Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Killswitch

In the spring 1989 the Karvina Corporation released a curious game, whose dissemination among American students that fall was swift and furious, though its popularity was ultimately short-lived.

The game was “Killswitch.”

On the surface it was a variant on the mystery or horror survival game, a precursor to the Myst and Silent Hill franchises. The narrative showed the complexity for which Karvina was known, though the graphics were monochrome, vague grey and white shapes against a black background.

Slow MIDI versions of Czech folksongs play throughout. Players could choose between two avatars: an invisible demon named Ghast or a visible human woman, Porto. Play as Ghast was considerably more difficult due to his total invisibility, and players were highly liable to restart the game as Porto after the first level, in which it was impossible to gauge jumps or aim.

However, Ghast was clearly the more powerful character–he had fire-breath and a coal-steam attack, but as it was above the skill level of most players to keep track of where a fire-breathing, poison-dispensing invisible imp was on their screens once the fire and steam had run out, Porto became more or less the default.

Porto’s singular ability was seemingly random growth–she expanded and contracted in size throughout the game. A Kansas engineering grad claimed to have figured out the pattern involved, but for reasons which will become obvious, his work was lost.

Porto awakens in the dark with wounds in her elbows, confused. Seeking a way out, she ascends through the levels of a coal mine in which it is slowly revealed she was once an employee, investigating its collapse and beset on all sides by demons similar to Ghast, as well as dead foremen, coal-golems, and demonic inspectors from the Sovatik corporation, whose boxy bodies were clothed in red, the only color in the game.

The environment, though primitive, becomes genuinely uncanny as play progresses. There are no “bosses” in any real sense–Porto must simply move physically through tunnels to reach subsequent levels while her size varies wildly through inter-level spaces.

The story that emerges through Porto’s discovery of magnetic tapes, files, mutilated factory workers who were once her friends, and deciphering an impressively complex code inscribed on a series of iron axes players must collect (This portion of the game was almost laughably complex, and defeated many players until “Porto881″ posted the cipher to a Columbia BBS. Attempts to contact this player have been unsuccessful, and the username is no longer in use on any known service.) is that the foremen, under pressure to increase coal production, began to falsify reports of malfunctions and worker malfeasance in order to excuse low output, which incited a Sovatik inspection.

Officials were dispatched, one for each miner, and an extraordinary story of torture unfolds, with fuzzy and indistinct graphics of red-coated men standing over workers, inserting small knives into their joints whenever production slowed. (Admittedly, this is not a very subtle critique of Soviet-era industrial tactics, and as the town of Karvina itself was devastated by the departure of the coal industry, more than one thesis has interpreted Killswitch as a political screed.)

After solving the axe-code, Porto finds and assembles a tape recorder, on which a male voice tells her that the fires of the earth had risen up in their defense and flowed into the hearts of the decrepit, pre-revolution equipment they used and wakened them to avenge the workers.

It is generally assumed that the “fires of the earth” are demons like Ghast, coal-fumes and gassy bodies inhabiting the old machines. The machines themselves are so “big” that the graphics elect to only show two or three gear-teeth or a conveyor belt rather than the entire apparatus. The machines drove the inspectors mad, and they disappeared into caverns with their knives (only to emerge to plague Porto, of course).

The workers were often crushed and mangled in the onslaught of machines, who were neither graceful nor discriminating. Porto herself was knocked into a deep chasm by a grief-stricken engine, and her fluctuating size, if it is real and not imagined, is implied to be the result of poisonous fumes inhaled there.

What follows is the most cryptic and intuitive part of the game. There is no logical reason to proceed in the “correct” way, and again it was Porto881 who came to the rescue of the fledgling Killswitch community. In the chamber behind the tape recorder is a great furnace where coal was once rendered into coke.

There are no clues as to what she is intended to do in this room. Players attempted nearly everything, from immolating herself to continuing to process coal as if the machines had never risen up. Porto881 hit upon the solution, and posted it to the Columbia boards.

If Porto ingests the raw coke, she will find her body under control,and can go on to fight her way out of the final levels of the mine, which are impassable in her giant state, clutching the tape containing this extraordinary story. However, as she crawls through the final tunnel to emerge aboveground, the screen goes suddenly white.

Killswitch, by design, deletes itself upon player completion of the game. It is not recoverable by any means, all trace of it is removed from the user’s computer. The game cannot be copied. For all intents and purposes it exists only for those playing it, and then ceases to be entirely. One cannot replay it, unlocking further secrets or narrative pathways, one cannot allow another to play it, and perhaps most importantly, it is impossible to experience the game all the way to the end as both Porto and Ghast.

Predictably, player outcry was enormous. Several routes to solve the problem were pursued, with no real efficacy. The first and most common was to simply buy more copies of the game, but Karvina Corp. released only 5,000 copies and refused to press further editions. The following is an excerpt from their May 1990 press release:

Killswitch was designed to be a unique playing experience: like reality, it is unrepeatable, unretrievable,and illogical. One might even say ineffable. Death is final; death is complete. The fates of Porto and her beloved Ghast are as unknowable as our own. It is the desire of the Karvina Corporation that this be so, and we ask our customers to respect that desire. Rest assured Karvina will continue to provide the highest quality of games to the West, and that Killswitch is merely one among our many wonders.

This did not have the intended effect. The word “beloved” piqued the interest of committed, even obsessive players, as Ghast is not present in any portion of Porto’s narrative. A rush to find the remaining copies of the game ensued, with the intent of playing as Ghast and discovering the meaning of Karvina’s cryptic word.

The most popular theory was that Ghast would at some point become the fumes inhaled by Porto, changing her size and beginning her adventure. Some thought this was wishful thinking, that if only Ghast’s early levels were passable one would somehow be able to play as both simultaneously.

However, by this time no further copies appeared to be available in retail outlets. Players who had not yet completed the game attempted Ghast’s levels frequently, but the difficulty of actually playing this enigmatic avatar persisted, and no player has ever claimed to have finished the game as Ghast. One by one, the lure of Porto’s lost, unearthly world drew them back to her, and one by one, they were compelled towards the finality of the vast white screen.

To find any copy usable today is an almost unfathomably rare occurance; a still shrink-wrapped copy was sold at auction in 2005 for $733,000 to Yamamoto Ryuichi of Tokyo. It is entirely possible that Yamamoto’s is the last remaining copy of the game.

Knowing this, Yakamoto had intended to open his play to all enthusiasts, filming and uploading his progress. However, to date, the only film which has surfaced is a one minute and forty five second clip of a haggard Yamamoto at his computer, the avatar-choice screen visible over his right shoulder.

Yamamoto is crying.

(This story is credited to The Archivist on Invisible Games.)

35 comments:

  1. He's crying because he spent 3 quarters of a million dollars on a one use video game that probably wouldn't play on his modern PC.

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  2. No, he crying because he doesn't know what to do. He wants to finish the game, meaning he'd have to play Porto, but he wants to show Ghast's side of the story.

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  3. Too bad he didn't think of haxx, I mean, it's not like you can haxx an old game for it's scripts, right?

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    1. Wrong, if you install the game then go to the folder (saying that it STAYS installed) you can open the script folder. If it doesn't have one then the game is unplayable and should have never existed

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    2. They said the game was unable to be copied, so there is no way for it to be duplicated. As for why, that is not explained. But he has one try at it.

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    3. There is actually no way they really could have made it uncopyable. You can always, in the worst case scenario, write a program that will allow you to copy the disk without executing it.

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  4. In creepypasta, IDA Pro doesn't exist and neither does BitTorrent.

    Or more specifically, the game itself doesn't actually exist as computer code. Not on your machine, at least. The game executable and resource files are empty shells to keep your suspicions at bay. When you "execute" the game, a paranormal figure alters the memory on your graphics card and sound hardware such that the game graphics and audio are shown/played for you.

    Your game input travels to a parallel universe, possibly purgatory, where the actual game itself is being executed on a DeathStation R9001 (the successor to a machine previously only rumored about in certain Usenet discussions regarding behavior technically permitted by the ANSI C standard). The video and audio are transmitted by the same extraworldly datapath back to your graphics card, wherein you see the game.

    If you attempt to actually disassemble the game, you won't actually get anything useful. Opening any of the game's included resources returns static, trying to load the game executable in IDA Pro or any other decent x86 disassembler will return a completely useless instruction stream. Those who have disassembled games known to be paranormal report that the actual game code is nothing more than a series of random memory loads and stores, with nothing conforming to actual game logic.

    Perhaps, the action of the processor reading and writing memory values to/from cache acts as a sort of 'signal', which triggers otherworldly forces to connect your computer with their hellish servers.

    tl;dr OnLive.

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    1. I downloaded the game and analyzed it myself and it's just a pack of bullcrap. It does contain what any other game contains. A crappy person moving around, the ghast set to be invisible, and a crappy level design with a crappy gameplay. It DOES exist and nothing is wrong about it. There's nothing that alters memory, hdd, or anything else. The only thing that's weird about it is how fucking poor it is. It's just a story to scare bad behaving kids. Wake up, people. It's just a creepypasta.

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    2. I beat the game as ghast back in 1990 and it did not delete from my machine until i beat it with porto!

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  5. Allrigh... The Anonymous above scared me. This is like a "WTF 'thing'".

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  6. But... but! Ghast's story! I must... but it's not finished... the pasta!

    I'M NOT DONE EATING THE PASTA YET!

    God dammit.

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  7. LOL There is a kill switch but it's from namco and came out in 2003.

    Sounded so real.

    Should be made.

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  8. If this game were real, i would buy it for sure and play as ghast just to as a middle finger to people, this is why you should never give up, If you had the last copy of that game you would try to make hitory by finishing it as ghast, it wasnt impossible, if it was they wouldnt have included it in the game, Its basically a reward for players who took the time and energy to overcome the odds.

    If I finished it I would write down the ending and recreate the game instead of just telling people, that would be a great marketing gimmick wouldnt it?

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    Replies
    1. why not just make a copy of the game ?

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    2. The story said the game could not be copied. Also, it is entirely possible that something impossible is included in a game. That is done on occasion.

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  9. ^^^^^^^^ MAKE THIS HAPPEN NOW!@!!1

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  10. Probably a hoax

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    Replies
    1. This is a fucking real game bitch

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    2. This game was not published by a company that never existed, there are people that tried to recreate the story of what this game was but no one will be able to match this games uniqueness. Karvina Corp. Look it up it doesnt exist.

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  11. Who needs pussy when you have a PC.

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  12. XXX vids porn brazzerspornx movie. Free porn movie sextubepornx videos. High porn videos xvideosmobilexxx porn.

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    Replies
    1. how 'bout a nice big cup of STFU

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  13. it is basically a amercian version of a japanese game called sweet home on the famicom

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    Replies
    1. I already knew about when I first heard of this

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  14. WTF???Notice the yamamoto name changed to yakamoto...talk about fail.

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  15. they said u will see something if u play at 08.00 pm, n then pause it n finished it at quarter 3 am...

    my brother some how he get the game copy or something...
    on the next morning...

    he died
    belive me, u better don't ever try this game...

    just for saying...

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    Replies
    1. Nice ghost story, now why don't you try being original. Karvina Corp doesn't exist. So how could a company that doesn't exist publish a game with such great programing complexity that it can delete itself by giving itself administrative permissions and full control over the diskette it is written on to.

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  16. Give me the game. I'll show Ghast's tale.

    I'm serious. From the sound of things, you need Chell's tenacity to complete the game as Ghast, and if nothing else, I can easily claim to emulate her tenacity. I do not give up, EVER, especially not while gaming, and ESPECIALLY especially if I knew that it would be a one-time play and it was the only chance for anyone to ever see Ghast's side of the story. I wouldn't quit. I wouldn't play as Porto. I just wouldn't! I don't care how impossible it is to play as Ghast, I'd find a way, even if that means pouring years into it and getting through the levels out of sheer luck. Like, if there's a one in a million chance that you can make the jumps right in each level, I'd try those many millions of times until I got through them all. That's just who I am.

    So please, Yamamoto, give me the game. I'll do it. You won't have to cry or suffer anymore. I promise, I won't fail you or the world.

    …I really wish this pasta was true. Honestly I do. I'd like my tenacity in gaming to make me a somebody. XD

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  17. killswitch is real

    youtube.com/ghast1989

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  18. Maybe he's crying because he finished ghast's side off screen, and he found the true meaning.

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    Replies
    1. Not quite possible, in the story, the game deletes itself after it is completed once. If it were completed then you wouldnt see a char. select screen.

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  19. Wtf is childhood raping in the tags, I mean seriously why would a child raping be linked to this. (it's a joke shud up.)

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