Posted: October 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 3 Comments »

So GET LAMP finally made it into the IMDB.

Getting into the IMDB has the same cachet for independent filmmakers that getting in the phone book has for new homeowners or getting into a trade organization has for craftspeople: it means, in its own way, that you have arrived. You’re doing this thing and you’re legit, you’re declaring that you are what you are and some registered group out there recognized you.

This already happened for me back with the BBS Documentary – once I got into the IMDB, it was just amazing to have my name and the names of people I’d interviewed in that collection. Since I also had (and still have) a mission of getting technical heroes recognized, being able to have Ward Christensen and Tom Jennings get up in the lights where they belong.

So, some caveats.

First of all, the IMDB redesigned its pages late this year and the redesign is absolutely horrible, about as worse as it could be. Data is hard to find, the look is cluttered and caked with ads. The funny part is, sometimes you will see this new redesign and sometimes you will not – I’ve not found rhyme and reason for it. I would love if they kept it to the old look, but just in case you visit it and go “wow, this looks awful”… well, it does. But IMDB still has the cachet, and here we are.

Next, having done a bunch of submitting to IMDB over the years, both for my films and for others, the process by which data is ingested is very odd, and very slow. I submitted the full set of data about this movie a few months ago, and it was rejected. Not because the data was bad, but because, according to the e-mail, they were just too busy to ingest it, and were kicking it back. Regardless, the e-mail said I needed to add more data, even though it made clear nobody had looked at the entry. So I re-submitted the data absolutely untouched… and then it got in.

But weirdly, it initially only had the name, the date it was made, my name, and Tony Longworth‘s name.  Then, 48 hours later, more information from my submission showed up, including interviewee lists and someone else’s “plot” submission. I think someone saw it and added more names into the list, because now Bob Bates is in there twice, and Mike Berlyn is in there as both Mike and Michael Berlyn. Oh, and as of this writing, Steve Meretzky isn’t listed at all – but I sure as heck put him in the submission.

Maybe if I was paying for IMDB Pro, it would come faster, or maybe not. But regardless, that’s the weirdness.

Oh, and the image of the GET LAMP Cover? You actually pay for that – $55. Something to think about when you look at all those headshots.

So here I am! I’ve arrived (again) and I hope all the rest of the data will come in soon. Hooray!

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Halloween with the Lurking Horror

Posted: October 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Sorry for the lateness in announcing this; it’s been a rather busy day packaging GET LAMPs. You people order a lot of GET LAMPS!

The Boston/Cambridge Interactive Fiction group is called The People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction, and they’ve been having regular meetings for over a year now. I’ve attended a few, and they’re always great.

But if you live in the New England area, and loved Infocom games, this is a pretty special event they’ve got going.

Tomorrow, Halloween, they will be playing The Lurking Horror, the Infocom horror game meant to exact a feeling of Lovecraftian suspense and mood.  It’ll be streamed over, so you can watch them play along.

After this, comes a tour of some of the locations at MIT that inspired the game… led by Dave Lebling, creator of The Lurking Horror.

Need I say more?

Go to their site to check out the details.

JET LAMP: Plaistow NH, October 27th

Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

I’m appearing at the Plaistow Library on the 27th of October (tomorrow as of this writing), and having a fun showing for folks in both the southern NH and Boston area. Old friends, new ones, and of course a documentary I’m pretty proud of.

The show begins at 7pm in the Mary Nelson Room.

While I’m here, did you know there’s a cool directory for libraries? Here’s the entry for the Plaistow.

See you there!

Mari’s Map

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Text Adventure History | No Comments »

During the JET LAMP showing over at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, I got to meet someone who’s work had been floating around the production for a while.  Her name is Mari Michaelis, and she drew a map.

Well, not just a map – a really cool map. It’s one of the original Adventure, and she worked on it just last year, and it’s really nice.

Adventure has, as you might imagine, tons of maps out there from the decades of players trying to make sense of the layout of the cave and surrounding area – some are basic pencil drawings, while others are refined, design-rich presentations. This is one of the second ones.

I considered for no small time to put it in GET LAMP, but opted for some others instead. But I always liked Mari’s take. And meeting her, I got to tell her too.

I’m just including small images of the maps, so nothing gets spoiled for you.

If you want to check them in full, just head over to Mari Michaelis’ site.

Oh, and the folks at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library are great. What a wonderful library – it’s a lucky group who have that place at their disposal.


Posted: October 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Text Adventure History | 5 Comments »

This may take a little explanation.

Before GET LAMP, I did a documentary on computer bulletin boards called BBS: The Documentary. This documentary is actually eight documentaries, and one of them is on a very specific part of BBS history, the ANSI art scene. Called “Artscene”, it has all sorts of folks in it. Including this guy:

His name is Ben, he’s in the movie for precisely 7 seconds. He says he likes the ANSI art group iCE.

So, it turns out Ben hosted my appearance at Alpha One Hackerspace last week – I barely recognized him, as seven years had passed. I mentioned he should try to do a little ANSI art now. He deferred, saying he just didn’t have the chops.

Wrong.  He just wrote this to me:

Just wanted to say again that I had a great time at the screening in Brooklyn. I grabbed a copy of PabloDraw and started playing around with ANSI again, for the first time in 17 years (well, 13 if you count half an hour in 1997 before giving up due to lack of inspiration). So here’s the result. It really helps that PabloDraw’s keyboard shortcuts are the same as TheDraw’s were back in the day; it really is like riding a bike.

Welcome back, Ben.

JET LAMP: Reminder of Upcoming Tour Dates, Tour Business

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

Two upcoming dates this week for the JET LAMP tour.

First, I’m at GOOGLE CHICAGO tomorrow (Thursday, October 20th), at an open-to-the-public event which includes free pizza and soft drinks. If you’re in the Chicago area and can get over there (20 W. Kinzie St, 8th floor) for 5:30-6pm, this is the big local event.  Full details are at the Chicago Interactive Fiction Group site.   A few of the interviewees are likely to be there.

Second, I’m at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library in Shirley, NY (that’s on Long Island) on Friday (October 21st).  They’re at 407 William Floyd Parkway in Shirley and the show starts at 7pm.  Here’s the library information page on the showing. Of course, it’s also open to the public.

I have a showing at the Plaistow Public Library in Plaistow, NH which I’ll mention next week, and some fun dates down in Maryland for November.

After that, it gets sparse. It may mean the end of the tour.

A few people are contacting me about future dates, and believe me, I love nothing more than visiting a room of people watching GET LAMP and then discussing it with them afterwards, but I can’t afford to fly myself to too many locations (unless I’m doing other stuff there and/or am reimbursed or otherwise have it be a huge location with a lot of folks showing up). So it’s touch and go as to what happens after that date. I’m able to drive pretty easily in the Northeast US, of course, and a few people are looking into stuff there.

So feel free to contact me about showings and I’m always up for discussions. At some point, I will write a massive wrap-up of the whole event. It was a fine experiment, and a success.

See you soon, Chicago, Shirley, Plaistow, Maryland.

To My Esteemed Colleages at FLAiR

Posted: October 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 23 Comments »

This is a message for FLAiR, the group that released a DVD Rip of GET LAMP today.

First of all, I knew the day would come that GET LAMP would be turned into a torrent, regardless of anything I said in any manner about it.  With that in mind, your NFO file was particularly heartwarming, including such paragraphs as:

As is common with Jason Scott releases, the DVD is packed with extras, yet we’ve chosen to include none of them. Why? Because he deserves your money, that’s why! Because there’s no greedy corporation behind this, no corrupt distributor, no MPAA no nothing. Because this guy curses digital data lobotomy as much as you do, because he *let* you download this film, because we wanna see what he’s able to do next. If you only buy a single DVD this year, let it be this one.

Know that I appreciate that sentiment very much, and I feel that, all things considered, I am understood here.

However, I’ve just downloaded the torrent, and while the image quality and sound quality is excellent, you’ve made a mistake.

The DVD, as I’ve mentioned before, is interactive with a non-interactive version as well. To accomplish this and save space on the DVD (since it’s packed with stuff), I have a set of discrete tracks that are either summoned (via the interactive choice) or played as a playlist (via the non-interactive choice). Unintentionally (and I do really mean it, it was unintentional), this has made the movie a tad harder to rip, because the movie is in pieces scattered throughout the DVD, and not in any obvious sequential order.

Playing the AVI that FLAiR has released shows that you have ripped only some of the tracks, and ripped one extra one that shouldn’t be in there. To wit:

The Non-Interactive playlist is:

  • Introduction
  • Terminal with “Restore” Choice
  • Playing the Game
  • Puzzles
  • Modern Scene
  • Credits (With Zoe Blade Music “Walking in the Rain”)

But in the rip I have now seen, you have:

  • Introduction
  • Terminal with “Restore” Choice
  • Playing the Game
  • Modern Scene
  • Terminal with User Interaction
  • Credits (With Zoe Blade Music “Walking in the Rain”)

The “Puzzles” sequence is completely gone, and the Terminal with User Interaction, which is meant to be played when you choose “Interactive Version”, is played again before credits.

While, again, I am pleased you wrote such kind things about me, this mixed-up version makes it look like I made a flawed DVD with doubled scenes, and takes away the entire puzzle sequence, which I am rather proud of.

Please fix, if you can.


UPDATE: A “repack” has been released, fixing my concerns. Thank you.

JET LAMP: Chicago Date Added! Free Pizza! October 21st

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

FREE PIZZA! What? Oh yes, the details.

The Chicago Interactive Fiction group is sponsoring a showing of GET LAMP on October 21st, at the Google Chicago location, in Chicago, IL.

From their list of details:

LOCATIONGoogle Chicago office, 20 W. Kinzie St, 8th floor, Chicago IL

TIME: Thursday, October 21, 2010


  • 5:30pm: doors open
  • 6pm: screening begins
  • 7:15pm: post-show discussion with the director
  • 8:15pm: wrap-up

Google will be providing not just the screening space, but also plentiful pizza and soft drinks.

Chicago fans, hope to see you there!

A Little on Will Crowther

Posted: October 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Text Adventure History | No Comments »

As most people know, Will Crowther himself does not appear in GET LAMP. I have people who worked with him, I have an authority on Adventure mention his preference to stay out of the limelight, and I naturally credit him for the creation of this game and the genre. But the man himself, no.

While researching the movie and preparing to shoot, I knew even then it was unlikely he’d appear. When he and Don Woods were given a special games industry award for being pioneers (by none other than Steve Meretzky and Bob Bates), Don showed, Will didn’t. I figured if you weren’t interested in being flown across the country and given an award for being so awesome, the chances of some dorky filmmaker winning you over was pretty much nil.

Here and there, in mail and in Q&As on tour, people ask me why Crowther declined (specifically, I had people contact him who knew how to and to let me know if he was willing, and nobody had him answer in the affirmative). I have answered this way and that. But the core answer is: He doesn’t discuss Adventure much anymore. I had one person indicate he was somewhat sick of the subject by the early 1980s.

I am sure I could have employed all manner of trickery to get him on camera and get something in the movie. I don’t work that way. I also didn’t go ahead and pull up photos of him (the one I use is not very informative) so he would have the privacy he wants. There was a great image of him as a caver that is in the files of the Cave Research Foundation – and there it will stay.

But if you want some idea of both the triumph of Will Crowther and some of the between-the-lines reason he doesn’t go out of his way to talk about it, there’s this article:  Spelunking the American Imagination, by Julian Dibbell. I can think of no finer contextual article of the surrounding aspects of Adventure‘s creation.

During the research phase, I stumbled on this pretty obscure, poorly labelled and indexed (for search engines) interview with Will Crowther from 1994.  He mostly discusses his ARPANET work (as he should!) but gets veered into the creation of Adventure in the beginning.

Enjoy the reading.

Fulfillment, Reviews, Scratches

Posted: October 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

I’ve been cranking at fulfillment, getting out as many of the packages as I can as quickly as possible. I have a workflow now, although it’s a little weird in places. For domestics, it’s a dream:

Domestic Orders up to October 10

This catches the domestic (US) orders basically up to about 12 hours ago. All these got into the mail.

A lot of people who order the double-pack (GET LAMP and BBS) are finding this kind of odd thing with the mail: The GET LAMP gets there on a certain day, and BBS gets there a few days later. This appears to be because I use to print a pre-postage label for GET LAMP while BBS gets a handwritten label. As a result, there’s a gap. A few dozen times, I’ve gotten a letter saying “What happened to BBS!” only to be followed by “Never mind”. I expect to keep getting them but now you know a possible explanation.

The rest of the orders (Canada and rest of world) are to September 26 as of this second, but they’re going to be going out over the next two days in huge piles, so that number is about to change very quickly.

I got a burst of orders due to a flattering review in Ars Technica.  Dozens of orders in a very short time, filling my e-mail inbox while I was at a wedding. (Don’t worry, I had it on silent.)

There have been a bunch of other reviews, which I really appreciate.

There’s probably more, I’m missing.

Every day brings a few more orders, from all over, thanks!

One small bummer: someone decided my car wasn’t parked in a good location (a parking spot). Or the alien base rotating mars sent them a laser-beam message. Regardless, they decided to key the car.

Achievement Unlocked: Key Jason Scott's CarAchievement Unlocked: Key Jason Scott's Car

If you see my car after what is likely to be a somewhat expensive paint process, I’ll appreciate showing your support in another fashion.