Disc Artwork

Posted: February 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 2 Comments »

For the disc artwork, I wanted something relatively simple.  So I purchased reprint rights from Lukas Ketner for the sketches of his artwork. (I don’t believe that purchasing the rights to the final artwork automatically means process artwork, and anyway Lukas’ price for reprint rights was very generous.)

Here are the two images, as they appear on the template:



Simple, evocative and easy to put together. I love it.

This represents the last bit of my side for the packaging. Now there will be an iteration or two while working with the duper for making sure everything looks good.

Packaging Done

Posted: February 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 5 Comments »

I finished the designs of the packaging. Here’s the inside fanfold:

And the outside slipcover:

This is going out to the printer and we’ll be doing the proofs and all that fun now. Once it’s all approved, they will make 4,000 copies of it.

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 poster@getlamp.com 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 Going Well;Production Continues

Posted: December 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 3 Comments »

Just wanted to stop in and say that the pre-ordering promotion has been going very well, with hundreds of pre-orders from folks. I am grateful and appreciative. Right now, the duplication costs are basically paid for, although I intend to make the package more deluxe and this will increase costs a tad – it’s about putting out the best package possible, to reward people for still buying a package in the digital age.

I’ve been working basically non-stop on editing the movie, on getting additional “assets” into the mix, and generally putting stuff together. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really worth it, and I really do love this subject – combing through hours of people discussing interactive fiction and text adventures has been a real treat.

More meaty updates will come after the first of the year – right now it’s literally 12-20 hours a day of editing. There’s not much to say about that for the moment, other than the aforementioned fact that I find it really fun.

Keep spreading the word on pre-orders! Like I said, the price goes to the expected $40 on January 1st.

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.