Universe W-1234: Muddy Creek 1
The Final Frontier
Mikey-Mike, Intergalactic Hustler
‘Okay, so we’re in a grassy field. There are some trees over there, a cow, a… that looks like a… dinosaur? What? Oh shit, it’s hunting down the cow, that’s cool. Now we’re running away towards a… spaceship? All right Dreaming, I can dig this, I’m on board. Taking off now, we’re going up into space… woah. There are other planets out there. Did they just press pause? Why… oh, they’re putting fuel into a hyperdrive… woooaaah… that’s a lot of other stars…!!’
That was Michael “Boingo” Haberkorn’s initial reaction to the reveal trailer of Final Frontier, the most ambitious video game ever put together courtesy of the Dreamers Making Things studio out of Esperanza, Antarctica. Frontier boasts an actual infinite universe populated with planets upon planets of unique lifeforms, galactic and intergalactic civilizations, its own periodic table of elements, different guilds and factions the player can join up with, and a fully functioning universal economy – and after being teased for years, it’s finally being released today.
Mike only recently got into playing vidya; ever since his smack dealer moved out of Muddy Creek he’s needed something to occupy his functionally infinite free time with, and this game seems to be a perfect fit. As a child Mike always dreamed of roaming through the vast starscape above in his very own spaceship, and now that he’s a twentysomething with no job, responsibilities, or worldly things to care about, he gets to indulge in the experience from the comfort of the comfychair in his bedroom– what more can one ask for?
After gassing up the BoingBus and waiting for six and a half hours in a line with neckbeards and their moms to buy the game, Mike giddily drives home and pops that sucker into his console. The initial loadup and installation takes a little while, but Mike is patient. Mike only recently found out about the game, but some fans have been waiting for years for it to come out – what’s fifteen minutes?
The screen goes white, then, boom – his character has spawned. He doesn’t know what said character looks like because the game’s played from the perspective of that character, but that’s fine, all part of the mystery! Around him stalks purple grass dotted with green and blue flowers surrounded by a wall of massive, meaty, bulbous trees; he stands in a clearing in the middle of a mighty forest, a bald spot far past the hairline of this random planet. All the rocks have moss growing on them, tiny frog-like creatures are leaping from petal to petal and above him, pink four-eyed squirrels glide between the branches in hot pursuit of one another. How astounding, a world so similar yet so dubiously foreign to his own. Eventually he notices a break in the treeline, there’s a trail leading off somewhere into the distance. Mike follows it to another bald spot, this one harboring a modest spacecraft with plumes of smoke spilling from the thrusters. After spending the rest of his first in-game day giving new life to the dilapidated craft, Mike takes off into the virtual cosmos. Thus begins the adventures of Mikey-Mike, Intergalactic Hustler.
An Unexplored Star System
After a full year and a half of ritualistically playing Final Frontier, Mikey-Mike’s carved out quite a cosmonautical career for himself. With freighter ships in every major system and a high rank in every existing guild and faction, Mikey-Mike is a lone wolf warlord of the stars – that is, when he’s not running with his gang, a team of thirty crafty fiends who refer to themselves the SuperNovas. Speaking of which, the chief navigation Nova just sent Mikey-Mike a message through the in-game communicator. What could SnoopyD possibly want now… oh, oh snap! An unexplored star system has recently been discovered lying on the opposite edge of the explored universe from the Nova Compound, alone, cold, and in need of plundering.
Normally before making a trans-universal jump, Mikey-Mike would convene with his clan and conglomerate a small squad for the expedition, but none of the Novas want anything to do with this star system, including the one who found it; they say they’re at the top of the game anyway, why risk a respawn for a cluster of dead planets that everybody else avoided up until this point in the Frontier?
What is this, amateur hour? Despicable. Perturbed, Mikey-Mike fires half of his team before setting off, placing a very high bounty on each and every hair on the heads of his ex-SuperNovas. Who’s at the top now? Buncha bitches, play the damn video game.
Pulling up the universal map, Mikey-Mike plots his course. It’ll take some slingshotting, probably a wormhole or two, but he should be able to make the whole universe-spanning journey with only one tank’s worth of hyperdrive fuel.
The whole shabang takes forty real world minutes. Normally this long of a flight would be an utter bore for Mike, being forced to sit through warp screen after warp screen can be torturous. He’s not complaining though; at this stage of the game, being able to discover a previously unknown planet is huge, let alone a whole system of them. When the final warp is engaged, Mike goes to put a frozen pizza in the oven. When he returns, his destination awaits him.
The new system only has one star. A little disappointing, a bit bland, a tad garden variety, but it’s fine. There are a whopping nine planets, only four of which are composed of condensed gasses. One planet’s a straggler, it’s hardly even big enough to be considered a planet; the thing might as well be an asteroid. As far as star systems go this one is pretty mediocre, but it’s got the novelty factor. It’ll do.
As Mikey-Mike’s cosmocruiser approaches the planets orbiting in the star’s lifezone, something starts to seem off. There’s one planet in particular that jumps out to him, a marble with swirls of green and blue, the hat and seat capped with ice. On a hunch, Mikey-Mike pulls up a map of the star system while Mike pulls up a map of his real-life star system. Both are rendered speechless when he realizes they’re one in the same down to the rotational position of each and every celestial body. ‘Trippy.’
Naturally, the first thing that Mikey-Mike does upon discovering what must be the greatest Easter egg of all time is high-tail it down to Earth. He chooses where New York City would be as his first stop and lo and behold, it’s there. It’s actually there.The skyscrapers, the gridlocked traffic, the streets full of pedestrians going this way and that, it’s all so lifelike. The graphics aren’t perfect but damn. This is just incredible, game-changing even… and Mikey-Mike is the first to find it. And the only one who knows it exists.
So what does he do next? Send messages to the remaining fifteen members of his SuperNovas? Make a post about it on Snapchatter or Falsebook, or anywhere on the web? Communicate this incredible discovery in any way, shape, or form? No, no, and of course not; he heads straight for where the town of Muddy Creek would be.
It takes some searching, but after an hour of real-life time, Mike finds his neighborhood. Chills run down his spine as he flies up to his house – everything is the same down to the cracked siding next to his front door from a golf ball gone awry. ‘How did they know?’
Mikey-Mike floats the ship up to his bedroom window. Mike’s jaw hits the floor when, inside of the house in the game, he sees himself. Everything is the same; his posters on the wall, the burn mark in his carpet, the hole he torched in the window screen when he saw a gigantic spider trying to get in and decided to greet it with a lighter and a can of Maxe body spray; he’s even wearing the same clothing, sitting in the same position, the comfychair is even there in all of its leathery glory. It’s all perfect, like, waayyy too fucking perfect. It’s not possible, the in-game universe might be infinite but this level of specificity… no. It must be real.
In one foul swoop, Mike drops the controller and spins around towards his window to find… nothing. The bedroom window is devoid of any and all spaceships. ‘Damnit…’
Returning his attention to Final Frontier, Mike notices that his ship seems to have floated above the game’s version of his house. The controller must’ve landed on the back trigger when he dropped it, activating his ship’s thruster and gently boosting the ship out of view of the window! Of course! Damn those silent thrusters he spent all those millions on, if he never splurged on them he’d have been able to hear the ship!
After carefully repositioning the craft outside the window, Mike takes a deep breath and turns, simultaneously pressing the pause bu–