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#93313 - 11/19/01 01:34 PM Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26893
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
"Could someone tell me what game we're playing here?"

--Marcellus Faust

SERIOUS SPOILERS
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Seven Games of the Soul is the most convoluted game I've ever played. There are seven episode-like games going on here, but there's also the BIG GAME that is connected to the seven games. And then there are other games within the game -- I figure at least four others. Just trying to piece everything together is a tremendous challenge.

All the games take place in Dreamland, that "little kingdom of illusion and suspended time." Theo More calls Dreamland "a ferris wheel for the imagination." Here strange powers lurk -- angels, demons, geniuses, homunculuses (homunculi?). Dreamland draws to itself various exiles from the fast-paced modern world. Its residents are quirky, eccentric, even freakish. They have failed to fit into the rat-race, cog-in-a-wheel quality of twentieth-century life.

The tourists who visit Dreamland come there, not just for amusement and relaxation, but also to immerse themselves in its horror, enchantment and fear. Dreamland at its best forces a kind of self-examination. One asks: am I living a worthy life in which I am loved and loving; doing/creating something of which I can be proud? Am I focusing on surface appearances or living in accordance with deeper truths?

Dreamland is both sustained and threatened by the conflict between good and evil. The game defines evil as destruction, and includes episodes involving the destruction of life, love, creativity and trust. Yet Theo says, "An absence of evil can be as dangerous as its continued company." Someone needs to goad, tempt and tease, revealing the truth about human character.

According to Theo, even more worrisome than evil in our world is a growing coldness. Our world is in danger of becoming modern, safe, sanitized, mass-produced and standardized. To Theo this represents the ultimate horror -- nothingness.

I have a feeling that the people who wrote this game really hate McDonalds.

Anyway, here are the games:


GAME ONE -- Uncover and understand the evidence of each park resident/player's defining test of character (based on the Seven Deadly Sins). The evidence used to judge each player can be accessed in the main menu. My results:

1. Jody -- Sin of Greed. Evidence is lottery ticket.

2. Nathaniel -- Sin of Anger. Evidence is newspaper with the story of the London Controlling Section, organizer of Operation Fortitude, during which the woman who was the love of Nathaniel's life was tortured to death.

3. Frank -- Sin of Sloth. Evidence is the letter in which Frank details how his pact with Mephisto fooled him into abandoning his work as an artist.

4. Kalinka -- Sin of Lust. Of interest; Mephisto announces at the beginning of this episode that Lust isn't really a sin. Evidence is the moon that is the key to Kalinka's secret refuge where she meets Frank.

5. Hannibal -- Sin of Pride. Convinced that he is superior to every other person in his life, that he should have power over other people and that he should be above the law. Evidence is his whip.

6. Tod -- Sin of Envy. Regrets losing his family name and status. Was adopted into a poor gypsy family that was much richer in sympathy for the weak. Evidence is Tod's St. Christopher's medal (patron saint of travelers).

7. Giselle -- Sin of Gluttony. Cannot stop eating because of psychological damage from watching her mother starve to death. Evidence -- magic spoon.


GAME TWO: Figure out the ultimate dispensation for each of the seven residents/players. Does the Boss send them Up or Down? My guesses follow:

Jody -- Down

Nathaniel -- Up

Frank -- Really, really hard to tell.

Kalinka -- Up

Hannibal -- Down

Tod -- Up (Confirmed by the game's "good" ending)

Giselle -- Up (Confirmed by Mephisto)

Mephisto tells Giselle at one point that growing up will inevitably involve sacrifices. The characters that go to heaven all have made some sort of sacrifice.


GAME THREE: Find out the terms of the pacts Mephisto made with each character.

1. Jody -- gave up love interest in Hannibal for Mephisto's promise that she would become incredibly wealthy.

2. Nathaniel -- (from hints dropped) gave up his love of tinkering in human affairs to prevent evil in exchange for acquiring exhaustive knowledge of the universe.

3. Frank -- agreed that his greatest masterpiece would exhaust his creativity in order to become irresistible to women.

4. Kalinka -- doesn't appear to have made any pacts, unless you count her acquiescence in hiding Frank's true identity as the father of her child.

5. Hannibal -- agreed to pay Mephisto a dollar in order to be able to be above the laws of man.

6. Tod -- no pact with Mephisto that I could tell. Seems to have had some sort of understanding/pact with Eliot Ness, in which the government overlooked his bootlegging activities while he maintained an orphanage.

7. Giselle -- attempted to make a pact with Mephisto so that she could die and be reunited with her parents. Mephisto refused the pact.

8. Theo -- made an early pact with Mephisto that Dreamland would be established/continued. In exhange Theo would take Mephisto's place as a demon after Theo's death, thereby freeing Mephisto to once again become mortal.


Game Four -- Figure out Mephisto.

Mephisto says: "There's no viler object than a poor devil stricken with despair." There are players in the game who fall into despair. But I think Mephisto was mostly talking about himself. Demons (at least in the theology of this game) start out as humans. They have feelings and dreams and longings. No one can wipe away all the goodness from them. Demons are terribly lonely -- what worthy individual wants to form a happy relationship with Evil Incarnate? (In this sense, Giselle and Mephisto are a spiritual Beauty and the Beast story -- just as Kalinka overlooks Frank's horribly ugly face, Giselle overlooks Mephisto's questionable past as the chief Tormentor of mankind.)

I'm still not sure about Mephisto's feelings for Giselle. When he talks to her, he sounds more like a kindly big brother than a lover. But in the confrontation with Faust, he states quite emphatically that he loves her. In Dreamland, Mephisto has taken on the role of a guardian angel to Giselle, while Faust, the angel of the place, has allowed him to do so.

Who is Mephisto? Is it possible to identify him in his first life as an actual historical figure? Let's see (I'm really going out on a limb here): a famous genius, about 1000 BC, who has thought deeply about the balance of good and evil, and who fell into despair. Maybe somebody who famously ended up worshipping Ishtar (Ashtoreth). My guess -- King Solomon (see Ecclesiastes and 1 Kings 11:1-13). Evidence against my theory -- Theo says Mephisto never had any children. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and (from what I can tell) many children.


The BIG GAME

Mephisto has lied to you. This is not simply a game of souls. The true reason for reliving the events in Dreamland: to see if Faust is willing to let Mephisto and Theo's pact stand.

Faust was stripped of his immortal status because he allowed Mephisto to break the rules and comfort Giselle. Now Faust alone has the power to save Dreamland. How will he respond? By accepting great wealth and looking the other way as a conglomerate takes over and destroys the park? Or by assuming management of the park himself and handling all the surprises and adventures that are certain to ensue?

In the BIG GAME (good ending) Dreamland is remade for a new era (a sequel?). Mephisto goes on to his just reward (I shudder to think). Theo is mankind's new demon. And Tod is Dreamland's guardian angel (assisted by the Homunculus).


Unsolved Mysteries:

1. Are Kalinka and Frank meeting in "real" time, or are they traveling in time to tryst with one another?

2. How did Nathaniel know that Faust was coming? How did he know there would be a chance that Faust would help to assemble the ingredients for the Homunculus?

3. Why are there so many bathrooms (eight of them in seven locations)? Do the characters in Dreamland need to be really, really clean? Or is this a joke about Americans and their hygiene issues? Maybe Dreamland is the place where all the characters from the Myst games link when they need to use the facilities?

4. The "little voice" in Faust's mind that encouraged him to choose to manage Dreamland -- did that have anything to do with Tod and the Homunculus?


[This message has been edited by Becky (edited 11-19-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Becky (edited 11-20-2001).]

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#93314 - 11/19/01 03:24 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Space Quest Fan Offline
BAAG Specialist

Registered: 02/17/01
Posts: 9393
Loc: Columbus,Ohio USA
Wow, those are some serious final thoughts. You would make a good private investigator. Just wondering,did you enjoy the game?

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It's nice to be important but it is much more important to be nice.
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It's nice to be important but it is much more important to be nice.

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#93315 - 11/19/01 03:39 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
syd Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 11/12/99
Posts: 12306
Loc: Body in California/Heart in Ha...
What a wonderful analysis of this game Becky. I am seriously going to have to consider replaying it. I missed a lot of small details.
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Light Side:

I can only please one person a day. Today isn't your day. Tomorrow's not looking good either.

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#93316 - 11/19/01 04:39 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Skinter Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 4161
Loc: Herndon, VA
I never knew a game would inspire such incredible thoughts as the ones you typed in, Becky. Incredible job. Ever thought of being a PI?

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April Ryan: "A labyrinth. Great. I SO love these things."

April: "I'm off to save the world........WORLDS!"

From April's Diary: "The next time someone says the word 'Destiny'......run like hell."

April Ryan: "I shifted in my underwear!"
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#93317 - 11/19/01 06:19 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
MacDee Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 06/06/99
Posts: 14887
Loc: Battle Creek, Michigan
Fascinating critique Becky.

How did you feel about Mephisto throughout the game?

~Dee

[This message has been edited by ~MacDee (edited 11-19-2001).]

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#93318 - 11/19/01 08:39 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Jenny100 Online   content
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 35200
Loc: southeast USA
Wow! That's an amazing analysis of the game.

Have you ever analysed Morpheus?

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#93319 - 11/20/01 12:25 AM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Advpuzlov Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 06/05/99
Posts: 2027
Loc: USA
BECKY
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="3">Seven Games of the Soul is the most convoluted game I've ever played.</font>
I quite agree, and I think its philosophical and religious connotations have not been given adequate attention. You have made a huge step in your analysis, however, and all lovers of FAUST, the Adventure game, should be grateful to you, as I most surely am. I feel that there is more in it than even the developers intended. A poem, once it is published, no longer "belongs" to the poet, nor is its interpretation any longer tied to the poet's intention. Similarly with FAUST.
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It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -- Aristotle

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#93320 - 11/20/01 03:22 AM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
emma Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 04/17/00
Posts: 696
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Becky, this is fantastic! I share several of your thoughts and questions, and you managed to give me couple of new ones Great! This is (of course) my favourite game of all times, and your topic explains why!
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#93321 - 11/20/01 08:30 AM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Arxel_Stephen Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 04/17/01
Posts: 25
Loc: Paris France
Hello Becky, hello everyone,

You people at Gameboomers really have a special skill at making me happy.

Becky, my name is Stephen and I was the gamedesigner of this game. I've already been around here so I know most of the boomers. I think though it's the first time I read something from you.

Well, Becky, a big "thank you" in the name of the Arxel Tribe team for your kind comments and your wise review. We all feel very proud reading this.

I noticed a lot of questions but... do you really want answers ? :-) Anyway, let me just tell you that, yes, "bathrooms" were a private joke in the game (but nothing to do with US people in particular, just a graphic designer's funny obsession :-).

If you have any question, don't hesitate. I'll do my best to answer.

Bye to you all,

Stephen

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#93322 - 11/20/01 06:00 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26893
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Space Quest -- Sometimes it felt as though I was wrestling with the game rather than playing it. And Episode Three was definitely not my favorite gaming experience. Still, for the most part, I hugely enjoyed this game.

Mac_Attack -- Thanks for your comments! I've never thought of being a PI, because then I would have to be sure I was RIGHT, instead of having the fun of making wild guesses.

Dee -- I started out being intrigued by Mephisto. I was also wary of him. I felt the way Nathaniel did, visibly shaking during his negotiations with this slipperly character.

About two-thirds of the way through the game I wanted to figure out a way to break through that lofty superiority/pomposity of Mephisto's. But I thought the Giselle episode changed everything.

Jenny100 -- There was a long thread a few months ago about Morpheus that had a lot of analysis in it. Unfortunately, I think by now it probably has scrolled off the board.

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#93323 - 11/20/01 06:26 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26893
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Arxel_Stephen -- Wow, what can I say? I've never had the chance to actually ask the designer of a game if my interpretations are correct!

I've thought about it, and yes, I do want answers. Well, some answers. I generally ask far more questions than anybody would ever want to answer. And I know that it's probably best that certain aspects of the game remain mysterious. How about if I list some questions, and if you feel like it, you could choose a couple of them to comment on?

Here goes (More Spoilers):
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1. Did you expect the Player to try to match up each episode/Dreamland resident with a specific deadly sin?

2. Were you thinking that Mephisto had at one time been an actual historical figure? If so, was the picture of Ishtar supposed to be a hint as to Mephisto's identity? Were there other hints?

3. How did you pick the movies that could be reshown from the main menu? Why were so many of the movies that involved Theo and Mephisto's explanations for what was going on in the plot left out? (I couldn't figure out the plot just by viewing the movies -- I had to go back and replay the game to see the important explanations and confrontations.)

4. Why were there so many images of time in Episodes Three and Four? If Kalinka and Frank weren't meeting in an alternate time, were all the clocks and the greenhouse timetable supposed to be puzzles without a thematic purpose?

5. Was the book of Ecclesiastes a source of inspiration for you?

6. I'm assuming that Nathaniel somehow stumbled across the truth about Theo's pact with Mephisto. But I don't understand why he couldn't build the Homunculus himself, or how he knew that Faust would be along to build it. Nathaniel is actually still quite a mystery to me. I spent the most time in his world, and examined more of his stuff than in any other place, but I don't feel as though I understand his goals or motivations. Perhaps this is because he is such a complex character?

7. As for my question about Tod influencing Faust -- I'm not sure, now that I think about it more, that this is even answerable. The point of Faust going through the events of the game without his memory intact seems to be that he should be absolutely objective. It's hard to be absolutely objective with a guardian angel whispering in your ear.

Maybe this is a symbol of the paradox that the individual has free will in a universe with an omniscient, omnipotent divine being. Why doesn't the Boss's omnipotence erase any puny will that the individual tries to exercise?

8. When was the last time you had a cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake at McDonald's?



[This message has been edited by Becky (edited 11-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Becky (edited 11-20-2001).]

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#93324 - 11/21/01 05:01 AM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Arxel_Stephen Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 04/17/01
Posts: 25
Loc: Paris France
OK, Becky, a few answers :-)

1. Did you expect the Player to try to match up each episode/Dreamland resident with a specific deadly sin?


Clearly NO. The whole game is about ambiguity and we never structured the story clearly on the capital sins. Firstly, the capital sins belong to a post-gospel Christian tradition. Secondly, their interpretation is a really "tricky" thing. What happened is that the "marketing department" of our publisher at that time didn't like our title "Faust, A game of souls" and wanted something more "punchy". They came out with this "7" thing.

To fully understand what we intended to put in each story, one has to be careful at all hints on characters that appear in other stories, read Theo rollodex carefully and, as you did, ask himself the question of the "main plot". As you completely understood, the hero of the game is "Dreamland" and there is no fight between "good and evil" but an opposition between "two global visions of the world". Since you were so accurate in your insights and comments, I strongly urge you to read (read again?) Goethe's Faust (Book I AND Book 2). You'll find there a powerful source of inspiration for the rest of you life. J

Just as an example : Hannibal is a racist and a supremacist, his whole story of being a Tiger and marking the weak with a scar reminds strongly of Nazis. But then you learn in Theo's rolodex that his only real friend ever was a "black blues singer". The paradox is to emphasize (without trying to excuse his violence) the horror of his childhood, being brought up in a culture of hatred by a KKK father and being constantly denied his father's love on account that he himself was "too weak". So, one could say it talks about the sin of Anger, the violence inflicted to others. One could also say that it talks about "pride", the wish to be better than the others. But much room here is left to personal interpretation and that's a very important thing, dealing with such difficult material.

2. Were you thinking that Mephisto had at one time been an actual historical figure? If so, was the picture of Ishtar supposed to be a hint as to Mephisto's identity? Were there other hints?

Mephisto has no historical perspective. He is one possible variation of Goethe's Mephisto. He is the archetype of the trickster and plays essentially a revealing role. There is another figure he could be related to : Melmoth (in Melmoth by Charles Maturin). Another fantastic book to read. But the romantic figure of the demon is far from the Christian vision of Satan. In the prologue of Faust, Goethe's clearly makes his point by planting Mephisto as "God's pawn".

3. [...] It is mainly a tech issue.

4. Why were there so many images of time...

The whole episode of Kalinka is entwined with the problematic of time. It was more a poetic choice (along with the image of maternity, seasons…). We wanted to emphasize the image of "womanhood" as an archetype of love, wisdom and fertility. A positive breathe within the game. And notice that, although she suffers the violence of Hannibal, she doesn't have a hint of anger in her. Kalinka completely denies Mephisto. Why ? Because there is no room for temptation in her heart. She is fulfilled at making others and herself happy.

5. Was the book of Ecclesiastes a source of inspiration for you?

Vanitas, vanitatis… Generaly yes but a remote one in that case.


6. About Nathaniel...

Nathaniel is the character that comes closest to Goethe's Doctor Faust. He is extremely complex. Much of his personal drama comes from his implication in operation Fortitude (and everything is true here, including the sacrifice of English agents). A man that did a "wrong" for a greater "good". His quest for knowledge and truth will lead him to alchemy as he strives desperately to redeem himself by being useful and achieve at least once a truly good act (which he will by preparing the way for Marcellus).
About Hommunculus : He could do it by himself but the purpose was to provide help to "the one that will come".
As for how exactly he discoverd what would happen in the future, we just hinted that his alchemical operations gave him a "glimpse" (but a more correct interpretation in that context would be God's subtle intervention).

7. Tod...

Here, you thought of something I had never imagined. Tod becomes a guardian angel after Marcellus decides to take over the park. Before, only "God" knows where his soul was…
Maybe this is a symbol of the paradox that the individual has free will in a universe with an omniscient, omnipotent divine being. Why doesn't the Boss's omnipotence erase any puny will that the individual tries to exercise?

Well because He gave his creatures freedom as his greatest gift ? At least that's what C.S. Lewis would say.

8. When was the last time you had a cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake at McDonald's?

LoL OK, a point for you ! You know what. It's nearly lunch time here and I am going to have one right no, promise !

Hear you later Becky and thanks for your attention :-)

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#93325 - 11/21/01 10:58 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Space Quest Fan Offline
BAAG Specialist

Registered: 02/17/01
Posts: 9393
Loc: Columbus,Ohio USA
I have a question for Stephen and Becky. I must say after reading this thread I have put the dvd back in my machine and am playing the game again.

Becky I am just curious about your education and/or writing background. Your thoughts were so insightful and well defined. Very impressive.

Stephen I was just wondering if you developed this story with a game in mind or is this a book you wrote and turned into a game? Either way you did an excellent job. I would describe it as haunting. It sure stays with you. I think you really should offer Becky a job too.
_________________________
It's nice to be important but it is much more important to be nice.

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#93326 - 11/22/01 09:08 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26893
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
AAAARRRGGHHH! I was red herringed by the "marketing department?" So this game, which has seven episodes about sin and redemption touches only tangentially on the seven deadly sins?

Oh well. Yet another theory gone south! I actually did wonder, early in the game, when Jody seemed to embody just about every sin except sloth (you definitely couldn't call her lazy). And matching Kalinka with any sin at all was not an easy task. I assumed Lust because Mephisto opens her episode talking about it.

I'm wondering though, if the "evidence" (those little pictures in the main menu) was not evidence of a particular sin/trial of character, then what was its purpose?

Stephen, I will get my hands on Goethe again. I read Faust (just Book 1, I think) as an assignment for an English class back in college (can't say that I paid particular attention to it though).

I found your comments about Hannibal very interesting. I didn't associated him with fascism or the Nazis. I thought he marked people, not because they were weak, but because they rejected him or stood up to him.

I was a little puzzled by Hannibal's movie and the posters of the blues singers. I thought you were somehow trying to ground Dreamland in a specific era of history (Nathaniel's experiences, as well as Tod's were also historical) though I didn't quite understand why.

I also thought that Hannibal was part of the game's attempt to show the tension between surface appearance and the soul's reality. Hannibal looked like a mythic hero -- and his tiger-taming seemed to show a real kind of courage. Yet his cruelty to women revealed him to be a bully and a coward. Tod, on the other hand....

I disagree that Mephisto has no historical perspective. He says that he has only been around for three thousand years -- that places his birth/creation in historical time. And every other angel (or in Theo's case, prospective demon) in the game lived and died in historical time. I've never heard of Melmoth (another book I need to check out!).

By the way, I loved the call sign (station ID) for the radio in Giselle's episode. The way the radio was used there was extremely creative.

As for Nathaniel -- since he does appear to have made a pact with Mephisto for greater knowledge -- perhaps part of the greater knowledge was the foresight about Faust's coming? It is curious that when Nathaniel performed his one completely good act, he was ultimately assisting a demon! (My head is starting to hurt. I think I'll stop now!)

Hope your cheeseburger was delicious. And those milkshakes -- they actually taste like they have milk in them, don't they?

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#93327 - 11/22/01 09:18 PM Re: Final Thoughts on Seven Games of the Soul (Faust)
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26893
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Space Quest -- thank you for your flattering remarks. I'm blushing (yes, really!).

I have a BA in English. I was a writer early in my career, but I'm taking time off to care for my four children.

One of the things I enjoy most about Gameboomers is that it gives me a chance to write again (but without deadlines).

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