more bland and grey. GREY LIKE HIS SOUL.

- And most notably of all, Trilby seems to have finally tracked down an actual trilby hat to wear by the time of Notes, rather than in 5 Days when he had to make do with a blob of papier mache sitting on a plate.

I hope you enjoyed this little voyage of discovery. And I hope you're saving up your pocket money for the special edition. Original soundtrack, commentary, some of the Books of Chzo in a convenient text document and maybe some other stuff? Hells yeah!

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

26/6/06: Trilby Is Not A Girl's Name

OK, I guess I'm ready to release my new game now. Click on the nice picture below to go to the page I set up for it.

Click here you big twat!

So, the game's called Trilby's Notes, so all those clever people who figured out that all the screenshot filenames began with TN were right - those were the game initials. It's a direct sequel to 5 Days A Stranger set four years later, and telling the story of how Trilby re-acquired the idol of John DeFoe prior to launching it into space prior to 7 Days A Skeptic.

Here's the big thing, though: the game uses a text parser. Don't hit me. I made it use a text parser for several reasons: (A) because the game is presented as Trilby's written account of the event, so typing commands feels like you're typing up the document or something, (B) as an homage to the AGI and SCI0 Sierra games of yesteryear, and (C) because I've never done a text parser game with AGS before. I had my testers try out the parser exhaustively so hopefully it's somewhat intuitive.

This is also an opportunity to expand the X Days A Sauerkraut storyline. John DeFoe is all very well but I wanted to tell something slightly more epic, so I'm trying to work what's already happened in 5DAS and 7DAS into a larger plot. This game is intended to set up one more sequel where hopefully all the loose ends will be tied up, but don't expect it any time soon. I'll probably do it, I just don't know when.

Oh yes, and this was also in answer to all those people who wrote asking if I'd do another game with Trilby in it. The character seems to be quite popular. Hopefully you'll like him in this game with his more casual, blazer-less look and less ugly hat.

OK, here's the link to the page again. If you're impatient, here also are direct links to the file: Mirror 1 Mirror 2

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

21/6/06: Are You Still Here? Addendum

Well, I've finished the game, I'm just waiting on my music guy. And then I have to get some people to test it and I've got no idea at this point who I'm going to request that service from UPDATE YES I DO YES I DO TESTING HAS BEGUN PLEASE STOP VOLUNTEERING NOW

So while we're waiting, I figured I'd do a Chris & Trilby comic and post another screenshot to keep tongues wagging.

No, that isn't Trilby, by the way.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

17/6/06: Are You Still Here?

Yeah, I haven't updated in a while. What are you going to do about it, motherfucker? Oh yeah, you know your place.

I've been busy working on another free adventure game for you ungrateful jerks, if you must know. Here's a sneaky peaky.

Yes, that is Trilby, by the way.

How much longer will I be working on it? I dunno. I've just about finished the basic game but there's a lot of tweaking and teasing to do before I release it. I'm also waiting on a guy who's doing some original music for me. That's right, I have exhausted RPG Maker. Give me a few more weeks. A month at the most.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

3/6/06: Some Shit About Buses

Well, the latest incarnation of Chris and Trilby has three strips, let's hope I can keep the pace up. Meanwhile, in another world, another universe, I wrote some shitty essay about hailing buses. Here it is.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

24/5/06: The Cruel March Of Time

Today marks the completion of my twenty-third year on this foetid planet. Who would have thought I'd make it this long without dying of mercury poisoning or swallowing my own tongue or something like that. To celebrate this occasion, I'm trying one more time to get into Chris and Trilby again. New strip is up, as you may have already noticed. I put it up last night when I was very tired, so it may be a bit weird.

If you'd like to get me a present for my birthday, feel free to send me money and tell me what to buy with it, so I can blow you off and use it to buy hats instead.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

19/5/06: BBC Poo

For want of something to write about, I figured I'd do that thing again where I take the piss out of the first five stories on a popular news site. After all, it's pretty good for sharpening my satirical improv skills, and it's completely no fun at all for the reader, so I can be sure I won't be nagged about bandwidth costs anytime soon.

Today I'll be using the BBC News website, to give my satire a much needed injection of class. I'd just like to clarify that, as I write this, I have absolutely no idea what'll be up there and once I've finished I will do very little editing. You're getting pure unfiltered me here, ladies and gentlemen. I'm kind of like nicotine in that when I'm pure and unfiltered I'm one of the deadliest poisons known to man.

Let's a-go!

Doubts over Iran nuclear capacity

My god, I thought, glancing at the headline. Could it really be that someone with half an ounce of sense is joining in the whole middle east war fiasco? Is America finally going to be told to stop being so bloody stupid and put their toy soldiers back in the box before someone trips over them? But no. The story says that Iran's nuclear programme isn't very advanced because they had to borrow some bombmaking gear from China. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's kind of like saying 'Hey, that gun toting madman in the mailroom is nothing to worry about! He had to borrow his guns from his friend! How dangerous can he be?' I could be completely misinterpreting this. I don't keep up with world events. My idea of news is finding a dead possum on the street outside my house.

CIA nominee defends wiretapping

Oh here we fucking go. 'How could you possibly hold petty privacy issues over SECURITY for all the little puppy dogs and bunny rabbits? They might drop a bomb on a petting zoo tomorrow and maybe we could have prevented it by listening in on people we don't like and then won't you feel stupid.' Of course, they clarify that they will only wiretap people suspected of terrorism, but something tells me you can get suspected of terrorism these days by brushing past a muslim on the Subway or getting sand in your shoes. God damn it, I spent a year drawing a webcomic about a cartoon terrorist, do I have an FBI file? Is this why my new neighbour across the street never leaves his black unmarked van? All this shit probably creates more terrorists than it foils. I know if I found a boom mike in my flower bed I'd feel like blowing something up too.

Tuna fish said to be inscribed with Koranic verse goes missing

Okay, I had to go over this one a few times. Here's the idea as I see it: a fish with scales that appear to have naturally formed into a verse from the Koran was caught in Mombasa, and now some blighter has pinched it. Frankly, I'm relieved. Life with a magic preacher fish is a whole lot more complicated than life without. Maybe now we can all get back to checking the pavement for oil stains shaped like the Madonna or something.

I hate these sorts of miracles, 'cos they always get a lot of coverage and all the religious types get really excited about it, but no-one really has the balls to bring up all the ten million billion other fish that get caught every year and that don't come free with the teachings of the prophet. If God's so great, why doesn't he scribble all over every single fish in the world? Use them to serialise Bible 2 or confirm how much he hates fags? If Jesus helped little Timmy survive toenail cancer, why couldn't he have gotten off his fat hairy arse to cure everyone else in the ward? Or for that matter, everyone else in the universe? If you ask me, finding words on a fish is about as exciting as finding a joke on your lolly stick.

Saddam Hussein's latest 'novel' goes on sale in Tokyo

Oh, so that's why I could never get a novel published. I thought it was just not up to standard or something, but it seems all I had to do was kill roughly everyone I've ever met and then they'd be falling over themselves to deliver publishing contracts in the scented arse cracks of beautiful virgins. And I like the way the headline writer at the BBC website put inverted commas around the word 'novel', I guess he's a touch bitter too. I'm pretty sure he wasn't going through his Creative Writing course at university thinking 'someday, I'll be the best BBC website headline writer ever!'

Apparently this 'novel' is about a tribe ousting an invasion force. Given that Saddam finished it just one day before he fled Baghdad that's kind of laughable. Like David Icke writing a book about how not to be a complete pillock.

Junk food banned in school meals

In their continuing quest to (a) place government control on every single aspect of everyday life and (b) suck what little fun remains from childhood, the UK Ministry of Education has banned unhealthy food at school dinners. If school meals are still anything like how they were in my day, presumably the only thing left will be the plastic tray, and that's the kind of thing that can get stuck in your teeth.

I wonder, though, is this just a general guideline schools have to follow, or is feeding junk food to kids completely criminalised? Like, could a teacher or dinner lady hypothetically be sent to jail for giving a schoolboy a Chewit? Could the headmaster of a boarding school go down if Chubby Yelvertoft from form 12A sneaks a bag of lard into his dorm room and feasts on it late at night? It strikes me that that is a system the children could very easily abuse. "Oh, you're giving me a D- for this assignment, sir? Perhaps if I suck on this Twix for a while you could be persuaded otherwise."

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

10/5/06: Byond Help

Lately I've been messing around with Byond a lot. It's a program, or more accurately a community, where people make a variety of simple tile based multiplayer games. I'm being drawn more to the RPG side of things, where I spend a lot of time messing around on a game called Space Station 13 where I get to run around in a blue jumpsuit asking where everybody is and how to take my backpack off until I get bitten by a rabid monkey and killed.

Byond has a built-in developer environment so pretty much anyone can make games with it. Of course, to do that requires learning how to, and all the fiddly programmey bits, something I really cannot be arsed to do. So I figured I'd just write up some ideas for games and maybe someone else will do all the hard work I can later take credit for.

Pride and Prejudice: The Game

This is a pretty simple one. The game is set in a large country mansion. Half the players are the delectable Bennett sisters and the other half are handsome male suitors. The object of the game is to successfully woo someone with your special 'wooing sticks' and create a successful marriage that creates happiness for both families. But oh no! One of the male suitors is assigned the role of 'Cad', whose objective is to elope with the most gullible sister and take off to a London slum in order to decimate the Social Rank score of her and her entire family. And then her mum has hysterics or something. The advantage of this game is that you can flirt with the people who are playing girls with a reasonable degree of certainty that they are girls in real life. And come to think of it, you can flirt with the people playing men also with a reasonable degree of certainty that they are girls in real life. Because you see no boy will play this while they still have both goolies.

One True God

Each player takes control of a wandering nomadic warrior tribe in a large desert section of Ancient Arabia. At the start of each round one of the players is told that his tribe worships the One True God, and must crush the peaceful unbelievers and heretics who dare to share a desert with them. The joke being of course that in actuality all the players are told that they worship the One True God and the game spirals into an all-out war for supremacy. In the end everyone gets wiped out by the Christians and the entire squabble is rendered ultimately meaningless. The final joke comes when the players come up to heaven and find that all their gods were the same god wearing a variety of different moustaches, who now points and laughs at them.

Hire Stephen Fry

Each player takes the role of an American film producer who sneaks into Stephen Fry's medieval castle in order to attempt to convince him to take a role in their new American-produced but English-themed blockbuster movie. Dig up treasure in his back garden to pay him an enormous fee! Fawn obsequiously over his well-known brand of awkward upper class Britishness! Or just whack him over the head with your special hiring stick and bundle him into a sack! It's no holds barred in your quest to bring a small amount of imagined class to a typical Hollywood excretion. The player taking the role of Stephen Fry gets to choose between three available 'attitudes', and the other players have to figure out which one he picked. The attitudes are 'Only Does Comedy', 'Moving Into Straight Acting' or 'Stephen Fry Is Secretly A Mass Murdering Sex Fiend'.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...

30/4/06: The Happy Prince

Whoa, an update! With some actual content! Wonders never cease here at Fully Ramblomatic!

Yeah... been kind of busy with work, and in the pursuit of work, lately, to update the site much. And yes, now I'm a gaming journalist, playing video games all day counts as work. Speaking of, I've got something a bit high concept for you today. An article in which I use the hilariously angsty names of combat moves from the latter two Prince of Persia games as titles for emo poetry.

Prince of Persia: Emo Warrior

When the words are blue and underlined, that means you can click on them. So stop reading this bit and check out the article.

- Yahtzee

updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links

Previously on Fully Ramblomatic...


All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Copyright 2002-2006 All Rights Reserved so HANDS OFF, PIKEY