America's gas stations aren't always pretty to look at. They can often be a grimey lens into people's most basic, and at times, unflattering needs. We rely on them when we're desperate for a bathroom, or when we need to buy junk food, cigarettes, questionable beer, and a lottery ticket to pin hopes and dreams on before filling our car with gas and speeding off like we were never there to begin with.
Developer Monkey Moon's new game, Flat Eye, looks at the gas station of the future--a very believable, even dystopian, future.
It takes place in a world on the brink of becoming a utopia, one where machines are sufficient replacements for human labor. Think self-checkouts, self-cleaning toilets, kiosks that take your order, and machines that make your breakfast sandwich before popping it out a little window. It's a world where you seldom have to come face-to-face with a working human being.
In this alternate future, gas stations (branded as Flat Eyes) are still the place where you get junk food, gas, and use the bathroom, but it's also where entirely new technology is used and showcased, so Flat Eyes are also referred to as "automobile fill-up stations and technological access points." So as well as filling up gas and buying bad hot dogs, you can buy new organs from an organ vending machine, receive medical treatment from an automated medical module, or even clone yourself.
The game is a management sim where you overlook the needs and expansion of a Flat Eye location, where you point-and-click from an overhead view (though the camera is fully moveable), clicking on modules, and dragging and dropping things in place on a grid-like layout. In my short hands-on demo, I ordered a human employee to restock the shelves, repair equipment, and install new amenities like toilets, self-checkouts, and medical modules, all while cashing out other customers in the process. The customers are depicted as colorful, albeit characterless, silhouettes that scurried in and out to use the bathroom or cash out.
Flat Eye takes a hard look at humanity's increasing dependency on technology. It depicts a scenario in which humans themselves become as automated and as mechanical as the very machines they rely on to exist through their day-to-day lives. Despite its bleak view of a possible future, developer Monkey Moon was clear in conveying it wanted to ultimately tell a positive story of humanity. Humans embody more of a machine-like presence in Flat Eye, operating on autopilot through a clean, perfect-looking world. But it's still not without its distinct characters and personalities.
As you manage Flat Eye, special customers will visit, giving you the opportunity to talk to them and navigate branching conversations that present glimpses into the lives of those who inhabit this pseudo-utopian world. When I had initially felt like a floating manager ordering around an employee, these branching conversations had suddenly felt intimate as I was choosing the employee's responses. It's also during these conversations where you interact with Flat Eye's AI, a character that I will not spoil, but one I anticipate will have a strong role in the game's somewhat mysterious narrative.
It's in the introduction to this AI and the conversation with it that I was left most eager to see where Flat Eye will go next. There's a dual narrative working alongside an already interesting management sim here.
At the end of each day, you are able to dive into the data of the Flat Eye's productivity and receive an overall score for how well you did. It's also during the transition between days that you'll have an opportunity to look through emails from Flat Eye's corporate executives and look at messages within the company sent between other gas stations--a humanizing element in a rather detached position as a lowly clerk.
Developer Monkey Moon is building a knack for telling stories through the lens of working-class characters that rarely get the spotlight in games. In its previous title, Night Call, you played as a cab driver in Paris, hearing the stories of his passengers, engaging in conversation, and divulging in the intricacies of people's most intimate stories. But like Flat Eye, Night Call goes beyond its surface level, with layered narratives and themes at play throughout.
Despite my short time with the game, its concepts, themes, and mechanics clicked instantly. Furthermore, seeds were planted for a greater overarching story that seems to be heading towards a redemptive look at a dystopian future.
Finnair made this announcement: Since Russia closed its airspace on February 28, we have had to find alternative routes for our Asian flights. If your flight is operated over the North Pole, we will reward you with a Northern route diploma, which was also handed out back in the 1980s. On March 9, 2022, flight […]
As readers would know, the TRIPS Waiver proposal at the WTO regarding Covid vaccines and treatment, has been discussed ad-nauseum for more than a year now, with very little actual progress. Roshan John brings us an interesting update from a closed-door discussion between EU, India, South Africa and the United States, based on some leaked text that appears to be a draft document outlining a potential compromise / way forward. Roshan is a lawyer and works on trade and intellectual...
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine presently based mostly in Kyiv, has signed a regulation establishing a authorized framework for the nation to function a regulated crypto market. In a Wednesday announcement, Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said Zelenskyy signed a invoice named “On Virtual Assets,” first adopted by the nation’s legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, […]
The market for advanced, customizable mechanical keyboards is heating up. Formerly the domain of small-batch, super-expensive designs or homebuilt one-offs, you can now find mod-friendly keyboards on Best Buy shelves. NZXT is known for cases, fans, and motherboards, not input devices, but the company is throwing its hat in the ring with the new Function series mechanical keyboards. If you've been looking for a quality keyboard with a lot of options for upgrades and programming, without breaking the bank, it's definitely worth your attention.
NZXT offers the Function in full-sized, tenkeyless, and “mini-TKL” sizes, and they sent us the latter for review. And we're glad they did. It's broadly following the midsize trend of popular keyboards like the GMMK Pro or the Keychron Q1, but its intelligent layout uses all-standard keycap sizes. That means that if you want to upgrade to a fancy novelty set, you don't have to hunt for a smaller left Shift key.
Despite the compact size and layout, the mini-TKL features a scroll wheel (programmed to volume by default), dedicated keys for mute, “game mode” (Windows key disabled), and lighting levels. It's also got a smart position for most of the other stuff: function-level playback controls are in the upper-right corner, while the crucial “delete” key is placed exactly where your muscle memory expects it to be on a larger board. It's an incredibly efficient package. The hot-swap switch bays should be compatible with all standard Cherry-style switches.
The Function includes the usual bells and whistles: RGB lighting, layout and macro programming (via NZXT's CAM program, not an open-source option), and fold-out feet for a high profile feel. While the case is plastic, it feels high-quality and solid, though I'm not a fan of the weirdly off-center placement for the USB-C port and detachable cable. The package comes with everything you need to start tweaking: keycap puller, switch puller, and a few spares. Despite the clear intention that the user replace them, the bundled keycaps are quite good. They're doubleshot PBTs with alternate colored keys, though they don't feature shine-through, so the RGB lighting is entirely decorative.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Function is its dedication to user choice right at the point of purchase. In addition to the three different sizes and layouts, NZXT will sell the keyboard in three different base colors (black, white, grey) and both ANSI and ISO layouts. On top of that, you get an impressive collection of switches from Gateron: clicky Blue, tactile Brown, linear Red, plus two “premium” options for Aliaz tactile and Black Ink linear silent switches. (“Silent” by mechanical keyboard standards, which means they're about as soft as a laptop keyboard.) Those are rather pricey upgrades, starting at $70 for the smallest board. Naturally, said switches can be swapped out at any time.
All this can be chosen via NZXT's online configurator, which will let you listen to the different switches and choose some fun add-ons, like more accented keycaps or a different braided cable. It's an impressive way for newbies to jump into the custom mechanical keyboard space.
The NZXT Function full-sized, tenkeyless, and mini-TKL keyboards are shipping today, for $150, $130, and $120, respectively, before additional options. We'll have a full review of the keyboard soon.
The Elden Ring Dung Eater quest puts you in service of one of the foulest beings in the Lands Between, the Loathsome Dung Eater. It’s a scavenger hunt of sorts with a secret variant on the Elden Lord ending waiting for you at the finale, ushering in an age of pestilence, death, and misery. If that sounds like your kind of ending, you’ll need a bit of patience. Most of the items you require are locked in late-game areas.
How to start the Dung Eater quest in Elden Ring
The Dung Eater quest has a drawn-out beginning that starts in the Roundtable Hold and picks up much later in Leyndell, the capital city. The Dung Eater shows up in the room beyond the Husk Maidens at some point after acquiring your first Great Rune. It’s easy to miss unless you explore the Hold after every major event, but when Roderika the Spirit Tuner says she senses a great evil, that’s your sign the Dung Eater has arrived. Speak with him in his chamber, and he’ll essentially tell you to go away because you aren’t tainted enough.
You need a Seedbed Curse to gain his approval. The first one is in Leyndell, near the East Rampart Site of Grace. Exit the room, and follow the ramparts along until you reach a dim chamber with several candles. Descend the stairs, and take the elevator at the end of the path. Keep moving forward until you reach the room with the cloaked enemy. Quickly climb the ladder, then the stairs, and you’ll find the Seedbed Curse on a rather tortured looking corpse.
Your first Seedbed Curse is on a body tied to a chair in the capital.
Show this to the Dung Eater in the Hold. He’ll command you to release his body in the sewers under the capital and hands over the Sewer Gaol Key to help you along.
Dung Eater Location in the Sewer Gaol
The Leyndell sewers are a nightmarish labyrinth, but the path to the Dung Eater’s cell is fairly straightforward. Travel to the Balcony Site of Grace in the capital. Turn around and head down the steps, take a left, and hop over the balcony. Jump into the manhole.
Now, just keep going straight. The “Subterranean Shunning Grounds” location tag appears when you reach a staircase. Instead of turning left to descend, go through the door, which opens onto a vast hall. Drop down, turn left, and enter the first big doorway, also to your left. This is the Underground Roadside Site of Grace and a good checkpoint if something untoward happens moving forward. (You’ll also come back here later if you want the Lord of Frenzied Flame ending)
Go back into the tunnel, turn left, and run ahead until you see a grate. Drop down, turn left, and keep moving forward. There are rats in this first tunnel, but they’re slow and won’t follow you. Continue moving ahead past the plants, and climb the ladder. You’ll emerge into a large, flooded chamber. Turn right, and approach the cell door. Tell the Dung Eater to leave his cell.
Dung Eater not invading in Outer Moat
The next step is visiting his room in Roundtable Hold again, where he’s left a message demanding you meet him at the Outer Moat. Before doing this, though, make sure to speak with Blackguard Boggart, the thief who stole Rya’s necklace at Boilprawn Shack in Liurnia. Purchase prawns from him, then later, you’ll find him near the moat, which is south of the road leading to the Draconic Tree Sentinel. Speak with him again, then reload the area. The Dung Eater should invade once you enter the water.
Some players report the Dung Eater’s invasion won’t trigger unless you speak with the thief first. Either way, you’ll find another Seedbed Curse on his corpse after defeating the invading Dung Eater.
Seedbed Curse locations in Elden Ring
Speak with the Dung Eater again at Roundtable Hold, and he’ll ask that you bring his real body more Seedbed Curses. You need five to get his Mending Rune.
Leyndell, Fortified Manor: In the area that’s meant to be an alternate Roundtable Hold, you’ll find it on the chair in the Dung Eater’s room
Volcano Manor: After taking the portal to the Rykard fight, turn around and go up the stairs. Use a Stonesword Key to unlock the fog door, then descend into the put via the giant metal cages. The Curse is at the bottom.
Haligtree, Prayer Room: Exit the Prayer Room to the right of the altar, and follow the ramparts past the crossbowman. Hop onto the masonry at the end of the balcony, then jump to the square with a gazebo and several candles. Use the masonry at the other end of the platform to reach the balcony above, and follow that around until you find another body tied to a chair.
Haligtree, also Prayer Room: Exit the Prayer Room to the right again, but before reaching the crossbowman, drop down to the right onto a balcony. Do the same thing again, and then at the doorway with the corpse, drop down to the right again. Head left under the archway, drop off the staircase’s right side, and you’ll find the last Curse on a body tied to a chair.
If you got the Curse off the thief after the Dung Eater’s invasion, you can skip one of these. Take your Curses back to the Dung Eater’s body and feed them to him. After the fifth one, you’ll get the Mending Rune of the Fell Curse. That’s all you need from the Dung Eater, so feel free to end him and collect his armor if you want. Use the Fell Curse rune on Marika’s remains after the final boss battle to usher in the Age of Despair.