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Monday, 22 February 2010

Entry_004

My life has been taken over! I am a slave, a total slave...to this stupid damn game!!

Like I said in my last post, I wasn't all that keen on the game when Marc suggested it. It sounded cool and all but...heh. A game's a game. Well, here's me admitting, hands up, that I was w r o n g!!

I have never, EVER experienced such an AMAZING reality engine!! There are usually tiny little restrictions that completely shatter the illusion in games like this...but I've experienced NOTHING like that playing this game. The only tiny faults I can see are missing content. A couple of characters are duplicated at the moment and some of the others don't talk or interact. It is, after all, only in Beta testing...so not everything is 100% in place yet.

Here's a lowdown: Small upground community back in a time when plain black robes were in vogue. Everyone lives in fairly close proximity (both spatially, and emotionally) with their family and the rest of the village community. The general day to day life is very simple. The most technical profession is farming. All very quaint but there's really not much to do. This is where the gameplay comes in!

Turns out that, in this particular village, accusing thy neighbour of witchcraft is the only way to break the monotonous boredom. But wait! It gets better! There are some REAL witches out there, too!

As a player, you get to choose a number of different roles:

First off, the judge. If you choose this kind of character, you spend the majority of gameplay trying to get info about relationships in the community to figure out who are the real witches, who are the innocent victims and who are the jealous troublemakers! This is the least active of all the play types. Most of your time is spent in conversation rather than anything else. This is the best mode when playing alone.

Next, there are the witches! As a witch, you get to control computer characters to an extent to try and swing the verdict of the judge away from you. You can also turn invisible to spy on other people and fly for short periods of time. This is great for playing in teams as you can be in a coven of up to 3 witches to wreak maximum havoc! When in a coven, you can communicate "psychically" with all the other witches at all times. Needless to say, Marc and I have been enjoying this game type to no end!

There are a few more game types that will be implemented in the next few months. The specifics haven't been announced but I'm guessing it'll be villagers and police or something like that. I cannot WAIT!

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait. The current Beta has ended...and I'm faced with going cold turkey. I've never felt so low! Haha. Comes at a convenient time, though. I have another round of patriot exams to revise for! And they're my finals!! And I'll finally rank up to White!!! About time, too!

With my new rank, I'll get a promotion at work, too. Camilla has been briefing me on what's involved. Apparently, I'll have the opportunity to go out into the upworld on the scouting missions. I'll have to stay in the truck the whole time, but it should be really interesting to see how the intake program works from the point of view of the guys and girls that actually do all the vocational work!

I'm meeting up with Marc later on today. Apparently he has something important to tell me. I can't imagine what. We're going to Alf's again. We tried to go last week, but it was shut down! We just went back to his place instead. White rank housing is nice! Definitely a big upgrade from my current cosy place!

I like to have a study partner for my patriot exams so if anyone out there wants to volunteer, leave me a comment!

See you guys soon.

-Sophie

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Entry_003

Do you ever look something up on the CKD Encyclopaedia and then spend the rest of your day browsing through various different articles? Yep! Me too!

After a funny evening working my way through what turned out to be the VERY basic new TaxShare system with my new friend Ben, I decided to take myself over to the CKD. I'd been thinking recently about how a track journey of only one hour can take you from a section where the upground is a fairly temperate climate, like Alf's, to a section where the upground is a blistering desert, like my office. I suppose we're so used to not really seeing the upground world that we don't think that these two places must be extremely far apart.

Well, my avid readers, I have some answers for you!! You'll have to excuse me if you already knew all of this, I suppose I may just be showing my ignorance.

Ok, so the Track Carts that we hop on and off every day are inside a sealed tube. You know that hissing noise when the door opens? That's air flowing into the tube. It's all in a complete vacuum! Because there's no (or little) air in the tube, there's no air resistance or friction. This allows the Track Carts to move incredibly fast. Furthermore (Yes! There's more!) the carts aren't actually touching the ground underneath them. They're suspended by really powerful electro magnets. It's these magnets that also power the train. They pulse on and off in the direction of travel. This creates a ripple effect that pushes the train forward. The faster the ripples, the faster the cart will go!

Again, sorry if you knew that...but I was oblivious! I suppose I'm slightly more aware of how unusual some aspects of our life are from doing what I do for a living. Upgorunders have to travel for days, weeks, even months to get from one place to another...on foot!! Months! Think about it! Don't really mind your morning commute now, do you?

Anyway, like I said, I was on CKD for a few hours last night. There's some pretty cool stuff if you look long enough. Annoyingly, I didn't have Rank Clearance for a lot of the articles. I found a few photos of the topography of the upground world and I was curious to see where the relative positions of my office and Alf's were but you've gotta be White or above! Soon, soon!

I had a bit of a half hearted chat with Mum earlier. I don't whether it's because there's only text-based chat available when talking to people who have gone off world, or if it's just that they're out enjoying the luxury that they've spent years ranking up to achieve but all offworlders tend to get very distant. Don't get me wrong, I was ecstatic when Mum got her Platinum Pass and her ticket to go offworld, but I do miss her. That's normal, right? Apparently, back before the sub-colonization, people used to live together with their parents for a general minimum of eighteen years. Even after you left them, it was normal, even expected to stay in fairly regular contact with them. If the traditionalists and the upgrounders are right, this weird system of early separation is very unhealthy.

Anyway, I'd better stop before people start thinking I'm some sort of Traddy! Lol.

I'm hoping to see Marc again later on. We've managed to get tickets to a new game that's in Beta. I've not read much about it, but apparently it's set in an ancient upground society that is going through a bloody witch-hunt. The reality engine is said to be really good. You can feel the "breeze" against your "skin" apparently. I have to wonder whether or not that extends to the "lemon juice" in your "open wounds"! Haha. Should be fun to try it out at least! Most of Marc's other friends get a little scared of playing any kind of game with him. He gets really into it and generally plays on servers where the whole experience is taken very seriously. Yes, it's a little strange to walk around in a fake world playing make-beleive, but I actually quite enjoy it! All this "Prithee Sire, may I join thy righteous dragon hunt" business is quite nice. Almost romantic. Definitely harmless!

This is the point that I get flooded with comments about how sad I am. Ho hum!

Right! I see Marc's avatar loading up. Wish me luck! Would it be bad taste to deck out my avvie with a broomstick and a cloak for this evening's merriments??

-Sophie

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Entry_002

Entry_002

I finally had that catch up with Marc today. We went down to our usual haunt, a nice Yellow rank coffee house about halfway between my place and his. It's about an hour and a half from here by track and it's on the way to a large financial section so the track cart can be a little crowded if you time it wrong. It's worth sitting through the commuters, though. The coffee house, whilst not much to look at from the cart, is open air!! It's based round a large, square courtyard with the chairs and tables right out in the middle in the open. It's in a nice little upground territory that enjoys warm, humid summers and beautiful, snowy winters. You'll have to forgive me for not sharing the location. An open air facility is rare in Yellow sections as it is. In the summer, you need to book a week in advance to get in so the many regulars like to keep it as secret as possible. For the purposes of this blog, I'll call my little haven "Alf's" (Gettit? alfRESCOE?! Har har!)

I was surprised at Marc; he made absolutely no mention of his new rank and we just had a nice chat. Unfortunately, our time was cut short. We'd only been there for around an hour when the drill sirens went off and we were herded onto the next track cart. The Sirens seem to go off a lot at Alf's. I asked one of the Reds who works there once, but they just said that it was standard drills like any other district. We used to think they set them off on purpose, especially in the summer. It's a great way to turn over the punters. Especially when you've got a queue of two hundred waiting to come back in. Seems a bit pointless in winter when the place isn't even at three-quarters capacity, though! Maybe I'm being paranoid. Maybe it's just that we spend most of our time there so we always get the bad luck!

I said bye to Marc and then dropped over to the office. Managed to claim i was on "Official Government Business" and catch the fast track which only took around an hour instead of three! Did I mention I love the perks of my new job?! I was set to work from home today but my new Team Leader, Camilla, said that I could come and watch one of the shipments coming in from The Badlands. I managed to do all my work on the various track journeys so it all worked out pretty nicely.

Upground of my office is a desert territory. The vehicles come right in to a large, hangar like depot on the top floor of the building. There are catwalks that run around 30 feet above the hangar floor from which employees can view the goings-on on the deck below. One of the walls of the cavernous room has four large doors that roll up to let the vehicles in and out. I'd previously only seen video surveillance footage of this area and it was absolutely breathtaking to see it with my own eyes.

Everthing was quiet when we first arrived and Camilla showed me around, pointing out various people and things. One of the large trucks was in a bay being refuelled, and there were a few Reds and Oranges running around performing maintenance, replacing the tyres, etc.

I was just beginning to get used to the huge space when, without any warning, an alarm starting buzzing, and one of the colossal hangar doors started to open. It was like someone had opened an oven and I had to cover my eyes from the heat and the light that were pouring in through the opening. It took me a minute to catch my breath and for my eyes to adjust. Camilla saw that I was looking a little dazed and started to laugh.

"Gets everyone first time", she shouted above the roar. Great! So why not give people a little heads-up?!

Looking down from the catwalk, I could see another one of the trucks easing in through the doorway. More Reds and Oranges were rushing around and barking orders to each other and to the truck crew. There was a hot draft and dust blowing through the whole huge space.

As soon as it had started, the whirlwind stopped. The hangar doors shut quickly, cutting out the wind, dust, heat and light and the huge truck cut power to the engines. The only sounds were the shouts from the workers down on the floor. Their voices echoed around the cavern and distorted so I couldn't hear their exact words.

The driver of the truck stepped down from the cab and opened a hatch toward the back of the vehicle. A total of four Badlanders stepped out and huddle together. I wanted to stay and watch what would happen next, but Camilla said we had to get back to work.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I visited a few other areas of the building that I'd not seen before. We actually have an Oxygen farm that I didn't know of. A large glass dome near the top of the building that houses probably twenty or thirty small trees. It's odd to think that the only clue to anyone on the upgorund of the vast underground government complex hidden under the sands is a large glass dome and a big metal door built into the side of a dune.

I'm on the track cart at the moment heading home. I was let to go home an hour early so the cart is empty. Alf's was on the news feed a moment ago. Apparently it has been closed all day because of a glitch in one of the theft detectors. Marc's voice is ringing in my head: "Shoddy Yellow Rank engineering!" Haha. Bless him, he does make me laugh.

More merry news from me soon. Thank you to Ben who wrote to me on here and has kindly volunteered to walk me through TaxShare tonight! He also works for another Intake office in a different territory! Small world, eh?

See you soon, readers!

-Sophie

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Entry_001

Hello! So, I got so used to keeping a regular account of my day to day activities for my last patriot exam so I figured I may as well carry on. Gives me something to write about on my long track journeys, I guess.

I woke up this morning to a horrible intermittent screeching noise. It took me a minute to figure out what it was. I stumbled into the kitchen, thinking it might be the microwave or something. It wasn't until I saw the strange light that I realised what it was. Turns out that the Enviro-Screens on my windows had changed from my usual choice of serene mountain peaks to a very pretty, but very noisy seaside town. The noise was some gulls flying past! I know that kinda thing looks very nice and all...but seriously?! The noise?! Ugh. Well, I guess...whatever floats your froth!

I assumed that the mishap was something to do with the software glitch that had put my front door iris scanner on the fritz so I called the Red Labour Distro Team and let them know. They said it was quite a common problem (never heard of it happening before. Anyone??) and that it was an easy fix, so the Red they were sending out could deal with both problems.

To be honest, I relished the excuse of having to stay in most of the day and wait for the Red. I was supposed to be meeting up with Marc, but he's just passed up to a White Ranking and I didn't wanna spend an hour and a half on the track just to be told how Yellow Rank coffee houses didn't quite match up to the ones in the White zones. Marc's the nicest guy in the world, but he loves to lord it up at any opportunity. I don't think he really means it, he's just overly proud I guess. I think he forgets, sometimes, that we practically grew up together!

Anyway, the Red arrived at around midday and started work on the console near the door. I could tell from his accent that he must have come from The Badlands originally. It's kinda spooky really; knowing that he'll never rank up past Red. He'll always just being doing the same thing. Makes you wonder if there's any kind of resentment for those who have come from The Badlands. I mean, they've been saved, in effect, but then that's as far as they go. They're pulled from that awful place...and BAM, that's them for the rest of their lives.

The Red (Shibu, according to the receipt that got sent through just now) told me it'd take him a while, maybe an hour or two, so I dug out my headset and logged onto TaxShare. I'd not been on since before I went away for my last set of exams so it took me a while to figure out all the changes. It's nice now that they've lowered the threshold so that you can siphon of a greater percentage of your tax to projects of your choice, but BOY is the interface confusing now! I shared out varying amounts to the Track Improvement Program (Har har!), Badland Intake Initiative and a new local scheme aiming to open up a new Yellow Rank media and leisure complex in an area not far from me. It'd mean less travel for me, but then I'm not sure how long it'll be before I rank up to White...so I might remove sponsoring next month. I usually do smaller sponsorships for a greater number of schemes, but it'd taken me almost half an hour to get that far...so I thought I'd call it a day.

Having conquered my first little challenge, I logged onto the chat servers. Mum was online again but was busy...again. I guess she's just enjoying the sunshine so much! I left her a short message telling her that I hoped she was ok and that I still think I should have sneaked into her suitcase! Lol. Just as I was about to log off, Marc's avatar tapped mine on the shoulder and started yapping about how disappointed he was that I hadn't gone to meet him. "Typical shoddy Yellow Rank housing...Blah blah blah". I was about to reply, when I got a tap on my REAL shoulder that made me jump right out of my seat! It was Shibu. He'd fixed the problems with my Scanner and Enviro-Screens. He realised that he'd scared me and started mumbling an apology. He went scarlet with embarrassment, bless him. I offered him a cup of coffee, but he just mumbled some more and quickly showed himself out.

I spent the rest of the day preparing to go back to work tomorrow. I have a large report due and I'll have to go in half an hour early. Sigh! The trials of going up a rank!

Anyway, that's enough for now.

Oh! If anyone wants to run through the new TaxShare interface with me, that'd be greatly appreciated, just leave a comment below and your network link. I'm generally logged in around 7-9pm.

-Sophie