Brody.MC Media

Trippy Hike on iOS

Trippy Hike on iOS



Trippy Hike on iOS

Trippy Hike is now available for Free on the Apple App Store for iOS 13.0 and up. It features casual gameplay that’s easy to learn, but hard to master. It also supports Game Center achievements and leaderboards. Additionally, an ever growing in-game cosmetics store is available and offers plenty of options for making your character look just how you want. Be sure to check it out today. And if you’d like to know more about the actual development of the game, I discuss some of the particulars below.

The game itself originated from a C++ prototype based on OpenGL for a school project. Here the items, player, and tent were represented as simple colored squares on a single color background. While basic, it established the core ideas behind the gameplay found in Trippy Hike for iOS.

However, in the transition to touchscreen hardware it became clear the classic keyboard and mouse controls would not be ideal in this new environment. Instead, some brainstorming was required to determine a method of movement that would feel native on a touchscreen device. Unsurprisingly, the best method of movement was determined to be a simple tap interaction indicating where the player should go to. This system then evolved further to encompass the tap multiplier system that increases the player’s speed with each tap. In adopting this method, the player was now rewarded for skill and planning a route taking into account speed but would not be punished directly if they chose not to in the earlier levels.

This new method of movement also played a big part in how the items are represented to the player. In the original prototype, each item was a simple colored square that would only reveal if it was required, or had some other effect, if it was hovered by the mouse. This worked fine with a keyboard and mouse but was extremely clunky with a touch screen. To combat this, each item was given its own distinct sprite that allowed them to be identified at a glance. If the game had remained on the keyboard and mouse, this change would have made the game significantly easier. However, with the new touch movement where planning a speedy run becomes necessary as the game progresses, these sprites are right at home since the player has to weight if saving time, collecting an optional item, or even collecting an item they know is bad is the best plan for surviving the day. This becomes particularly apparent when gold comes into play on the level. While gold doesn’t spawn on every level, when it does it often inspires the player to take on the risk of collecting it despite the risks that may be associated with the quickest path to it.

This greed for gold, however, is quite understandable given the existence of the in-game store. This store, and the customization features associated with it, were planned from the start. From a general standpoint, it allowed the game to be released for free. But on a more technical point of view, it adds depth to the game and lets the player feel more at home with their character. This inclusion also allows more places for the humor in the game to be expressed through the variety of wacky items that can be equipped. In the future, these customization options will, at least in the current plan, be expanded further with options to select everything from different background tile sets to sending iMessage stickers using your particular character.

So why not check the game out today. Trippy Hike is currently on the Apple App Store for free, and if you’re feeling generous, why not pickup some gold from the store to help support further development!

The Academic

The Academic



The Academic

In what other profession,

Can a single digression:

"The red badge as a symbol of oppression,"

Not be defined as mental degression.

This madman who saw the blue curtains as sad,

Speaks of new thoughts to be had:

"None of the characters on stage are glad.

So therefore a reason is to be had!"

The depths of insanity must be complex,

For when they see something listed twice in text,

They state, "It must be something of duality and sex!"

But listed is just two dogs named Rex.

So what does this say about me,

The one who wrote this poem to be seen,

And, you, reading this academically.

Here is the Shell

Here is the Shell



Here is the Shell

Here is the shell.

Bones before the gaze.

Flesh devoid of spirit.

Yet it lays as if alive.

Flush the cheecks.

Do the hair.

It prepares more than I.

Yet it lays as a memory.

The person long left behind.

Death creeping in the corners.

Nothing here is left.

Yet it lays as a thought.

For we will never die.

As long as name is spoken.

The spirit will never die.

Yet it will be spoken.

That we learned something here.

The mind's time is fleeting,

so experience all you can.

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #4

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #4



Space-A-Gades Development Blog, 7/17/2019

Quest Menu

The Player's quest menu.

Despite the lack of posts, development of Space-A-Gades is continuing as planned! In this update, the main added feature is in the form of the Quest system and its associated menu. This system, like the majority of others added to Space-A-Gades, is a dynamic one. Using JSON files, quests can be generated, embedded in dialog, and attached to events within the game world.

A quest option in dialog.

For example, when in conversation with an NPC the character can now offer the player a quest using the dynamic Dialog System, which has undergone its own improvements, as talked about in Post #3. If accepted, the quest is added to the player’s records and can be switched between active and inactive modes.

The quest pointer in action.

If the quest is in active mode and an objective is present on the same map as the player, a directional arrow will point the way to whatever the objective is. In most cases, this will be another NPC who can then be talked to in order to advance the quest.

Buy Menu

Buying a stack of items from a Merchant NPC.

Additionally, a Buy Menu has been introduced to the game. When talking to a merchant NPC, the player can open up a store menu where items can be bought with Credits and unwanted items sold. It’s of a simple design at the moment which may see some radical changes in the future as the game develops for both ease of use and style concerns.

Menu System Specifics

An example of the Window System.

Finally, as teased on Instagram, Space-A-Gades will feature an active Window System. What this means is that each menu is its own window and, in some cases, will allow the player to move these menus around the screen and close them at a whim. This allows for the player to choose what information is shown on the screen reducing clutter.

See you in the final frontier.

Be sure to check back soon for more updates.

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #3

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #3



Space-A-Gades Development Blog, 5/17/2019

Combat Enhancements

The (left to right) shield impact, wall penetration, and blood particle effects.

A few of the higher profile additions to the game in this update are for the combat system. The most immediately apparent is the inclusion of a variety of particle effects. Their scope ranges from simple impacts of bullets into walls to exit wound sprays from characters. The addition of these particle effects not only make the game more visually appealing (something that will be largely looked into later in the development process) but make the weapons of the game feel more powerful even without sound.

Additionally, the player has been equipped with a basic shield unit. Being a prototype design, this shield can destroy bullets and protect against grenade shrapnel (another edition to the combat new in this update). However, it is not always a fool proof way of getting out of tricky spot. Not only do rounds have a small chance of penetrating the personal shield if fired at close range, but phase rounds, abbreviated PHSE, can ignore the shield’s properties entirely. While the shield is a key tool, it distinctly does not make the player too overpowered. That being said, the new ability for armor piercing rounds, abbreviated AP, to sometimes pass through walls allows for even more creative attack plans when your shield inevitably goes down.

Orbital View

The Orbital View camera's view.

One thing that was clearly becoming an area of contention with the current test build was the inability to view the map around the player. This especially becomes a problem with the random generation of each map as the player will have no fixed understanding of the map’s layout. As such, the player can now enter an Orbital View mode where the player is put in control of a free camera that can move around the map without the constraints of the player themselves. However, in such mode the player is still vulnerable making it a valuable tool for reconnaissance and not so much for direct combat.

Dynamic Dialog System

An example dialog menu created with the Dynamic Dialog System.

Finally, the biggest single addition in this update comes in the form of the Dynamic Dialog System. Using .JSON files to create a branching dialog tree, any dialog can be given to nearly any character using the appropriate scripts. From here, the player can traverse the dialog tree and even give/receive items from the NPC they’re talking to. In the future, this dialog system will be expanded to open things like a buy menu and to advance quests by talking to specific individuals. Of course, this is all made rather simple due to the completely dynamic nature of this dialog system. It also means that perhaps in the future this system may be modable as well.

Be sure to check back soon for more updates.

The Real Sun

The Real Sun



The Real Sun by Brody Childs

Agent 4-13 was at the end of the bar. Average man in average clothes. No facial hair. He reportedly liked to keep it clean. I’d observed him order a tasteless beer. Some corporate wash that was more alcoholic water than anything that would actually fit the definition. He needed it for courage I suppose, as now he was just scanning the crowds around him.

Neon lights spelling out “Parabellum” hung across the room’s expanse. The bits and bobs adorned on the moving bodies refracted many colors illuminating obscured shapes among the walls of flesh. They were dressed in variety. Starting with retro gear of the early 2000s era. Then moving to the super modern, electric textile, clothes touted by social leaders all adding to the light show. All skin and neon. And that’s why 4-13 stuck out. A symbol of the common that, in this context, left him unique among the extensive variety around him.

Parabellum was a modern bar in the full sense of the word. A very popular spot for the local night owls all around Green City. A joke of a name of course. Though not intended that way from the start. The club fit its title though, as Parabellum means war, and this place embodied that. The daily war of managing your human needs against that of more productive endeavors. Something I sometimes stepped outside of, as made clear to at least a handful of people here tonight. And normally I would have gone with them; but there could be no distractions. Though at least now it was confirmed that I blended in well enough.

Despite the action in the room, I made note 4-13 was not making any moves toward the crowd. Yet I knew he lived alone. A reason we picked this individual I remind myself. That trait was important for our purposes, of course. It was in his file. Though the small panel indicating a cybernetic implant on his head was new. With a cursory look over, the processors in my own cybernetics quickly identified the make and model.

It was a budget series dopamine regulator. Just a simple drug administration system. Likely not prescribed. Though commonly used by low level corporate workers due to the rampant waves of depression common in the field. I logged this development and made my decision. This was the one we wanted. His mental profile managed to fall right into the sweet spot for this operation. Operation Real Sun.

After some time and a few more drinks on my part, a status message appeared in the right corner of my vision. The breach had finally finished. The hardware embedded in my head had completed the spoofing of 4-13’s phone and retrieved his GPS’s authentication token. While I didn’t think he’d delay his journey home, it always payed to be careful at this stage. Grabbing my long coat from the hook under the bar, I slid one of the bartenders a corporate identifier and made my way to the exit. As I passed 4-13, I noted he appeared dejected. I resolved to execute the next part of the plan with speed in case he left Parabellum earlier than his usual schedule would suggest.

Stepping outside into the blurred neon and noise of the street, I found the incessant rain had started again. Pulling my coat on and raising the hood, I stepped onto the sidewalk. Here I began following the arrow in my eye that appeared projected on the concrete below me. I always liked that feature. It became very convenient when visiting a new city for an operation. You’d never get lost, and here to get lost was to lose the contract. Flowing through the crowds I passed many things, but none extraordinary to my eyes. Once a man had explored one of the megacities, he had explored them all. There was nothing new under the sun. Just repetition of the same over and over and over again with different coats of paint. Or grime. Or blood.

And there were always the people. The good ones, the bad ones, and those who didn’t fit either side cleanly. Even they were not different. Some were just people doing their best to survive and some were doing their best just to make it hard for the others. But they were all the same no matter where I went. Different shells, but the same goals and aspirations without the realization that the roles they strove for were already filled. Without the clear knowledge that there are too many of us for the world to care about an individual. No room for the nurturing that nature gave us in the past. No room to maneuver unless you’ve planned it from the very start. And yet, here above all, the corporations reign through their megacities and even they are all the same. They all have different names that separate them, but the same goals that keep them striving for total control. A mass swirl of chaos and violence tinted by the neon in the street from a hospital sign filled with the previous, lucky, victims of their operations – but in the end, it’s all the same.

These thoughts occupied my mind as I followed the arrows projected on the pavement and my mind moved back to the operation at hand.

Opening the door to 4-13’s apartment was easy enough. Inside wasn’t much. Just a standard three room configuration. It featured a bedroom, bathroom, and all-in-one multipurpose room. Everything was grey and made of cheap metals. Efficient, but completely devoid of any feeling of life. This contrasted sharply with the musk that was immediately detectable upon my entrance. The smell of someone who was driven ragged. Despite this, I found an agreeable place on the couch in multipurpose room. I was just beyond the view from the door. Here I settled in and waited for 4-13’s return from his ill prepared hunt.

As he entered and found me, his face contorted into surprise. Then fear. A genuine expression of real terror. Eyes wide like an animal in the sights. So of course, he tried to run. But that was expected. Before he could make it to the door, I grabbed him by his jacket and threw him back into where I had been sitting. With the power behind my cybernetically altered arms he flew and crashed into the couch. Lunging forward I pinned him with a cross bar to his chest and pushed my UK-45 handgun to his face.

I finally shouted at him, “Agent! Stand down!”

But rather than reply with anything coherent he just began to babble and beg. With this close proximity, I could smell the remnants of the cologne he must have put on. Something cheap. Like what they advertise on television. Apparently, it was supposed to give off pheromones. Ones that were supposed to draw women in but provided no proof. Though this clearly wasn’t enough to get 4-13 close enough to even begin. But now it was distinctly diluted with sweat and fear.

And he would not stop begging. I did not have time for it, so I played the only card I could think of. Holstering my pistol, I removed the picture from my pocket. The one featuring 4-13 standing next to a woman around his age and a kid. Showing it to the cowering man, he stared at me blankly.

“Who’s that supposed to be?”

“That would be your wife. And your kid. You’re a Militech employee and I’m here to advise in your reassignment as shown in your contract,” I replied holding the picture closer to his face, but I all I received was an expression of confusion.

He stammered out a string of mumbling words and finally, “But I work for Shoshonite Industries. I live here alone.” And after a pause, “sir, I’m definitely not your guy. Please just let me go.”

“The first two, are true. You are currently assigned to be working for Shoshonite Industries, yes. And you do appear to live here alone. But, you are in fact ‘my guy’.”

He just continued his pitiful stare.

I kept up, “You’re a sleeper agent and your name is Charles Mayor. Is that correct?”


“How can you not be sure. It’s your name.”

“It is my name. – But this can’t be true. I don’t remember anything like this. I don’t think I’ve ever worked at Militech and, to be honest, I don’t think I’d even be capable of it.”

Sensing his apprehension, I backed off and let him sit on the couch unimpeded. When he appeared to have calmed down, I handed him a data drive and pointed to the television mounted flush to the wall.

“Plug this in.”

Taking the drive 4-13, or Charles I suppose, stood and slotted the drive into an exterior data port. Immediately, the Militech logo appeared on screen and shortly after was eclipsed by a key pad display asking for authentication. With this displayed, 4-13 turned to look at me.

“Just put in your key code. You always said you’d never forget it.”

Slowly tapping the screen, 4-13 tried to say something, but I chided him back into some expediency. I did not have all night for this. Finally, when 4-13 got around to hitting “enter”, the keypad faded, and a data file’s contents took its place. In bold text at the top was “Charles Mayor” next to a red styled Militech Logo and subtext reading, “Agent.” He turned to me again, but with a different expression this time. It spoke of curiosity. Mainly in the eyes.

“So, Charles. Do you believe me now?”

“Is this my employee record?”

“It says your name doesn’t it? The data is all there; read through it if you want. I’m authorized to leave that drive with you since it has your new mission directives on it. – Just hit the button at the top.”

While 4-13 scanned the information, I sent a signal back to Militech. Two pings. The short and sweet way of signaling a green light.

After a short time 4-13 turned around, “I think I understand. This is exciting.”

I simply nodded. I already knew what was on that mission file; I had a hand in writing most of it. It was certainly clever.

4-13 said, “Do you have my equipment?”

He was clearly curious now. An easy emotion to play against.

“I do,” I said opening my coat and moved to lay out the sought after items. I placed them on the table beside the couch. When finished, I noticed 4-13 admiring what was on the table.

“It’s a Shoshonite Armaments Tex-28 revolver. Fires 5.7×28mm rounds and is suppressor capable; which I’ve included in your package. – It’s already loaded so please don’t shoot yourself with it accidently. You’re an asset here.”

He just nodded so I took my turn to leave. As I walked to the door, I saw 4-13 pickup the picture again out of the corner of my eye. I turned to focus on him. I could see his emotions plainly. He stared into that picture like it was going to come alive then and there. As if he was trying to find a reason not to believe what he saw, but deeply wanted it to be true. A perfect acquisition. And I stepped out into the hallway closing the door behind me.

A short time after I had taken my leave from 4-13’s home, I made a winding way back to the command center that I had set up in a nearby hotel. Officially, I was here on vacation. It was something many people did despite the grime. Unofficially, as is likely apparent, I was here to direct 4-13 to his target. In this case, a high level scientist named Irvine Carbry. Also known as “the Mayor” by his colleagues due to his usual role of overseeing many of Shoshonite’s weapons projects. Primarily at a facility situated directly in Green City where 4-13 happened to work. Unfortunately, the Mayor didn’t take the offer to defect to Militech when he should have. And they really couldn’t have him running around with the rumors that were circulating. Apparently, they were close to a viable energy weapon. The first of its kind. Something that could change warfare. But more importantly, open a new, massive, market.

So, in comes Agent 4-13. Charles. All he has to do is make sure Carbry suffers ‘a fatal accident’ involving a certain Tex-28 revolver and, assuming he’s not caught, grab as much information from the scientist’s recent projects as possible. Simple job when compared to some operations I’ve help orchestrate. Though this one could truly rock the balance of power within the Syndicate. Militech was making a big play here. And of course, it fell to me to make sure it actually happened as planned. That’s what the pay is for, I often remind myself.

Luckily a specialist team had already done a large amount of leg work in Carbry’s facility. They called themselves cowboys. Their attack wasn’t anything too aggressive as these hackers were valuable to Militech. Through their antics I was now capable of viewing and piggy backing every camera system within Carbry’s facility. A key detail that would allow me to monitor the progress of 4-13’s operation. With this hard link installed, I could now act as 4-13’s own guardian angel without ever having to put my boots on the ground.

Of course, the worst case scenario was if Shoshonite managed to trace the signal back to me during the operation. If this happened a kill team would be breaching my room within minutes. And I could not be captured alive. It’s Clause 13 on the contract:

“Under no circumstances can the operative (you) be taken alive for any purpose by any force defined as ‘hostile’ in this contract. In the event of a likely capture, destruction of company material and prompt, subsequent, self execution is required. Stiff penalties will be instated otherwise up to, and including, operative termination.”

Infamous. But a common thing in this line of work. Being as such, I took the opportunity before sleeping that night to create a defensive plan for my room. The main deterrent finding itself in the form of a series of directional anti-personnel landmines and remote explosives. I laid the mines in my room’s entrance and near the windows. The remote explosives were hidden in the ceiling tiles of the hallway outside to catch any kill teams by surprise.

And finally, I was only on the third floor. By design of course. If it came down to it, I could torch the room with a thermite grenade and jump from the window. The plan was to land on an awning below then disappear. There were always crowds around. It wouldn’t be a comfortable landing, but I knew my hardware could stand it.

I was at the computer in my room linked to Shoshonite’s cameras before 4-13 got to work. He showed up on time as usual emerging from the flow of people moving by. I peered at him through the lens of an exterior camera.

He did not seem to be very nervous. This was a good sign. It meant he had actually read the operation plan I gave him. Therefore, he knew the weapon wouldn’t be detected by the body scanners at the entrance. Another gift of trickery from the cowboys.

As expected, he passed by the guards and the sentries without a word. It was his normal nature and he stuck to it. I got the impression he really wasn’t friends with anyone at this facility. Another good trait. It was almost a shame 4-13 was on this operation. With some intensive training, and almost certainly some augmentation, he could have become a real agent. Freelance or otherwise.

Then I watched 4-13 make his way to his office. So far, he was following the instructions to the letter. When he sat down, I noticed he still had the picture of the woman and the child I had left with him yesterday. It was good for him to become attached to it, and he seemed to be studying it. Though I was fairly sure he had bought the story, I still had lurking doubts. But ultimately, it’s usually amazing how easy it is to alter someone’s reality.

The key is to find what someone lacks and reveal a way for them to achieve it. 4-13 lacked a family. 4-13 also wasn’t pleased with this, so it created an opening for Militech. An opening for me in this case. The pull of desire for a better life has made people do stranger things. And the idea of double agents within corporations isn’t something unheard of with the prevalence of corporate espionage. Though this was different.

4-13 was not an agent. I think what really sold him though was the data file. When someone truly thinks they’ve done something it becomes real to them. And 4-13 thought he put in the pin that would unlock the file. The same pin he uses for everything else I imagine. The thing is, any key would have unlocked that file. All you had to do was press enter and it would have opened. Simple as that. But when you believe you’ve done something, it becomes real to you. Your reality. As long as no one on the outside breaks that illusion.

4-13 believes. I made sure of that. Or else he wouldn’t be sitting in his office tucking away the picture of the woman, checking the chambers in the Tex-28, and screwing on the suppressor. If he didn’t believe, he wouldn’t have even gotten this far. He would have tried to show the guards at the front door the weapon, and he would have tried to surrender. They would have opened fire without a second thought. Doesn’t matter what he was going to say. The facility was high security and any perceived threat was terminated without question because everyone was ultimately replaceable. Instead, there he sat at his desk waiting for the clock to reach the appointed minute.

And then finally it did; under my watchful eyes. 4-13 closed the Tex-28’s cylinder and slid it back into his coat. Full ready. Hammer primed. I could see it in his face, and he was sold. So, when he stepped into the hallway and made his way toward Carbry’s office only one question remained for me. Would 4-13 be able to extract with any information? Or would he be gunned down before his escape? Either seemed likely.

Making his way down the halls, 4-13 finally stopped in front of Carbry’s door and knocked once. From the camera inside the office, I saw the Mayor look up. He was in a meeting with another scientist from the energy weapon project. Unscheduled. Possibly disruptive for the mission. I quickly ran the second scientist’s face through the database and found her name.

One Eleonore Torø. Brunette, average build. Well placed within the structure of the weapon’s project, but not enough to be considered a critical asset by Militech. A lucky break. And, even more so, not a friend of 4-13. Though a face he would know from the office, so I was curious at how this would workout.

So, when 4-13 was finally called into the office, and shut the door behind him I was not surprised for the brief hesitation. But after a long moment, he looked at the camera in the corner of the room’s ceiling. The one I was watching through.

Then he turned to the room and said, “I guess I quit.”

I watched as 4-13 quickly drew the Tex-28. He fired twice nearly point blank into Carbry’s chest. Each shot tore through the man and the chair behind him. But before 4-13 could refocus, Torø was on her feet. With a lunge she grabbed the weapon and tried to pull it free from 4-13’s grasp. Luckily, she didn’t scream. Clearly a woman of action.

She almost disarmed him, but 4-13 delivered a punch to the bridge of Torø’s nose. When she stumbled back, 4-13 got off a lucky shot from the hip that clipped Torø’s head just above the left eye. The round fully penetrated and became embedded in the wall behind Torø before being met with a slurry of reddish matter. Her body collapsed backward to the floor without grace. 4-13 was left standing.

I could see him crinkle his nose at the smell that was no doubt in the room now. I don’t believe he had ever killed anyone before. Though our instructions were clear: make sure all targets suffer destructive head wounds. The only way to confirm a kill in this community. He didn’t seem to be dejected though, as he jumped the desk that Carbry lay behind coughing. I could see he was still alive. Barely, but breathing none the less.

4-13 shot him. A clean shot to the head. More merciful, and less time consuming, than letting him bleed out. Then removing the data drive I had given him, 4-13 slotted it into the open computer on the late Carbry’s desk. I knew the process of data capture would take at least a minute. Though 4-13 didn’t waste this time. He pushed the revolver’s cylinder open and replaced the spent cartridges. Unskillfully, but he managed it.

When there was a chime from the computer. 4-13 pulled the drive and looked out the peephole into the hallway. Through the cameras, I could already see across the facility that no one had reacted yet. Perhaps they were used to suppressed gunfire. It was a weapons research facility after all.

Holstering the Tex-28, 4-13 stepped out into the hallway. He quickly walked toward the nearest fire escape. He was still on ground level. It wasn’t what I would have done, but in this case, I thought it was going to work. Except for the smoker standing where the door opened out into an alley way. Of course, it had to be a security guard. But I couldn’t warn 4-13 from here. I only received visual and I wasn’t about to jeopardize the operation for this man.

When 4-13 rounded the corner, he came face to face with the guard. 4-13 responded quickly despite being clearly startled.

“Do you have any extras?”

The armored man smiled and simply said, “Sure,” before handing over a white and red cigarette to 4-13.

“Do you need a light?”

“Ya,” 4-13 replied, “I forgot mine at home today. Rough times.”

“I get that man – here.”

Taking the lighter, 4-13 gestured to one of the nearby buildings and said, “You ever wonder why they bothered to put this place in the middle of the city?”

“No idea,” said the security guard as he looked up at the buildings around them, “it definitely makes it a pain to guard though.”

And 4-13 fired a round through the back of the man’s skull. Right at the base of the helmet and the top of the spine. Very clean. The round didn’t even exit. Probably hit the helmet on the other side. When the man fell, 4-13 turned and ran into the crowds of the city at the end of the alley.

Sometime later, I found myself at the pickup point. I was early. I always show up early. It was located in a rougher part of Green City in a secluded spot under a pedestrian bridge. I checked the chamber on my UK-45 and placed it back into my shoulder holster. Never hurts to be sure.

When 4-13 finally arrived, he was in a different pair of clothes. Something cheap, likely bought them on the way. Not a bad idea. When he made his way to me, I saw hope in his eyes. The kind you see when someone knows their life is about to change for the better. He did believe.

“Good job 4-13.”

“Thanks,” he said removing the data drive from a pocket, “Here’s the data, I hope I managed to get to what we’re looking for because I don’t think I’m going back there anytime soon.”

I took the drive and said, “It should have what we need.”

And here I broke the script, for the first time in this operation. I had to know. I had to know why this man didn’t break down like the others we’ve tried. So, I asked.

“How did you do it?”


“How did you terminate the targets and not break down? I don’t believe you’ve ever killed anyone before that.”

“It was my job. I started thinking about it — what you told me. And I couldn’t find a reason it was wrong. I always felt out of place there, like I wasn’t supposed to be. But then you reminded me of everything at Militech and that was that. It’s just what I had to do to get back to them. – Will I get to see my wife again now?”

And that’s when I drew the UK-45. I fired twice into his chest and one square into his head. Mozambique. He dropped fast, nothing left in the shell crumpling before me. But, the defeat in what was left of his eyes were proof Operation Real Sun could be a success.

Here, leaking onto the concrete around me was the proof that anyone could be turned with proper motivation. Manipulation of the mind by creating a reality that is preferable to their own realized existence. You give them hope, and they’ll fight for it. The sorrier a person, the more likely they are to convert. And this society breeds sadness. Intentionally or not.

And that means these people are truly expendable. For the Syndicate houses billions upon billions of citizens across the galaxy. And on every planet, in every company, there are those who look desperately for something to fight for. All we have to do is create a reality they prefer. A wife, a kid, over an existence alone and miserable. They only have to believe for a moment. For their actions are short, but often of great weight. And so, there is nothing new under the sun. For I know my reality, and I’m still standing.

I chose the side that was winning because I understood these things and I was good at what I did. I am good at what I do. There’s no question about that if you were to look at the records. If anyone’s even kept records. Yet, some would say what I do is evil, but still others would claim I’m doing the work that needs to be done for the greater good. But it doesn’t matter. My masters are on the winning side. So I chose my own fate.

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #2

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #2



Space-A-Gades Development Blog #2, 4/26/2019

City Streets Generation

An example of a City Streets generation.

This week a major milestone in the ground combat portion of Space-A-Gades was completed. Using a mixture of the processes I used in the past, a whole new way to generate the city streets of whatever planet the player may find themselves on has been implemented. This system uses predefined structures which are stored, quite simply, in a .json file. Which of course means that in the future adding new structures will not only be easy for me but will also open up modding possibilities down the road.

Ground Non-Player Characters (NPCs)

NPCs reacting to player actions.

Using the incredibly popular and efficient A* method of path finding the NPCs in the ground combat sections of Space-A-Gades will be able to not only find their way around the map when under fire, but can engage in activities on their own. Inspiration for this was heavily drawn from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series’ A-Life system and it shows!

At this time, the game includes both a Civilian NPC and a basic Soldier NPC. Above you can see how a group of NPCs reacts to the player firing a weapon in their direction. This leads them to flee, in the case of Civilian NPCs, or stand and fight, in the case of Soldier NPCs. And, of course, they follow the same rules as the player making for a fun, and sometimes enjoyably difficult, experience.

Be sure to check back soon for more updates.

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #1

Space-A-Gades Development Blog #1



Space-A-Gades Development Blog #1, 4/19/2019

Brody.MC Media has always done videography, photography, writing, and software development. However, today I can finally introduce a new dimension to latter. This takes the form of the long planned Space-A-Gades game. I’ve recently stepped back into development of this project after three nearly complete rewrites ranging across a variety of platforms from Gamemaker Studio 1.4 to Java with OpenGL to C++ with OpenGL.

Unfortunately, none of these efforts made it past the first few months of work. Each iteration was fraught with its own issues and ultimately each was pushed aside after it was determined they simply couldn’t work as intended. But this time was not lost. Instead the time should be thought of as a refinement period for not only the game, but lore behind it.

As such, I’d like to introduce a new, and current, piece of content to the Brody.MC Media environment. The Space-A-Gades Development Blog. I intend to fill it with the progress made, images of the progress, and, maybe at a later time, opportunities to test the game in progress.

What is Space-A-Gades?

The question I’m sure everyone is asking. This project will entail the development of a top down game that’s primarily created from generated content spanning a galactic map, it’s planets, and stations. Gameplay wise, Space-A-Gades is planned to feature three specific modes: the galactic map, space combat, and ground combat/exploration.

Some of the ships that will be available.

The galactic map will feature the player’s ship on a map scale and allows the player to traverse the galaxy with ease. Here planets, stations, suns, and other ships can be encountered that will each provide unique experiences.

If attacked in the galactic map, the player will transition to space combat. Here using the power of movement afforded by the lack of drag in the void. Using ship based weapons and the speed afforded with space travel the player can engage a variety of enemies.

However, if a player enters a planet on the galactic map, they’ll be afforded the opportunity to land and explore. Here they can interact with characters both friendly and hostile. The gun play features events like loosing the ammunition in magazine if reloaded early, to opponents that go down with a few well placed shots. But you won’t be too over powered, as the same can be done to you!

What We've Got So Far

The Wasteland Terrain and the Ground Combat HUD.

From what I learned from the previous iterations is that the ground combat and exploration is by far the most complex part of the game. And while it’s only the beginning of development, we’ve got big plans for the future. At the moment, alongside temporary graphics, the layout of the player’s heads up display (HUD) and the Wasteland sector generation is already complete.

Be sure to check back soon for more updates.

Down in Mexico

Down in Mexico



Down in Mexico

It was sometime around Christmas and you were leaving the cold behind for something warmer. A journey down to Tulum, Mexico seemed to be the best choice. You didn't have anyone to leave behind and frankly didn't care if anyone missed you that Christmas. So away you went on your lonesome. But you knew this is the best way to really see the world.

Upon your arrival, a car was ready and facilitated your quick escape from the confines of the airport. Every couple of kilometers, which you subconsciously switched to using upon arrival, you notice the wooden towers in the middle of the Highway 307's central berm. Though it was clear to you after the first what these structures were.

These were the watch towers along the highway. Places for men to stand and scan the colorful pieces of metal flowing past them like shepherds watching their flock stream by to pasture. Perhaps looking for one sheep in particular that would turn out to be this week's most wanted. Though unlike caring shepherds, these men stood imposing in nature, while their bunkers and towers were laughable in construction. For what good would the wood do against supersonic metal if they really found who they were looking for.

At one tower, you find yourself at a checkpoint. The tan or blue armored local police stretched their lines across all four lanes to check each car as it passed. Each man held some unidentifiable submachine gun which sparked in your mind a thought they may be Vietnam War era. They did not look happy to be there as drove up, but you knew these men would not be a problem for you.

Reaching the front of the line, they take a cursory glance into your car. They see your Hawaiian shirt and the camera that sits in the passenger seat. The man looks at you and you know he doesn't really care about your presence. Without a word, you're waved onward. Then accelerating slowly from the checkpoint, you carry on.

When the car is finally parked, you take up the bottle of rum you bought from the airport. Taking a long drink, the phased reality that comes from excessive consumption finds its way into your mind again. You know sometimes it shows you new sight, and sometimes it reveals deep sadness. But it's a flexible thing and you're not worried about those problems you left behind to go on your trip.

Retrieving your backpack and duffle bag from the backseat, you cross the street to enter the resort you'll be staying in. It spikes your mind that you've visited similar places in the past. They're often small and possess little to no security. It was far from the all inclusive situation that spawns in the tourist bubbles of these places. As such, it would provide access to real people if you chose to pursue that end. Overall, it was more of a collection of cottages with a restaurant nearby than a resort.

Speaking with the woman at the counter, you're handed the keys to your room. So, you walk through the resort to find the matching lock. When you do, there's a bicycle sitting outside with a sign. It explains this bike is intended for you and the key to its lock is in the room.

Settling in, you find yourself lacking excitement. After exploring the entire compound, there was nothing that sparked your interest beyond a fractured mural of a face. If wasn't for the bright colors of it, it would have made you feel uneasy. Moving on, you noted the bar was expensive, the beach was almost empty, and there wasn't anyone around you'd particularly like to talk to. As such, you resolve to venture out into the towns and beaches nearby. For the first night, however, you spend your time on the beach near your cottage with a glass of rapidly melting ice and your airport rum.

The following day, you find yourself walking down the same beach you staked out the night before. You simply just follow the twists and turns of the hard rocks nestled against the buildings that stole domination of this terrain.

'We are the true architects of this new world,' you think.

There were other people spread everywhere across the beaches as you walked them. Though not like the crowded, sunbathing, people packed ones you were used to. Instead, these people were engaged in activity. Swimming, soccer, and similar activates instead of sitting on a towel avoiding the ocean the sunbathers allegedly came to see.

You were fairly sure most of them were the locals. They did not strike you as being of the well off variety either. Rather these men and women appeared to be the average person here. Living day to day off the money that could scrounged from tourism and whatever other jobs came by. It strikes you as a sad place to be in life, but these people are smiling.

Despite their origins, you were intrigued by the uniqueness of the individuals arrayed in front of you. In various states of preparedness for the ocean expanding out to the horizon, they each possessed something that separated them from their fellows. Attached to some were bathing suits of all designs, while others waded into the light blue waters in apparently whatever they had. It seemed to you these accoutrements were as varied as the clothing of the birds that flew above them all.

No one interacted with you directly, however. You're unsure of the exact reason, but this did not worry you. It was likely the camera slung around your shoulder, or maybe it that these people did not care for your appearance along their beach. Regardless you walked and watched all the animals, human and otherwise, taking action in and around the bright water.

Here you did not see the cartel sentimentality or the near perfect people posing for endless photos. Instead, here were just normal people. Speaking a different language than your own, yes, but still just people. It reminded you of the animals you heard about in Africa flocking to the water in height of day to enjoy the respite the water could provide. It was what you would describe as normal, but you knew was not the true norm. Regardless, here existed, at least for a moment, the place in between the worlds of Mexico. It was neither violent nor opulent. Here was a glimpse into the world that everyone claims they fight for. The world of the normal of man. Yet as soon as the guides are lifted, they strike out for that lurking world which we experience every day.

Finding this, you turn to walk back to your cottage passing again all the creatures you had seen as you make your way to your appointed territory. Through dinner and sometime afterward you find yourself following the rut you started to dig the night before: sitting along the beach with your rum. However, this time your contemplations were interrupted with the sounds of an engine running hot came from the costal road that was visible from your vantage point.

Scanning the pockmarked concrete, the source finally came from around a bend leading from the nearby town. It was a dark blue truck with police markings whose lights were streaking the world it passed with alternating visions of blue and red. These lights illuminated the police officers holding themselves in the truck's bed.

They were clearly equipped for action and wore heavy, dark blue ballistic vests emblazoned in stark white text reading 'POLIC'A'. In the hands that weren't holding onto the hurtling truck, were what appeared to me to be M4 rifles of some description. Each was basic without modern optics, but the message was clear: these were meant for business.

As you watch, the truck continues its path down the road ignoring each speed bump causing the men gathered in the back to bounce. Despite the armor and weapons, these men did not scare you. Nor did the idea of could possibly have garnered so much heavy attention. The issue was not in front of you, and so, neither was the problem. You found yourself merely as an observer. Your body a mere tool to assess all that is physical around you. Soon the truck continues around another bend and leaves the world in front of you back in darkness.

The next morning at breakfast, you ask one of the locals working in the resort's restaurant what they thought the police were out for in such heavy equipment. At first, he tells you nothing with some explanation of training or the otherwise. However, when you scoff and raise an eyebrow the tall man in front of you seems to decide that's not the whole truth.

'In the past, when Pablo Escobar was makin' runs, smuggling craft would pass this area,' your new acquaintance tells you. 'Either they be far out in the ocean or hiding in the clouds. But they would still get caught sometimes.'

You nod an ascentment taking a sip from your morning drink. Your acquaintance seems to get the message and continues.

'Sometimes, the crews would abandon their shipments to the ocean if they thought the policia were going to snatch them. Then shipments would just end up on the coast for people to grab.'

According to your acquaintance, this had happened before when they were originally building the resort. While small parts of the abandoned packages were usually the only things that made it to shore, this time an entire pallet of cocaine had survived the wraith of the ocean.

'When the policia finally showed up, people had already torn through the whole thing,' he says.

Here a lull found itself into the dialog as the day neared noon. At this point, your acquaintance removes an Altoids tin from his pocket, opening it in front of you. Inside sits two peculiar items: A V shaped pipe, and small bottle of a brownish powder.

You again raise an eyebrow in question and your acquaintance quickly explains the concept. What sits in its tin before you is a bottle of powdered Aztec tobacco and an applicator pipe. Demonstrating the system's use, your acquaintance pours a small amount of the powdered tobacco onto his hand's webbing between the thumb and the index finger. Then, taking the pipe in the other hand, he loads the now loose powder into the upper end of the V pipe. Finally, placing one end of the V into his mouth and the other into his nose, he blows hard out of his mouth and into the pipe. After a brief recovery, he offers you the same. You agree without hesitation. After cleaning the ends and your acquaintance helping you load the pipe, you blow into it.

The first thing you feel is pain, as with everything it seems. The sensation is as if not only your nose, but the entire nasal cavity you had blown into was burning with fire ants. However, as this recedes it feels like your mind is falling backwards through your body. It was an amazing sensation and quickly flattened out into a satisfying nicotine high. Your acquaintance, likely realizing you were all right by this point, asks if you want to do another.

Later that day, you find yourself riding your bike, rather wobbly, down the same costal road you had watched the police truck head down the night before. As you peddle down the street towards the nearby town, you have ample time to gage your surroundings. Around you an odd mix ranging from open to the sky bars, natural tropical plants, and the occasional dingy corporate establishment like a supermarket or condo cropped up from the living green walls that hugged the road tightly.

What struck you most was the variety of coloring. Some buildings were dark concrete, while others appeared to be constructed of sand stone brick and painted a variety of colors. All standing out in sharp contrast to the deep green of the jungle plants that sat just beyond.

It was like the people you had seen on the beach, in all their variety, had become the buildings that stood around you. But still, like the people, no matter the physical state of each, decrepit or stable, all seemed to be functional and adept enough at its purpose.

Reaching the town, you finally found your desired destination: a 7-11 just outside of town your tobacco toting acquaintance had told you about. He was a helpful individual you note to yourself and ponder the difficulties of finding more people to talk to. Entering, you find a familiar layout and head to the glass paned fridges in the back.

It surprises you when you notice a special deal, similar to soda specials in the United States, was advertised for beer. In fact, this particular special offered three quart sized Miller High Life cans for what you would later realize was the equivalent of only about $2.30 in US Dollars. With the cans cradled in your arms, you walk to the register and place them on the counter in front of a small, rather large man with a dejected look about him.

While you wait, this clerk rings up your collection of cans and says something to you in Spanish. You know enough of what he said to reply with an affirmative, 'Si,' and hand him the number of multicolored Peso bills specified. With a simple, 'Gracias,' you set back out to your bike and place the beers into the basket fixed to the front handle bars. With beers bouncing along, you ride back to the resort.

Returning to your room, you dig your phone out of the safe and glance through the messages that had accumulated. Reading though them, you finally realize today is Christmas Eve. Yet, here you were alone, slogging through your third quart of Miller High Life.

It was something you had experience before. The lack of inspiration and the lack of drive to reach out to the people that were around you. Sitting on your bed you think about how this is a new place. You are not defined by anything, but that which you bring to this new sandy table. Here was a chance to reach beyond the binds you normally burden yourself. Here was a place that would ultimately not remember your intervention whether good or bad. This was an opportunity unprecedented. And in this thought, you find resolve.

Stepping outside, you think of the people and the buildings sitting in their uniqueness as you look out to the rapidly darkening expanse over the ocean. The things you've seen have shown with color and they all sat unperturbed by those around them. Yet you were going to stand here, to sit in the sadness and terror of your own mind, but that was no longer your plan.

Walking to the entrance of the resort, you find a blackboard illuminated by a pair of spotlights behind the empty reception counter. In English and Spanish, it lists the events going on in the town and the nearby clubs for the holiday. As you scan the options, one appeals to you above all the rest. At an open to the air club you passed on your way to the 7-11, a Christmas bash is scheduled to start at 8:30 PM.

Paying the meager cover charge and stepping into the club you take in the sights. It's setup like an amphitheater with the ocean taking the place of a backstage to the East. At the top where you're standing near the bar and the entrance, three sides slode down from to the dancefloor below. In the slopes are inset tables that cradle people watching the crowded dancefloor, the illuminated DJ stage, or the ocean out beyond.

On the dance floor, you spot the variety you've come to know from this place. Here were people of all places dressed in everything from Hawaiian shirts to small sequence dresses. The crowds float and pulse with the music that blasts from the massive speakers laid out throughout the compound. Each one sends forward the Euro Rave beat to crash into the thralls of people that gyrate through the dancefloor.

You find yourself not quite ready to dive into the sea of people you had found, so you stick to the top edges and shimmy your way to the bar at the top of Southern slope. Reaching the bar and exchanging a small number of pesos for a variety of drink tickets, you order the first thing that comes to my mind: a shot of tequila and a beer. In hindsight, you're fairly certain the bartender thought you intended to mix the two in the cup he hands you; a drink which you're later told is called a Coronarita. Rather, you pick up the cup, note that it's at the very least a double shot, and down the entire contents.

Quickly following it with beer, you overhear the bartender chuckling and saying, 'You go man.'

Saying thanks, you bring your beer to one of the inset tables and try to make conversation with the people you find there.

'So where's someone like you from?' she says turning her head to face you.

'America. Though I find myself traveling a lot,' you reply.

'Me too! I'm from Russia, but I've been traveling a lot recently. Going to be a world tour when I'm done.'

'Hhm. Must be an expensive endeavor.'

'It's not as bad as you would think. And I've got the funds to spare right now, what are you up to down here?'

'Mainly just drinking and wandering around. ' When it really comes down to it that is.'

After a few more minutes of talking, the conversation lulls, and you return to the music. Though as soon as her focus leaves you, a rather large man from the group finds his way to stand next to you.

You were prepared for trouble, but he opens with a simple explanation, 'Just so you know, her boyfriend is coming back soon.'

Nodding thanks, you step down to the safety of the dancefloor. Too bad you think to yourself.

Finally finding yourself among the throngs of people moving back and forth in mass, you begin flowing through the crowd. Stopping to dance and talk occasionally, you finish your beer and make your way to get two more before returning to continue the exploration of the human ant hill.

With more than a few drinks gone by, you make your way to the center of the crowd and you watch as a very European man pulls a small blue item from his pocket. He brings it up to his nose, takes a sharp and quick pull from the contents, and closes the cap to continue his dance. Curious, you approach.

'What is that?'

'It's called a Popper. ' You sound American. Are you American?'


'They're very popular in Europe.'

'Never heard of it before, sounds like a good time though.'

'Definitely,' the European says holding the blue plastic container out to you, 'You want to try?'

Nodding you grab the Popper from his outstretched hand. Removing the top, you look inside and see what appears to be a foggy viscous liquid. Moving it toward your nose, you could immediately detect the pungent scent the liquid was giving off. It was somewhere between smelling salts, bathroom cleaner, and alcohol.

Placing your nose over the hole in the plastic, you take a sharp and quick snort like you saw the European do earlier. You immediately notice that something feels odd, and very quickly afterward your mind begins to swim. Taking a swig of your remaining beer, you smile and hand back the Popper to the European. He asks you if you liked it and before you could continue the conversation you were both pushed in opposite directions into the crowd.

In your new place among the dancing and raving people of the dancefloor you stop and look around. The lights play over the faces of the people around you and reveal glittering things hanging from all sorts of appendages. They sparkle back at you, the people and jewelry, so you look into the sky and to the palm trees that hang between. The trees too were painted in colorful lights of unique and constantly twisting patterns. You end up staring at that sky for a long while taking in each detail even as it changes before your eyes.

Then a shout breaks you from your trace. It startles you and you're not immediately about to figure out what was being said due to the music that continues to blaze around you. After a chance glance at your watch, you finally realize what they were saying. All around you people shout, 'Merry Christmas', 'Feliz Navidad', or some other collection of sounds in their native tongue.

It brings all the people, and all that you had witnessed, together. Mexico was a place of cartel activity. It was a place of opulent riches. And it was a place of disparity. Yet, looking around you see all these people gathered around you for one event, despite the world that threatened to collapse around them.

The men with tattoos and allegiances, the groups wearing ridiculously expensive clothing, and the people that appear to be wearing whatever they felt would suffice. They all were standing together shouting the same thing, in different words, to be heard over the still blasting Euro Beats.

Snow Shaman

Snow Shaman



Snow Shaman, 2/14/17

We created a home

A place of our own

To hide away from them

To sin in peace here

To keep the vultures' there

None dare to come near

I've left what I hold dear

Built of sticks and stones

A man of many homes

Knower of the tomes

Beast of the deep dark snow

Lines crystals in a row

White as the fur he wears

Enemies in snares

Staff of old hard wood bolts

Piece of metal tips

Found with a pair of Colts

Can't connect with it

On a social level

Just with the nature

A bear of man's nurture

Sees the world different

Shadows and demons walk

Spirits like to talk

Knowledge in a small book

That no one has took

You just have to look.

The Green in the Jungle

The Green in the Jungle



The Green in the Jungle

I don't know why I decided to become a reporter during a conflict like Vietnam. I just knew I didn't want to fight. It was the only way out for me. And in the end, I guess I was technically in the fight'just not the one holding a gun. I just spread propaganda. A crime just as bad. But it doesn't matter now anyway. I ended up in Vietnam through the random set of coincidences we call life and made it out with a little help from Lady Luck.

It started when I was born in the woods of New Hampshire. An only child and a far stretch to the hot jungles of Vietnam. I lived in the woods for most of my life before that. Just a medium sized home located at the top of a long drive on a tall hill. School was never too hard, but it always seemed to be lacking in the end; it might have been why I qualified as a reporter. When the war began, everyone thought it would be over in a year or two. They were 'just fighting farmers' the town often joked to itself. But then it just kept going. And then the draft came. My best friend went first, and he came home in a box only three weeks after he arrived in country. Shortly after, I got my letter: fight in the 23rd Infantry Division, and in little text at the bottom, 'or apply for special programs.' I made my choice.

I chose to hold a camera over a gun. So, I was shipped off in the middle of the war and found myself landing in Saigon. I was technically a freelance war reporter, but I was under contract with the US Army to collect stories and images to be sent back to the US in an attempt to turn the opinion of the war back to something the federal government could work with. I didn't believe it would work, but what choice did I really have back then? I was so new. Regardless, they issued me a camera, a notebook, five pencils, a blue rather shitty sharpener, and a freelance reporter clearance card. It had my name printed in bold letters next to a picture of me grinning. I always hated that picture; it never really represented me while I was there. To provide further contrast to that smile, I even ended up purchasing a knife from a local vendor. He claimed it was from the bases reserves and he was authorized to sell, but I was skeptical. Lots of US equipment, and people, went missing during that war.

My first mission was to hitch a ride on a Huey out to jungle outpost and record some of the stories out there. I did what I was told and when I arrived a rather scruffy Sergeant led me to the barracks where I was to be staying. As soon as he opened his mouth, I knew he from somewhere down South. He had that drawl you hear so much down there and the mannerisms to boot. I guessed he had to be at least 26, making him young for his rank. But he directed me along with a clear purpose, and when finished went on his way to 'go tend to some of the other issues ya'll have been causing me.'

After squaring my clothes and extraneous gear away, I went out to what appeared to be a common area in the base. Seeing two soldiers playing cards, I approached with a bit of caution as I still didn't know what to expect from these men.

'Do you guys have time for a picture?' I asked, making my way up to the two soldiers who seemed to be in the middle of what I'd guess to be a form of Poker.

The larger one, wearing an olive drab t-shirt as well as standard issue pants and boots, looked up from the game long enough to reply curtly, 'Maybe we've got time, how do you want it?'

'I need you to look tough, we need something inspiring,' I told them giving my best 'I Belong Here Smile' and pulling out the camera from my leather bag. 'Plus, I can give you both a copy if you want. Just make sure it looks good.'

'We don't need to try,' the smaller soldier said putting his apparently water damaged cigarette out on the table near the pile of bills in the center of the table. He pointed to the larger soldier and continued, 'Radzevich has the biggest balls in the platoon. Not to mention his arms. They say the VC run in fear when he flexes.' And after losing a hand carried on, 'But ya, you can take the shot.'

The soldiers then both raised themselves from their stools and posed for the picture. Both flexed and showed their teeth to the Army-issue camera. It turned out the story about the VC might as well be true'Radzevich's bicep was nearly as big as my head.

I handed the extra polaroids to Radzevich, and a large explosion sounded in the near distance. We all dived to the dirt. I was so afraid. But I could see the smaller soldier laughing, while Radzevich just looked at me silently'until a shout of 'CORPSMAN!' washed past over us. The smaller soldier turned his head to look at Radzevich and the two men jumped to their feet. Grabbing their M16s off the card table, they ran towards where the call had come from. As they ran, I heard Radzevich say back, 'Thanks.'

I don't know why, but I needed to follow them. I wanted to lay there, but I just couldn't. Maybe it was the call of the void, or maybe it was just that they were the first people to talk to me in this strange place like I was an actual human being. I don't know, but I went after them. I stayed low, kept my camera out, and tried to stay out of people's way as I ran to where they disappeared around a hastily constructed bunker and towards the trench line. There was the first time I saw a man die. But it certainly wasn't the last.

The man didn't die clean. He had taken the brunt of a hand grenade. A VC was in the woods nearby, I head one of the soldiers shouting. I saw Radzevich leaning over the man trying to stop the bleeding while the smaller soldier aimed his rifle into the jungle jumping back and forth. Radzevich's expression never changed. He just did his work without emotion. I wondered how long he had been here. I took a picture.

I tried to move closer, but as I began to move past a line of sand bags toward the trench line, the smaller soldier began firing his weapon. As he jumped into the trench, Radzevich threw himself down onto the Sergeant. Then someone shouted over the gun fire, 'GET DOWN! TORCH UP!' Then a stream of fire shot out from the makeshift bunker strafing the underbrush beyond the trench line. The fire was just above Radzevich and his friend.

As quickly as it started, the roar stopped, and the flames stopped flying. I sat watching. I couldn't move. Radzevich picked himself up and looked at the man on the ground. He was no longer coughing. I picked myself off the ground using the sandbags for support and made my way to Radzevich who stood expressionless. I saw the man was dead. It wasn't even his wounds that killed him; not directly anyway. He had bled out. Right under Radzevich. I looked up to the man, with the smaller soldier now looking over his shoulder.

'That's a shame,' the smaller soldier said pulling out what I now know to be a body bag from his pocket. Radzevich took it, and with the help of the smaller soldier, managed to put the man inside. His expression never changed. I took another picture; I'm pretty sure this one never got published. When they were done, the two men began to walk back to their card game.

Again, I followed. As they sat down, they took up the same positions I had found them in. It was like some cruel record that just repeated itself. Over and over. Never stopping. Just reaching the end and skipping back to the beginning again. Same thing to happen the next day, or even the next hour. It was insanity. It was what I had to document.

I asked the two men if I could sit and play. They obliged, and that's where I truly began to understand that war.

Here Radzevich and the smaller soldier, who I learned was named Lewis, began to tell me about their lives in the jungle until the light became dim. They told of traps in the jungle, wild animals hunting their squad mates, and the myth of Salt and Pepper who were supposed to be Soviet Advisors come to oversee the war effort. They said one was black and the other was white, leading to the names. Allegedly they would be seen sometimes watching the battles from behind the frontline directing soldiers. All with their gold hammer and sickle patches on their shoulders. Some even said they were escorted by Spetsnaz, though apparently no one knew if it was true.

Taken by the stories, I went to light another cigarette. Immediately, Lewis hit my hand down and the Zippo clattered to the table still open. He then looked me dead in the eyes and explained, 'Can't do that when the moon's coming out. There's a sniper watching the camp at night.' As quickly as his hand extended, it went back to the table near his cards. Not a sweat broken. Not a care in the world.

I sat quietly for a time as they kept playing cards. I don't know how long I sat there with a single thought in my head: I could have just died. Gone. A simple mistake. A simple flick of the thumb. And bang. I'd have been dead. A soviet bullet straight through my head and probably out the other side. The bullet would have no regrets, and neither would I, my mind destroyed. And these men have lived this reality. They've lived it for months. Almost a year. Yet here they were. I wondered to myself who the lucky ones really were: the dead, or those left to remember.

As I fell deeper into my crisis of mind, Radzevich put his hand on my shoulder. I looked at him and his still expressionless face. 'Your eyes are looking a bit glassy,' he said, 'Time for bed?'

'Yes.' They collected the cards and we all headed back to the barracks. It turned out we all lived in the same one. Perhaps this was by the dead Sergeants design? I supposed we could never find out now.

I sat in bed, still contemplating my first day really in the field. It wasn't even 12 hours and I had seen a man die. And almost died myself. It was chaos. Pure and simple ordered chaos. I had seen the plans of some of the high command when I took their photos, and it looked so cut and dry there. Simple: send troops here, block this road, napalm this area. But zooming in, sitting here with just one of the tiny pins in the map, I really began to understand it. This was no war. This was organized anarchy. No one could stop anyone from running into the jungle. And no one could stop that same man from dying out here. An officer could be 'fragged' at any time. Killed off by his brothers for putting them in what they saw as undue danger. Even if the officer had no choice in the action. Even if he was just told where to go by someone upstairs.

A VC soldier could jump from a spider pit or take aim from a high tree, and cut a man down before he even knew what had happened. A crying, burned, woman could hand you what appeared to be a baby, only to have that baby really be loaded with explosives, and moments later, have it rip you apart. It was chaos. It was anarchy. And it truly was Hell.

It was there, in that jungle barracks surrounded by soldiers, kids, who were volunteered and drafted to fight in these rice patties and these jungles, that I decided what I needed to do. I was going to show the world what this war really was. I wasn't going to sugar coat it. No. I was going to show the terror and the fear. The blood and the gore. The napalm and the bullets. Everything. I finally agreed with the old saying: war is hell. I had been here less than 12 hours'and I would be here many more, I realized, before I could try to crawl my way back out.

Live Vicarious

Live Vicarious



Live Vicarious

Humanity is not evil. That's a definitive; rather than that, we simply deceive ourselves into thinking in a certain way. We live our everyday lives and push through whatever is presented to us whether it be problem or triumph. Which if we encounter the former, we simply get a prescription to the newest mood adjustment or performance enhancing drug and move on. We continue our march into the oblivion at the end of the tunnel that we walk. It's normal. It's society. It's right. It is what is supposed to be done.

But that tunnel is made of glass; many choose to never look outside its walls. Many form their own blinders through ideals, and prejudice, and hate, and war. Make no mistake, these men and women are not forced to do this by anything other than their own minds and even then all their minds need is to be pushed to look outside the glass. To be clear, the government is not making you follow this path. This path is chosen by the individual and the individual alone.

People choose to remain inside the prescribed path and to never look about their glass tunnel because outside it is horrifying. To look outside the glass is to accept that humanity is not perfect in any sense of the word. It is to accept that humanity is high capable of violent and that we are capable of terrible things. Most cannot fathom this. Most who view it get caught up in the dark and never are able to see the light. They simply see humanity as evil. We are not.

There is an opposite to everything. It takes a special state of mind to see the inverse of the world outside the glass. If we are capable of evil, and if we are capable of great acts of violence then we are capable of good and we are capable of great acts of art. They're in the same playing field. They're both primal. Humans have been making art since we have been making war. This separates us from the animals and keeps us from ascending any higher. A true double edged sword.

However, to see this inverse, one must accept the reality that humanity is capable of great acts of violence. Most can see humanity is capable of great acts of art; all you have to do is look on cave walls, in a museum, or even, in modern times, an internet art site. Most cannot see humanity is capable of great acts of violence only because they refuse to let their minds accept the thoughts that run through their heads. The ones they lie about; to themselves and their acquaintances. Deep down, everyone is fascinated by destruction. We watch cars race, never admitting to ourselves that we enjoy the crashes. We watch the news, never admitting to ourselves that we enjoy the sight of disasters that will never affect us. We watch people die over and over in films and pay ridiculous amounts of money to simulate the annihilation of entire armies in video games. We hide our tendencies for the world. We refuse to look out the glass and into the world. We refuse to accept what we have known for centuries. Humanity is not evil! We are simply humanity and we are capable of great acts of violence! However, we are just as capable of executing great acts of art.

I would like to believe that we all know which of these we should cultivate. But to do this we must accept the dark, to be washed in the light. This is what that ancient sentence meant, and what it will mean.