The Pet Shop Girls: a Generation 4 story

Collaborative fiction by Caelyn and Auri, set in Cassandra Marshall’s ‘Generation 4’ universe.

Part 1: Cats and Dogs Living Together

SOUTH BOSTON

“It’s unlocked.”

Opening the door, Rory found herself in an aging but spacious apartment: sparsely furnished, with carpeting that could be described as “unnecessarily plush,” along with a couch, set right in the sun. Said couch currently housed a tanned, black-haired woman who did not bother to get up when Rory walked inside.

She watched Rory drag in her few possessions, then said: “‘Kay, go… make yourself at home, I guess?” Her voice was soft, monotone, and seemed to have a different, but equally slight accent every third word. She had not bothered to introduce herself.

“Aw, nice,” the new roommate drank in the surroundings with wide-eyed wonder. “Nice! Real nice! Aw it’s damn good to meetcha. I’m Rory, Rory O’Coyne. You knew that from the thing, though, yeah? Nice!”

The woman who’d barged into Jenna’s apartment and life was tall, and muscular, and animated, and had a presence best described as ‘invasively earnest’. Her shaggy, chin-length reddish-brown hair bounced with every step, and she flashed big teeth with every frequent grin. She also had an aggressive Southie accent, but that was sort of to be expected. Continue reading

Fauns of the Meadow: a Year With the Hindren

By Kaylenn Sand-shell, chitinous hound anthropologist

(please note: while some of this material may eventually become part of the lore of Caves of Qud, right now this is fanfiction and none of it is canon.)

One can traverse the arable lands around Moghra’yi for lifetimes without ever encountering the deer-centaur chimera who call themselves the Hindren. In numbers they are but a few hundred, and as a people they do not care to interact with other creatures when they can avoid it. In the twenty years I have actively wandered, I have met only a few Hindren, all exiles from their home and yet unwilling to tell me how to find the society that made them pariahs.

I am, however, a hunter as well as a scholar, and after several years of searching I was able to locate the Cervidian Meadows. All I will say of its location is that it is somewhere south of the Moghra’yi; I have no desire to betray the confidence of a mostly peaceful race of creatures.

My arrival was obviously not celebrated; the Meadow’s border scouts are extremely perceptive and conversant in tracking and obfuscation alike. By changing landmarks, using confusing and threatening sounds, and otherwise making my stay in the adjacent wood as obnoxious as possible, they sought to deter me from my path while avoiding notice. When I eluded the guards and made my way to the first neat row of carefully-tended watervine, the Hindren farmers who saw me at once took terrified flight.

The extreme of fear that Hindren feel toward outsiders is a strange one, in my eyes. They are large, powerful creatures with arms and legs at least as strong as a human’s, albeit all covered in dense fur that protects them from cold weather. Each individual is skilled at using and maintaining a sharp metal vinereaper. Their antlers are strong as bone and naturally quite sharp; Hindren pariahs who learn to fight live longer than most wayfarers in Qud.

Strange as this attitude may be to me, I cannot argue against its efficacy; the Cervidian Meadows have lived peacefully under informal matriarchal gerontocratic rule for generations. Their eldest or wisest woman becomes ‘Hindriarch’, and her word on most things is obeyed by every member of the tribe, who refer to her as ‘Grand-doe’.

This generation’s Hindriarch was the first Hindren to hold a conversation with me, and I will admit to a measure of anxiety being under her hawkish gaze. She was none too pleased at my presence, but intelligent enough to understand that killing me or driving me away would be a greater inconvenience and danger than offering me hospitality. We parted with an uneasy compromise, and I began my residence and observation.

I found quickly that the oral history of the Hindren is shoddy at best, perhaps with purpose. Their etymology is similarly muddy, but there are some observable patterns: ‘Dren’ is a suffix applied to sentients: ‘Hindren’, obviously, and the word for their young, ‘Faundren’. I also heard ‘Kendren’ a great deal, as it is their word for non-hostile sentients like myself.

All Hindren names end in the suffix ‘hart’ or ‘hind’. Although they do understand that these are gendered terms, a majority of male fauns are have ‘hind’ names — it seems that for quite some time, ‘hart’ was a name appendage reserved for the smallest or most ill-behaved faundren. As it is, the suffixes are considered unisex in modern day, and the Meadow’s faundren now have a much more even distribution of the suffixes than their parents.

Life for Hindren is, for the most part, uneventful to the point of extreme boredom. The watervine fields are meticulously tended day after day, never harvested late and always producing as much crop as possible. Growing up, all faundren are trained as watervine farmers, but a lucky few will become carpenters or blacksmiths in order to keep what little infrastructure they maintain running. Those who display particular aptitude and loyalty to the Hindriarch have a chance of becoming border scouts, who keep the Meadows safe and occasionally bring in wild game or starapples while patrolling, providing the only variety in the tribe’s diet. I found little else of interest from the adult Hindren; they seemed unwilling to speak with me at length.

By contrast, I learned a great deal speaking to the faundren, whose curiosity about the outside world is rapidly becoming difficult for the elders to contain. More than once I heard the term ‘Hartind’, allegedly an ancient word for Hindren who lived as both or neither gender, which the young ones take as evidence of a more egalitarian past. I can feel the wanderlust, both in their fascination with me and also in the zeal with which their elders would clamp down on any talk of lands outside of the Meadows.

The world outside the Cervidian Meadow remains an expanse of dawnglider-infested terror for the adults of the tribe. Understandable, as the Meadows have no warriors, no standing military, and only a handful of combat-trained scouts. The Hindren take their border security rather seriously, and any of their number who chooses to leave does so permanently and is erased from the tribe’s collective memory. Pariahs are even more thoroughly ostracized than I knew; any mention of their names is spoken only in whispers by the faundren, knowing that being caught speaking of the ‘dead’ means harsh punishment.

Though the Hindren of the Cervidian Meadows are considered a single tribe, they’ve grown over the generations and the my social instinct smells a swarm coming. I would not be surprised if splinter tribes were found elsewhere within a generation. I cannot imagine that it will be an easy growing pain, but few are.

By the time I left the Meadows, it was with relief; I haven’t the patience for the life these deer-people lead and I was beginning to catch cabin fever in spite of spending very little time in the Meadow’s brinestalk yurts. The Hindriarch was as happy to see me go as I was to be off; my pack was loaded with the vinewafers I had grown to loathe and I was ushered out efficiently by scouts.

By the end of the day, I realized that I had taken something else: a faundren had snuck out of the settlement behind me and refused to return to the Meadows. I have with some trepidation allowed the strange little thing to accompany me until we find a suitable place for me to be rid of it. If the Argent Fathers are merciful, it will be before I am become too attached to the cute thing.

Caely Facts!

  1. I grew up in a theatre family. Until my early 20s, I figured that I was probably gonna be an actor or director.
  2. In elementary school, however, we had a “dress as your dream job” day and I went as… a game programmer XD
  3. When I was a youngster, my favorite ‘game’ was to pace our gravel walkway, waving a crude wooden sword and making up stories.
  4. I had a few wooden swords that I bought from the renaissance festival, but the sturdiest and my favorite was handmade by my dad.
  5. Young Caely would draw video game ideas on thick paper, fold them up and draw on a price. Called them ‘video game coupons’.
  6. My first ever ongoing game (idea) series in memory was called “14 tablespoons”. A ‘pick your poison’ challenge, if I recall correctly.
  7. I would draw Dragon Quest slimes all over every folder I owned. Every. Folder.
  8. I designed paper prototype video game levels, ostensibly for my friends to play (on paper). Really I just liked making them.
  9. My parents believed at the time that video games would “rot my brain” like television, and so I mostly played/watched at friends’ houses.
  10. I always played as the girl characters in games. I never thought to question whether this was significant.
  11. My mother’s favorite game ever was Princess Tomato and the Salad Kingdom. Now I make graphical IF a lot like it. :)
  12. My first programming language was LOGOwriter. I made a very small RPG using it, with random damage mechanics. ‘Colorunder’ command ftw.
  13. I was also decent at TI Basic, the calculator programming language. I programmed a few games, but ‘Thetaman 2’ was the best.
  14. ‘Thetaman 2’ was basically sokoban, which I didn’t know was already a thing. It read level maps from arrays, so custom levels were easy.
  15. I also loved Ray Dunakin’s World Builder, a graphical IF engine that was surprisingly accessible & powerful for the time.
  16. I made my mom a birthday game using World Builder, but my energy and focus weren’t good enough to do much digital art at the time.
  17. I also played with the Single Player Adventure Module (SPAM), aka the Worst IF Engine in the Universe. NO VARIABLES.
  18. My favorite games as a kid were JRPGs, bar none. My tastes have mostly moved away from them but there’s a fond nostalgia there.
  19. I really identified with Terra from Final Fantasy Six, a character who finds love through care for children. Hmm hmm HMMMM
  20. I quit my classical piano lessons pretty early on, but continued to improvise and learn video game themes on my family’s upright piano.
  21. Nobuo Uematsu has influenced my compositional style more than any other composer or musical artist.
  22. When I discovered trance music, I wanted to become a DJ but didn’t have enough money.
  23. Though I was born in 1982, I never liked Nirvana. Or Pearl Jam. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  24. I listened mostly to oldies and show tunes before I found out that techno wasn’t the only kind of EDM.
  25. My favorite musical is Floyd Collins, which is a sad show about the true story of a guy stuck in a cave.
  26. I used to do a Summer Dinner Theatre program at Montgomery College. I was in a lot of shows, sometimes with principal parts.
  27. I was, in fact, into Rent. It took me a while to be won over but it happened. Shh.
  28. I went to a Quaker high school. I liked it.
  29. In college, I discovered some important things: I have depression, I don’t want to have a theatre career, and school is horrible.
  30. I do not have a college degree and probably never will.
  31. One other thing I discovered in college: polyamory. I’ve been openly poly for over 10 years and probably always will be.
  32. I slept around a lot in my early twenties; probably half of the people I’ve fooled around with happened during a five-year period.
  33. I tried monogamy for three months with someone, and it went very poorly. Funny enough, she’s poly now! Also, we’re good friends.
  34. My early 20s were also when I felt my first symptoms from The Genders, but I put them away because I only ‘wanted’ to be a girl (???).
  35. I moved to the Boston area 8 years ago to be with a girl. It didn’t last very long, but I had friends here and so I stayed.
  36. The reason I had all these friends was Intercon, a LARP convention at which I’ve now been writing and running games for 12 years!
  37. Before I made video games set in New Washington, I wrote LARPs set there. I first made the Age of Corporations in Forum Roleplay!
  38. You can still buy my first novel (under my pen name), Tales from the Securemarket, from Amazon. I have some spare copies too.
  39. I met Carolyn VanEseltine when I moved into the house she was living in, then we started dating. Then she introduced me to modern IF.
  40. The very first game we worked on together, One Eye Open, placed 3rd in that year’s IFComp. That was my reintroduction to game dev.
  41. When Carolyn worked at Harmonix and heard that they were looking for QA testers who could dance, she dragged me in to interview.
  42. Harmonix remains the only AAA games company I have ever worked for. If you played Dance Central 1, my dance skills graded you.
  43. I did most of my practical learning of Twine for Maddy Myers’s Tower Jam, for which I released Faceted.
  44. I met Chris Klimas (creator of Twine) by explaining his own engine to him when he came over to look at my game.
  45. I have released about 40 small games since I decided to become a full-time solo dev.
  46. I still don’t really think of myself as a programmer.
  47. Carolyn and I are planning a game big enough that we plan to launch a Kickstarter for it. It’s gonna be really cool.
  48. I have been sitting on a really neat plot/concept for years, for a game called ‘Agency’. Eventually I’ll be a good enough dev to make it
  49. Another thing on my dev wish list is to make a non-combat roguelike where you play an apothecary and merchant.
  50. Carolyn and I have one collaboration that’s not on the internet: we made a card game about the stress & trauma of being queer.
  51. When I caught my first shiny pokemon, a Vanillite named Concupiscent, my buddy Benn made me a cross stitch of him :D
  52. My favorite card game is cribbage! If you challenge me to a match, I will almost certainly agree to it.
  53. Possibly my favorite hotseat party game of all time is the unappreciated PS1 relic ‘Battle Hunter‘.
  54. I’m pretty damn good at dance games. Dance Dance Revolution, In the Groove, and Pump It Up have all been intense interests of mine.
  55. I’ve always loved to dance, but being a dance QA tester for actually taught me to dance well.
  56. My personal dance style in clubs is mostly based on popping and waving, but has some locking and hip-hop influence too.
  57. Before transition, I was just barely extroverted enough to be ENFP. Now I’m just barely introverted enough to be INFP.
  58. I have been developing New Washington and the Age of Corporations universe for well over a decade.
  59. I have written or co-written 3 LARPs and 3 IF games set in New Washington, and am working on one very big IF game set there.
  60. My second novel is set in New Washington. The protagonist is an imp. When it comes out, you should buy and read it.
  61. Though the Age of Corporations is my most developed fictional world, I have others: Laputa Nova is the other one I’m actively working on
  62. Hindren’s Guide is the very first piece of ‘fanfiction’ I’ve ever completed. I started a modern AU zelda fanfic but never finished it.

Sad Girl Recipes.

Hey so uh

It’s been a pretty rough week. Here are some recipes I like to make when I’m sad. … oh yeah? well your face has nothing to do with video games

Sad Girl Ramen

ingreedz:

  • a package of chicken ramen
  • leftover chicken
  • chicken broth or stock (low sodium?)
  • frozen edamame
  • frozen corn
  • 2 eggs
  • Sesame oil, teriyaki, rice vinegar?

Boil the broth in a small saucepan. I usually use less than the recipe calls for, so like a cup? Sure.

Put the edamame in there once the water’s boiling, then get it boiling again. Then add the corn and get it boiling again.

Throw the chicken and noodles in and let them boil for a minute or so, then crack both eggs in, add the flavor packet and a little bit of the other seasonings and stir constantly for about another minute.

Turn off the heat, then pour the soup into a bowl with two ice cubes in it so it’ll be cool enough to eat immediately and you don’t have to stare balefully at food that’s too hot to eat.

God, look at you, you’re a mess

Sad Girl Mac & Cheese

stuff you should probably have:

  • a box of mac and cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • a veggie burger patty thing, cut into chunks
  • some crimini mushrooms, or white i guess
  • a small onion
  • tomatoes?
  • a half cup of dry white wine
  • some amount of spicy V8 (or tomato soup)
  • a bit of half and half or cream

Boil some water in a pot and cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the box. While that’s happening, heat up a small pan, melt the butter, and sauté the onions in that. Once the onions are translucent, throw in the veggie burger & mushrooms. Cook until browned. Put wine in the pan and deglaze the pan, scraping all the nice burny bits off the bottom.

Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot, then dump the sauté into it. Add the cheese packet and stir thoroughly, then stir in the half and half and add spicy V8 until you like the consistency.

Mess around with it based on your cravings, mood, and willingness to actually fuss around in the kitchen while sad.

Fried Egg Grilled Cheese

a list of food items:

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of american cheese (or cheddar, I guess, your majesty)
  • butter for the pan
  • soft spreadable butter or margarine for the bread (I like Brummel & Brown’s yogurt-based spread thing)

Heat up the pan, then melt the butter in it. Crack that egg right in there. Let it cook for a minute, then flip it; do the pan flippy thing if you know how. Let it cook for another minute, and this is a good time to add some of Badia’s ‘Sazon Completa’. It’s like adobo but even better; they probably sell it in the ‘international’ aisle at your grocery store. Oh — at some point, butter the bread.

Once the egg is over easy, pick it up with a spatula and hold it over the pan or over one of the pieces of bread. Put a slice of bread butter side down in the pan, then add a slice of cheese, then put the egg on top of that. Add some more spice or hot sauce, then add another slice of cheese, then the other piece of bread.

Move the completed sandwich in the pan a little bit so it don’t stick. Carefully flip it after about a minute. Once both sides are browned, put it in a place, slice it diagonally, and use the sandwich to mop up the yolk.

Nice.

Caelyn’s Tiresome Yet Inevitable GOTY list

Hey guess what? It’s that time of the year where we all give our objectively correct opinions about which big-name games everyone is morally obligated to play! I lack any current-gen systems on account of being a solo gamedev and therefore poor as hell. But! I have a decent PC leftover from my days of having a Real Job™, so I still got to play some good stuff. Here it is!

 SOMA

In this long-awaited PC port of SOMA Bros 64, you step into the shoes of Whineface Trustingman as he totally does whatever a guy who admits that he is not a doctor says. Then there’s some time stuff and you’re underwater, and it’s actually pretty cool and philosophical and shit. It was made by the Amnesia people, but is less ‘horror’ and more ‘thriller’. Check out my ongoing Let’s Play of this game with Maddy Myers here.

Crypt of the Necrodancer

Omg technically this game was fully released this year so I can count it again! I’m totally counting it again. GOTY 2014 & 2015. Eat it. I wonder how many years I can keep this running.

Fallout 4

This is a game about how you wake up in the wasteland, say some stuff about a baby(??), and then spend the rest of the game wandering Shitty Boston playing Shitty House. I am told that there is also a main plot to pursue that has something to do with the aforementioned baby? That part sounds terrible, but the rest of it rules and I cannot stop playing it.

Caves of Qud

Back in the days of bell-bottoms and abundant psychadelics, some brilliant nerds created a tabletop roleplaying game called Gamma World, a mutant-staffed romp through whimsical post-apocalyptic environment. Twenty years later, I rolled up an anthropomorphic flower bard and plunged into that world with akimbo pistols and a group of weird friends. Now, that aesthetic is back in Caves of Qud, a roguelike RPG that has been in development for a long time but only recently hit Steam with a graphical tileset. I played a hundred hours in the first week and have only slowed down a bit; my Qud habit grew so overlarge that I even wrote interactive fanfic/FAQ (fanfaq?) for it.

Undertale

I’ll be doing a narrative Let’s Play of Undertale soon, and if you enjoy bullet hell games and JRPGs, you should play through it yourself — as a courtesy, I’m redacting potential spoilers. This is the most strikingly emotional game I may ever have played. In it, you play as [REDACTED], though initially [REDACTED]. You immediately meet [REDACTED], who paints a distinctly [REDACTED] picture but the reality is far more [REDACTED]. Mercifully, [REDACTED] (the fandom calls them [REDACTED]), who [REDACTED] house and [REDACTED] pie before [REDACTED], in spite of your [REDACTED]. You then have to [REDACTED], and whether you [REDACTED] has a distinct impact on [REDACTED] later in the game! I’ll stop there and save the rest for you, but I’m sure you can already tell how great it is.

Caelyn’s 2015 Sketchpad

selfportrait

self-portrait

Tree Door

Tree Door

Khashind, a Hindren pariah

Khashind, a Hindren pariah

I was definitely not high when I drew this, shhh

Untitled?

Animation frames for Basement

Animation frames for BASEMENT

Canyon, from Campaign Trail OF BLOOD

Canyon, from Campaign Trail OF BLOOD

Garden, from Doors

Garden, from Doors

Crepptober Spooplight: Horror Games!

The spooky hour is upon us, friends: it’s mid-October, and that means it’s the perfect time to play some scary games!

Though I’m best known as an author of games that tackle social justice issues, horror is one of my favorite genres to write. I’d like to share with you some of the scary intfic and dynfic games that I’ve written over the years, and encourage you to play and share them!
Please be advised that the following games may contain disturbing content. No jumpscares, though!


 

relicRelic
My most recent piece of horror dynfic is a linear short story originally written for an anthology curated by Javy Gwaltney, but when the anthology was delayed, I opted to release it on my own. In it, an antique restorer and collector discovers a mysterious automaton doll in a little pawn shop. Is the toy a real artifact, a fake, or something more sinister?
 

candlesmoke-nofilterCandlesmoke
One of my collaborations with Carolyn VanEseltine, Candlesmoke is a spooky exploratory intfic piece about the nature of power and time. As an officer of the law, you respond to a call by a mysterious recluse’s worried neighbor. You’ve seen a lot, but what you find there is beyond even your expectations.

 

iipb-notextIt Is Pitch Black
Set in my fictional near-future city of New Washington, It Is Pitch Black is at once an homage to classic parser IF while exploring the world-model possibilities of choice-based hypertext games. You’re trapped alone in an abandoned store with a Grue. You’ll only survive if you keep the area lit long enough for you to be rescued. Can you?

 

CToBCampaign Trail OF BLOOD
This ‘campaign simulator’, originally written for Ludum Dare #33 and polished afterward, puts you in the clawed feet of a horrible monster running for monster office. Expect gouts of Dark Humor as you vie violently for the position of Prime Monister.

 

qyjs2014-large

Quit Your Job Simulator 2014, as Colin Sandel
Written for Merritt Kopas’s Naked Twine Jam, QYJS2k14 is a no-frills office game that starts out banal but takes a sinister turn for observant players.

 

chemistry-and-physics-largeChemistry and Physics (as Colin Sandel)
An earlier collaboration with Carolyn, Chemistry and Physics finds you stumbling around an abandoned lab, pursued by a would-be murderer. You need to find a way out of the lab before you’re caught; can you avoid your pursuer long enough to find one?

 

one-eye-open-largeOne Eye Open, as Colin Sandel
My very first collaboration with Carolyn, and my first foray into modern IF! One Eye Open is a grand guignol parser game inspired by the Silent Hill games. Still the longest parser IF game I’ve ever had a hand in writing, OEO takes hours to finish and has 9 different endings, each one a different reflection on the disturbing events at Corona Labs.

Must-Play Twine Games

Every once in a while I see someone asking for a list of recommended games made with the Twine visual scripting language. Such a list has proven very difficult to find, since only a handful of Twine games have won awards

This list may change as time goes on! Feedback welcome, especially games to add, but I reserve the right to ignore it ┐(︶▽︶)┌

I’m trying to keep the list sleek, so each game has only four elements: title, author, my opinion of the game’s age range, and any prominent content warnings. Occasionally I’ll slip an additional note in, but I’m trying to keep that to a minimum.

Games are grouped by age range but are otherwise in no particular order.

Five Words (go go go) by @BigShellEvent

All Ages. CW: Ostracization

Lovely Little Onion Stand by Annie Mei

All Ages, parental guidance suggested. CW: mild violence, toilet humor

Quing’s Quest by Squinky Kiai

Tween and up. CW: mild sexual references, abstract planetary destruction

Faceted, by Caelyn Sandel (as Colin Sandel)

Tween and up. CW: mild sexual references, imprisonment

Depression Quest by Zoe Quinn

Tween and up. CW: realistic depiction of mental illness

Crystal Warrior Ke$ha by Porpentine

Tween and up. CW: sexual reference, profanity, cartoon violence

Dee’s Big Night by Merritt Kopas

Tween and up. CW: sexual reference, cartoon violence

Vermin Throne by Damian Sommer (for multiple players)

Mature audiences. CW: death, rats, betrayal

The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo by Michael Lutz

Mature audiences. CW: murder, emotional abuse

Solarium by Alan DeNiro

Mature audiences. CW: Apocalypse, nuclear war, hypodermic needles, death, corpses

With Those We Love Alive by Porpentine

Mature audiences. CW: Biological horror, violence, death, transphobia, drugs(?)

Howling Dogs by Porpentine

Mature audiences. CW: Biological discomfort, violence, death

Horse Master: The Game of Horse Mastery by Tom McHenry

Mature audiences. CW: Biological horror, animal(?) abuse

Cis Gaze by Caelyn Sandel

Mature audiences. CW: transphobia, slurs, depression

Welcome!

Welcome to the launch of inurashii.xyz!

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