Two Interviewees in the Colbert Nation

Posted: January 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | No Comments »

Two of the interviewees in GET LAMP have been on the Colbert Report show.

One of them is Ian Bogost, teacher of things interactive and member of the Atlanta Nerd Mafia.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ian Bogost
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

Also, Robert Pinsky, one-time Poet Laureate of the United States, and someone willing to have quite a bit of fun:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Meta-Free-Phor-All: Shall I Nail Thee to a Summer’s Day?
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

Why the mentions? Mostly, I was editing some sequences with both of these fellows appearing, and it reminded me about their appearances.

Colbert, sadly, is not in the movie.

The Eye Shines Through

Posted: January 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 2 Comments »

One of the secret weapons in the War On Producing This Documentary is one of my friends, Jim Leonard. But I don’t call him Jim Leonard. I call him The Eye Of Doom.

Jim was a critical part of the BBS Documentary’s success. He earned this odd title from me because he has an amazing capacity on two fronts: the technical issues behind the production of DVDs, and a hyper-awareness of the visual and sound components of a production, enabling him to see flaws that a majority of the population would never catch… but a minority would be driven bonkers with. He notices dropped frames, shearing, odd transitions, weird color spaces, lacking bitrates, you name it. If he signs off, it’s about as good as most mortals will get it.

This is where the Eye of Doom comes from – he’s like the unblinking eye of Sauron:

There’s Jim on the left there, seeing all. I’m not sure what’s on the right there – probably the DVD duplication facility. I don’t quite know how all that works. Looks right, though.

I mention for two reasons – first, Jim and I spent a good hour or two double-checking all my rendering and project settings to ensure they’re as good as they can be, and second, while the myth of the single person against the world is kind of fun for public relations and self-aggrandizement, it’s crap – I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way, and a lot of good eyes and hands have been a part of the production. I’ll credit everyone I can, and I’m sure a few will be missed, but they’re all important. Like I learned when I signed up to go into the real Colossal Cave, you don’t go it alone.

Thanks, Eye.

One last detail: When the Eye isn’t helping people tell the story of text adventures well, he’s involved in a project to bring the latest in computer graphics and sounds in the Demoscene to your door. The Mindcandy series has been amazing for the first two releases (which you should consider buying; they really show off your home video setup), and now they’re doing it in HD. Check out the details at the Mindcandy 3 page. Believe me, you won’t find a better and more amazing project of this type anywhere. I look up to these guys. Check them out.

Back into the editing bench!

GET LAMP Artwork and Poster

Posted: January 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production, Text Adventure History | 5 Comments »

I have a great announcement to make.

Along with finishing up editing, designing menus, planning out bonus features, and all the rest, I also have been working on the packaging for GET LAMP, which I want to be as enjoyable and true to the subject matter as possible. I am following the same template I enjoyed with the BBS Documentary, that is, a somewhat simple outside slipcover with a complicated and interesting inside multiple DVD tray. GET LAMP has two DVDs to BBS Documentary’s three, but the look is the same. (If you go over to the BBS Documentary order page, you can see what I’m talking about).

This time, I knew I wanted the back three-panel space to have one big piece of artwork on it. I wasn’t exactly sure how that was going to be accomplished, and I didn’t let indecision hold up other aspects of production, but it was somewhere there in the back of my mind.

Then I saw this weblog entry from a software house called Panic, who had decided (for fun) to come up with a fictional alternate history of the company extending a couple decades back, and one in which they had a financially-unsound decision to go into the Atari 2600 game business. They had realistically-weathered artifacts, a fake magazine ad, and some absolutely amazing cover art. Even though the company didn’t exist back then, the artwork captured the look of the old cartridge cover art perfectly.

I knew I’d found my artist.

His name is Lukas Ketner, he’s a Portland-based freelance illustrator, and together, through rounds of revisions and designs, we’ve come up with the artwork that will grace the inside of GET LAMP’s packaging.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce the GET LAMP poster:

This will be the first thing you see when you open up the package, and I think it makes just the right impression about what’s waiting for you.

Lukas was an absolute joy to work with, and I recommend him for art projects you’re seeking to do – he was on time, on budget, and listened every step of the way.  His website has many more examples of his artwork and styles – he doesn’t just do retro 1980s box art!

So, I am so bowled over about this artwork, I am considering making it available as a poster for sale. This would be a high-quality print on really good paper. I’m researching this now, but I’d like to reach out and ask if you want to be notified if such a poster becomes available, and at what price.

If you’re interested, please mail me at and I will do a one-time mailing when final details about the poster’s availability and price are solid.


Interactive Non-Fiction

Posted: January 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 3 Comments »

This had been in planning for some time, but I wanted to wait until I was nearly done with editing before announcing it.

GET LAMP will be partially interactive.

Basically, the main GET LAMP stops and then splits into multiple directions, when you choose. This is how I can have it have about 3 hours of movie (which is roughly what it is looking like) but not murder the audience. It will also allow you to address the Interactive Fiction story from multiple angles, which otherwise would be competing for your attention.

It will, of course, be possible to skip the interactive portion and just see the different mixes, and it will also be possible to say “just go ahead and show me that 3 hour movie”. But this potential for having some amount of say on the film’s progress is, to me, part of the nature of interactive fiction, and the movie will reflect it.

I’m calling this feature Interactive Non-Fiction and it’s meant a lot of work in some aspects, but I am secure the result will be unique indeed.

I won’t claim this hasn’t been done before, because I simply have no easy way to research it, but I think we can assume this doesn’t happen all that often.

Prepare to Choose!

Game Submissions Complete: Dozens will be Included

Posted: January 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 4 Comments »

I issued a general call for interactive fiction to be included in the GET LAMP package. Many people responded! While I haven’t finished making the final list, and a bunch of testing has to happen now, it looks like roughly 40 works will be included on the DVD-ROM section, as well as a downloadable archive of a few hundred works under a system called EAMON.

With one exception, all of these works are already available online and for free – the GET LAMP website will link to them all when I put the listing up. The point was mostly to provide a place for these works to reach locations and people who otherwise might not have thought to look them up. Interpreters will be included on the DVD-ROM, so a machine without an internet connection will be able to play these fine. Interpreters will be on the DVD-ROM for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

I thank everyone who took the time to put together packaging or provide permission for their work to be distributed on DVD-ROM. It is very appreciated.

Some Possible Origins of Zork

Posted: January 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, Text Adventure History | 1 Comment »

Dr. Nick Montfort, who figures prominently in GET LAMP and who I’ve mentioned several times in this weblog, has put out an unusually detailed travelogue in trying to find the origins of Zork. Not the game, mind you – he wrote extensively about that in his book Twisty Little Passages. No, in this case he’s trying to track back the specific word Zork, which was bouncing around MIT at the time the game was being written and which hopped in as the title when it was used as a placeholder by the programmers. The name stuck, and the marketing and growth of Infocom forever enshrined the word with the game.

The entry, “A Note on the Word Zork“, utilizes a number of predecessors to the word (such as zorch) that were in MIT slang  from the 1950s, and paws around for a few pieces of literature, writing and citation that might have caught the eye of either the Zork creators, or people who then influenced the Zork creators.

What’s interesting about this sort of speculative work is that it is, by its nature, transient – over time a more firm connection might be found, or no connection ever found. It’s the kind of work that can be thankless, or tossed aside by a few choice words of the still-living creators. But it’s a great exercise, and I’m glad Nick has done it.

Pre-Orders Open

Posted: January 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

The regular pre-orders for GET LAMP are now open.

As indicated, they’re at the regular price and now have more detail of what you’re getting. So far, the specs are:

  • 2-DVD Set in high-quality packaging
  • From Jason Scott, creator of the BBS Documentary
  • All features fully captioned
  • No region encoding or copy protection
  • Includes the GET LAMP documentary, as well as additional featurettes on Infocom, Mammoth Cave, and other subjects
  • Edited from dozens of interviews with creators, players and academics related to interactive fiction and text adventures
  • The GET LAMP film is Spoiler Free – watch with no worries (Bonus features with spoilers will be clearly marked)
  • DVD-ROM section with photographs, recordings, images and games
  • Production is licensed Creative Commons-Attribution-Sharealike-NonCommercial
  • Introductory essay by Scorpia
  • The GET LAMP UPGRADE GUARANTEE is director Jason Scott’s guarantee that should new editions of GET LAMP become available, purchasers of GET LAMP through this website will be offered the product at cost or very close to cost.

Hey, Interviewees!

Posted: January 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 1 Comment »

Hey, people I interviewed for GET LAMP. I’ve reached a lot of you but not all. Since I was shooting up to 3 years ago, it totally makes sense that we might not have communicated recently, but there’s a chance you didn’t contact me after re-finding the site recently.

I just wanted to mention that everyone interviewed gets a free copy.  I can’t imagine it being any other way. I’m trying to imagine documentaries in which that doesn’t happen. I think that’s just rude.

So you’re getting a free copy. If you went ahead and ordered a copy, you’re getting two in the mail. Three of you are getting three, because you invested in the movie. Man, you got a bargain!

Just wanted to drop that note. And thanks for being interviewed, by the way.

The Upgrade Guarantee

Posted: January 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 4 Comments »

2010, a new year, and the year of release of GE T LAMP! Better late than never, better great than rushed.

Now that the promotional pre-order is done, it’s time to set up the “regular” sales and begin filling the order page with details. That’s happening shortly.

But I wanted to talk about something beforehand.

As a consumer of documentaries and DVDs and all sorts of media, I have certain things I encounter that drive me nuts. When I was working on the BBS Documentary, I made sure my production and DVD didn’t have these annoyances. One of them was lack of subtitles. It actually turns out to be pretty easy to do and a lot of people both without hearing and with families/environments where they have to keep the sound down have thanked me. Another biggie was menus or sequences you can’t skip. This where you plug in a DVD and you end up with a logo for a company you end up seeing it six billion times because you have to watch it to the end – the DVD won’t let you skip. (Using something like the VLC player will allow you to, but a lot of people are using “regular” DVD players.) I made sure my DVDs have no unskippable sequences, extras, or menus. The same goes for no copy protection on the disks, no region encoding, and so on.

All that holds true for the GET LAMP DVD as well.

This time around, I’m adding something else.

What drives me absolutely nuts is buying the same film multiple times.

What I’m talking about is you buy a DVD of something, and you enjoy it. Then they come out with a special edition of the same thing and you buy it again. Then there’s a downloadable version, and you buy that. And so on. And so on. It makes some people very rich, but it’s just a completely disrespectful thing to do to the people who brought you success in the first place. It sucks.

So here’s what I am doing.


Let me explain what I mean here. If you buy the DVD (or if you’ve already bought the DVD), keep your transaction information. In the future, if I release a high-definition version of this movie (it was shot in hi-def) either online or on physical media, or if I make available purchasable editions of the film in any way that are upgrades from the DVD, then you can contact me with your transaction information from buying the DVD on this site, and I will make sure you get a heavily discounted or at-cost version to you.

You will not be buying GET LAMP over and over again. I think that’s wrong and I think that’s a punishment to people who bought early and supported me when I really needed it.

There’s all sorts of logistical issues with this, and I am probably buying a bunch of headaches I don’t want, but there’s taking the easy way out and doing what’s right.

I am sure I will need to fill this out with details, but I wanted you to have the facts. I don’t know anyone else who has done this or is doing this.

They should.

Happy New Year!