The Zotmeister

solving the puzzle of life one entry at a time

Oct. 25th, 2007

01:04 pm - SMACdown: Secrets of the Human Brain

Mission year 2112. Research efforts have been stellar - no pun intended - so far, and the other factions seem to be friendly enough, at least those who respond to our commlink hails. Perhaps the most curious detail of our landing is how very scattered about Planet we have found ourselves; I can only assume that we have largely ended up on different continents. There is, of course, one glaring exception: the U. N. Peacekeepers are just southwest of our landing site. This is a double-edged sword, to be sure, but in this largely hostile environment we both seem much more willing to work together than against one another.

Which is why I've issued a communique to all our top scientists, to be disseminated among all researchers, explicating that Peacekeeper citizens are NOT to be considered to be or treated as lab rats. The good relations we currently have are not to be tainted in any manner. We must work TOGETHER to survive, not take advantage of each other.

To that end, we have agreed to the(ir) idea of establishing a new United Nations here on Planet. Of course, these early meetings may not accomplish much involving only two nations - others being unable to attend due to the vast distances between us - but we certainly recognize that we are writing a new history with each such action, so philosophically speaking they are very meaningful. When other factions manage to join us in Council, we'll already have had a head start in seeing things the Peacekeepers' way and be better able to participate.

Greatly assisting with this venture is a technology we have recently mastered, commonly called "Secrets of the Human Brain", which gives us tremendous insight into the way people think, feel, and react to social stimuli. If it didn't run completely counter to our own philosophy, we could probably use this understanding to whip the drones up into a fundamentalist force. Actually, we expect the Believers may have already done this, with their gaining the knowledge themselves an unfortunate side effect of using them to make researching it possible to begin with. As is our motto, learn now, regret later.

Besides, I have my hands full with people on THIS hemisphere. My own people. I should have known Datan was up to something with es "Secrets of the Human Brain testing" proposal. In retrospect, I should have questioned what part of speech e had intended 'testing' to be...

"Hi, welcome, come in, have a seat."
"I'm Dr. Zerode. Were you briefed on procedure before you came in?"
[unnerved] "Uh, no, I wasn't, I didn'-"
"Perfect! Then let's begin. There will be-"
"Wait! What should I have been told?"
"Nothing! Trick question. I only asked it to see your response."
"The entirety of the testing will be like that. There will be four phases; the first three are varied stimuli - just do or say whatever you think is appropriate. In phase four, pie will be served."
"Yes, pie. Sorry, no ice cream or whipped topping."
"Phase one." [leans forward] "I know the secrets of your brain."
[short pause] "I beg your pardon?"
[leans back] "I know the secrets of your brain."
"The secrets of my brain?"
"I know the secrets of your braaaain."
"I don't know what you mean."
"Of course not! They wouldn't be secrets if you knew them, now, would it?"
"...I'm not following."
"I know the secrets of your braaaaaaaain."
"Would you stop saying that?"
"I know the secrets of your BRAAAAAAAAIN."
"Leave my brain out of this!"
[leans forward] "I know the SECRETS of your BRAAAAAAAAIN!"
"Shut up!"
[leans up out of chair] "I KNOW THE SECRETS OF YOUR BRAAAAAAAAIN!"
"AAAGH!" [falls out of chair]
"Whoa, you okay there, sport?"
[pulls emself back up into chair while speaking] "What is this?! What's the matter with you?"
[sits back down] "Phase two."
[no response]
"Did you say 'phase two'"?
[no response]
"Alright, I see how this goes. Fine."
[no response]
[whistles tunelessly]
[no response]
[twiddles thumbs]
[no response]
[peruses ceiling]
"Ah, here we go."
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"...UUGH! You disgusting son of a bitch!"
"Ih, I give myself a six."
[visibly in pain] "That stinks so much, my nose feels like it's burning!"
[leans forward] "I know the secrets of your brain."
"You're insane!"
"Would you like to know the secrets of your brain?"
[face a perfect mixture of pain, confusion, and curiosity] "...What did you say?"
"I said, would you like to know the secrets of your brain?"
"What 'secrets'? What are you on about?"
"Yes or no."
"Wha - I don't know what you-"
"Yes or no."
"Would you just-"
[sits up off chair] "YES OR NO!"
"But I-"
"YES! Yes, yes, yes."
"Excellent!" [sits back down] "Phase three."
"Phase three?"
"I know the secrets of your brain."
"So you keep telling me."
"I know the link-ups of your chain."
"I know the mark-ups of your gain."
"I know the inklets of your drain."
"What now?"
"I know the regrets of your rain."
"What are the secrets of my brain?!"
"I know the rejects of your mane."
"It still reeks in here."
"I know the egrets of your plain."
"You're mad!"
"I know the pin-ups of your lain."
"I know the stink-ups of your game!"
"...I'm sorry, what was that?"
"I know the stink-ups of your game!"
"VERY good! Wonderful! Apt and timely! I'm impressed." [offers handshake]
"...Uh, thank you?" [accepts offer]
[gives earnest handshake] "Phase four. Congrats!" [reaches into backpack below chair, produces two pre-packaged individual-serving pies] "Would you like cherry or chocolate?"
"Oh, uh, cherry, please."
"I said, would you like cherry or chocolate?"
"Cherry or chocolate. Not a tough choice."
"Cherry, you asshole."
"Come on, just pick one."
"Gimme the damn cherry pie."
"Come on and-" [look of shock] "Wait, did you say, 'cherry'?!"
"Yes. Cherry."
"Oh, you don't want the cherry pie."
"Yes, I do. I don't like chocolate."
"Trust me, you do not want the cherry pie."
"...Why, what's wrong with it?"
"Well, nothing, but it's cherry." [dismissive tone] "You don't want the cherry pie."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure I do want the cherry pie, especially after all this."
"You've gotta be kidding."
"What did you do to the pies?"
[looks offended] "Nothing! They're pre-packaged!"
"Then why do you want me to take the chocolate pie?"
"I never said that!"
"Then give me the cherry pie!"
"I know the secrets of your brain."
"Not that again..."
"I know the vegans of your grain."
"Give me the pie already!"
"You want cherry or chocolate?"
"Oh, you don't want the cherry pie."
"You can't want the sherry dry."
[smiles widely] "Well done! Right you are, one cherry pie it is." [hands over cherry pie]
[stunned] "...Wait...what..."
"If you don't want it, then I'll just-"
[yanks pie from Datan's hand]
"Very well. Testing complete, you're free to go. Enjoy!" [gets up to leave]
"...It's over?!"
"Yep. That's it."
"I'm afraid you'll have to provide your own fork. For safety reasons, none are present here."
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"...I...this...we...pie...." [collapses to floor, cries, clutches pie to chest]
"I suggest you leave. It smells in here. I'm leaving anyhow. Farewell." [exits]
"...I love you, pie... we're finally together... alone...." [cries tears of joy] "I'll never lose you... I'll never let anyone eat you... no one will ever come between us... we'll be together...forever...."
[holding glass up to door] "Damn, I'm good at this."

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Current Music: "I'm Your Moon", Jonathan Coulton
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Nov. 2nd, 2006

05:49 pm - Detritus

I am slowly but surely excavating myself from beneath the detritus that was my life last month - not that I'm depressed or have been wronged or anything; it's just that I felt I was largely lacking in momentum, and I'm taking the initiative to remedy that. I have officially started dieting and exercising again; my not-so-secret podcast project is underway; I've started refamiliarizing myself with game design and programming; I'm making significant strides in my gaming and especially in my Xbox Live Gamerscore; I updated my LiveJournal user profile. I'm hoping that I can carry some of this momentum into fiction before it fizzles out, but I don't want to push myself too hard (I can only do two-and-a-half things at once, after all). Perhaps once my Disgaea hardcore (see my profile) has been completed, I'll write some stories.

...Don't laugh. I'm on Episode 11.

Anyway, I'll soon be sorting through the email backlog I've accumulated. Puzzle 45 is coming along, but I am, as perhaps you've figured, prioritizing other things.

Amongst the detritus are some truly valuable bits I thought some of you may appreciate, being puzzle afficionados and all:

- ZM

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Jul. 11th, 2006

01:23 pm - SMAC PBEM: It's not dead, it's pining...

Just a quick note to let my players know that the game is not dead and gone: The Gaians have had a metaphysical Network Node disruption singularity (that is, Karl had a computer malfunction) and are currently locked in temporal stasis (e can't take es turn). I have been assured this is being remedied as quickly as possible. - ZM

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Feb. 14th, 2006

02:24 pm - SMAC PBEM: Anyone want to play The Believers?

Signups have officially ended, and they were smoother than I could have hoped: I have received five signups, making six players including myself, and NONE of us have matching preferred factions. That's right, NONE of us - so we each got the faction we most wanted to play. No contesting, no trips to, no disappointments. Here's the quick who's-playing-who:

  • Gaian: Karl

  • Hive: Carl

  • University: Zotmeister

  • Morgan: avenger314

  • Spartan: Wood

  • Peacekeeper: Jezendar

  • Be sure to mind your spelling for the first two...

    As it turns out, I have no control over turn order. The factions always take their turns in the order I just listed, with the Believers acting between the Spartans and Peacekeepers. Ah well. At least that negates having to plot it out.

    One rule change was requested by a majority of players, and all others have already agreed to it: we will be disabling Blind Research, allowing everyone to select the technologies they research.

    Because of how smoothly that ran, I can move up the start date (if any players won't be able to take a turn until March 1, the originally-announced date, that's not a problem). I also don't mind keeping that one open player slot available for a little longer. Here's what I'll do: If you're willing to play as the Believers with Blind Research disabled, send me a signup email (see previous entry; I only need the name, as the other three portions are now locked) on or before this Saturday EST; first come, first only one served. I said I'd provide a week of pre-game communication, and I'm sticking to that: if I get a Believer signup, I'll distribute email addresses at that point and start the game one week from then; if I don't get that signup before Sunday, I'll delegate the Believers to the AI, distribute email addresses then, and start the game on February 26.

    Wow, we haven't even begun, and already we're ahead of schedule. - ZM

    P.S.: I guess I should be using the extra time to get a puzzle published. In my defense, I didn't say which Wednesday in my last post... but seriously, work has been hectic for me lately.

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    Feb. 6th, 2006

    03:47 pm - PBEM: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

    Puzzles are easy to publish here. However, I am just as much - if not moreso - into gaming as puzzles. I don't know how common an occurance this sort of thing is via LiveJournal, but then that's never stopped me: I am hereby posting a public invite to a play-by-email game of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri with me.

    Hopefully, what lies below answers any and all questions one would have about the administration of this; if not, post your question here as a comment and I'll look into it.

    Requirements: The game to be played is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (I don't own the expansion, and have you seen how much it sells for these days?), PC edition, version 4.0, 2000/XP-compatibility patch installed. Double-check that last one - it's important. Of course, you also need to be able to send and receive email, including attachments.

    Players: The game always runs with exactly seven players, whether the players are human or computer-driven. Sadly, the game's seven factions must each always be present for every game, meaning no players may duplicate factions. I will be taking the signup forms I receive and trying to divvy up the factions as best I can to suit player preferences. I may well run multiple games if that proves beneficial.

    Set-up: By default, we will play on The Map of Planet under Standard Rules and Librarian difficulty. If any player would like to alter this, e may note that during signup (see below); if a majority of players want to see a change, I will ask the rest if they are willing to accept the change, and will change it as requested if no player objects.

    Signup: To reserve a seat in the game, send an email to, with the subject line SMAC Signup (do NOT edit the subject line!), with the following info:
  • A listing of your faction preference. Example: "I'd really like to play the University above all. Failing that, I wouldn't mind Morgan or Gaian; Spartans, okay; Peacekeepers, only if I had to. I'd just as soon not play if I had to be The Hive or Believers." (This is my own preference list, incidentally.)

  • Any changes to the Standard Rules you'd like to see implemented in this game. Example: "I desperately want Blind Research turned off, I kind of need Spoils of War on, and I'd like Do or Die turned on to make the early game that much more interesting. Oh, and if you don't have Accelerated Start on, I'd be surprised." (This is not necessarily my own preference list.)

  • The times it would be easiest for you to take your turns, especially any schedulable segments. (I will use this info to try to determine the turn order of the players that leads to the fastest turnarounds.)
  • The name you would like to be referred to as in any game-related communications I may publish.

    Please submit your signup form on or before Monday, February 13, Eastern Standard Time. At that time, I'll take all the signups and do my best to put the game(s) together with optimal preferences. I may well use randomizers, RPS matches, or outright fiat to make decisions; by submitting your signup sheet, you accept that I have final say in game composition (hey, it's not like I'm stopping you from running your own game with your own rules). The official game composition(s) should be determined within a week and a half, giving players one week before commencement to get to know the other players and/or make any pre-game agreements.

    Timeframe: The game should commence on March 1, barring any extensive player- or rules-sorting. Once the game commences, I would like to see a turn completion rate no larger than 24 hours - that is, once you get your turn file emailed to you, you should have your turn taken and sent to the next player within a day. Also, realize that this will take awhile to finish - probably over a year, if not two (at 24 hours a turn, the game could last as long as 300 weeks, but I'm hoping we'll finish it this decade). Please do not join if you do not feel you can be committed to completing it.

    Privacy note: If you are selected to play, your email address WILL be shared with the other players. I will not share your address with any other parties, but I can't vouch for what other players will do with it.

    Communication: I am expressly permitting all means of interplayer communication. As everyone will have everyone else's email address, that avenue of communication will always be available. In case you didn't know this, all human players apparently have contact with all other human players right from the game's onset, regardless of their planetary location - so trades and alliances can be formed right off the bat if so desired. Note, of course, that absolutely no agreement made by anybody outside the game engine is binding in any way, shape, or form.

    Status reports: I expect to post game updates here to my journal, for the amusement of readers. I may well fictionalize some of the events, turning the game into a story. Or not. I don't know yet.

    If you'd rather just keep solving puzzles, I should have another up by Wednesday. Note that Puzzle 30 is coming up soon, and you know what that means... - ZM

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