Helious Origins Story
Helious - How to Produce a Game in Eight Days.
First off, I know you won't believe my story. That's alright. You don't have to believe it. I know it happened, and that's good enough for me. Besides. Helious is fun whether or not you believe how it came to be.
I'm not the sort of person who likes UFO stories, and I used to scoff at them all. "Whitley Streiber -- now THERE's a nutcase," I'd think to myself. I used to watch "Project Blue Book" when I was a kid, but that was just TV. I watched "Star Trek" too. So on May 5th, 1993, UFO's were the farthest thing from my mind. But, of course, when you're least expecting it, wham -- your life gets turned upside down.
I usually get to bed around three in the morning. That night was a little stormy, unusual for Florida in May, especially '93. A bit of lightning kicking off now and then, and the steady hiss of the rain, gurgle of the gutters, occasional car going past slinging yellowed headlight beams through my bedroom window.
I had just closed my eyes when a low, dull hum started up. Very faint, far away. We live near a small airport, so the throaty growl of a private plane is something we're used to, and rarely take notice of. Even the eerie drone of the blimps also moored nearby is common enough not to warrant a look. But this was unusual. Private planes, as a rule of thumb, don't fly during storms, or at three in the morning. The blimps were certainly well tied down against the gusty wind. So what was this noise, this hum, that was growing louder? Police helicopter, maybe. They always seem to conduct late night reconaissance missions in my neighborhood just when I'm dropping off to sleep. Mayor's dog probably gotten loose again. The light flicking in my windows seemed to confirm this. A strong searchlight beam, apparently, taking inventory of my front yard. Nothing there, fellas! No dogs, no escaped convicts!
It was at this point that fear struck me. The light, I just realized, was green. The most brilliant green I had ever seen. No headlight was ever that color. No seachlight would ever be green, and so steady.. The hum, having gradually gotten louder over the past minute seemed constant in volume now, but the tone was changing. Instead of its initial droning pitch, it seemed to be modulating, varying in pitch slightly. There I was, standing near my window, bathed in bright green light, listening to an otherworldly hum coming apparently from right overhead. What would YOU do?
I'll tell you what I did. I ran like a man posessed, nearly killing myself tripping over a stack of phone books in my mad rush to get to the other side of the house -- to the door, outside, to safety. No way am I going to be trapped in this house with who knows what wierdness, be it spacemen, the CIA, or maybe the Illuminati. I flung open the door, and outside, where the garbage cans should have been, was a bright shaft of greenish light. Standing in the light, swathed in mist, was a perfect copy of myself with its hand outstretched as if to open the door to get out.
In the movies, the hero would now do a Groucho Marx routine and see if the image moved the same way he did, then he would make friends, learn a new alien language, draw up a treaty, all that stuff. I instead fainted, and fell flat on my face into the weeds. My last thought was, "There go the movie rights."
I don't know how long I was out -- who ever does? But it was dark when I woke up. No green light, no mirror image, no burbling hum. The door was still open. The garbage cans were back where they belonged. The rain had lessened to a light drizzle. The full moon was peeking through the thinning clouds. I stumbled around the soggy yard, in a daze. I had a vague suspicion that there would be some sort of alien thing waiting for me in the house, so I didn't really want to go back inside. But the eventual realization that I was wandering around my front yard in the wee hours of the morning under a full moon with only my skivvies on made a certain impression on me, so rather than make a big scene waking the neighbors up and trying to sound less like a deranged lunatic (which I probably was), and more like a damp, frightened victim of UFO harassment (in his skivvies), I peered in all the windows, looking for suspicious green glows.
I didn't see anything strange inside, so I crept back to the door, and made my way in, slowly, listening, carefully. I fired up all the lights at once, with the light-control system. Nothing amiss. Checked the closets -- no alien ambassadors. Looked in the shower -- no mutants. Opened all the kitchen cabinets -- no extraterrestrial slime molds, no super space roaches, nothing. Everywhere I looked, zip. I was beginning to relax. Checked the computer room, turned on the computers, maked sure all the drives were okay. Perfect. The data, my latest projects, were safe.
Much more relaxed now, delayed stress syndrome kicked in -- and I got a sudden, incredible case of the shakes. My heart started to pound, my knees got all week, and I sank into the chair. And instantly right out of it I lept, like an eight-hundred volt cat. I always leave my chair tucked under the desk, but it had been in the middle of the room when I came in!
I grabbed up the nearest blunt object, my VCR remote, and scanned the room intently. I don't know what I planned to do with the remote, but there it was, and whatever happened to me, I wanted to die with a weapon in my hand. I kicked the chair away, and it whirled into a corner. I stood still for many moments, listening, looking. But nothing moved, nothing happened. The bright eye of my computer monitor patiently glared at me, almost seeming to say, "What are you up to?"
I warily wandered over to the cabinets and, hooking my foot under the door, opened each one. Junk, just like I left it. The shelves of books appeared to be undisturbed. My desk drawers I opened with a back scratcher at three paces. A mishmash of printouts and faxes. Nothing. Looked under the desk. Dust bunnies.
Hell. I felt like an idiot. All this paranoia because I left my chair out for once in my life. I sat heavily into it, and wheeled up to the computer keyboard. In the cracks between the keys were traces of green fluid. On the disk drive handle, more. I bolted to my feet once more, and searched the whole house again with a flashlight, this time checking each and every cranny. Nothing, nowhere. Just traces of green slime on the keyboard, and the disk drive.
Okay. So this UFO roared up to my house at three in the morning in the middle of a thunderstorm, scares me till I faint, and the only evidence I have of it is some rapidly evaporating green glop on my computer. And.... what's this? A new directory on the hard drive. A collection of files in it. Right. Sure. Aliens brought me some files. Probably interstellar shareware, right?
I copied the files onto a disk, deleted them from the hard drive, and did a complete systems check, virus check, disk integrity check, everything. Nothing was wrong. I go over to the testing machine, and punch up the files on the disk. No READ.ME. Why am I not surprised. But there is a bunch of source files, and one EXE file. I don't mind running strange things on the test machine, that's what it's for. So I fire it up.
What I got then is very similar to what you now have before you in Helious. An incredibly strange, surreal game. No scoring, no words, just some wierd symbols. I showed it to some friends and tell them where I got it. They quite disbelieve my story, but they do like the game, and have never seen it, or anything like it, before. Someone suggests I upload it to a board, so I decide to, but not until I tack on the title screen and some good-old-fashioned- American entreprenurial spirit. I divided the game into two segments, and now you have the first half! You can order the second half directly from me, the address is in the order form.
And that's how you got your copy of Helious. I made up the name -- and the title screen. It's a van Gogh, of course, and seemed appropriate...
Helious (tm) and (c) 1996 Sean M. Puckett