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March 26, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of They Might Be Giants' album Apollo 18, a group of designers have made a collection of interactive fiction games based on each track of the album.
posted by Cash4Lead (59 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
> PASS MILK

You pass the milk.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


Wow, and that's the one with Fingertips! Those must all be one room games.

Good tracks on that one: I Palindrome I, Mammal, The Statue Got Me High, Spider (he is our hero!), Dinner Bell (ring ring ring), Which Describes How Your're Feeling All The Time, Turn Around (there's a human skull on the ground).

Unfortunately this isn't the one with No One Knows My Plan.
posted by JHarris at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2012


Faint of Butt, you didn't say please twice.
posted by JHarris at 8:25 AM on March 26, 2012


MetaFilter: what's that blue thing doing there?
posted by escabeche at 8:26 AM on March 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


(Actually, the article informs us that the Fingertips are all one move games.)
posted by JHarris at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2012


Ah, the fingertips games are fucking great!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:30 AM on March 26, 2012


MetaFilter: My sentiments exactly, you son of a bitch.
posted by Plutor at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Narrow Your Eyes" is one of the greatest Everly Brothers songs that never was.
posted by modernserf at 8:34 AM on March 26, 2012


There was a time in my life when I had nearly every TMBG song extant and on an album memorized. I still remember enough to get Plutor's joke (a quote from I Palindrome I).
posted by JHarris at 8:34 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always thought a fun tribute would be to create entire songs from the "Fingertips" pieces.
posted by Legomancer at 8:40 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


TMBG has to be thinking: Take THAT, Thin Lizzy.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:43 AM on March 26, 2012


This is so great. I Palindrome I had me flummoxed for a bit, and I really wanted to get it because I love the song. I eventually figured it out.
posted by painquale at 8:44 AM on March 26, 2012


I love this so fucking much. Can't wait to try them!!!! Especially looking forward to 'Spider.' He is our hero!
posted by kaibutsu at 8:47 AM on March 26, 2012


OMG WHAT WOAH.
posted by Theta States at 8:53 AM on March 26, 2012


Weird. Just listened to this album last night.
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:00 AM on March 26, 2012


Especially looking forward to 'Spider.' He is our hero!

I love that song. "I promise not to kill you!"
posted by JHarris at 9:04 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just briefly glanced at this, thought "neat!" and then got back to work. But actually, before I could do anything I had to sing, in my head, all the fingertips songs in order, probably 10 years after last hearing them. MAN they are so good. There are so many excellent and/or hilarious hooks in there.

And then I sang along to Space Suit in my head, too, because: damn.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:04 AM on March 26, 2012


They Might Be Giants best album. And there go my plans for today.
posted by dortmunder at 9:06 AM on March 26, 2012


I always thought a fun tribute would be to create entire songs from the "Fingertips" pieces.

The Gannets beat you to it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:06 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


The funny thing about Apollo 18 is that according to the liner notes, you're supposed to listen to it on shuffle. But no ever does that, which TMBG have finally implicitly admitted in recent years by ending their shows playing Fingertips sequentially.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:19 AM on March 26, 2012


There was a time in my life when I had nearly every TMBG song extant and on an album memorized.

I like how this statement gives me the opportunity to pretend for a moment that I've managed to forget any of that information.
posted by greenland at 9:23 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


you're supposed to listen to it on shuffle

The UK version didn't put the Fingertips tracks on, well, different tracks. It wasn't until the Internet I discovered this concept.
posted by alasdair at 9:27 AM on March 26, 2012


This made me so happy to see! Too bad I've always been terrible at text adventures.
posted by jinjo at 9:29 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


TMBG Apollo 18 AND interactive fiction games? I'm sorry, did someone go back in time and peek into a sleeping Theatro's dreams?

By which I mean: \o/
posted by theatro at 9:33 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: What's this blue thing doing here?
posted by tommasz at 9:41 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are sitting on your couch. There is a laptop in front of you displaying the words "In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of They Might Be Giants' album Apollo 18, a group of designers have made a collection of interactive fiction games based on each track of the album."

> TWENTY YEARS? SERIOUSLY?

I see no twenty years here.

> NEITHER DO I. THAT ALBUM JUST CAME OUT A FEW YEARS AGO, RIGHT?

It was 1992.

> FFFFFUUUUUUUUCK.

I know, motherfucker, I know.

> GET DRUNK

You get the drunk. You get ALL the drunk.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:44 AM on March 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


Jesus, 20 years?

Like a lot of people my age, I was introduced to TMBG through the Istanbul and Particle Man videos on Tiny Toon Adventures. Because of the way they were presented, "That was so good, let's hear another one from They Might Be Giants.... ...who are these guys?" I didn't entirely realize that they were an actual band at first. Regardless, I loved the videos, and had happened to have taped the episode, so I watched it endlessly.

A few weeks later my babysitter (I was eight at the time) overheard me singing Particle Man and wanted to know where I'd heard it. I showed her the videos, which she loved, and she asked if I knew anything else about the band. It turns out that TMBG was one of her favorites (she had a sister in college at the time.) She dubbed me copies of Flood, Lincoln, and the S/T album, which pretty much replaced all other music I'd been listening to. Miscellaneous T came out shortly thereafter, which in a weird way, sort of cemented my love for them more than the other albums. Like a lot of people, I revelled in being the only person I knew (besides my babysitter) who liked TMBG, let alone knew who they were, and the untitled track ("WHO'S THERE MAY BE GIANTS?!?!?" "I don't know, Gloria!" "Well I can't explain it... 'cause I don't know what it is! Look in the paper, don't blame me if the guy's a nut.") pretty much hit the nail on the head for me.

The next year, Apollo 18 came out, and she picked me up from school to drive to the record store on the day it was released. I can only imagine what it would have been like if the band hadn't signed to Elektra already (of course, it's unlikely they would have had the Tiny Toons exposure either) because there's no way in hell my local record shop would have had the album otherwise. I probably listened to it five times in a row that first day, and must have gone through dozens of sets of AAs on my walkman in the weeks that followed.

It would be impossible to overstate the impact that TMBG had on my cultural development. Wanting to soak up everything they'd done led me to tape 120 Minutes appearances, which introduced me to pretty much all of the other bands of that era that I love to this day. Wanting to find more people to talk to about the band led me to the TMBG listserv, which was my first taste of the real, non-AOL internet. My dad and I probably saw 20 or so TMBG shows over the years, which were my first "real" concerts.

I enjoyed John Henry and Factory Showroom, but after the band left Elektra, my interest in them started to fade. I think I've heard everything else they've put out since then at least once, but my obsession with them will always be fixated on those early albums. I think it's great that now they've got twin paths of making both music specifically for kids (which adults also love) and their more traditional fare (which kids also love.) But for a while, as best I could tell, they were put on earth just to help one kid grow up right.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:52 AM on March 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Oh, and of course, they're responsible for my first 100 or so long-distance calls.

718-387-6962 (narrrrrrrrr)
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:54 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, if this is going to be a big TMBG reminiscing thread, does anyone else have the "libretto" that came with the first 100 preorders of Mono Puff? I think that might have been the first time I ever ordered something on the phone.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:58 AM on March 26, 2012


Mysterious Whispers, Mysterious Whispers.
posted by elmono at 10:02 AM on March 26, 2012


If you haven't seen it but are a fan of TMBG, you really need to see Gigantic, the documentary about the band. Surprising celebrity cameos in that one, including Jon Stewart and Andy Ricter.

Once when I worked for Dominos I made a comment that some music that a co-employee was listening to sounded like someone had loaded up a washing machine with the Cookie Monster*. He asked what kind of music I listened to, but I had to admit not much other than TMBG. The response I got from him, which derided them as a novelty act, marked a downturn in my impression of the guy.

*Always, always say THE Cookie Monster. To the exclusion of all other words.
posted by JHarris at 10:06 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This post is both great and a horrifying caress of death's icy hand against my aging, mortal brow.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:41 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I playtested S. John Ross' "Fingertips: The Day That Love Came to Play" (which took about 5 minutes, being a single-move game and all.) I didn't know it was for this.

This is likely the nerdiest thing I'll hear about all week.
posted by Zed at 10:59 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone happen to know where in Brooklyn the Dial-a-Song number was based? I'm just curious.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:15 AM on March 26, 2012


roll truck roll: This one?

I have a copy in a box in my parents' attic, yeah. In retrospect, it probably should be somewhere a little more secure.

I really wish more could have come from the Hello CD of the Month club, but given that it introduced me to a handful of beloved artists I would never have heard of otherwise, I shouldn't complain.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:41 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Williamsburg. A room in an apartment on Bedford that they've used as a studio since the 80s. You can see it in the documentary.
posted by clavicle at 11:41 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


...The documentary, which objectively is not a good film, but is amazing.
posted by clavicle at 11:45 AM on March 26, 2012


"and his face, which was a paper-white mask of evil, sang us this song."

this album was my introduction to TMBG, and they have never escaped my top 10 since. If you haven't caught up with them in a while, 'The Spine' and 'The Else' are ridiculously flawlessly amazing.. don't miss them.

***

I suppose this is the only chance I'm going to get to share a recent revelation:

I had to admit that I unironically love Rebecca Black's 'Friday' when I realized that every one of us would be just fine with it at minimum, if it would merely have entered the universe-- utterly as-is, w/ what would in that case be a guest vocalist-- on a TMBG album.

YMMV these statements have not been reviewed or approved by any member or affiliate of linnel/flansburgh international commenter is not responsible for the rap section
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:27 PM on March 26, 2012


The game for "I Palindrome I" is by MIT Professor Nick Montfort, who just took fourth place in the World Palindrome Championship with his poem "The Millennium Falcon Rescue."
posted by msalt at 1:10 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


So is anyone actually playing these games? I made it part of the way through She's Actual Size but I am stuck in a room where all I can do is pick up or put down a watch and no verb I try does anything. Maybe this is just a bleak ending?
posted by SharkParty at 1:16 PM on March 26, 2012


PAINQUALE: This is so great. I Palindrome I had me flummoxed for a bit, and I really wanted to get it because I love the song. I eventually figured it out.

I remained flummoxed. Can you give me a hint?
posted by msalt at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2012


I had the fun experience the other day of talking to some 20-something who figured I must have been around when the first computer games, like Pac-man, were invented, and I had the hardest time explaining that there were games with no graphics at all, just words on a screen. "How is that a game?" well, you type actions and, oh, never mind.
posted by msalt at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2012


I remained flummoxed. Can you give me a hint?

I'll ROT-13 it: Gur ybpngvba anzr vf jung'f vzcbegnag.

For Dinner Bell, they should have made the foods you need to find the ones that are listed in I Am a Grocery Bag.
posted by painquale at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes. Got it. Thank you very much.
posted by msalt at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2012


Any good way to play these on Frotz (iPhone) with no immediate access to a computer?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2012


Seriously I am so pissed at this game right now I AM SO PISSED.
posted by SharkParty at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2012


which one?
posted by msalt at 2:25 PM on March 26, 2012


Huzzah.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:27 PM on March 26, 2012


Btw, to play these games in a terminal, like Crowther and Woods intended, I recommend nfrotz for the .z* games and git (no, not that git, this one's a couple of years older) for the .g* games. Unicode and blorb support. IF fans might also want to check out Grotesque, an interactive fiction library manager.
posted by Zed at 3:16 PM on March 26, 2012


The best thing about the fingertips tracks is having them in your music collection, if you regularly listen to things on "shuffle".
posted by davejay at 3:27 PM on March 26, 2012


Any good way to play these on Frotz (iPhone) with no immediate access to a computer?

The individual links work in Safari, which will run the games in the Javascript Z-machine interpreter Parchment. Unfortunately you can't run them in Frotz without a computer because APPLE SUCKS.

Reasons for suckage in this case are two-fold:
1. In their stupid attempts to restrict what users do with their hardware, Apple refuses to approve software that is capable of potentially loading executable code, of any type. Oh no, someone might run their own code on the platform, FORBID.
2. It is doubly stupid that this mania extends to Z-machine interpreters, which should be exempt as being an unusually limited version of code being entirely virtual in nature.

There is no answer for this other than Apple doesn't want you to do it.
posted by JHarris at 5:54 PM on March 26, 2012


Any good way to play these on Frotz (iPhone) with no immediate access to a computer?

A few of the games are now listed at ifdb.tads.org, and the rest will presumably follow as the people who update ifdb.tads.org get around to them. That means you can load them into iOS Frotz via the "Browse IFDB" button.

(As far as I know, the "Browse IFDB" button is the only way to load games into iOS Frotz without using a computer.)
posted by baf at 7:47 PM on March 26, 2012


Yeah, which indicates that Frotz is refusing to download non ifdb files. Which makes me wonder why it even includes that World button on the bottom of the ifdb web browser. Is it just to taunt the user?
posted by JHarris at 7:55 PM on March 26, 2012


dirtdirt: "And then I sang along to Space Suit in my head, too, because: damn."

That song always makes me want to dance some rag-doll synchronized throw-my-head-back-arm-flailing thing. They are a great live band to dance to, also.
I can't believe it's been 20 years; I remember being so psyched when it came out and listening to it over and over. Then I read on the sleeve that "The Guitar" featured Laura Cantrell, and I idly thought about the fact that was the same name as a girl I kind of had a crush on in high school. Then a few weeks later I found out it was that girl.

I still wish I liked that song more.
posted by Red Loop at 8:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


My primary TMBG crushes were for John Henry and Apollo 18. They never sounded so good to me as with the perfectly rocky guitars on these albums. Songs like No One Knows My Plan, The End Of The Tour, Why Must I Be Sad?, and Dirt Bike still move me so much, so I feel John Henry is very much the overlooked classic in their catalogue. That album, and the 4 that precede it, are entirely bullet-proof in my mind.
posted by Theta States at 6:04 AM on March 27, 2012


Hmm. Dig My Grave was not surprisingly unrewarding, though I supposed I finished it: "You cover it up with dirt until you get bored and walk away."

What are the best "games" here?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 AM on March 27, 2012


I might just not be wired to understand these. I thought the joke with "Dig My Grave" was that most of the song is just repeating the line "dig my grave," so I just kept typing that until it said I was tired. Then I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

And I had no clue what I was supposed to do in I Palindrome I.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:14 PM on March 27, 2012


roll truck roll: I needed a hint, too, though it's kind of eponysterical in your case. Think about what kind of palindrome that title (and your login) are. Painquale offers stronger hint hidden by ROT-13 encryption; I had not trouble finding a decoder with a quick Google search.
posted by msalt at 5:15 PM on March 27, 2012


Aha! That's fun. (That's aha!)
posted by roll truck roll at 9:37 PM on March 27, 2012


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