ReadingSmax

 Posted by (Visited 6701 times)  Reading
Nov 302005
 

I’m feeling tired, and sick (still fighting off some bug I picked up while on vacation in Florida), and the idea of more derring-do with Dave Duncan’s King’s Blades exhausted me. My brother gave me six of these, and they’re great (and I’ll write about them later, once I finish them) but tonight I needed something lighter.

So I grabbed another one of the books that Jim Lee sent — Alan Moore’s Smax. I was only a few pages into it when I spotted a Tron lightcycle in the traffic (something that the highly detailed annotation manages to not identify.

That led me on a merry hunt through the whole book finding everything. Radiskull! 1/3 of Totoro! A heck of a lot of Neil Gaiman references — although technically, one was to the Little Endless! And are those pixie sticks on the dinner table along with the mermaid, the blind mice, the unicorn (with an apple on its horn), the three pigs (little, of course), the roast cherubs, and the stuffed goose with the golden eggs? That would be pixies on a stick, naturally. Stick up the ass, naturally.

Moore reputedly describes everything in every panel. Yikes. Nice light fantasy reference library described here. I think you can probably read the annotations without spoiling the comic, so have at, if it means you’ll go buy the book afterwards. 🙂

Oh, and for all you gamers — Myst, Oddworld, Quake… yep, they get nods too.

EDIT: Reputedly describes everything: yep!

PAGE 1.
PANEL 1.
OKAY WE JUST HAVE ONE BIG PANEL TO OPEN WITH, ZANDER. WE ARE UP ABOVE
THE MOSTLY-FORESTED AREA WHERE THE INN THAT ROBYN AND JEFF ARE STAYING
AT IS SITUATED, BUT WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE INN HERE ON ACCOUNT
OF THE SPREADING CANOPY OF TREES THAT TAKES UP MOST OF THIS FIRST PAGE,
AS SEEN FROM THE DISTANCE, UP TOWARDS THE TOP OF THE PAGE, WE MAYBE
SEE DISTANT LAKES AND MOUNTAINS BEYOND THE FOREST, BUT OUR MAIN
ATTENTION IS ON THE IMMENSE SPREAD OF THE FOREST CANOPY DOWN BENEATH
US, FROM WHENCE SMAX’S LOUD, BELLOWING WORD BALLOONS ARE THE LOUD
SOUND OF SMAX’S VOICE, A LARGE CLOUD OF FLYING THINGS ERUPT UPWARDS OUT
OF THE FOREST. MOST OF THESE ARE BIRDS OR BATS, BUT THERE ARE ALSO A
LARGE NUMBER OF FLYING THINGS FROM FANTASY STORIES (PEGASUS, THE EVIL
FLYING MONKEYS FROM WIZARD OF OZ, THAT STUPID LOOKING THING FROM NEVER ENDING STORY, FAIRIES, GRIFFINS, THE FLYING NUN … ANYTHING YOU CAN
THINK OF, BASICALLY) ALL ERUPTING UP STARTLED FROM THE FOREST INTO THE
MOSTLY CLEAR SKY UP IS NOW THE MORNING AFTER THE FUNERAL OF SMAX’S
UNCLE MACK. THE LOGO AND THE EPISODE TITLE (ANOTHER SYD BARRETT QUOTE,
LIKE OUR PREVIOUS TWO) GO DOWN TOWARDS THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE

MusicChris Whitley, 1960-2005

 Posted by (Visited 6746 times)  Music
Nov 282005
 

I leave Locus Online to read the obit of an SF writer I had never heard of, and see Chris Whitley’s name at the bottom of the list of obituaries.

He was only 45, and he died of lung cancer, and somehow, it’s exactly the right bluesy ending to another great bluesman, albeit one that most people don’t remember, or only know because of “Big Sky Country” playing in the background of a Chevy commercial.
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Game talkA Bartle lead in the NYT?

 Posted by (Visited 5117 times)  Game talk
Nov 282005
 

Yep, check it out.

“So you have these four basic types that occupy the environment: the Achiever, the Explorer, the Socializer and the Killer.”

Nick Fortugno, the 30-year-old teacher, turned away from the whiteboard and faced the 14 undergraduate and master’s-level students in his Thursday seminar. “Killers act like predators, and like any ecosystem, if you increase the number of killers and facilitate them, you decrease the number of achievers and socializers.”

I’m sure that right about now, RIchard chimes in wondering why nobody uses his newer model, found in his book…

Game talkMiscMusicRecent site fixes

 Posted by (Visited 5432 times)  Game talk, Misc, Music
Nov 272005
 

The following fixes have been made:

  • The essays and presentations have been split onto two separate pages.
  • The GDC presentation on Online World Design Patterns is now back on the site. This presentation covers the basic common characteristics of MMOs and MUDs: what characters are like, what game systems are common, etc. IE-only, for now.
  • Also back is How to Manage a Large-Scale Online Gaming Community. This presentation is often misread as cynical manipulation of customers. Well, it is some of that, but it’s also intended to be a blueprint for honest dealings with your community. Also IE-only for now.
  • Two Models for Narrative Worlds has slightly changed URLs (it is now an SHTML file) and is no longer one of those fancy JavaScript IE-only presentation webpages, but instead a single page of PNGs with the transcript of the talk interspersed. Over time, I hope to change all of the presentations to this format, since most folks who visit here use Firefox (as do I!).
  • The snippet “Online worlds and the law” is back on the site — it just had a bad filename.
  • Same with “The ethics of online world design”. Neither of these pages, as with several others of the snippets, look correct yet, but at least the material is restored.
  • The sheet music for “Alice” and “Memorial” should be legible again.

Since we’re here — what needs to change about the site? What’s working? What do you hate? What do I need to blog about more? Feedback is welcome.

Nov 272005
 

Some comfort lies in knowing
A tree’s inner core gilds a human wall,
And no one pays it mind —

I stared into her faded eyes, while willing
Into being a look not a reflection
Of my own. Her bones have been
Unlearning youth for years,
And dry rot clenches whispery hands
Around her veins. She feels oblivion,
Perhaps, and rooted fears to die —

And worse, the fear of being furnishing
For a mourner’s heart, a comfortable
Seat for sadness on display, a grief
Unlearned, replaced, reborn, beveled
By the familiar gaze of children wishing
For knowledge, continuation, and belief.

I pay her mind, in hopes that one will do
The same for me — ring me, round me, learn
And ground me, make me theirs, and never burn
The grains that build me, where they gild me
through and through.

Game talkTerra Nova: MMOG eSport?

 Posted by (Visited 7403 times)  Game talk
Nov 272005
 

Terra Nova: MMOG eSport? asks the question of whether MMOGs are amenable to eSports.

Are they good as spectator sport? Would something have to be tweaked in the genre (and in the whole field of play around it) to make them so. And even then, would it be an interesting or good idea?

It’s sort of an odd question to ask, in some ways, given the history of the genre. Arguably, the games started out with a heavy degree of sport built in. The early games that were full-reset or “Groundhog Day” MUDs had a degree of inspiration from games such as Zork. The core mechanic of an early AberMUD, for example, involved gathering items from around the game and bringing them back to a pool where they were dumped; you earned XP for doing so; in the original Zork, you gathered items from around the game and returned them to a trophy case in the small white house.
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