Friday, March 22, 2013

Michael5000's Internet Funhouse 2013!

...being the logical heir to Michael5000's Internet Funhouse!! (2007) and Michael5000's Internet Funhouse 2008!

Fallen London

Flash games have come a long way, baby.  I discovered Fallen London over someone's shoulder at a birthday party back in November, and have been playing it pretty much continuously ever since.  It is a weird mash-up of collectible card game (sans the collecting), computer role-playing game, make-your-own-adventure novel, and bratty fantastical steampunk reimagining of Victorian culture and manners.  The gameplay is a fairly simple sequence of choices on a decision-making tree -- but it is a vast and mighty tree with many, many branches.  There can be a element of repetition, but if one action or area gets boring, there are any number of other choices to be made.

Plus, it is rather winning to be called "delicious friend."

One gradually builds up one's stats...

While pursuing any number of major or minor adventures.

The charm of the game is solidly in the writing and in the depth of content.  Having been knocking around for more than four months, I have continually expanded my horizons and field of potential action, but I can also tell that I have only just barely scratched the surface.  The creators claim that they are nearing the word-count of the King James Bible, another text that is rarely read in a perfectly linear fashion.

People who don't like Fallen London often don't like it because of the "Freemium" model: It's free to play, but offers certain advantages and extra content areas to people who throw in some cash.  The standard complaint is that you get only ten actions (an action "refreshes" every ten minutes) and that the game starts hounding you for money at that point.  I see this as a strength of the game.  Since it only allows ten actions, it is playable in a coffee break, or as a quick palette cleanser between this and that.  Or you can leave it up in the background all day and tinker with it as the mood strikes.  You very quickly become trained not to request that 11th action that you would have to pay for, and you move through the content at a leisurely pace.

You know how some games are "massively multiplayer"?  Fallen London is "minutely multiplayer."  You can interact with others, a little bit.  So, when you sign on, find me, Michael5000, and we can do something terribly intellectual together.

Rebuild 2

Or, if your tastes run more to surviving the zombie apocalypse, you might enjoy trying to restore civilization in Rebuild 2.  Block by block, you scavenge food and resources from the good old days, reclaim territory, and of course kill zombies, although the bulk of the killin' is offstage.

Actually, it is to a surprising extent a game of human resource development.  You work with your zombie survivors to build everybody's abilities, keep the team working well together, and empower everyone to fight zombies using their own individual strengths.  It's very dorky, and played on a map, so obviously I like it.  Good soundtrack, too.


"FreeRice?" you're thinking.  "Wasn't that an internet hit of 2007?"  And yes, it was.  At that point it was strictly a vocabulary quiz.  The advertising revenue it generated went to buy small quantities of rice for the world's hungry.  A nice idea.

At some point between now and then, it was acquired by the U.N.  Somebody put a lot of work into expanding and improving it, and then stopped.  The site has the unmistakable air of dust and neglect about it. But it is still up and running, and there are a couple dozen different quizzes available now.  Diligent IATers will like the surprisingly robust "Famous Paintings" quiz.  I've learned a lot from it!

I also like the math and flag quizzes a lot, among others.  The geography quizzes are underdeveloped, the literature quiz is impossibly random, and the English grammar quiz is riddled with errors.  Quirks aside, though, it's a fairly fun and ostensibly virtuous site at which to goof off.

Let's start a team!  I've just created a FreeRice group called "Infinite Rice Army," and I encourage you to go through the mildly laborious steps of creating a FreeRice account, joining the IRA (hmm...), and logging in from time to time to take quizzes and donate rice with me.  Perhaps in time we could be a mighty rice-donating power the likes of "Christians Fighting World Hunger" or "Buddhists Fighting World Hunger" or "Muslims Fighting World Hunger" or "Athiests Giving Aid," or the vast number of high school, middle school, and elementary school teams that dominate the team roster.

All the Elements of all the Months, in 15 Minutes

Want to improve your mastery of the periodic table?  Of course you do!  I've found that by taking this quiz obsessively over and over again, I've improved my ability to fill in the table from about 60/118 elements to, as of this writing, just over 100.  It doesn't earn anybody any rice, but it's quite diverting if you, like, enjoy elements.

My other favorite Sporcle quizzes are this list of classical composers and this maddening list of the world's most populous countries.

Think about that FreeRice team.  Don't leave me hangin'.


Chuckdaddy said...

Go infinite rice army!

Ezra said...

I am intrigued by Fallen London.

I was very addicted to another "minutely multiplayer" game ca 2005-6, Kingdom of Loathing. It is also still in operation, though I've sort of lost my interest after going through it twice. I think it also wins on the quality of its writing; well, perhaps I'd call it "scripting" but it's more of a stick-figure spoof/homage to role playing games, 80s text adventure computer games, but the continuous pop-culture references and stick-figure drawings give it a kind of DIY feel. It also has the feature of only allowing so many turns per day (but there is no premium— it's strictly a free or pass-the-hat affair).

Michael5000 said...

Ezra: YES! Fallen London definitely fills the niche that Kingdom of Loathing occupied in my life for a few months, a few years ago.

Ezra said...

Oh my. What you didn't tell me is that Fallen London is part of this StoryNexus thing which is a platform where you can *create* your own text adventures. This could prove to be a greater time suck than I feared. Thank you.

Michael5000 said...

Yes. However, once you get away from FL and perhaps a few others, you mostly see content that was clearly more fun to create than it is to consume.

gl. said...

i loved fallen london until i got stuck pursuing an ambition and couldn't bear to grind any more pearls to trade for the special coins to gain access to the Flit. i might need to start over with a new character. or abandon that ambition...