Thursday, August 29, 2013

Urban Legends

In ancient times they called it folklore.  Now, much like then, what tales you've heard (or told) depend on the region, who your friends are, what message boards you choose to frequent, the games you play and so on.  All these factors shape what crazy rumors and outlandish stories you've been exposed to.  Whether or not you believe them doesn't really matter, that fact still remains that they exist.  So, have a seat and listen by the firelight (metaphorically speaking) while I reminisce over a few I've heard.

Art courtesy of H.R. Giger
Dark Seed is a horror themed point and click adventure game.  The protagonist is a rather unassuming man by the name of Mike Dawson.  Oddly enough the character sprite and name are taken from the lead designer.  According to urban legend he had a mental breakdown sometime after the first game came out.  Interesting to consider since the in-game Mike Dawson suffers from hallucinations and bio-mechanical fever dreams brought on by the machinations of an inter-dimensional alien race.  Given the stresses associated with video game development I can see how someone might go insane.  On the other hand the real Mike Dawson denies any such event taking place.

If you have ever played Theif: The Dark Project you might initially feel like the bow is a bit under powered.  Realistically, it makes sense since a compact design means low pull tension, but ease of portability.  After completing about half the game though the player is rewarded with an upgraded sword.  So it stands to reason that the bow would eventually receive an upgrade as well, right?  Well...actually no, but that didn't stop rumors from popping up.  I've heard several version of how you get the bow upgrade, but my favorite has to be one outlandish tale claiming that if you shoot a ridiculous number three pointers with a decapitated zombie head in the basketball court hidden on the tutorial level.

The story for the original Silent Hill can be a bit difficult to understand if you had never watched films like Jacob's Ladder, Rosemary's Baby, or the TV series Twin Peaks.  Much like many players, I just wanted Harry Mason find his daughter and get the hell out of there.  Not long after the game's release a rumor spread that you could do just that.  The method was long and convoluted, requiring the player to refuel an abandoned car and drive it (something you can't actually do in the game).  Needless to say it was a lot of well wishing by PSX users who didn't want to embrace any of the five ambiguous endings to the game that actually exist.

The second most popular NPC in Dark Souls after Solaire of Astora (A.K.A. Sun-bro) is probably Siegmeyer of Catarina (The Onion-bro).  He's a likable character with a tragic story arc.  The player can take steps to keep him alive and in doing so net some rather nice rewards.  However, this knight's fate is ultimately sealed regardless of the player's actions.  For awhile though, a popular wiki for Dark Souls claimed that there was a method to save him from his seemingly unavoidable doom.  I can personally attest that this is not true having followed said instructions to the letter yet still not getting the desired result.  Part of me still wishes it were possible though and I genuinely feel sad for that chivalrous man.  

Possibly the most famous of all video game urban legends comes from Minecraft.  The story goes that people playing alone on newly created online worlds would sometimes encounter strange little pyramid structures or groves of trees completely devoid of any leaves.  Basically the kind of stuff that wouldn't be created by the random world generator.  Occasionally screenshots would be posted by someone claiming to have gotten a fleeting glance at another player using a default skin, but no name tag.  The interloper also seemed to have the ability to appear and disappear at will (similar to the, then as of yet un-introduced, Endermen).  Eventually the name Herobrine started circulating around and when fans asked the game's creator, Notch, he simply replied that it was his now deceased brother's user profile.  From then on every update of Minecraft has included the comment "removed Herobrine" from the list of bug fixes.  In a bizarre case of fantasy becoming reality it's now possible to download a mod allowing foolhardy players to build a special shrine and summon an A.I. controlled version of Herobrine into their game.  Why you'd want someone planting traps and generally terrorizing you in Minecraft is beyond me, but there you have it, an urban legend that turned out to be true after a fashion.

Those are all my stories, but if you have any good ones of your own feel free to post them in the comments section.  Now, if you will excuse me, I'm off to figure out what the pendant does in Dark Souls. *wink*

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