JET LAMP: Seattle and Portland

Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 1 Comment »

The JET LAMP tour starts off at the undisputed king of computer gamer conventions, PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington from September 3rd-5th.  After the excellent premiere and experience of GET LAMP at PAX East in March, I knew I wanted to have some presence at the west coast, original PAX.  Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for submitting panels (I was too busy finishing the film) and so there’s no within-the-convention-center panel/screening at the event. But fear not! Besides walking around with copies and my lamp, I’ll be hanging out at the Interactive Fiction Suite.  Just like the PAX East version, this will be a suite in a nearby hotel (in this case, the Sheraton, where some PAX events are happening as well). The planned screening is at 8pm on Saturday, a cozy showing with Q&A.

In Portland, Oregon, I’ll be at the incredible Backspace Cafe on September 9th, as a special feature of the Portland Commodore User’s Group. They really went all out finding me a place – it’s beautiful.  And even more fun, the venue is right next to the world-famous Ground Kontrol classic arcade.  The venue holds a couple hundred people, so don’t hesitate to get the word out.

I’ll be bringing copies of GET LAMP to both events (and all the rest of the events, too).

The JET LAMP page will be filling up rather quickly in the next week or so. Watch for changes or announcements here.

Let’s get this tour started!

Hello Coin 2000

Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 5 Comments »

I didn’t expect to have coin 2000 show up so soon.  But sals have been brisk, there were an awful lot of pre-orders, and before I knew it, coin 1999 went out the door.

Luckily, when it was looking pretty much like coin 2000 was going to come and go, I called up the Monterey Company and ordered another 1000 coins, a considerable expense, but a required one. GET LAMPs come with coins.  They were able to move as quickly as possible, and minted them out before I began the JET LAMP tour later this week.

I BELIEVE this will hold me for the rest of the year, but no complaints if I’m proven wrong.  I expect that very soon the delay between ordering a GET LAMP copy and it going out the door will be a matter of hours.

Bye, coin 2000!

The Catching Up Never Ends

Posted: August 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 11 Comments »

1282853839095 Laura the Happy Mail Lady Kurt the Happy Mailman

The last week or so has been pretty much nothing but packaging boxes and catching up on the enormous number of backorders that had built up. I was caught up to orders made on August 3rd, but had a bunch more to go to catch up to August 18th, which is where I am now. So that’s pretty much all orders made in the last year for GET LAMP. (There’s about 10-12 orders that still need some fixing up today, but that’s all that’s left of them). This translated to something like 300 packages, international and domestic, of GET LAMP.

If this isn’t success, I don’t know what is.  Functioning as your own distributor (and tour booking agent) may not work for everyone, but it sure as heck works for me.  Over 1700 copies of this movie have gone out the door, with a bunch more waiting on a Monday shipment of more collector coins before also going out the door.

At some point, the rumor started that the collector coins are only for pre-orders – not true. Lower numbered coins are only for pre-orders, obviously, because they ordered first. But every sold copy goes out with a coin. I had to order further coins because I was struck with such a wave of orders, even my calling my friends at Monterey Coins as soon as I could afford the next batch has meant this 2-3 day gap. (They’ve worked really hard to get the batch to me as fast as possible, too, so bully for them.)

To keep perspective here, GET LAMP has sold more copies since it went up for sale in December (so 9 months, roughly) than my previous film, BBS, sold in two years. Wow!

I’m seeing lots of happy folks in twitter feeds, on weblogs, in message bases, and in e-mail to me. That’s a great feeling.

Back to the labelmaker!

Tony Longworth

Posted: August 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

Tony Longworth provides the first music you hear in the main GET LAMP episode; his full and rich chords were just the opening I was looking for.

His music is dark and intense, and is a different feeling from Zoe Blade’s airy ambiance. It was a really nice counterpoint to what she was providing.

After I contacted Tony, he let me have the full run of his solo works and works of his band, Flesh Resonance.  From this, I found a number of pieces that play critical roles in various episodes. In both the one-hour PAX mix and the various interactive branches, you hear his music in the opening and closing. And for a sequence which I made about the whole commercial era becoming what seemed to be an unstoppable juggernaut, I mixed a couple of his works together, and made this markedly unforgettable collage. He’s been enormously supportive of the whole project for a very long time.

Now, Tony has been inspired by Zoe’s releasing of her music under CC and released an EP of music under the same terms.

Entitled, “The Mind Electric: A Selection of Music from GET LAMP”, Tony’s compiled the half-dozen tracks I used and creative commons licensed them.  Check it out, and also check out the rest of his work – I only used a tiny sliver of many great albums of dark, foreboding music and intense soundscapes from his collection.

Housecleaning (A Mail Update)

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 8 Comments »


My dad is awesome and I love him very much, but we have some incompatible outlooks on life.  Luckily, they’re not too bad, but they do occasionally crop up out of nowhere.

Visiting my combination bedroom and GET LAMP distribution point, we were discussing a variety of subjects related to economics, net neutrality, Google projects, Sun/Oracle, the various hilarities related to current politics, when, in that 180 degree turn in the conversation that only parents can achieve smoothly, he gently enquired:

“So, when are you going to start looking for a job?”

I looked up from my desk, where on my left were stacks of GET LAMP coin-box packages, and my piles of customs forms, and my boxes of coins, and said “Dad, this IS my job.”

And seriously, it really is. I’m spending 10-12 hours a day on packaging, printing labels, filling out customs forms, tracking bounces, contacting requests, and preparing special sets of outgoing packages.  It is a full-time process right now, and while I am easily going to overtake the orders, there were 8 months of backorders to fill.  As a special bonus, I’m getting close to running through the initial 2000 coins for GET LAMP and a week and a half ago had to go ahead and order the next 1000. In other words, I am employed, but the jerk upstairs who signs my paychecks is in fact me, and I don’t get paychecks, although I guess if I wanted to impress my dad I could write checks to myself once a week.

I think I’ll hold out on doing that.


So here’s where we are, for people generally wanting to keep up on things.



If you’re in this group and want to verify your address with me, I’d appreciate it. I’m contacting people by hand to do verification and I’m stepping through this slowly, because there’s a lot of people in both groups (over 130!)



That sounds pretty crazy for the Internationals, but wait:


International postage is expensive and I am doing these in huge batches, causing thousands in postage costs in a short time.  Every day, I’m highly amusing my local post offices with my massive piles of DVDs, and some of the clerks have become like Rosie the Riveter with the packages. One of them hopes you all like the movie, by the way. I told her about the people posing with coins. She was happy to hear it.

I’m working to get these packages out very fast and kill the backlog. I promise I am.

Updates about this will continue, as they happen.

GET LAMP: The Tour (Update: Page is Live)

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 15 Comments »

This came up very fast, within the last 12 hours actually, so if it seems like you haven’t heard of this before, that’s why.

Last year, the JetBlue airline offered an insane “All You Can Fly” deal for one month, from the beginning of September through to the beginning of October. A lot of people took advantage of it, shot documentaries, did travelogues, or just decided to have an unforgettable month.  I wished I could have gone along, but I had a day job then and it wasn’t the kind that bought into those sort of dreams. Or any dreams, come to think of it.

Well, they did it again. It took me 30 seconds to consider it.

So, I already have things going on through September, but I had a lot of days with nothing specific planned. I guess I now have things planned.

This is where the people who have enjoyed or wish to enjoy the movie come in. After considering what to do with all this, I have decided a GET LAMP tour is the way to go.

Here’s how it’ll work.

Obviously, my motion is dictated by the JetBlue flight map.  If they don’t fly somewhere, I can’t go there.

If you’re located in one of those destinations, have a screening room or a way to show things on a projector or otherwise can let me show GET LAMP, send me a mail at

I’d prefer open events, but if you’re part of a company and want something internal, I’ll happily talk to you. Doing something during the day at a business and then that evening at a hacker space or art space would be ideal.

I’m comfortable with crowds, generally entertaining, and I love Q&As. The movie is one I’m proud of and will happily discuss for quite some time. I think the subject is also fascinating and will happily discuss that as well.

For people who know me primarily for my other endeavors and mostly just want me to show up in general, I understand and am happy to talk about those things too.

Does this sound interesting to you? Mail me and we’ll discuss it.

As dates become known, I’ll add them to the site and make sure they’re well announced.

A promotional tour! Who’d have thought it.

Update: There is now an official JET LAMP Tour Page which I’ll be updating.

Zork Stained Glass Window

Posted: August 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Text Adventure History | 3 Comments »

I’ve been getting photos and contributions from people either inspired by GET LAMP or figuring I’d want to see something related to text adventures they have in their possession.  I appreciate this very, very much. This falls into the latter camp.

Todd Gaines tells me that he and a  friend did this in 1983, making one for each of them and utilizing actual stained glass. This is an actual stained glass window!

Zork Stained Glass Window

This is an example of the kind of inspiration text adventures brought out that I was worried might have been forgotten.  Great job, Todd!

Tech Support and Lamp Game Pages

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 10 Comments »

Because GET LAMP has actual interactivity in the movie, it relies on a number of DVD specifications that, it turns not, are implemented strangely on various software and hardware players. They all work, to be sure, but some seem to not want to highlight menu items.  The easy solution is just to run the non-interactive version, but I wanted folks to at least have the chance to enjoy what they paid for properly. Therefore, there is now a GET LAMP Technical Support page that walks you through what’s going on. If any similar issues arise, that’s the page they’ll end up in.

The fact that highlighting within chapter-located links is implemented spottily among DVD software/hardware players showed up right towards the end of things, and I went with forging ahead with the solution instead of some other possibilities that would make things even worse. (Imagine the fun I had checking out those.) DVDs are basically huge trees of interlinked assets with properties on these links, and players all have different attitudes about it. Most surprising is VLC, which you would think would play most everything right (and which is the player I suggest for everything). It doesn’t highlight! But I suspect that this feature I used is in such a tiny percentage of DVDs made that nobody cares. Maybe somebody will care now! That’d be great!

When I was working on this documentary, I wanted it to have certain aspects of the very games they were talking about. One of these aspects was the interactivity, but another was that sense of seeing something differently, of engaging with the work in a way that was completely at odds with how you would normally interact with it.  This led to the fact that there’s a lamp in nearly every shot.  I’ve had a number of letters about people trying to find them all, so I figured it was time to be clear which didn’t have a lamp shot (usually because I only used closeup shots of the person). Therefore, the new Lamp Game page lays it all out for you. Happy hunting.

Another Round of Shipments

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 6 Comments »

I shipped out a few hundred international packages today, along with a few Adventurers’ Club boxes (I have to personally verify mailing addresses for those) and some complimentary interviewee copies (same).  The postage for this run was $1,100, in case you’re wondering how all that goes.

GET LAMP Packing August 2010

I estimate I’m up to all international orders up to December 24, 2009, and all domestic orders up to August 5th. That international date sounds absolutely horrible but you have to realize there were a metric ton of pre-orders when I put out that special ‘blind fan’ price (buy it with no information about the final product, at a discount). Once that hump hops over, it shoots through the months rather quickly.

I’ve looked into various online postage for international packages, and it’s just too weird and heinous. The method I have is tedious but not entirely bad, and the resulting package is cleanly marked and looks like just the kind of thing that should go through with no problem.

If you’ve never done it, international mailing in the US is one of those things that’s basically setting up a process, no matter how weird and strange, so that it does what you need to do, and in my case, then doing it a couple thousand times. Choosing the right things to declare, the value to place on the items, and the rest… it’s all part of the big setup. And then the tedium.

All the internationals up to about July 18th are already packaged – it’s just a matter of labeling and going to the post office. Against all odds, I found a post office that is excited and delighted (really) about this many packages and this much postage going through them – I think they’re worried about budget cuts and the sudden influx of thousands of dollars in postage is going to make things very good for them. They’ve even given me a phone number to call to let them know I’m coming in so they can have staff waiting for me.

Isn’t life weird.

Zoe Blade

Posted: August 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 5 Comments »

Zoe Blade saved bacon I didn’t even know needed saving, some time ago.

When I was first trying to figure out what music would work with GET LAMP, I was editing sequences with no idea what would go in the background.  It’s easy to fall into using just any old music you find on the internet, or even worse, use very popular, very commercial songs you have no hope of paying the rights to.

So in my searches, I happened along to Zoe Blade, a musician in the UK, whose sweeping chords and long, thoughtful pieces added a whole new feeling to the sequences I was putting together. We made contact and over the next months, we generated or pulled in tons of musical pieces that ended up all over the GET LAMP DVDs.

So Zoe (along with some others, of course), turns the feelings of GET LAMP into ones of contemplation, ease (or unease) and really brings so much to the table.  I think it’s fair to say the documentary wouldn’t be half as compelling without her music.

She gets a credit if you flip through the Introduction section of Disc 1, along with Tony Longworth, who I’ll talk about in the future.

So, most of the music that we might think of as “GET LAMP Music” has turned up on an album that Zoe has now put out, called Hello Calm.

And, in a wonderful kindness, Zoe has released it in all sorts of formats, from FLAC to MP3, and is also releasing it Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, like GET LAMP is.

So go ahead and enjoy what could be thought of as “Music From GET LAMP”, although to be honest GET LAMP is “the movie with music by Zoe Blade”.