By Rob Beschizza

Heather returned to the states, her father ill with cancer. Alone and bored, I remained in London to finish my final year at Goldsmiths. From the sleep of childhood and all its aimless memories, an old computer game returned to haunt me.

My first recollection was a flashback at the airport, triggered by a scent: the same carpet deodorizer my mother used to use when I was a kid. Transported away from the echoes of Heathrow's PA system and the hubbub of waiting travelers, I found myself back in my old bedroom. A child sat at at the machine, intent on the controls. Deja vu crept over me.

Pixels shone like gemstones in darkness. Phosphors moved over the face of the deep and formed into random landscapes. Every play was different, a 64Kb window onto a universe of iterations. Music, naked square waves, rang out. I'd forgotten that place for a decade, but it had not forgotten me.

In the blackness of the monitor's glass, I caught my younger self's eye; a chill tightened my skin and I was back in the airport terminal, staring at the contrails of my fiancée's flight home.

In the days and weeks after, old neurons warmed like dusty lamps. I tried to look it up on the internet, but the game's name escaped me: this point of frustration, perhaps, helped turn curiosity into obsession. Weird memories crept into my daydreams. Sometimes these were vivid, declaring themselves the lost foundations of my personal mythology. Others were so evasive as to seem like tricks of the mind's eye, the subsconscious inventing internal unities at the final threshold of adolescence.

The oddest thing was that as a youngster, I'd hardly cared for the thing. It was just one of dozens borrowed from someone or other and copied on the double tape deck, the act of piracy its own transgressive reward.

Here's what I remembered of the scenario: a deposed king, stricken by amnesia, wandered the Orient in search of his former life. The genre was graphic adventure, each scene a single picture surrounded by the words--"get," "move," "look," and so on--that one could select to take actions.

Most haunting of all was the game's final stumper, in a place called the Garden of Cyrus, before a huge gate embellished with a giant cross. Though the game's ruins and cities were different with each play, progress past this certain point was always impossible. Beyond it was a chapel. This was the final location, and within it lay the secret of the protagonist's identity.

Between study all-nighters, my Pentium II, armed with Amstrad CPC emulation software, powered through dozens of downloaded candidates as the hunt went on. Though I still had the original hardware, back at my parents' place, my tape collection was discarded long ago.

The main discussion group of the day, comp.sys.amstrad.8bit, was no help. I eventually got a bite on a web-based forum (, or perhaps CPC Zone) with a livelier community. "Can you name this game?" is an irksome way of introducing oneself to a retrogaming forum, but the regulars there were tolerant and helpful. And within hours of my first post, I had replies. "That is definitely Kobayashi Naru, by Mastertronic," one respondent wrote, followed by others' agreement. "Venom," offered another.

The matter seemed solved, one way or the other. But the latter title lacked the randomized world, the garden, the gate, and the story I remembered. The other game's controls were visual icons, not words.

Disappointed, I returned to the forum. Further requests gathered recommendations for titles I'd already discounted-- except one, from the same guy who suggested Venom.

"Eastern Cross? I remember something like that in an old Amstrad mag," he wrote. The name struck a bell, sent me into a dream: my old room again, as if to verify it. My bedclothes were black and red; on the wall was a painting of an Iguanadon, the corners flat against globs of adhesive tack, signed ROBERT 1984 with a big copyright symbol. "I'm pretty sure that's your game. I don't have a scanner, so give me your address and I'll post you a copy when I get a chance to dig it out."

Two weeks later, a large package, stuffed with newspaper clippings and magazines, arrived at my apartment in South London. Oddly, there was no return address.

I thanked him on the forum, but got no reply. In fact, I don't think I saw another message from him again. Given what happened later, I can't help but wonder why.

The pile of 8-bit computing stuff made for slow work, the nostalgic thrill soon dulled by the dense irrelevance of almost all of it. But I found what I was looking for. A flaked and yellow clipping from The Surrey Comet depicted a teen-aged boy, hunched over a CPC in a small room, his face in profile and partly in shadow. On the monitor ran the game, scrolled halfway up with what looked like code underneath it. The text pushed the scene line by line off the top of the screen.

The photo caption read "David M. Ward of Lower Ashtead works on his first computer game, Nestor's Cross, scheduled for release later this year by Golden Games. Only 15 years old, Ward has been programming since he was twelve."

I slept well for the first time in a while.

"How's Raiman holding up?"

"We don't know what to do. It's not that it's sudden, it just seems ... so unfair."

A faint echo on the line made Heather's voice seem even more distant. Her father's cancer was successfully removed, but it had already moved to the liver. On the scans, there was a dark shape; in surgery, it was found to be on the hepatic artery and thus inoperable.

"Does he, you know, have long?"

"The doctor said he should go home and enjoy what's left."

I said nothing for a long while. Then, "I love you."

"We're going to get a second opinion."

Back on the 'net, there were no references to any game called "Nestor's Cross" to be found, but that was no longer a surprise. Ashtead, of course, was still in Surrey county, England. The phone directory offered nothing for anyone called Ward or the business. A trip to the college library got me the publisher's old address, a P.O. Box in nearby Leatherhead, from a late-80s business directory. The Leatherhead and District Chamber of Commerce didn't know a thing about it. I read up on the Nestorians, but it offered no hints, of course, about the author. Armed with the name of the game, its programmer, and the publisher, however, I returned to the boards.

Among the nopes and the LOLs and people who told me to give it up already, one poster dug out an excerpt from an interview or letter column in the short-lived "CPC Attack!" magazine:

"This is in issue 3 of CPC attack. perhaps your man?

Q: What happened to programming prodigy David Ward? A: No idea. A preview of his first game was sent to mags, but we never saw it on the shelves and never heard from him again. Sometimes, that's how the chips fall. Maybe the kids at Amstrad Action know more."

From there I spread my wings, added notices to dozens of web-boards, to anything even tangenitally associated with retrogaming, game publishing or the region. I found the email address of an "S. Ward," who had been listed as the founder of the company. Within a week, I received a reply best left to speak for itself:

Strung out from my studies -- university finals in just a few weeks--and from researching this thing, my reply was defensive, asking to know who he was. The comeback was sharp:

I stared at it. Everything in it seemed to imply a dozen possibilities, beginning at weird and going downhill. For me, though, the key was in just one word: "Mike." David, then, wasn't the name he used. Right there in his dad's anger--and right there in the electoral register--that middlie initial stared me in the face. They now lived in Epsom, just a couple of miles from the town he grew up in.

Baerely an hour away from me. Just one change on the trains at West Croydon.

If I just wanted an answer to my questions about the game, I could have written a letter. But instant gratification has ways to make you move. Besides, it's easy to follow whispers of the problems in other people's lives. So I stood up, left the flat, and went there.

Ward lived just off the A24 near Epsom General, in a long row of ground-level flats flanked by well-kept lawns. Whitewashed cement blocks, designed to stop cars mounting the pavement, lined the street. Wheelchair ramps led to every door. An old couple peered out from their home. It took me a long time to find Ward's place, as the number had fallen off the door; I knocked on his next-door neighbor's by mistake at first. The elderly woman within cast me a vicious look.

Finally certain of his address, I rang the bell. Inside, tinny 1980s pop music approached, as if from headphones turned up too high. It stopped with a loud mechanical click. The door opened wide. A sunken replica of the teenager from the photograph lingered behind it. Ward looked at my chest, without saying hello and without meeting my eyes. In his left hand was an old yellow walkman. A cord coiled tight from it around one of his fingers, then up to the headphones.

"Hi... Mike," I said, embarrassed. An ingratiating smile formed on my lips. "I'm a fan of your game. I'm really sorry to bother you, I know this is a bit weird, but is it poss..."

My voice trailed off. He still didn't meet my gaze. His face, his eyes, his bottom lip were slack, as if he were deaf, or not aware of what I said.

"What happens in the last scene?" I persisted. "The copy I had--you can't get past the gate! Why did you make it impossible to get to the chapel?"

I asked a few more questions, but nothing even seemed to register. An uncomfortable silence descended. Frustrated, I ducked a little, tried to catch his attention with a wave of my hand.

"Mike? David?" I said.

He swayed a little, nodded subtly and compulsively in a way that normal people do not.

"David," I said again, little more than a whisper. "What happened to you?"

He met my eyes.

Heather's father died in 2002, after it metastasized again. They opened him up one last time to find his stomach covered in thousands of tiny mutations.

She and her father had reconnected in his final months. At the end, everyone was there.

By then, I'd long since graduated and joined them in New Mexico. But in the hospital room, I still felt like an interloper, hovering on the periphery as Raiman's wife and daughters shared his last moments. Painkillers had already taken everything except his breath, leaving only the slowing murmurs and the memories.

Memories. The air was thick with their power, as if this was the moment when they truly mattered, their recitation the guarantee of an afterlife.

When he died, silence took them. I helped an orderly move him off the bed and onto a gurney.

In the months and years after Raiman's death, those shared recollections, so precisely defined at the end, slipped away. Whatever remained of the past became a different thing in each of those who knew him. Only when something is gone for good can it exist in many places. A chorus of many voices singing apart, each with its own cherished moments, its own strange and insidious regrets.

"Do you remember that stupid old game you were obsessed with?" Heather said, years later. "It's a bit like that. The more you think about it, the more you make up in your head. And eventually, you can't even remember what you loved the most."

No sooner had Ward met my eyes than he closed the door. Surprised, my nose inches from the wood, I heard the music start up again.

The squeak of tires and a shout rattled out behind me, and I turned to to see a middle-aged man haul himself out of a Land Rover in the car park opposite the main road. He wore a waxed coat. His face was red with anger; he yelled something at me. Traffic blocked his way.

I heard the door click open again and a hard edge pressed into the palm of my hand. I turned back. David Michael Ward looked at me. An odd expression crossed his face for the briefest moment as the door shut again. Then he was gone. He'd given me a cassette tape. Written on it was "80s CLASSICS / MADONNA." I gaped at the absurdity of it.

"You're that fellow off the computer, aren't you?" the red-faced man shouted. He closed in. Ward's father, I guessed. "Just who the hell do you think you are? Leave him alone. Just leave him alone. He doesn't need anything from you."

I backed off. He moved between me and the door. A grey fuzz of fair hair lingered around his temples. It was all I could do to mumble apologies over and over again.

"Satisfied?" he said. "What do you care about that stupid game?"

"He didn't... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... I didn't know."

"Just get lost before I call the ..." he said, his voice a baleful whine. Something in it was not quite right. A note of anxiety emanated from the word he did not say. "You people should spend less time in front of a bloody screen and more time ... reading real things."

I shuffled away and tried not to look back. As I turned a high-hedged corner, Ward's dad unlocked and opened the door.

Curiosity lingered despite my guilt and embarrassment. On the way home, I examined the tape. A Maxell C60, it was ancient and well-worn, the trim of its faded label a pale and pencil-scored blue. As soon as I ducked into my flat, I threw it into the stereo and hit play. Just in case.

Madonna. Lucky Star and Borderline, Burning Up and I Know It. A clunk at the end of side A as the player reversed itself.

And there it was on the other side, the datastream. An even lead-in at 1,000 baud, followed by a shrill lick at 2,000. I pressed stop as soon as I heard it, then sat in the silence of my room.

The game. A copy given to me by its author. Not the one that got into the wild, the broken one that couldn't be finished -- the original. What did the father think, I wondered, when he realized his son had locked the world out of its final scene? All that work, and no public release? It made no sense.

Three days later, I was back at my parents' house. Amid the attic's dark clutter, I found the Amstrad's box, torn white creases wandering across the glossy black cardboard. I hauled it down the ladder. Within was the 20-year old machine; out it came, my reflection distant and gray in the CRT. The cassette tape slid in. RUN. Data screeched. And within an hour or two, the Garden of Cyrus loomed. I faced the gate.

"This place yields only to the bearer's name. Speak!" it said.

The answer was always abundantly clear from clues spread throughout the game, which was steeped in medieval mythology. You are Prester John, king of the fabled Christian east. That answer never worked, though, back then -- those advance copies were evidently incomplete or locked, the final scene inaccessible. With a feeling of infinite triumph, my fingers set across the keys. I had a complete copy, handed to me by its own author: whetever Ward's secret was, he wanted me to know it.


Nothing happened.

I tried again. The same reply--the same as it always was: "Nothing happens." PRESTER. JOHN. KING JOHN. JOHN PRESTER. I must have entered each a hundred times as a kid. THE BEARER. Nothing. It was just as broken as the one I remembered. Progress was impossible.

Enraged, I slapped open the Amstrad's deck and flung the tape at the wall. It cracked off the brick and fell in halves onto my old bedroom's floor. Dark tape rolled across the carpet, led by a white plastic cog. For a long while I glared at the remains, at the plastic casing and its sun-bleached label.

I blinked, then laughed. All along, I'd recited the answer I remembered, rather than the one I was asked for. The one I could never have figured out as a child. I swung back to the Amstrad. The game was still running--lacking a cartridge's built-in hardware, tape software must spool into the system memory before it can execute.


The bearer of Christ. My screen faded as fast as a Zilog Z80 permits. A new scene formed, and years of wonder faded. I was in a tiny dark church, bathed in color from stained glass windows. A book rested on a lectern, the chamber's only furnishing.

What had that strange, broken boy placed there? I don't recall what I'd expected, exactly, except something awful, a cipher for the unspeakable, something in his life he could not bring himself to express in plain words. That was why his father never published it--and why he was so angry at my interest. Every circumstance seemed to focus on that point. Ward knew, at the end, that a puzzle solves nothing for its creator: it just mirrors what it conceals. A mystery might seem a safe place to store evil, but it isn't. It can't be.

But I was wrong, of course. There was no tangled diary, no dark answer to David Michael Ward's predicament. As I selected the icons for EXAMINE and BOOK, I saw that all of these enigmas were imagined. It dawned on me that nothing was ever missing from the version I'd found and played back in the 1980s; then as now, I simply hadn't figured out the answer. Ward had simply made obvious to me what was obvious to most: damaged as he is, his final look at me had been a smile, full of knowing.

The game ended with just a single word.


At first, today, I was tempted to remember it otherwise, for effect. But that would be cheating.

65 Comments Add a comment

#1 9:24 AM, Jun 1 Reply

Wonderful things

#2 9:40 AM, Jun 1 Reply
David Pescovitz

Argh! I swear I remember playing that on my TI-99/4 but I can't find any evidence that it was ported.

#3 9:43 AM, Jun 1 Reply

Awesome, great tale.

#4 9:45 AM, Jun 1 Reply

it was worthwhile.

#5 10:13 AM, Jun 1 Reply

After reading this story I am filled with nostalgia, that aching and just out of reach sensation behind your heart; where memories live unbeknownst to us until we stumble upon them and are again greeted by the treasure they've held for so long.

Your personal adventure in pursuing closure plays out much like the game, a former amnesiac chasing some splinter of knowledge; a seemingly impassible obstacle overcome by a simple gesture.

You are a fantastic author and this recollection you've shared with us is awesome. Thank you.

#6 10:41 AM, Jun 1 Reply


That first map is such a perfect emblem of the way games described by my childhood friends looked to my mind's eye -- though the reality was almost never that beautiful or enticing.

And that art! The emotional resonance he creates with just a shifting 3-color palette, and the pixelated light and shadow and reflection in the final chapel shot -- just astonishing.

Great story. (And now I'm missing BBG again. Sniff.)

#7 10:44 AM, Jun 1 Reply
Halloween Jack in reply to David Pescovitz

See, I'd assumed that the story was fiction, but I'm not sure why. It reminded me of the quest of Billy Mitchell (one of the subjects of The King of Kong) and others to attempt to top their Pac-Man scores by playing past the last screen.

#8 10:53 AM, Jun 1 Reply

Damn fine read.

#9 11:18 AM, Jun 1 Reply
Dig Duggler

Thanks for the memories Rob. Your story has awakened several fuzzy gameplay experiences from my past.

Anyone out there remember "Taz Times in Tonetown?"

#10 11:36 AM, Jun 1 Reply

That's absolutely beautiful.
I think everyone has that: stories that buried themselves in your mind so early on that they become a foundation for everything that comes after. If you forget one of them, you forget part of what made you you: the mystery feels like touching magic.
I'm just a bit younger than that game, but those machines were what the older kids played, so the old chip colour was always a sign of something exciting and strange.

And I have seen that last frame before somewhere. I don't know where but a long time ago. God help me it's getting to me.

#11 11:55 AM, Jun 1 Reply

reminds me of how I felt playing Below The Root for C64..never got far in the game but loved it so much.

I tried running it in an emulator a few years ago but it wasn't the same..

#12 12:06 PM, Jun 1 Reply

Wow. This is amazing. I had an experience very similar to this; in the mid/late 90s, I spent a few years emailing people crude MS-Paint drawings of things I remembered from an old Nintendo game I used to play for hours and hours with a childhood friend who died. The search for it, and the discovery, were very much like the ones described here.

#13 12:09 PM, Jun 1 Reply

I remember Taz Times in Tonetown...I also remember Legacy of the Ancients, an EA game that I used to play on the Commodore 64 that looks a lot like the game featured in this story.

#14 12:45 PM, Jun 1 Reply

This was a great story! I really want to play this game! The graphics really stand up to the test of time.

#15 1:15 PM, Jun 1 Reply
Anon in reply to Dig Duggler

It was Tass Times in Tonetown. And yes. I totally remember that game. So 80's!

#16 1:22 PM, Jun 1 Reply

Awesome, thanks. I've had similar memories of games I can't find, but have never gone so far as to track down the author himself.

Did you really break the tape? Potentially the only cassette containing the game in the world? Or at least the tape that the author himself gave you?

I wonder why the father was so worked up about the game; perhaps he sees it as the cause of his son's problems rather than an attempted escape from them. The writing in the game was quite brilliant for a 15 year old, not to mention the programming surrounding it.

#17 2:32 PM, Jun 1 Reply

I am reminded of two things.

A musicbox, a cheap japanese mechanism about an inch and a half long, encased in a shattered and warped plastic echo housing. I found it in a bookcase as a child, listened for days, was haunted, and kept it safe to listen to from time to time until I lost it, never to be found again. I can't recall the tune except in tatters, and I never knew the name.

A similar box is in the possession of my sweetheart. Not the same song, but it haunted her in much the same way. I listened too, and was haunted. Then, after years, a continent away for studies and connected to her only by the internet and phones, I stumbled by chance upon a youtube video of one of a duplicate of the box. Intrigued, I read the comments to find clues to what the song was. I found it and choked.

Feelings, by Morris Albert. Written, sung, recorded, and made into a small, unremarkable, mass produced musicbox all before I was ever born. The music box only plays a vague semblance of the opening bars. Yet it was the song. I broke down, sobbing over the most beautiful twenty two seconds of music, slowly looping from that tiny metal contraption. I sent the video to my darling without explanation. She phoned me after a long moment and we shared in that sort of bittersweet sorrow and joy that accompanies all lost memories found after a long time.

The Video of The Box:

The second thing I am reminded of is an old game for the Apple II GS, a mysterious puzzle game I can only glimpse in snippets. The player had to navigate top-down through mazes of various sorts, and I remember the dark background and the brightly colored worm / dragon / snake monsters which were the chief danger. I have searched through every library of classic Apple games I can find, but I fear it was an unofficial program, some third party endeavor like a number of the other games I used to play.

More than that I can't remember. I still hope to find it someday, but I have little to go off of.

~D. Walker

#18 2:50 PM, Jun 1 Reply
Shelby Davis

Wow. That was amazing.

#19 4:14 PM, Jun 1 Reply

This is what all stories should be like.

Real. Interesting. Poignant. Personal.

Rob, with a story like this you have set yourself apart from the other Mutant editors on this webpage. You might just be The One. The one blogger who gets that he has a responsibility as a journalist not just to entertain, but to touch people's lives.

This story is the best thing I have read in this website ever.

And its one of the best things I have read on the interwebs, period.

Damn, that was good journalism.

#20 6:52 PM, Jun 1 Reply

And that's the name of the game.

Congratulations, Rob. That was wonderful.

#21 7:12 PM, Jun 1 Reply

Nicely done. Is this a true story?

#22 7:19 PM, Jun 1 Reply

This was great! I would love to read an expanded version, should you ever wish to write one. Thank you so much for such a fascinating read.

#23 7:29 PM, Jun 1 Reply

Absolutely incredible. A fully-realized journey, and I've been there. In my case it was something far easier: The Lucasarts game "The Dig," which had run just fine on my family's old Mac, but as the hardware advanced the CD became a coaster. And just last week I found it on Steam, and things came flooding back.

#24 8:17 PM, Jun 1 Reply
Rob Beschizza

Thank you all for your kind words!

#25 9:26 PM, Jun 1 Reply

Amazing history Rob. I also got strong memories about some 8bit adventures whose histories, writing or mood touched me somehow, and I wonder if such thing happens because on those days a game was a personal creation of a single author. Perhaps was more "intimate" that playing today's multi-million productions?

#26 10:50 PM, Jun 1 Reply

Holy crap this is a great story, Rob.

#27 12:53 AM, Jun 2 Reply

One of the most touching pieces of games journalism I've read for a very long time, Rob. Thank you.

#28 2:11 AM, Jun 2 Reply

Wonderful. Thanks for writing this piece.

#29 2:39 AM, Jun 2 Reply

I just want to let Rob know that this is one of the best things I've read on the internet. full stop.

It's really exciting to see games journalism maturing!

#30 2:56 AM, Jun 2 Reply

What a fantastic essay, a real winner.

#31 3:32 AM, Jun 2 Reply

Thank you.

...Did you recover a copy of the game? For emulation and posterity? The existence of the screenshots suggests so, but we never find out. (And of course, a current Google search for the game's name turns up nothing relevant save for this page itself.)

#32 6:09 AM, Jun 2 Reply

You should add the game to MobyGames. Since the site currently won't load for me I can't check if it's already there, but I guess not.

#33 6:41 AM, Jun 2 Reply
Rob Beschizza

Fiction! Sorry if anyone is disappointed. The line is fuzzy in places, but there is no such game as Nomen Ludi and Simon Ward is configured very differently in the real world.

#34 6:52 AM, Jun 2 Reply

Fantastic! So fantastic. Now if only my dad would find my TI-99A, my morning would be complete.

#35 8:03 AM, Jun 2 Reply

I love the story and screens, they somehow manage to hit a nerve with me and make me think back into my past.
Have you done all those screens? They are wonderful

#36 8:45 AM, Jun 2 Reply

Awesome - fiction or no, it brought back so many memories of exploring four color worlds on my third floor. The human part of the story was pretty great too :)

#37 9:20 AM, Jun 2 Reply

Did you based the character of David Ward on the real David Ward, co-founder of Ocean Software?

#38 10:42 AM, Jun 2 Reply

That was amazing and beautiful. But where did you get the art?

#39 11:11 AM, Jun 2 Reply
Rob Beschizza

I made the art for the story. As conceptually tempting as it was to code the whole game in Locomotive BASIC and create an amstrad disk image for extra hoaxtastic fun ... No.

#40 12:28 PM, Jun 2 Reply

Rob, I really really enjoyed this. Thank you so much!

#41 3:06 PM, Jun 2 Reply
Severius in reply to Rob Beschizza

I would love to play it! Also, the art is amazingly beautiful. Definitely brought me back to good old days.

#42 6:32 PM, Jun 2 Reply

Fiction huh? Well, I kinda suspected it might be, at least partially, but I didn't want to offend by asking! As I said in a previous comment, I'd love to read an expanded version, as long as the format allows the pictures. It would make a very good film, made in a documentery style. I don't mind being taken in at all, sinced you fessed up. Beautiful work all around!

#43 10:03 PM, Jun 2 Reply
Stefan Jones

Well, you had me believing.

The screenshots are well done.

Coincidentally, I'm just clearing out my collection of mid-80s PC games. A couple of dozen, on 5.25" disks. Galactic Gladiators, Adventure, Infocom games, Sierra's stuff.

The Nomen Ludi art reminds me of that of the graphic adventures games (e.g., Fahrenheit 451) by Trillium AKA Telarium.

#44 10:07 PM, Jun 2 Reply
Chrs in reply to dculberson

Heh, that was about the point where I started to be kind of sure it was a story.

Well, well done.

#45 2:59 AM, Jun 3 Reply
Anne in reply to Anonymous

If we're remembering the same game, it exists. It's an edutainment game. I thought it was published by MECC, but I can't find it now. I found it a couple years back, but the name escapes me (again). I'm currently poking around to see if I can find it. It's obscure, definitely.

#46 3:11 AM, Jun 3 Reply

I knew this was fiction...I HATE fake stories like this.

For years I've been listening to Nation Public Radio. The program "This American Life" will tell a great and wonderful story, and then only at the very end do they tell you it's fiction. I can still remember to this day how bitter I was when I found out the stories of the mentally challenged brother with the Armadillo, and the parents traveling with their dead sons coffin in an old station wagon were fake. I won't listen to This American Life anymore. It's too painful.

#47 3:17 AM, Jun 3 Reply
Anne in reply to Anonymous

Anonymous in search of a game; is it 'Think Quick!'? See the description at HOTU and more screenshots at Moby Games.

#48 11:23 AM, Jun 3 Reply

Great, great story. Thanks very much. I just loved it.

T.M. Camp

#49 8:12 AM, Jun 4 Reply

Rob, have you read Lucky Wander Boy? I enjoyed this story, and it reminded me of that one: a weird game from one's childhood found again, and the developer is even weirder.

#50 12:43 PM, Jun 4 Reply
Anon in reply to Anne

That's it! Think Quick! Oh my goodness... it's coming back in waves.

Well damn. Thank you.

~D. Walker

#51 2:58 PM, Jun 5 Reply
Rob Beschizza

I haven't, but I'll be sure to check it out now!

#52 7:30 PM, Jun 5 Reply

As it is a story, can you comment on your choice of terms. Were there any deeper meanings in the references to the Nestorians, the Blemmye etc or were they just used to make the story more mysterious?

Either way, great story!


#53 3:55 AM, Jun 6 Reply

I'm have that exact experience of partial recall of a computer game right now! I vaguely remember some old computer game where, occasionally, you'd have to dodge an osprey's dive. I think maybe you were in the water? A fish maybe? I can't for the life of me remember any further details about this game!

#54 9:38 AM, Jun 7 Reply

Great story! Great graphics!

#55 11:38 AM, Jun 8 Reply

This is such a great story. I'm an aspiring screenwriter, who just graduated from college. Have you ever thought about making it into a screenplay? If you're at all interested, email me.

#56 2:10 AM, Jun 9 Reply

Nice story - quite realistic although I had my suspicions! I like the attention to detail, particularly the graphics.

One oddity though - the title of the story is 'Nomen Ludi' and you refer to that as the title of the game also in your comment above, but throughout the story the game is referred to as 'Nestor's Cross'?

#57 5:56 AM, Jun 13 Reply

Thanks for the fantastic writing, you made my day! In response to Jaan`s hatred of fiction, I think they should keep in mind that stories are full of real human experience compiled and embellished to convey a message that is important to the author. If literature was confined to strictly non-fictional content then we might be denied the effect intended by the author. We should take pleasure in the fact that, for the author, the details of the story fully exist in their mind. We are given a rare and undiluted glimpse of someone else`s perspective through a complex and deliberate piece of art. Stories are a gift from their originator; we have just received a particularly poignant and thought provoking gift from Rob.
Thanks again Rob.

#58 12:19 PM, Jun 13 Reply

Wow, this is a great job! It's a wonderful story, and I'd love to play the game. I wish it existed.

My compliments! I'm really impressed.

#59 2:24 PM, Jun 15 Reply
Rob Beschizza

I'm overwhelmed by the many kind words here. Cheers!

Danby, just a slip of the brain regarding the name.

Branden, you're welcome to exploit this in any noncommercial fashion you please. Thanks!

The setting of the game is mostly just to make it all more mysterious, to try and give an impression of someone who is very much 'transported' within himself. But there is a little literary fruitiness at hand: from the reader's retrospective viewpoint, Ward's choice of Nestorianism foreshadows the disunity of his 'dual nature' -- part creative, part mundane.

#60 2:33 PM, Jun 15 Reply
Rob Beschizza in reply to Robert

Haven't read Lucky Wander Boy! But will.

#61 8:02 PM, Jun 25 Reply
Anon in reply to ToastyKen

ToastyKen, that game is Odell Lake. It's an educational game in which you play as different species of fish and choose whether to escape into deep water or shallow water depending on various predators.

There was a more complex one later called Odell Down Under which was more of a "sim-fish" game. I do not remember the developer, but I hope I helped.


#62 7:46 AM, Jul 2 Reply

Beautiful and touching, and I can really relate to the salient tang of chasing a lost cult classic that may only exist in your mind (or at least the version you think exists...)

Nice pixel art too - I want this game to be made!

#63 8:39 PM, Aug 22 Reply

What a fantastic piece. Beautifully writen, and the art, though not necessary, really illustrates and lets you wonder yourself more strongly what lies beyond the gate. I loved reading it, hope to see more incredible things here.

#64 9:28 AM, Aug 24 Reply

"Tass Times In Tonetown" was included on the "Interplay's 10 Year Anthology" collection, which isn't too hard to find used if you're feeling nostalgic. That's how I got to play it.

#65 4:47 PM, Jan 16 Reply


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