Hey Everyone:

I realize this is long, but is more important than you know. Please take the time to read it. Mandy put a great deal of work into this project and I on this story about it. It’d mean a lot if you took the time to read it. Thank you.

On Tuesday, June 9th, I had just gotten back from a week long vacation down to Richmond.  I’d drank (heavily) every day of that vacation, had a great time, and was exhausted. I’d ridden an emotional wave that let me learn a good bit about myself and made me happier about dating Mandy.  It was a busy week and I’d one day to relax, unpack and get out of ‘Wild Adventure’ mode and back into “Stupid, Boring Work’ mode.  This was that day. This did not happen.

Shortly after Mandy getting home (which was only slightly longer after me waking up) she asked if I could spare twenty minutes. She looked excited.

My heart sank. She had a surprise for me.  I abhor surprises…

Relationships stand upon two fundamental, undeniable pillars of strength. These pillars are communication and trust. Mandy has learned she can always trust I will communicate my thoughts and feelings, usually to her dismay. I was certain to communicate my abhorrence for surprises. She has become accustomed to this and thus ignored me entirely:

“Remember how we keep saying we want to put together a little game as a tie-in to Curtailed?”

“Yea.”

“Look at your computer.”

"The Fox Game" title screen

The first thought that popped into my head is that she’s gone through the trouble of researching the base engine for a game that isn’t murderously difficult to learn and put together a rudimentary outline, some basic sprites and is inviting me to look at her progress thus far.

“OK, you’re right, I like this. That’s pretty cool.  ’The Fox Game’…the title is going to need some work.”

“Shut up and press spacebar.”

Oh no! Seley has been kidnapped by spiders! It's up to you and your dart gun to save her!

That’s cute. It’s a little joke. Mandy hates spiders. I, however, express a level of kindness towards nature rivaled only by my hatred towards humanity.  As such, I’m in charge of evicting eight-legged squatters from our humble abode, generally via first-class SOLO cup.

Fox shooting darts at spiders

Such is not the case in this game, where the mission is to destroy all spiders. I suppose when an entire species bands together with the sole intent of kidnapping your significant other it can be deemed reasonable to seek vengeance.

A sizable Nerf collection

Especially vengeance sought specifically with a NERF dart blaster, a tool highly appropriate given my abnormally large collection and disturbing accuracy.

Fox navigates a spider-infested basement

This wasn’t the only joke. My sardonic nickname for our basement was the name of the first level: “The Realm of Infinite Storage”. It only makes sense that a large horde of spiders operating on some kind of hive-mind would seek to use this level of our home as a base of operations.

The bins are a fair representation of the current state of that floor of the house.

By this point I’d managed to collect all three keys and complete the level. I was impressed she’d put this much work into the game so far without asking for any input.  I’d assumed I would have seen a single sprite moving about inside a box with a great deal of placeholder elements of the game we would be working on together.

That said, you can imagine how surprised I was when I discovered she’d not only completed an entire level, but that there was a second level, involving tougher enemies. And lava, of course. You can’t descend below anyone’s basement these days without lava.  Building codes and all that.

Oh, and different locked doors…

Encountering a locked door

That required me to go find triggers to open them…

Found a switch!

Which led to more interesting enemies.

In the spider pit

Some of which were also based upon inside jokes, or online memes we enjoyed. (More than we should have)

Peacock spider!

Boss fight, with Seley in a cage!

Completing that level I found she’d also coded a boss fight that required me to jump around, dodge falling rocks, shoot minions and avoid poison gas.  The fact that Mandy’s avatar tossed ammo out of the cage she was suspended within was a nice touch.

She’d even gone as far as to program the end “Mario & Princess” scene, complete with the choice to have the characters marry.

I was also given the option to select “Fox + Martini = No Mandy” which as best as I can tell was put there to permit me to have my character behave within the confines of my typical demeanor. For those of you that don’t know me very well my ‘typical demeanor’ is probably best described as a ‘narcissistic, manic-depressive, self-loathing anti-hero twice-dipped in sarcasm sauce and sprinkled with inexplicable antagonism.’  It’s a bit of a blending of Doctor Who & Doctor House. You could say I’m a bit like a high functioning sociopath.

Most opt to be less clinical and just call me an ass, but find my antics too amusing to be driven away entirely. (Despite my best efforts at times)

This said, anyone who knows me would expect me to select the bottom button for nothing more than two reasons: The first is to have my character embark upon a life consisting of drunken debauchery, womanizing and various other lewd activities which would no doubt result in a sequel where my character evolves into a tiger and finally simply becomes Charlie Sheen.

The second is just to be a smarmy bastard.

I didn’t click on either at first.  Something was off. A puzzle that needs solving instantly ratchets the knob in my brain from ‘Stinson’ to ‘Sherlock’. Spidey senses were tingling as soon as I saw the 8-bit rings.

Congratulations! Select your Happy Ending! (but first look beside you)

That’s probably why I’d skipped right to the two option buttons and hadn’t seen the instructions in parenthesis. It wasn’t until Mandy read them aloud that I turned to my left and saw her holding this.

The ring box

You may not know our story–how we met or the circumstances surrounding it. The short version is that she was in a relationship when we met. She ended that engagement three months prior to the wedding.  We started dating shortly after this. As you might imagine, such an event will leave one hesitant to enter another commitment so readily. This said, I devised the following proposal: When she was ready to become engaged again, she would propose to me. It was agreed I would decline, thus making me appear to be the single worst human being on the planet to anyone not in on the joke. This would let me know she was ready to get married and I could then propose to her at some point in the future. This was all nearly four years ago.

Having agreed upon this system, she made sure to spend a great deal more time on the ending screen displayed when I selected “Fox + Martini = No Mandy”. I’m afraid you’ll have to view that in the game play video, because while she surprised me with this epic proposal…

Ending screen - onward, to happily ever after!

I surprised her when I said ‘yes’.

At this point I must step out of the story and make a request from the reader. If you know us personally I must ask that you only inform others of this event by referring to this website. This event is meant to be told as a story, not simply an announcement. We could have easily done that ourselves. Instead we attempted to provide some entertainment for others. By simply coming out and announcing it without referencing this page, you’d be robbing them of that same entertainment and spoiling the surprise. No one likes spoilers, so please do not do this. Thank you.

I am not an emotional being. A lot of men are not. These men see emotions as small bands of terrorists that roam the brain’s darker recesses; always plotting attacks to wrestle controls from our pilots Logic and Reason. They attack with the single intent of wreaking a manner of havoc that we have learned will ultimately cause us great pain and embarrassment. To avoid such catastrophes we erect formidable defenses to steel ourselves against such invaders. (Anger and Humor may get work visas.) We men have no control over the construction of these fortifications and can generally only permit unauthorized entry by poisoning them with alcohol until the attackers can overrun the city.

When I saw her holding this box the feelings of mindless, drunken infatuation I’d felt years ago came flooding back. The gesture touched me so deeply it overcame all resistance and washed through my mind and body. Here was an amazing woman who was declaring she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. Not despite my personality but because of it. To a man who, prior to meeting her, had long ago decided to happily live the rest of his life flying solo. A man who decided in college that any woman who could both live up to his expectations and also tolerate him on a regular basis was an impossibility. Should such a woman exist she would be deserving of someone not of this realm and any man with the slightest sense of honor or decency would never be selfish enough to let her settle for someone such as himself.

A woman who was not only willing to put up with the countless, simultaneous projects I conduct, but appreciates them.

A woman who does not whine and complain when things become difficult, but redoubles her efforts, bites down and does what needed to be done, even when being surrounded by incompetence.

A woman who can then hold her liquor after the hard day of work is done.

A woman who can exhibit emotion yet not be ruled by it. She has the control and maturity to recognize emotions to be irrational and simply express and deal with them privately instead of attempting to argue a point while feeling them.

A woman with impressive target acquisition time. *grin*

A woman who completely understands her man loves her, even if he can rarely find the emotion to express it. A fact that gives me a quiet warmth, however fleeting, that I have a woman with such an extraordinary ability.

A woman with such skill, intelligence and dedication she worked for six months to put together a video game to propose to her significant other.

A woman as steadfast as myself in her belief of equality and justice, so much that she agreed to propose to me, throwing tradition on its head.

A woman with a creative talent so impressive it is the very skill that caused me to first take notice of her in college.

A woman with a personality and method of thinking that sits perfectly perpendicular to my own, yet not only comes to nearly all the same conclusions, but just as quickly. She works with me to form a superb team, shooting expertly towards the same goal while seeing different views and taking completely different & complementary routes.

A fantastic artist with her own web-comic with whom I team up to write the dialog.

A woman who shares nearly all my views in life, providing a compatibility that allows us to share our life rather than compete through it.

A woman who fits my personality so well our relationship together relieves stress instead of generating it.

A woman with the mental acuity and flexibility to see points of discussion from more than one point of view as well as the sense behind them.

A woman who gets and loves my sense of humor, a tool I use frequently to, as she puts it “Ruin a perfectly good mope.”

Curtailed comic: "Boring"

A woman who is perfectly happy with me ruining a sappy mood with said sense of humor. *smirk*

A woman who is just as disinterested in having children as myself, yet just as eager to continue to be one.

A woman who loves cartoons. *smile*

A woman who is as insanely dedicated to silly little projects like parties and costumes as I am. A dedication that would undoubtedly seem downright concerning to most of the population.

A woman who shares many of my interests, yet maintains her own identity.

A woman who isn’t trying to change me just to benefit herself.

A woman who is compassionate, tolerant, sensitive, noble, supportive, respectful, honest and is such an extraordinarily wonderful exception to every other person I’d ever met I felt an inherent need to protect something this pure and uncorrupted from the rest of society.

A woman who has grown tremendously as a person over the five years I’ve known her and shows no signs of stopping.

A woman always striving to better herself despite being more capable than most I know.

A woman who can display compassion for those that enrich our lives, but is fully capable of removing those who would cause us harm.

A woman who understands and possesses as much of a dislike of commitment as myself.

A woman who fully understands and accepts my single most important desire: Freedom. In each and every aspect of my life.

A woman who embraces this freedom with me, thus permitting us to take wild adventures alone, giving us the benefits of time apart, events to discuss and the ability to experience, learn, love and grow.

A woman whom I trust completely–the highest compliment upon which I can bestow anyone, and one she bestows upon me.

A woman I cannot properly honor with words alone.

A woman so extraordinary I will continue to update this list long after I’ve published this article.

A woman without whom I would be a much weaker man.

A woman, in my eyes, without rival.

A woman I love and cherish so much that I spent ten months running away (clear to Ireland) in an attempt to protect and forget her. I failed and returned to ask for her help. We then failed together. It is very likely best mistake we ever made.

A best friend, a therapist, a comrade, a confidant, an adviser, a teammate.

But most importantly, a partner.

I love you, Mandy. No one has ever been as wonderful, giving and understanding as you. I would love to spend the rest of my life with you.

Player 2 Start!

(No, the game is not available for download. While we may try our hand at game-making together in the future, this particular build was only ever meant to be played by one very special person.)