A friend of mine was playing slot machines at a nearby casino. A lady down the row from her left her machine, forgetting her purse there. My friend grabs it and walks the casino floor a few times looking for the lady to return it to. She goes back to playing slots & put the "missing" purse in her own purse but kept the woman's driver's license on hand so she cd ID the woman when she walks by. When it was time to leave the casino, she had temporarily forgotten about the purse but remembered it on her way home. She figured she could reach the lady over Facebook as the lady had a very unique 1st name. She found 3-4 people by the same name on FB & messaged all of them w a note about finding her missing purse at the casino. Nobody responded. When i asked her "why didn't you turn the purse in to staff at the casino?"she said, "there was cash in the purse & I didn't want to turn it into an employee that I did not know, fearing that an employee could easily steal the cash & say that "the purse was turned in this way, without any cash in it" & she would be suspected of theft because she had been walking around the casino with it for hours. The next time she went to the casino, she was arrested on a warrant for petty theft. She has been to an initial court hearing & plead not guilty. She has the purse with all of its contents still intact (cash included) but isn't sure what to do with it now. Should she continue trying to find the purse"s owner to return it to? Should she turn the purse into the local police? Should she hold onto it for now & bring it to her next hearing, the court trial? She doesn't have a lot of disposable income to be spending on a lawyer for this case but any theft conviction would be extremely harmful to any future employment opportunities. Any advice on the best way to proceed is greatly appreciated
Yes, it's my truck and No, I won't help you move and No, you can't buy it for 50 bucks!
This is long, so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever keeps you happy and reading. I live in a senior housing community for people aged 55 and older. We all have identical 1-bedroom cottages that’s set up in groups of four or quads so that all of our front doors face inward toward each other. So, if I open my front door, I have a very clear view of the front doors of my 3 neighbors and because I am in the back of this quad, I also have a view of the parking area. I think the purpose of grouping the houses this way was to create a friendly and safe atmosphere; however, it’s just creepy in a “you have no privacy” kind of way. I am F57, disabled, and have a 16-year-old pickup truck that gets me where I need to go most of the time. If you’ve ever owned a pickup truck, you’ll understand my frustration. If you haven’t owned one, talk to anyone who has and they will tell you that according to friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, and even complete strangers, you have it so that you can help them move, haul furniture or a tree they cut down, and anything else they can’t fit in the trunk of their car. AND because it is a pickup truck, it can be mistreated, abused, dented, scratched, beaten up, and treated like a piece of heavy construction equipment and you shouldn’t care because well. . . it’s a truck. I have a neighbor (F - about 65 years old) that has kind of made a pest of herself since the day I moved in. I’ve done my best to be neighborly, nice, and accommodating, but each time I interact with her, I’m left feeling used. The neighbor, let's call her Karen, has come over pretending to want to visit with me, which she does for about 2 minutes, and then asks me for something. In the 3 years that I’ve been here, she’s asked me to set up 2 TVs (at different times), take a new alarm clock out of its packaging and then teach her how to operate it. I’ve been asked to fill out her food stamp paperwork, fill out information for her lease renewal, read a piece of mail to her and explain it because she didn’t understand it, to take her places and to “loan” her money for the bus. That’s just a few. Now that you get the idea of what I’ve dealt with before, it’s time for the story. One Monday morning, Karen comes beating on my door (she does what I call a “cop knock” – loud, hard, and repeated) around 8 a.m., waking me up. (I am a night owl, by the way.) I go to the door and she is standing there holding her natural gas bill telling me how she needed a ride to the gas company's office to talk to them about paying the bill and hands me the bill. I look at it, hoping to find a phone number for her to call, but there isn't one, but I do see that her bill is for about $17. So, I take her across town with her providing the directions since I had never been to this building (the gas company did not have an office in town, so I guess this was maybe a payment center). I drop her at the front, park, and wait for her. Karen comes out saying that they can't help her there and asks me if she should just call them to make arrangements to make payments since she didn't have the money. I tell her that's what I would do and bring her back home. We basically made this trip for nothing. Two days later, there is another loud, repeated banging on my door waking me up just before 9 a.m. Karen is back and seems to be a little frantic. She needs a ride again. This time she's very vague about why she wants to go, but left me with the impression that something was going to get turned off, repossessed, or turned over to collections if she didn't go. She's also vague as to where she wants to go. She keeps tell me that it's down by the casino, across the street from the gas station. I told her I'd take her but she would have to point me in the right direction since I've never been to the casino. She gives me turn by turn directions until she has me turn left onto the entrance road for the casino. I'm looking around for any other businesses or even the gas station and I'm not seeing anything other than the casino in front of us and open land on either side. So, I ask her where am I supposed to be dropping her. Karen points to an upcoming sign and says, "See the sign that says 'Valet'? Just follow that sign." Yep, you guessed it, Karen had me drop her at the front entrance to the casino. She'd lied to me by omission. She didn't ask me to take her to the casino (which I would probably have done since it's none of my business how she spends her money), she asked me to take her to a business near the casino. Yeah, well, I wasn't happy. On Monday she couldn't afford to pay her $17 gas bill and on Wednesday she's going to the casino by tricking me into taking her. A week goes by and I am in the office paying my rent when Karen comes in. Karen: Why didn’t you tell me you were coming here today. Girl, I just walked all the way here. Me: Didn’t know you needed a ride. I can give you a ride back to the house if you would like. I wait while Karen pays her rent and we walk out together. Now, I’m expecting to get in my truck and drive the 4 blocks back to my house. Karen had another idea. Karen: Take me to Everything’s Cheap store. Me: Where? Karen: To Everything’s Cheap. Just turn here at the stop sign and I’ll show you. It’s not far. Me: Karen, I’m going to take you there, but I’m not shopping and I’m not going to sit in the parking lot and wait for you. You’ll have to get another ride home or walk. Karen: It’s fine. I won’t be long. I drop her at the front door and I go home. A couple of hours later, she bangs on my door. Karen: Where did my ride go? Me: Home. I told you that I wasn’t going to wait for you. Karen: I had all my stuff that I had to carry home. Now my back hurts. Me: I’m sorry, but I warned you. Karen walks away muttering things that I didn’t understand and slammed her door. Skip ahead several months and I run into Karen again as I am paying my rent. She wants me to give her a ride to the Social Security office. I tell her that I can't as my truck is not running right and I can't get too far from home in it until I get it check out and fixed. My truck started having issues and it's been difficult trying to get it fixed with lock-down, a back issue that left me bedridden for several weeks, and 2 major hurricanes this year (there’s nothing major wrong with the truck - just needs a new starter and gaskets to fix an oil leak that's caused the starter to go bad). Karen: But it's just a few blocks away and it's hot out here. Me: I can't trust my truck not to leave me stranded with no way to get it home. Karen: It will be fine. Me: Maybe, but I'm not willing to risk it. Karen slaps the side of my truck and continues on her walk and I go home in my truck. Another 3 days go by and more banging on my door and again I am awakened (it's 7:15 a.m.). This time I'm angry and I snatched the door open. Me: What? Karen (standing there with her purse and house keys in her hand as if she knows I'll say yes): I need to go to the mattress store. I need to pick up my new queen size mattress. Me: No. My truck still isn't running right. Karen: But I need your truck to haul the mattress home. Me: No. Karen: It's not a heavy mattress. Me: Oh, so who’s going to help you get it in and out of my truck and carry it into your house? Karen: The two of us can do it. Me: Karen, I have degenerative disk disease. The disks in my spine are disintegrating. I can't lift nor carry a mattress even with someone helping. Karen: But I already bought it. How am I going to get it home? Me: Call friends or family to help you. Karen: They don't have a truck and you do! Me: Yes, I have a truck, but there is no sign anywhere on it that says Free Moving Company. I close the door on her and go back to bed. An hour later, more knocking. This time, it's an older man. Man 1: Excuse me, but is that your truck? (He points at my truck in the parking lot.) Me: Yes. Man 1: I have an upright piano I need to move and was wondering if I could use your truck. Me: No. (I glance over at the neighbor's house and I see her peeking through a crack in her door - I have a sneaking suspicion she has put this guy up to this to see if I would help him.) Man 1: You can drive the truck. I just need to have the piano hauled to my storage unit. Me: How are you going to get an upright piano into the bed of my truck? Man 1: I'll just roll it up a ramp and into the back. Me: Do you know how much an upright piano weighs? One person can't push it up a ramp. If you use a ramp on my tailgate, you will break the tailgate and probably lose the piano in the process. My truck is large, but the rear end is not made for hauling a piano and will cause the front end to lift off the ground preventing my front wheel drive truck from gaining traction and straining my 16-year-old engine. Man 1: Well, could you call 4 or 5 of your male friends to help lift it into the back of the truck? Me: No! I close the door on this man, too. He didn’t come right out and say it, but I felt like he wanted to borrow my truck so he could go pick up the mattress for Karen. Yeah, I’m a little suspicious. The following morning . . . *sigh* . . . I ignore the knocking that occurs every half hour or so over a 3-hour period until she finally gives up. Later that afternoon, I open my door to get the mail out of my box when a second man approaches me out of nowhere. It’s like he was hiding around the corner waiting for me to come out of my house. Man 2 (points at my truck - it irritates me every time someone does this): Is that your truck? Me (feeling very annoyed and snarky): What gave it away? Is it because it's parked in a space clearly labeled with my house number? Or is it because someone told you who the truck belonged to? (I point at Karen's house.) Man 2: Does it run? Me: Listen, I don't know what you're wanting me pick up, deliver, move, haul, transport, or tow, but I am not a moving company, taxi, uber, delivery service, or a tow truck. I won't be doing any of those things and before you ask, I won't be allowing you or anyone else to drive my truck either. Now, do you have any other questions? Man 2: Uh, do you want to sell it? Me: What?! Why would I want to sell it? Man 2: Well, since it needs fixing, I thought maybe you would want to sell it to someone who could afford to fix it. Me: How do you know it needs fixing? Man 2 (turns bright red and can't take his eyes off ground): I just thought if you sold it, you could buy something else and I could fix the truck. Me: Tell Karen that I'm not selling you my truck so that you can fix it to give to her. Man 2: I wasn't going to give it to her. Me (pointing at his huge truck parked in Karen's designated space): You want me to believe that you would rather have my 16-year-old truck that needs repair than your brand-new truck? How stupid do you think I am? As the older man silently stares at the ground, Karen flings her door open and marches up to me. Karen: Just sell him your truck so he can fix it. You clearly aren't going to do it any time soon. At least I will put it to good use. I need it and I need it more than you apparently do. Now, he’s willing to get it fixed for me, so just sell him the damn truck already! Me: My truck is not for sale! When or if I get my truck fixed is absolutely none of your business. Karen: I’m going to call the office and tell them that you have a broken-down truck sitting in the parking lot that needs to be hauled to the junk yard. They’ll make you get rid of it or fix it. Man 2: Karen, they can’t do anything to her . . . Karen cuts him off. She’s so angry, she’s crying, shaking, and spitting as she screams Karen: SHUT UP! STAY OUT OF THIS. I WANT THAT TRUCK AND I’M GOING TO GET IT! I’LL CALL THE POLICE. THEY WILL MAKE HER GET RID OF IT. Man 2: Karen, the police aren’t . . . She cuts him off again. Karen: YES, THEY WILL. THEY'LL LISTEN TO ME. She storms off to call the police. In the meantime, I brought a chair outside along with a can of soda and a bowl of microwave popcorn. I figured this was going to be a good show. Karen and Man 2 have gone inside her house to wait. The neighbor to my left has come out to see what’s going on. Let’s call her Mary. Mary can’t stand Karen, so she drags a chair out and sits next to me and we share my popcorn. Enter Cop 1 and Cop 2 The cops arrive in about 5-6 minutes and walk up to Karen’s door and knock while glancing around at Mary and me and grinning. She answers and tells them that I have created an eyesore in the neighborhood by having an old beat up, broken-down truck sitting in the parking lot and she wants it removed immediately. Cop 1 (pointing at my truck - yep, he does it, too and I can't help but roll my eyes): That truck? Karen: Yes. Cop 1: That truck is clean, shiny, no dents, no scratches, new tires . . . are you sure that’s the eyesore? Karen: Yes. It’s 10 years old and broken and she doesn’t want to fix it. It’s just sitting there doing nothing for months. Me: It’s 16 years old. Cop 2 (spins around, surprised): Seriously? That truck is that old? Wow! It’s in great shape. You’ve taken good care of her. Me: Thank you. Karen: I want that truck gone! Cop 2 walks over to me to discuss my truck’s mechanical history. So, I explain to him that in the 16 years that I have owned her, I have changed her oil every 3-4 months, given her a bath once a month, got her a new set of tires 6 years ago, and when I first began having problems with her starting, I bought a new battery (the old one was the original battery from when I bought the truck off the showroom floor), and when the battery wasn’t the problem, I had a mechanic come and look at it. He determined that it was the starter and the gasket was leaking. All I was waiting on was my friend to come and help me start her (someone needs to get under the truck and tap the starter while someone else turns over the ignition) so that I can get it to the mechanic’s house for him to work on it. Karen: She’s lying. That truck hasn’t moved in 3 months. Me (offering popcorn to Cop 2 who took a handful): Wrong. It hasn’t moved in 4 days. It’s had problems for 3 or 4 months. Cop 1: Ms. Karen, there really isn’t anything the police department can do for you. Her truck definitely isn’t an eyesore nor is it sitting there in pieces creating a safety hazard. Karen: She’s driving down property values. Cop 1 (starts chuckling): Ms. Karen, you are renting a house in government subsidized senior housing. Cop 2: Why don’t you tell us the real reason why you want her truck removed. Mary (who has been silent until now - stands up and turns on her best diva soul-sister voice and attitude and gives the cops the greatest Deep-South Beautiful Black Woman sermon I’ve ever heard – I’ll try to write as best I can): Ohh, Lawd Jesus, help us all! Dis here woman of the night, want everything she can’t have, Lawd! I think it’s cuz she pulls her hair back so tight, Lawd, she can only see what’s in the back o’ her mind! Uh huh! She wants her Old Saggy Boy Toy of the Day here to buy my friend’s pick’em up truck, so she can go and pick’em up, Lawd, mm-hmm, if ya gittin' what I’m sayin’. He buy it and trade it to her for a little roll on her nasty sheets! Lawd Jesus, help us! And she think she all hot and sexy so you believe her and take away my friend’s truck. She a fool, uh huh. She think she can fool you, too, uh huh! How da hell do ya think she got those 2 big ass TVs in there? Mmm-hmm! Cop 1 is bent over laughing hysterically while Cop 2 is standing with his mouth open and his eyes wide. Cop 2 (turns to Man 2): Is any of that true? Man 2 (embarrassed, humiliated, and just looking tired): She wanted the truck and 50 bucks. Karen and Man 2 are arrested. Not sure what the exact charges were but I heard words being thrown around like pandering, solicitation, scamming, and false complaint among others. A couple of days later, Mary told me that Karen returned home. I guess she found a way to get bailed out. I haven’t seen her and I am hoping that I don’t. As for my “pick’em up truck”, I’m still waiting to get her to the mechanic. My friend will be here on his next day off (he doesn't get them often) to help me. It’s a good thing I’m a patient person with a super diva as a friend and neighbor. It's also good to know that my truck is at least worth one 20-minute roll on the sheets and 50 bucks. EDIT: Thanks for the awards everyone! And just a little side note for those of you rolling your eyes at the fact that I offered a cop popcorn and he took it - I live in the Deep South in a small-ish college town. The cops here are helpful, friendly (until provoked), and generally good guys. When construction workers stole from me after Hurricane Laura, two cops came to investigate and afterwards I offered them both a bottle of water and they accepted.
Missing/Murdered/Disappeared: Vanished from East Texas, 2000-2020
Hello friends. Per a request, here is a running list of those who have gone missing in East Texas. As a journalist in this area, these are the individuals I have noticed as part of the missing groups I frequent. Please feel free to direct me to more. As it is my line of work, I care deeply. Some of these individuals I know about, some I do not know much about. There are many more, but this first post is just the time range of 2000-2020. I will do other time periods if there is interest, although older cases are harder to track. They are organized alphabetically. Albright, Alwin- last seen 7/6/19 walking away from his home on Scott Street in Gilmer in Upshur County. He is 74 years old with grey hair and blue eyes. He’s 5’10” and 250 pounds. He was last seen wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. Mr. Albright has medical issues and is without the medications he needs. There is a $1000 reward for information regarding his whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact the Upshur County Sheriff. Alvarado, Eric “Slow”- Last seen 11/20/18. Disappeared from Atlanta, Texas, he is 6’5” and 180 pounds. He was 32 years old, and now would be 34. He was last seen wearing camouflage pajama pants, a white t-shirt, and a gray zip-up jacket. He also may have the glasses he was wearing. He has tattoos on his arms, chest and neck. There is a $10,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact the Atlanta, TX police. Birdwell, Jerrod- Last seen 1/6/14. Missing from Tyler, Jerrod was 17 at the time he disappeared. His height is listed as 5’5” and weight as 170 pounds, but he may have grown. He is white, with short black hair and brown eyes. There are no more details available about him. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Boehm, Frederick “Lil Joe” Joseph- Last seen 1/25/01. 6’0”, 130 pounds, white male with hazel eyes and brown hair missing from Marshall. He has a rebel flag tattoo on his upper arm. His sister Jolene is searching for answers and offering a $5000 reward. Anyone with information should contact the Harrison County Sheriff. Cannon, Heather Danielle- Last seen 8/27/09. The 15-year-old disappeared from Athens, Texas. Authorities believe she left of her own accord, and she was last seen in the company of her biological father, Jerral Allen Whitley. Whitley refused to take a polygraph test after Heather's disappearance and was later incarcerated in Florida for drug offenses and grand theft. He was imprisoned for 18 months before being released in October 2014. Police have since completed excavations of a property on County Road 4837, near Larue. Anyone with information should contact the Henderson County Sheriff. Childress, Antoinette Renee- Last seen 10/13/15. Missing from Henderson at her trailer home. About a month before Childress went missing, her sister, Patricia Nichols, began receiving strange Facebook messages from her. The first message said there was an emergency and Childress needed her phone number. Three weeks later Nichols got another message that just said "Sister where are I, what's going on." On October 6, Nichols got a voice message from Childress's Facebook account. The message said something about guardian angels, but the voice wasn't Childress's. Nichols left home after that and didn't return until November 6, by which time Childress was missing. Two women contacted Nichols after Childress's disappearance and said they knew what had happened to her. The women stated Childress had been involved in using and selling drugs, and gotten some bad people angry, and was tortured and killed as a result. This information has not been verified. Childress was seeing Felipe Villanueva at the time of his disappearance. He is considered a person of interest in her case and has multiple warrants for his arrest on drug-related charges and driving without a license. His current whereabouts are unknown and it's unclear whether he's still in the area. A few days after Childress was reported missing, police found her car being driven by a man in Henderson. He was arrested on an unrelated charge, and stated Childress had sold him the vehicle, something her family finds difficult to believe. Childress has a warrant out for her arrest, but she's considered a missing person rather than a fugitive. Childress had just gotten off probation at the time and was trying to clean up her life. Her case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected. Anyone with information should call the Henderson County Sheriff Combs, Donnie “Bon Jovi” and Cynthia Arnold (went missing together)- The pair was last seen 9/26/18 in Linden, near Atlanta, Texas in Cass County. Combs called Arnold and asked her to come pick him up in Cass Countyand she left home to do so. A little while later she contacted her mother and said Combs hadn't arrived and she was still waiting at the meeting spot. Neither of them has ever been heard from again. A few days after they were last seen, Arnold's truck was found abandoned and burned in Marion County, Texas. While Kevin Dewayne Shepard Jr. and his uncle, Gary Edward Shepard were charged in Oct. 2020 with capital murder of the pair, their bodies have never been found. They face the death penalty if convicted. Anyone with information should contact the Cass County Sheriff. Culberson, Larry- Last seen 9/4/13. Larry went missing from his home on County Road 4320 in Emory. Larry had been having some medical issues shortly before his disappearance. Larry was last known to be wearing camouflage-style gray pants, a white T-shirt and he might be wearing high-top tennis shoes. He was 56 at the time of his disappearance. An extensive search was conducted in the area without any result. His medical condition causes him to walk with a limp. Anyone with information should contact the Rains County Sheriff. Dunn, Hartford Hunter- Last seen 8/5/04. Vanished from his home in the 200 block of Private Road 4002 in Marshall in the early morning hours, his daughter said she woke up at 7:30 a.m. and found the door open and her father gone. At 76 years old, he was in the beginning years of dementia. He has not been seen since. Anyone with information should contact the Marshall Police. Flint, Kimberly Carter- Last seen 9/29/18. Kim’s car was found partially crashed and abandoned in the roadway of State Highway 154 near the rural community of Rekaw, in Rusk County. Her purse ID, as well as other possessions, were at her home, according to Kim’s son James. Picture evidence of the wreck shows damage to the front and side panel of the grey four-door sedan. "The vehicle it was found still in the roadway partially crashed," her son said. "She just wasn't there." Two searches, both immediately after the crash and 170 days later, turned up nothing. A witness believes he saw her speaking with someone in a white pickup truck, but as any local knows… there are a lot of white pickup trucks in East Texas. Kim was featured on “The Vanished Podcast.” Anyone with information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff. Farrell, Justin Kyle- Last seen 05/11/04. Farrell disappeared from Nacogdoches, Texas. In March 2015, his skeletal remains were found near Cushing in Nacogdoches County, Texas. They were identified in April 2015. Farrell's death remains under investigation and has not yet been ruled a homicide. Anyone with information should contact the Nacogdoches County Sheriff. Fleisher, Steven Miller- Last seen 9/14/16. Missing from Troup, he was last seen around 6:15 a.m. in the 1200 block of Noble Street. Police say Fleisher did not take any of his belongings with him and his family has been unable to contact him. He was 53 years old at the time of his disappearance. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Flores, Lydia- Last seen 10/11/20. Reported missing on Oct. 19 by her Shreveport, LA boyfriend, who said he had not heard from her since Oct. 11. She is a 40-year-old Hispanic female, and has two tattoos: a barbed wire on her bicep and a playboy bunny on her lower back. She is 5’1” and 115 pounds. She has brown eyes and auburn hair. She is from Longview, but anyone with information should contact the Shreveport Police Department. Franklin, Johnny William- Last seen 10/21/08. The black male, 5'9" tall and 150 pounds was last seen in Tyler. His vehicle was located in a church parking lot at 3009 N. Grand Ave. on October 21, but police said they saw no signs of foul play. He was 53 at the time of his disappearance. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Gallegos, Veronica- Last seen 01/11/05. Missing from Gun Barrel City at the age of 19, Her live-in boyfriend said she packed a suitcase and left; he speculated she'd returned to her native Mexico. She has never been heard from again. Gallegos left behind her purse, her Mexican identification and her six-month-old child. Her boyfriend is considered a person of interest in her case and has stopped cooperating with investigators. Foul play is possible in her disappearance, but few details are available in her case. Anyone with information should contact the Henderson County Sheriff. Gipson, Tyress- last seen 8/22/20. Missing from Jacksonville, Texas in Cherokee County, Tyress had just turned 18 and graduated. He is 6’0” and weighs 180 pounds. He has tattoos of the name “Lavance,” “BG$” and prayer hands. He is an African American man, wears his hair in dreads, and has braces. Anyone with information should contact the Jacksonville Police Department. Gutierrez, Marquita Leanna- Last seen 11/11/19. Some report her as missing out of Canton, while others report her as missing out of Wood County. Marquita Gutierrez was reported missing after borrowing her mom's pickup that morning to go to a doctor's appointment, but the doctor's office said she never showed up. Her husband told police she was last seen in the Dallas area and was possibly heading toward Laredo. Her husband has been named a person of interest in her case. Anyone with information should contact the Wood County Sheriff Hunt, Shirley Mae- last seen 6/17/07. Missing from Henderson, Shirley was last seen walking on County Road 454 near her home in rural Rusk County. She had alzheimers at the time of her disappearance. She is 5’4”, 140 pounds with hazel eyes, white hair and a partial denture plate. She wears eyeglasses with a gold wire frame, and was 72 at the time of her disappearance. Sheriff’s deputies believe she got in someone’s car, due to scent dog tracking. Anyone with information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff. Jackson, Cole Duane- last seen 07/13/06. Missing from Timpson, Jackson was last seen near FM 1645 and CR 4230. The truck he was driving came out of a private pasture and rammed into a fence. He stopped and spoke to the elderly man who owned the land. Jackson apologized and said he would pay $120 for the damage, but said he had to run to get away from the "bad people" who were chasing him. He abandoned his Dodge half-ton pickup with minor damage and left his two inhalers, which he needed, in the vehicle. The driver’s side door was open and the truck was still in four-wheel drive. Jackson's wife was three months pregnant with their first child at the time he went missing. Anyone with information should contact the Shelby County Sheriff. Lee, Anthony Tyrone- last seen 6/25/11. Anthony was planning to go to the rodeo with his mother on the evening of June 25. When his mother came to pick him up for the rodeo, she found his home deserted. The ironing board was set up with the clothes Lee had planned to wear to the rodeo. His pants were on the ironing board with one leg dangling, as if he'd been interrupted while ironing and left in a hurry. His mother said he would not leave the house in his “house shoes” (a very East Texas thing lol) and he had $600 untouched in his bank account. About three weeks after Lee was reported missing, his mother got strange phone calls. A "death song" played on the line, then someone said, "that's what he gets for snitching." His mother noted that he had been associated with a known drug dealer and this person had wrecked Lee's car about a week before Lee disappeared. Anyone with information should contact the Texas Department of Public Safety (State Troopers). Marshall, Kimberly Ann- last seen 3/17/17 after she spent one night in the Salvation Army womens’ shelter in Tyler, Texas. She was never seen again. Thirty-one years old at the time, Kimberly had cuts and scars on her arms, wrists and back. She also has upper dentures. She is 5’5” and approximately 105 pounds, although she fluctuates in weight. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Few details are available about her. Anyone with information should contact the Tyler Police Department. Martin, David Michael- last seen 1/14/10. He was a truck driver based in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and came home to Louisiana most weekends to visit his family. On January 14, Martin called to say he wouldn't make it home that weekend because his truck had broken down. He never contacted his loved ones again. The last person known to have seen him was the mechanic in Longview, Texas whom Martin took his truck to for repairs. They had dinner together, then Martin said he was going to wait on a friend to get truck parts. The mechanic left to do more work on the truck. Martin has never been heard from again. Anyone with information should contact the Sand Springs Police. Martinez, Gregoria Jacobo- last seen 8/13/09. Martinez was last seen in Nacogdoches. She was born in Mexico and was living in the United States without documents at the time of her disappearance. Her two young children, both of whom are U.S. citizens, and they were visiting their grandmother in Mexico when Martinez disappeared. She had asked the father of one of her children for money to help bring her children home from Mexico. He agreed to meet her and lend her money shortly before she disappeared.Martinez planned to go to the Nacogdoches County courthouse on July 13 to pick up copies of her children's birth certificates, but she never arrived there. She has never been heard from again. She was reported missing on July 16. That same day, her vehicle was found abandoned on the side of County Road 525, near the intersection of U. S. Highway 59 south. There were no obvious indications of a struggle at the scene. Martinez may have gotten a ride south with a truck driver in order to find her children; however, her family never saw her. Both the fathers of her children have been questioned and neither of them have been named as suspects. Authorities believe Martinez was taken against her will. Anyone with information should contact the Texas Department of Public Safety (State Troopers). Marquez, Erin Raquel- last seen 8/30/14. The 17-year-old disappeared as she was leaving the Longview Baptist Church in Hallsville, near Longview. She has long dark hair that was dyed red, and 5’6”, 130 pounds, and has brown eyes. Anyone with information should contact the Harrison County Sheriff. McKay, Melissa Darling- last seen 6/10/11. At 1:35 a.m., Melissa walked out of the Choctaw Casino in Grant, Oklahoma with a white male companion, Jeremy Upchurch, of Lamar TX and was never seen again. Upchurch continues to be a person of interest due to his criminal background. Properties in Oklahoma, Delta and Lamar counties were searched, but came up empty. I can’t find an independent source to corroborate, but a personal conversation I had with law enforcement indicates they have found her vehicle in Oklahoma and presume she is dead, possibly due to drug involvement. Anyone with information should contact the Hopkins County Sheriff or Sulphur Springs Police. Meadows, Beverly Lofton- Last seen 12/26/08. Beverly walked away from the Community Cares Nursing Home in the 200 block of west Merritt Street in Marshall, Texas and has never been seen again. Meadows had lived in the nursing home for about six years prior to her disappearance. She was supposed to wear an identification bracelet that would have activated the nursing home's door alarms, but she took it off before she left. She left without taking any personal belongings. Her mother, who lives 15 miles from the nursing home, believes Meadows was trying to walk to her residence. She was 48 years old at the time of her disappearance, 5’3”, and 240 pounds with short brown hair. She requires daily medication, and she doesn't have her medicine with her. Anyone with information should contact the Marshall Police. Morton, Sheila- last seen 6/2/14. Missing from Center, Texas, Sheila’s behavior and personality changed drastically in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, according to her mother Joan. She had recently quit a restaurant job she had for seven years, moved out of her residence, and began hanging out with an old group of friends. Additionally, the last purchase Sheila was known to make was for a 9mm handgun, which was left behind when she disappeared. She was last seen at her ex-boyfriend’s house. Her phone was turned off the same day she vanished, and she has never been seen or heard from again. Sheila’s family members do not believe she would voluntarily leave her son behind. Anyone with information should contact the Angelina County Sheriff. Pierce, Ashley- last seen 3/10/20. Disappeared from the Longview area, she is 5’3” and has a Hello Kitty tattoo on her thigh and a scorpion on her shoulder. She has long brown hair. Anyone with information should contact the Gregg County Sheriff. Salazar, Rosemary “Rose” Rodriguez- Last seen 10/6/19. Attended a family birthday party at the Golden Corral in Kilgore, and was supposed to report to work the next morning at the Kilgore Walmart, but no-show, no-called. She has several distinctive tattoos, including a heart with a fishing hook, a deathly hallow, and the inscription “my person” next to a rose. She is a 5’4”, 185 pound Hispanic woman with brown eyes and brown hair, and it is not known what she was wearing when she disappeared. Her lime green 2014 Chevrolet Sonic is also missing. Anyone with information should contact the Gregg County Sheriff. Stewart, Harry Edward- Last seen 11/30/11. Harry was traveling from Springtown, Texas to Alabama and was last seen in Hallsville, Texas. His age was 65 and he is white, 5’10”, and weighs about 170 pounds. Sheriff’s deputies determined he was driving when he hit something and had to leave his vehicle after his radiator overheated. Harry told the responding officer he would wait at the Dairy Queen on Farm-to-Market Road 450 near mile marker 604 for a ride. He was never seen again. Thompson, Lauren Colvin- Last seen 1/10/19. At 1:53 p.m., Lauren made a frantic but coherent call to her mother. At 2:01 p.m., Lauren called 911 and told Panola County dispatch she was being followed. The call lasted for 21 minutes before disconnecting. Lauren’s family says it “abruptly ended,” police say the “cell phone died.” Lauren’s phone and shoe were found in the Rock Hill community, a rural area with less than 200 residents and more than 2000 acres of woods. A search by multiple law enforcement agencies turned up nothing. A $10,000 reward is offered for information on Lauren’s whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact the Panola County Sheriff. Tidwell, James “Jimmy” Lamar- Last seen 2/15/12. Family members found his rural cabin in Rusk County abandoned, and later found his vehicle abandoned on Farm Road 95, approximately five miles from his home, without a battery. "I do not believe for one minute that he left this property of his own free will," his sister Lynn Akin said. The road was a route he took frequently. He was 58 at the time of his disappearance. The truck showed no signs of foul play, according to Sheriff’s deputies. Anyone with information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff. Valdovinos, Gustavo Baldovi- Last seen 7/11/12. Missing from his maternal aunt's home on Houston Street in Tyler. He told his family he was an alcoholic and had decided to go into treatment, and he left with a group of people who promised to get him some help. The group he left with is described as a Caucasian male and two Caucasian females driving a white Chevrolet Z71 or Silverado pickup truck. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Wells, Brandi- Last seen 8/3/06. Was leaving the Graham Central Station nightclub in Longview at around 12:30 a.m. Her damaged car was found on Interstate 20 near the Brownsboro exit with her personal belongings inside. She was wearing rust-colored gaucho pants and a floral tube top, and is 4’11, 130 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was 23 in 2006, she would be 36 now. She was featured on Investigation Discovery’s “Disappeared.” Anyone with information should contact the Henderson County Sheriff. Witt, Jana Mann- last seen 8/17/05. Missing from Glen Rose in Somervell County, Ms. Witt displayed personality changes several weeks prior to her disappearance. She has also gone by the names Jana Holstin, Jana Howard and Jana Branch. She was 44 years of age at the time of her disappearance, and 5’3”, 160 pounds with blue eyes and dyed red hair. The missing persons database notes that foul play is possible. Anyone with information should contact the Somervell County Sheriff. Sources: News reports, Charley Project, Missing Eight East Texas and more https://www.news-journal.com/news/local/police-searching-for-husband-of-missing-wc-woman/article_7c5144ee-8434-5e12-9829-360d060c510a.html https://www.ketk.com/news/vanished-hartford-hunter-dunn/ https://www.panolawatchman.com/news/still-no-answers-in-lauren-thompson-case-a-year-after-she-went-missing-from-panola/article_07d707bc-4d15-11ea-8c84-af4fb2d30b79.html
A man takes a pleasant stroll on a Friday evening... suddenly, the Devil himself pops up in front of him
and whispers zombifyingly, "Take all the money in your purse, go to this casino, and put them on the number 27!" The man is first shocked, then becomes curious, and quickly yields, goes to the casino, puts all the money on 27 and wins! Excited he exists the casino and meets the Devil again. The latter is silent for a moment and then says again, "Take all your money - all that you've won - go inside and put them on 27!" - "Again?!" - "Yes! Do it!" - The man quickly yields, goes in again, puts all the money on 27 and ... wins! Now everyone in the casino is amazed, they check the wheel, nope no tilt or bias (and it was outputting numbers randomly before), seems like genuine luck, reluctantly he's given almost two hundred thousand dollars and leaves elated. Outside he meets the Devil again who again tells him to go put everything on 27, the man is shocked but does so, and wins again! And now he's given most of the casino's bank, millions of dollars, walks out shining like a star, and says to the Devil, "I don't know why people say you're the most sinister being there is, you've been awesome to me today!!" The Devil looks at him strangely, pauses, and replies, "Well that may be true or not but you are definitely the luckiest motherfucking son of a bitch I've ever fucking seen!!"
So one day I was in the car with my mother about to the casino . My purse strap was around my arm inside my jacket and the only way that could of happen is if I took my jacket off and put it around me . The second thing is my seal belt got caught in my jacket button . You know the designs on the jacket with straps so it’s a button to connect it . The seat belt was in the strap and the button was connected . My mom was there for both times and we couldn’t explain it ... new to this so please excuse my errors .
https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/4107658-Worst-story-of-cheating-but-have-I-over-stepped Loooong OP: CUniverse This is a very long story, I will start with the back story as condensed as possible. I became pregnant after 1 year whirlwind relationship with someone I split up my previous relationship for. I was living Amsterdam at the time where he is from, but moved back to the UK 6 months in. When I found out I was pregnant, I stayed in the UK, and he was saving money to move with me and we were due to live there. He arrived when I was 6.5 months, everything was great and we were happy. It turned out though that the 3000 euro he had supposed to have saved for us and baby, he gambled away on online poker so he came empty handed. I funded everything. Slowly, he started to become recluse, and disappeared after work instead of coming home so that he could find places to play poker, in casinos or online. When I discovered this, I tried to urge him into GA, he went a few times, but eventually he was suicidal and depressed so I recommended he return back to the Netherlands. Our daughter was 1 by this time. He went back, and after 3 months decided that he wouldn't return back to the UK, he hated it and missed his friends and family. Therefore the plan was to move there with our daughter. We did this, but it took me a year, long story. He promised he had stopped gambling and was in a good place. Within weeks of arriving he went straight back into gambling, and also speaking to other women. During this time he was emotionally abusive and even struck me 3 times. I had an abortion because of how badly he treated me. The final straw was the fact that he slept with someone one random night, so I broke it off. I was determined to stay in Amsterdam but eventually would find somewhere else and move out into my own place with my daughter, then suddenly he found a new girl, one week after I broke up with him on tinder. He told me he was in love with her instantly and that he wanted me and our daughter to leave the house for a week, so that she could move in and work from our place for a few days. This was within 3 days of meeting this girl on tinder. I refused to allow this, and he verbally abuse me to the point where I had to flee the country with our child. He knew we were leaving but he didn't care. Within 6 weeks, he had broken up with the tinder girl and was begging from to come back, saying that he was depressed and didn't know who he was back then and wanted to give us another go. Of course I objected. For a whole year he tried everything, gave up gambling, became selfless instead of selfish and really showed me he was ready. So I told him I would consider returning mostly for our child. By May 2020 we were locked down together in Amsterdam and I was working from home there and became pregnant. We were happy about it and he thought it was just what we needed to finally cement the return of our relationship. I was reluctant to put a label on us though and said I needed time, because I was traumatised from what happened between us before. Especially the physical abuse. But he really seemed like a changed man, and in fact, he had a terribly childhood, so we put it down to that, and he said he would get therapy to address his issues. In August we went on vacation everything was wonderful, and by September, something changed. I went back to London for a couple weeks and I sensed something was off. I asked him outrightly, if he was seeing someone else while I was in London still. He told me no. I arrived in Amsterdam a week later, and checked his phone while he slept. It was almost completely clean, except he left a tiny piece of evidence, along with blonde hair all over the house and I managed to get a confession out of him after pressing him for a few days. He had met the girl 3 weeks earlier and was sleeping with her. He told me he did it because I wouldn't go publicly official to our friends and family with him. He felt neglected and stressed after a year of trying to get me back. I made up my mind there and then that I would get my revenge for him doing this too me again. In addition, he slept with her without protection and slept with me too, before the confession thus putting my health at risk which I couldn't forgive. This is where it gets twisted. I told him id forgive him and stay, for the sake of our kids and that I loved him. This was a lie, I was just plotting how to get him back. Things went great the following weeks, I was acting the part of loving and forgiving girlfriend very easily. At some point I caught him on WhatsApp with the girl ( he had told me they had cut contact). She was pursing him, crying etc.. saying she was in love with him and heartbroken that he had too end it with her. I took a huge step evading his privacy after this and I managed to install his WhatsApp on my laptop, so I was practically spying on every convo he was having. Eventually I told him he should meet up with her one final time and end it because i had to travel back to the Uk and I didn't want him to see her while I was gone.. or more like, I wanted to test if he would, knowing I would be able to see their convos. When they met up he came back and asked me if I would consider a 3 way relationship with the two of them. Me being the primary. I told him I would consider it when returned from London. Of course I had no intention to do so, but just wanted to see this girl face to face, (sick I know) so we all met up, discussed things, and well it was painful, but at the end, I told them they were not to see one another while I was away and I would consider the 3way after I had the baby. While I was there, I was still connected to his WhatsApp as I mentioned and saw they had met 3 times. Which he lied about to my face. Upon returning though, he ended it with her and said he wanted to focus on his family. Due to the fact that he met up with her while I was away, again displaying how little he respected me, I was driven even further by seeking revenge, so much that I didn't let on that I knew anything. So all these months of knowing what he has been up to, he is none the wiser. The current situation is that he wants for sure that I move here permanently to Amsterdam once baby is born (in London) with our other child and we buy a new house, and start a fresh... however, of course, there is no way in hell I can do this after all this deceit. I cannot believe how badly I have allowed myself to be treated. So, because I told him I had forgiven him, I was finding it impossible to go back on my word without admitting that I was spying the whole time. So I have been creatively (insanely) thinking of other ways out... of ways that will allow me to break up with him and him not having any power to force me to stay. One night, after not checking his actual phone for a long time, I saw he had a dating app installed on his phone, but only once. after 6 consecutive days of checking, I didn't see it anymore. But I initially did check his phone because he was acting weird again all of a sudden. So, I decided to re install the app I saw while he slept, and then I saw he was speaking to multiple women for 6 months, but had not met any of them. This inspired me to make a fake profile, with photos of a friend of mine he doesn't know. He matched with my profile and is planning to meet up with this girl on Friday ( I am going back to the UK tomorrow for Christmas)... Now, if you have gotten this far you may think this is the craziest story ever (and I have missed some crazy bits out)...and may be thinking I am insane for staying and more insane for spying...however, when you're with someone who won't let you go, it is so so so very hard to get out. Especially as his family are all so adamant that I give him chance after chance, and he guilt trips me constantly with his issues and tells me I am the only person who can make him happy. I know I have over stepped by spying on him this intensely, but, I became desperate. It has been a horrible few months being pregnant and dealing with all these revelations that I have made myself privy to by having so much access to his privacy. I expect to be scolded and told how wrong I am and that I have overstepped, but, for the first time in months I finally feel like I can throw this at him (planning to meet the girl on the app) and he will accept that I can no longer stay with him after this and give in. I don't know how I will expose the fact that I know he has planned to meet a girl, but at this point, I just need to get out.
In P4, having won 30 (or was it 29?) jackpots, Cooper was wandering in the Silver Mustang Casino lobby. Pit Boss Warrick ran after him and took him to Supervisor Burns's office to collect the money. Burns was seated behind his desk. When Warrick put Cooper sitting in a chair on the other side of the desk, he got curiously fixated by a pen that was standing in a base made of red dice. Also Burns glanced at the pen quickly. For some reason, Cooper couldn't get his eyes off the pen. Burns managed to distract him briefly by placing a huge bag of money on the table but soon Cooper was back to staring at the pen again. While staring at it, he repeated a word from Burns's small talk.
Eventually, staring at the pen stopped, but the message was difficult to miss: there was something in the pen that we needed to figure out. Besides all that staring, it didn't feature in the scene in any other capacity so the answer was probably somewhere else. So, who ... else had that kind of pen? There was a similarly placed pen on Ben Horne's desk, sticking out in the same angle. It was prominently on display in P10 when Sheriff Truman came to bring him some bad news about Richard. At that time, Ben was also dressed in identical colors as Burns. There even was another pen on the table next to his right hand that kept jumping inconsistently between two positions, just like another pen next to Burns's right hand in the earlier scene. But back to the other pen whose counterpart was stared into importance. In Ben's office, the pen pointed at a Saturn-like figure painted on the wooden wall behind him. Coincidentally, Ben's grandson Richard, the topic of the Sheriff's visit, was driving a broken 1996 Saturn. In another coincident, Burns was dressed in the colors of Richard's unusually painted car. This was one of several similarities between the two. In P16, Richard got somehow burnt into oblivion on a rock. In P5, Burns (sic) got "fucking fired" by Bradley. In P15, Richard was kicked hard by Mr C when he was lying on the ground, and Rodney kicked Burns hard when he was on the floor. In P10, before robbing her, Richard said his grandmother Sylvia had always wanted him to "leave town", and Bradley told Burns to "leave town". Burns had a bag that got money worth "thousands of dollars" like Janey-E said later that evening. In P10, Richard said, "I got money", and then he robbed his grandmother who later complained to Ben he had taken "thousands of dollars" that he had stuffed in her purse. After Burns was dragged out of the control room, he was never seen or mentioned again, in line with Bradley telling him, "Don't ever come back". Later in the same episode, Richard made his first appearance. He didn't have a bag of cash yet, but he had a cigarette packet filled with cash that he gave to Chad. So, that pen led us to wonder if Burns and Richard were meant to be the same character, separated by time and space to their own worlds. However, while amusing as such, it didn't seem to make much difference. Something was still missing from this dilemma, and for that something we probably need to go back to Ben who was also wearing the same colors as Burns that were the colors of Richard's car. After all, that Saturn was on his wall.
Rise of Hellion ch13 ( Barry Pepper fanart fiction inspiration)
Rise of Hellion ch13 ( Barry Pepper fanart fiction inspiration) previous: https://www.reddit.com/BarryPeppecomments/koihsy/rise_of_hellion_ch12_barry_pepper_fanart_fiction/ The flight touched down, under the early morning sky. I could practically taste the Cinnabon frosting. It had been over a decade since I’d been on an airplane but I loved hanging around the terminals for the delicious overpriced food. Baron placed his hand upon my shoulder. “What happens in Jersey stays in Jersey,” he said with a laugh. “I thought you’d be bitter.” I leaned on his shoulder as we waited for the seatbelt light to turn off. “You thought I’d be bitter about flying as a passenger instead of a pilot?” Baron shrugged, as he stretched his arms over his head. “I’ve always loved Alaska Airlines. And if I was flying the plane, I wouldn’t have been able to spend time with this little guy.” He tickled little Abby’s chubby arm causing the baby to smile. “I can’t disagree.” In the weeks following our arrival at Dr. Toki’s DC bunker, Baron grew close to my son. The three of us shared a room; two cots on the floor with a padded plastic box for the baby. Like all babies little Abby cried; for food, diaper changes, or just out of loneliness. Nine out of ten times, I would awaken to find Baron holding my son. Sometimes he’d walk around the small room, other times he would sit cross-legged on his bed, but every night was a different story about Noah. I learned things I knew I was never meant to know about. In the years they spent traveling the world as renowned criminal masterminds, Noah and Baron had become more than friends. They fell in love. “You daddy was the greatest person I ever knew,” Baron often said as he rocked my son in his arms. “He was the last person I ever truly loved.” I listened as Baron, by the light of the moon, told my infant son stories about his many adventures with Noah and Nash. Some boarded on the obscene; drugs, weapons trafficking, and all manner of sex. He never outright said they were lovers, only that they trusted each other with their mind body and soul. “It tears me up inside knowing he’s gone. I know this is all my fault, his blood is on my hands. We should have died together. Noah died the way he lived; with honor and integrity. But then I never would have met you.” That was how I knew Baron could be trusted; he loved Abby with every fiber of his soul. “Yo, Nicki,” Baron said, tapping my arm. “The plane’s empty, time to go.” “Oh,” I took a quick breath, forcing myself back to reality. Baron grabbed our one piece of luggage, a plain black backpack with a limited number of supplies. Axel had passed it along to us before going through security, so I had to assume it contained no weapons. We walked down the corridor to the gate at Atlantic City international airport. “Can I hold the bag?” I asked, since he was already holding the baby. “Sure.” Baron took off the straps and tossed me the bag. It was lighter than I thought it would be. Inside was a lot of fabric; some rolled, some folded and some pieces were clearly hiding items made of plastic or metal. I figured I shouldn’t be examining its contents right away but with the chill of the airport I wanted to see if there were any extra clothes for my baby. No, Abby was our baby. Seeing Baron holding the child in his arms, all I could feel was love. “Oh look!” I fished out a blue, baby t-shirt with a happy dolphin. “Let’s put it on him!” Baron did as I asked, maneuvering Abby’s wiggly little body. With his fresh new shirt, he looked like a cute little tourist baby. In fact, we looked like a typical vacationing couple traveling with their newborn. I knew that Axel and Dr. Toki were monitoring us from the safety and comfort of an unmarked medevac vehicle somewhere within a six-mile radius. Ideally, they would follow us, observe from a distance. If and when we found Tony, we could get the hell out (to the nearest TAC bunker.) Until then Baron and I were to look for clues along the boardwalk. “Should we get a hotel room?” I asked. “Certain military leaders didn’t give us any money, so unless you have a credit card?” “I could probably pick pocket one.” “Way to blow our cover,” he said with a laugh. “Nah, we can deal with the issue of housing when we need to. With any luck Axel and Dr. Toki have plans to get us out, so we don’t have to sleep on the streets with a baby.” We walked a further, to the land of sun, sand and casinos, stopping to rest on a bench. “Let’s see what’s in the bag.” There were more shirts, pants, a few flattened bottles to collect water, or maybe even breastmilk. I placed each of the items neatly on my lap, hoping that I would not miss anything important. However, in the end, the only item of importance was a package of baby wipes. There wasn’t even any diapers. I had to assume, if I needed to change my baby, I was meant to use the extra clothing. (Same for first aid, due to lack of bandages.) “You really don’t have any money?” “We can always shoplift,” Baron said cheerfully as he tossed the baby in the air. Abby squealed with joy. I could feel my heart flutter with joy. “That’s the New Jersey spirit!” “There has to be a Walgreens around here someplace.” We easily found a corner store with the iconic red signage. Baron picked up a basket and headed to the food section; packaged drinks, dried cereal, candy, etc. “What do you think happened to Anya?” I asked, following close. “Since you’re the last person who saw her.” “She’s going after Axel,” he answered casually. “And you’re ok with that?” “It’s her deal, her quest or whatever.” “Or whatever?” I asked. His tone was really starting to piss me off. Axel was my friend, a human being. But so was Anya. And that was why my soul was being torn in half. “Anya’s going to do what she has to do but for the sake of all of us she’s going to act alone. That way the blood will be only on her hands.” I saw his point. If and when the time came, we were under no obligation to choose sides. “How thoughtful.” “You need any diapers?” Baron asked. He was holding an open package of men’s shaving razors. Grabbing a single replacement head, Baron somehow managed to break the plastic apart without wounding his fingertips. I assumed he was going to cut open a package. “No, I’m good. He has on a cloth diaper and I have enough supplies to make an extra. But I could use some soap.” I grabbed a package of off brand bar soap with an image of a happy Asian baby. Ideally, I could use this for washing both skin and clothing. After easily leaving the store with everything we needed, we ran in the direction of the beach, hoping to get lost in the crowds. Suddenly out of nowhere the sky darkened and the clouds swelled with rain. The storm came down hard and fast, transforming from freezing rain, to pin-sized hail. In the distance there seemed to be a homeless encampment. Without any words spoken, we both knew to make a run for it. The tent city consisted of a series of tarps connecting individual homes. There were a few spots that had people huddled around campfires. Men, women and children sat wrapped in dirty, wet blankets, as they struggled to stay warm. Not wanting to take any of their limited resources we walked until we found a sparse area with just a tarp surrounded by barrels and broken pallets. The space was just enough for Baron and I to sleep side by side, resting the baby on his chest. “Here,” he said, sliding the backpack in my direction. “You can use the bag as a pillow.” “Thanks.” Unable to comfortably sleep I found myself staring up at the blue tarp. As my mind started to float away my mouth spewed out the words that I thought I’d never say. “What happened between you and Noah?” “What do you mean?” Baron asked in a whisper. He knew perfectly well what I meant. “Feng told me he gave Noah the same opportunities he gave you. Yet somehow you ended up as his right-hand man with full access to his arsenal of weapons guns and even his appointment book.” Baron swallowed a lump in his throat. “Your point?” “Why didn’t you convince Noah to come with you?” Baron went silent. He held the baby close, shivering. “You don’t think I tried?” He blinked tears from his eyes. If he’d been angry, I would have continued the conversation; I would have wanted to know why he had the right to mourn the father of my child. But Baron wasn’t angry, he was in pain. “I think we should get some sleep.” “Yeah, totally.” I knew better then to try to ask for my son back. Abby was an emotional support baby and Baron needed him more. I made myself comfortable on my bed of plastic and leaves, pulling the tarp over my body for warmth. “Good night.” There was a moment of silence before we were awoken by Abby’s cries. Baron sat up, rocking the small baby, attempting to keep him warm. “I think he’s hungry.” “Give him here.” I had gotten better at breastfeeding, but with how cold it was I would have preferred to keep as covered as possible. “Can you help me with my tarp-blanket?” “Sure.” Baron helped cover my body, allowing the baby warmth and privacy. “Thanks.” I looked at Baron with genuine love in my heart. “Thank you for being my friend.” I couldn’t stop the tears from falling, mixing with the freezing cold rain. “Thank you for everything.” Baron blinked tears from his own eyes as he crossed his arms over his chest. “You really want to know what happened to Noah?” “Yeah, I do.” I looked down at Abby, who opened his eyes as he nursed. He had Noah’s courage and strength. “I can still remember that night. Even if it was for just a moment, I felt like I had friends, a real connection. That was never something that came easy for me.” Not that it mattered. It was yet another fleeting moment of happiness in my shit-show of a life. Baron lowered his shirt, revealing his upper chest. “Feng gave me an augmentation; I have an inorganic core made of some kind of plasma. I used to think it was radioactive but I have reason to believe it was created as a means of unlimited projectiles.” “And it keeps you warm?” That explained why Abby loved being held by him. “Well, the power came with a complimentary suit of armor that allowed me to be the perfect little henchman.” “You mean body guard?” Baron shrugged. “I assumed that was Feng’s original plan.” I swallowed the lump in my throat, mentally preparing for the worst. “And Noah?” “He wasn’t down for it. The only reason he surrendered to Kitsune was to allow you and Anya time to flee.” “Oh.” I felt like my heart stopped. I should have realized it from the beginning; that was the only reason we were allowed to live, because Noah truly loved me. “We were turned over to Feng. I could only assume she thought Feng had the ability to extract Noah’s mind; his intellect, his secrets. But he didn’t. Feng needed Noah to volunteer information.” Baron paused, blinking tears from his eyes. “That was the difference between us. My most valuable asset was my combat ability, maybe my strategy skills. All I had to do was pledge my loyalty, and wear the armor, to gain Feng’s trust. For Noah, that was asking too much. His mind contained secrets that could change the world; info that could never and would never fall in to the hands of tyrannical psychopaths.” “And that’s why he had to die.” Since I was finished breastfeeding, I handed the now happy, content infant back to Baron. “Although if it was up to Feng (and it was) well, you’ve seen his set up.” “Yeah,” I said with a nod. “I’m going to see that until the day I die.” “All of his prized victims are kept alive, conscious as their forced to exist as hood ornaments. Feng wanted them to suffer for all eternity, or until their brains turn to pea soup.” “Now I have a craving for split pea soup.” We laughed through our tears. In truth, I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing Noah’s remains. “You hungry?” Baron dug in his pocket, producing a smashed-up Snicker’s bar. “We can split it.” With food in our stomachs, we fell asleep to the sound of calming rain. For the first time since he’d been born, I had a vision of my son as a full-grown man. The sound of rain grew louder, gradually transforming to gunfire. I awoke in what appeared to be a WW2 battle scene. Thankfully I was transparent; bullets passed through me like a virtual reality game, and the area around me felt comfortably warm despite the fact I was standing in snow. In the distance I could see a man leaning on a tree. Eyes closed, he held a cross in his hand. I watched as he kissed the rosary pendent and said a simple prayer. “Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” As I came closer, I could see he was gripping his shoulder while doubled over in pain. That raised the question: why was he reciting the prayer of a sharpshooter? He moved his hand to his waist, slowly retrieving a pistol. “My goodness and my fortress.” He held the gun under his chin, cocking the barrel to his throat. “My high tower and my deliverer. My shield, and he in whom I trust.” “No!” The sound came from behind me. I turned to see a figure wearing pink-purple armor. It was in the same style as what Baron wore. And he or she wasn’t running, they were flying. “Abby!” A female voice cried. I followed as fast as I could, as she rushed to the man’s side. “Lieutenant?” The man muttered, coughing up blood. I now had a good view of his face. It was my son and he was dying. Before I could reach out my hand, the armored woman flew through me. She fell to her knees, ripping off her helmet to reveal a young Hispanic face framed by lots of curly black hair. “Abby, Sir, I’m here. It’s going to be ok.” She pursed her lips, smiling at him, through visible tears. Abaddon lowered his weapon. “You need to flee.” With trembling fingers, he lifted his free hand to cup her face. It was obvious that leaving was the last thing he wanted. “This is a battle we cannot win.” “Not alone, Sir,” the soldier replied with confidence. Why was she calling him Sir? I could barely make out a patch on his arm. It was possible he was an officer. The young woman lifted his arm, adjusting him over her shoulder. “I’m not leaving you behind. The nearest medic station is about six kilometers south of here. We can make it.” Before he could reply, she lifted his broken body in her arms, flying off into the night. The world started to spin as the scene changed. We were now in a poorly lit underground hospital. I could tell it was underground since every few seconds the room shook with the sound of gunfire and other (louder, more violent) explosions. Abby was laying on a cot with his bare chest exposed. He had several fresh bullet wounds, as well as deep scars. The woman was by his side, having taken off her armor she rested her head by his shoulder, holding his hand. “Why do you call me by my rank?” “What should I call you?” “My name is Sundra, but my friends call me Sunny.” “Is that because you sparkle like sunshine?” he asked with a subtle smile. Abby moved his free hand to her cheek, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. “You don’t have to stay, Sunny.” “I want to stay. Call it my street gang code of honor; a little something, I picked up from my grandma.” She turned her wrist to reveal a tattoo. It was a stylized diamond with the words, ‘Lucy in the sky.’ Sunny started to softly hum the melody of the famous rock song. “Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Sorry, the title is the only part I know.” She kissed Abby on the forehead. “My papa’s name was Denny. He was the first of my family line born in America. You really remind me of him.” A gang member named Lucy with a son named Denny? That couldn’t be a coincidence. I moved closer, to get a better look at her face. She kissed Abby down his nose to his lips. There were tears in his eyes. “I’ll never forget you.” Sunny turned, briefly glancing in my direction. “Do you think she’s here, in the room?” “I know she is,” Abby replied, looking up at the ceiling. “Even as a child, I could always feel my mother’s spirit watching over me.” “Can she hear us?” Sunny asked, still looking in my path but not actually at me. “If the calculations and the technology are correct.” “Do you think she can save us?” Her large, emotional eyes, blinked back tears. With every blink she started to disappear, vanishing from reality like a spirit lost to time. When Sunny was completely gone, all that was left was my adult son. His arms were wrapped around the empty space. All around me I could hear sobbing. I assumed this meant I was going to wake up. My baby son was probably crying for food or maybe because of the cold: but I was going to wake up. Right? I wanted so badly to wake up. Wake up! Wake up! I felt a sharp pain. I awoke with a jolt under the tarp, to the collapsing of our little shelter. Touching my hip, I felt blood and splinters. All around me all I could see was tarp. I wanted to scream. Where was my son? Where was Baron? I needed to calm down; breathe, just breathe. I opened my hands, placing them palms down as if I was going to attempt a snow angel. There was a secret, a lock. There had to be. I felt a strange crack in the pavement. Digging my fingertips in, the piece seemed to transform into a handle (or a lever.) Even if it was just a hand hold, it would be my ticket out of the tarp since I could use it to keep myself grounded in place (as opposed to flopping around like a dying fish.) Turns out, it was a handle. I found myself falling down a slide. At the bottom I finally managed to get free of the tarp. Baron was sitting in a dark corner with a finger to his lips. “Shh, follow me. This is a mezzanine level.” He motioned towards what looked like a second series of tunnels. “I’m not sure how deep it goes. We’re not going to slide: we’re going to crawl. I’ll go first and you follow close. Do not lose sight of me. Understand?” “Are you holding the baby?” Baron nodded. “If shit goes bad, I want you to find my body. I’ll protect him with everything I have.” I knew what he meant, and trusted him fully, but I was still afraid. “You’re a better fighter than me.” “Yeah, that’s why I’m going to hold the baby.” “Ok.” Baron and I snuck down the tunnels, we emerged in an underground factory facility. “What is this place?” “Trash processing facility,” Baron replied. “You head left I’ll head right.” “Sure, I guess.” I went left until I saw what appeared to be a light source. I passed between several cargo boxes, emerging in an open area. There was a series of large vats, bubbling with hot oil or (more likely) acid. “Acid?” I had never seen acid before but the scene looked like something out of a comic book. “It is acid,” said a voice from a nearby balcony. “the typical use is to process heavy metals and other non-recyclable materials.” “Faust?” I couldn’t actually see his location. “Today we’re disposing of inorganic material of a different kind.” He hit a button causing a limp body to start to descend. It was clearly Tony, but I couldn’t tell if he was even alive. “Are you willing to make a deal; trade his life for the contents of the battery?” “I don’t even know if the copy I have is real.” And there was also the fact that the infamous flash drive was in a van, in the care of Axel and Dr. Toki. “The one that Baron put on the dark web? Trust me it’s the real deal.” “So, what’s on it?” I blurted out the words, although I wasn’t expecting any kind of logical answer. The man snickered. “Does it matter?” “Yeah, kind of.” “Look, do you want to know my entire evil plan or will you be a good girl and save your beloved boyfriend’s life?” I looked over at Tony. I had no way of helping him. If he was still alive, he was more then capable of saving himself. I had to believe that. “Is it time travel?” “What?” Faust asked with a laugh. “Seriously, what did you just say?” With a flash of light, Faust teleported, placing himself in front of me. He stood tall, in a tailored suit, staring me down with his creepy metallic eyes. “Answer me, little girl.” Why did he look so much like the adult version of my son? Because he was a shape shifter? Or was there something else? “Time travel?” The once stern man cracked a smile. “Time travel is the stuff of movies and fairytales. The contents of the battery will bring this world to its knees.” “Yeah, I’ve heard.” I blinked my eyes as the pieces fell into place. There was a reason why my son had been able to communicate with me so clearly through dreams. “Selective telepathic time travel.” Faust was no longer smiling. “Would you prefer that power fall to the hands of Kitsune? She and her brother, they’d use it to cause a gang war; an apocalypse of weapons and drugs. You wouldn’t want that blood on your hands.” We he seriously trying to appeal to my humanity? “What about you? What’s your plan, to go back in time to give Hitler a migraine?” I knew what his plan was. Or at least I think I did. There was something about Lucy or maybe Denny. What I knew for certain was that the final goal was Sunny; her existence held the key. “You’re not alone, are you? Such a pity.” Faust teleported off, in a blast of blue light. I already knew where he was going and there was nothing I could do. Faust landed on top of Baron as he attempted to free Tony’s body. Both men were knocked in to the acid. There was no sound; no screams, or even cries. Where was my baby? Faust teleported in front of me, holding my son in his arms. “You might not have been willing to save your boyfriend, but perhaps you will be willing to trade for your child.” My back hurt, my arms hurt and my head was pounding, but I ran straight at him, charging like a football player going in for a tackle. I was blinded by a familiar blue light. We had teleported, but to where? I could hear Abby crying. He was alive and that’s all that mattered. I blinked my eyes once then twice. “Fire?”
thank you! this helps... seriously! it gives me some hope and feedback that i'm not completely nuts (if i'm asking the question, i'm probably safe... probably :), plus there's the off and odd chances that run wild sometimes. i'm enjoying writing today, so please forgive me my liberties as i start to tell a story. some of it you inspired! i'm not done with it, but i enjoy it, and the act of writing is the ends and the means; this story is coming into existence because i am enjoying my play... ├◉─◇───◇──◇─◯◦─
you end up at this year's oddlyreal conference/festival thingy, which just announced its 10,000th physically present (at least cranially) biological entity, ”a new record” the announcement continues in a somehow perceptibly excited low and relaxed androgynous voice. despite yourself, you are grudgingly impressed with the oddly tasteful decor and some subdued, relaxing minor key japanese string thing... the word kuto or koto flashes in your head as remembrance. usually these conference/shindig things are visually loud enough for chinese new year and audibly worse than the morning after the taco and chili competition endemic at a government-in-exile rally in a certain ex-president's last remaining casino.
in a word, elegant. in another two: oddly (you sense a theme here) relaxed. like you imagine miami in the '80s, during sunset over the ocean... minus the grime and old people driving on the median. you hear some obvious digitally created lo-fi sounds. 8-bit? looking in the distance, you see a sign with an arrow pointing down and to the left: ”arcade”. mystery solved! your stomach involuntarily receives a flutter of excitement and anticipation; underneath the larger letters reads ”5 tokens $1, 11 tokens $2, 42 tokens $5”. a long, straight haired androgynous couple, one dyed black and the other bleached white lets out a simultaneous laugh in the distance; you hear ”ski-ball!” as the pair run underneath the sign and disappear. this might actually be fun!
you checked in with only one minor incident: your reserved room wasn't ready yet. before you could say that you didn't mind waiting (an excuse for the arcade... not that you needed one) the concierge asks if you will accept a complimentarily room upgrade to one with a deluxe balcony, japanese bath, and view of the night sky over the ocean (really the gulf) facing west. you thank your lucky stars that that light pollution law passed a few years ago. everyone thought it was too odd and unimportant to pass at the time, and nobody thought it would pass, but it did... without riders, without debate, unanimous. first the house, then the senate an hour later, and the president shocked everyone by signing it at the stroke of midnight on the winter solstice. now you can see your lucky stars... from within a city, of all things. energy use went down because of it, and so did pollution. unexpectedly, cities became quieter at night, and there were less therapy visits for generalized anxiety disorder. book and app sales about astronomy and astrology were trending, and in general, people seem more chill, more relaxed, more focused. it was not uncommon to see your neighbor on a lawn chair on their roof watching the sun set after work.
this night sky was gorgeous! how did so many generations give it up? and for what? crappy 7/11 and motel-6 neon lowglow? lame. the evening sky over the gulf is even more spectacular than you remember, and you pause in your unpacking and settling into your room to watch for a few minutes more.
the keynote speach is listed as a costume formal: tux, gown, dress uniform, and/or come-as-you-are, shoes optional event: another oddly satisfying and kind of exciting contradiction. so the choice is yours: do you pick the expertly tailored black and white tux you had taken in a bit last week? or a below-the-knee black and white gown your partner insisted you pack... just in case. it would be an an oddity for you to wear a gown to anything, you laugh. oddity. this place must be infectious! what the heck, gown it is! luckily its easy to put on and more far more androgynous than expected. it's very nearly like wearing a lightweigh black and grey kilt, like at the highland games. you look over your balcony and see a contingent in formal black-and-white star-trek looking body suit type unforms pause and bow to a group in what appears to be tuxedo labcoats with tails. looking in the mirror, you don't look half bad!
you have a few good drinks in you, or was that a good few? the air is pleasantly neutral, sometimes just a bit warm, at others a slight chill. the ocean makes the air noticably humid with a slght salt tang, but it's the perfect temperature for it. the slight breeze feels good on your legs, and the white, nearly glowing sand covering the outdoor conference room's floor is pleasing between your toes. your shoes are probably gone with the glass from the previous manhattan... you didn't like those shoes anyway. good riddance!
the keynote was actually pretty good! a little bit dull as you knew all the stuff the keynote speaker was talking about, and she seemed a tiny bit bored herself, like she's given the pitch eleventy-one times already... come to think of it, as she's a founder and cto of a company doing the kind of thing this conference is about, you realize she probably has. her wild perple hair... you've seen it before. the next sip of your drink brings back the memory of its namesake city, and an elevator.
you were on your way up to the 58th floor for an interview†, and (yes, the memory is clear now) this nervous seemingly little girl with purple hair and an actual physical portfolio case (black and leather looking and nearly as large as her) rode the lift with you, although you notice she's not as young as she appears: she's just short. you notice that the only other floor selected is 103. and you notice that she is staring at you now, probably because (you realize belatedly) you've been staring at her for at least a dozen floors.
"interview? your first big one?" she asks.
"um... somthing like that," you manage to mumble
"it's dangerous to go alone! take this." as she is saying this (sounds familiar), she's expertly juggling her purse, the comically oversized portfolio case, and something aroud by her left hand. (you feel she just quoted something important, but can't place it)
as the bell for your floor dings and the doors open, she tucks something warm and maybe metal? into your hand and says "quick! put it in your pocket for luck! look at it later or you'll be late. give it back to me someday!"
you nearly fumble putting the whatever-it-is into your pocket as the lift doors are closing. the last you see is a smile as you hear a fading "don't panic!"
// current tail. betwixt here and the footnotes seperator, there be unfinshed dragons. and that you heard the elevator version of that pitch waaay back, 5, maybe 6 years ago, before she was a notable cto giving a keynote address to a large and prestigious* ) vr gametech conference this one. ke back when there were 2 founders and a part time employee with a mohawk and studs in his head run in to someone at a conference in a little out of the way bar where it's just a bit quieter and you can hear yourself think
├◉─◇───◇─ footnotes ──◇─◯◦─
you feel the word 'pretentious' slip past your right eyeball and invade your frontal lobe. it breaks into the stream of your thoughts, despite your conscious and diligent efforts to be less cynical... aaannnnndddd theoretically happier, because you are sort of reading ”the tao of pooh”, based on the footnote of some really weird lady's post on reddit a handful of years ago, and this whole thing about being an uncarved block kind of made sense, but was frustratingly both seductively elusive and easy to be cynical about at the same time.
you got the job! you were very nervous at first, but you felt the thing the purple haired girlprincesswoman gave you in the elevator. every time you started squirming‡ because of a question asked (c'mon, "where do you see this company in 5 years?" how the hell are you supposed to answer to that?), you got stabbed on the top of your thigh, right in the rectus femoris, by something in your pocket. this sensation was nearly like getting an injection, and you found it distracting enough you couldn't quite focus on the more inane questions (squirm - stab, repeat) and just said what was on your mind. apparently it, whatever 'it' was, was working, as the facial hair on the man bobbed slightly out of sync with his nods. the woman next to him was quiet and very tomboy-ish; if the peter pan played by maud adams on broadway had a kid with the tinkerbell from hook (1992 julia roberts, not the awful 2024 remake with a cg remade kardashian- glack) and they were raised climbing trees in pixi skorts decorated with pink skulls... but decided to put on an immaculately tailored gray zoot suit made just for her by the costume designers of the matrix... (1999, not the 2023 reboot)
anyway, the tomboy (maud, she introduced herself as later, and she said she liked her name and never changed it) seemed to enjoy your answers, and cut... ned? hagbard?... off in the middle of some convoluted thing he must have proudly dredged from the bowels of the earliest internet archives; rumores and tall tales of ''questions" steve jobs asked potential apple employees like jony ive to tourture them where the scars wouldn't show.
at a glace from maud, "hagbard, pollice verso, commodus? tick-tock! tick tock!"
hagbard locked eyes with you, straightened his posture, and the facial hair grinned a few milliseconds before he did. without looking away he extended his arm like a roman emperor, made a fist, and gave maud the thumbs up. he turned on his heel, his beard followed a tad later, and out the door he went.
"so.... would it sound weird if i asked about what you have in your pocket?" // better phrasing. possible lotr gollum reference.
it's a bad habit you have that is more common than you realized back when you were asked increasingly awkward questions by that guy... what was his name at the time? ted? ned? hagbard? he has changed it at least 3 times since you've been working there and got to known him a bit. at least he got rid of that ridiculous face eating victorian english thing he called mutton chops!
Video games are great. They’re a ton of fun to play and can be a cheap way to occupy your free time. They help people stay in touch with friends or even make new friends. Games are a far more interactive form of entertainment than just watching TV or movies. They keep your brain engaged and usually do a great job of rewarding players for their success. With all these benefits, it’s no surprise then that some people might get addicted. You could probably even make a good argument that all well designed games should be addicting in some way. For this article I want to look at the different ways that games make themselves addicting, decide if this constitutes good or bad gameplay, and finally make a decision on whether companies should make games like this.
Two types of addicting games
From a design perspective, there are two different categories of addicting games. The first category is games that have addictive gameplay. What this means is different from person to person. Some people love the “one more turn” types of games like the Civilization series. Others enjoy the “one more match” multiplayer games that can range from shooters, to MOBAs, to sports games. There’s another group of people that fall in love with MMORPGs and what they have to offer. The second category of addicting games are the games which employ addicting behavior. In these games, it is not the gameplay itself which is addicting but the way you play the game. These games might include addicting gameplay, but more importantly, they encourage forming habits. For this article, I want to focus on this second category of games and the gacha genre specifically. To be clear, many different types of games use these strategies but the gacha genre seems to rely on these heavily. The recent release of Genshin Impact for PCs got me thinking more about this, and I would like to use it as sort of a case study. In the next sections I’m going to break down all the things that I’ve seen gacha games do to encourage player addiction. I have not played Genshin Impact and know almost nothing about it other than some gameplay videos I’ve seen. I am curious to know how many of these things the game does or will do.
Lowest possible barrier to entry
It’s very important if you want to get new players addicted to your game, you have to get them to try the game first. In the world of video games, the easiest way to accomplish this is to make your game free. What harm could there be in trying out a free game? You see equivalents like this in the real world too. Have you ever heard of a casino where you have to pay to park? What about a casino with a parking lot that is too small? Many casinos will even offer free shuttle services. The most important thing is to get them in and get them started. It doesn’t stop there, though. Most gacha games will also start you off with one of the strongest characters. This accomplishes three things. First, it helps ensure you will have success immediately when you start playing. Most of the starting content for gacha games is laughably easy. It would almost be impossible to fail. They want to get those success endorphins kicking in as soon as possible. The second reason is that it immediately shows the player the power difference between lower tier characters and higher tier characters. Think of it like a company giving out free samples. First one is on them, but you’re going to have to pay if you want more (either with money or your time). The final reason for doing this, is to help players get over a time gap. For gacha games that have been out for a while, you will often see them enticing new players or returning players with offers for a free highest tier character if you start playing now. People who play gacha games know these characters can be very time consuming to acquire so it helps them feel like they won’t be starting so far behind other players.
Speaking of other players, including interactions with other humans is a must for this genre. The most common form of this is PvP matches. The higher your rank, the better your reward. PvP matches allow players who have been playing for a long time or spent a lot of money to feel like they are stronger or better than other players. These types of PvP matches are not set on even ground like most multiplayer focused games. Players don’t start with equal stats and have to rely on their game knowledge or experience. Instead, players with stronger or higher-level characters can straight up beat lower level players every time. It’s their reward for being committed to the game. PvP matches are also a great way to endlessly extend game time. Multiplayer doesn’t have to mean PvP, however. This might be co-operative content where you join a guild to help chip away at strong bosses or maybe just visit other players’ bases to see what they have and compare. This results in content that you can’t access unless you join a guild or maybe currency that you can’t acquire if you don’t have in game friends. These games are essentially forcing players to join and stay with a community. You are far more likely to stick with a game when you feel like you’re part of the group. Gacha games make sure it is easy to join guilds or fill up your friends list for this reason.
Consistent and repetitive game time required
Here’s a great article about forming new habits. To sum it up, the article states new habits can be formed using a cycle of three things:
Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
Routine (the actual behavior you perform)
Reward (the benefit from doing the behavior)
Does this sound familiar? What if I list it like this:
Send phone notification that your energy is full or that special productive time is happening right now
Get players to log in at least once daily
Make sure daily quest rewards are the most productive way (if not the only way) to make progress
These games are trying everything in their power to get you to form a habit of playing. They don’t want you to play for 40 hours straight and be done with the game. They might start off with the ability to play a lot, but that doesn’t last. After a while, players end up logging in to do the same few things every day. Gacha games know this gets repetitive and maybe a little boring so they will usually include a way for the game to “auto-play” itself through these daily tasks. At this point, it’s the habit that is important. You’re actually playing the game a lot less now and just logging in to make sure you get your daily reward. It’s not uncommon for gacha games to even include a monthly reward for players who log in every day of the month. You should be skeptical of any game that gives you a reward for simply logging in daily. Chances are good they’re trying to form a habit. If you’ve been playing one of these games daily for over two months, it’s likely that you have already formed a habit. Does the thought of not playing for a single day make you uneasy? Try it yourself. An even bigger test is to turn off alerts and stop playing for a week. Do you still have a desire to play after one week of not logging in? I find that I usually don’t.
Time limited events
Next up on the checklist are the time limited events or sales. It’s very common in these games to have events that last for maybe two weeks every other month or so. During these events, it is especially important for players to log in daily and do the limited time event quests. These events are often how new characters are introduced and added to the game. Players know that if they want these characters, their best chance of getting them is during this event only. These types of events are the game design equivalent of the well established limited-time offer. Check out this article on ways to maximize your limited-time offer. How many of these have you seen in gacha games?
Promote Your Limited-Time Sale
Popups as soon as you log into the game informing about the current events
Convert Abandoning Shoppers with a Timely Popup
Popup before you exit the game stating how much energy you have left or unspent action points
Leverage the Holiday Season
Most gacha games include events that coincide with the major holidays
Offer Free Delivery for a Limited Time
This is the equivalent of giving bonus currency during a flash sale. You don’t want to make people regret their past currency purchases by putting it on discount, but you can reward them for buying more currency right now.
Create Urgency-Driven Popups
Sales that you get access to only once for a short time such as new player promotions available for the first 24 hours after starting a game and then gone forever.
Drive Urgency with an Email Countdown Timer
The games usually make sure to let you know there’s only “one week left” or “24 hours left” until the end of the event. Almost never do they just list dates and rely on you to be aware of when the event is ending.
Recommend Products in Your Emails
Make sure players know exactly what cool costumes or characters they can only unlock during this event
Tease Upcoming Limited-Time Sales
A calendar showing the schedule for upcoming events
Gacha games want you to think that these are just fun, limited time pieces of content to enjoy, but they are also thoroughly designed to persuade you to spend money. By having constant limited time events, players are encouraged to continue playing the game for fear of missing out on new characters. It’s also par for the course that newly released characters or gear are exceedingly strong. This is just one more way to incentivize players to always want the newest characters. They are pretty much guaranteed to be stronger than existing characters. They might eventually get tuned back down but they always start out overly strong especially in games that have PvP content.
Are these games actually fun
I am not ashamed to admit that I love gacha games. To me, it is really fun collecting new heroes and the risk/reward nature of rolling for new characters can be quite satisfying. These types of games often have gameplay that I personally find quite enjoyable too. They can range anywhere from turn based strategy, to tower defense, to action games. It’s almost unfair to call them a genre since it is more like a common mechanic included in a game of some other genre. “Almost unfair” is important wording here. Inevitably these games all seem to follow the same formula. The game will start on a very high note. There is almost no repetitive gameplay and players are constantly unlocking new features, characters, or areas to explore. Eventually though, you will hit a content gate. It’s impossible for any company to produce new content at a rate faster than players can consume it. Gacha games need you to keep playing forever, however, so they have devised a way to extend content almost indefinitely: the difficulty grind. Figured out how to beat a boss for the first time? Next up is beating it with 200% more health. The only way to do that is to make your characters stronger. The only way to do that is to log in every day and do your daily quests. Welcome to the end game gacha grind. The further in a gacha game you get, the longer and longer it takes to increase your characters’ power. Some people find this type of grinding to be right up their alley. As much as I enjoy playing these games, they all lead to this same destination and this is usually when I end up moving on to the next game. I’m still waiting for the gacha game which does not try to last forever. Dragging the game on indefinitely doesn’t have to be part of a gacha game, it just fits the business model that gacha games currently use.
Is it wrong to make addicting games
I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I generally tend towards the idea that people are responsible for their own actions. I want to say there is nothing wrong with making an addicting game where people can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a game. After all, who am I to decide what they should do with their time or how they should spend their money? How is it any different than letting someone spend thousands of dollars on shoes, or a purse, or cookie jars, or a car? Something about that, however, just doesn’t sit right with me. After thinking about it more, I realized it’s not an equivalent comparison. For all those other items, there is nothing inherently addictive about the product. Someone might be addicted to collecting shoes, but the shoe itself has no addictive properties. I’m willing to go one step further. It’s OK to design an addictive game if the results of that addiction are not an immediate and direct benefit to the company. For example, I have heard from many fans of the Civilization games (myself included) that they have on occasion played until the sun unexpectedly starts rising the next morning. To me, that definitely sounds like addictive gameplay and the impact to the player could be considered harmful. Firaxis, however, did not benefit in any direct way from me staying up all night playing the game. Maybe I’m more likely to buy an expansion or the next version of the game, but while in the middle of this activity, there were no direct or immediate steps I could take that would benefit the company. The gameplay being addictive wasn’t designed to lead to anything other than the person playing the game more. If you are a satisfied customer, the company doesn’t care if you played for 10 hours, 50 hours, or 200 hours. If there was a game out there which used every one of the addicting tactics I listed above, I would have no issue with that if there was no way to spend additional money on the game. I’ve not heard of a game like this, but it’s possible one exists. The gacha games I know of, however, most certainly do benefit directly and immediately from players being addicted. By allowing players to spend endless amounts of money, it is in their best interest for you the player to get addicted and play the game for as long as possible spending as much money as possible along the way. It’s hard to argue they think otherwise when these types of games include pricing models that are so far outside the previously established pricing norms for video games. A fully priced AAA game typically sells for $60. Maybe there is a collector’s edition which could sell for up to $150 dollars. In that case, you know exactly what extra you are buying with your money. It is guaranteed to arrive with the product. Gacha games, however, will let you spend hundreds of dollars every single day with no guarantee of acquiring what you hope to get. Again, in theory, there is nothing wrong with a game allowing players to spend as much money as they want on the game. But how can I interpret a game designed to be behaviorally addicting while also allowing unlimited spending as anything other than malicious? It is the combination of these two things which leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. In the end, I do think companies have a moral obligation to not take advantage of their customers. Making games like this does tell me what you think of me as a customer. You view me as a target to extract as much wealth from as possible. If the industry keeps going this direction, it will only be a matter of time before regulations are put in place to protect consumers, much like a legal drinking, smoking, or gambling age. Here’s one company that was willing to openly talk about the issue and I think they should be applauded for it. Companies don’t have to use this design and business model to make a profit, it just allows them to make a bigger profit. Ultimately, the choice is yours to play games of this nature. I know many people who’ve played games like this for years and never spent a dime. You should just know what you’re getting into. It’s the equivalent of putting health warnings on cigarette boxes. For anyone that’s played Genshin Impact, how did I do? Does the game break the mold, or does it follow the tried and proven path? https://hexanephgames.com/2020/10/23/designing-addicting-games/
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