How I met Juni

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Offline Lit Knob

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How I met Juni
« on: November 07, 2022, 09:21:19 »
I remember the first time I discovered KS, I saw a screenshot of A Strange Dream.
When I saw Juni, I thought she was a little "chicken harpy" with black wings or something along those lines.
I was creeped out by that, and said "Nope".
I don't remember when that happened.

In late 2016, I discovered something beautiful...
Indie games as a whole (or at least "real" ones, like Limbo).
My first "proper" indie game was Super Meat Boy (actually it was World of Goo way back in 2010ish, but I didn't know what an indie game was, as a kid).
The first time I heard about it was by "Shazamming" the "OST" of Mario Forever, because it had a pitch-bent mono version of Forest Funk in it.

Shortly after, I also played Fez, Limbo, and Little Inferno.

At some point, I found out that both SMB and Fez were featured in a documentary called Indie Game: The Movie.
Then, I heard about the minigame easter egg hidden in it.
And then, I searched up the solution.
I had suddenly gained access to a list of almost all the best indie games up to 2012.
So I bookmarked it and said "never say never".

In late 2021, I finally went back to that list, and decided to check for every single game in alphabetical order, to see if they were my cup of tea.
The first game of the list was 1001 Spikes, which looked pretty "Meat Boy-like".
Not only it was incredibly hard, but it also had unlockable characters from other universes, just like Super Meat Boy.
And Juni was one of them... (I saw her in a screenshot in which she's depicted as a girl with an umbrella, so I had no idea she was the "chicken harpy").
So I decided to give it a shot.
However, according to HowLongToBeat, it was a bit long (16 hours), and I usually play the shorter games first, when I discover many at the same time, so...
I decided that, after choosing the others, I would check them on that site, then order them by length.

When filtering games out, in big lists like this one, I always excluded metroidvanias, for some reason. I don't remember why exactly.

Both Juni and "a round monkey dude" were in it, as characters from the game "Knytt", just Knytt with no Stories.

When I searched up Knytt, another game came up: Knytt Underground by "Nifflas' Games", which of course I pronounced "Neat Underground".
While looking at the Steam screenshots, the black foreground and the puzzles reminded me of Limbo, and I really liked the mix of photographs and digital art.
Then I looked at the tags...
And metroidvania was one of them.

As stated in a review from Metacritic, Knytt Underground combined the mechanics of Knytt and Within a Deep Forest, because you could literally "turn into a ball" at will, and also served as a sequel to them (then I quickly forgot the ball part in a matter of hours).

This confirmed both Knytt (to an extent) and WaDF were metroidvanias as well, and I excluded all three of them...

I thought "Too bad. I love Underground's aesthetics, though the characters look a bit weird."

Out of 128 games on that list...
I only chose the following 6 (though I had already discovered and played 18 of them by other means, in the past, but still...):

Icycle 2
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
1001 Spikes

Ordered by length, as I planned.

Regarding FLaiL...
Celeste is literally this game but 100 times better (and by the same developer), so I stopped playing.

I could not for the life of me find an offline version of Icycle, so I played the sequel.
It was cute, but I personally despise "lives" in games, so I only beat the main story and stopped there.

Then I played NightSky...
And I had no idea it was a Nifflas game because he wasn't mentioned anywhere on the Steam page.
It just said "Nicalis"...
I remember not beating it. I don't remember the exact reason.
Maybe I wasn't really enjoying the puzzles.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, oh boy...
This was probably the first game to jumpscare me as an adult.
And the first metroidvania I have ever played as well... that's right.
But then, why did I play it?
I always wanted to play a game about eldritch beings, and ITSP's aesthetics were exactly what I was looking for.
I just couldn't say no.
Some technical annoyances (and the lack of a good story) aside, I really enjoyed this game, and loved filling out the map (which is the whole point in this genre).
That made me finally realize that I actually love exploring... and maps...

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet made me stop avoiding metroidvanias.

Closure was nice, but the ending was way too vague and incredibly hard to unlock.

And finally... The fat guy:
1001 Spikes.
In this game, Juni's depicted as a "sad human that shoots black orbs from her chest, is able to glide with her umbrella, and turns into smoke when she dies, for some reason" (actually it turns out she was just grabbing rocks and throwing them, like Shipwrecked...).
I say "sad" because she occasionally looks at you and cries. No other character in the game does this.
On one hand, I thought she was just thinking that the game was "too cruel for her" and that Knytt Stories is a nicer and less deadly game (and boy, she was right...).
On the other hand, it made me think that Knytt Stories was a game about depression, and Juni is always sad (and that's not the case).

Of course, I also pronounced it "Jooney"...
And I also thought that name was made up.

I still didn't notice she was the "scary harpy" that creeped me out in the past, because I had forgotten that game's name, and "Neat Stories" didn't ring a bell.

When playing as her, there's a chiptune remix of Arrivée Distante (Song1 aka "Green Land/Flower Garden") playing in the background.
If I listen to it now, it's not bad, but for some reason, it really creeped me out at that time.
There's also an intro, in which Juni (that hasn't turned off The Machine yet) lives in a huge "dead redwood-house" in an eerie land with a red sky.
It made me think that Knytt Stories was a surreal game (and it is, honestly).

Juni decides to explore a "nearby" temple, for no apparent reason.
At the end of the game, she's back home unscathed, but it's still an eerie desert and the sky is red yet again (so... what was the point?).
That made me feel like it was the norm for her, to live in that seemingly hostile landscape (I would never have thought it looked like that because of "a Machine that draws the life out of the planet").

The other "non-canon" characters' stories have something in common: A narrator.
Juni is the only character that lacks one. That's why her story felt so vague and a bit pointless.
That made me think that Knytt Stories was like Limbo (no dialogue, no signs, no narrator etc. But that's not the case).

After I decided to stop playing 1001 Spikes, both because of its unfairness (Celeste is for kids in comparison...) and the poor keyboard support, I searched up Knytt Stories and it turns out, Knytt and Knytt Stories are two different games.
The former has Monkey Dude in it, and Juni's in the latter (1001 Spikes was correct).
The list was referring to the "series" as a whole, not a single game.

I decided to play both (because I didn't know WaDF was the actual first installment), but Knytt's window was so small (and Windows sucks at upscaling pixel art natively) that I straight up said "let's play Stories first, shall we..."
Needless to say, it was small as well.
I looked at the game's entry in PCGamingWiki and it said that some dude called "egomassive" managed to make a mod that not only upscales the game perfectly, but also has countless improvements in general (...Thanks for existing, Ego...).
And I said...

"Ok then, let's do this."

And I finally realized...
That Juni and the chicken harpy...
Are one and the same.
And she was just meant to be a really small and cute person instead.

She never creeped me out again.

« Last Edit: November 28, 2022, 05:53:55 by Lit Knob »
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Offline egomassive

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2022, 16:10:53 »
Nice story, thanks for sharing. Better yet, thanks for sharing your knytt story. (For my part in it, you're welcome.)

I found all things Nifflas in a blog listing the 100 best free indie games, circa 2008. I worked on A Knytt In Time for about a year before joining the forum to release it.


Offline Lit Knob

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2022, 21:24:03 »
When I make these incredibly detailed journeys to the past, to find out the actual cause of things, I always notice that It could be the most trivial thing to change your future.
It makes me think I should probably make a Choose Your Own Adventure at some point, or something with a lot of endings in general.

I found all things Nifflas in a blog listing the 100 best free indie games, circa 2008.
I think that was also the case for me, when I found that screenshot of A Strange Dream. But it probably happened between 2018 and 2020.

I worked on A Knytt In Time for about a year before joining the forum to release it.
My story continues with me downloading and playing all the levels of the "best level archive" from your website, after playing all the official ones.

I had no idea there were KS+ specific levels with more features, so I thought the map power was a "walkie talkie" used to talk to other players or maybe comment/review/rate the level, and assumed my lack of connection was the reason for its absence.

At some point I noticed lag, and asked DonDoli if he knew why the game is smooth in his machine.
After sharing specs and whatnot, we couldn't determine what the cause was, and he pointed me to this site.
So I joined the forum, to find the cause of my performance issues.

I honestly would never have thought I would actually contribute or even make levels.

My original goal was to find and play the best community levels.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2022, 21:27:51 by Lit Knob »
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Offline Talps

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2022, 03:21:49 »
'1001 Spikes' was a horrible game.

I discovered 'Knytt' when it was featured on indie game review site JayisGames. This was years after they reviewed it, so I can't remember how I found it, or why it appealed to me enough to make me download the game, which I normally wouldn't bother with, usually just sticking to online Flash games (which they shared tons of).

I really enjoyed 'Knytt' - I loved exploring its world. It definitely left me wanting more, so I visited the creator's website and found 'Knytt Stories'. I played the levels available on Nifflas' website and then went looking through the archives, figuring that levels with huge file sizes tended to be the best - which was a bit of a misapprehension, though it is a great way of finding copywritten music!

As a kid, I'd designed levels for an obscure game called 'Speedy Blupi' (which the developers are now distributing for free, apparently! Do I fancy a nostalgia trip?) which had a really simple built-in level editor but no means of sharing your creations, except locally. I had a lot of fun with it and was definitely interested in designing levels for KS! So I had a look at the editor and thought... 'Whoa, this is way too complicated for me to understand! I guess I won't bother after all.'

That would have been the end of my Knytt Story, except then... I had a strange dream.

Genuinely, one night not long after, I had a dream about designing a KS level myself. The level was something about Juni running through a town on a snowy mountaintop, and visiting different worlds through a supernatural lift (possibly inspired by this). That dream inspired me so much that I decided to have another look at the editor and, with the help of SiamJai's guide, I started finding out how it worked. I made a few screens that developed into my massive, and janky, first level, 'The Coming of the Dark' (which is why the first screen of that level is based on the default first screen the editor generates when you create a new level). The level was built around the concept of visiting different worlds as per my dream, though sans the magic lift.

Like Ego, I joined the forum to share my work. The rest is history.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2022, 03:23:40 by Talps »


Offline Wibi

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2022, 04:22:58 »
one time i found knytt stories through tv tropes and was like "wow this sounds cool i have no idea how to play this" because back then the concept of actually being able to engage in things was foreign idk. (there were no screenshots and i thought it had atari graphics for some reason. i don't even know.) later in 2016 i decided to actually try to use the editor and it didn't work so i registered here and posted for tech support; used the name "canteven" because i didn't like being around people (i still don't !   shocker) and wanted to be anonymous

one of the very first levels i made was a vvvvvv tribute with tileset ripped from vvvvvv (vvvvvv uses 8x8 tiles which fit into a 24x24 tile evenly) and i remember i didn't grasp at first that layer 3 was the solid tiles. also i only made like 4 screens of it. i actually made a LOT of levels that got stuck on like 10 or less screens and never went anywhere despite starting out interesting (as well as a few considerably larger levels that i still don't know how to continue or end)

then i messed around on glorious trainwrecks for a while (i think i discovere d it through ks community, that sounds most plausible) meanwhile failing to actually create and finish a knytt stories level due to probably a combination of high standards and executive dysfunction to actually make anything; also potentially a matter of being unable to retain focus since i didnt really know how i worked as a person-adjacent glob of brain goo back then

knytt of the bird of the moth month event happened on gt and i was like ok good opportunity to just make something small w/ default assets; which was how trail got created; at the same time i was experimenting with and tweaking a level named "closers" that i made like 3 small start-from-scratch prototypes of (one of which could actually pass for a released level) and then a few months later i started from scratch again and made get focus because i was on enough of a kick to make two levels ever

ks was largely my hub for weird artsy vents and identity-explorative works like depression quest that probably indulged too much about me; many of these were never released because the internet doesn't like "snowflakes"

the rest was history and i accidentally described things past how i found ks lol :nuts: ks meant a lot to me but also i don't like things having meaning so idk

despite all this i never really started engaging deep enough with knytt stories to "meet" juni until i rendered her as a spider based on one of the creatures in Tileset182 who distinctly existed outside of the normal renditions of juni. by then i felt that a large splinter of the community was openly accepting of transphobia and gigachad anti-sjw shit (maybe it always was?) and that i may literally not be safe creating levels that i actually liked or being honest about my identity, so ironically i only ever met juni once i was pretty much done with ks.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2022, 12:17:31 by canteven / ncrecc »


Offline Lucinda

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2022, 10:02:46 »
I love this thread. I would bet I have the most melodramatic story about meeting Juni.

I grew up playing Mario and The Sims. When you think about it, Knytt Stories is sort of like a mix between those two games, so this all sorta makes sense.

When I was in college I contracted a severe and life-threatening illness and I had a very good friend who was emotionally there for me. I was pretty attached to him and I guess he was also pretty attached to me, at one point telling me he loved me. After I returned to school I took a class about video game music theory which set me on a rabid indie game spree in which I played some amazing games like Fez, Yume Nikki, The Floor is Jelly, and The Witch's House. I told this friend about my indie game spree and one night he showed me the 2003 game Seiklus and told me that he used to play it with his childhood crush. (Seiklus is a cool game and I recommend it if you haven't played it, and there's even a demo of it as a knytt level). I played it on the plane ride home for the summer, which I recall being at night.

Five months later the friendship imploded with a terrible fight in which he sent an unbelievably long text message telling me everything he disliked about me and also accusing me of being in love with him...classic, right?. He was kind of a mean and defensive person a lot of the time so I guess it kinda made sense, although having to go through a terrible illness made me a difficult person at times.
"Not talking for a long time is definitely the right thing to do, and for your sanity I should tell you it will be forever," he said.
Probably one of the worst sentences I have ever heard. Needless to say after that conversation ended I was pretty wrecked and had to quickly come up with a plan to have a totally different life that didn't include him.

During this process of terrible heartache I looked up Seiklus. I found its TV Tropes page which states it was an influence on a game called Knytt (in this way my story is similar to ncrecc's). I did some reading about it and downloaded Knytt Underground, the only Knytt game playable on Mac (I later dabbled in a string of applications to do the ridiculous task of running old Nifflas games on a Mac, which I still do). Within a couple days the game basically owned my soul and it had this profound impact on me that I can't exactly describe. (One time I tried to explain it to some guy in a cafe and he seemed to think I was pretty weird.) So followed Knytt Stories, Knytt, WDAF, and the rest. I made a level and I actually got school credit for it, because I needed one more class to graduate (thanks for messing up my school timeline, deadly illness!?) and an experimental professor gave me the green light.

So, my friendship is long gone, but without it I probably would have never found these games. This is where life has led me, and Knytt is one of my favorite things in life. So there. I swear I will adapt this post into a level.

Side note: two years later I dated a guy for a few weeks who had coincidentally played Knytt Stories and he told me how to pronounce it correctly.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2022, 10:05:33 by Lucinda »
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Offline Purple Ink

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2022, 05:44:06 »
I forget a lot of the specifics because I have memory problems but let's see...

I've always been a creative type (I write fantasy stories as a hobby) and I remember spending hours of my time in high school thinking of making and playing games. There was an indie RPG engine I fooled around with and learned the basics of programming and stuff. I also remember at the time that I would "play" RPGs on paper, wearing the paper out because of writing and erasing so much stuff (like keeping track of levels and experience). So the prospect of making things was strong in high school. I would spend hours playing with the Timesplitters 2 and Tony Hawk games level editors and just making levels and things, figuring out the basics of logic gates and such. Even into uni I continued to use the RPG engine sporadically and even made a semi-playable demo of something I showed my roommate and some other friends.

One of them was a friend who was big into indie games. He would download and play a ton and sometimes show me and have me play them. He played Knytt for me and showed me Knytt Stories. The only distinct KS level I remember playing at that time was DEtM (surprise there yeah? :P2). I didn't know there was a level editor or there was a large amount of created levels or even that there was a whole community surrounding it. I also didn't know much about Nifflas other than he made the games. There was another game that got our focus at that time called Mushroom Man. It was a puzzle game that had a level editor. This friend and I spent some time making levels for each other to beat and had a lot of fun.

Fast forward to sometime in 2011 and I remembered the game Mushroom Man. I tried looking it up to play and, more specifically, make levels for it. I seemed to recall another fun game from uni that had a weird spelling. I don't know how I remembered Knytt Stories' name but I searched it up and found Nifflas' site. I watched some LPs of various Knytt Stories levels and decided to crack open the editor. I fooled around with it for a long time, figuring out how it worked and such. I made and released my first real level in 2012. I don't know how to describe it. Actually making something that people experienced (enjoyed?) was like a dream come true. I've constantly been thinking about trying to get some of my fantasy things published for years. So Knytt Stories and Juni fill this long sought after ambition of mine. :)

I guess I remembered more than I thought I would. X)


Offline Polana

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2022, 23:53:42 »
I'll copy here what I've written on the niffcord and add some more nostalgic stuff because why not.

I still remember when dad brought it home on removable hard drive from work one evening, both KS (with nifflas expansion and 3rd party pack) and Knytt. We didn't have internet at home back then. That winter me and my siblings made tons of really bad levels. I found out about the level archive and forums only several years later.

It was apparently recommended to dad by a colleague as an innocuous game without violence suitable for children where they can learn some programming so of course he went and downloaded (apart from the expansion and 3rd party pack ) some levels from certain czech fansite that were anything but PG for us to play (some of them are available at archive thanks to Comhon). So my sister, my brother and I were making lots of incredibly bad levels with green chompers and spikes everywhere to prank each other and with weird combinations of tilesets and so on. Basically the forum thread about bad level desing coming to life. I remember some huge maze level with that blue falling traps everywhere and surprise spikes and also some James Bond parody level with ugly cutscenes made in MS paint I was incredibly proud of at the time.
As others mentioned, the level editor was the most interesting part of it. I always liked to draw, made paperdolls with complicated backstories and even attemted to write fantasy stories so for me  the ability to make levels for a game easily and even draw own graphics was like the best thing since sliced bread. I've fallen in love with KS almost immediatelly and although I took a long break when I was busy pretending I'm an adult, it's quite significant part of my life now.


Offline atinypony

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2022, 05:40:48 »
I met the unnamed Knytt first, and didn't meet Juni 'til later.

My exposure to indie games began in the 90s when my parents bought Klik'n'Play as a birthday present or something? when i was in primary school through the school's Scholastic Book Club. I started making a lot of terrible games, finished none of them, and enjoyed myself immensely. Later I discovered newgrounds and lurked a bunch. Years later in the the mid 2000s sometime, full of post-teenage ennui and deep in the throes of a mid-youth crisis, i typed "meditative platformer" into the world's largest search engine, and after a bit of trawling through a handful of pages (of the kind that was rapidly emerging as a dispiritingly large portion of the results of every search anyone made and would later be named 'listicles'), I ended up downloading Knytt off JayIsGames or Curly's World of Freeware or somewhere like that.


The sound design, the music, the minimal pixel aesthetic and level design more reminiscent of bonsai than computer games, and above all, the sense of wonder, resonated with me weirdly strongly. I went nifflas-crazy, devoured #Modarchive Story, MAS:Operator Status and WADF and loved them despite only being a barely competent gamer who usually eschewed that kind of unforgiving gameplay. So obviously when KS came out I devoured that too.

took a long break when I was busy pretending I'm an adult

i relate so hard to this. Four year gap in my posting, now I have a family and am pretending harder than ever. I'm skiving off my adult-person dayjob to write this. KS is a tiny wonderful holiday from the realer parts of Real Life™.

Edit: oof, just checked my own posts from 2018. A grand total of 2, after another gap of seven years. I am nothing if not consistently inconsistent
« Last Edit: November 25, 2022, 06:07:20 by atinypony »


Offline plural

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2022, 13:08:04 »

The story about me finding the game is pretty boring like egomassive's. I was looking for games that gave me a certain feeling. So I would start up and play through anything and being a child it had to be free. I'm sure it was on some list of free games but I could never remember which. I played Knytt and was intrigued. I played Knytt Stories and the Nifflas levels and I wanted more. I searched the forums and played through anything I could find. I was also dumb and didn't understand that the level archive existed so I only searched through the forums. As I played I also became more literate as an internet person as well and learned to find the good levels I had to search for the ones with the most replies.

Through this time I was mindlessly building Hypnagogia. It was basically a graduation from toys to games for me. My parents basically set me in front of lego and lego type toys as a child because I could be entertained endlessly. My brothers would have sports games and I would sit in the dirt a field away making a story with a pile of rocks. The amount of money that must have been spent on random lego toys is probably obscene but I had a giant bin of it also contributed to by many siblings that had passing interest but enough to contribute. The pile in the bin grew. And I would make stories with them. More and more complex. Scenes. Towers. Worlds. Tablaues. Eventually I felt confined and started writing and drawing but I also still loved the construction aspect of the toy. I have trouble creating things that I think about artistically. So, while it was easy for me to think of a story I couldn't interpret my thoughts into their own visuals. All the tilesets that came with KS were a pile of lego blocks asking to be mixed, matched, made into whatever my mind wanted them to be which probably wasn't intended but at the very least I could borrow them to make me creative when my own art was lacking. (I still have immense trouble with this. I can imagine a lake. I can draw a lake that I can see. I cannot for the life of me draw the lake that I imagine and when I do it looks horrendous comparatively. My imagination is extremely confined by my imagination).

Anyway, I found Shipwrecked because I learned how to filter and find levels. I liked the level but I didn't understand how it worked. I looked at it in the editor and I understood the possibilities. It was like reading a Dickenson or cummings poem or Cormac McCarthy. The rules are just the start of the possibilities. KS didn't just have to be a toy to build a tower. It could be the tower. It could tell a story. I wasn't really comfortable enough at the time to actually tell a story so I made something that let me off the hook It's all a dream. It's all a joke. Hypnagogia is about me being afraid to tell a story when that's all I wanted to really do.

I did a lot of different outlets like this for other things. Art forums, RPG maker games,  A whole hell of a lot of RP forums. And the only place that I really got feedback that I felt like people treated me as a person was here. I didn't understand that at the time but it's the reason why I kept coming back because slight criticisms are enough to make me cascade into a self-wallowing and pitiable creature that never wants to share any of what I do with anyone. I also felt hopelessly inept at anything else I tried and while I'd get good responses I felt so unbelievably overshadowed by others I didn't want to risk trying. But I got some good responses on my forum post. So, I have a pretty simple idea that I'll make next. It's a pretty small level in comparison to the last that's just the surface of an empty planet to explore. And then the record scratch comes.

I went to college. I started my life. I became an adult. And when I felt like I couldn't breathe I made a story out of this game.

I didn't meet Juni until much later but we were already friends.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2022, 13:10:32 by plural »


Offline Lit Knob

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Re: How I met Juni
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2022, 08:27:21 »
Edit: Fixed some memory errors in the part about the minigame solution and 1001 Spikes.
Sorry about that.

Edit 2: Fixed a memory error in the part about Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2022, 06:03:32 by Lit Knob »
"The flaw expert" -egomassive