Selentic

Aug. 24th, 2010 01:08 pm
treehat: (Ozy & Millie - Fascinating)
[personal profile] treehat
 Things have been hectic with getting ready for the semester.  I won't say much else here, as it's stuff that I probably shouldn't be repeating anyway.

Instead, let me tell you a story.

Way back in fifth grade, an uncle of mine sent me video game for Christmas, probably because I was quite the computer geek in those days.  This had happened previously, when I received a Home Improvement game for the Super Nintendo.  Which I enjoyed, even if I couldn't get past the first levels that consisted mostly of a pixellated Tim Allen shooting dinosaurs with a staple gun.  (Suddenly it hits me just how bizarre that sounds.  But anyway.)  This year, however, was a different sort of game.

I remember it being a large box.  But then again, everything was bigger back then.  I think this year we had the tree in the dining room so we could run the train around the tree without people tripping over it, but we were still opening presents in the living room.  It was a bit dim in there - the only overhead lights were by the piano and fireplace - but that was okay, since most of our Christmas mornings have been lit by little else than the lights on the tree.  I was probably sitting on the floor with the presents, with my parents sitting on the couch, desperately trying not to seem tired.  The fire may have been going.  I can't remember, but this might have been the year I got my Star Wars comforter - I know it was the same house, at least.

So eventually I get to the presents from my relatives.  They're generally at the back, since they go under the tree a week or so before Christmas, with presents from my parents and "Santa" getting placed in front of them on Christmas day.  (The presents from my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents are also distinguished by the wrapping paper.  They're all different patterns, but "Santa" and my parents always seemed to use the same paper.  Funny how that works.)  So by now, I'm probably half-buried in colorful paper.  I've probably slapped a stray bow on my dad's head by now, but that's fair as he's done it to me just as much.  It's one of the less dignified traditions.  And we've undoubtedly had our stocking orange juice, freshly made from the oranges that always seem to sneak in to the bottom of our Christmas stockings.

But anyway.  Here I am, sitting on the floor, surrounded by a wide variety of gifted things, holding one of the last presents in my hands, probably starting to feel the end-of-presents regret, that I opened everything too fast; that I didn't savor the experience.  But, being a child, I ignore it, letting it deposit itself in the Bank Of Childhood Regrets.  Instead I open this present that's a bit bigger than a software box, and heavier too, so I'm not quite sure what to expect.  It was, in fact, Ages of Myst, a combo-pack of Myst & Riven with making-of specials and game guides, presented over I think seven CDs (one for Myst, one for the specials, and five(!) for Riven).  Being a stupid kid, however, I didn't find the description of the game very interesting, as it did not involve Tim Allen OR dinosaurs, so I set it aside to check out later.

Fast-forward to sometime later.  I finally decide to try out Myst, so I start playing... and am instantly captivated.  It instantly scratches my itch for puzzle and exploration and speaks directly to my love of books.  I love this game... except for one thing.  The Selentic Age.  My little mind had so much hate for the Selentic age.  All of its puzzles are sound-based.  And I was so sensitive to sound back then - I couldn't eat at a restaurant or even listen to music without getting a headache.  So I was, essentially, tone-deaf.  Which presents a problem when you need to reproduce specific notes from a piano in order to even access the Age.  Even worse is that the Linking Book for the Selentic Age was kept inside a Buck Rodgers-style rocketship, so of course I'm going to try that first.  I remember that the only way for me to progress was to very, very carefully count the notches on the sound sliders that you had to adjust.  Even then I had trouble, and I think I may have just ended up downloading a save file from some Myst fansite.

I tried it again in RealMYST some years later.  I swear they made it even harder then.


Fast-forward again, but this time to the present day.  My parents decide to get me an iPhone for getting my Associate Degree.  Which admittedly doesn't sound like an impressive milestone, but it was more difficult for me than most.  So eventually I discover that Cyan Worlds is still kicking around (I hadn't heard much since Uru Live got cut out of funding) and has Myst on the iPhone.  So I get it, and of course one of the first things I do is head towards the Selentic rocketship.  Because if there's one thing that will never not be cool, it's stylized rocketships.  (Also robots, but Myst doesn't have robots.  Alas.)  I get the code from the library tower, jot down the notes from Atrus's journal, and head on over.  First I remember that I need to turn on the power, but that's an easy enough puzzle, in part because I've done it so many times by now.  I turn to the right, stand over the piano, and decide that this time, I'm going to do the puzzle the right way.  No more counting notches or using preplayed save files.  This time, it's all ear.  I press the first key a few seconds, long enough to visualize the note.  I hold the sound in my head , then turn around and go to the panel on the other side of the rocketship.  I move the first slider until it sounds like the note in my head.  Then I let the sound free, turn around, and start over with the second note.  Finally I get to the last note.  I key in the slider, and I notice my fingers are starting to shake in anticipation.  It only took a few minutes, but it feels longer.  I tap the button under the sliders, it plays the notes...

...and the Linking Book appears in the porthole.  Just like it's supposed to.

I am so giddy when this happens, I actually cheer.  I actually did it.  After all these years, I'm no longer completely tone-deaf.  I probably haven't been for a while now, but it took this to make me realize it.  Sure, it's a small victory, but I'll take what I can get.
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