Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Nutella Waffle Adventure Part I: The Toon Wars

Date: Fri. 10/22/10
Food: Waffles with Nutella, glass of milk
Eat Time: 1:00 am
Sleep Time: 1:30 am
Woke up: 11:30am

The internet likes to take things and ruin them so they can never again be used in serious conversation. For example, if something was epic, it used to mean something. Today, everything is epic; everything and nothing. Though not serious, “epic” would have been the word to describe the following dream, had not the internet beaten, killed it, and sodomized its corpse. Let’s begin with part one.

Firearms was an old UT mod from 1998 that was later made into a HL mod a year or two afterwards. Firearms:Source is obviously, the new version. Though it began production in 2005, a public build didn’t come out until earlier this year. Around the time of this dream, I had been playing it quite frequently. Occasionally, I will have an FPS game dream where I will drift between playing the game, actually running around with a gun in a VR type situation, or a mangled state in-between, where I’m kind of half carrying a gun and holding a keyboard, desperately trying to figure out which of the two I’m supposed to be manipulating.

Not surprisingly, after two waffles and sleeping in, I started dreaming about playing a large game of Firearms. By the way, fair warning, but most of these will start out with Nutella waffles. It began regularly, though I was detached from the player and not at my keyboard. I knew that I was controlling the character in-game through normal PC gaming means, though I was just kind of some floating consciousness that followed slightly behind. As the dream progressed, it began to turn into the VR scenario. Typically, I’ll have trouble adjusting through this period because I’ll be able to fire the gun like I would a regular weapon, but when it came to reloading, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to change out magazines manually, or if I pressed a button and it would do it for me, as I had both the weapon and a keyboard.

Usually this just goes right from me trying to figure out how to still play the game to being totally immersed in the game, as if it was paintball. People will bleed and die, but it will still be a game and they’ll respawn somewhere else. This is pretty much the ultimate form of virtual reality we have yet to achieve. However, it was slightly different this time around, because I began to think that these were new gameplay features. In Firearms, if you bandage yourself, switch weapons, or go prone while you are reloading, it will interrupt the reload and you’ll have to start it over again. In the dream, I thought that there was a new system where if you interrupted the automatic reload, you could manually reload the weapon. That way, it would be slower or faster than the automatic reload depending on how well you did it, like the active reload feature in Gears of War. I was carrying a Skorpion which isn’t actually in the game, and eventually I got to the point where I was reloading like this guy.

Shortly after, I find myself using one of the machine guns, the SAW specifically, which I never do because they happen to stink. They’re only useful when supported which wouldn’t bother me normally, but there’s a glitch that causes the bipod to make the screen shoot upwards whenever you fire the gun. However, they were working fine in the dream and I was using them to the same effect that I used them in the first Firearms. I was very good at crawling into flanking positions on enemy gatherings, setting up the machine gun, mowing them down, then moving to a new location. It was especially effective in the map I was on, which looked a lot more like a Bad Company 2 map than a Firearms map. It was heavily wooded and very open. It specifically looked like this one.

There was a large log which overlooked a long gully. On the other side was another large fallen tree, where several machine gunners from the other team were set up. One or two machine gunners from my side were supported on the log, and I kept joining them to have long range duels with the enemies on the other log. The dream kind of fast-forwarded a bit, with this going on for some time. As I kept dying, respawning, then running back to the log, everything kept getting more and more cartoony. Everyone on my team began looking like early 90’s cartoons. It was filled with rubber-hose cutesy people and Rocko’s Modern Life style funny animals while the other team was filled with more contemporary styled cartoons; angled characters like in Avatar or Ben 10.

This cartoon-makeover quickly began changing the entire environment as well. It didn’t really kick into effect until the reinforcements started going down. In FA, whenever someone dies, the reinforcements go down by 1. Unlike most games, when it reaches 0, the team doesn’t automatically lose. They’ll lose if they lose all their control points or the surviving members die. I’ve had some close matches where it got down to 0 reinforcements for each team. My style has always been to charge at this time and cap the map, as everyone decides it’s time to camp. Anyway, in the dream, when I noticed I couldn’t find any teammates around anymore, I looked up at the top of my “screen,” and saw that the reinforcement count was getting dangerously low. We had 2-3 vs their 8-10. It was still a winnable fight, but I decided that it was time for some drastic measures. I cut out of the tit-for-tat long range battles I was getting into with the enemy machine gunners in favor of storming their position. I caught them by surprise, ramboing the remaining ones still there. Ramboing, by the way, is a nerdy shooter term for firing machineguns from the hip rather than from a prone or supported position as they’re meant to be used. Anyway, once I scanned the clearing, that’s when the environment really started to rapidly morph.

As it changed, I consciously was aware of a war that was going on between the two styles governing parties. The actual civilians of both styles were capable of co-existing, and the jungle began turning into a wooden area near a school in which both styles were students of. The war continued to go on while the students of the school just kind of went about their business. I ended up in a clearing by the side of the school and came across two girls. When I saw them, I recognized one as a girl who I knew always had a crush on me and her friend. At this point, I could feel the dream shift into a movie sequence.

Movie-mode is a reoccurring situation in which my dreams go from an actual event to the staged filming of an event. At this point, similar to the dream of walking into a class room to take a test you forgot you had, I realize everyone is looking to me to say my line or perform my stunt but I have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing. The dream goes from some fantastical event to a cheap movie set. It’s awkward and a waste of what normally is a unique and unusual situation. Well, I decided I would have none of it this time, and rather than grasping at what I thought my lines might be, I decided to just improvise, and ham it up immensely as I did so.

I approached the girl I knew to have a thing for me. She had black hair and she was wearing green. Her friend I think was some kind of bunny and she was wearing pink and yellow. When I spoke, I laid on this ridiculously cheesy hero voice. The more over the top I went, the less I cared about everyone’s expectations for my acting or line reading or whatever. I said something to the effect of, “What are you still doing here? You need to get out of here, it’s dangerous!” I don’t remember if she responded, but I remember immediately after, I saw something pass over the ridge in front of us. I swung my M249 on it and we all watched silently. After a few moments, I told the girls to get down and began making my way towards the ridge. As I got near the edge, a zebra jumped out and landed a few feet in front of me. Though I had not seen one until now, I recognized this zebra as a common unit amongst the enemy forces. It was pretty much just a regular zebra, aside from the glowing cartoon demon eyes. I held the saw on it as it stamped the ground aggressively in front of me.

I’m not sure why I didn’t just immediately light it up. My best guess is that, going along with the cheesy characterization I was doing to avoid the usual “you’re screwing everything up for everyone” bullshit of not knowing my lines, part of it involved a growing disdain for the war brought on by the ability of the students to live together peacefully. Perhaps it was simply a reluctance to kill this thing in front of the two girls who I was supposed to have been classmates with at one time or another. Either way, I warned it to stay back when a second zebra knocked me down from behind. The one in front trampled me and the two zebras began bucking and kicking in a wild, almost celebratory frenzy while the girls screamed.

I turned to my stomach and I was able to see myself as I did so, as if I was watching it through the camera of whatever movie we were supposed to be filming. I was covered with cartoon cuts and bruises. The following sequence all appeared as though it were filmed and I were watching it, even though I had effectively destroyed the interruption of Movie-Mode with my Dark Knight Batman impression. I hosed one Zebra with the machine gun with a 5 second burst. It didn’t go down until I was just about finished. The second one spun to face me and I unloaded on him too. It took a few limping steps, attempting to escape, and I finished it off with another burst.

I rolled onto my back and coughed. Though the wounds I had were quite cartoony, I was lying in a Resident Evil-esque pool of blood. The girls ran over and kneeled down around me, asking if I was alright. I coughed again and said in what sounded like a Randy Marsh impression, “I don’t have much time left, but I always wanted to tell you this…” As I said this, a third girl, seemingly oblivious to us or what just occurred, merrily skipped by. I pointed to this new girl and said, “I've always loved her... what's her name anyway?” I then popped up and limped away, saying something about making sure the rest of my team escapes while the two girls sat there with their mouths open.

I ended back up at the log I originally had the bulk of my machine gun wars from in the dream. The environment had turned back into a jungle; I guess the deeper I got into it, the more it turned into a school. Either way, I noticed that lying on the ground were several of my old M249s. In most online FPS games, you drop your weapon or your kit when you die, allowing other players to pick it up. In FA:S however, this is not the case. Regardless, there they were and I immediately had a great idea. I knew the enemy was minutes away from counter-attacking with a charge of their own in order to kill me and the remaining members of my team. Though at this point, I couldn’t see the reinforcements, I still had the sense of urgency that the match was dangerously close and we were still losing.

Picking up one of my previous saws, I decided I would sacrifice myself in a glorious last hurrah, meeting their charge headfirst by myself; a machine gun in each hand. Kind of like this guy: I then had a thought. I didn’t want to come over the hill like that and find one of the guns only has a few rounds in it. In Firearms, your extra ammo doesn’t come from a pool. Most FPS games will give you a total number of extra bullets so whenever you reload, it just takes the minimum amount needed to fill your in-gun ammo. In Firearms, you have extra magazines, as you would in real life. Also, if you reload a partially full magazine, it gets cycled back into your reserve magazines, so that half-full mag would eventually get loaded back into your gun. Because of this, they give you a “merge magazines” command. This takes a few seconds to do, but it collates all your ammunition into the least amount of magazines possible. I knew I had a few moments before the enemy’s charge, so I decided I would do this.

I had two extra boxes on me, and I don’t know why I didn’t just load the machine guns with the two fresh boxes, but I decided to use them to make sure both guns were full. I opened up all the boxes and laid them out on the ground. Upon inspecting the ammo belts, I saw something that for some reason didn’t raise any concerns. Rather than bullets, the ammo belts were loaded with C batteries, I guess… because Firearms is an electronic video game. It wasn’t the fact that the batteries were loaded into the ammo box that concerned me, but the fact that not all of them were facing + side up. Upon seeing this, I said, “It’s a good thing I didn’t use this box, it would have jammed for sure!” I also saw that it turned out to be a good idea to merge these boxes, as the current ones loaded in the machine guns were only down to about 13 batteries, and they looked like they could have held at LEAST 80.

So I went about the arduous task of replacing all the batteries in the belt and realigning the upside down ones. I had finished one box and I was nearly done with the other when my brother walks in from behind me and says, “Oh hi, what are you doing?” As he says this, his foot hits the completed ammo box, sending the batteries everywhere. As I turn around, the jungle is now our living room and I’m no longer a cartoon. I say, “Oh thanks, i just finished arranging those.” We pick up the batteries and I go over to the table where I have a waffle waiting for me to put Nutella on. I then start telling him about all the new features in Firearms Source.


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