Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fuck you, crane game. Fuck you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

more on Urban Dead

I mentioned Urban Dead in an earlier post, but I wanted to mention something that happened to me yesterday while playing it.

Imagine a partially text-based zombie survival horror game where you only live once. That's it. Everyone has a 4-week window of time to create a character, but when you're killed, you can't make another one, and there are no second chances.

That game is Urban Dead, in Borehamwood. Players get 50 action points (AP) per day where they can search buildings for items, move one city block, attack, etc. In UD, there are three separate cities, with a 100 x 100 square grid each, making 10,000 clickable buildings (such as banks, hospitals, schools, auto repair shops) and streets: Malton, Monroeville, and Borehamwood. Malton is the only city where death is never permanent (zombies can be revivified back into human players), and is the only one with open registration. Anyone can create a character in Malton, whereas Monroeville and Borehamwood are limited-time only promotional parts of Urban Dead. Borehamwood had open registration for a short time in 2008 and had a total of 11,058 players.

I had a character in Borehamwood. If you idle out and don't log back in within 5 days, your name disappears from the 3 x 3 map until you log back in. My character remained idled for 2 years. I had recently logged back in to find I was still alive, with only 23 survivors (myself included) and 91 zombies still actively playing. Most of the buildings in Borehamwood were ruined i.e. they cannot barricaded and search rates are decimated. Zombies can just walk right in and kill you while you're logged off, so staying in these buildings are not a good option, but the only one I had at the time.

I spent several days trying to gain enough XP from the few zombies left and trying to locate the other survivors. Finally, I had just enough XP to gain a skill that allows you to enter buildings that are extremely heavily barricaded. Today, I came across the first player I had seen in years. He introduced himself and mentioned that there was a group of players in a barricaded building 2 blocks from where I was, and that I was welcome to come. Not 30 minutes later, the barricades were destroyed and I was killed by a single zombie. Extremely unlucky for me.

I guess I am trying to say that I'm pissed. There's a certain psychology behind a game like this. In just about every other game there is, you get more than one life, you get savepoints, and you can just reload any time you die. In Borehamwood though, your life is utterly priceless and now you can never make a new one. Death is absolute. Survival in its truest form. You log back in wondering if your character was murdered in the night while you slept in the real world. With only 23 people left, any person you meet cannot be overlooked; they are part of your group and you are now friends, survivors, working together, and you share a camaraderie found scarcely else. Becoming the last remaining survivor in Borehamwood in UD is a title striven for by thousands.

It seems silly, but the death of my character saddens me. Ah, what could have been.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

faking your own death

"Faking your own death takes a lot of planning, care and closemouthedness.

First, you need to figure out what kind of death you want to have. For example, suicide, accident, or murder.

Next, you need to figure out how you will fake your own death.

Suicide and Murder are the two easiest to fake, unless you live in a town with an excellent police department, or have a suspicious parent/guardian/spouse who loves/hates you a whole lot and has lots of money to spend.

Accident is more difficult because you need to lead people to the conclusion that you are dead without actually producing a body. (unless you mean to kill someone?!)

Suicide can be faked most easily; for example by leaving a suicide note, and jumping off a bridge and not resurfacing while making sure there are plenty of people to see you and not actually managing to drown yourself. Research is crucial! Make sure you know how to swim well and how to land in water from a high altitude without hurting yourself.

Logistically, you need to have a getaway car secreted in some nearby spot and don't be stupid and pack up your room. Dead people don't need their clothes and cds.

Murder is also fairly easy, but this often requires pinning it on someone else, which may cause moral issues and also requires that the patsy have a plausible motive. Being murdered by an anonymous person, like a mugger or a thief, is very unlikely to work since your death is not easily verifiable and they can't have a plausible motive to work with. Think Double Jeopardy, and Wild Things. Again, the key is not leaving a body, but still making it obvious that you are dead. Smears of blood, teeth and body parts such as fingers are often sufficient identifiers, but use your imagination.

Accident is the hardest to fake successfully without having a body, so the only real way to do it is by the 'missing and presumed dead' method. A climb of a dangerous high mountain, or hiking alone in the forest, or driving somewhere and never making it to your supposed destination and leaving a burnt out car and smears of blood all over the place should work, but again, use your creativity.

Faking your own death is the easy part. The tough bit is emerging from your charade as a new person. If you're in the US you need a new Social Security Number. You need a birth certificate to receive a SSN. Where do you get a birth certificate? Those sort of records are notoriously hard to find. You're not likely to get one just by asking. You can't use just anyone's either. If you use one from someone who's still alive, or worse already dead, you're back to zero and probably incarcerated for Identity Theft.

A popular "film method" is to get a birth certificate for an infant who died shortly after birth because, supposedly, Death Certificates aren't issued for infant deaths, or some such nonsense.

Unfortunately we all know that the movies aren't real life. It's easy enough to get a fake ID and live under an assumed name for a short period on time, but the first time you get pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, it's The Big House for you."

-from Everything2

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This is a post on reddit I really like. It's comforting to know that being homeless isn't the end of the world.

"Practical advise from someone who's lived in a car long-term.
  • Most Wal-Marts let you park overnight for free
  • Rest stops can be good, especially if there is security provided
  • Most National Forests (grasslands, etc.) and Bureau of Land Management properties allow free camping for up to 2 weeks (but no one actually checks..)
  • Church parking lots are usually good
  • Some hotels, especially along the interstate, won't notice if you park overnight. However, some will kick you out at 3 am so it's a craps shoot.
  • Find a place at least an hour before sundown so you're not driving around at night
  • Sleeping in nicer residential neighborhoods will get the cops called on you. Sleeping in bad residential neighborhoods will get you robbed.
  • Bum a place from friends. Join and set your status to "Traveling at the moment."
  • Staying clean is very important. Trust me on this. People trust you more when you're clean and you'll have an easier time spinning yourself as "adventurous" rather than "destitute." More on this later.
  • If you can find a restroom with a lock, you can take a fairly complete bath with a washcloth and a sink.
  • If you can't actually bathe, do a whore's bath once a day. Get some hand sanitizer, the gel with high alcohol content, and rub yourself down, especially in the stinky areas. It won't get you clean per se and the alcohol will dry out your skin, but it'll disinfect you and kill all the smell-causing microorganisms. Follow this with deodorant and baby powder.
  • The easiest way to LOOK clean and safe is to keep your hair and beard trimmed. The simplest and cheapest way to do this is to get some inexpensive hair clippers and clip it short once or twice a week.
  • Dark clothes hide stains. If you can't wash clothes regularly, turn them inside out and place them in direct sunlight to inhibit funk and get that nice outdoorsy smell.
  • Avoid cologne! Masking odors is the enemy. You want to have as neutral a smell as possible. Unkept hair and powerful body odor make it much more difficult to get help from people.
  • Baby wipes are awesome.
  • Libraries! Internet! Search for a job and read books! Keep your mind occupied and hone your intelligence.
  • Parks, especially dog parks, are great places for meeting people
  • If you find yourself in a hobo camp, like the ones that crop up in national forests and BLM camp sites, if you can make a hot cup of coffee you will have both friends and (more importantly) people to watch your back. It's as simple as Wal-Mart-->camp stove-->stovetop coffee maker. Take creamers and sugar from gas stations and the like. Oh yeah, it doesn't hurt to have 5-10 gallons of water in your car, especially if you're away from a city.
  • If you maintain yourself, and you look clean and safe, you'll have an easy time convincing people that you're adventurous rather than destitute. Adventurous gets you much farther than destitute, because secretly (or not so secretly) a lot of people our age want exactly what you have--The freedom of the road, no responsibility, time to write and reflect, no obligations, nothing but days and weeks to focus on yourself. Being destitute might get you a dollar or a cup of coffee. Being adventurous might get you in a pretty girl's bed, or better yet, a hot shower..
  • Go to where the young people are and mix it up once in a while. You'll fit right in as long as you stay clean and pretty. The easiest way back into the game is through a social network, so work on building a strong one.
  • Always, always be on the bounce. Keep an eye peeled for opportunities. Don't let the massive chasm of unencumbered time overwhelm you. Have a project for EVERY SINGLE DAY. Make a plan and stay clean, because as fun as it is to tramp around for a while, you don't want to do this forever.
I hope this helps, buddy. In all likelihood, you won't have to use 99% of what I've mentioned, buuuut you never know. Top priority for you, my friend, is take care of yourself. Decide RIGHT NOW and TODAY that this will only be temporary. Mourn the loss of what you had, but remind yourself every single day that this is a BEGINNING, not an end. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other and I guarantee that you will find yourself in a better place."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I decided to check on my character in Urban Dead. UD is a web-based zombie apocalypse MMORPG (I'm a sucker for zombie things). I haven't logged on in years but it looks like they've come out with a few cool updates on the game mechanics.

The primary thing to do is to kill zombies aka dead players, but once you hit the max level XP doesn't have a use anymore so I just kill living players instead. This is frowned upon in-game, but it is so satisfying. I once killed Ron Burgundy (he was an ingame celebrity).

Check it out, it's free.