3

“Shadow of the Rose-Croix”

ShadowsShot4

This has been a long time in the works, but finally I can tick “make a fully 3-D game” off my bucket list. 🙂 I began this project back in 2015, lost heart repeatedly, and finally cracked on with it this year to completion. It was programmed in Visual Basic – certainly not the ideal code for work of this nature, but the only one I know on PC. Thankfully, the tutorials of programmer Jack Hoxley (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) gave me most of what I needed to get my head around the essentials, and trial and error did the rest.

This is a Gothic-style puzzles-and-platforms adventure game, much like the object-collecting and puzzle-solving games popular on 8-bit computers in the 1980s and 1990s except the various rooms it covers are in 3-D, dynamically lit (and, hopefully, artistically), and both player character and viewing camera can be controlled. Also, it features a bit of plot-justified gender-bending. Couldn’t really resist including that …

This game features an original music score composed and performed by Cardiff Punk / Goth band “Clusterfuck” who very kindly donated it for nothing other than the tiny bit of promotion I can give them, and with that in mind …

clusterfuck-banner

For complete story, instructions, and download links …

SHADOW OF THE ROSE-CROIX (DOWNLOAD)

Do please let me know if you have any problems downloading or playing this game. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

 

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5

Don’t punch a Nazi – drink their blood …

Creatively, it has been a quiet year so far, but finally I have something to show for my intermittent and much-procrastinated labours …

Download at TND – The New Dimension

As you may have inferred, this is a new C64 game I have designed and programmed, using what little knowledge of C64 Assembly I have to enhance the well-worn SEUCK (Shoot-em-Up Construction Kit) engine. As a result, this game features a simple power-up system, parallax scrolling, and animated intro / outro sequences, the latter accessible by password (which you will learn if you rescue all the hostages from the levels).

The plot – featuring a vampire nun rescuing children from the SS – somehow came out as a cross between “Underworld” and “The Sound of Music.” I can but hope this will be a winning formula …


Valkyrie 2

the Templar

The story…

Transylvania, 1944

Nobody knows when or how the race of vampires first came into the world. According to old church tradition, they are the sworn servants of Satan; demons embodied in the form of dead humans to terrorise the innocent. Other, less biased metaphysicians have theorised that they represent a more subtle form of spiritual attack against humanity: a form of contagious immortality to tempt both good and evil humans away from the path of holy redemption, while the few rationalists who believe in them insist that they are merely a natural but flawed evolution of humanity that failed to catch on. Whatever the truth, they were almost run to extinction in medieval times by the Holy Inquisition. The last widely-documented case – that of Princess Mariska Báthory de Ecsed – was violently ended in 1492, after the unwillingly-turned princess volunteered herself for a “cure” which, unbeknown to her, turned out to involve staking and decapitation.

Her “death” was assumed to have ended the spread of vampirism in Europe, until 1942, when British soldier Joe Harker, wounded and fleeing from the SS, spilled his blood onto her grave, restored her to life … and became the newest victim of the contagion, consort and mentor to the long out-of-touch princess. For two years, however, they lived together happily, the new prince gradually learning his undead powers whilst teaching his bride the facts of modern life, and modern war. Unfortunately, the Axis troops had taken good note of the bizarre, eerie events that had taken place in their territory, and they were again ready to act …

SS-Obersturmführer Bram von Hellman, biologist and dark occultist, has collated the evidence from their last, disastrous encounter with Princess Mariska, and persuades his superiors of the value in capturing and experimenting upon the legendary creatures. Accordingly, some SS troops are specially trained in spiritual defence techniques to give them the best possible chance of success. They trace the two vampires to the ruined castle from where Mariska’s father once ruled Transylvania, and they find themselves in luck: the princess is out hunting, and the prince has decided to have a “lie-in.” A quick dousing of holy water over his coffin puts paid to any thoughts of resistance, and the helpless, stunned vampire is sealed in an electrified leaden casket and driven away to the newly-constructed research camp which the SS have established near Bistritz.

“We have our prize catch,” gloats the Obersturmführer, as his delivery arrives. “Excellent, and now all we need for my experiments to begin are a few expendable human subjects. I think I know just where to find them …”

Holy Mother Romana Pasztor of Văratec Monastery has lived a life that makes up in meritorious deeds for whatever it lacks in excitement. A model of piety, justice, chastity, compassion, and generosity, now approaching her eightieth year, one might well have assumed that she would pass her remaining years in peaceful obscurity and contemplation, but war plays funny tricks …

When the SS arrived in Transylvania, and ugly rumours of their atrocities began spreading, she knew in her heart that she had no choice but to act. Thus, in secret, she arranged shelter and safe passage out of the country for the children of Jewish families who were otherwise threatened with imprisonment, or worse. She has six of these refugee children hidden away in the monastery when the Obersturmführer and his men come to call …

“I thought as much,” sneers von Hellman, as the children are dragged away while Mother Pasztor can only watch in despair. “Don’t look so grim about it, old girl. They’ll be put to good use, in the cause of science and of the Reich … and after I’ve signed a warrant for your execution, you can join all of those saints and martyrs whom you so love grovelling to.”

When most of the stormtroopers have left, Mother Pasztor is locked alone in her cell, watched over by a single guard. She weeps, and prays, and offers the Almighty anything at all for the lives of the children … “Even my own salvation, Lord, if that be worth anything to you.”

“Indeed?” says a voice from behind her. She starts, turns around, and finds herself face-to-face with a tall, pale woman of regal bearing, with long dark hair and shining red eyes. “I believe I hold the answer to your prayer, Holy Mother …”

The quest…

Having now become, against all expectation, an eternally-young vampire, the former Mother Pasztor has renounced her old title and accepted that of Lady Romana de Văratec, knight templar of Princess Mariska. For the Princess has realised that if she is to break through the Axis forces’ new spiritual defences and save her prince from torture and death, she will have need of such an ally … and Lady Romana has already proven herself a unique addition to the undead race.

Although, like all vampires, Lady Romana feels pain when she beholds the image of the cross, such pain does not trouble her. “Did my Saviour not feel such pain, or worse, when he was nailed to that?” she asks. “I count it a privilege.” Princess Mariska thinks that she is several bats short of a belfry, but does not discourage her in this belief. Also, when Lady Romana sees evil people making use of holy symbols, her faith takes on a whole new, highly dangerous dimension …

When her sense of righteousness is offended, Lady Romana’s holy wrath attack is activated, summoning a pyromaniacal angel of death that will quickly obliterate every enemy unit within sight. Notwithstanding this special power, Lady Romana’s skills as a new-made vampire are still weak, and she must use the weapons she can scavenge from the battlefield if she is to have a fair chance of success.

There are four weapons you can obtain …

Luger Pistol – The standard sidearm of the Axis forces. Reliable, but comparatively slow and weak, with a poor rate of fire and a short range.

Karabiner 98k – Bolt-action infantry rifle, with a long range and a large, high-velocity cartridge. Strong, but slow to reload.

MP40 – Machine pistol that fires the same slow, short-range 9mm rounds as the Luger, but far more rapidly.

StG 44 – This prototype assault rifle is the best weapon you can wield, combining the power of the Karabiner with the rapid fire of the MP40. Obtaining it carries a risk, however …

Also look out for the following …

Sacks / Children – The captured children are contained in sacks. Touch them to set them free. All six children must be set free in order to see the true ending.

Holy water roadside bombs – A novel ordnance concept; flasks of holy water attached to explosive charges. Against most vampires these would be highly effective traps, but against Lady Romana, they are a mere liability. Shoot them, and your holy wrath attack will activate, destroying all enemy units on-screen. However, DO NOT DETONATE THEM MANUALLY! The holy water may not trouble you much, but human or vampire, a faceful of exploding dynamite never comes recommended.

Enemy units you must prevail against include …

Flame troopers and templars – The latter are specifically trained in anti-vampire combat, harder to kill, and can use their flame-throwers more effectively. When fighting human opponents, always remember that you are a vampire. If you are able to, drink their blood in close combat rather than shooting them from afar, as every 10,000 “blood points” you can obtain will give you an extra life. The blood of templars is worth more than that of the standard SS troopers.

Mortars – Static cannons that fire explosive shells. Electrified, and thus lethal to the touch.

Kübelwagens – Among the various time-honoured ways of slaying a vampire, few hunters have bothered to mention the effects of running them over in a speeding Volkswagen. Nevertheless, don’t push your luck …

Molotov cocktails – Simple petrol bombs, lobbed from open windows. Beware of the fires they will leave if left to hit the ground.

Panzer II – “Light” tank, although not so light that you would want it trundling over you, nor one of its explosive shells in your face.

Turrets – These retractable gun emplacements can fire in a fixed pattern all around them, or randomly. They are toughly armoured.

Gunboats – These travel along the gorge below the Borgo Pass, firing shells upwards. Be careful if you venture too near the cliff edge.

Flettner Fl 282 – It takes a pilot with nerves of steel to fly this open-cockpit helicopter … and a vampire with a brain of wet sand to wander into the path of a low-flying one.

Electrodes – A powerful spark of lightning will regularly arc between these static traps. They are indestructible, so just time your passage with care.

Karl-Gerät – This massive, mobile siege cannon is not very agile, but it has tremendous power. Avoid its treads while paying all due caution to the huge explosive shells which it rains down upon you (or shoot them for an earlier and safer detonation, if you are quick enough).

The credits…

Created by Eleanor Burns, Richard Bayliss, and Jon Wells.

“Starring” Isobel Black, Audrey Hepburn, and Peter Lorre … kind of.

© Eleanor Burns, 2017

9

“Wolves of Dacia” – Call For Readers

oldcomp

Finally, I have a finished draft of the vampire novel I have been wittering on about for ages. If anyone is interested in reading it and offering me whatever feedback they feel able to, good or critical or scathing, please drop me a PM. Synopsis follows…

Genre – Dark Fairytale / Dieselpunk / WW2

Pages – 409

Words – 176,988

Berlin, 1933: Andreea Petrescu, a Romani gypsy biology student, is expelled from university by the Third Reich. She returns home to Transylvania, to face a grim future of poverty, misogyny, and the stigma of having associated with outsiders: a fact her insular community regards with distrust. Just before she returns, her mother – a gifted medium – strikes a terrible deal in order to protect her.

Eight years later, Andreea’s circumstances have only worsened: her mother is dead, her father is unsupportive, her community is as estranged from her as ever, and fascism has spread to Romania. The Nazi-allied government takes measures to deport gypsies to concentration camps, forcing Andreea and her father to go on the run from the SS. Their flight leads them to seek refuge in ancient catacombs, where they soon discover that they are not the first to have taken shelter.

Though her superstitious father is repulsed by their discoveries, the scientifically-minded Andreea finds herself fascinated, and drawn into the activities of the mysterious resistance unit that has set itself up in the area, and of their leader, the charismatic and ruthless Miss Bendice. She seems eager to recruit the brilliant young fugitive to her cause, and offers Andreea a unique opportunity to escape from her degrading circumstances, but at no insignificant cost.

As Miss Bendice’s hubristic plans escalate to a world-threatening climax, and as the SS death squad closes in, Andreea finds herself caught in the vice. Forging unlikely friendships with a naïve Wehrmacht lieutenant, an amnesiac teenage vampire, and a scatterbrained Welsh parapsychologist, she finds her knowledge, her courage, and her integrity put to the test as she struggles to survive, save her loved ones, and stay true to her principles, though it may entail sacrificing everything she has dreamed of.

© Eleanor Burns, 2016.

2

“Imago” – Part 1 (I hope…)

imago n. […] final and perfect stage of insect after all metamorphoses, e.g. butterfly; (Psych.) idealized mental picture of oneself or another person […].”

The Concise Oxford Dictionary (Clarendon Press, 1982)

AB1websize

(Eleanor, in larval form…)

Did I mention I once used to be a male model? This is obviously in a very loose sense of the term… As I definitely mentioned before, during my late teens I gravitated towards the Gothic genre as a possible means of expressing some of my feminine inclinations without actually transitioning, and was compensated for my basic dissatisfaction with my fair share of compliments. Apparently, I had a pretty fetching look for a “male” goth, and was recommended by a few people to try out modelling. Thinking this might actually be a way to finally get to love my male body-image, or at least loathe it less, and possibly earn a few not-too-arduous pounds in the process, I paid for a quick portfolio, set myself up on a few modelling sites, got signed to an alternative modelling agency, took several free shoots, and never earned a penny.

Unsurprisingly, this did nothing whatsoever to reconcile me to my male-bodied condition, and after the crowning failure of “Big Brother” 2012 hammered home my lack of success in this field – both financial and personal – I gave it up as a lost cause. I then went back to fiction writing, where I could anonymously immerse myself in the adventures of my strong, self-assured female protagonists. Within their metaphorical heads, I felt more at ease than within my own, for reasons that now seem painfully obvious…

And so it was that I came full circle, finally remembered who I am, and resolved to make the most of this second chance, however belated, to be myself. And as for the modelling? Instead of deleting my old online portfolios, I actually revisited them all, seeded them with my new pictures (merely filtered versions of the smartphone images in this blog), changed my gender specific details, and added a cursory explanation of my situation:

“Gender dysphoric model / actress / writer from Cardiff. Going through a pretty difficult situation, as I daresay you can appreciate. I keep a blog of my progress at

https://burnseleanor21.wordpress.com/ (“My Belated Existence”)

Would love to connect with any photographers who could help me get better pictures on a TFP / TFCD basis.”

(From http://www.modelmayhem.com/852215)

TFP / TFCD being industry slang for “will work for free (if I can have some pictures, please)”. Not that I expected anyone to want to work with me ever again, but I was damn sure no-one would pay to shoot with a five-foot eleven, thirty-five year-old transgendered lady with a square jaw, a fair collection of wrinkles, no curves (as yet, though we hold out hope), and as delicate a touch with a make-up brush as one might expect of a Viking berserker with a paintball gun. I was convinced my modelling days were over, and this was just my parting gesture.

I was thus very surprised about a week ago, when a photographer started leaving very positive comments on my new pictures, and upon my tentatively suggesting that I would be interested in a collaboration, he immediately jumped at the chance. I was both scared and elated: I would be shooting on location as myself, in full dress and make-up, in full view of the population of Cardiff. So daunting, yet simply too amazing to pass up. If this felt right, there could be no more pretending or denying from that point, and if I could actually see this through, who else could deny my commitment to my chosen gender and identity? I accepted at once.

As an almost-as-surprising footnote, the photographer / filmographer then offered to pay me for my time. This only happened once before in my modelling “career”, and only because travel expenses were involved. Without a single picture having been taken, I had immediately become more successful as a female model than I had ever been as a “male” model. Without wishing to sound overly superstitious, this whole thing was suddenly starting to feel as if destiny was kicking me up the arse, to put it delicately, and I quickly spent my fee on buying new clothes, props, and makeup for the shoot, desiring that it should go as well as possible. I also discussed concepts with the photographer, and we decided on a name and theme to help guide the shoot.

The word “imago” had been drifting around my head for a long time now, as a result of a deeply sad piece of pro-LGBT advertising I saw in the wake of the Leelah Alcorn tragedy (reproduced below):

depressme

Depressing, but it fired my imagination and gave me a new image for my personal struggle: that of an insect finally breaking free of some old cocoon. Not necessarily a butterfly, though. My cocoon has become so toughened over time, I suspect I will need some pretty vicious mandibles to tear through the thing, which will be painful indeed for anyone waiting to clip my wings when I finally do emerge. I think I would also like to have a venomous sting. Transgender people, like all unjustly derided classes, owe it to society to give as good as they get. I probably will not be the prettiest “imago” in the insect world, but that seems an inadequate reason to remain a poor little wriggling larva for the rest of my life…

Flight of fancy, over. You get the idea. The footage has now been shot; stills have been taken; and Cardiff Bay has now seen me in my skirt, heels, corset top, and enough pale foundation and eyeliner for an entire studio-worth of silent film starlets. The photographer treated me with the utmost respect and consideration, and told me what a pleasure it was to be doing such a shoot in Cardiff, as he would stand no chance of doing it in his rural home location where it would draw a (hostile) crowd. All we got from the passers-by in the Bay were a few curious looks. Again, I realised how comparatively lucky I am to be undergoing my social transitioning in a large and fairly decent city. It is a few miles’ worth of difference between enduring mere ridicule and enduring serious physical danger…

The footage and stills were all shot on traditional film, however, so they will be some time in developing. I eagerly await them, but whether or not we obtain useable footage, the experience alone was totally worth it. Yet again I have been accepted, validated, and allowed to achieve another of my most impossible-seeming fantasies. Becoming a female model and actress? How not realistic can you get…

I think I may have to give up being realistic. Being down-to-earth was all very well in the days before I had wings, but now the imago has taken flight it doesn’t seem to apply half so well.