Escape from Shuteye Town!

The only time this will be said: Just one element of this entire site is absolutely required. The final entry point listed on the Getting Started page is all the original visitors to Shuteye Town had to help or guide them. Purists may wish to follow their example. This is not recommended. No points are awarded here for manliness. It’s the 21st Century, after all.  But you should know that it’s an available approach.

Jaded Gamer InstaStart:

Let me at it NOW!

 

 

As we said, not recommended. If you want to be (sort of) sensible, go to the Getting Started page on the menu. If you want to be reasonably ready to play, read at least some of the Overview information on this page. Okaaaay. Your choice. Have at it.

As for the rest of you...

 

Where were we? Right. An overview of the Indescribable Thing called Shuteye Town 1999. A game but not completely. A puzzle but not completely. A book but not completely. Think Labyrinth. Think Satire. Think Harder than beating a computer at chess. You know. Challenging entertainment. And if you’ve never played a video game? Doesn’t matter at all. There isn’t anything anywhere quite like this. You all start even. The ones who took the flying start above have probably already left by now, dropping F-bombs behind them as they go. They chose poorly. Who’s still with us? The smart and the curious. They chose wisely.

The Final Seconds Of the

Second Millennium, A.D.

A Riddle: What can we learn from a sunken relic? Keep breathing.

Maiden Voyage

 

Shuteye Town 1999 was conceived as a sequel to The Boomer Bible, as another massive satirical work created by the community of Punk Writers on Philly’s South Street. It contained its own laughable Bible, written for the neglected children of the Baby Boomers, the ones who might be unreachable by anything more academic looking than a video game. The objective of the game was to find — in the final few seconds of the 20th century, via your avatar J. Doe —  answers to 22 mysterious questions and also to find all the books of The Zeezer Bible, which were hidden throughout the vast reaches of the underground city called Shuteye Town.  

 

Vast? The work consisted of more than 3,500 files, of which some 85 percent were cartoon graphics and another 15 percent were text files. Shuteye Town is a place one travels through by finding hyperlinks leading to the next screen/scene. It contains 40 Subway Stations running 9 trains on 6 different lines, 30 Stores to shop in, located in two different malls, 21+ Restrooms, 20++ Television Shows, including ads (galore) and news channels, 19+ Passenger Lounges, 15+ Nightclubs & Strip Joints, 11 Hospitals/Clinics, 11 Prisons, 10 Concert Venues, 10 Television Networks, 10 Movie Theaters, 4 Professional Sports Teams, 2 Newspapers, 2 Centrally Located Police Stations, 1 University/High School Complex, 1 Library (Closed), 1 Airport, 1 Amusement Park, 1 Sports/Events Arena — PLUS 125+ Multi-Story Buildings (commercial, government, industrial) thousands(?) of Private Homes & apartments, Assorted interactive vending machines, ATMs, surveillance cameras (000s), & Shuteye Town’s own version of the Internet, called The UnderNet.

 

The development effort took two years and employed the Microsoft application Word 97, which included a powerful built-in drawing package the company hoped would become the standard language of freeform computer graphics. It didn’t. Despite the most important functional feature of creating graphic drawings as text files that could link and be linked by purely text files, the Word 97 experiment failed, and the next subsequent version of Word could not even be made to render its own drawings on screen.

 

Finished in December 1999 and released in January 2000, Shuteye Town was dead in the water by 2003. The only files Word could display were text files, and not even the ones that included some drawing elements escaped the fate of the drawings.

 

 

Sinking and Salvage Events

Y2K — Version 1.1

Release 1.1 wasn’t Microsoft’s fault and occurred well before the graphics snafu. In Version 1.0, the developers had a strong sense that progress toward objectives in Shuteye Town should be earned, not the automatic consequence of clicking the mouse enough times. To this end, more than 200 passwords were required to find everything there was to be found in the game. The first release actually became a rapid-fire Beta test, as avid students of The Boomer Bible, who knew far more than most the intricacies of punk linking schemes, tried, failed, and surrendered in their encounters with the password-protected environment. The developers were stubborn, but as often happens, fate intervened. Everyone on the email distribution received a list without explanation of any kind revealing every password in ST99. Passwords were subsequently included with all ST99 CD shipments. That was the official beginning of Release 1.1.

 

 

2003 — Version 1.2

This was brief, communication oriented, and an utter failure. Efforts to secure advice or assistance from Microsoft were not only dismissed out of hand but simply ignored. No one even returned a phone call about what had to have been the most ambitious graphics-based multimedia project in the history of word processing software. Internet and promotion materials, meanwhile, included a dire warning to potential customers NOT to upgrade their Word 97 to the 2003 Version. This was folly. Any PC running Word 97 when connected to the Internet received the “upgrade” automatically. Microsoft had killed Shuteye Town.

 

The ship sank.

It’s never good when the back end breaks off.

2004-2018 — Version 1.3

One heroic gentleman, who had already worked on the leviathan effort to create an online version of The Boomer Bible’s three testaments with all intercolumn references converted to functioning links, now volunteered to undertake the monumental task of converting the damaged Word 97 files of ST99 to HTML. Through a stroke of extraordinary luck(?) he had an IBM PC running Word 97 that had never been connected to the Internet. He took screenshots of over 3,000 graphic frames and reconstructed the estimated 10,000+ links that tied them together. All by himself. His name is Guy Tellefsen.

 

There were some heavy casualties, reminiscent of the hull breaks you see in the Titanic’s final resting place. The back end, consisting of all the text files that could not be captured with screen shots (approximately all of them) were sheered off in the HTML conversion. Sound files, which had been embedded in the Word files, were likewise gone. Audio, including some music, voices, and effects, were never a major component of the work, but they had been a significant one.

 

Additionally, the important opening sequence of the work was damaged as well, a pair of ‘bottleneck’ links rendered too small (though maddeningly present) to be used without extraordinary, fun-killing effort. This meant that ST99’s bow was effectively gone too, and entry to its secrets would have to come at a later location.

 

But the good, the really great, news was that the overwhelming majority of ST99 was intact. It could be navigated as before, the objectives could be reached, and the missing text files would never have been noticed but for the ugly hole they opened up when a link went looking for a missing file. The heart of the onion was untouched. The missing files made up some outside layers that expanded the intentions and possible interpretations of the satire, but their loss was more like a diminution than a fatal wound. Importantly, the files themselves could not be edited. All the originating software was gone. This meant that ST99 was is own proof of authenticity. Nothing could be inserted after the fact to make the work look more prescient.

 

Version 1.3 was released without fanfare online at the blog rflaird.com, where it has been password protected since the work on a possible Version 2.0 repairing and restoring the missing pieces got underway.

All aboard!

The Current Version is V1.4...

and is about 3,000 pages of full frame graphics, hyperlinked to enable movement throughout. A Version 2.0 is complete on the technical side and will be issued on or before January 1, 2020, which is the real 20th calendar year anniversary of the 1.0 release of Shuteye Town 1999. Only completion of The Manual is preventing 2.0 from being released now. An extraordinary controversy has erupted between the manual’s writers about who should be assigned authorship of the work. That standoff will have to be ended within prescribed timelines, but there may still be value in the disagreement and debate occurring behind the scenes. Their question is a simple one. Is ST99 the work of one man or a community of Punk Writers? Everyone is entitled to answer that question as reason and competing realities dictate.

 

Why offer this intermediate repackaging and sprucing up of Version 1.3? Because there’s an enormous quantity of material here, even without the text restorations and repairs that are waiting in the back room. ST99 is ferociously difficult to conquer (if that word is ever appropriate here), and what is new in this version are features designed to facilitate the individual experience of the place, including some easily accessed uses of audio. You can check out these features in the menu at the top of this page. There are multiple points of entry offered to Shuteye Town, not just the one that has been offered at rflaird.com. There are multiple “side trip” points of entry as well, offering glimpses of parts of the city, large and small, that experience has shown takes people a long time to find on their own. But look through the menu and browse to your heart’s content.

 

Indeed, if we haven’t said it before, welcome to Shuteye Town.

Good News:

 

You Won’t Be Completely Alone in There

A Partial Cast Of Characters in Shuteye Town 1999.

Enough with Front Matter.

Go to Town Now.

You know best, of course, but it might be helpful to glance at the pages on Game Play and Quick Tips before you open the Getting Started page. It won’t hurt to scan the other pages too, especially (for the more bookish among you) the Provenance page. But no problem if you don’t. Just saying.