Full Bedquilt Footage Now Online

Posted: October 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

From the description of this new collection:

As part of the production of GET LAMP, Jason Scott arranged a day of filming in the Bedquilt section of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, which had been the inspiration for the computer game Adventure by Will Crowther and Don Woods. Negotiations took roughly one year and involved both the CRF (Cave Research Foundation), a non-profit organization associated with cave exportation, and the National Park Service (NPS), which oversees the administration of care of the Mammoth Cave park. Requirements to film inside the cave system for a for-profit enterprise included: million-dollar insurance for the expedition, a fee for a park service employee to accompany, no revealing of the location of the Bedquilt system, and to release the footage to the public.

This footage was recorded over roughly 8 hours in Fall of 2007 and was ultimately used both in GET LAMP and a smaller documentary episode on the experience of caving. This includes everything shot, as well as a small additional sequence recorded at a party earlier in the year with a user of Adventure from the 1970s.

The expedition included Jason Scott, Dave West, Peter Bosted, Bruce Hatcher. Travel included both a walk past the original starting location of Adventure, the location of the two-inch slit, and then into the Bedquilt system itself, covering roughly 10 locations from the game (including the Hall of the Mountain King, Y2, and the Bird room). Filming was done using a Canon HV20 HD recorder, both on and off tripods, and lit with both LED lighting kits and caver’s lights.

Most of the footage has Jason discussing filming plans and the intended scope of the GET LAMP movie with the expedition, including a spoiler of a few IF games. (The footage is generally more useful without the soundtrack.) This footage is dedicated to the public domain and may be used for any purpose.

The footage is located here.


GET FAILURE

Posted: September 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

A new review of GET LAMP has been posted, and it is not positive.  (Here’s a WebCitation link).

I won’t even pretend to claim much knowledge of Auntie Pixelante, because I don’t really have much beyond having followed the weblog for the site for about a year, and keeping track of a lot of the tools and assisting programs that are cited there, stuff that gets you out and running if you have some ideas for a game.  Lots and lots of embryonic game ideas come out of that place, so it’s pretty easy to just sit back and enjoy the feed. I didn’t notice the review until my RSS scanner that looks for mentions of the movie kicked it up, but then I saw it in my regular newsreader, so destiny was at hand.

I also won’t pretend to definitively summarize the review in a way that you shouldn’t read it completely; but I’ll take a shot at saying the review is primarily one of disappointment at focus on Infocom, lack of coverage of the more experimental aspects of interactive fiction, and a monolithic point of view with Infocom constituting the majority of discussion or subject matter in the movie.

Why am I linking to/bringing attention to a negative review? Because the fact is, it’s a review. More than that, it’s a specific call-out to a perspective on the film, and yes, ultimately disappointment that that perspective feels unfulfilled, and there’s just not been that many for GET LAMP, even as we pass a year of release. I know tens of thousands of people have seen the work, and I have seen people write about text adventures and mention they saw GET LAMP, but there’s only a tiny handful of actual film criticism aimed at the work, and that’s always made me a bit sad.

I did go to film school, after all, and part what got drummed into me was the idea that film criticism is part of the process of a film – after it’s finished, after the ballyhoo and the screenings and the promotion would come informed, thoughtful essays as to what the whole thing meant or what meanings and ideas could be teased from the work that the creators either intended or unconsciously added along the way. To that end, I’ve just had very little in that direction. The BBS documentary got some, but even then, nothing even approaching the gold standard of film criticism, which is this article.

And so for me the whole thing is incomplete until it gets reviews, essays and thoughts, good and bad, and any move in that direction pleases me, so thanks to Auntie Pixelante for this review.

And as for the review?

Well, on the charge of “seems way focused on Infocom”, totally guilty as charged. Infocom is so important to the story of interactive fiction that besides a healthy mention in the middle of the main GET LAMP movie, there’s a whole other 40 minute movie called EXAMINE INFOCOM on the disc that covers Infocom and Infocom, Infocom, Infocom. On the second disc, I have extended bonus features discussing nothing but Infocom’s Z-Machine, the unique aspects of Planetfall and a whole other host of Infocom-ish subjects. That’s a fact. Book me.

I’ll take issue with the portrayal of the film as monolithic in opinion – as mentioned Chris Crawford gets a few shots in, but even across other people like inky, Adam Thornton, Andrew Plotkin and Ron Martinez, the entire medium and its failings come in for some shots, and the question of “what’s next” comes up. But, and this is the important aspect that I think is missed, this documentary bootstraps you from nothing about text adventures to going into incredibly detailed discussions of the nature of puzzles and the issues of overflowing object tables with irrelevant descriptions in the name of “realism”, as well as a host of other ethereal subjects that come down to unique problems of the collision of writing with this whole game/experience thing. The movie, that is, is not for people long off the beaten path of game design seeking ever more whacky and up-ending paradigms in the demolishing of current expectations of the very nature of interactive writing – this movie is meant to be a ground-up bringing in of the idea of text adventures and what it all might have meant, from both the idea of an industry and what would draw people to the present day to keep creating in it long after the commercial interest has receded back into the ocean.

There’s a point of view that has occasionally come in, which I call the Mass Effect group, although it’s not directly tied to that specific game, but along the lines of “Why didn’t GET LAMP cover Mass Effect/Bioshock/Cryptozookeeper”. It’s considered a missed opportunity that I didn’t draw a direct, bold line from the text adventure medium into these modern works, but I didn’t think that was the job of this film. It wasn’t even the job of the film to cover point and click games like King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, or The Last Express. I thought that there was no video documentary covering text adventures, and I do believe I was right. In terms of the “coverage” the review mentions, that’s all generally written interviews (and usually just of Steve Meretzky), or essays and recounting of artifacts. If there is another film, television production or even audio production with Amy Briggs, Stu Galley and Marc Blank all discussing their work and the general aspects of the text adventure medium, I’ll be down at Cafe du Chapeau chowing down.

What I was worried about was that all these great folks would pass on without portraying the emotion of the work they were doing, and that this community of text adventure writers, which in some ways is always on edge to tearing itself apart, would fade into self-containment without their work reaching a wider audience. For that, I say mission accomplished. Expecting it to then go on past an hour and a half into realms still experimental, or even attempt to bring in the full parallel line of related game approaches, was just not in the cards, and I hope the next text adventure documentary someone makes covers that.

Thanks for the review!


Getting the GET LAMP lamp

Posted: January 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: production | 4 Comments »

In the beginning of GET LAMP’s production, I made that decision to put some sort of “classic” brass lantern into every shot, and to make said lantern into the central identifiable image for the movie.  So I knew I better buy a really nice one, and I should buy a few of them.

I chose this one:

Like the Olsen twins, there were three different lamps I bought. Let’s name them BROKE, FLAME, and TOUR.

BROKE was the initial model, which I posed with for this shot:

As you can see, he’s pretty shiny at that point, having recently come out of the package.

BROKE followed along for the next 45 interviews, until one sad trip his glass exploded in a checked suitcase. I still used him in a few interviews, without the glass, and put it far enough in the back you couldn’t see it. If you look carefully at the full resolution from this shot, you can see it has no glass:

So BROKE got replaced by TOUR, who did the rest of the shots in the film, and continued with me on the GET LAMP tour.  If you look at a shot of it on tour, you can see that the lamp is getting rough around the edges:

Photo by Lemonkey

I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s ruined, but it had lost some shine.

FLAME never went anywhere – once it got kerosene in it, it was unable to fly anymore, and that was that. FLAME is the lamp that is in the menus, the MC Frontalot video, and a few other random points. It’s the only time there’s fire in a lamp.

I was about to leave on a trip recently, when I discovered I’d misplaced the lamp I was carrying around. Couldn’t find it! And I decided to see if I could get another one or two.

It turns out I can.

The original three were bought from a small, small company, very earthy-crunchy in style, that sold this lantern and some polished stones, and mushroom sculptures and all that sort of thing. It indicated the lamp was manufactured in India. Then, a year or two into production when BROKE lived up to its nickname, I went looking for this company, and couldn’t find them. Oh well.

So I recently went looking for a company that might sell these, and I stumbled on the Vermont Lanterns company. They have a wide range of lamps and lanterns of all types, and I saw this page with a hurricane lantern that looked the same:

It also said they were made in India, just like my original. So I bought two and waited to see if they were the same.

They were.

So there you have it. If you want an exact duplicate of the lamp in GET LAMP, for whatever reason, there’s a place you can buy one – it’s about $70. And it works!

Or you can just enjoy the movie.


Zoë Blade’s Winter

Posted: January 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: production | 1 Comment »

One of the lead soundtrack artists for GET LAMP, one Zoë Blade, released the first album of music from GET LAMP last year, entitled “Hello Calm”. It’s great stuff, go check it out.

And while you’re listening to it, consider purchasing her second album of music with many pieces also from GET LAMP, entitled “Winter”. You can listen to the whole thing online and buy the entire package (a good deal) or buy individual tracks, instead, in a whole range of formats. If you liked the first album, you’ll like this one as well. The tone of her music set GET LAMP in just the direction I wanted it to go, and it stands well on its own. Check it out today!


NYC Appearance Tomorrow, BBC Appearance Today

Posted: December 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 1 Comment »

Tomorrow (December 8) I’ll be showing GET LAMP at an adventure game-themed night in NYC.

Babycastles is a do-it-yourself themed arcade that normally lives out in Brooklyn but has a location on 42nd street for the holidays, partnered with the Showpaper Gallery.  There’s a Facebook event for it.

If New York City isn’t something you can just swing by tomorrow, then you can at least check out an appearance I made on the BBC Radio show “Outriders” today. Here’s the weblog link on their site. I’m the last segment, discussing GET LAMP and some of the facets of text adventures.

More news soon!


Maryland All Next Week: The Big Swing for JET LAMP

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production, Uncategorized | No Comments »

The final leg of JET LAMP is next week. I’ve got three showings in 4 days.

Now, I’m not saying that there will be no more showings of GET LAMP in places, with me attending. That will happen. But they will be few and far between and at some point it’s just not really a tour anymore, it’s just a screening. So I’m calling the JET LAMP project a closed success after next week.

So here we go:

November 7 (Sunday), 7PM: Maryland Fencing Club, 3011 Emmorton Road, Abingdon MD 21009

So, why am I showing GET LAMP at a Fencing Club? Well, the founder/owner of the club is an ol’ college buddy, and he asked. Simple as that! All are welcome and maybe you might get inspired to enroll your kids in an awesome and healthy exercise.  Or enroll yourself!

November 8 (Monday), 7pm: University of Maryland, Ulrich Recital Hall (in Tawes Hall)

Check that spread out! I’ll be attending some various events related to MITH (Maryland Institute for the Humanities), giving talks, having meetings, hanging out – but the big show is this one, in this big and beautiful hall.  If you’re anywhere in the area, this is the one to show up to. It’s going to be a pretty amazing thing.

November 10 (Wednesday), 6pm: Ponte Technologies World Domination Center, 8231 Main St, Ellicott City MD 20143

Finally, Bruce Potter of Shmoo Group has brought me into Ponte to give a showing.  Here is their webpage about it. Free Pizza and Popcorn and Drinks!


Reviews and More Reviews, Please

Posted: November 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

Reviews are coming out for GET LAMP. I love reviews!

GET LAMP Illuminates the Text Adventure Game (CNET)

GET LAMP: The Text Adventure Documentary goes Live (Escapist Magazine)

Looking Back at the Infocom Era: A Review of Get Lamp (Ars Technica)

GET LAMP: A DVD Review (Gnomes Lair)

GET LAMP: A Documentary About Adventures in Text (Zeitgeisty Report)

GET LAMP: An Interactive Review (Rob O’Hara)

Right now there’s one review on IMDB. I’d love it if people added more, positive or negative.


GET LAMP in the IMDB

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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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!


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.