This weblog went down due to a long-forgotten DNS change, and the main website was doing fine, so it went dormant for a couple years.
While there’s not been a lot of eventful items in the years since the last entry, it’s probably worth throwing out a few items of note.
First, as of this writing, the documentary continues to sell copies (a few a week) after the initial release of 2010. So 5 years! Not bad at all. At this point, I’d estimate there are about 250 physical copies left, after which I am not reprinting them (the documentary is likely to go fully digital-only at that point). So if you want the pretty packaging, then definitely stop by the site and get a copy.
One of the figures in the movie, Andrew Plotkin, had a kickstarter to go full-time interactive-fiction writing, and he got it, and he did! And a few years later (these things do take years), he released Hadean Lands, a fully-realized modern interactive fiction project, which is for sale, and which brought with it all sorts of technical innovations he worked on. Bravo!
I occasionally check in with other interviewees from the movie – they’ve all been doing well, as far as I know. Steve Meretzky moved to California, Nick Montfort released a lot of fun computer poetry, and footage from GET LAMP was used for an awards ceremony recognizing Mark Blank, Dave Lebling, and the rest of the contributors to Zork. (Nobody asked me, but that’s what Creative Commons is for – and honestly, I’m proud as hell it was used that way.)
The GET LAMP footage has been used extensively by The Digital Antiquarian, who has been doing brilliant, brilliant posts for years now based off those interviews and tons of other research. Until a couple other possible Infocom-related books come out (one’s been at it for 7 years), this is your best way to really get the amazing overview of the 1980s software world from both a business and creator standpoint.
I’ve made another documentary and am working on three more, and I work for the Internet Archive in San Francisco, and… well, look, just go visit my main weblog ASCII if you want that information.
And as for the picture above – I finally got the artwork for the packaging framed! This is the original, by Lukas Ketner, before he did a few digital manipulations for the final work. I’m glad it’s finally going up on my wall. What a great piece of work.
I’ll avoid making it another few years before another update.
GET LAMP continues to sell, regularly, to people who are finding out that such a documentary was made. I like to think they’ve really enjoyed what they’ve gotten in the mail. Someone asked a while ago if there were “still coins”. Well, there are – as many as copies that have been made, so if you order you still get one of the coins.
Recently, someone was shipped a duplicate, and he gave the copy to a friend who then went off to review it. The resulting review is rather positive.
Since the last entry, I’ve done a couple showings here and there of the film, but I was especially pleased to have a showing at Google, with none other than Don Woods and Marc Blank in the audience. I’d brought Don out for the GET LAMP premiere at PAX East, but I’d not seen Marc since our interview – and he looks great!
As with my previous work, the idea for these films is to provide something that wasn’t there before, and be a delight for people who remember a subject or are curious about it, and get all the information and backstory they could want. It’s doing that, and I’m happy to be part of the tech documentary landscape.
As I write this, a huge batch is going out, all over the world (well over half of the GET LAMP copies go outside of the US), and I hope to make a lot more people happy about this film in months to come.
People mail me with everything and anything interactive fiction these days. I had a bunch of “I should mention this” links in my back pocket, and I think I might as well put them all here.
INTERACTIVE FICTION TYPEWRITER
Actually, an Arduino-controlled typewriter, that can do most anything, but can play interactive fiction for our entertainment. A buddy I’ve known for a few years, Jim Munroe, was partially behind this. He counts as one of the missed documentary interviews, but it’s a pleasure to link to this.
‘A House in California’ is a surreal, narrative game about four characters who bring a house to life. These four characters are based on relatives of mine (two grandmothers and two great-grandmothers). The game is inspired aesthetically by Mystery House, developed in 1980 by Roberta & Ken Williams. But whereas Mystery House is a mystery story about greed and murder, A House in California is more like an Imagist poem about family and memory. A House in California is currently being featured in the Learn to Playexhibition at Euphrat Museum of Art, was also exhibited at the Meaningful Playconference at Michigan State University in October 2010 and is an entry in the 2011 IGF.
In GET LAMP, there is a sequence about a newer commercial era for Interactive Fiction. Among those are Andrew “Zarf” Plotkin, game creator of master class, who says that if he had a chance for a working company to hire him to make a game, he would be there and write games forever.
Well, he’s going to try.
Plotkin has announced a Kickstarter campaign where he will create a game called Hadean Lands, full-time. Designed for the iPhone with other platforms available during the fundraising, he will quit his job, write the game, work on the development environment, and release a bunch of code so others can follow in his footsteps.
He opened it for a little more than 30 days of potential funding, with a goal of $8000 to supplement his savings. He made $8000 in thirteen hours.
He’s now past $20,000 and growing. If you want to show support for someone doing interactive fiction, this is a great way to do it; Plotkin is the real deal and as his page explains, he has a very long pedigree both as an excellent author, and as a coder who has advanced the state of the programs that drive interactive fiction’s development.
I contributed almost immediately; I suggest others do as well.
Greetings from a wedding up near Woodstock, NY. The rain has been falling, the landscape is beautiful, and mobile phones absolutely don’t work at all.
Luckily there’s a satellite link for internet and here I am. After this lull (during which I need to mail out a huge amount of orders), I have showings pretty much all next week. Here’s some details on them.
CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIVERSITY, PITTSBURGH, PA, OCTOBER 4, 5PM
I have a showing at 5pm. My appearance is sponsored by the School of Computer Science, the Game Creation Society and CMU Computer Club and will be at Rashid Auditorium, Gates&Hillman Centers 4401, at 5pm.
SETON HILL UNIVERSITY, GREENSBURG, PA, OCTOBER 5, 7PM
After sitting in for some classes with Dennis Jerz from the film, there’ll be a showing that evening at 7pm. Details galore from this press release from Seton Hill: “Scott will present Get Lamp, a documentary on word-driven computer games in Seton Hill University’s Media Sphere, which is located behind Cecilian Hall in the Administration Building on the University’s hilltop campus. This event is open to the public and there is no fee to attend.”
TUFTS UNIVERSITY, MEDFORD, MA, OCTOBER 6, 7:30PM
Tufts is doing this awesome Interactive Fiction Month for October 2010, and I’m one of the events. I’ll be at the Tisch AV Room 304, along with Nick Montfort and Andrew Plotkin from the film. There’s all sorts of crazy cool presentations for the month, so check those out.
ALPHA ONE LABS, BROOKLYN, NY, OCTOBER 7, 7PM
An excellent hackerspace in Brooklyn, Alpha One labs is having a showing of my film on October 7th at 7pm. You need to get a free ticket to show up, so go to the page to get your information and ticket.
I got my hands on packages of the final, completed GET LAMP package, with the completed, mastered and duped DVDs. I’ve inspected the product, played through all the parts, the features, the hidden aspects, and the DVD-ROM section. It’s a go. It’s perfect, it’s what I wanted. So yes, GET LAMP is, by my standards, a real product.
I’ve gone ahead and switched the “pre-order” page and title to “order“. Orders made now will ship out next week. It’s a real thing. As I can I’ll add the other payment options and flesh out the website to include more information, but right now, it’s a product.
I’m currently in a hotel room in Las Vegas, the week of DEFCON and CG Expo, two big events that will have a large audience for this movie and DVD. As per plans and payments made weeks ago, I’m here with 260 copies of GET LAMP, shrinkwrapped and in boxes. (This is how I know it’s a product.) At my home are another 1100 copies, representing the pre-orders. I paid a notable sum to ensure to have all the copies everywhere they needed to be.
The original plan had been to ship the pre-orders from the 1100 copies and then have sales here in Vegas. That’s not going to happen. The pre-orders have to start shipping on August 2nd, and from then on.
The biggest hitch I hit was that when it was announcing shipping would happen, people started contacting me in droves to get new shipping addresses for the products. If it had been a few, I could have had my friends who are ready to do fulfillment place those aside – but it ended up being dozens and dozens. They’re still coming in. With thousands of dollars of postage required to do this shipping, it quickly outgrew the chance for me to drop this in the lap of my friends. I need to supervise this personally. (My friends said they’d come over to help to make sure it all happens fast.)
But this means that I will be selling items here at the event before pre-orders get shipped out. While I hope I made clear this situation wasn’t intentional, I do know it says something different than I’ve said up to this point. I know some people will be annoyed. But I hope people will understand what caused it to be this way. Obviously, the coins are numbered in order of people buying copies, so nobody here in Vegas is getting a sub-1100 number for their coins.
The weblog changes from this point – from speculation and explanation of ideas to news of fulfillments, reviews, and upcoming screenings, with and without me. This is the fun part – when people finally get a chance to see what I’ve spent the last four years working on.
So, while you’re waiting for your copy of GET LAMP to arrive (or, as I’ve been told by some, waiting for the copies to start shipping before ordering), may I bring your attention to one of the many helpful introductions to modern Interactive Fiction that are popping up in the world.
It’s called The Gameshelf, a video podcast where you are given a solid introduction to a game or style of game. #8 has just arrived and it’s all IF, all the time.
It’s in high definition, has awesome production values, and really does a solid job of introducing people to the greatness, the problems, and most importantly, the solutions to dealing with interactive fiction. It also dumps into your lap a whole range of games to try out, including ways to try them out immediately. The main GET LAMP site will hopefully follow in the footsteps of this excellent work. (Actually, two interviewees from GET LAMP, Nick Montfort and Andrew Plotkin, appear in this episode as well.)