Interesting People & Places: The 7th Dimension | Phil Austin | David Brin | Cheese Factory | CIA World Factbook | Cosmic Hobo Productions | I, Cringely | Mark Evanier | Frequency of Fear | Frontline | Iikka Keranen | Deanna Molinaro | PolitiFact | Phil Proctor | Spider Robinson | Bill Sears | SFFAudio | WFMU's Beware of the Blog | Robert Williams | The Worlds of David Darling

Games & Gamemakers: Ernest Adams | Adventure Classic Gaming | Aaron Allston | Sean Barrett | Brenda Brathwaite | Greg Costikyan | Chris Crawford | Curmudgeon Gamer | Rob Fermier | Jamie Fristrom | Games Are Art | Ron Gilbert | Steve Jackson | King Lud IC | Raph Koster | Marc LeBlanc | Literati Game Reviews & Essays | loonyblog | Kyle Machulis | American McGee | The Odd Robot | Cory Ondrejka | OneThree Reviews | Play This Thing! | Psychochild | John Romero | Richard Rouse | Scorpia | Jake Simpson | Phil Steinmeyer | Raphael van Lierop | Allen Varney | Tom Wham



My Life as a Blog
by Rich Carlson

Instant wisdom:




What if we are no longer alone?
Alpha rebroadcast
06.09.08

Mike Walker's award winning radio play, Alpha, is an accessible if somewhat controversial "tale about a computer so all-knowing that it seems to have an independent life of its own". Of course, there's much more to the story than that. BBC7 describes Alpha as "chilling" and this is not far from the truth. Hypnotic and thought provoking with haunting music and first rate performances, Alpha is not to be missed.

BBC7: The 7th Dimension
Sunday, June 15
18:00-19:00 GMT
Or use the Listen Again feature for 6 days thereafter.


Goblin Slayer
The Game of Extreme (Goblin) Cleavage
05.07.08

GOBLIN SLAYER has been around for a few years, collecting dust on that shelf reserved for "stuff you intend to get to". Iikka Keranen and I created it in...circa 2006. James Ernest helped us to tweak the game, which fixed it properly into something more balanced and fun. We attempted to generate some interest in the game, perhaps to the end of getting it published somewhere, but our effort was less than ambitious and interest was mild at best, so we left GOBLIN SLAYER behind to pursue other projects. And what a shame, I thought when I rediscovered the zip file a week or so ago!

GOBLIN SLAYER is a brisk game of underground combat between a lone dwarf hero and a horde of nasty monsters --goblins in particular with an ogrish leader on the side. A bit like Steve Jackson's seminal Ogre but not as "difficult", which is speaking relatively. Ogre itself is not a difficult game but it uses conventional, though much-simplified, wargame rules which can be off-putting to some gamers.

GOBLIN SLAYER has simple easy to learn rules and it features a special geomorphic game board that creates a different self-contained cave system each time the game is played. The board tiles are also perfect for use with any paper roleplaying game. The tiles are one of my favorite features of the game, and it's one of the few random maze creation systems I've seen in paper game form that produces logical and aesthetically pleasing results.

Anyhow, since we --speaking of Digital Eel now-- like to share neat stuff for free from time to time, we decided to release GOBLIN SLAYER "as is" for free distribution on the www. Basically, it's the version you might submit to a game company, sans components, like 6-sided dice and pawns or figurines, doodads found in common boardgames that gamers can easily supply themselves. The GOBLIN SLAYER zip file contains the manual and large images of the game board tiles for printing. You can learn more about it on the GOBLIN SLAYER web page (or nab the game here).


Guest of Honor
Flash Bazbo and the NLRH Legacy
04.16.08

Long before Christopher Guest portrayed Nigel Tufnel in the "rockumentary", This Is Spinal Tap, he contributed his writing and performing talents to National Lampoon audio recordings and the National Lampoon Radio Hour, alongside John Belushi, Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Michael O'Donoghue, among other notables --a fortunate gathering and collaboration that would soon evolve into NBC's revolutionary comedy review, Saturday Night Live.

Here's an example of Guest's early work: Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer, one of the offbeat "character sketches" that he created for the NLRH:

Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer
Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer - Chapter 44
Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer - Chapter 219
Flash Bazbo in a Restaurant
Of course, there were never 219 episodes. It's part of the gag.

Not so trivial trivia: Did you know that Christopher Guest is a baron?


Beyond the Veil of Night
Nebular Wonders from APOD
03.29.08

It's been a while, but the tradition of posting cool pictures of nebulae here must continue (it must!), especially since Astronomy Picture of the Day has featured some rather trippy ones lately. Below you'll see a recently enhanced view of the Cat's Eye nebula (depicting, perhaps, the eventual fate of our own sun), the beautiful but as yet unpoetically named NGC 3576 and the giant nebular "complex", N44.

   

In this case you might say that our gaze extends far beyond our reach, yet perhaps our children's children's children's children's children will traverse these or similar places... I wouldn't put it past the human race. But, I think we'd better start by being nicer to each other here on Earth so humankind can actually reach for the stars together one day.


It's Only a Podcast...only a podcast...only a podcast...
The Frequency of Fear
02.28.08

Podcasts... So many of them, but for horror and science fiction buffs, here's one that really stands out: the Zombie Astronaut's Frequency of Fear. Featuring selected audio drama goodness mixed with humorous commentary and hijinx, the production is dang slick and ZA delivers a heck of a first rate show. If you like science fiction and horror (both cheesy and serious) served up by a zombie astronaut who prefers his brains and eggs raw, by all means check out The Frequency of Fear!


Missing Links
& News from the Fringe
01.22.08

The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas | Twenty Great American Short Stories | The Well-Tempered Audio Dramatist | Dozens Claim They Spotted UFO in Texas | Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String | The Orange Box soundtrack | Official Robert Williams website | Stone Oakvalley's Authentic SID Collection | Iterations vs. Game Quality Chart | WFMU Picture of the Day Gallery | 13 Seconds in August | That Story About the Rabbit | Zappa Radio


Of Russian Demons and Melting Men...
The Scarifyers on BBC7
12.28.07

Detective Inspector Lionheart, a veteran crime-fighter based at Whitechapel police station, and Edward Dunning, a professor of Ancient History at London University and a prolific writer of supernatural stories, become paranormal investigators for the "very new" MI-13. Aided by, among others, Aleister Crowley, "the wickedest man in the world," Lionheart and Dunning must follow enigmatic, and often ghastly, clues, infiltrate mysterious secret cults and foil the darkest of diabolical plots against England and humanity.

But not without a sense of veddy British humor. The Scarifyers, set in the late 1930's, combines deadpan wit and Lovecraftian themes with the result being nothing short of hilarious in that "not quite laugh out loud" way (though I actually laughed out loud a lot). The series is charming and delicious, surprising and never corny, so it gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from yours truly!

The Scarifyers is produced by Cosmic Hobo Productions and stars Nicholas Courtney as Lionheart and Terry Molloy as Dunning. Many will remember Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart --The Brigadier, and Molloy as Davros --creator of the evil Daleks, both from the Dr. Who TV series. Also, David Benson, "man of a thousand voices," appears as the reoccurring character, Aleister Crowley, giving a...spirited performance.

If you're quick about it, you can hear (online and elseways) both the first and second productions of The Scarifyers, The Nazad Conspiracy (trailer) and The Devil of Denge Marsh (trailer 1 & trailer 2), on BBC7's The 7th Dimension (6pm and midnight GMT).

Each Scarifyers story is comprised of three 30 minute episodes. The first episode of The Devil of Denge Marsh aired yesterday and the second is running today. The last episode will be aired on Monday, Dec. 31. The Nazad Conspiracy aired Monday, Dec. 24 - Wednesday, Dec. 26. Use the BBC7 "Listen Again" feature to catch up. Programs stay online for 7 days.

For more information about The Scarifyers, including actor bios, character and story info, announcements, downloadable content, and series ordering information, check out the Cosmic Hobo Productions website.

Listen to the cool theme music from The Scarifyers by Edwin Sykes here!


My Favorite Wizards
#2: Sokurah
12.08.07

Sokurah is certainly one of the few truly all-star level wizards in filmdom. His claim to such fame? He's multitalented, a Jack of all magical trades and more, and there seems no end to his resources and abilities. For example...

Sokurah can shrink people, transform people into four-armed nagas and animate skeletons by magic. He knows how to operate arcane magical devices and how to create them. He designs gigantic mechanical weapons. He's a master of alchemy. He possesses a sage's knowledge of obscure lore.

Sokurah is also sly and he has a silver tongue. He is charismatic and persuasive. He's aggressive, strong-willed and tenacious. He's also manipulative, avaricious, two-faced and traitorous -all positive qualities if you're in his line of work.

And if that isn't enough, Sokurah resides on a remote island of ill repute, in an ancient underground castle deep within a spectacular lava cavern. He has a dragon for a pet, no less. His quarters are well-appointed. His arcane laboratory is fully stocked. He dresses well. This is one together wizard.

Sokurah is the sorcerous villain in Charles Schneer's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, an excellent fantasy film featuring lots of cool Ray Harryhausen stop motion animation (including his first skeleton fight) and one of Bernard Herrmann's finest musical scores. In fact, the music is one of the best things about this movie. Once heard it can't be forgotten. As good as anything ever written. No kidding.

7th Voyage is splashy broad fantasy, a peculiar film too, and corny in ways yet still completely accessible, and like its sequel, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (which I like even more), it harkens back to styles of pulp fantasy written in the first half of the 20th century --exotic settings and fantastical occurrences
with no explanations required.

Sokurah was played by the formidable Torin Thatcher.


Fly! Be Free!
Digital Eel Gets Gratuitous
12.02.07

More Eel news. We released a couple more of our older games, Dr. Blob's Organism and Big Box of Blox, for free. This follows Plasmaworm, which we released for free a few weeks ago. If you haven't played them, be sure to do so! They rock, and each in their own way. Dr. Blob is my favorite of the three, though Plasmaworm and Big Box are special to me too for lots of reasons, like Plasmaworm was our first game, and Blox features some of Bill "Phosphorous" Sears' very best and weirdest Eel artwork. So, share and enjoy!


Space & Physics ala Digital Eel
Eat Electric Death! & Soup du Jour
11.25.07

Cool news: Digital Eel, that's Iikka Keranen, Bill Sears and I, released two new games since I last posted a month ago. First, Eat Electric Death!, a boardgame based on starship combat from our Strange Adventures in Infinite Space and Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space computer games. Second, Soup du Jour, a sweet little PC/Windows matching game with rubbery physics that bends the genre on its ear. Ow!

Getting back into boardgames was fun and I hope we make more. Deciding to produce all of the art for Eat Electric Death!... That was challenging, and it took more time than I thought it would, but it was worth it. The game looks very Digital Eelish, colorful, stylized and weird. The gameplay is simple and fast with little bookkeeping so you can play a couple of skirmishes in a hour, with the option of slightly more involved battles that might last longer. With lots of ship types, options and specials, replayability is high, and it's a sandbox game so gamers are encouraged to do whatever they wish with it. Shrapnel Games is publishing Eat Electric Death! and I'll tell ya, you couldn't work with nicer, more encouraging or more enthusiastic folks who really care a lot about fun and games.

And now for something completely different. Soup du Jour came along last summer while we were working on something else (besides Eat Electric Death!). Iikka had coded this cool little stretchy rubbery physics system, applying it to a matching type game --you know the kind, where you match shapes/colors, make rows and things disappear for points, objects fall faster and faster from the top of the screen, etc.-- and as things sometimes happen, we fell in love with the thing and made a spiffy little game out of it with a pseudo "French chef" theme. The art stayed real simple and cartoony, with a style that is very different from the art in our other games. The music is also cartoony and hey, melodic for a change! I put some fun sound effects in too, to add to the overall...rubbery-ness and silliness of the game. End result: Soup du Jour will surprise people for lots of reasons.

I'm really proud of both of these games and I'm proud of the other guys for hanging in there and finishing them. Takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Also, there were some excellent playtester folks helping out: the Fearless Testers of yore and the guys at Shrapnel, both employee and on the forums. You can't even think about calling a game project done without allowing real human beings to playtest it first, and these people did a wonderful job, and the games are better for their scrutiny. To sum up, the geek guys are going to like Eat Electric Death! and the geek girls and kids are going to like Soup du Jour. That's how reactions seem to break down so far and I think that's peachy.


Kiddie Lit
Books for Kids* by Edith Nesbit
10.25.07

A quick post here to point encouragingly to the works of Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) which are in the public domain and available to *children of all ages free.

Quoting the E. Nesbit Wikipedia page, she "popularized an innovative style of children's fantasy that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects and adventures. In doing so, she was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling. C. S. Lewis wrote of her influence on his Narnia series and mentions the Bastable children (of The Story of the Treasure Seekers) in The Magician's Nephew. Michael Moorcock (wrote) a series of steampunk novels with an adult Oswald Bastable as the lead character."

Oldsters and Brits may recall Jenny Auguter in the film or TV version of Nesbit's The Railway Children. All of Nesbit's best known stories have been made into various versions, television, films, maybe even radioplays, by the Beeb and others. Yet, she is not well known in the states these days.

Read the works of Edith Nesbit on the Project Gutenberg site here.

Download html versions of her most popular stories, lightly cleaned-up by yours truly, here:

The Story of the Treasure Seekers (and sequel, The Wouldbegoods)
Five Children and It (and sequels, The Phoenix and the Carpet & The Story of the Amulet)
The Railway Children
The Enchanted Castle


The Invisible Theater of the Ear
Radio Tales of the Strange & Fantastic
09.11.07

If you're into audiobooks and radio shows --and science fiction, adventure, fantasy and horror-- check out my new page, Radio Tales of the Strange & Fantastic. I loaded it up with direct links to mp3's of quite a few classic radio plays, like The Map Makers and Three Skeleton Key, all carefully picked for a good variety. And yes, I've listened to every selection and there's not a clunker in the bunch.

If you already enjoy shows like Quiet Please, Lights Out, Dimension X and Escape, you're going to love this page. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're going to love this page. Either way, you're going to love this page. Fill up a CD or two with all of these great stories (go ahead!) and you'll be set, story-fix-wise, for a long time. Enjoy!


My Favorite Wizards
#1: Tim the Enchanter
09.03.07

Paraphrasing (heavily) the Wikipedia Tim the Enchanter entry, which pretty much says it all:

Tim the Enchanter is a fictional character played by John Cleese in the 1974 Monty Python film, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Tim is an eccentric and reclusive wizard who wears ram horns on his skullcap, speaks with a Scottish accent and has a penchant for fire magic. Tim's overall presence is commanding. Observers of his magic often applaud after a display.

His name is revealed during this section of dialogue:

King Arthur: What manner of man are you that you can summon up fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: I... am an enchanter.
King Arthur: By what name are you known?
Tim: There are some who call me... 'Tim'...
King Arthur: ...greetings, Tim the Enchanter.

Tim is met by King Arthur and his knights while standing upon a mountain conjuring fireballs. As Tim engages in dialogue with them, he needlessly conjures up flames and fireballs in between responses. When asked about the Holy Grail, Tim leads the kinghts to the Cave of Caerbannog. Unfortunately, his dire warnings about the cave's guardian, the Rabbit of Caerbannog, are roundly ignored by the party, leading to the deaths of Bors, Gawain and Ector. The Rabbit of Caerbannog is finally vanquished with the legendary Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Tim must have run out of fireballs in the previous scene!


Mixed Bag Friday
Space, Science Fiction & the Best Game Reviewer Ever
08.03.07

Cool post on the Astronomy Picture of the Day site a couple of days ago: The Four Suns of HD 98800. Here's some explanation: "How would it look to have four suns in the sky? Planets of the HD 98800 system, if they exist, would experience such a view. HD 98800 is a multiple star system about 150 light years from Earth --right in our section of the Milky Way Galaxy."

Neato, and here I thought that binaries and trinaries was the end of it. Space is always weirder than you think. --But the really cool thing here, ahem, is that the (speculative) image makes great desktop wallpaper.

Extra stuff: Be sure to czech out Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's excellent game review videos. Good critiques, and they're a riot. He's reviewed Fable: Lost Chapters and the demo for The Darkness so far. Apparently there's more to come. Let's hope so!

Also, still following the book groove, Kevin Matheny sent along a link to another source for indenti-finding classic, or just plain good, speculative fiction novels. Eric Walker's website is called Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works and means to be very comprehensive. Of note, Walker's comments are interesting and he writes well.


Still Restless On His Throne
Robert E. Howard's Conan
08.01.07

More public domain fantasy. (Why stop now?) This time Conan gets the spotlight. The Conan series was Written in the 1930's; 17 books that epitomized the "blood & thunder" subgenre of fantasy, introducing Conan the Cimmerian, the prototype hack 'n' slash barbarian hero -but one of the few with any depth or soul. With human qualities, intelligence and sense of fairness, Conan is believable; we relate to the character and like him despite the mounds of still-steaming gore he occasionally leaves behind.

Some think of Arnold Schwarzenegger when Conan comes up; others recall Frank Frazetta's iconic rendition; many grew up with Conan in comic book form; all recognize that Howard's tales of a lone barbarian destined to wander the realms of strange and ancient Hyboria are enduring classics. So, with the help of the Gutenberg Project, and a little cleanup by yours truly (forgive the spattering of Gutenberg version errors), here's the whole collection in html form and zipped for your convenience.

Robert E. Howard: The Compleat Conan includes The Phoenix on the Sword, The Scarlet Citadel, The Tower of the Elephant, Black Colossus, The Slithering Shadow, The Pool of the Black One, Rogues in the House, Shadows in the Moonlight, Queen of the Black Coast, The Devil in Iron, The People of the Black Circle, A Witch Shall Be Born, Jewels of Gwahlur, Beyond the Black River, Shadows in Zamboula, The Hour of the Dragon, Red Nails and The Hyborian Age (essay).


Gallant Heroes, Weird Monsters & Lost Civilizations
The Imaginative Power of Abraham Merritt
07.27.07

Staying on the reading theme, here's some classic pulp by A. A. Merritt (1884-1943). Lightly cleaned and html-ized to be easier on the eyes than what usually comes from Project Gutenberg (no offense intended). Obviously, all are in the public domain.

Burn, Witch, Burn!
Creep, Shadow, Creep!
Dwellers in the Mirage
The Face in the Abyss
The Metal Monster
The Moon Pool
The Ship of Ishtar
Merritt lived well as a journalist and editor. Eccentric to be sure (he had some rather exotic hobbies, like cultivating orchids and plants linked to witchcraft and magic --monkshood, wolfsbane, blue datura, as well as peyote and marijuana) but also "a man of letters." Respected and successful in his work, it seems that writing novels was a secondary thing. Yet, fall into one of his books, as Kenton falls into the world of The Ship of Ishtar, and a level of imagination is revealed that is, at its best moments, astounding. But I don't mean to overblow this.

Burn, Witch, Burn! inspired Tod Browning's film, The Devil Doll. H. P. Lovecraft has mentioned that The Metal Monster was one of his primary influences. Some speculate that the The Moon Pool influenced elements of the popular television program, Lost. Overall, Merritt's work had interesting effects on speculative literature. For example, at the time, R. E. Howard and E. R. Borroughs were considered to be crude writers; Merritt was said to have given pulp fantasy a kind of distinguished respectability.

Merritt also helped to introduce to the world artistic collaborators Hannes Bok and Virgil Finlay, who graced Merritt's imaginative pages (both as author and editor) with highly imaginative illustrations (that swim dangerously close to art). Bok and Finlay became influencial (visual) fantasists in their own right.

Btw, The Ship of Ishtar and Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds have remained my favorite fantasy novels for over 20 years. PLENTY of good fantasy since Bridge of Birds, and LOTS of great fantasy from Merritt's day, and BUNCHES in between, but these two have withstood every attempt to be toppled.

My opinion of course. Tastes do vary. Some readers believe Dwellers in the Mirage to be Merritt's best novel. I wouldn't argue with them...very much.


When Top 10 Lists Aren't Enough
Finding the Best Speculative Fiction
07.25.07

If you're a fantasy, science fiction or horror buff here's some good reference material useful for filling out your book collection. Classics only. These lists point to the very best.

First, the legendary Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading by E. Gary Gygax from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st ed. Dungeon Masters Guide. You won't find a better list of recommended fantasy novels and authors. Or maybe you will. Anyway, this is a very good one. Gygax knew/knows his stuff.

Next, Supernatural Horror in Literature by H. P. Lovecraft. This one is long, deep and murky and reveals not only Lovecraft's influences but the whole legacy of horror and "weird" writing that leads up to his work. We're talking way beyond Poe. This is a must read horror essay citing dozens of stories and novels to check out.

Lastly, the comprehensive (to say the least) NESFA Core Reading List of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If it's not worth reading, it's not on this list, as they say. Back to the origins and good up to 1997, the NESFA list is still the grandaddy of them all.

Best of luck to you on your book quest, and keep on readin'!


Biden My Time
Hot Rods, Politics & Electric Death
07.22.07

Another quickie. The car theme continues, with some other stuff.

Went to the Kirkland classic car show. Saw some great wheels including a blown Edsel which blew my mind. Muggy day. Not sunny. Stopped in at The Slip for the best sloppy cheeseburger in the Five Galaxies. Hung out by the water. Nice time. So, as is customary, here are a couple of pictures that I snapped. Self explanatory.

     

A political tidbit. If you want to hear Sen. Joseph Biden's opinion of Bush's decisions since the Iraq war began (and who doesn't, heh) and an amusing (ahem) oval office anecdote, czech out this short excerpt from his speech to the senate during the so-called Iraq war debate a week or so ago. Again, self explanatory. Click here to hear.

Lastly, a boardgame that Iikka Keranen and I designed is complete and will be released by Shrapnel Games on an as yet unannounced date. It's called Eat Electric Death! and it's a beer & pretzel starship battle game based on the combat system from our computer games, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space and it's sequel, Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space. If you're interested watch the Shrapnel site. More on this in the coming weeks.


Designing Outside the Sphere
Luigi Colani
06.21.07

A quickie. Bumped into this on David Byrne's site: The organic "biodynamic" creations of Italian designer, Luigi Colani. Had to check it out so I found some tantalizing examples to post. To say "nice stuff" is not enough. Reminds me to check up on Roger Dean, hmm... Anyway, you can find out a little more about Luigi here (Wikipedia) but go here (Colani Design Germany GmbH) for the image goodies (under "werk").

  

  

  


Gamemaker's Kitchen
Boardgame Wisdom From a Couple of Smart Guys
06.10.07

Steve Meretzky created legendary computer games like Planetfall, Leather Goddesses of Phobos and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with Douglas Adams. He still makes and plays electronic games --can't keep a good man down-- but he plays other kinds of games as well, and he mentions this in a recent article he wrote about how computer game designers can benefit from playing boardgames.

A good notion if you think abou it, and when Meretzky begins by saying...

"Over the past few months while board gaming, I've played a sheriff in the Old West, a modern art dealer, a Mesopotamian king, a colonial-era governor, a 19th-century railroad magnate, a bean farmer, a Vegas casino mogul, and an Egyptian deity.

"Over the past few months while playing electronic games, I've played an elven warrior, a World War II soldier, an elven warrior, an elven warrior, a World War II soldier, an elven ... well, you get the idea."

...You know where he's headed. To the game smorgasbord, baby. The salad bar of games. The feast of games that could nourish a hundred hungry videogame designers for life.

Wanna know more? Of course you do. Here's the URL.

What We Could Learn From Board Games by Steve Meretzky

There's another expert textpert out there who has been advising the same thing for years, in this case legendary boardgame and roleplaying game designer Greg Costikyan, creator of classics like The Creature That Ate Sheboygan, Toon, Star Trek: The Adventure Game and Paranoia.

Like many other gamemakers who came up in the 1980's Greg moved into the realm of computers, played the consoles and created games for handheld devices, eventually co-founding Manifesto Games, an online portal specifically geared for independent games, offbeat games, unusual games --computer games that trend-perpetuating publishers, terrified by the unusual, must avoid or risk their (in)sanity. (Confidentially, they're wimps. But I digress.)

Back in 1999, Greg wrote an article similar to Meretzky's, slightly dated now but more in-depth. In it, he posted this warning to videogame developers:

"If your sole experience of games derives from the arcade, the console, and the home PC--particularly if your sole experience derives from games published within the last five years--your imagination will be constrained. You will see only what exists in the here and now, and you will naturally be inclined to ring the changes on the apparently possible, rather than exploring more interesting alternatives."
Now, it's certainly true that there are folks in the videogame industry who play paper games --many would trace the origins of their interest in games back to paper roleplaying games and boardgames-- but when we look at the store shelves now, in 2007, we see the same game types, game series and sequels, and the same scant handful of categories, as we did in 1999. Games seem stuck in time! But is it the fault of developers in the first place? Not really. Videogames are in stasis because of publisher risk-averseness, and so, publishers have painted the industry into a (very lucrative) corner.

My hope is that articles like Costikyans's and Meretzky's here will instill some inquisitiveness among developer and publisher folks, enough to prod some of them to stop by their local game stores and pick up some cool non-electronic games. In doing so, perhaps they will discover a larger world of games, an almost unimaginable variety of games and game systems and designs, and become richer --more game-savvy, more open-minded, more original and more inspired-- for it. Given the vegetative state videogame development is in right now, it can only help. So, if you're a gamemaker or you know gamemakers, for games' sake, read and forward these links!

Here's the link to Greg Costikyan's essay.

Don't Be a Vidiot: What Computer Game Designers Can Learn From Non-Electronic Games by Greg Costikyan


TV Sci Fi Pick of the Week

CH :

Note your time-space zone!
GMT - Galactic Mean Time
RST - Rimward Standard Time
CST - Coreward Standard Time




The Mystery Morgue of Audio Adventures
Now Playing: The Weapon
Last Time: The Undecided Molecule

Dark Fantasy
The Devil and Mr. O (Lights Out redux)
Dimension X
Escape
  1947-1948
  1949-1950
  1951-1952
  1953
  1954
The Hall of Fantasy
The Hermit's Cave
Lights Out: 1 2 3 4 5
MindWebs
Mystery in the Air
Quiet Please
The Strange Dr. Weird
Suspense
The Weird Circle
X Minus One

Click here for general series information, plot summaries and recommended episodes.



Now Playing in the 7th Dimension
Updated Daily

Voices from the Grave (4 of 4)
Voices from the Grave (3 of 4)
Voices from the Grave (2 of 4)
Voices from the Grave (1 of 4)
Down and Safe: A Celebration of Blake's 7 (3 hours)
Blake's 7 (2 of 3) "Traitor"
The Brightonomicon (1 of 13)
Journey into Space: Operation Luna (7 of 13)




The Hobbit
Abridged, read by Nicol Williamson

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23




Interplanetary Picture Show

Heat Vision and Jack
Nobody Loves Me
Songs by Tom Lehrer
Glass Shattered by Sound
Christopher Lee: Through a YouTube, Darkly
Martians, Monsters & Mutants
Very Peculiar Cartoons
Cat Wake Up Call
The Terratin Incident
Superman & Kate Bush
An Observation of the Observations of Don Van Vliet
The Mounties Catch Herpes
The Power of Nightmares
Peace on Earth




Gif-o-rama Theatre

What about a catapult?
wut quest u guyz on?
Intermission
Lunation
Hack 'n' Slash
The Sum Total of All Human Knowledge
Redhead
Stan & Ollie
Girl
Classic Crumb
Glider Gun
Picard vs. Vader
Typing
Pentakisdodecahedron
Tughra
How A Computer Works
Changing Views of Spacetime
Mushroom
Lifeforms
Six Spoke Mechanism
Optical Illusion
Mr. Bean
Starship Titanic












live JinxCamô
updates every 3-5 seconds


KING'S
Free game: King's Bounty
BOUNTY


Get Zorked! Get Zorked! Get Zorked!


Free game: Telengard


Amarillo Slim Dealer's Choice
Free game: Amarillo Slim Dealer's Choice




T-shirts, mousepads, artwork and a clock!



Archive the 10th
What if we are no longer alone?
Goblin Slayer
Guest of Honor
Beyond the Veil of Night
It's Only a Podcast...only a podcast...only a podcast...
Missing Links
Of Russian Demons and Melting Men...
My Favorite Wizards
Fly! Be Free!
Space & Physics ala Digital Eel
Kiddie Lit
The Invisible Theater of the Ear
My Favorite Wizards
Mixed Bag Friday
Still Restless On His Throne
Gallant Heroes, Weird Monsters & Lost Civilizations
When Top 10 Lists Aren't Enough
Biden My Time
Designing Outside the Sphere
Gamemaker's Kitchen



Archive the 9th
Weird Sounds and Wisdom
Empire At War
Missing Links
Money Shots
Triumph of the Nerds
Missing Links
Google-Eyed Art
New Iraq Civilian Casualty Estimate
Fate
Moore Casualties
Dwarf Nabs Orb
WFMU
Galaxy Quest
Spider Goddess
Missing Links
Smoke and Mirrors
A View From Bandur
Three Tadpoles and a Tarantula
Missing Links
John Lennon, 1940-1980



Archive the 8th
Dragon Wars
The Weird Worlds Demo is Online
The Weird is Out
Weird Worlds is Golden
Missing Links
Manifesto Games
Quotable Quotes and More Weirdness
Just a Quickie
Weird Worlds Soon To Be Unleashed
TV, Toys, Books & Games
The Privateer Remake
Missing Links
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Updating the Update
Just an Update
The Way Has Been Revealed



Archive the 7th
To GDC and Beyond Beyond
It's DND Not D&D
New Consumer Laws
Missing Links
Welcome Intrepid Adventurers!
Crawl in Technicolor
Iikka's Stuff
Missing Links
To a New World of Mods and Adventures
Yuletide in Cyberspace
Earthsea in Clorox
H2G2 Game and Fallujah Links
Brian's Pirates! Review
The Roman Toothpick
The Iris Nebula
A Brief History Of Computer Games
Zarnoth Declared Victor In Galactic Prez Bid
Decision 2664
Fear Me
2004 Vice Presendential Debate
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Swifty Boats Are Coming To Win Us
Damp Kawangi
Weird Worlds of Baffling Mystery
The Great Nebula in Orion
A Perfect Short Game
Weird Worlds
The Sorcerer's Cave Nabbed



Archive the 6th
Things To Do
Mixed Bag
Masters of Fantasy
Missing Links
Of Mystic Woods And Sorcerer's Caves
Your only REAL choice in 2004
More Digital Eel News
Real Magic
Buckminster & Jinx
Infrastructure
Digital Eel News
Closer to the Edge
Links of the Week
The ElectroComp 101
Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite
Now Serving...
The Best of My Life as a Blog
JinxCam Live 24/7
The Art of Game Design
Google-Eyes Art
Three Flat Games
Patching the Blob
SAIS Patch Released/Enchanter Revisited



Archive the 5th
Road Beat
DBO Nabs Two
Dungeons of the Doomed
Doom Is Not Dead
Links of the Week
Edge of Oblivion
Oblivion Released
Cheapass Games Circles the Square
Ion Storm
Zork
Name Matters
JinxCamô
Links of the Week
Steel Dawn: Forgotten Rebirth II Gold Edition
All Things Must Pass
Intellivision Lives
Links of the Week
Laurel & Hardy
Have A Jolly Holiday!
Quake Level Name Generator
IGF Finalists Announced
Oblivion



Archive the 4th
Chicken Heart
IFComp 2003
Links of the Week
3 For 1
To Mars And Beyond...
A Dark and Stormy Night
Space Empires: Starfury
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth Halloween Masks
From Space to Spacy
Links of the Week
Digital Eel's Big Box of Blox
Inside the Eagle Nebula/X Minus One
Wow
What's in the box?
Ossman's Audiola
Dice History 101
Rod Lord's H2G2 Guidebook Graphics
Links of the Week
Flash At Its Best
Elements of the Swan Nebula/Eigenradio
I Wannabe (A Rockstar)
Blog Wars: A New Scroll



Archive the 3rd
Still Playing
Boris the Dodger
Some Get It and Some Don't
Crawl
Links of the Week
It's Alive
The Sun's Surface in 3D
Something To Hold On To
Links of the Week
Mr. Kosmik Sneez
Digital Eel Summer
Late News
A Sonic Boom
Report from the Skink Works
M17: The Omega Nebula
Attention Gwog!
London at Night
Light Echoes from V838 Mon
Monsters, Surrealism and the Kustom Kulture
BushWorld and the Trees of Mystery
Links of the Week



Archive the 2nd
Wizardry vs. Telengard
Links of the Week
M42: Wisps of the Orion Nebula
News (Really) Bites
Dumbbell Nebula Close-Up from Hubble
Links of the Week
A Beautiful Game
The Columbia Tragedy
The #secretlevel Awards
BHR 71: Stars, Clouds, and Jets
Links of the Week
The Reflecting Dust Clouds of Orion
Three Shades of Darkness
The Creeping Crud
Story Time
Links of the Week
Post Holiday Update Thingy
Ketchup Date
Story Time



Archive the 1st
Independent Games Festival finalists announced
IGF, SAIS and Links of the Week
FST Thanksgiving show axed by NPR
Links of the Week
Links of the Week
Dimension13
Two New Board Game to PC Ports
How to Write Science Fiction Without Really Trying
Hellride
The Sum Total of All Human Knowledge
What is the next entry?
Story Time
Little Ghost
The Plasmaworm Collection
Liquid War
Two From Space
Firesign Theatre
Lord of the Rings
The Doctor Fun Page
certain maxims of archy
Glorioski!
Flog the Blog


Digital Eel | Mac BPS | BBoB | DBO | SAIS | Plasmaworm

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Dungeons Deep | Beyond Adventure


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Copyright (c) 2005 by R. D. Carlson