GET LAMP Premiere at PAX East

Posted: December 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: production | 4 Comments »


GET LAMP will have its world premiere at the PAX EAST convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo, a convention that sprang from the gaming webcomic Penny Arcade and has grown into its own thing, encompassing all manner of amazing events and attendance. We’re talking tens of thousands of attendees at this event, which is held in Seattle, Washington. A couple years back they decided they needed an east coast version, and PAX East was born.

Besides the premiere of the film at this event, I’ll be hosting a GET LAMP Panel and will be hanging out with many folks from the film who will be in attendance.

PAX East will be held March 26-28 at the Hynes convention center in the heart of Boston.

More details will be forthcoming.

Get Lamp Pre-Ordering Now Open, with Special Discount

Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: production | 13 Comments »

Here’s the big news: GET LAMP is going to be released in March of 2010.

Right now I’m focusing on editing, features, and packaging for what will be a 2-DVD set. I expect there will be a digital release and other formats as well, but I have no details on that at this time. In fact, there are many, many more details to come. The main reason I’m mentioning this at all right now is I am extending a special offer to “the fans”, as it were.

The documentary 2-DVD set will be $40. This I already know.

If you pre-order it now, however, it will cost you $30, a 25% discount.

The page for pre-ordering does not have much information on the packaging, what’s in it, what the whole thing is about. This is intentional; partially because some information is in flux, and partially because this offer is for the people who have been supporting me and helping me over the past few years. For these folks, they intend to buy it basically sight unseen; they just want the word. Well, here’s the word. And that’s why the discount is there.

I’m closing up the discounted price at the end of December. After that, it goes to $40 as I put up screenshots, packaging shots as they become available, and other information.

So if you were waiting for your chance, my wonderful friends and supporters, this is the time to pre-order.

Thank you.

A Quick Introduction by J. Robinson Wheeler

Posted: December 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction | 1 Comment »

Big news is coming up, but before then, enjoy this speech from J. Robinson Wheeler.

Choose Your Own Animation

Posted: November 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction | 2 Comments »


A portion of the GET LAMP documentary discusses Choose Your Own Adventure books, also known as “game books” and a bunch of other names (not all were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and there were thousands of them). While there’s no direct lineage between text adventures and CYOA (I checked this, there really isn’t), there’s that same sense of chopped-up narrative and the unique interesting aspects of the feeling of freedom of destiny that both of these products brought to the world. And there is a little overlap here and there; for example, Steve Meretzky created a number of gamebook based on the Zork world at one point.

Recently, after over a year of work, Christian Swinehart released an online exhibit allowing you to experience these books interactively, graphically, and via animations. It is, frankly, amazing.

The exhibit has an explanation at this page, but I would suggest going right to one of the gallery pages and just experiencing it. It’s that amazing. Amazing work, Christian.

Interactive Fiction Competition Winners Announced

Posted: November 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction | 1 Comment »

The Interactive Fiction Competition Winners have been announced. Congratulations to Rover’s Day OutBroken Legs, and Snowquest for winning!

While playing these three games based on their winning scores is encouraged, bear in mind the others are good too. Check the results page to see the weighted scores, and consider playing the newest of the new in (award-winning) interactive fiction!

The 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition

Posted: October 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction | 2 Comments »

As is traditional, the Interactive Fiction Competition (or IFcomp, as it is generally known) has begun. Within the community it’s pretty well known (and obviously the entrants are very well aware of it) but since the readers of this site might not be keeping on the latest and greatest of what’s going on in Interactive Fiction….

Every year, there’s a competition of new interactive fiction creations. Currently run by Stephen Granade but with a bunch of people working to ensure things go smoothly, this competition is basically where the work of months and occasionally years come out to show their stuff, be judged, and then be crowned with a variety of awards after the judging period.

After the judging period, a ceremony is held online on IFmud, and all the winners are announced.

Walkthroughs are provided for easier judging, or you can play various ones and vote.  It all depends how you want to go about it, if you decide to judge. There’s suggestions for the best ways to judge and how to approach it.

Or you can wait, as many people do, and see which ones win and play the winners. The winners list, while not perfect as a reference guide of what to play (obviously judges have biases like everyone else), it’s a very good initial first step.

A number of people play the entries and write spoiler-free summaries of what to expect.

Some people enter games to make a “point”, and obviously the play value may be reduced. Other creators, somewhat reknown, will submit games under pseudonyms so the stuff is judged on its own merits (although you often can tell a practiced hand is behind what you’re playing). And some people work for years on a piece and drop it into the mix and blow everyone all away.

Check it out!

Somewhere Nearby is a Colossal Cave Paper

Posted: September 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: production, Text Adventure History | 2 Comments »

Finishing off a first version of the Adventure portion of GET LAMP, I am reminded of some of the shortcomings of the documentary form – when there’s a ton of information, an absolute pile of detail or aspects about a subject, you will be given a tantalizing amount of insight into a subject but crave more.

Or maybe you won’t crave more. For some, the subject covered over a few minutes will be sufficient. But for some of us, a certain few, you want to find out every last thing. And not just find it out… find it out definitively, where observation and verification rule the day, and not best-guesses and what-is-saids polluting the landscape.

To that end, as regards the game Adventure and its roots in real caving, as well as exactly what parts the two authors played in the project, you will simply not do any better than Dennis G. Jerz’ Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original “Adventure” in Code and in Kentucky. It is, very simply, the last word on the subject – I can’t imagine anyone going further than this into the history and aspects of Adventure any of us might want an answer to.

Jerz was and is critical to GET LAMP – his project proved to me that it was possible, very possible, to gain access to the cave that Adventure was based on. I had been told this was simply not within the realm of something I’d achieve, and here, he had done it. It drove me through a lot of barriers, intended or unintended, as I got there.

Several people photographed and mentioned in this paper appear in the film, including Roger Brucker, Nick Montfort, Noah Wardruip-Fruin, Don Woods, Andrew Plotkin, Warren Robinett, Jerz himself, and Dave West. Again, this is based on Jerz’ efforts and his highlighting the cast of characters I might meet.

For example:


Dennis Jerz, in the cave, pointing to the rusty rod (without the star on the end). (Photo by Lynn Brucker)


Jason Scott, next to the same rusty rod, a year or two later. (Photo by Peter Bosted).

Believe me, these are footsteps I have no misgivings of walking in, shoulders I have no issue whatever standing on.

Seriously, this paper is as good as it gets. If you’ve already known about it, great. If you haven’t… you’re welcome.

Nick Montfort’s 2009 IF List

Posted: September 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction | No Comments »

Nick Montfort’s been mentioned a number of times in association with this production. With a doctorate in text adventures, and what is likely the first academic book on text adventures (Twisty Little Passages), he’s an authority on the subject, and a great guy too.

Just recently, he took it upon himself to answer the simple question: It’s 2009 and you want to play some decent interactive fiction – where to start?

The resulting weblog entry on his weblog Post Position gives some of his personal recommendations.

Here’s the list reposted here, although of course you should also read his original posting for links. What I like about the list is how it shows how the form has matured from the early days, and the plentiful directions people/authors are taking the medium.

Anchorhead by Michael Gentry, 1998

A sprawling horror based on the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, with exquisite attention to detail and compelling characters and places.

Bad Machine by Dan Shiovitz, 1999

The surface of this game seems to be a confusion of code, error messages, and a small bit of English, but its strange science fiction world is deeply systematic.

For a Change by Dan Schmidt, 1999

Schmidt’s game programming is better known thanks to Guitar Hero but before he coded that up he was inspired by Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String and wrote this piece of interactive fiction, which features an odd lexicon and curious, magical assemblages.

Varicella by Adam Cadre, 1999

A sort of revenge-play, difficult, complex, and worth several attempts. A strange palace holds intrigues, surprises, an array of excellent characters who wander and plot against the player character, the palace minister.

Shade by Andrew Plotkin, 2000

The most famous “one room game in your apartment.” What seems to be a sleepless night undergoes a disturbing transformation as the character, undertaking ordinary actions, uncovers a different reality.

Slouching towards Bedlam by Daniel Ravipinto and Star C. Foster, 2003

An intricate steampunk piece with that deals with insanity and language and offer several different concluding threads.

Whom the Telling Changed by Aaron Reed, 2005

A reframing and reworking of Gilgamesh, the first known epic, which combines elements of hypertext-like word selection with the usual command-based IF interface.

Bronze by Emily Short, 2006

Reworks the beauty and the beast legend, embedding memories in an architectural space in compelling ways. It has a special “novice mode” and a status-line compass that will aid players in understanding and navigating IF locations.

Lost Pig (And Place Under Ground) by Admiral Jota, 2007

A hilarious underground romp that brings every major type of puzzle together in miniature form. The really wonderful aspect is the orcish, semi-literate narration that is used throughout.

Violet by Jeremy Freese, 2008

A graduate student locks himself in his office to try to make progress on his dissertation. The puzzles, as the player seeks to overcome distraction, are amusing, but the atmosphere and the voice of the character’s absent, imagined girlfriend are extraordinary.

Great Map of Adventure

Posted: September 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, Text Adventure History | No Comments »

A warning – any maps you look at for a game you haven’t played will undoubtedly spoil the game for you. If you haven’t played Adventure yet, what are you doing here? You should check it out; play it for free either here (flash version) or here (java version) or even here (java version).

Maps are, of course, inherently spoilers by their very nature – they tell you where everything is, how much left you need to explore, and sometimes how to solve the puzzles to get there.

They’re usually scrawled out while the game is being played, or drawn by the software company/author behind the game itself to provide as a solution or hints.  They’re rarely nice works of art by themselves.

I thought this map, done by Mari Michaelis, was particularly well done:


I also find it surreal that I’ve actually been inside some of these locations.


Posted: September 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: production | 19 Comments »

I’m pursuing a bunch of ideas for the distribution of GET LAMP. I thought I’d take a moment to ask people to write in with their own opinions. I’ve created a survey below. Feel free to answer, but don’t feel you’re committing to buy it. Thanks for your time.

More entries will be coming very soon, by the way.

UPDATE: The survey was closed on September 20th. Thanks, everyone.