Scream of the End

June 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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The usual stories about MineCraft will always go to Herobrine, about how he lives and he’s a lot more than code. But have you ever wondered about the Endermen, and whether there are any secrets about them? Everyone who has played MineCraft is well familiar with them by now, and while they can be hard to find in the overworld, many have visited their home in the End. Of course, they aren’t hostile unless you look at them or attack them. For this reason, quite a few people consider them friendly and like them. Personally, I’ve always found them creepy and killed them whenever i could. They are based off of Slender Man, after all. Well, being as strong as they are, regular players know that if you run into one right after you spawn, you run for water. For some reason, Notch decided to code them with a fear of water, and whoever thought anything bad could happen with water, right?

Well, water is the whole reason this mess started. I haven’t even attempted to start up my game since then. I was playing on my regular world, a server that my friends and I had started. We had plenty of houses built, a seemingly unlimited supply of diamond and gold, and the Ender Dragon was defeated. There really wasn’t much to do in the world anymore, so you had to get very creative. My friends and I, we were creative enough, and we understood the game very well. Aaron was our redstone guy. If you needed anything powered, he found a way to build it and make it better than any tutorial could ever tell you. Myself, I made a majority of the buildings, and even started working on a city. We had a few guys who would work on supplies, planting, and harvesting anything that was needed. Lastly, we had Graham. He did all the magical stuff. Potions, enchanting, and he had us build him a mob trap so he could get an outrageous amount of experience whenever he wanted to. Of course we had the randoms who would join, the occasional troll, and sometimes we would have someone new join our group as a regular. We had all fought the Ender Dragon before, and we could do it fairly quick. Aaron, I, and majority of the group would take out the crystals and fight the dragon. Graham, however, would stay underground working up potions for the battle and have the rest do deliveries. He wasn’t too fond of Endermen either. That’s why he made us bring water buckets to the End. He stayed in the middle of the water, where the Endermen couldn’t get him. That’s where I got my whole idea from.

One day when I was had nothing else to do, I decided to get on the server. It had been about two weeks since the Ender Dragon was beaten, and we hadn’t really gone to the End since then. We had a little trap that was set up with torches and sand that would send anyone who walked onto it into the End, but it was mostly just to make them panic. Well I had the great idea of using the End to farm Ender Pearls. I was planning on using Graham’s idea with the buckets in order to do it, but on a massive scale. I had every intention on flooding the End. With the help of an inventory editor and the /fly command, I started. Of course this was the only time I was using such things, as I made sure our whole server was legit. However, I was the only person on, and I figured everyone would have a good laugh out of the fact that I flooded the home of the Endermen. As I started going, a good portion of the floating island they called home was filling up quickly. You would hear them panic and teleport away every time they would get splashed, and the occasional scream from when they decided to go swimming for too long. It’s amusing how much determination to live a simple computer AI can give a being. As the rest of the island started to fill up, they became very crafty on their spawns. Many were going under the island on little ledges, but as soon as I saw them, they would be swept away from the water and fall into the Void. I kept going until there was a little square in the center, and the obsidian platform I spawned in on. They were pushing each other for what little, precious space they had left, and one would fall off the platform or into the water every few seconds. I made a few more trips around the island, filling up any spots I missed and finishing off any stragglers that found a comfy spot to sit in. One had even found a spot buried in the ground, in a four tall tunnel, until I flooded him out. This all took till about 1 o’clock in the morning, and I was happy I was able to finish by the night’s end. After I was sure I had filled every dry spot up, I filled up the square in the center. Many of the Endermen just swam until you heard the death scream and they fell, while a few of them managed to teleport to the platform. I decided to have a little fun, at first flooding the edges and watching them push each other into the water and off of the level. This left only four. This just compelled me to get it over with and flood the center, which I did, causing three of the four to fall off the platform. The one remaining Enderman stayed jumping in the center, and slowly his health was being chipped away. Finally, he fell to the floor and screamed. But it wasn’t the normal death scream I had grown accustomed to during my trip. It was glitching. Slowed down. Then it would start over, skip, and drag out even more. Eventually the rest of the game took suit, and I was unable to move. The sound repeated itself, as did his body falling to the floor, that is, until, “MineCraft has run out of memory.” MineCraft then crashes, as does Java.

As many people do when something like that happens, I started up both the server and MineCraft again. I figured it was just a glitch due to the massive amount of water running and the loot that was on the ground from the Endermen dying. I put in my IP address in the multiplayer and click connect. “Error: World not found”. Shit, I thought, as I knew that the crash had corrupted the files. Luckily I backed up the world right before we fought the dragon. I grabbed my external, copied over the files, and loaded it right up. Even though I couldn’t fix all that was lost, I figured I’d go back and fight the dragon again before bed. Thanks to Graham, I had armor and weapons with any enchantment possible, as well as potions that would last me years of battle. I get over to the portal, jump down the hole, and the End loads right up. However, something is wrong. As I look for the Ender Dragon, I see nothing in the air. The crystals are on the tower, but no dragon to feed off of them. I notice next that the Endermen are gone as well. I get on the island, walk around a bit, until eventually I’m hit. I look up and see that the crystals are chaining to what I would presume to be the dragon. He was invisible. So the world just didn’t load properly. I save, exit both programs, restart my computer, and get right back into it. The dragon is there, but the Endermen are still absent. Easier fight, as I don’t have to worry about looking in the wrong direction and having to ward off a pissed off Enderman. 20 minutes later, I shoot the last arrow into the dragon and he floats in the air, and the egg drops onto the fountain. I run over there so I can get out of the End, but another strange occurrence. The End portal that usually fills the fountain is now just the same texture as water. A bucket wouldn’t pick it up like normal water though. This just led me to think my .jar file was corrupted, and I hop in. Eventually it functions just as the normal End portal would, except I hear the death scream to the Enderman again. Not just once, but over, and over, and over. The portal finally works, but it isn’t what I expected. Black. Then, “MineCraft has run out of memory.”

I reinstall all the files, including the world for another time, and the game starts up without a hitch. I get back to the portal and hop in. This time, it is not the End that awaits me. Instead, it seems like an endless room. I can still see, but it’s just a faint glow around me. I walk forward, thinking it could be the End and something like a potion of blindness is stopping me from seeing it. The faint globe of light is all I can see, and the only source of light in my room as well. The platform doesn’t end in a few blocks though, and the obsidian continues, shattering my hopes of being in the End. The obsidian floor keeps going in all directions, so I follow a straight line. I walk, and the sound start. My footsteps first, but then the sound of blocks being placed. As I go forward the faint sound of Enderman begins, and increases. First, just the normal grunts. Then, they sound as if they are agitated. The sounds become much more frequent. It gets louder as if there is a whole hoard chasing me but they refuse to catch me. I start to see the purple pixels as if they are teleporting themselves and me. Then it stops. A few seconds and steps later, one comes flying at the screen, and the death scream goes at full volume. This makes me literally jump and let go of the keyboard and mouse. Silence. It doesn’t start up again until I move the mouse. One more sound, a light grunt, as if they are letting me know they are in the darkness, just out of my sight. I go forward again, clicking my mouse, hoping to hit one of them, or a wall, or anything. The pattern starts over, the sounds, the pixels, and the scare. I didn’t stop moving though, and neither did they. It continues. Escape, alt+f4, they don’t have any function. Unplugging the computer is out of the question, as I refuse to risk my equipment. I keep going, hoping it ends. After about three minutes of the cycle, it does. I’m teleported one last time, unable to move. The Enderman on the screen stares straight into my eyes. Water surrounds my character, and after the 20 seconds, he begins to drown. “You are dead.” In the background, the Enderman still looks with his stoic appearance, not even flinching as much as an inch. Five seconds later, the computer powers down without warning, and I’m left in the dark.

The next day, I send my friend the files for the world. They play the game without any flaws, gone to the End and even got a few pearls. I refuse to. I don’t even have the files on my computer anymore. Did a complete wipe of the hard drive. MineCraft became more than a game that night. It’s a lot more than a simple AI controlling a few entities. Definitely more than a glitch. These games and entities that form on our fears, they do that and much more. It’s a lot more than just simple coding now. The Endermen, they do hold a grudge. They have a fear, and it is not something to taunt them with. They are aware, and they will make sure you become well aware of them and their presence.

Credit To – The Magic Merker

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The Darkness

May 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Call me outdated, but Counter-Strike is still at the top of my all-time favorite video games.

Late night at the dorm alone, playing up until 3 am, with full volume on. Yeah, that’s my style. Today was supposed to be no different.

I turned on my MacBook Pro. The glossy screen made a clear reflection of my long, narrow room. The dorm’s rooms were all made just for one person, so I was always alone. My laptop was propped up on my desk at the end of the room, opposite the door.

It was almost too routine. After a long, boring day of classes, I’d get back to my room at 10 pm. I’d go Facebook, Twitter, 9gag, up until I’ve surfed every nook and cranny of the net. Then, bored as fuck, I’d open Counter-Strike, and go firing deep into the night.

But tonight, while surfing, a friend suddenly messaged me on Facebook.

“Hey dude! Check out this sick CS Map! (Download link)”, Kevin messaged me.

As he was a CS addict just like me, I opened the link. The map was called ‘de_darkness’. With my 10 mb per second internet, the map downloaded in a flash. Excited, I immediately opened Counter-Strike to try out the map. I set it up to play a good old fashioned, 5 v 5 affair.

The map, living up to its name, had many dark areas. Set late at night, only the pale blue shade of the night sky and a few lamp posts gave light to the area. Stone walls lined each corridor, filled with long, green vines. Dark hallways and tunnels snaked at the center of the map.

Around it was an elevated area, perfect for sniping unwary players on the bottom, through ceiling holes in the tunnels. Bridges also kept the map interesting, hovering across the width and length of the vicinity.

‘Darkness’ seemed to have nothing special to it. There were two ways of getting kills in the map. The first one, which I like to call the ‘pussy’ way, was camping and sniping in the elevated areas of the map. It was almost too easy, as the darkness gave you instant camouflage. You could rack up tons of kills immediately.

The next one was the more interesting part of the map, which was running the maze of tunnels at the center. It was perfect for sneak attacks or point-blank kills.

As usual, I racked up more than half of my team’s kills in the first few rounds, even while switching between the 2 ways to play.

It was after the first 5 rounds that I started to notice things.

One time, while roaming the map, I started to hear creaking noises; they were nothing like the usual sound effects I hear in CS maps. Some players’ footsteps also started to sound different. Instead of the usual thud of military grade shoes, a metallic clink and clank would be heard, even when no player seemed to be in the immediate area.

And then, I started to notice an extra character in the map.

While staying in the elevated area, a shady figure appeared in the outskirt forests of the map. It was impossible to get up there. Curiously, I zoomed in my crosshairs on the human-like figure, but he disappeared.

Next round, the figure appeared again. This time, he was only a few paces away, so I was able to get a better look at him. He wore a brown overcoat, extending to the knees, fully buttoned up. A matching pair of brown slacks completed his outdated fashion statement.

The only thing more puzzling than the man’s clothing was the face that rose above it. He had dark, round eyes, with an empty stare straight at me. A sinister smile accompanied it, but the man didn’t seem to have any lips. A grey, faded complexion covered the rest of the mystery man’s face.

Just like any other opposing character I see, I fired at the guy. Bullet after bullet, aimed straight at his thin, 6 foot body, all seemed to have no effect. Before I could try other ways to kill him, another player killed me.

Wow. This map has something special after all. An extra character, almost impossible to kill? A sense of excitement hit me like never before, like it was just the first time I got my hands on this game.

I spent pretty much all of the remaining rounds trying to find and kill this character, even if it meant lowering my kill-death ratio. I noticed that the man only appeared in dark spaces, randomly across the map.

Many times, the man would toy with me. When I try to run at him, he would stand still, but no distance would be made up. Other times, while firing at him, the man would contort and shake rapidly, like thousands of bullets showered his body all at once. But one thing remained: I was never able to kill him.

It must have been an hour or two already, as I was starting to get sleepy. Trying to kill the mystery man was now a boring, futile effort. It was great fun while it lasted, so I closed the application. Shutting down in 3…2…1…and my Macbook’s screen shut off.

But something remained on the screen. The same shady figure wearing brown was still on the right hand corner. Is my Macbook glitching now?

Then the figure came closer, and closer, and closer. Now, his grey face, empty eye sockets, and sinister smile occupied most of my screen. Then I realized.

I was staring at my laptop’s reflection.

Credit To – Brian Tan

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May 2013 Discussion Post: What’s Your Favorite Creepy Video Game?

May 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM

I’ve had some people ask that I set up a page with recommendations for scary books, movies, video games, etc – but since I’d surely leave out some quality stuff if I compiled the list completely on my own, I figured that the best way to do this would be via discussion post!

So please, this month, tell us about your favorite creepy video games! Zombies, general paranormal, horror, murder mysteries, psychological thrillers – if you can conceivably consider it a “creepy” game, feel free to recommend it and please do tell us why you chose that game in particular!

As people suggest their favorites, I’ll turn this OP into a master list of the community’s favorite spooky video games (with links to download or buy said games if possible, so if you’re recommending an indie or fanmade game that can’t be easily found on Amazon, please leave a link to its official website/download page to make things easier for me, thanks).

Thanks for the help, and have fun!

THE BIG MASTERLIST OF CREEPY VIDEO GAMES

PC Games:
.flow
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Blade of Darkness
Call of Cthulu
Clive Barker’s Undying
Cry of Fear
Imscared
OFF
LIMBO
Nightmare House 2
Pathologic
Penumbra Collection
Revenge of the Sunfish
Sanitarium
Scratches
SCP: Containment Breach
Slender: The Eight Pages
Slender: The Arrival
Slendytubbies
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series
System Shock series
The Binding of Isaac
The Crooked Man
The Graveyard
The Path
The Stone of Anamara
When They Cry
Which
White Day
Yume Nikki

Flash/Browser Games:
Exmortis
The House 1
The House 2

Multi-Console:
Alan Wake
Alice: Madness Returns
Bioshock series
Clock Tower series
Condemned series
Dead Rising series
Dead Space series
Deception series
Doom 3
Echo Night series
Fallout series
Fatal Frame series
F.E.A.R. series
Metro 2033
Ninja Gaiden series
Resident Evil series
Silent Hill series
Splatterhouse
The Darkness
The Suffering
The Walking Dead

Nintendo 64:
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Shadow Man
Killer Instinct
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

Nintendo GameCube:
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Nintendo Wii:
Calling
Cursed Mountain
JU-ON: The Grudge
Nintendo DS:
9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors
Dementium: The Ward
Dementium II

Nintendo 3DS:
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

PlayStation One:
LSD Dream Emulator (The link goes to a ROM, but be aware that it’s only legal to download and use if you already own the game. If that doesn’t apply to you, the game is also available to download and purchase via Japanese PSN)
Hellnight (can’t find a ROM for this, sorry)
Martian Gothic
Tecmo’s Deception

PlayStation 2:
Haunting Ground
Kuon
Siren

Playstation 3:
Heavy Rain
Siren Blood Curse

MMORPG:
Dead Frontier
Requiem: Memento Mori
The Secret World

Not Yet Released:
The Evil Within

YMMV Creepy Nominations (anything prefaced with “not really a creepy game, but…”):
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Portal 2

 

NOTES:

  • This list is still being compiled as people leave more comments with suggestions.
  • If you know of a reputable seller/download site for a game that doesn’t have a link of that type yet, feel free to comment and let me know.

Looking for an Old Game

March 19, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Posted: January 11th 2013, 9:02 PM

Hey, I’m still kind of new here. My name’s Matt, and I’m looking for an old game that my dad and I used to play together on the SNES, taking turns switching the controller over after the other died. I remember the game-play pretty well, I just can’t seem to remember the title of the game or what the cartridge looked like, aside from having the main character on it. Figured I’d play the game for old time’s sake when my dad was still here…=/ All I remember in the title is it had the word Mayan somewhere in it, I think.

The game itself had a kind of darker background and atmosphere to it, and that’s probably why I remember it so well, compared to all the other brightly colored games from Nintendo, like the Super Mario Bros games. In the corner of the screen, there was a crocodile that’s mouth gradually closed down on your character as you got closer to dying. To progress, you climb up vines on trees or jump on spider webs, and find your way around like a maze of of the jungle, and they had some sand traps that opened and closed on the ground, as well as different animals that would attack you on your way, like snakes, monkeys, crocodiles, a boar and I think a jaguar at the end that was like the boss in the first level. You collected things like rocks or pouches full of them that you sling at the animals, and I think a bomb and whip as well. I thought it was something like Indiana Jones at first, but turns out it wasn’t.

My dad and I used to play for hours to get away from the little annoying chores around the house and school work for me, we were really close then. =) But after a while… he moved out after a big fight with my mom and I only got to see him once in a while, but sadly, each time I saw him, he seemed to be losing touch and his actions became more and more rash, and just oddly out of character for him…He left one day without even saying anything about why or where he was going. And I moved into his old apartment when it was available, since he had left some stuff there that I was hoping he would come back to.

So, this is really important to me, we haven’t spoken in over two years now, and its the only thing I have that’s still a good memory with him that my mother hasn’t ruined that I can hopefully share with my son in a few years. He was just born October, I named him after my father, Allen. =) I’ve tried looking through the few boxes of games he kept in his room, but no luck finding it. I wonder if he took it with him, wherever he went. But I just got a call from a storage company in the next town over that says payment for his bin is overdue, which I didn’t even know he had. So I’m going to check that out within the week, or they might auction it off, so I’ll see if there’s anymore games or family pictures or anything of personal value in there. It would help out a lot if any of you could tell me what the game was called, so I know what to look for. It would be very much appreciated. I don’t know what happened to the SNES either, maybe its in there, if not I could probably just buy it on eBay or something if I find the game.

Posted: January 13th 2013, 5:33 PM

Well, I’m back…and I found it, Pitfall. I’m a bit shaken up after all the weird shit that’s gone on from this though. I couldn’t very well have typed all this out in such little time, so I’ve started up my voice-to-text program to tell what’s happened. Which brings me to ask this, since I don’t remember having these experiences from the game ever before…Has anyone else had strange experiences with this game that they couldn’t find an easy explanation for? I mean, I know some of it could be explained if its just a hacked game or whatever, but truth be told I wasn’t scared by most of the images, or texture changes in the game. There were however these really odd noises that I’ve never heard before, that didn’t even sound human. And there were strange things going on around me, with my senses, and in my dreams…I’ll be honest, because I must sound like some kind of hippy right now, I don’t really believe in ghosts or paranormal phenomenon or anything like that, but I can’t find any rational explanation for what this game seems to have done, it’s gone far beyond breaking the fourth wall and I don’t know what’s going to happen next, which terrifies me. Maybe I’m just going crazy, I’d just be happy to know that that was true. But considering I’ve recently seen a psychologist for a routine check-up, since I usually have alot of stress in my job and daily life, and having been told a couple weeks ago my mind was just as sharp as any other person’s, I just don’t get it. What’s happening to me, it’s not normal, it can’t be.

Okay, let me try to explain what I’ve experienced in a bit more detail if that helps. See, I didn’t have a car to go check the storage containers a couple days ago, I usually just borrow my roommate’s car to get to and from work, and to see my wife and son sometimes. But he’s been away for vacation this last week. And…I just couldn’t wait to play the game, so I found a download for a Super Nintendo emulator that worked fine, and a download for Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure.exe on Piratebay the next morning after my last post. It took a while to download, because I’m using a crappy Asus laptop. But it played fine at first, just like I had remembered it. Aside from my father not being there, I was having fun figuring out the tricks to the game again and the controls on my computer were simple enough.

I would go into more detail of the gameplay at the beginning, but just play the game for yourself and you’ll see its not the most complicated game there is, I don’t want to bore you with detailed explanation of hours of gameplay, and don’t feel I have too much time left before my turn is up, so I’m speaking to my speech-to-text program and just going to use the spell-check with it, while its still fresh and clear in my mind. Here’s hoping it gets it right. But I have to know if anyone else has experienced any of this and if so, how to stop it, or at least I can hope to help other people avoid the same fate I fear my dad and I are going through now. I know he’s still alive, he has to be…I know it now.

Well, if you’ve ever played this game, you know that every time it froze on a Super Nintendo system, whether from the cartridge having dust, or you accidentally moving the system an inch, you would have to reset the game and start over no matter where you were. After I had been playing for a while, I was trying to be thorough playing through the levels and as soon as I got up to 443,550 points, with three pouches left, and two lives, the game on my laptop froze and the game crashed altogether. I was pissed off at first, but I noticed something when I went to the files to launch the game again, there was another file added that said, “HeyBuddy”. I hadn’t really thought about it at the moment, but that’s usually how my dad would address me as a kid. Out of curiosity, I clicked the file and it opened a box of text that said, “Your turn is up.” Which I remembered my dad and I used to say to each other when the other had died.

It was a bit strange for me, to say the least, but it…the program, started itself up after I went to close the text-box. I noticed the three lights on the bottom of my laptop, that were usually white, green, and flashing white from left to right were now all solid red, which I’d never seen before as my computer started making that noise it makes when it gets heated up after being on for a while, but it was louder than it usually is. I didn’t mind it much, it just sort of stuck out in my mind for a moment. The screen was just black for a while, so I figured it was going to crash again…but then the animation before the title screen of the game popped up and played like it does whenever you reset. The text played normally, as I expected, but when the shadow of the boy’s father shows up at the doorway, it isn’t grabbed by anything, the shadow actually looked like his dad was stabbed and he fell to the floor. The boy didn’t exclaim “DAD!” he asked “Dad?” and ran towards the door. He was pulled through the door by something I couldn’t see on the screen and red lines ran down the stone face in the room the boy was in as static started playing…it was obnoxious. I didn’t realize until a little later that the red lines were supposed to be blood. Until red ran in through the door in a small puddle I guess it was, from where the boy’s father fell to the ground and where the boy was abducted. It was a bit odd, and unexpected.

Honestly, at this point, I wasn’t very scared though, it did seem odd and nothing like I remembered, but I thought it was pretty cool that someone was making this a more interesting game-play experience and potentially changing the story line, though this was a Super Nintendo game…there wouldn’t be much story line anyway. And since I’d pretty much beaten it in the previous play-through before it crashed, I actually hoped there was more, and unfortunately I was right. I moved over to options at the title screen, because I wanted to see if the controls were as I had set them before it reset, but the static sound picked up, as if the game was getting angry with me and the cursor moved itself over to play and it was selected.

At this point, I was just hoping my computer didn’t have some kind of virus from downloading the game. It wouldn’t be the first of my computers getting a virus from something like that. But this was an entirely different virus from anything I had seen before, if it was a virus that is. Maybe just an exceptionally good programmer.

The static sound stopped as soon as the screen transitioned to black and came up with the screen that said the first level name, “Ceiba Jungle”. Once it showed the play screen with the character, I saw the character wave to me, I paused for a moment and awkwardly waved back…I don’t know why I did, I just felt compelled to for some odd reason. The level looked exactly the same. But then, I noticed something, the main character looked different, he looked like he was trying to talk to me, and like he was in a panic at the same time. I felt the same for a split second, and when he tried to talk to me I realized…that was a sprite of my dad on the game. This brought a mix of emotions to me that were disturbing, part of me felt hatred for him leaving, partly was happy to see him there like we were playing the game together again, and the last part was the onset of genuine fear and paranoia. I thought, maybe someone was messing with me, and who was watching my life and doing this to me and why?

I pressed escape over and over again, trying to close the game and even tried to manually turn my computer off by holding down the power button, but nothing was working. And the character on the screen, he was still silent, there was no sound as he ran to the left of the screen, he ran straight into a tree trunk with a thud and fell to the ground a couple times. What scared the fuck out of me was that every time he did, I heard a slam against the door down the hall, in time with the game. When he stopped, it stopped. My heart was racing by now, and I rushed to look out the window overlooking the front door, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing and no one at the door, and I was the only one in the apartment. I was pretty scared to say the least, and half-expecting him to be there. I stood there for a minute, baffled, thinking I was going insane.

I ran back over to my laptop and wanted to see more of what was going to happen, but the character was gone. And as soon as I sat down, the game crashed again, and when I went to re-launch the file, it gave me another phrase that said; “YourTurnSon.” I clicked it, it read: “You’ll soon find out why.” I was a bit confused at that, but I didn’t want to restart the game, I was done with this weird shit. It did the same as before, it launched itself, went to black, then skipped the intro and went straight to the menu. And again, it wouldn’t let me press escape or manually turn off the computer. So I figured I’d outsmart it, I closed the laptop and unplugged it, hoping the battery would die soon and the next day I’d have it reformatted to get rid of the obvious virus. But it wasn’t that simple, even though I had muted my sound the last time it crashed, I heard a loud scream coming from my laptop, it was a scream of torment and torture, and it sounded like it was in my dad’s voice. I panicked and threw the laptop at the wall, but it got louder. I’m surprised my crappy laptop still works to be honest. It didn’t stop until I opened it up again and pressed play.

When it came to the first level again, I immediately noticed the level was different, everything was black and white, the only thing separating the black things and background was all the outlines traced in white. I couldn’t really tell if my character looked the same as before or not. But I also saw my health, it usually always started you at three lives, but it started me with two this time. I heard something that sounded like a record playing something in reverse…That didn’t bother me so much as the in-humane screaming and crying I heard from the left speaker, leading me to go where I’d last seen my dad’s character. I walked back to the left of the screen where the open tree trunk was, it looked like the hole in the trunk was all red though, and it looked sort of like a portal.

I didn’t want to go in yet, so I turned back and walked to the right, I went as far right as I could. And as I did, I started to see white things sticking out of the ground, I thought they were spikes or something like that, that I just jumped over. But when I stepped on one, I heard the cry of a wild boar that sounded like it was being tortured. And suddenly I realized, these were the skeletal remains of the animals that I had faced before on the ground. I heard some strange noises from my speakers that sounded like low laughter. Like that of something not human, demonic almost as I ran to the left of the screen again, towards the red portal. It got louder the closer I got.

The game crashed again when I went through. I was relieved. This time I could avoid clicking the files and reading whatever ridiculous things it had to say and try to shut down the computer without the game running at the same time. I checked again to make sure my speakers were muted, and I took the laptop and stored it under the stairwell outside between some blankets and old pillows next to the trashcans. Hell I would have welcomed someone trying to steal it. But I needed to get some sleep, it was a lot later than I thought it was by now. I knew the limits of my speakers and I knew I wouldn’t hear it from my bed at the least, I just wanted to forget about that game and give my laptop away to any unfortunate random pawnshop owner the next morning.

But that night, last night, I had some very strange dreams. I heard the screams again, the crying, and distorted laughter. I saw everything in the game play in my dream over and over, but I was seeing through the eyes of the character and it all seemed so real. But I heard my father, he said; “Help me Matt, buddy I need your help. Find it.” I didn’t know what he meant by that ‘find it’ part, but I knew in that dream exactly where he was, he’d gone to find the Mayan ruins from the game, to find something that I wasn’t clear of. After that, I saw him, and his body violently purge his skeleton from his flesh, there was blood and organs scattered everywhere around the pile of bones mostly mangled together, as he screamed and to my amazement started to laugh too. I don’t know why, or how he would have found them, but I knew I’d find him there and maybe there was a chance I could still help him and get him back before anything like that happened to him. Now I knew where to look.

So, at about 3 AM I was startled awake with tears down my face, then went to get the laptop and plug it back in to find out more. It had already brought up the game files, with a message that read: “WelcomeBack” and when I clicked it, the text-box said; “Come find me, you’re ready.” Then, I didn’t give it the chance to launch itself and I launched Pitfall myself and just pressed play, and the game let me this time. Now there was nothing, but my dad’s character, and pitch-black all around. There was this quiet music playing, that sounded like a pipe organ, and some low dark chanting or hymns or something, there were a lot of words I couldn’t quite make out. But I started feeling a burning sensation throughout my body, I almost couldn’t stand it as I heard flames crackling, I wanted to claw my skin off and I smelled fire for a split second. I got up when the sensation faded and checked around the apartment, I was the only one here, I never smoked, and our apartment can’t even facilitate fixtures for a stove of any sorts. The windows were all closed and we had no air vents, I still couldn’t imagine where that smell came from. When I got back to it, the last life went from one to zero and the game crashed for the last time and, when I checked, it had deleted itself completely from my computer. I had also used my Windows audio recorder to record some of it, but the files were either deleted or renamed and moved when the game crashed the last time. I’ll keep looking for that audio file. I tried to find the name of the author of the file download today, and I remembered the name was “Hourglass11″, but the file was just gone and I couldn’t download it again to find out more of what was going on. I have to see what’s on that damned cartridge…maybe it will give me more to go off of.

Posted: January 14th 2013, 12:11 PM

I’ve calmed down a bit now, as I type this last part myself. But that will only last until the next dream haunts me, and calls me to find him. But I realized today, that I am actually becoming my father in a way, as much as I don’t want to accept it, I’ve been rapidly drawing away from my family and becoming more reclusive because of all this. As much as I want to stop looking and break the chain now, I just can’t…I already took a vacation from work and went to the storage container when my roommate got back. I didn’t bother explaining to him, I knew he wouldn’t believe me. And I found both the game and the SNES in the same box with nothing else in it. Everything on the cartridge sticker were blacked out, except the character, that looked just like my father…a lot of people say I’m a mirror image of him. I’m going to find out where exactly he is and buy tickets to Mexico to find him and those ruins.

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The Systelien Specter

February 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Back in May of 2010, my best friend, Andy, and I wanted to make a video game that we thought was going to change virtual reality gaming and the horror genre forever. We were both out of the university, me with a degree in computer programming and him with digital art design. Both of us were avid gamers. I think we played a bit of just about everything: racing, JRPG’s, MMO’s, sports, you name it. We wanted to make a game unlike anything you could get coming from overseas. You could call it an ambitious goal for a couple aspiring indie gamers, but both of us were ambitious guys.

Andy was a big fan of horror and was actually the first to come up with the idea. We had heard of the 4-Dimensional theaters that were being introduced in places like Korea and London, where you weren’t just watching a movie, but feeling it and smelling it. If the movie was set in a pine forest, there were triggers that would release the scent of pine to the audience. Likewise, if the characters were standing on the windy deck of a ship, fans, would start blowing to mimic the conditions of the movie in the theater. All of it was to create a more realistic, interactive experience for the viewer and we thought it would be awesome to try to implement that with a 4D game.

Obviously, we didn’t have the manpower to make an entire game by ourselves. We were in a lot of debt because of school and wouldn’t have been able to afford the virtual reality hardware in our wildest dreams. That, and we had no idea how to develop the technology needed to create the 4D gaming experience. Throughout the following summer, we networked like crazy, pitching our ideas to different developers, both indie and big-time. There was interest, but the 4D concept was still very much in development and no one was sure they wanted to invest time and resources in it without the assurance that it was going to hit off.

I won’t bore you with the details of how it happened, but we finally hit a breakthrough in September when an independent company called Systelien contacted us after our attempts to pitch the idea to them. They thought it had potential and were interested in on-boarding us us writers and programmers. The company itself would take the rights for the game, of course, and there would be a team that would make the final decisions during all stages of development. It was still more than we could have ever hoped for.

There was a team of 150 people, a third of which were hardware developers. The “controller” was built into a padded, inclined chair with a minimalist headset that fitted around the players eyes and ears. The joystick and buttons could be swapped on the arms to accommodate if the player was left-handed or right-handed. Really high-tech right? Where the money was really sunk was in the environmental simulators and the sensors and nodes that would be attached to the player’s body to monitor their physical status.

Like I said, the game was meant to be a horror game. We settled on the story of an unnamed character going into a haunted mansion to get rid of evil spirits and getting stalked by a demon. The most cliched plot and setting you could think of, but that was what we were going for. We wanted something that would easily be associated with fear. The idea was that the demon fed off fear and would find you more easily if you were afraid. First, it would scare and drive the character crazy and then it would kill him/her.

The monitors attached to the player analyzed the physical signs that the player was afraid (rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, harsh breathing, clammy or sweaty skin, etc.) and use that information to determine how aggressively the demon would act. You could think of it as a social experiment; you could see how well a person would stay calm under pressure. Theoretically, a completely calm person could make it through the entire game without much danger, but the scares and the atmosphere wouldn’t let you go through the first level without making you anxious.

The real fun started once the demon came after you. We wanted to keep it subtle. No jump scares. That was cheating the player out of the experience. If you think about it, people with real paranormal experiences never report a demon breaking through a glass window and going for your throat. They report brushes against the skin, whispering in your ears, a loud sound in the distance, even tingling or electrical sensations.

Those were the kinds of things we recreated. We programmed the system to deliver these audio and sensory cues when the player reached a certain level of anxiety. The more scared you were, the more scares you received. At the beginning of the game, you might hear a heavy breathing or footsteps behind you. You might even feel cold spots as you navigated the mansion. As you progressed and became more tense, you might feel a grip on your arm (from a blood-pressure like cushion on the chair that tightened around the muscle) or a hiss directly in your ear along with the feeling of breath. It was elaborate and it took forever to produce, but when they hooked you in, it was amazing.

I had the privilege of being one to test it as it was being produced. They put me in the chair, turned off all the lights, and would play the game through the headset as well as project the images you were seeing onto a wall so that the team would see it too. The graphics were realistic they got the rooms of the mansion down to the last detail.

About a year and a half after the sensors were developed and implemented into the system, we started looking for beta testers. We started advertising in magazines and message boards for people to come in blind and play the game, giving any criticism or reporting any glitches they experienced. The majority of the feedback we received was positive and, after several revisions, we could safety say that we had a successful project.

Of peculiar note were the reports from the beta testers in which they claimed to get the feeling that someone was in the room with them or that they were getting tingling or hot/cold sensations in parts of their bodies where the nodes were not attached. The room where the chair and the interface were located were kept clear, aside from the player, as often as possible. The team was separated from the room by a one-way mirror. We would have been able to see if anyone was in the room apart from the player and in nine out of ten cases when this was reported, there was no one (the other 1/10 were when a technician was coming in to check the interface).

There times when we would disable and re-enable certain audio and sensory simulations to further test which ones gave more stimuli than others. During one play through, the player might have the cold spots and then during the next, those would be disabled. We never told the players which ones were activated and which were not. The strangest cases were when someone playing the game for the first time would report a cue when it was clearly disabled.

In one particular case, a middle-aged woman reported her hair being tugged gently. I can tell you right now, that had not been programmed into the game at that point in time. It was an odd occurrence, but one that could have easily been chocked up to the imagination. Actually, we assumed that most of cases like this were due to the power of suggestion. We just cautioned the rest of the beta testers not to talk about what they went through so that the people coming in could get as authentic an experience as possible.

As tends to happen in these situations, people started spreading rumors. Some of my favorite rumors were the ones that made the Systelien staff out to be cultists who were secretly sacrificing the beta testers to the demon portrayed in the game. I have no idea how that one held up as long as it did, since there were absolutely no reports of injuries on- or off-site and every single one of the the testers came out of the building alive. The internet and gossip does strange things to people, I guess. However, it was rumors like that that were starting to give Systelien a bad reputation. We decided it was time to bring in the media to defeat some of these rumors. We hadn’t wanted to have reporters before for fear that other gaming companies would try to copy our methods, but now seemed like as good a time as any.

We got several offers and wound up taking one from a popular gaming magazine. The reporting team came in and interviewed us about the games and the 4D techniques used. We used the opportunity to show them around the building and debunk the rumors about animal and human sacrifice. It was actually pretty funny; after the interview, the reporting team wanted to try out the game for themselves. They all had good things to say about it and when the article was published, donations and other requests for interviews began streaming in. Andy and I said we should have let the media come in sooner for all the benefits we were getting.

The more we searched Systelien’s message boards, the more we started noticing threads crop up about people who claimed they were experiencing the things in the game after they had left Systelien and gone home. They were going through the same supernatural phenomena in their every day lives as they had in the game. In every claim, they said that they would feel as though someone was getting very, very close to them, looking over their shoulders, and breathing down their necks. I guess that was one thing about the demon in the game that we had neglected to mention. It had no sense of personal space. The reports eventually involved both minor and violent poltergeist activity. And people would be going through this for days afterward. The reports helped to spread the word even more, but it didn’t help the persisting rumors that the testers were being possessed.

The most popular thread where the reports were being archived affectionately called the demon causing these incidences the Systelien Demon or the Systelien Specter. I liked the Systelien Specter better.

Then came the day when a young man, only 17-years-old (we’ll call him John), claimed that he wanted to file a lawsuit against us as he had been scratched during his time playing the game. As I remember it, John had been doing fine up until he had reached the basement of the mansion and then had screamed for us to let him out. The only evidence of the scratches were pictures taken after he had exited the building. The scratches shown on the pictures were deep and red, clearly not something that had been dealt by a human. Maybe by a machine, but an inspection of the chair revealed no sharp parts sticking out. The lawsuit was eventually dropped since there was no way to prove he hadn’t scratched himself prior to coming in. It’s not like we do a full body examination before sitting our testers down into the chair.

It was at this point we decided to stop bringing in random beta testers and test the game ourselves for the last stages of development. I was one of the first to be strapped in. They had added so much stuff to the game play and so many more cues that I barely recognized it from the first time I had played. I remember going down the foyer staircase after exploring a series of darkened hallways lit by old Victorian-era lamps, feeling my palms sweat and the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. The wind outside the mansion had been howling for the last half hour and it sounded like someone was whistling a funeral march.

I paused on the stairs to look at the windows, searching for any weird textures needing to be fixed, when I felt a tingling along my spine on my upper back, like someone was pressing his or her chest against my back. It wasn’t just in the game, I could feel the press in reality. I reached up and felt only the chair. The thing that really set me off, though, was the voice that spoke my name in my ear. It was whispered and very clear, no mistaking it for the wind. I spun the camera around, though I knew there would be nothing to see. The demon had always been invisible. Now I knew why some of our testers had joked about feeling violated while playing.

I just assumed Andy had played a joke on me, but he swore up and down that he didn’t put any coding in the game for the demon to say the player’s name. That would have been my department, not his. He just designed skins. Still, I remained convinced that someone was just having fun with me. There wasn’t even a place to input your name! Someone must have pre-recorded it.

I played through the rest of the area and then headed home to file my report. It was another late night; I had been pulling the late shift for a couple weeks as our deadline was drawing closer. We had been having decent weather until about 2 AM, when the wind picked up and the rain was coming down in buckets. Andy and I had come from the Midwest and were used to bipolar weather. I just worked on and payed it no mind.

Until the power went out, anyway. I grabbed my flashlight, feeling all the anxiety from my time in the game returning. This was a different story, though, and I knew that. My house wasn’t haunted and I had never believed in ghosts for my entire life. My brain said it was ridiculous, but my pounding heart told a different story.

I couldn’t help but feel every draft and hear every creak of the floorboards as I went down to the generator (which, of course, was in the cellar). The wooden steps lead me down into the darkness and I have to admit that, by the time I reached the concrete, I was considering just going back upstairs and burrowing myself into my bed. I forced myself to cross the floor to the generator and turn it on. Immediately, the back-up lights flickered on, casting a red hue over the dusty shelves and rusty tools on the work bench. So, now I got to be in hell, too.

The way back wasn’t nearly as bad as the way down and I reminded myself that everything I had experienced in the game had been just that, in the game. There was nothing to worry about. The demon – the Systelien Specter, or whatever – was an enemy made out of ones and zeroes. It couldn’t do anything to me.

I was halfway up the stairs (about at the same point I had been in the game when I had heard my name, actually) when I distinctly felt someone tightly grab my wrists. As in, squeezing-like-my-wrists-were-being-juiced tight. I screamed and dropped the flashlight, which went off on impact. There was no one there, but I still slapped at where I imagined the hand had come from and clamored up the stairs. I didn’t stop until I was out the front door and in my driveway, getting drenched and not caring. I whipped out my cell phone and punched in Andy’s number.

He said he knew how I felt. During his test play through, he had accidentally backed his character into a fire since he had been so busy keeping an eye on the rest of the room. We had all laughed at the mistake, but he hadn’t mentioned the fact that after we had taken him out of the game, he had felt a burning in his lower calf. Later, when he looked at his leg after getting home, he discovered he had a first-degree burn right where his character had touched the fire. I drove to his house and looked at his leg myself. He had already spread ointment on the area and bandaged it up, but when he pulled it back, I was staring at a red and swollen burn wound.

Out of morbid curiosity, I called the other members of our team who had tested the game that day. It was the same story all around. In the game, Jill had stood in front of a window that had shattered and then cut her hands while picking up the jagged pieces of a ceramic vase had suddenly fallen to the floor. Matthew’s character had been crushed by a falling bookshelf and then, when he had been getting into his car, his door had closed when he wasn’t ready and three fingers had been broken. I looked at my wrists again, where dark, purplish bruises were forming. These couldn’t be coincidences any more. I didn’t know what was going on, but it wasn’t just a game any more.

The next day was a holiday, so everyone at Systelien was off. I invited anyone willing to go back to the game room to try and play through the game one more time. Andy and I had gone through the possibilities. The point of the entire game had been for the character to go into the mansion to exorcise the demon. They could do it by collected special candles and then lighting them in a circle in the attic of the mansion. After some other steps were done, the demons would be forced out of the house and everything would go back to normal. It had been a crazy night and at any other time, I thought we would have been crazy for discussing these things. We thought that maybe, by completing the game and, by extension, the ritual, we could stop whatever the hell was going on. After all, no one, to this day, had ever finished the game from beginning to end.

The game was as complete as it was ever going to be. Andy volunteered to play, for which I was grateful. Maybe it was cowardly, but I didn’t want to be the one to go in. The room was frigidly cold as we attached the nodes. We threw a blanket over Andy to make sure he didn’t freeze. The rest of us (five, in total, not including Matthew, who had gone to the hospital to treat his hand) gathered behind the one-way glass to watch.

It was eerie, watching his progress through the game. I knew all of those corridors so well, having labored over their game files for months. Yet, now, everything looked new, now that I was sure that I knew what the game was capable of. I watched Andy’s heart rate rise and fall on my monitor. His skin-temperature-analyzers went haywire as he rounded every corner. As was supposed to happen, he felt the demon close in when his fear spiked. But this time around, its interactions were low-key, almost subdued. I fought against my suspicion that it was just biding its time. The demon was made of ones and zeroes. Numbers can’t hurt anyone. I thought this even as I rubbed my bruised wrists.

It took four hours for Andy to make it all the way through. He didn’t even take a bathroom break. He just wanted to get this done as much as we did. He crept through the halls, doing his best to keep calm despite the advances of the demon. He collected the six candles needed for the ritual and made his way up to the attic.

Then, things started happening that were definitely not in the programming. The paintings and potted plants in the game began shaking and flying off the walls, clearly aimed for his character. In the safety of the monitoring room, two filing cabinets overturned before sliding across the floor and knocking down two staff members. Wires attached to the wall disconnected and sprayed sparks around the room. Grabbing a fire extinguisher, I prepared to extinguish any flames that cropped up.

Andy had placed the candles on the floor of the attic and was using an old lighter to light them. He was able to get the fourth candle lit before he suddenly bucked in his chair, screaming for us to stop the game. When we rushed in, I saw his hands flailing, as though he was trying to tear off the nodes and sensors glued to his body. Maybe that was part of it, but when I got a closer look, I realized he was fighting with something invisible that was holding him down on the chair. His shirt and face had been slashed and blood dribbled from the wounds. I was afraid I was going to break his arm since I was pulling so hard to get him off the chair. Finally, we got him free and out of the room, slamming the door behind us. Andy’s character had already died and the ‘Game Over’ screen mocked us as we scrambled to call an ambulance.

I didn’t sleep for the rest of the day and the following night as I waited in the hospital. Andy’s wounds were worse than we thought. There was a a massive amount of internal bleeding that we hadn’t known about. The doctors tried to stem the blood loss with transfusions, but their efforts were for nothing. Andy passed away early in the morning.

A week later, I saw a news special about the death and its connection to the game and Systelien. I couldn’t blame whomever had blabbed. The police blamed Andy’s death on the system malfunctioning, as though that could explain the scratches and the internal trauma. Our supervisors didn’t care. They ordered the project to be shut down and I was grateful. I never wanted to see that game again. The only way I was ever going back to the Systelien building was if that room was demolished and the chair dismantled. Though, to be honest, I wouldn’t have been surprised if anyone who tried to take it apart was attacked as well.

I left the company when the announcement was made that the game would be discontinued. People on the forums expressed everything from disappointment to relief. The game was over.

For weeks, I couldn’t stop glancing over my shoulder. I moved away from the town and the memories I had of Andy. My co-workers held a farewell party for me, despite the fact that they probably had the right to blame me for everything. They said that I had helped make a game that would never be forgotten by anyone who played it.

That was all well and good, but I was desperate to forget and spent the rest of my life trying to do so. I was always keeping two eyes on the shadows and jumping at every little creak. There was this little fear that I would hear my name whispered in my ear again, which would mean that whatever I had created had followed me, and I never wanted to think about that possibility.

The only thing I could do was try to sleep and ignore the times when I felt an invisible, clammy hand stroke my face.

Credit To – theHootax

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Jvk1166z.esp

January 8, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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Some people might recall some momentary buzz caused a couple of years ago by a particularly odd Morrowind mod. The file name was jvk1166z.esp. It was never posted on any of the larger Elder Scrolls communities, usually just smaller boards and role-playing groups. I know in a few cases rather than being posted, it was sent via PM or email to a ‘chosen few.’ It was only up for a few days, to the best of my knowledge.

It caused a buzz because it was a virus, or seemed to be. If you tried to load the game with the mod active, it would hang at the initial load screen for a full hour and then crash to the desktop. If you let it get that far, your install of Morrowind, along with any save files you had, would become completely corrupted. Nobody could figure out what the mod was trying to do, since it couldn’t be opened in the Construction Set. Eventually, warnings were distributed not to use it if you found it, and things died down.

About a year later, in a mod board I used to frequent, someone popped up with the mod again. He said he was PMed by a lurker who deleted his account immediately after sending. He also said that the person advised him to try playing the mod through DOSbox. For some reason, this worked… sort of. The game was a bit laggy, and you couldn’t get into Options, Load Game, the console, or really anything else, other than the game itself. The QuickSave and QuickLoad hotbuttons worked, but that was it. And the QuickSave file seemed to be just part of the game file, so you couldn’t get at it anymore. Some speculated that the changed game used an older graphics renderer, making DOSbox necessary, but it didn’t LOOK any different.

This part I can speak about from personal experience. When you start a new game in JVK (as the board came to call it), once you left the starting bit in the Census Office and came into the game proper, the first thing you notice is that the ‘prophecy has been severed’ box pops up. This is because every single NPC having to do with the main quest is dead, with the sole exception of Yagrum Bagarn, the last of the Dwemer. Their corpses never despawn, so you can go check on all of them. In effect, you begin in a world that is doomed to start with.

The second thing you notice is that you’re losing health. It’s only a bit, but it keeps happening, a little bit at a time. The longer you stay in one place, the quicker it seems to occur. If you let this health loss kill you, you’ll find the cause: a figure we came to call the Assassin, because he seems to wear a retextured version of the Dark Brotherhood armor from Tribunal, even though the expansions don’t work in JVK. It’s all black, completely untextured, like he’s just a hole in space. The way he moves… he gave me quite a start, the first time I saw him scuttling around my dead body. He crawls inhumanly on his hands and feet, his arms and legs splayed out like a spider. You’d usually only see him after death, crawling around and over your body just before the reload box popped up. Occasionally, you could catch a glimpse of him darting around a corner or crawling on a wall or ceiling. It made the game very difficult to play at night!

Other than that, the only noticeable difference is that at night, at random intervals, every NPC in the game will go outside for a few minutes. During this time, the only thing they will say when hailed is, “Watch the sky.” Once they return to their normal behavior they act like normal, though.

watchthesky

After a while, a player on the board discovered a new NPC named Tieras, a male Dunmer in the temple at Ghostgate. Two things are notable about this NPC: first is his robe, a unique article of clothing that was lovingly rendered with twinkling stars all across it, looking like a torn-off chunk of the night sky. The second is that all of his dialogue, in addition to showing up in the dialogue box, is voiced. You can skip it if you wish, but it all sounds like it’s in the default male Dunmer voice. Some people said that they thought the voice was “slightly” different, but it was a very, very good imitation.

I won’t go into the details, but the questline he sends you on has to do with a dungeon referred to simply as ‘The Citadel.’ Up until this point, the quests were all of a fairly generic ‘discover the secrets of the ancients’ bent. The entrance to this dungeon is on a small island far to the west of Morrowind proper. I eventually discovered that if you used a Scroll of Icarian Flight at the westernmost point on the main landmass and jump directly west, you’d end up almost exactly at the island.

Even though the dungeon is called The Citadel, it goes straight down. It dwarfs any other dungeon, both in size and difficulty. From a natural cave area you’ll proceed down into an ancestral tomb looking area, then a Daedric ruin area, and then a Dwemer ruin area. I made it down to the Dwemer Ruins before I quit. The creatures here were strong enough that a level 20 character would have to take care, and since you can’t use the console in JVK, level 20 took a while to get to. Since QuickSave and QuickLoad are your only options, it’s all too easy to get yourself into an impossible situation too. I did, and I just didn’t have the energy to start over.

Now what I’m telling you is based on what those few who went further reported. Past the Dwemer Ruins you find yourself in a level like the Dwemer Ruins, but darker. Rather than the usual bronze, all the surfaces, including those of the creatures, are black. The sounds of machinery are loud here, and grow louder still, randomly. There’s also steam or fog everywhere, limiting your vision to about ten in-game feet or so. If you can make it through all this, you will reach a hall that those who found it called it the Portrait Room.

Like the fire in torches or other effects from early 3D games, this room has picture frames that always face directly at you, no matter how you look at them. The images in the frames were always randomly chosen images from your My Pictures folder. On the board, the ones who got there had some fun posting screenshots of the Portrait Room with various pictures in the frames (Usually porn, of course).

At the end of the hall was a locked door. After admitting defeat and returning to Tieras, everyone just found him saying, “Watch the sky,” in his gravelly voice. What’s more, nobody else in the game would say ANYTHING. There was just a completely blank dialogue box with no options at all. They wouldn’t even rattle off the usual canned audible greetings. The only exception was at night; whenever they’d go out for a few minutes, they’d still repeat it. “Watch the sky.” At this point, one of the players – a friend of mine from the board – noticed (and the few others who got this far agreed) that the night sky was no longer the usual night sky of Tamriel; it had changed to a depiction of a real night sky. And it moved.

From this point on, everything is based on what this one person reported. Eventually, he got himself kicked from the board, but I kept in contact with him for as long as he responded. According to him, based on the constellations and planets, the sky started around February 2005. If you died, loaded, or went back into the Citadel, it would start over. When the usual day sky graphics took over, the movement would be suspended until the stars appeared again. In the space of a single night, everything would move about two months worth. Since the timescale of JVK was more or less that of the standard game, that meant that a bit less than an hour was equal to a 24-hour period.

He became convinced that the door would open based on some kind of celestial event. Of course, waiting for that meant leaving the game running. Of course, THAT meant that the game couldn’t be left unattended, thanks to our old friend, the Assassin. My friend decided he’d hang out for a whole day, just to see if anything happened. That would be about a year’s worth of movement. Here’s the post he made at the end of this experiment:

“I loaded in Seyda neen, where it all starts. It wasn’t too bad, just had to check in now and then to move around and heal to make sure I wasn’t dying. But check it out! 24 hours exactly in, and the Assassin learned a new trick! HE SCREAMS!!!! I was reading and all of a sudden, this crazy loud shriek just about makes me crap myself. It’s like something out of a horror movie! I look up, and there he is, just crouched down right in front of me. Of course, the second I moved my character, he ran off. When I went back down to the Portrait Room, the door was still locked. Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

A bit later, he came to the decision that he needed to wait three days – three years. The PM advising us to try DOSbox showed up in February of 2008 was his reasoning, anyway.

“After the first shriek, the Assassin stops hitting you out of nowhere. Now he’ll shriek, and if you don’t move for a few seconds after that he hits you. I think whoever made the mod was trying to help. At night, I’ve got my headphones on and I was just kind of dozing off…when he wakes me up with a shriek; I jiggle the mouse, and I’m good!”

That post was two days in, from his laptop. Once it was over…

“FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK! FUUUUUUUUUCK! So FUCKING done. So, I wait, the three days, right, and right after the FUCKING Assassin made me jiggle the mouse, he shrieks again. So, I look, and everyone in town is outside. They’re all saying, “Watch the sky.” I don’t see anything, though. But then the game starts getting dark… like REALLY dark. I turn up the brightness all the way on my monitor, and I can still barely see. I can see other people in the game, little figures running around in the distance, just running back and forth. If I try to get close, they run off. Now, I was trying to sleep, so the lights are off, and this is kind of creepy. I don’t want to get up to turn on my light because I don’t want to miss anything, but NOTHING fucking happens. Eventually I go back to The Citadel… it’s still dark, and I gotta swim, and the whole time I can see all these guys swimming all around me, just barely there. I make it to the Citadel, and its normal light inside, and I get worried. Sure enough, the Portrait Door is STILL FUCKING CLOSED. I go outside and it’s ALL STARTING OVER. So that’s it. I’m fucking going to bed, and I’m fucking done. The end.”

After that, two things happen. First, another of the people who got to the Portrait Room claimed that the Assassin was showing up in his regular Morrowind game. (Quick explanation. If you reinstalled Morrowind to a different folder, you could have a normal Morrowind install along with JVK.) He himself chalked it up to an overactive imagination at first, but he reported a couple of really big scares with the black figure crawling right at him, or seeing it waiting for him just around a corner before scuttling off. Another of those who reached the Portrait Room started a regular Morrowind game, but never saw him for sure; it was just a couple of ‘maybes’, late at night, and always at a distance.

The second is that my friend started getting really abusive and short-tempered on the board, though he stopped talking about JVK entirely. It got so bad that he was soon kicked off. I didn’t hear anything from him for a couple of weeks after that, so I sent him an email. This was part of his reply:

“I know I shouldn’t, but with classes out I’ve got some time, so I started JVK up again. It’s almost 2011… and I think I’ve got the sleep madness! But stuff is happening! It’s still dark… once it gets dark, it never gets any lighter. It stays like that. The people moved a few months ago… everyone in Seyda neen just went to that little bandit cave and moved in. They killed the bandits inside, and now they’re just standing around inside. They don’t say anything anymore; they don’t do anything when you click on them. I quicksaved and killed one, and he just stood there until he died without fighting back!

And it’s like that everywhere. You have to walk, since the quick travel people are all in caves now, too, but all the cities and towns are just deserted; all the people are in caves and tombs. Everyone in Vivec is down in the sewers. I’m going to Ghostgate next… I want to see if Tieras is still there. I’ll tell you what he says when I get there!”

I replied and said I wanted to see what he said too, and waited a day. When I didn’t get a reply, I mailed him again, and a couple of hours later he sent back:

“Sorry, I totally forgot. So it’s 2014 now… since it’s always night, the stars are always moving. The whole screen is dark, but you can still see the brightest stars moving around. Tieras was gone… everyone in Ghostgate was gone. I don’t know where they went. They’re not in any of the nearby caves. But there’s new stuff… people still don’t say anything, but their eyes are bleeding. it’s so dark that even with a light spell you have to get right up against them to see, but there they are, little dark streaks coming down from their eyes. I think I gotta be getting close. I know this is stupid, and there’s no way the pay off is going to be worth it, but I just want to be able to say I stuck it out!”

I got that one during the day. Later that night, I got a follow-up email:

“Some of the planets aren’t moving right. It’s pissing me off… if this keeps up, I won’t be able to keep track anymore. It’s almost 2015 now, I think. Fuck. You know, I just now noticed that there aren’t any monsters anymore, either. I’m completely alone outside now. The main quest people’s’ bodies are still lying around, though. I went to check on them.

I don’t need headphones anymore, so I just leave them off. When he shrieks, it’s like he’s screaming right into my ear. I think I even kind of anticipate it. He’s around a lot more now, a lot closer. He’s different from the other people who started showing up, remember? They keep running around, just where I can barely see them. I have to admit, it’s kind of creepy at night. Sometimes, when I go to the bathroom or whatever, I swear I can see something out of the corner of my eye. I’m keeping all the lights on now.”

I sent him a letter, jokingly telling him to get some real sleep, and left it at that. Two mornings later, I found this in my email. It was the last thing I got from him. After this, he stopped responding completely:

“I just got up from a fucked up dream, I think. The Assassin shrieked at me, and when I opened my eyes, he was right there, crouching over me. His arms and legs were longer, more like a spider’s. I tried to push him away, but when I touched him my hands just went inside and I couldn’t get them loose again, like he was made of tar or something.

Then I woke up, I thought. he was gone, but when I looked at the monitor I wasn’t where I was. I was in the Corprusarium, with Yagrum. For once, the light was okay, and I could see him all bloated on those mechanical spider legs. I sat down at the computer and he started talking to me. Not in a box, but really talking to me, in Tieras’ voice. He knew things about me. He told me things that I never told anyone, some things I totally forgot about. He told me that almost nobody had made it this far, and that the door would open up soon. I just had to hang on a little while longer. He said I’d know when it was time. He said I might be the first one to see what was inside.

And then I woke up for real, but I was at the computer. I still wasn’t where I was. I’m swimming out to The Citadel Island. And I can hear this tapping. It’s at my window. It’s over on the left, so I’m sending you this, because I left my laptop by my bed, to the right. Just a little *taptaptaptap*… like he’s knocking his finger against the glass. I might still be dreaming now.

So, I guess that’s the end of the story. I know there’s a few other stories floating around about the mod, but this is the only I know as true, as far as it goes. I deleted my JVK copy of the game pretty much right after I gave up, but I’d like to get the mod again, if anyone still has a copy of the file. I’d like to see some of this for myself.

Jvk1166z.esp

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