Stairwell Philosophy – Indie games and sleep deprivation

New post will be just a little longer in coming.  I recently upgraded to a new laptop so a good bit of my time has been spent transferring files and making everything all shiny.  So in the meantime, here’s something I once hammered out at three in the morning after playing fl0w for the first time.


There’s something about being up at 3 in the morning that makes random normal stuff seem far more deep than it really is.  There exists a game called flOw (available online as a free flash game if one googles about) in which you play as some manner of flagellate creature consuming ameboas and other microscopic organisms to grow stronger.  It’s an enjoyable game requiring good reflexes while also being a calming experience.  At 3am, it’s also a philosophical experience.
You begin in the pond, a creature so small.  Floating about lazily, enjoying the simple joy of existance.  Then you discover that by eating these little bits you start to get bigger.  More and more and you develop a longer form and a graceful glide.  As you explore and grow you find a new bit that is not like the other, and it pulls you inside.

It’s darker here, farther from the world you knew.  The bits remain, but there are many new faces.  And these are not content to let you just come have a nibble.  They bite back.  For the first time you know fear, predator becomes prey, and these new creatures chase you where once you chased all.  But they are not immune.  They can strike you but you can also strike them.  Hunter and hunted.  You grow, adapt, and press on.

Deeper still.  You have learned their habits and though they come in greater numbers you find with your speed and agility you can take them all on.  Curious shapes float in the haze below and you dive deeper still into unknown territory.  In these darker places sleeping giants lie, though upon your arrival they sleep no longer.  It is gargantuan!  Monstrous!  This beast is like no other you’ve faced before and once more you find yourself fleeing through the shadowy depths, the colossal creature close behind.

Desperately you evade, swooping, swishing, trying to stay alive as it nips at your heels.  But then, just as it seems the turn was cut a hair too short and your fate lies in its jaws, a peculiar thing happens.  You find its weak point.  The giant bleeds.  And what can be bled can be slain.  With newfound bravado you turn to face the tyrant, now putting him to flight as you swoop and dive and strike, felling the beast.
With each portal you draw deeper and deeper into the depths.  Your form is magnificent, a graceful winged creature.  Where once you were but a single nipping mote you are now a shining winged serpent, and all fall before you, growing ever stronger.  Then you enter the final portal to find…


In the deepest darkest depth of this journey lies another just like you, same form, same strengths, same weaknesses.  You have only a moment to wonder why and then he is upon you.  Brother against brother you twist and turn, engaging in a battle of wits and skills and stamina.  Each strike strengthens one and weakens the other.  Many times one or the other appears to be nearing victory, only to fall victim to pride and find himself suddenly surrendering motes to his foe.

Finally with one last fell swoop you take his final mote.  You are victorious.  You are complete.  You are the new master of the deep.  Slowly the camera begins to pan back, drawing ever upwards over the domains you have mastered, rising to reveal something new…

Gaming at 3am is fun.


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