Return to HELL SYSTEM on a quest to find your friends!
Strange things are afoot in HELL SYSTEM, an ancient virtual world into which humanity is spreading its influence. Amid a chaotic string of problems, Miranda's friends have somehow been trapped in HELL SYSTEM, and it's up to her to save them... and to find the root cause of all the recent trouble!
With design, program, music, and script by Lachesis and additional graphics, story, and world design by me.
Play HELLQUEST 2 for free, on device or in browser, at DigitalMZX
Werewolves Versus Suburbia
I have a contribution in the latest issue of Werewolves Versus! Werewolves have been super fascinating to me since young times and this is my first work published by someone else! : )
You can (and should!) purchase this issue and previous ones, starting at only $1:
I personally recommend the link to his Etsy. You can see that it's easy and fun to buy and positively review all the beautiful items he makes, paints, and sells.
Abigail the cat
We adopted her from Lollypop Farm some years ago. She is nervous in disposition but when she's warmed up to a person becomes very friendly and talkative. Someone at the shelter explained in writing that she drools when she is happy, that she is a social eater, and that she has "extra toes!". One veterinary assistant, I believe an expert in these matters, remarked that she is "soft like a bun". These observations remain true, notwithstanding she's grown less anxious about her meals.
A few places I can be found
by the name Ashley Sgromo, typically in the Rochester, NY area
I also have a NSFW/18+ Twitter account and FurAffinity account1.
Drugs I regularly take, in order of milligram amount
I just think they're nice and I need them to thrive. If you the reader have a chance, please end the institution of medicine patents, sanitize the US's brutally elitist and profit-oriented medical culture, and equitably distribute the costs of healthcare to all, so that workers thus ejected from the collapsed rentier's racket maybe need not busy themselves over COBRA junk mail, on top of the rest of the bullshit.
Concerta ER (36mg/day)
Art/media I like
Moveys I've watched of late
Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red, 2020)
I really liked this game. Fun to play, mostly acted at the level of good TV, often beautiful to look at, and it respected my time. I saw one ending and haven't had an itch to go back. It was about how no matter how shit our world is or how helpless we are to live in it, we're all locked into making an impression on other people, and that those people are the nexus of all the meaningful choices we get, and the form of our quietly unavoidable immortality. Never fade away 😭
Elite Dangerous (Frontier Developments, 2014)
This game definitely does not respect my time, but I still love it.
Fallout: New Vegas (Obsidian Entertainment, 2010)
Caves of Qud (Freehold Games, 2021)
Just a horrible beautiful miracle to play, and a rare one where I can properly feel like it's me in there. Other good old school roguelikes I've spent some quality time with in the past ten years: Brogue (Brian Walker, 2009), NEO Scavenger (Daniel Fedor, 2014).
Disco Elysium (ZA/UM, 2019)
This was a constant delight. I sank two nearly straight days into it. Now fully voiced and tidied up, I might do that again.
Dark Souls Remastered (From Software, 2018)
My first time playing a Souls game was on the Switch, starting in March of 2020. Turned out it was as involving and interesting as everyone said. I thought I knew what I was getting into.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios, 2017)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017)
Severed (DrinkBox Studios, 2016)
The Witness (Thekla, Inc., 2016)
Mamoru Oshii's movies
Night on the Galactic Railroad (Gisaburo Sugii, 1985)
This one has cats.
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
This one has woods and urban ruin.
Berserk (OLM, Inc., 1997; adapted from Kentaro Miura's manga series of the same name)
Remember this soundtrack? damn.
On my mind
Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)
Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)
Devilman Crybaby (Masaaki Yuasa, 2018)
Howards End (James Ivory, 1992)
Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon, 1997)
Speed Racer (Wachowskis, 2008)
The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)
Stuff I saw as a kid
What untold harm some of these bits and bobs probably did me.
Azumanga Daioh: the Animation (Hiroshi Nishikiori, adapted from the manga series by Kiyohiko Azuma, 2002)
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson, 1985–1995)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989)
Dead Leaves (Hiroyuki Imaishi, 2004)
Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass, 1982)
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
T.E. Lawrence: Certainly it hurts.
Officer: What's the trick then?
T.E. Lawrence: The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.
Leisure Town (Tristan A. Farnon, 1996–2003)
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
Neon Genesis Evangelion (Hideaki Anno, 1995)
Frank Herbert's Dune
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1967)
Super Metroid (Nintendo, 1994)
Remember when you heard each piece of music from Brinstar for the first time and it made your heart grow 3 sizes? I believe I first played it 10 years after its release. I recognized that I'd missed most of what was good in video games to that point.
System Shock (Looking Glass Studios, 1994)
For a little while, sadly no longer, one of my more prized possessions was a CD-ROM in a jewel case that I found for $2 at Rhino Games in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. System Shock showed me at an impressionable age what a small team could do with a few meticulously assembled layers of carefully selected moving parts, i.e. pretty much anything. The demo of the upcoming remake reinforces how much was there in 1994 and how little needs changing. Credit goes to Home of the Underdogs for revealing this and so many other strange worlds to me.
As a teenager my bedroom was painted a vivid blue, like a dark afternoon sky. At night I would play Oolite with a Saitek Cyborg Evo, pretending (by default) that I was a space trader, and the room would glow. It was an even smaller game than it is now.
Out of this World (Éric Chahi, 1991)
The Typing of the Dead (Sega, 2000)
I learned how to type on this game.
Noctis (Alessandro Ghignola, 2000)
For exploring a galaxy I don't think this game has been quite matched. I'm uneasy about the chaotic retrofuture maximalism attitude in No Man's Sky, where new lands are candy-colored canvases for base-building. The hope-starved slide-rule non-mystique of Elite makes my freeform adventuring in it feel like a highly sanctioned, monitored, and redundant sinecure. As video games, they're both on their own admirable missions.
But Noctis is the simulator of being a dignified and mostly solitary member of a sparse race remnant of super-intelligent spacefaring cats, living in a 'ship' best described as a glass box of gaze-tracking HUDs that eats grams of lithium to seamlessly drift from star to star and planet to planet (sans loading screens, natch).
A few radical decisions made for its UI, lore, and visual design push this game into an aesthetic of profound escape from the human world, with no back door, none of our books and shows and memes, no hint of a fourth wall to break or even a window looking in. The galaxy research database accessed and contributed to via one of the ship's terminals may be synchronized with other players via a quick import/export process mediated by emails to the developer. The database received its most recent update in 2017, and is available alongside the game itself (runs on older Windows PCs and in DOSBox) at anynowhere.com.
As far as PC (and emulated) stuff later on, these were my faves.
Quake 2 (id Software, 1997)
Deus Ex (Ion Storm, 2000)
System Shock 2 (Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios, 1999)
Half-Life and Half-Life 2 (Valve, 1998 and 2004)
MechWarrior 3 (Zipper Interactive, 1999)
Gunstar Heroes (Treasure, 1993)
Actually I only made half of this, Flimsy made the second half and then I downloaded the complete game out of the uploads directory and replaced the rest with my own scribblings. It was greatly improved.
Minecraft !!!!1 (Mojang Studios, 2009)
I grew up with the following video game consoles and respective games having an undue influence on me. This is a small subset of the memorable titles; others, unlisted or unremembered, were probably/mostly bad garbage.
Sega Genesis (and 32X !!!!)
Kid Chameleon (Sonic Team, 1992)
Landstalker (Climax Entertainment, 1993)
Ranger-X (GAU Entertainment, 1993)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sonic Team, 1992)
Sonic and Knuckles (Sonic Team, 1994)
Doom (id Software, 1993)
I believe we first owned this on the 32X, but I could be wrong. Most likely I played very little or none of it at that time.
Gex: Enter the Gecko (Crystal Dynamics, 1998)
Final Fantasy VII (Square, 1997)
My family rented this soon after getting the PlayStation. Having no prior exposure to JRPGs, I was super bewildered and impressed. I made little progress. That early train ride from the Mako reactor really stuck to me.
Final Fantasy IX (Square, 2000)
Final Fantasy Tactics (Square, 1997)
Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998)
Descent (Parallax Software, 1995)
Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996)
I only watched my dad play this. I believe he tried to play it when the kids were already in bed.
Time Crisis (Namco, 1997)
Shenmue (Sega AM2, 1999)
At the age I first played Shenmue, I probably felt like all games should pretty much be it. Certainly I wanted to make games like it. Now I've paid witness to the fallout of the QTE and the endless inflation of game dev budgets and artist exploitation, and I know that most games should just be slightly more like this in some ways. They should let you open more of the drawers. To actually look at the things inside.
Crazy Taxi (Sega AM3, 1999)
Rez (United Game Artists, 2002)
Final Fantasy X (Square, 2001)
Winter break, post-Christmas, sitting under a blanket, eating jam thumbprint cookies.
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (Konami, North American console release: 2004)
Metal Gear Solid 2 (Konami, 2001)
Shadow of the Colossus (Team Ico, 2005)
Katamari Damacy (Namco, 2004)
Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix, 2006)
Odin Sphere (Vanillaware, 2007)
Look at the little bunny guy in this one. He used to be a person! Isn't that neat?
Game Boy Advance
Metroid Fusion (Nintendo, 2002)
This may have been my first Metroid, as I received it shortly after release and I wasn't a Nintendo kid.
Mega Man Zero (Inti Creates, 2002)
Metroid Zero Mission (Nintendo, 2004)
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Bethesda Softworks, 2002)
This is probably the best game. Sorry people who think anything is wrong with it. Actually it is you who are wrong.
Shenmue 2 (Sega AM2, 2001)
I didn't finish it. Sorry Yu Suzuki. Good, and often beautiful. Painterly in how it loves its settings. Not enough openable drawers.
Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 (Bungie, 2001 and 2004)
LAN parties. Awkward feelings around boys at LAN parties.
Knights of the Old Republic (BioWare, 2003)
Disliked this game. Even did a school newspaper review about how I disliked this game. And yet this was maybe the first one I was just barely brave enough to play as a lady character (to the extent possible, behind closed doors).
Non-game software I like or have loved
In reverse chronological order.
This is like a free CAD notepad with a sensible collection of features that works everywhere instantly and takes an hour to learn if you're me and never used CAD before. Modern CAD software seems to be absurdly expensive, or understandably convoluted, or both, or just Sketchup, so I was delighted to run into this classy pared-down parametric alternative.
CotEditor is what I found when I searched far and wide for a Notepad++ for the Mac. Personally I think it's better. A jack of all trades, master of starting up fast.
iA Writer has become a little too expensive for what it is, but what it is works well and looks nice doing it. I wrote this website in iA Writer.
Clip Studio Paint
Clip Studio Paint is ultra cool because at this point not only does the pricing remain reasonable and subscription-free, but for a wide range of purposes and considerations (comics especially, of course) you get an absolute Photoshop killer—and for other tasks, a tool you might could mistake for a comics-oriented Illustrator, or a 2D animation-focused Blender, or a maximalist Autodesk Sketchbook.
It's customizable and well-supported in the extreme, and it receives frequent no-cost updates with impressive features. It crashes less often than the built-in Apple software I use. Unlike Krita and some commercial tools, it will stay reasonably performant editing big files on your shit-ass computer with integrated graphics. I wish it had native Linux releases. I pirated it for a while and then I bought it on one of its frequent sales. 4 years ago. I feel a little guilty I didn't buy it earlier.
Linux from Scratch, Urxvt, Ion window manager, Riot, Mutt, irssi, and Vim
This was my nerd suite towards the end of my childhood. Despite my better judgement, it's the home I'm most nostalgic for.
You know what really grinds my gears? All the applications are browsers now.
One time, on a bus into NYC, I took a picture of the mural in the Holland Tunnel that indicates the border between New York and New Jersey in order to show someone in a text message, probably my partner, where I was, and maybe because I felt some kind of significance in it. I did not realize the flash on my phone was turned on. Immediately, two young people taking seats opposite and behind, probably cis women, repeated between each other in lovingly hyperbolic local accents, "New Yawwk!", "New Joisey!"
On 1 August 2021 I crashed the fuck out of the Toyota Camry my partner inherited. Really mad about it. No one was hurt, though!
More things that were embarrassing have happened to me, I'm afraid.
Some jobs I have done
Secondhand store operator
Bike builder at a big box store
Call center tech support
Call center supervisor
Taking New York State COVID vaccine hotline calls
As of May 2022 I've completed no formal post-secondary education. ¯\(ツ)/¯
Places I have lived
7.5/10, awfully segregated
8/10, many trees, and gentle rolling hills, as far as the eye can see
Ponte Vedra, FL
3/10, too many golf courses
7/10 ?, This is basically more Syracuse. I expect it is fine. I don't remember it well.
The best candy
The best candy is Mike & Ike Mega Mix Sours. They are gelatin-free and they put 10 different flavors in the box.
My Mac minis. My partner bought me one in 2011. We couldn't really swing it, and on practical, ethical, and cost-effectiveness considerations I wasn't sure I wanted to want it. I used it until 2020, when I bought the 2018 model. FWIW, I keep hearing that any computer from 2010 to 2011 seems to live very well for a decade.
My iPhone 7. In spite of iOS and Apple being what they are, I kind of suspect this was as functional, fast, accessible, beautiful, and reliable as little hand computers will ever be. No headphone jack (I rarely missed it), but the sides and rear face were metal. I used it from about when it came out until 2021, when I upgraded on a whim for a big enough carrier discount.
As an aside, I caught the following funny review of a toy sold by Jetpens:
Not only is this website not under construction, this website is the final canonical word on everything there is to know about me, Ashley Sgromo. Normal thanks to Nick, Alice, family, and friends.
Any creative work that I have wholly authored and that I have linked to or published inline on this website—except that I have otherwise remarked, or that such work and its license is otherwise subject to external agreement or law—I release into the public domain.