Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ion Storm, 1997.

Reclusive post-modern novelist Thomas Pynchon, whose everything-and-the-kitchen-sink writing philosophy has been a guiding light for a text adventure game I've had in design hell for over a decade, has made a reference to Daikatana in his latest novel, a dot-com-bubble-popping account entitled "Bleeding Edge":
nobody was exactly opening their kimono, even now, with hwgaahwgh .com liquidated, the NDA stays in force till the foreseeable end of the Universe or Daikatana finally comes out, whichever happens first.
Duke Nukem Forever would have been the easy joke to make, but Pynchon never offers any easy jokes.

(And this is not the first time septuagenarian Pynchon has made reference to video games in his work: cf. his Tetris passages from 2006's Against the Day:

The ship in the distance was distinguished by an envelope with the onionlike shape---and nearly the dimensions, too---of a dome on an Eastern Orthodox church, against whose brilliant red surface was represented, in black, the Romanoff crest, and above it, in Gold Cyrillic lettering, the legend BOL'SHAIA IGRA, or, "The Great Game." It was readily recognized by all as the flagship of Randolph's mysterious Russian counterpart---and, far too often, nemesis---Captain Igor Padzhitnoff [...] The parallel organization at St. Petersburg, known as the Tovarishchi Slutchainyi, was notorious for promoting wherever in the world they chose a program of mischief, much of its motivation opaque to the boys, Padzhitnoff's own specialty being to arrange for bricks and masonry, always in the four-block fragments which had become his "signature," to fall on and damage targets designated by his superiors. This lethal debris was generally harvested from the load-bearing walls of previous targets of opportunity.)
This gives me the excuse I needed to write up the following ad, a fascinating look at supreme software development hubris before the cocaine wears off.
RULES MUST BE BROKEN.CATEGORIES MUST BE ERASED. EMPERORS
MUST BE OVERTHROWN. THE STATUS QUO MUST BE SPANKED. AND CONTENTMENT
MUST BE ROUTINELY TAKEN OUTSIDE AND SMACKED UPSIDE THE HEAD. IT'S A
DIRTY JOB, BUT SOMEBODY HAS TO DO IT. AND WE'RE ALL READY TO APPLY FOR THE POSITION.

WE'RE ION STORMSM, A BUNCH OF MISFIT, ZEALOT FREAKS WHO TRIED TO REST ON
OUR PAST SUCCESSES BUT JUST DIDN'T FIND IT COMFORTABLE. THERE WAS A GAP OUT THERE.
A BIG FAT VOID, AND WE WERE HELL-BENT ON FILLING IT. WE HAD ALL
LIVED ON THE EDGE, BUT WE WERE READY TO JUMP OFF. SO HERE WE ARE. NEW NAME.
NEW IDENTITY. NEW GAMES RATTLING THEIR CAGES, WAITING TO BE LET OUT.

INTO THE EYE OF THE STORM

JOHN ROMERO: LONG-HAIRED SMART-ASS KNOWN FOR HIS FAST FERRARI AND HIS UNCANNY
ABILITY TO SING THE THEME SONG TO THE SPIDER-MAN CARTOON REALLY, REALLY WELL.
OH YEAH, THERE WAS ALSO THAT DOOM AND QUAKE THING.
DAIKATANA WILL BREAK YOUR ASS DOWN.

BOB "POPULAR" WRIGHT: A TOKEN GREY-HAIR
GIVEN THE TITLE CHIEF OPERATING
OFFICER TO MAKE HIM FEEL IMPORTANT.
KNOWN AROUND THE OFFICE AS
"THE FINISHER" AND AS "THE
GUY WHO GETS THINGS DONE." BIG IN THE
MARKET. HUGE IN EUROPE.

ION STORM

TOM HALL: A FUNNY GUY WHO WANTS TO GET ALL TOUCHY-FEELY WITH HIS GAMES. HAS SOME SILLY
IDEA THAT COMPUTER GAMES HAVE TO BE STUFFED FULL OF PERSONALITY, INTERESTING CHARACTERS
AND
INTERACTIVITY. IN A PAST LIFE, HE CO-CREATED WOLFENSTEIN 3D, DOOM AND RISE OF THE TRIAD, AND WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL FOUNDERS OF SOME SMALL COMPANY CALLED ID.
IN THE FUTURE, ALL GAMES WILL BE ANACHRONOX.

JERRY O'FLAHERTY: HIGHLY TALENTED PAINT MONKEY WHO GETS INTO
EVERYTHING: ART, FILMMAKING, 3-D MODELING AND ANIMATION.
NOT TO MENTION A
BUNCH O
F STUFF HE KEEPS
UNDER HIS BED AND WON'T
SHOW ANYBODY.
HIS JOB DES
CRIPTION NOW
SAYS HE'S IN
CHARGE OF ALL ART. SO IF ANY OF YOU OUT THERE
ARE DOING ANYTHING EVEN SLIGHTLY
ARTISTIC, IT NOW NEEDS TO BE SUBMITTED TO
JERRY FOR HIS APPROVAL.

"WHO WANTS TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE GAMING INDUSTRY IF NOBODY'S WATCHING?"
CAT DADDY / LIZARD KING / CEO MIKE WILSON: MANIACAL BASTARD WHO MADE IT
POSSIBLE FOR ALL AMERICANS
TO BUY QUAKE AND A
SLURPEE IN THE SAME
PLACE. RUMORED TO BE A
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
FOR THE YEAR 2000
BUT NOT LIKELY TO LIVE
MORE THAN ANOTHER YEAR; HE BELIEVES THAT ALL THE
BEST PEOPLE DIE
WHEN THEY'RE 27.

DOMINION DOPPELGANGER
TODD PORTER: A MANDOLIN-PLAYING, NATTY, GQ TYPE WHO
THINKS GAMES SHOULD BE AS STYLISH AS HE IS. GOES
AROUND SAYING THINGS LIKE "IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY,
THERE IS NO TOMORROW." THEN TURNS AROUND AND DESIGNS
THAT WAY. DANG
EROUS WITH A HAMMERED
DULCIMER WHEN HE'S BEEN OUT DRINKING.

EIDOS
INTERACTIVE

DESIGN IS LAW

There's nothing else to say, really: it speaks for itself as boldly and emptily as any aggressive 14-year-old boy might. Attempts to unpack any of the strange and irrelevant claims made would only be good time thrown after bad. All I can say is that it's nice to see that the typography layout artist from the Sega CD "Make My Video" series was still finding work. It's harder than you think to make text that challenging to read!

The best part of this ad scan (and really, it rarely turns out well when companies buy ads to promote their company brand above any of their specific products) is that it finally provides some slim shred of context to inform a baffling-in-retrospect early Penny Arcade comic strip whose origins stumped even the strip's creators when they compiled and published the early years as a book: