And So Begins My New Life

Join me as I embark on a new life and new career in Funeral Services.

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I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ready Player One and Interactive Fiction

This is not work related, but I felt the need to post. I have just completed my second reading of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I also gave a listen to the audiobook version as read by Wil Wheaton, for a total of three "readings" if you will.  This book is set in the mid 21st century, and involves a treasure hunt for the biggest video game Easter egg prize ever announced. The contest is started when the creator of a 3D virtual reality called OASIS, dies without any heirs and leaves his fortune (in excess of $200 billion dollars) to the person who can find his Easter egg. The creator was a teenager in the nineteen-eighties, and had a huge, huge nostalgia fixation on that era. As a result, egg hunters, or "gunters" spend a lot of time and energy researching this decade.

Now, I was not a teenager in the eighties, but I was still a young man, and I played, saw, listened to and watched, many of the games, movies, music and tv shows mentioned. For me, this book is one giant trip down memory lane. Many things mentioned in the book are not necessarily from that decade, such the tv show Ultraman, Space Giants, and many others, but I also remember watching them in high school. Along the way, our hero competes with other gunters in some of the classic video games, such as Joust. At one point he explores a recreation of the Infocom Interactive Fiction game Zork. For those who may not know, interactive fiction is a form of computer gaming where the story is spelled out on your monitor in prose, with absolutely no graphics of any kind. The computer tells you what you see around you, and you interact with your environment with simple commands you type into the computer, such as GET LANTERN or EXAMINE CABINET. By interacting with your surroundings, you moved through the game, solving puzzles and finding objects to help in your quest to reach the final goal, whatever that may be.

When I got my first computer, a Commodore 64 in the mid-eighties, I was a huge Infocom fan. I played several of their titles, including The Lurking Horror, Enchanter, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. What started my love of this genre of computer gaming, and the reason I am waxing nostalgic over this, is my exposure in high school to my very first text adventure ever. Now, if you search the internet for Interactive Fiction and read up on the origins and history, the articles will invariably mention a game called "Adventure" where characters were in a cave deep underground and had to find their way through a maze of caverns. However, I never saw or heard of that game until I started searching for my fondest memory, the first IF game I ever played, a game accessible through our local community college mainframe computer via a dial-up connection from my high school. That game was called "Letter."  The object of this game was to deliver a letter in your possession to someone named "Garcia." Along the way I encountered locations such as The Grotto, Poet's Corner, and the Hobo Jungle. One puzzle I remember is that at some point in the game I found myself in a house with a couple of musical instruments, minus their strings. I had string which could be used, but on only one instrument. Sometimes I picked one, sometimes the other, but I never did solve that puzzle. In fact, I never finished the game at all, and I've spent the last few years, at various times, searching the internet for a copy of this game that I could download and play to completion. If anybody out there knows about this game, I would love to hear from you, if only to share stories. If you know where I can get a copy, even better! Just click the Email Me link under Squidward.

In the meantime, if you have fond memories of the 1980's and it's pop culture, give Ready Player One a read. It's a fun and nostalgic blast from the past.

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