I’m fast approaching the end of my project. This will mean the end of many other things as well. As a student employee, my job ends the day I leave school. I’ve been at HMSC for four years. I’ve been a student, aquarist, lab aide and researcher. I met most of my close friends here. I’ve trained new aquarists and watched them leave when their own contracts ended. Soon, I’ll be training my replacement. I’ve done that before, but this time I won’t be coming back. That’s weird.

I’m searching for a new job, and facing the usual frustrations and bizarre requirement paradoxes that entails. The leads I have found are very exciting. I’m ready to move on, I think, even though I can’t quite imagine another workplace at this point. I’ve been through a lot with my coworkers here, and I feel that they understand me. I hope to find that again, but that’s not something anyone can expect. Expectations can be dangerous anyway—I didn’t expect to find myself here, and I wouldn’t want to have spent the last four years anywhere else.

On the Deme front, the final stretch is frantic but productive. I’m making revisions to my final paper, and I’m including a new version of the manual. This includes a pre-fab species set with a loose scenario. One of these species is a playable body-snatching parasite with—I think—a fun/evil mechanic. Once the parasite has infected another player’s animal, he or she can choose to take over control of that animal at any time. Once the parasite takes control, the animal gets only one turn—with modified abilities—before it dies. The idea is that infected players will end up negotiating with the parasite to use infected animals for their own ends. There should be plenty of opportunities for mutualism, reciprocity, betrayal and outright jerkery.

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