Apr 072009

Boy, am I neglecting blogging lately. Even my Twitter has gone mostly silent.

There have been several stories that caught my eye. For example, this one about musicians making decent gig money in Second Life was interesting, in part because some of what a virtual environment provides is an easier way to do marketing. As I have said before, I think the future of a lot of the arts is around personal relationships with their fans because of the way the landscape is shifting around information and money, and there’s something about virtual worlds that helps build fandoms.

Speaking of personal relationships, while at the IGF and GDC awards, I was struck by the clear signs of “celebrity” that some of the event had. Some of this was due, no doubt, to the fact that Tim Schafer’s performance as emcee was funnier and more entertaining than that of the emcees for any televised awards show. Some of it, though, was the evident fact that the creators of indie games are getting known as names, in large part because they produce quirky and individualistic games at a rapid rate. Which brings me to mention The Croopier, just because it’s a neat project.

Which reminds me that there’s a new documentary premiering on journalism in virtual worlds — talk about a profession that is in upheaval thanks to changes in business models and the value of information! I’m halfway through a galley copy of Cory Doctorow’s upcoming novel, in which a journalist figures pretty prominently… and struck by how prescient Bruce Sterling was when he said “information wants to be worthless.”

Which leads me to idly speculate… if anything that can be digitized will be, and anything that is digitized becomes worthless, then what will eventually remain both undigitizable and therefore monetizable?

MusicThe Sunday PoemThe Sunday Song: Polliwog

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Apr 132008

OK, I lied. It’s not a song. It’s more of a jam session. Since it wasn’t fully grown and looked likely to have warts even upon attaining adulthood, I named it “Polliwog.” Drum tracks, bass, acoustic, two electrics, and the piano all piled onto a standard blues progression played really fast.

Basically, I slammed together three different blues riffs I like to jam with, two for guitar and one for piano. They were originally all in different keys, but I piled ’em all into one. If you want to add to the cacophony, it’s in E.

Game talkMusicVideo Games live concert

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Sep 232006

It took four hours to drive there (!) but it was worth it.

When we arrived, we landed in “stacked parking” in Lot A, which meant that someone would be trapped behind us in the event that we left late. We didn’t plan to stay for the VIP afterparty because we had the kids in tow…

Video Games Live

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Nov 262000

I hope you like the new artwork. That’s what happens when I take my first vacation in a year. I had meant to also do some recording this week, but I didn’t get around to it, unfortunately.

So what’s changed? Let’s see… first off, this (News) is now the front page of the site. This should make it a little easier to find out if I’ve bothered to update lately. The Guestbook is still around, but you have to go to the Main section to reach it. I also got rid of the old Bio section and old front page and moved that content into Main under About. I tried to save all the guestbook entries, but if you entered a message right when I was putting up the new site, yours may be gone.

Under Gaming, there’s plenty of new content. For a while now, I’ve been working desultorily on a book on online world design. Some excerpts were published at The Rantings of Lum the Mad a while ago, but now I’ve decided to go ahead and toss up more here on my own site. Look under the “Book” section for that. Also, I’ve been working on a breakdown of typical design patterns for online world design (mostly extracted from the book, actually) for a GDC presentation next year. So that’s up there under Essays as a set of Powerpoint slides.

Under Writing, I finally went ahead and put some actual content in under Poetry, Fiction, and Genre. Hope ya like it. If you’re an editor starving for an author, lemme know. In fact, out of all the stuff in the site updates, this is the area that I’d most like to see comments on. I don’t write much anymore, and the stories are mostly a decade old, but I started out as a writer and I am sure that someday I will go back to it.

I reorganized the Music section. I recently wrote a guitar instrumental that I titled “Alice” after the character in the comic strip, and I’ve put up the sheet music and guitar tablature to it. There’s also another small guitar instrumental piece there called “Memorial,” with sheet music and tab.

I got rid of the Teaching Materials section under Books. I can’t locate any of ’em (somewhere in the garage no doubt). But I did add a new page on what I’m reading lately. Only four books there right now, as that is all I got to over the holiday.

There’s a couple of new images under Art; a new doodle and two ink pieces from over ten years ago.

In other news, I recently did an interview for Joystick101.org. This site is devoted to academic critique of games, developing a critical vocabulary, etc, and the folks who run it are all involved in academia. Check it out, leave a comment, support the site, whatever. 🙂

Mar 192000

Well, lots to talk about in the last two weeks! Let’s see…

I’m back from the Game Developer’s Conference. It was a lot of fun, but also very tiring. I spent pretty much all my time talking about game design, and basically none of it partying. 🙂 It was great to see a bunch of folks, of course, many of whose names I am about to rudely leave off my list of people it was great to see: Richard Bartle, J. C. Lawrence, Toby Ragaini, Brad McQuaid (and John Smedley, though I didn’t see him that much), Chris Allen, Serafina Pechan, Amy Jo Kim, Amy Bruckman, Mike Sellers… whew. And more. Also nice to meet folks like the guys from Loki (go Linux!), Mark Jacobs of Mythic, and so many other great folks. The online sessions were packed… special shout out to Richard Aihoshi aka Jonric, since I bet he’ll first see this when it gets reprinted on the Vault Network

Tons of updates to the Online World Timeline–I’ve gotten info now from what seems like everyone in the online games industry!

The big news is that my CD After the Flood is now available via MP3.com. If you like acoustic guitar, you should check it out. But don’t think there aren’t any rock tunes on it, because there are. 🙂 Since I am in the middle of shameless self-promotion, let me point out that it’s only $10. Odds are you’re a gamer if you are reading this page anyway, so think of it as being just one monthly fee for UO, EQ, or AC–except you get to keep it after you pay, instead of using it up!

For those of you who never tire of putting death threats, obscene ASCII art, and bizarre rants demanding changes in UO on my site, the Guestbook is once again operational. Just keep in mind as you do it that I’m not working on UO anymore, and threatening me over changes to UO is about as useful as threatening your local squirrel with a shotgun if he doesn’t remove stat loss. 🙂 (I must be reading too much of The Bench over at Penny Arcade

Tomorrow, I’ll be reprising last year’s MediaMOO conference panel. This year, the topic is the future of online worlds now that 3d graphics are in the picture, and just to make things interesting, Amy Bruckman and Carlos Jensen have set up a link between MediaMOO and a VWorld. Should be interesting! As before, I’ll see about getting a log up here on the site afterwards.

I think that’s all I’ve got for this update… see ya in a few weeks, if I have anything new to put up…

Game talkMiscMusicWebsite Moved!

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Jan 082000

As the banner headline at the top of the page says, this website has moved! As you may or may not know, my personal homepage is hosted on the LegendMUD website. Well, Legend just got its own domain name, which means my site did too. In the process, it also got a new Net connection and a new hosting machine.

The old site address of mud.sig.net will work until February or so, and in the meantime it will redirect people to this location–but if you want it to work in the long term, update your bookmarks now!. The new domain name is www.legendmud.org.

Not too much other news. Work is work. 🙂 Been playing Ultima 9: Ascension a bit and a lot of Unreal: Tournament. I got my copy of the PvP book on Christmas day, too! I’ve actually been a character in this strip, so it is near and dear to my heart. 🙂 I’ve also been doing some writing design aspects of muds and mudlike games (that’s MMORPG to most of the commercial world) but I don’t know if anything will come of it.

Lastly, lots of stuff is up at my mp3.com website so if you like acoustic guitar and singer-songwriter music, check it out. 🙂 I did locate the version of “Stones” I did for Ultima IX in the game–it’s the one on the clock-radio right at the start of the game. Of course, you can barely hear the guitar… ah well!

Game talkMiscMusicRecent News

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Oct 131999

Whew, been a while since I updated. Let’s see, the latest news:

We’re in a new house now. I have to replace the deck, but other than that it’s nice. I’m very glad to be out of temporary apartment housing… The VR Worldcon thing was a lot of fun. It was great to hang out with Dr Cat again. It had been quite a while since I had spent any time with him… Also, I have to say that I think Furcadia is probably the most successful non-gaming, socially oriented graphical mud I’ve seen. I was promised a log of the two things I did (a roundtable on managing obnoxious behavior online, and a general q&a session) but they haven’t materialized yet.

Thanks to Richard Bartle, looks like I’m heading off to London in a couple of weeks to give the opening address at Online Games ’99 on the 3rd and 4th of November. I am supposed to speak on “Current and Future Developments in Online Games” as well as (another) panel on managing obnoxious players (something everyone seems to want to know about!)

This is my first trip across the Atlantic–all my travels thus far have been in the Americas–and I am looking forward to it!

My CD is mastered! I’ll be duplicating it soon. I am not sure what I am going to do with it once I duplicate it, though (other than give it as a Christmas present to friends and family). Are there any of you out there who want it? Post on the Guestbook if you are interested in it. (I bet I see no activity whatsoever). To help you decide, I’ve put up a new mp3 in the Music/What I Play section, called Maybe Free. It’s the opening track on the CD.

Aug 231999

So I went to Seattle to visit the Microsoft Hardware Lab and upon arriving at the hotel found a message from my wife to call her– even if it was in the middle of the night (3am Seattle time, in fact). Turns out that a smoldering fire started by an electrical short had pretty much destroyed the kitchen, and smoke and soot damage had gotten the rest of the house. Kristen and the kids weren’t there–they were in fact dropping me at the airport while the house was burning–so the family is fine, except for our dogs, all of whom died in the fire.

Amazingly, the book collection, music collection, musical instruments, etc, all survived intact and largely undamaged. So in an odd way, we came out largely unscathed (we’ll still max out our insurance though).

I was going to write a long and eloquent essay about this, kind of a way of clearing it all out– “My God, what if it had been during the night when we were home” “What must it have been like for the dogs trapped in the house as the air slowly went bad and it got hotter and hotter” “Look at what we invest with value and what we care about losing” “Boy, I really feel guilty over terribly missing my dog Mika, and not terribly missing the other dogs” “Aren’t the connections you make with people you never met amazing” — this latter after getting an anonymous letter written in a childish scrawl, from An Ultima Online player, with three dollars cash enclosed…

But in the end, I never did write it, and doubt I ever will.

Mostly it reminded me again of the fragility of life, and the value of the connections we make, and of how important stuff is to our sense of identity (it’s amazing how panicked you can get over losing a stack of books you read when you were a kid and haven’t read since)…

I do really miss Mika, my dog, though. I’ve put up another MP3 for a guitar instrumental I wrote about her in the Music/What I Play section. She got my wife and I through some very tough times emotionally a few years back and was the smartest dog I’ve ever had. I’ll miss her.

In other news, I may be giving the opening address at the Online Games ’99 conference in London. Have to sort out the plane ticket yet, but if that gets worked out, I’ll be there! My first trip across the pond… and Richard Bartle and I will finally get to meet after trading emails for years and years…

Bruce Sterling tells me that he’s going to be posting the Laws of Online World Design to his Viridian mailing list, of which I am a member. These Laws sure seem to keep getting around…

Oh! Almost forgot. I’m not working on Ultima Online anymore. I’m on a new project, and no, I can’t tell you anything about it yet. Be patient! We’ll redefine online gaming if you give us time. 🙂