Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Fantastic Gonzo Games Fringe Piece: Nomen Ludi

UPDATE: Blog regular, Habour Master, points out in the comments that this was fiction inspired by a true story, thanks fella. I don't know if that makes me pleased I didn't buy it as straight documentary or sad most of it probably didn't happen, but either way it's still a great piece of writing.

This is just lovely. Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing writes about recalling a nameless adventure game from his youth, tracking down its title online, and then pursuing its creator through the wilds of Surrey to get to the sinister secret behind why the project was never completed.

The two criticisms I'd level - and these are mighty subjective - are that the piece's direct relevance to interactive media is pretty tenuous; and that the documentary type reportage seems just a little too neat, a little larger than life. I don't mind being lied to for a good story - having all the lies in the right place is more often than not precisely what constitutes a good story - but I'd rather we were more upfront about it.

But ignore that. It might be that Nomen Ludi is written with rare precision and sympathy. It might be that it keeps developing in ways you didn't expect and closes with smart underplay. It might just be that the story's set in the town I was born in. Regardless, there's a lot of reading to be done on the web, and I'm usually pretty selective, but this is the most fun I've had since the Planescape Torment Vision Statement. I dare you to start reading and not finish:
"My first recollection was a flashback at the airport, triggered by a scent: the same carpet deodorizer my mother used to use when I was a kid. Transported away from the echoes of Heathrow's PA system and the hubbub of waiting travelers, I found myself back in my old bedroom. A child sat at at the machine, intent on the controls. Deja vu crept over me."
 And later:
Subject: GAME
Yes, I see your emails on the amstrad page. Well done. You figured out something about that old thing. Good for you. We never even sent it out to the duplicators, so I have no idea how you got one. But you know what. It's none of your business. This was nearly 15 years ago now and its all put to rest. " Read more
I hate to think how many emails Mr Ward is going to get after this.


  1. Tom - it's a piece of fiction if I recall, which is probably what your perfection alarm was set off by. Check down in the comments.

  2. I was strangely disappointed to find out it was not real after becoming so absorbed in it. Was a great read though.

  3. Yeah me too. The story did feel a bit unlikely in places but I wouldn't have questioned it any further had it not been for harbour master's tip off.

    Those screenshots framed the whole piece really nicely though, giving it a certain mystical feel. I thoroughly enjoyed this read so cheers. Now for that Planescape: Torment Vision Statement...

    I remember finding on the net somewhere a draft script of the encounter with Ravel which looked fascinating. Haven't got round to reading that either. :-(

  4. Yeah, I recall seeing that. As I remember it was an interesting read that actually rendered that whole story thread (free will vs the soul etc) a lot more coherent.