C y b e r s p a c e
is the "place" [...]
between the phones.
Bruce Sterling (1992
Just call me zeph, as I do not really know who I am. But you ... have you ever been to the movies? Then you'll know my face.
It's Jimmy Dean's—complete with cigarette danglin' from my lips. Uhm, well, I know, not very likely in a 21st Century
PC Game ... pun intended. My jacket and T seem to be designed by Jimi Hendrix himself. ↑American Graffiti. Which reminds me of
the lightsaber in my pocket. All in all I just feel like ... the spirit of the movies. And comic books. Like the manifest
metaphysics of pop-culture. I'm a ↵new god, a superhero.
Now the stage is bare, and I'm standing there with ... emptiness all around. Kinda emptiness. The interface not only shows
me my Self (The Jimmy-Dean-surgery is very well done, kudos to the HairlessWookie), but also the metal-detectors, guarding the
↑entrance hall of Aesir-Corporation's skyscraper ...
Through the enormous glass-panes I can see the nightsky outside. It is of a depressing grey. Not quite the colour of a
television set tuned to a dead channel—but close. I am too tired to push on, so I jack out.
I am back, and this time I know who I am—I am
believe it or not, and the Force really is with me this time. Meanwhile I know who I
was—at least I know whom I resembled—, when I set foot into the entrance
hall—a small step for my
but one hell of a leap for me and myself ... dunno yet about mankind. It wasn't Jimmy Dean's
face I carried, as I presumed ... no, it was HairlessWookie's face, the face of the coder
himself, put on the Avatar by DopeTek, our expert
Hell, it seems that in real life he actually looks like Jimmy Dean—lucky fella. But
that was way back in 3.0. Later, in 4.0 I was ripped—just for the record:
[btw that's myself ;o]
↵helped to shape 4.0's universe.
'Ripped' means my looks were taken from a certain professional product, without having
permission to take. Obviously that's kinda theft and therefore illegal—but is it
illegal if an artist rips, literally, some glossy photography from a news magazine to paste
it onto a collage? Anyway, we've gotten past this ripped stuff. Now I'm looking perfectly
like Luke and everything's custom.
The metaverse, to which ↑Hiroaki Protagonist, self-proclaimed greatest swordfighter of the world, added his fancy fencing-code
wasn't meant for swordfighting. So whenever someone's bodyparts were dismembered you could see inside like inside some hollow
tube. It became obvious that 3d-meshes, not fleshy humans, had crossed their blades. The
wasn't meant for swordfighting, too—as it wasn't meant for
... everybody's Kung Fu fightin' ...—but here I am, Prince of the Universe,
wielding my blue glowing lightsaber. Some
↑bot approaches and attacks me with his blaster
↑weapon factory—another low-poly but high-quality mesh; proof of what the
skaterboy is able to accomplish. The bot fires and I switch into
the world in which I currently sense my self drops into slow motion. Not that I need the slomo to help me against this
bot, but this way it looks way cooler. The blaster bolt hits the blade of my lightsaber and gets perfectly deflected.
Instead of blowing me into oblivion it hits a wall somewhere. Not discouraged at all the bot fires his next bolt which
suffers the same fate. Little does the bot know (Sometimes I wonder if bots do know anything at
all—↑do androids dream of electric sheep?)
that he's doomed already and that there's only a fraction of a chance for him to actually hit me with his
blaster fire. The code is on my side this time. Every bot which carries a blaster is set to aim not at me, but at my
lightsaber, and every projectile which hits my lightsaber gets inevitably deflected. But sometimes the bots unwillingly
don't aim precisely—and, weird as it may sound, that's their chance to hit me. The bithead just took its chance. Before he
can hurt me again, I rush towards him and trigger some beauty of an animation I helped to design. My lightsaber is raised
above my head, ellbows apart so that Luke can look right into the bot's face, but I don't strike 'men', as pure kendo-style
would dictate. Instead I strike diagonally from the top right to the lower left. The bot's head and right arm are nicely
separated from its torso, both fall to the floor. Frag. There's no blood, which has two reasons from at least two different
universes. First, the lightsaber's laserblade instantaneously welds shut every capillary filled with blood. Second, blood
gushing out of bots' severed torsos would trigger the virtual violence discussion again, and we already had that.
When the deadline for
↑my PhD thesis
[.pdf | 7.5MB |
| in German]
) was only weeks away, a good friend of mine gave me the computergame
" as a birthday
present. I thanked her very much, but said, that I wouldn't touch the CD before I had finished writing my thesis. Little did
both of us know what was triggered by this present. After I finally had delivered the thesis to the university, I went
straight home and installed Max Payne. For the next two weeks I hardly did anything else than playing and re-playing the
game day and night. I wasn't into computergames anymore since the early 1980s, when I had a Commodore 64 and played on it
everything from Pac Man to Frogger and beyond. May Payne not only resparked my kidhood's fascination with the medium, but
made me experience a part of what I unconsciously had been longing for: my personal eclectic conglomeration of ambiences and
narrative content built from a lifetime of digesting popular culture. To get an idea of what
one is up to when daring to enter the game, here is its
↑official promotion text
Three years back a young NYPD cop, Max Payne, came home one night to find his family
senselessly slaughtered by a gang of drug-crazed junkies, high on a previously unknown
synthetic drug. Now that same drug, Valkyr, has spread through the whole New York City like
a nightmare plague, and Max Payne’s on a crusade for revenge, out to get even. To Drug
Enforcement Administration, DEA, this new drug was evil incarnate, to be stopped at any
cost. Max's boss and best friend, the only one who knew his true identity, has been
murdered, and Max's been framed for the slaying. Everything ripped apart in a New York
minute... Max Payne is a man with nothing to lose in the violent, cold urban night. A
fugitive undercover cop framed for murder, and now hunted by cops and the mob. Max is a man
with his back against the wall, fighting a battle he cannot hope to win. Prepare for a new
breed of deep action game. Prepare for pain...
Excited and well prepared I deeply immersed myself into the game. Absorbing the ambience,
allowing the dramaturgy and narrative structure to take over control I quickly identified
with my avatar's character and paced through the city's night—equally being chased and
being on the hunt myself. The essential driving force for my pushing on and on was the
burning desire to unravel the truth, to solve the enigmas behind the events around me. And
so I did. But with every conundrum's solution the story became more amazing and incredible.
And more menacing.
Then there was a fire I wasn't able to escape from without help. I was in
a chapter of the game's narrative when Max
Payne has an appointment with a top-guy from the Mafia. When I reached the meeting place—an Italian restaurant in
New York—late at night (both in the game and in
I found the place deserted. My only choice was to
explore the restaurant and its adjoining rooms like the kitchen etc. But my first steps already triggered a row of incendiary
bombs, setting the whole building on fire—hence the chapter's superscription: "Put out my flames with gasoline"
The explosions and flames quickly resulted in an untimely death of my avatar. Of
course I immediately respawned at the last jumppoint and tried a different route of escape—in vain. Further attempts led to
my being quite familiar with the location, but not to escape. In the end I always was trapped in the inferno and died a
lonely death in an Italian mob-restaurant, the snowstorm howling outside in the noir
streets of a crime-novel New York
At three o'clock in the morning I was so frustrated that I left the gameworld. But I couldn't go to bed, as I knew that the
story would haunt me and prevent me from sleep, just like it had done the previous nights. I remembered something from my C64-times,
connected to the internet, fired up my browser and typed the words
'↑Max Payne walkthrough
' into Google. The search
instantaneously generated an enormous number of hits (35,000 plus); I clicked the very top one. This led me to a page which
offered painstakingly written and illustrated walkthroughs to every chapter of Max Payne. After having read the
↑solution to my problem
I slapped my forehead, because I already had been so close to escape, but hadn't realized it. Once there I started
to explore the website of which the walkthrough was a subpage. And I discovered a culture which was hitherto unknown to me.
The website was called MaxPayneHeadquarters
and most of its content referred to certain things called
—WORK IN PROGRESS, to be continued—
—Feel free to ↵write a comment on this chapter—
: 01 December 2004
: 11 August 2005