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18 September 2012 @ 05:54 am
I Should Be Sleeping  
I've been thinking somewhat recently about roads to nowhere. 

Not, in a metaphorical sense. Legitimate roads that lead to nowhere. Unfinished freeway roads, subway tunnels without a station at the end, a hole you can fall through that isn't a real hole. That kind of thing. 

In video games, from my little understanding of the genre, when programmers want to cut an element from the game, like a level or a character design or some extra dialogue, rather than just deleting it, they leave the coding buried in the final game. A lost level isn't destroyed, rather, all entrances to it are blocked. With characters, their models and dialogue are simply stopped from appearing but still exist. You can hide entire unfinished worlds in a game and unless you find a person savvy enough to hack into it. 

This has fascinated me for a few years now. I don't play many games, I never had much of an opportunity, but I have played through almost all of the Kingdom Hearts games and have enjoyed them tremendously. The phenomenon of hidden, unfinished worlds in games first came to my attention when someone announced that they had found the remnants of an incomplete world based on The Jungle Book buried in the data of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. I was linked to a YouTube video where you're able to watch the game's familiar protagonists wander through this disjoined, surreal landscape of half-textured plants and paths that lead to nothing. You can see the beginnings of a complete world, but there are so many things wrong it's almost dreamlike. The fact that this strange place was hidden in something as simple as a video game, something I could conceivably buy at the Walmart down the road from me, intrigued me in a way I wasn't entirely expecting. 

I saw a picture today of an unfinished Chinese amusement park called Wonderland. It was created in a strange attempt to rival Disneyland, but apparently fell to the wayside when Chinese farmers and environmentalists began protesting the government's use of their land. All that stands is the eerie skeleton of a large pavillion, a few decaying buildings, and an enormous, only half-finished Castle. The castle is the obvious draw of the site, as it looks distinctly like something a video game programmer got halfway through rendering and then just buried in the back of the game. It stands in the center of a large field which is still used by farmers, giving us the surreal image of average people working in the fields next to an enormous, half-dead fairy tale castle. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently on the nature of reality. If I could give you a legitimate reason for why this has been on my mind so much, I would. This image struck me, both in how much it reminded me of my fascination with hidden, virtual worlds, and how it is entirely indicative of how unimaginably strange the world really is. The idea of a farmer's field with a giant, skeletal castle in the center of it is something that seems like it should be in a book or a movie. It's unreal, except for the fact that it is entirely real. It got me thinking about the strange, unreal things that surround us in our day-to-day life, things like unfinished roads to nowhere, or abandoned hospitals. The real world can, at times, have such an intensely unreal quality to it that it is almost overwhelming. It's amazing, and intriguing, and just so damn interesting that I wonder if I'll ever be able to piece it all together and make sense out of it, or if I even really want to. 
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: The sound of the rain, mostly.