Team 1 – The Garden of Adonis

Background: The Garden of Adonis

Group 1- Tyler Gilcrest, Adriana Salinas

Canto 6: stanza 29-36

 Beautiful and Eden-esque, the Garden of Adonis exemplifies natural perfection.  Rivaling the aesthetics of Elysium and Arcadia, the Garden of Adonis is filled with stately elms, tall maples and strong oaks.  Willows seem to whisper the garden’s praises on the gentle breezes.  Marigolds, violets, roses, daffodils, and hyacinths consist of just part of the rainbow of flowers to be found in the garden.  All sorts of animals thrive together in harmony, each sustained by simply the fruits of the garden, which are excessive in their abundance.  Upon entering one can tell that the garden is not unlike any beautiful garden on earth, and there is an otherworldly and ethereal nature about this place.  

 The Garden is surrounded by 2 walls, one of iron and one of brass, each of which has a gate at either end of the garden.  Each gate serves a distinct purpose: one to let expired souls back in from heaven and the other to let out freshly clothed souls into the land of the living.  The gatekeeper of the earthbound gate is Old Genius.  The old gatekeeper may look slightly out of place in the Garden, clothed in an air of pure blackness so that it is almost impossible to discern his figure, but it is obvious he feels nothing but hope and delight for the souls heading to earth.  He does not speak, but he does not have to.  Those attempting to converse with him already know whatever he might have to say, as if he communicated directly with the soul.

 To come into the garden, one must leave the earthly plane by way of physical death.  Thereupon the soul of the character travels through the twisting nether to arrive at the gate of the Garden of Adonis.  The can move freely and swiftly through the garden, as the burden of physical life has been lifted.  The soul is no longer in human form, but exists instead in a small flame that floats wispily above the ground.  Other souls can be seen wandering throughout the Garden, floating gently on the breeze and apparently just enjoying their existences in such a beautiful realm.  Old Genius is the gatekeeper at the other end of the Garden.  To re-enter the mortal realm, Old Genius offers a couple trivial yet simple tasks for the soul to complete before regaining  the fleshly clothes required to exist in the physical world.

 At the center of the Garden is the Mount of Venus.  This stately mount rises high above the rest of the Garden.  There is a winding path around the Mount lined sparsely by trees that leads up to the top, populated by a thick grove of trees.  The trees are so thick that little light can come through and the light that does illuminates the only path to the center of the grove.  At the center is a horn tree, marking the ancient spot of Venus’ former escapades with Adonis.  At the base of this tree stands Venus.  Venus is in a state of woe for her fair Amoret, who has been stolen away to the Castle Busirane.  She offers a prize to any brave knight who successfully rescues her fair charge from the clutches of evil.  On occasion, her son Cupid may be found flitting among the trees and flowers, taking a break from his worldly mischief.   

 NPCs in the area:

  • Old Genius- A intensely black human figure. Benevolent weaver of human flesh.
  • Venus- A beautiful goddess at the center of the garden. Adonis’ lover and step-mother of Amoret
  • Cupid- Venus’ son. Small, winged cherub who makes mischief by making people fall in love with each other.
  • Animals
  • Souls- small flames that wander the garden

 Quests in the area:

From Old Genius-

  • Gather fruit for baby animals
    • Go around the garden and collect fruit for the baby animals

 From Venus-

  • Rescue Amoret
    • Defeat the Wicked Enchanter and free Amoret
      • Reward: Magic Spear
  •  Entrance to the Garden of Adonis comes from death of the character
  • The character enters as a “soul”, a small fire elemental.
  • Random animals, non-attackable, wander the garden.
  • Cupid occasionally appears and wanders the garden, non-attackable and will not initiate a conversation.

 Locations:

  • Mount of Venus- a tall, stand-alone mountain with a thick grove of trees at the top.  A path winds up the side of the mountain and into the grove.  At the center of the grove stands Venus and a horn tree.
  • Gate of Entrance- Where the souls enter the garden through walls of iron and brass.
  • Gate of Exit- Where the souls exit the garden.  Very similar to entrance.  At this gate stands Old Genius.
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To Matthew Hall, or Whom it May Concern:

I am writing to inform the relevant parties that while attempting to peruse Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”, a work reproduced and remediated by Vanderbilt University for the use of its students in its English 115F “Worlds of Wordcraft” seminar, I found numerous errors that make the work incredibly hard to read and therefore difficult to utilize.  This difficulty ultimately lead to the spending of more time than necessary reading what this university seemingly deems “a poem”.  The time lost by Tyler Gilcrest U.G.S. (Undergraduate Student) relates directly to future dollars and cents in an exponential, but indeterminate, relationship (fig. A) and is due to the fact that he was forced to spend undue amounts of time with your organization’s product.

Fig. A

One error encountered during the use of your product was the presence of numerous and grievous spelling errors.  Spellings such as “gealous”, “farre” and “raine” (for the word “reign”, not “rain”, mind you) are clearly gross oversights in your efforts for remediation for the use of Vanderbilt students such as my client.  one particularly atrocious example, “dreryhedd”, can only be speculated as to its actual meaning.  Not only do such examples occur, but they do so with such egregious abundance that it begs us to question who you employ for editing service, or whether you request that he take off his winter gloves when he types.  Such simple errors like said spelling errors reflects poorly on your efforts at this remediation.

Another problem with the product lies in the sheer length of the remediation.  The work is supposed to be a “poem”.   A poem implies a short work of fiction.  However this published version is longer than most novels.  In fact, our research indicates that this is the longest poem in the English language.  The length of this poem severely increases the amount of reading time.  And much of the excess is merely fluff.  The first stanza of Book III, Canto I, for instance, can be summarized the following way:  “The Briton Prince and Fairy Knight rested and were healed so that they could continue their adventures”.  Instead the author decides to take an inordinate amount of lines to explain this simple statement.  Again, the amount of money this has cost my client is inexcusable.

The following are suggestions to improve the remediation of the product so as to make it a more efficient and therefore desirable read:

  1. Use spell check.  This functionality comes in most modern word processors.  Comprehension of the material increases greatly with such a tool.
  2. Use a different format other than portable document format.  Not only does this limit the amount of mutability in remediation but it also limits the ability to perform suggestion 1.
  3. Fire your editor.
  4. Shorten the length of the work, add some visuals and/or vibrant flash animation, and make sure the final product can be understood by most 11th grade students.  Tyler Gilcrest cannot be bothered to think over allusions, archaic constructs or difficult vocabulary words.

With these changes implemented, both parties will undoubtedly be happier.  Any questions, comments or concerns can be returned along with explanation to this office and will be forwarded accordingly to Tyler Gilcrest U.G.S.  We appreciate your future compliance.

Regards,

Samuel Thompson

Office of Wrongly Assigned Students

Thompson and French P.A.

“Crack for Kids”

Throughout this semester, I feel as though I have done a good job of not getting sucked into gaming and keeping my priorities straight.  I have consistently put academic, social and athletic goals before any downtime that I devote to gaming.  I must say, I am a fan of video games.  Something about them makes for a very enjoyable experience.  The  feeling of becoming something I’m unable to be–a football star, gangster, medieval knight, mage, general, soldier, pilot, Italian plumber (etc. etc.)–is pretty damn cool.  And well done games, those with beautiful graphics, a good game mechanic and a decent story, make themselves very enjoyable to play.  I don’t consider myself a gamer, but the allure of video games does have a certain pull on me.

And a few years ago it had an even greater pull on me.  I think my first experience with video games was my uncle’s SNES, way back in the old days.  He used to live with us so it was kept at our house for him to play when he wanted.  But my brother and I also played.  My favorite game ever was Top Gear, a little racing game that featured race tracks all over the world in wonderful 16-bit color.  From there my love of video games grew with each new technology that came out, and I would spend more and more time with them.  Middle school and early highschool were probably the worst times, the eras in which my dad so lovingly coined the phrase “crack for kids” to refer to video games.  I would blow off social events and homework to play video games for countless hours, if only to achieve what I can now see are meaningless prizes.  Luckily for me (and my not so distant future), I was good enough at school that I could skate by without doing homework.  At Vanderbilt the story is a little bit different.  Nowadays I try to keep a healthy distance from them, and keep the time I do spend to a very limited amount.  But I’ve matured.  Later in highschool I played less and less as I got older and became more interested in soccer–and came about the realization that if I did nothing but play video games, I would not have any friends. 

I also realized that as cool as it is to pretend you are anything a video game character is, you don’t actually become it, and never will.  You won’t become anything  playing video games.. well, except fodder for the huge gaming industry, where the real talent lies.  As of today, no one with any capital you coming your way cares anything about how much or how well you play videogames.  I don’t mean to take anything away from the designers, however.  The skill they employ to create videogames can easily be compared to that of an artist.  Playing, however, is purely recreational and, despite the allure of video games, should be kept in check.

So far this semester I’ve been good about staying on top of school work and keeping the goofing-off with video games to a minimum.  That’s how I would like it to stay and hopefully, because of my maturity, it will stay that way.

A Modest Proposal: For Preventing End-Users from Being a Burden to Coporations or Their Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through the virtual streets of the internet, to see poor subscribers to online games who occupy a prodigious amount of discussions on many a prestigious forum endlessly gripe about “rights” to which entitlement should be granted by subscription to such online games.  These complaints substantially deteriorate the quality of the great internet environment in which so many participate.  These complainers, who know nothing of the law, who want nothing more than to sew unrest, and whose silver tongues are laced with poison of co-creation and open source, are a grave threat to profit; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these “End-Users” sound, useful members of the internet, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many hours upon this subject, I believe I have come up with a useful solution.  The title of “End-User”, though possibly accompanied by respect and prestige in their respective virtual realms, where meaningless prizes and titles may be won toiling  away for hours on end, necessitates a particular lack of physical activity or productiveness in reality, typically resulting in a certain lack of physical shapeliness.  For casual End-Users the effects may be less pronounced, however still present.  While this lack of physique may be scorned in the mainstream media, I embrace those of this physical stature as pivotal in my proposal.

I have been assured by a very knowing colleague of mine at Blizzard, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled.  And I have undertaken extensive research that shows, coincidentally, that the physical stature of a frequent and habitual End-User is remarkably similar to such a child, and that preparation of such sustenance is indeed delicious and nourishing.  This natural resource we have yet to tap is just waiting for some industrious type to come along and procure its obvious benefits.  Any corporation willing to undertake the following method would effectively crush any dissention, provide sustenance to the families of America and increase its customer satisfaction ratings by untold exponential results.

The first step to be made by any ingenuous corporation would be to encourage their End-Users to willingly, or ironically by agreement in a EULA, submit themselves for beta testing or other promotional activity requiring the End-Users to relocate themselves to a testing facility owned by the corporation.  The corporation should make the End-User feel either that he is being included in a special event, access to which would give him something he thinks he will be able take home and shout in the virtual streets, or, for those less enthusiastic End-Users, that he has an obligation beyond challenge in court to participate in this event by the signing of the EULA.  Once relocated, the End-Users of proper stature for the preparation of nourishing food can be immediately taken care of.  The End-Users of a less desirable fitness (those casual End-Users previously mentioned), however, can be contained in the facility and made to play the game, spending time and money on the game while they ripen to the proper physical stature.  Those corporations that are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) can use the inedible parts for other handy uses and flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.  The corporation will be able to sell any excess food that its workers and their families do not consume.

Any corporation willing to follow these humble recommendations will most certainly find itself in a sea of profit and will swell with pride at the customer satisfaction ratings it receives.

Tyler Gilcrest

(Jonathan Swift + Satire = Win)

No “Best Remediation of Bad Ass Real Life Combat” Oscar for Snow Crash or LOTRO This Year

Tyler Gilcrest

Clink! .. Clank! .. Parry, sidestep, dodge! … Do much for you? Yea, me neither.  For some reason reading about a sword fight isn’t that exciting.  Well, at least not as exciting as sword fights are can be.  There’s something about hand to hand combat with someone else, something about a duel to the death with swords.  And I feel that that something is lost as it’s described in writing.  Sword fighting should cause an adrenaline rush; it should get your blood up, because you might just lose some if you’re not careful.  The sword fights in Snow Crash are lackluster though, as far as sword fights go.  Maybe it’s because you have to read about each action taken by the character.  At each moment Stephenson describes each action taken by each combatant.  This narration, while necessary to describe the progression of the combat, loses the intensity that a sword fight should have.  So I don’t blame Neal Stephenson at all; he writes a very enjoyable and action-packed story.  The characters are pretty unique and Stephenson develops a connection between them and the reader very well, which causes engagement in the fights, not the action of the sword fight.  The suspense of whether Hiro will come out on top invokes reader interest, but only because you want him to survive.  He could be playing a to-the-death game of backgammon and I would still care for the outcome. 

Another strike the sword fights in the book have against them is the, I guess, “contrived” nature of them.  The book has a set outcome, no matter what.  There is no room for any variance in the story, no matter how many times you read it.  Hiro will always win the sword fights Stephenson has written that he wins.  There is no relation to the readers skills or abilities.  The whole excitement of a duel comes from testing your own ability.  In the novel, there’s only the testing of Hiro’s ability.  And when you think about it, it’s not really a test, due to the fact that it’s all contrived anyway.

LOTRO does do better, but only marginally so.  LOTRO does add some multimedia elements like visuals and sounds.  Being able to see the opponent and your character are wonderful additions.  And I’ve unexpectedly added another improvement in that last sentence: it’s your character.  The level of personal involvement is much higher than that of the novel.  This character represents you and through its triumphs, you triumph.  But the combat in LOTRO can also get boring and repetitive.  Killing Non-Player Characters (NPCs) over and over again, who always act the same way, over and over again, starts to lose its appeal after the first few levels.  Sure, you can try killing them in new and creative ways, like taking off all your armor or making the fight twelve to one, but all in all NPCs get pretty boring pretty quick.  This is probably because they don’t represent anyone.  At the end of the day you’re just killing lines of code.  Luckily, games came up with a way to deal with this.  They invented PVP, or Player Versus Player for all you n00bs.  This aspect really adds to the competition in games.  You know you’re playing against someone and through combat you can prove yourself.  I haven’t tried the PVP in LOTRO, so I have no idea how well it performs, but the major part of the game I’ve experienced so far, the Player Versus Environment side, brings only a moderately greater amount of excitement than reading about combat in the book.

Creative License Done Well

The quests in the Prologue and Epic Book 1 were a pretty novel idea.  I’ve never played an MMO that followed any sort of storyline.  Oh, well I guess there was Guild Wars.  Not my favorite MMO by far.  That game forced you to follow the story line throughout its progression and all the areas where you would kill monsters et. al. were completely instanced.  The only place you actually got to play with everyone were in the cities.  And there’s never anything going on there.  All that, and the fact that your character seemed rooted to the ground (there wasn’t any jump function at all!) and the paths throughout the game were very set in stone, made for a relatively unenjoyable MMO experience.

But LOTRO does very well to remedy that.  In LOTRO, there is much less of the feeling that you are constantly following a set storyline.  Ultimately, if you want to get anywhere, you do have to follow the storyline, but it’s added into the game as an element that feels somewhat like a choice.  This, combined with the fact that you do get to jump and go almost anywhere you like, makes for a good experience.

The Prologue and Epic Book 1 quests are an interesting and creative addition to Tolkien’s original story.  The major problem that the game developers faced when creating this game was the application of an MMO gamespace onto a “single-player” storyline.  They had to mesh the choices and customization of an MMO and the storyline of Tolkien’s works.  They had to realize that no one could be Frodo, Gandalf, Strider, etc. because everyone creates their own personal character, their own personal identity.  So they decided to add the player’s character as someone who works in the background of the Fellowship and main story, so, at least for the first time playing, it doesn’t feel as though the player is following a set story that everyone already knows.  This also gives the developers some creative license, as well as protection from the hard-core fans that would rip the developers for the smallest lack of similarity if they were to follow the main story.  And while the developers do pretty well recreating the story from the original work, their strength lies in the creation of the world in which the alternate story takes place.  It may be somewhat simplified from the novel to facilitate player comprehension, but almost anywhere that you can think of from the LOTR series, or any of Tolkien’s other works for that matter, you can go to in the game.  Which in my opinion is pretty darn cool.

Tyler Gilcrest

Little Torture Devices of Antiquity

Tyler Gilcrest

My experiences with arcade games are definitely not as extensive as those of other people.  I was no arcade rat.  Part of this is because there was no arcade like the amazing Funspot that I could spend my days at.  Part of this was the fact that arcade games had lost much of their grandeur by the time I rolled around on the gaming scene.  And part of this was my parents unwillingness to give me quarters that were only to be subsequently eaten by  “those machines”.  Nonetheless, I was able to play some arcade games.

Arcade games were and still are always fun initially.  Arcade games are simple and easy to sit down at and start playing.  They have lights and sound that entertain the gamer as they start playing.  The simplicity is fun for me because there’s practically no learning curve.  But that’s basically all they have.  But after a little while of playing, they definitely lose their appeal.  Now I may be someone who is easily frustrated, but after a while arcade games just genuinely anger me.  As the game gets progressively harder, it finds new and creative ways for me to die.  “That barrel appeared out of nowhere!” or “This game just hates me” are common utterances I might make (even though I know full well it’s just my lack of skill that caused my downfall).  Getting beat is never fun, especially when it’s a 8-bit polyphonic simpleton arcade game dealing out the punishment.  And the fact that all the time it’s eating my money just kills me.  I forget, in the heat of battle, that there is no possible way to beat this game.  All I can do is try in vain to get close to the ridiculously high scores set by some other loser who spent even more of his time, effort and money on this machine.  Eventually I’ll give up against the arcade beast.

 Maybe that’s why I like console games more.  Console games and arcade games start out at different levels of difficulty in the very beginning.  Console games usually start with more of a learning curve than arcade games.  A lot of the time, console games have controls and stories to which the player will have to orient themselves before playing.  Arcade games, in their simplicity, can just throw you at the bottom of Donkey Kong’s tower and say, “Don’t get hit by barrels or flames, go.”  I can handle the learning curve at the beginning of the game if I can beat the game later on.  Console games have an end.  They have a credits screen and a message of congratulations for your achievements.  Arcade games just kill you over and over and say, “Continue? :20” (waitng with an open mouth to eat your twenty-five cent piece).  Even Steve Wiebe gets to the “end” of Donkey Kong gets killed.  There’s no reward, no congratulations.  It just gets tired of letting him play and kills him.  Another thing about arcade games is the level of difficulty they reach.  If you graphed difficulty as a function of progress in the game, arcade games would be an exponential function whereas console games would probably only be a straight line (that might even plateau from time to time).  If console games were as hard as arcade games, no one would ever pay $60 retail for them.  That’s why the arcade only charges a quarter, because no one would ever subject themselves to such torture for any more than that at one time.  They make money because suckers feed them quarters in pursuit of the impossible.  Anymore, I see arcade games as fun little torture devices of antiquity.