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25/1/07: Icey Sacrificey Nicey

"And the many children of the King leapt and danced and sang praise in His name, for great is His wisdom and His benevolence."

- The Book of the Bridge

First let me say I didn't have a chance to get in the last minute testing I wanted so you're getting this a wee bit raw. Any bugs that show up will be fixed in later releases. Also, don't play this unless you've played through all the previous games, especially Trilby's Notes, 'cos you won't have a hope of getting what's going on.

Click here to go to the 6DAS page, or click here to download 6 Days A Sacrifice directly.

Help requests and bug reports should be directed to the forum, there's a better chance of me caring. As always, do get in touch if you want to provide a mirror.

Everyone who was trying to guess the game title from the blurry screenshots, thanks for playing, most of you suck.

Update: Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

Since tongues have been wagging about it hither and thither I guess I should address this. Yes, there are some people making a Half-Life 2 adaptation of 5 Days A Stranger. Yes, I know about it and I'm closely involved with it. I'm supervising the design, okaying the changes and will probably be writing much of the new dialogue and puzzles. The way I see it, it's a chance to smooth out the creases of the original and introduce it to a new audience, like what George Lucas was doing but less shittily.

I've also seen the initial level design and a scripting demo and I think the project has the mileage to see it through. I've been asked not to reveal exactly who is behind it but I will say that they're looking for artists, modellers and coders to join the team. The full pitch you can find here, give them a bell if you can help out.

Since people are getting the wrong end of the stick, let me assure now that it's NOT GOING TO BE A FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER. It's going to be an ADVENTURE GAME in the FIRST PERSON. Like Normality, or Ultima Underworld.

- Yahtzee

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18/1/07: The Final Countdown

Last one, I hope you're keeping track.

"Today the Mind of the Bridgekeeper shall meet with its destiny, and I shall see the Bridge extend between the Realms."

- The Book of the Bridge

Click here to download Countdown 3: The Mind (requires Winfrotz)

- Yahtzee

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11/10/7: Still Counting Down

"Tomorrow I saw the Soul of the Bridgekeeper reduced to ash, and I saw the Bridge created by two-thirds."

- The Book of the Bridge

Click here to download Countdown 2: The Soul (requires Winfrotz)

- Yahtzee

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4/1/07: Counting Down

Okay, about the new game.

It's pretty much all done; I'm just waiting on music from Mods and maybe a bit of testing after that. That may take a few more weeks, which is why I've put something together to tide us all over in the meantime.

I've been getting into Inform 7 a bit lately. It's an interesting experiment. They're trying to make a programming language that reads like natural text. You type in things like "the ball is red and on the table", and the program takes that and makes a text adventure out of it, like having your very own secretary. In practise the secretary comes off as severely retarded with a bicycle pump sticking through her brain, but it's certainly a lot more straightforward to use than most other game makers.

So, I've used it to create three very short text adventures that foreshadow the plot of the next game. I'm going to release one now, and one in a week, and the third one in two weeks, and then three weeks from now I release the actual game. This not only provides a release date for the game but also puts Mods under an appropriate pressure deadline, the big fat slob.

The thing is, though, the text adventure design community is severely up its own arse and releasing text adventures as executables is too base and common for those hoity-toity literary snobs. You can only make text adventures in .z5 format that requires a special interpreter to run it. But don't panic, because you can download said interpreter for free from a whole bunch of places. and might be a good place to start, or you can just search for 'Winfrotz' on Google and download from wherever you like.

So, without further dalliance, the first episode of the three-part text adventure countdown:

"Yesterday I saw the Body of the Bridgekeeper engulfed in flame, and I saw the Bridge created by one-third."

- The Book of the Bridge

Click here to download Countdown 1: The Body (requires Winfrotz)

- Yahtzee

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27/12/06: Merry Fucking Christmas

So Christmas has come and gone and with it the usual bout of holiday depression. I'll tell you this for nowt - I don't regret emigrating, but being depressed in Australia is a hell of a lot worse than being depressed in England. The reason for this is that England is, at heart, a very miserable country. Australia on the other hand is full of sunshine and happy smiles which just make you want to punch things until their teeth or nearest equivalent fall out. Seriously, right after Christmas there were children playing with their new toys in the street outside my house. Surely that never happens outside of films starring Dick Van Dyke. All I could do was skulk in my house like the child catcher, shaking my fist in impotent rage.

It's true: England is a naturally morose country, and Australia is naturally happy. This becomes even clearer when you look at both country's children's television output. This is a theory I've come up with.

In Australia, most of the TV for very young children is hosted by human beings, as in the Wiggles and a thousand Wiggles knock-offs, because what with Australia being so bright and cheerful it's not considered odd that grown men and women should wear brightly coloured jumpers and dance around like retards with costumed creatures and animal puppets. In fact, walk through the Brisbane Queen Street Mall on a Saturday afternoon and you'll probably see something along those lines.

Whereas in England most of the really young kids' TV is hosted by groups of demented malformed freaks. No human or even Earthly animal went into the character design of the Teletubbies, or the Tweenies, or the Boohbahs (dear god what the FUCK are those things, seriously). And the reason for this is that England is so universally miserable that it's unconsciously felt that excessive cheerfulness in humans is so implausible that the only entities that can credibly exhibit it are weirdos from space. The creatures never venture from the small enclosed sets where they live and never, ever, interact with normal human beings, because not only are they physically repulsive but their happiness is deviant and must be ghettoized.

This theory, that you can judge the general mood of a populace by what they expose their toddlers to, applies to other countries, too. America is divided between liberals and conservatives - between smiling flower children and scowling ogres in grey suits - and so their children's television is intermediate, sitting on the borderline between English dehumanisation of happiness and Australian relentless cheer. They have shows like Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street where actual human children hang around monsters who teach them the joys of childhood. Note that the monsters are typically in the central or authoritarian role. An Australian equivalent would have the humans in charge and the monsters as sidekicks, because there's no shame in Australian humans being filled with glee, while a British equivalent would quietly evacuate the children and have the monsters taken down by snipers.

Compare your local kid's TV programming with the overall mood of your nation. I think you'll find my theory is very sound.

Now, let's celebrate Christmas with a quick game of Make Up Facts That Sound Like They Might Be True But Which You Pulled Out Of Your Arse.

The tradition of eating turkey at Christmas began in 11th century England when the king decreed that poultry could not be eaten on religious holidays. The turkey was at the time believed to be a kind of rodent and was not included in the ban.

When the three layers of a trifle are mixed together, the result is chemically identical to crude oil.

"Jesus Christ" is not the name of an individual but rather an ancient Aramaic term for a ruler or religious leader. The person contemporarily known as "Jesus Christ" is agreed by most historians to have actually been named "Blaze Dynamite".

- Yahtzee

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15/12/06: Aspirin: The Game

Painkiller is a first person game for PC and Xbox by developers Dreamcatcher and People Can Fly. Inexplicably named after a kind of medicine, the game is about the requisite burly hero fighting through an army of demonic creatures on his way through Purgatory and Hell in his quest to win redemption and gain access to Heaven. In terms of gameplay it's an entirely traditional "just you against the horde" shooter in the vein of Serious Sam or the original Dooms - in fact, since Doom 3 went all System Shock 2 on us some people consider Painkiller the 'unofficial Doom 3'.

Painkiller is an awesome fun game. I wouldn't have played it through umpteen times on all difficulty settings to unlock all the extras and the bonus ending if I didn't think it was awesome fun. But it is severely marred by one thing - it thinks it has a story.

I'm a huge advocate of story in video games. I consider Silent Hill 2 my favourite game. But I recognise that story is not always an inherently good thing. It's like chocolate sauce. Chocolate sauce, ice cream and KFC popcorn chicken are all, individually, good things. Chocolate sauce and ice cream is a good thing. Chocolate sauce and popcorn chicken is not a good thing.

When playing the actual levels of Painkiller, all is well. The monsters are enormously varied, imaginative, and very loosely attached to their limbs. The weapons are original and fun to use. The main character is as he should be, an absurdly muscled big cock action entity with an arsenal strapped to his back, bunny-hopping stupidly around the level chucking rockets at oncoming hordes of screaming baddies. When you're making a traditional shooter, having such a figure in the main role is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We all like to turn our brains off once in a while and slip into the role of some ridiculous destructive fuckwit like Duke Nukem or Serious Sam or, in this case, Daniel Garner. We don't want whiny cunts like James Sunderland when we're fighting off ten million skeleton warriors at once. Don't be ashamed of Daniel Garner, Dreamcatcher. Let him be himself. Let us get into him.

But we can't get into him, because every few missions we have to be subjected to a ridiculous pre-rendered cutscene in which retarded-looking models of Daniel and some other characters we don't care about bring further credence to the Uncanny Valley theory. And because these cutscenes are the only opportunity the developers have to recount this plot they're obviously so pleased with, they drag on for hellish eons as garbage trucks full of shitty exposition pull up to our faces and empty their loads right into our screaming mouths, nostrils and eye sockets.

This is our lesson for the day, children. Don't lose sight of what you are. Painkiller is a fun little shooter where you can blow off some steam nailing enemies to walls with stakes and shaking down their corpses until they drop shiny trinkets. It is not a vehicle for your lead designer's screenwriting ambitions.

To prevent this sort of thing happening again, here's a quick guide for determining whether or not a game you are developing needs a plot.

Q. Does the player possess the ability to make an enemy's limbs all simultaneously fly off in showers of sticky crimson?

If no -> come up with a plot
If yes -> fuck that shit

- Yahtzee

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6/12/06: Mistletoe And Whine

I know I don't usually let on when I'm in the process of developing an adventure game, but since it seems everyone and their Wikipedia already know there's a fourth Days instalment in the pipeline then denying it would just be futile. With that in mind, check out this background I made for it.

Dag, yo, I was pretty pleased with myself when that was done. That's just MS Painted with the line tool, the fill tool and about seven different pulsating flesh tones. And the prequisite Photoshop lighting effect, but that was the very least of it.


Hyper readers - I have a regular slot on the letters page now for my Unappreciated Computer Game Characters series, so be sure to check it out every issue if you want to see, you know, writing, the thing that doesn't get posted on this website anymore. Also I'm led to understand I have a feature article in next month's edition.


I was roaming Brisbane's Myer Centre in the Queen Street Mall this morning when I caught a glimpse of a curious sight. Four prime examples of early teenage paedobait in festive and revealing red attire roaming the escalators singing Christmas carols. Personally I've never known what you're supposed to do when people sing at you in this fashion. Every possibility that flashes through my mind - throw money at their feet, join in, tell them to shut the fuck up - just seems needlessly rude.

You know me, I'm a mealy-mouthed old cynic in the body of a lithe, handsome young bastard, and I have absolutely no tolerance for the saccharine, but I have to say I felt a surge of emotion. Not by the music, God no, they were firing random bursts of throat noise in the hope of hitting a note by law of average, and you could hardly hear their reedy little wails over the background din anyway. I just felt sorry for them.

I find it hard to believe those girls came up with the idea themselves to wander a busy shopping precinct all day trying to compete with the PA system; this has 'pig-ignorant corporate idea' written all over it. If it was a man who organised them, he is the creepiest man in the world, like a fat guy in glasses with greasy long hair who breathes so loudly you can hear gobbets of thick saliva rattling around the back of his throat. If it was a woman, it was a dangerously oblivious woman who never misses Desperate Housewives and genuinely owns a feather duster. Either way, it just seems... wrong.

Maybe I shouldn't judge shit like this. When I was a kid, my brother and I - by means still unclear to me - were roped into dressing up as fucking dalmations and standing on a parade float arbitrarily chucking out handfuls of sweeties at the creatures lining the streets during some piss-pointless celebration at my home town. At the time it gave me a surge of rockstar power but in retrospect I probably should have felt like a total dick. If we didn't have photographic documentation of the event I'd probably have blocked that particular memory out by now.

So perhaps it was the feeling of 'there but for the absence of God go I' that tugged my heartstrings as I winced in time with their barely audible mouthing of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Perhaps it was the sense of regressive cameraderie that had me quickly scan the nearby crowd for greasy middle-aged men with their hands in their pockets. Perhaps it was a flash of embarrassing childhood memory that had me then quicken my pace until the choir had disappeared from both visual and auditory range.

Happy Christmas.

- Yahtzee

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27/11/06: Bits And Pieces

It's late November in Australia, and the heat hits you like a neutron bomb in the face the moment you step outside. It's hot. Hot.

The independent game company I work with, Gridwerx, has produced some demos of our current little projects, available to download on the website. Check them out, do. There's an adventure game demo by me and a puzzle game demo by my real world mate Scott. Help us out, 'cos we'd kind of like to become a professional company that actually makes money at some point.

I really don't have anything else to say, so here's a gorgeous piece of Trilby fanart from the artist who owns this website here.

- Yahtzee

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14/11/06: You Ess Ay

Don't look now, readers, but I believe I have discovered further conclusive evidence for Britain being superior to America. I know, I know, at this point that's like finding conclusive evidence for the existence of life on earth, but I feel a little more strengthening of the position can't hurt.

The evidence in question I discovered by reading the Wikipedia article for tragically entertaining improvise-o-thon Whose Line Is It Anyway, in which I found two screengrabs comparing the original marvellous tea and crumpets up Buckingham Palace British version with the godless roadsign-shooting deep fried pig raping American import.

Let's start with the British.

1. Presenter Clive Anderson is seated with a proud and noble posture, his hands gathered on the desk in front of him as a demonstration of trustworthiness. His perplexingly perfectly round head has a classically handsome look with a somewhat blustering, self-effacing expression, part of his innate British loveableness. Also, his tie seems to be somewhat tribal in design, indicating a courageous warrior's soul.

2. The desktop is a muted shade of red, probably deliberately blood red in tribute to the world's war veterans.

3. Audience member A (far left) is a respectable businessman, viewing proceedings with an amused stiff upper lip as he reflects how much his orphan friends will enjoy the hospital he is opening first thing tomorrow morning. He also turns into Superman whenever evil is afoot.

4. Audience member B (second from left) is a flower of English girlhood, innocent and childlike and yet also possessing of a fiercely incisive intelligence when required. She smiles at the thought of the royalty cheque she received that morning for her thought-provoking romance novel set against the background of the Napoleonic wars.

5. Audience member C (third from left) gazes contemplatively upwards, quite lost in philosophical musing on the nature of studio ceilings, and how mankind is forever reaching for the stars.

6. Audience member D (far right) grimaces as audience member E consumes the back of his head, but is far too heroic and manly to be bothered by such inconsequential agonies.

Now let's examine the same scene in the American version of the show.

1. Presenter Drew Carey is a fat, arrogant buffoon. He squats in his seat in the manner of a warty toad in a pond, a stupid grin plastering his idiotic greasy face as if someone has just held up a shiny coin for him to gaze at in slack wonder. His hands are balled up in fists in front of him, preparing to lash out with characteristic American violence at the first person to look at him funny. His tie is just fucking ridiculous.

2. The desktop is carved decadently from pure gold at an expense that could very easily have fed many starving families.

3. Audience member A (bottom left) is an imbecilic manchild, mindlessly sucking on his lower lip for nourishment. His tiny retard brain is incapable of grasping the events taking place before him, so he gains his amusement from watching the flab rolls on the back of Drew Carey's head vibrate.

4. Audience member B (back row, second from left) is a demented serial killer wanted in several states, his most recent victim the gender ambiguous creature sitting on his right, which he gutted and stuffed before arriving. His hateful look of self-satisfaction stems from his intention to go out prowling once the show is over and murder a disabled person.

5. Audience member C (back row, third from left) giggles vacuously, exposing the buck teeth and easygoing stupidity of the monstrously inbred. There is a slight tint of sinister hunger to her expression, because she has designs on the dead possum that another audience member across the room brought in for reasons known only to his empty little redneck mind.

6. Audience member D (back row, far right) is Chuck. Chuck is a dick.

- Yahtzee

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30/10/06: Fuck Those Lions

UPDATE 11/2/06: The very first transaction from my new store was an ash grey t-shirt sold on October 31st to some guy in Surrey. Hi, mystery consumer guy! You brightened up my evening!

Hey there.

Do you eat lions?

Do you know someone who eats lions?

Are you sick of the stigma attached to eating lions? Of the discrimination lion-eaters face in restaurants and everyday life?

It's time to come out of the closet and take a stand.

Introducing my new range of I Eat Lions T-shirts, available in enough sizes to please the smallest and the largest varieties of jungle predator consumers! Now you can tell the world that you eat lions at home, in the office, or just out and about! Wander around in an I Eat Lions shirt outside public eateries and school canteens to passive-aggressively demand that lion be introduced to the menu!

Also available: the I Eat Lions barbecue apron, to wear while cooking lions!

Plus: the I Eat Lions mug, for drinking lions that have been smashed into liquid form!

All major credit cards and payment methods accepted. Let's not let the lily-livered non-lion-eaters take the lions right out of our mouths!

Not convinced? Here are some interesting facts about eating lions:

- Lions are delicious and good for you

- People who eat lions are considered brave and masculine

- Lions offer very little to the worldwide economy

- Lions aren't as endangered as other animals, like pandas

- Not many people eat lions, so it's still cool and non-conformist

- A lion would probably eat you given the chance

- Even if you already eat lions you have to wear a shirt that says you do or no-one will know

So come on, gang! Put on a shirt and scoff some lions today!

Mmmm. Lion!

- Yahtzee

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16/10/06: Leave Irwin

I haven't really commented on the whole Steve Irwin thing. Since I live in the country he arguably embodied this seems like a tragic oversight. I mean, he was Australian, I live in Australia, he wrestled crocodiles, I pick my nose a lot, it was like losing a little part of me or something. But when that stingray broke his little heart and a nation was united in grief - or at least a media was - I kept conspicuously silent. I even had some prepared witticisms I could have used, like "I bet the crocodiles are pissed off that they never got around to it first" or "The guy who went for 'stingray' in the 'animal by which Steve Irwin will one day be killed' betting pool is pretty fucking happy right now".

I only bring up the issue now because of the new adverts for Australia Zoo I and my countrymen are being subjected to. Now, until recently these adverts were always personally presented by Irwin himself, but lately this obviously couldn't be possible without either advanced CG or a handy necromancer so Irwin's young daughter has picked up the slack.

"Come and see me and all my friends," she sings happily, her childlike face inflated into an expression of chubby ecstasy as she hugs the leg of an indifferent elephant. Her narration is delivered with huge enthusiasm. One might almost say... suspicious enthusiasm.

I put it on the table now that her demeanour is not that of a child whose beloved father is barely a month into his prolonged dirt nap. Okay, I don't exactly expect her to chirp out her sales pitch in between mucus-laden sobs of undying grief, but there's something about the way she hugs that elephant that seems needlessly and unrehearsedly... possessive. And I know from many primary school nativity plays that kids her age can't act - her blisteringly cheerfulness is the genuine article. Her tone of voice has much of the 'fulfillment of long-held wish' about it.

Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying there was something suspicious about Irwin's death and that his preschool-age daughter might have had some Steerpike-esque role in the whole affair, demonstrating one might call a prodigial grasp of Machiavellian cunning. I'm certainly not suggesting she has some kind of Aquaman-like command over the animal kingdom. I do, however, invite you to consider the scandal a few years back that concerned Irwin, a baby and said baby's vicinity to a crocodile's gnashing mouth and ask yourself if you, as a child, would harbour a grudge for that sort of thing.


By the grace of David-kyo from the forum a new version of 5 Days A Stranger is available on the 5 Days page that uses a special font, and as such can be translated into other languages that use all those quaint little special characters like vowels with slanty things and B's with little tails on that you foreigners like so much. At present we only have a Hungarian translation but if you speak English and some other language and want to do a translation then feel free to drop a line so we can sort something out.

- Yahtzee

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