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

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10

And Now For Something Completely Off-Topic…

Creative hobbies are one of my best tactics for fending off depression, and it is not unknown (albeit rare) for them to occasionally produce fruit. On this occasion, after a lot of hair-tearing and false starts, I have a completed a game for the Commodore 64 8-bit computer (or emulator of). I have entered this into a competition running throughout this year until November on the site The New Dimension, hosted by C64 programmer and enthusiast Richard Bayliss, who also added the wonderful title music. The game also features my own tentative efforts at some reprogramming, since it was designed using a tool and engine which are, in and of themselves, rather constrained unless one takes the trouble to modify them. For those curious about such things, my extra subroutine is this…

fullprog

…and what this does is continuously roll a couple of background chars (4*8 pixel blocks), one up (for layered scrolling effect), one down (for waterfall effect); lock player 2’s vertical position to player 1’s; and end the game instantly if either player reaches zero lives. Since I am using player 2 for the final boss level, the code allows both players to be present without interfering with each other.

This was a new type of programming for me, very low-level and seemingly all based around shifting single values from one register / location to another. It was interesting, but rather fiddly and frustrating until I had gotten my head around it a bit. By contrast, writing the story of the game was an easy and fun task, not that I dare boast of it being any good. Thou mayest judge for thyselves…


valshot

Night of the Valkyrie

Transylvania, 1492

Fearing an imminent Ottoman invasion, the Voivode of Transylvania decides to forge a military alliance by marrying his daughter to some powerful house. “It will do her good, anyway,” he thought, as he wrote the letters to the nobles, inviting them to a grand feast. “Mariska is far too headstrong at the best of times. Better to marry her off now while I can still control the girl at all.”

On the night of the feast, however, although the princess was obedient to her father’s wishes, inwardly she was cursing her fate. The thought of a life spent married to any of these grim, ageing warlords, all of them caring more for the prestige and wealth they would gain from the alliance then for her, was such a miserable prospect that she half considered gathering up her books, saddling her palfrey, and riding away in secret. “But to where?” she thought. “Even if I could, my father would be dishonoured, and then defeated by his enemies. I could never do that to him.” So she remained, a picture of courtly misery, until she was approached by a mysterious noblewoman, dressed all in black and flashing her an enigmatic smile.

“I know what ails thee, child,” she greeted her, “and I believe I know the way to help. If you had power in your own right, then would your father need to pair you off with any of these decorated barbarians? Come, take a turn of the castle grounds with me, and I will show you a much better alternative.”

The feast was in full swing, and the two women were gone for several minutes before their absence was noted. Urgent shouts from the guards finally drew the voivode’s attention, and he rushed out into the grounds only to find the princess… dead.

She lay upon a stone bench, pale and staring, her neck pierced with a gruesome bite-mark, and an elegantly handwritten note pinned to her bloodstained dress. Distraught, the voivode took the note and read it, but it gave him very little reassurance:

My Lord,

I cannot count the friends, sisters, brothers, lovers, and children whom I have lost to the savagery of you and your priests. Since you invited the Holy Inquisition into this country, they have massacred my people, although we were keeping peacefully enough to ourselves. No more. I return your daughter to you, and perhaps when you see that she is no soulless vermin, you might think twice before exterminating any more of my kin. Or, you could be true to your convictions and decapitate her before she is able to revive, although I somehow doubt you will have the stomach for it.

My compliments, by the way: she put up quite a fight for a spoiled brat of mortal nobility. I don’t suppose you’ll have much luck marrying her off now, but you could always just loose her on the Turks as she is. I wouldn’t envy them.

Your servant,

Countess Carmilla Zaleska, c/o the Vampire Underground.

Unable, however, to destroy his own child, the miserable voivode quickly crumpled up the note and ordered the guards to carry the princess’s body to the castle crypt. When the nobles had left, greatly confused, he visited the crypt to find Mariska alive again… after a fashion. Her skin was still as pale as chalk, her tearful eyes were as red as garnets, and her long, sharp canine teeth erased any doubt as to her fate. “My own daughter… a strigoi,” he thought, bitterly, and wondered if he should have destroyed her to spare her tainted soul and to save his family name from dishonour, but before he could take any action she spoke, her voice full of remorse:

“Kill me, father,” pleaded Mariska. “I have failed you, and brought shame on our house. If the people learn what has become of me, they’ll rise up, and the church will desert you. My foolishness has cost you your alliance, but I will not be the cause of your total downfall. Please, kill me before they start to suspect the truth.”

“Never,” declared the voivode, now unable to repress his own tears. “Not now that I see and hear you. You are my daughter still, and innocent. We will keep you here in secret for now, and think of a way to persuade the people to accept you.” But even as he left the crypt, he dreaded to think how that could ever be.

Over the next few nights, Mariska adjusted to her new existence, and found that it had its advantages. Shape-shifting, flying, and pyrokinesis were all fascinating distractions from the sad fact of being a social pariah. Unfortunately, her father’s regular requests to the castle butcher to supply fresh blood quickly started the rumours flying, the peasants started gossiping, and after the incident at the feast became common knowledge, it was not long before the church took an interest.

“We know the truth, Your Highness,” declared the officers of the Inquisition to the fearful voivode, “and you cannot hope to cover it up indefinitely. But entrust your daughter to us, and we vow that we will cure her of this demonic contamination. We will return her to you in purity. If you do not, we cannot be held responsible should the common folk learn what she has become, and take matters into their own hands… and it may even be our sacred duty to help them, if you turn away from God.”

The threat greatly disturbed the voivode, but before he could come to a decision Mariska walked into the midst of the court. The priests, nobles, and servants all gasped at the sight of her, protected themselves with crosses and icons, and in a few cases ran for the doors, but the princess just walked through the commotion with sombre dignity, until she reached her father’s throne.

“I will agree to this ordeal, father,” she declared, sadly but firmly. “I am no ravening demon, but nor am I any kind of daughter to you if I leave you to be excommunicated and lynched… as these ‘holy’ men seem to be suggesting. If they believe they can purge me of this, however, then I will brave their trials.”

The voivode nodded, dejectedly. What else could he do? The whole court had now seen his vampire daughter, and although a few of them had been impressed at her conduct, he knew that would not be enough to save either of them. “Very well,” he agreed. “Cure her, then, but you had better do just that. Priests or not, play me false and I will make you look forward to Hell as a welcome relief.”

Begrudgingly, the inquisitors bowed their assent, then escorted the princess from the throne room and back down into her crypt. For several minutes faint noises could be heard issuing up the stairway: the echoes of chanted prayers and hymns, the ringing of bells… and then a horrible, high-pitched scream. The voivode immediately ordered his guards to intervene, but by the time they returned, dragging the blood-spattered inquisitors along with them, he knew from their faces that it was too late.

“My condolences, Your Highness,” said the lead inquisitor, with badly feigned sympathy. “The monster was uncontrollable and had to be put down, but her soul is now pure and at peace, as we promised. I might also add that any violence inflicted upon us could well be taken as an act of war by His Holiness in Rome, and thus by the whole of Christendom.”

Unable to deny this, the voivode was forced to release them. A few days later, while he was deep in mourning, a letter arrived for him written in an elegant and disturbingly familiar hand:

My Lord,

Apparently I misjudged your stomach as well as your hatred of my kind, but do not delude yourself that your daughter is now at peace. Her soul screams in Limbo, and you are not the one to release her. If we are bloodthirsty, I know not what to call you, but your reign is cursed by the death of an innocent, and your sordid pact with the holy butchers will not save you from your enemies. I do hope the Turks enjoy playing catch with your severed head, and cat’s cradle with your bowels.

Cordially Yours,

Countess CZ.


Transylvania, 1942

Deep within Axis-held territory, SS Panzer Division 6 have set up a dedicated prisoner-of-war camp to interrogate Allied commandos. It is guarded by stormtroopers, artillery pillboxes, motorcycle patrols, and armoured units. To mount a one-man-charge against such a place would be suicide, but this glaring fact was of no deterrence to Sergeant Joe Harker (Royal Marines).

“It’s the last thing they’ll be expecting,” he insisted. “I storm in, machine gun blazing, chucking grenades all over the shop, and I can always pick up more of those if I run out. No doubt they’ll have left grenade caches everywhere, the lazy, careless Fritzes. I’ll break their lines before they even know what’s hit ‘em and set our lads free.” Impressed by the sergeant’s courage, his CO approves this “plan” of attack, such as it is.

It does not go very well…

Five minutes into the battle, out of both bullets and grenades, and badly wounded, the sergeant takes refuge in the only hiding-place he can find: an ancient crypt, beneath the crumbling ruins of a castle. He makes his way to the deepest chamber and crawls up against a stone sarcophagus, sculpted with the worn image of a young woman and bearing the letter “M” in Gothic script. His blood trickles into the earth as he lies there, exhausted, and for awhile he loses all sense of his surroundings. Suddenly, harsh voices and the click of machine gun bolts rouses him to a very troubled awareness. He feels the cold barrel of a gun pressed into his head, but in a last act of desperate defiance, he seizes a rock from the ground, swings around, and clubs the stormtrooper in the face. The soldier falls to the ground, bleeding and cursing, but this small success does Harker no good, as a second soldier slams the butt of his gun into the sergeant’s back, leaving him with no realistic option but to keel over in agony.

“Get this scum out of here,” the SS-scharführer orders to his men, “and get the medic to patch him up. Kommandant Reinhardt will want him fit and healthy… at first, anyway, although after his interrogation he might wish we’d just left him to rot. The rest of you men, search this old bone-house. We might find something worth looting. Move it, at the double.”

As the stormtroopers drag the wounded commando away, none of them notice as a weird red mist starts to rise from the earth where the sergeant’s blood had fallen. When they have all left the chamber, the mist gathers into a solid form…

Princess Mariska looks around at the desolation, both afraid and excited. The time she spent in Limbo, dark and senseless, seems like a hideous eternity to her, and the simple freedom to move and feel again is a blessed salvation, but the castle she knew of old is now dank, lifeless, and ruined. She knows in her heart that everything she once knew has passed away, probably even including the treacherous woman who made her this way. “So I live again, but what is left for me?” she thinks, then she looks at the blood that still clings to the side of her tomb. “Unless…”

She takes a drop on her finger and tastes it. “A warrior’s blood… young… not very clever, perhaps, but brave and true,” she senses, with revived hope. “Some knight errant must have heard my sad story, and has taken pity on me. He has sought out my grave, and spilled his own blood to resurrect me. Surely, then, he will not refuse to share this strange existence with me. At least I shall not be alone… but where is he?” As she looks around, confused, her gaze falls upon another patch of blood on the ground near her tomb. She tastes it, and her face twists in disgust as its character hits her: cruelty, hatred, and slavishness, accompanied by horrible images of brutality, torture, and murder. Among the images, however, she sees a young man wearing strange green clothes, along with a metal helmet covered in netting and leaves, and she feels a deep connection, as well as an inhuman rage. “My knight… captured by these barbarians,” she realises, horrified and incensed. “They mean to take him to their castle and torture him. Not while I live and… Well, not while I have anything to do with it, anyway.”

Thus, four and a half centuries after her death, Princess Mariska finally found a purpose worthy of her mettle…

17

Burning Bridges and Glitching Vampires

My silence has been repeatedly noted, so I thought it time to type a quick assurance that contrary to the evidence Cal and I are still alive and well, and continuing as planned with our transitions. There have, alas, been no positive developments, though, and this week I find myself a somewhat lonelier trans lady…

Some may already be aware of what transpired mainly on Twitter this week, but if not then I’m afraid I must be vague. Suffice it to say that a very dear friend of mine has, unfortunately, felt the need to cut ties with most of her circle, including me. How I managed to upset her I have no idea and may never know, but since she was rather a controversial figure in her way, I have already shed a few friends and followers for having been so close to her.

I am hurt, but should I be offended? I was not the only friend thus soft-blocked, and her critics are now gleefully assassinating her character and chiding all those who trusted her. To be honest, though, I find myself just sad and sick of the whole thing. While I worry that she did not do herself complete justice (though from what I can gather very few do on Twitter), the fact was I admired her immensely, and still do; saw so much of myself in her, not to mention traits I only wished that I possessed; and I was so touched by her kindness and encouragement towards me that to see her encouraging the social media community to think and spread the worst opinions of her is mortifying.

But perhaps that is the very point of it, and by burning all her virtual bridges she hopes to move forward in real life, away from a medium that seemingly brings out so much anger in her. I hope so, and I hope I may one day hear more of her, and that it will all be good news. In the meantime, I may follow her example again, and go back to keeping only a very discreet profile on social media. My attempt to draw inspiration from her radical feminist politics has only backfired ironically, and reminded me of how divisive trans voices unfortunately still are within these circles.

At any rate, my friend has declared herself apolitical and the last I heard of her, she has devoted herself to writing. That seems a pretty healthy resolution, from what I know. I don’t know that I will ever make a difference to the world that way, but through fiction I find I can express myself a lot more deeply (and hopefully entertainingly) than in real life. Not to mention, of course, the welcome distraction it provides from the interminable wait the NHS still refuse to provide any relief over.

In more trivial news, I have just finished a Commodore 64 game which will hopefully be entered into a competition next month. I am a little proud, as it does include my first tentative efforts at programming in 6502 Assembly (a cross between hex code and utter gibberish), and will, God willing, not just crash everyone’s emulators. Unsurprisingly, it’s about vampires. In love. Fighting Nazis. They don’t glitter, though. Just glitch a little.

10

Official Entity

Well it’s only a small victory, but I had to resist the urge not to go SQUEEEEEE!!! quite loudly when something dropped through the post today. Especially as I examined all of the small print…

2015-08-18 23.53.38

No doubt some will be horrified at the apparent ease with which one can earn that little “F” in this country, but they may be somewhat consoled by the fact that it certainly gets no easier from this point. The next step, now that my IPL course has finished, with somewhat disappointing results (very little hair loss on my lip and chin), is to return to the joys of electrolysis: totally effective, of course, but excruciatingly slow, expensive, and so nauseatingly painful I would dare to hope even Germaine Greer feels I am getting my just desserts… and still no word on when I can expect to have an appointment at the GIC, of course. Until then I continue to self medicate, albeit conservatively, and probably doing more harm to my bank balance than to my health, but I am certainly finding it hard to empathise with the cliché that the trans activist agenda has created a society in which anyone can transition quickly, on a whim.

Still, quickly or not, there is no turning back for me. In a few short months I seem to have graduated from being a vague ghost of a person into an alive and finally an official entity, and I have no intention of crawling back into the containment unit.

In other news, the adventure game I am programming on Visual Basic is coming along slowly but surely, and I have chosen to be inspired by the first survival horror game I ever played: namely “Ghost Town” on the Commodore 16. While I grant that these graphics did not particularly impress me even in the day, several umpteen repetitions of this music certainly took its toll on player morale, and the fact of only having one life, no energy, and the starkest death sequence ever (the screen just cuts to electric blue, with a curt text description of your ugly fate) made for a bloody tense experience…

3

Geek Girl

Things have been moving forward lately, there is no denying. Cal and I are both out at work, both of our families have accepted or in the few worst cases resigned themselves to the situation, HM Revenue and Customs and Cardiff Council have both changed my details, so all my tax reminders will at least have the right name on them (woohoo), and God willing I will hopefully have a new passport as well before long. I have, at last, been sent consent forms by the GIC, so I am officially a patient of theirs.

Still, it is still a long and grinding process, and each bit of progress seems painfully tiny, moving up the GIC waiting list being as lethargic a business as waiting for my hormones and my laser treatment to have some visible and lasting effects. Dwelling on it would be a mistake unless I want to drive myself mad from impatience and anxiety, so what is my coping strategy to be?

Well, as ever, it will be based on my time-honoured method of losing myself in time-consuming hobbies that demand all of my mental energy and thus save me from having to worry about transition (or building a career, taking care of the flat, having a social life… though I’m sure I’ll get round to those one of these years).

Here are some test screenshots from a possible adventure game I started programming last year and picked up again recently. Since my equipment is mediocre (an old ASUS laptop), my software is ancient (Visual Basic 5), and moreover I am not the whole of BioWare studios, I am keeping it all fairly small and simple, with early PS1 / Sega Saturn style low-poly graphics. Since these meshes are all just raw vectors typed directly into the program (which my mentor, Jack Hoxley, says is a very bad idea, only I was feeling rebellious… and too cheap to invest in a proper mesh-making package), I am still not displeased with them, even if it is all a bit Minecraft-y.

screenshot1

(1940s style Citroen van driving on some crude but functional randomised terrain, inspired by the planet rover stages in the original “Mass Effect”)

screenshot3

(Cessna doing some aerobatics in front of a rather blurry backcloth of Burgundy)

screenshot4

(The game’s female character taking a stroll by a cottage)

screenshot2

(The game’s male character in a church with a massive spider, because)

Currently, one “transitions” between the two characters with a press of the “G” (for gender) key, but I intend to find some way to make this gender-switching a gameplay feature. The theme will be supernatural / magical, and the two characters will have differing abilities that will become key in solving the various puzzles. When I design games, I nearly always end up making them as arcade object-puzzlers in the style of the old Dizzy games, partly because I find that genre more interesting than combat-heavy games, and also because they are far easier to program (good fighting games usually requiring a ton of animation and physics to both look decent and be playable).

Heaven alone knows how often I shall update on this topic, though. I was well into this hobby last year when a friend persuaded me to get back into writing instead, then after a few months stuck to my manuscript, I realised (through my main character) that my gender dysphoria had resurfaced, and the rest is self-explanatory…

Which is, of course, the problem with creativity: it always seems like a nice, innocent distraction from the cares and concerns of life, but you never quite know into what dark and weird places it will eventually lead you.