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< Piro >

that other site...

"stress positions"

Tuesday - June 1, 2004

[Piro] - 10:33:00 - [link here]

Monday, early afternoon...

I have a pet peeve about flying that has been bugging me particularly recently. As I write this, I'm somewhere between San Jose and Minneapolis. So far on this particular flight, I have not been bothered by this pet peeve, but the flight is still young.

I'm one of those people who can't sleep on airplanes. I'm not particularly nervous about flying, I just can't sleep sitting up. I usually try to keep myself occupied while flying, either by reading, drawing (which is very hard to do on most trips because there is almost always mild turbulence) or writing on my laptop. Using my laptop is my preferred manner of keeping myself occupied, but unless you are flying first class, using a laptop is very difficult.

With all the traveling I had planned on doing this year, I picked up a 12" mac powerbook before I went to Japan. I figured that by getting the smallest of the powerbooks, I could work pretty much anywhere. My old Dell Inspirion was completely useless on airplanes. The little powerbook really is very portable and a joy to use (except for the heat problem - where your palms rest can get very hot). It's even *almost* useful on airplanes. The reason I say almost is that your ability to actually use it relies heavily on the person in front of you.

As anyone who has tried to use a normal sized laptop with a generous screen in economy class, it's almost impossible to type and see the screen at the same time. There just isn't enough room between the seat in front of you and yourself. With the 12" powerbook (and other smaller laptops, I am sure) there is just barely enough room to type comfortably and see the screen - if the person in front of you doesn't crank their seat all the way back. This tendency of people to just slam the seat back as far as they can as soon as they can - That is my pet peeve, and it inspires me to almost violent irritation at times.

Y'know, even when relaxing, reading, resting on a plane, I never tilt my seat all the way back. To me, when you tilt a seat back, you are putting yourself back into the personal space of the person behind you. Everyone on planes know that you can and have the right to tilt your seat to get comfortable, but I feel that this must be done with a certain amount of respect. Just because you can slam it all the way back, doesn't mean you should. I consider it common courtesy not to.

If you aren't using a laptop, you can argue that it's not really that big of a deal. I still argue that it feels like an intrusion into your space, depending on how it is done. Regardless, what it does mean for me is that if the seat is all the way back, It becomes impossible for me to use my laptop. On a long flight that can be very irritating.

What's amusing is that, right in the middle of typing "even while relaxing..." the lady in the seat in front of cranked her seat all the way back. I'm now in what I can only call a stress position, attempting to at least finish my thoughts on this. Whee.


Tuesday morning...

Well, so much for writing an in depth, rambling rant about Fanime on the plane trip home. I tried to draw on the plane, but drawing on planes is just too hard. Planes are really cattle cars, where all you really have room to do is sit and read or stare into space. Even so, it was a nice trip home. I gave up and pulled out my collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories and finished reading the Dunwich Horror and The Mountains of Madness. The things I do to relax. :P

I applogize for the lack of DPD today. I was going to post a scan of the drawing I did for the charity auction at Fanime this weekend, but it looks like the email they sent me with the file attached has been lost in the email. It's not a bad drawing, so I'll be sure to post it somewhere when I get it. Till then, hm... well, if I can come up with some random sketches to post today I will, but it looks like I just need to move on and do Wednesday's comic. Definitely two comics this week - I'll have one comic done today and one on wedensday. Sarah and I leave for A-kon on thursday and won't be back till monday, so next monday's comic will also be either late or skipped, but the good news is this - that's the last con for a while, and I should be able to get back on schedule.

One thing I noticed, especially this year, is that no matter how much I try to not let traveling to conventions interrupt things, it does. I have done so much traveling in the past year that I have not been able to get into any kind of stride, and I think that has been a negative thing for the comic. I made the decision earlier this year that I needed to stop traveling so much and take a year and concentrate on the comic. You know, that comic thing. :)

So, bear with me as I finish up my travel commitments for the year, and get thru the startup for the new store. Once all of that is in place, and my travels are done, I can start putting things into high gear and chain myself to my desk and get some work done. I feel very frustrated, honestly - there's a lot of stuff I want to get down on paper, and im tired of not being able to do so.

That said, it's time to shut up and get to work. :)


If you think you'll never, ever get a chance to meet Seraphim and I at aconvention then enter the Anime Network Sweepstakes. If you enter throughthe banners on the Megatokyo site or the Megatokyo link from the partner page and win the grand prize trip toDenver, Colorado then Seraphim and I also get to go to the debut of theAnime Network in Denver. We think it would be pretty cool if a Megatokyofan won and we need a vacation :)

< Dom >

Yari houdai SRPG!

"Crossing deadlines"

Thursday - May 27, 2004

[Dom] - 00:00:00 - [link here]

So. They're not only re-releasing Disgaea, but they're giving out a free artbook with purchase. That's nifty. It's nifty enough that if I didn't already own the Japanese limited edition, I'd get the re-release of Disgaea for it, because I'm tired of Sony America being dicks about limited editions and not allowing package sizes to be any larger than the standard.

Screw you, Sony, I want gigantic packages with oodles of goodies! Gimme the Koei treasure boxes for the Dynasty Warrior games! Gimme ridiculous amounts of coasters and a parfait spoon! Gimme calendars and art! Hell, I don't care, give me that princess dress that came with Princess Concerto (warning: Japanese link). It doesn't matter to me, I just want SOMEthing. Yes, I'm a limited edition whore. I don't mind.

Sigh. Oh well. I'll just stick to Japanese games.

But speaking of American games, I just got an e-mail from Trebor himself (known to the mundanes as Robert Woodhead) that I'd like to relate, just to complete the whole Wizardry saga and give everyone an important gaming history lesson:

One of my many spies has informed me that in your May 19th column,you quote Robert Del Favero as saying:

"Woodhead was little more than a contract programmer"

Needless to say, my perspective is a little different.

Before Andy and I started working together on Wizardry, I had writtenand published a couple of Apple II programs (Infotree and GalacticAttack). I was looking for a new project to work on and came up withthe idea of doing a computer RPG.

I was well into the design of this game, which I called Paladin, whenI heard that Andy Greenberg was doing something similar. I knew Andybecause we were both heavy users of the PLATO computer assistededucation system.

We got together, compared notes, and realized that we could do abetter job as a team than we could apart. The final design forWizardry combined features in his original BASIC game and the Paladindesign.

I did almost all of the programming of the original Wizardry game andthe scenario editors that created that database it ran off. Andyused those editors to create the first few scenarios, and he and hisfriends, including RDF, playtested them. This was an obviousdivision of labor since I had a lot more time than he did, havingbeen kicked out of Cornell for a year for fooling around too much onthe computers and neglecting my grades. And finally, my companyreleased the program onto the market.Had Andy and I never gotten together, most likely his Wizardry wouldnever have evolved into a marketable product, because of all theother demands on his time, and my Paladin would probably have made itto market but would not have been nearly as good as Wizardry was,because of his story skills and the efforts of his playtesting team(who it would not be unfair to credit as the "third" author of thegame). Fortunately, it was one of those "right people in the rightplace at the right time" kind of things.

That said, RDF is entirely correct that your statement that "BrianFargo and Robert J Woodhead pretty much created the American RPG" iswrong. I assume you mean computer RPG, btw.

The Computer RPG had its real genesis on the PLATO system in themid-70s. By 1977 or so, PLATO was featuring real-time multiplayerdungeon games, not to mention real-time spacewar, IM, chat, email,netnews, and a host of other things we now take for granted. Allthis on high-resolution plasma panel terminals connected at 1200 baudto twin Cyber 6600 supercomputer. Now you understand why I waskicked out of Cornell for a year; PLATO was crack for computer nerds.

Wizardry (and Paladin and the original BASIC Wizardry) were ourattempts to see if we could do something similar on the puny personalcomputers of the day. For example, the idea of the 6-character partywas a way of simulating multiplayer interaction when in fact therewas usually only one person playing the game. But at the same time,the fact that only one person was playing the game allowed us to putin a story (and lots of cute ornaments) that raised Wizardry beyondthe "hack-hack-kill-kill-loot-loot-run home" style of game.


I consider myself educated. I seriously need to find a book about the early days of computer gaming like Game Over has the beginnings of Nintendo and The Ultimate History of Video Games has for the arcade and console industries. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm interested in hearing them.


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