Posted: October 21st, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | 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.
Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | 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.
Posted: October 16th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | 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:
- Terminal with “Restore” Choice
- Playing the Game
- Modern Scene
- Credits (With Zoe Blade Music “Walking in the Rain”)
But in the rip I have now seen, you have:
- 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.
Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | 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:
LOCATION: Google 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!
Posted: October 11th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | 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.
Posted: October 9th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | 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:
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 stamps.com 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.
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.
Posted: September 30th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 1 Comment »
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.
Man, maybe I need an opening act.
Posted: September 25th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | Filed under: production | 12 Comments »
As GET LAMP spreads around the internet and attracts various waves of interest, a number of similar comments tend to appear under the stories, assuming the stories allow comments. Many of these are the hypothetical assumptions made by people who have not seen the actual product speculating on the quality, worthiness and content of the product. I don’t see much reason to address these, because my response is, essentially, the product.
However, another very specific line of comments (and there’ve been e-mails too) are along the lines of “I am waiting for it to be on Netflix” or “Why is it not on Netflix”.
To be clear: I have no plans for the film to be on Netflix or iTunes, at least not for the foreseeable future. For some, that’s the end of the conversation, making them file out the door. But for the greater good, let me explain the thinking.
First, it’s best to delineate iTunes and Netflix.
iTunes is more of what you would call a digital download store, where you connect a client to a service (that is rather easy to use) and pay money to get the ability to watch or listen to media. My reasons for not being on iTunes at the moment is that it’s rather an unpleasant experience as an independent filmmaker to get onto iTunes, and it involves signing away a lot of things I don’t like to sign away. It is not possible for individuals to pay some fee or otherwise do “stuff” and find themselves on iTunes, selling their media, and get a check in the mail or a deposit in a bank account.
To get most anything onto a “standard” broadcasting or download service requires E&O insurance, where you pay thousands of dollars in case it turns out that Steve Meretzky was referred to as a poodle or you claim that lamp oil is safe to drink or whatever. That’s money right out the door. But also, you need to go through a distributor. iTunes won’t work with individuals, like I said; you need to have a distributor. And I don’t like distributors. More on that later, I’m sure, but let’s shorthand it by saying that there’s very little a distributor would do for me for the amount of money they would take out of sales to do it. So iTunes is out.
Netflix is a whole other animal.
Netflix is a rental store, essentially, renting you DVDs. Don’t confuse the streaming aspect of it as being something other than an extension of the rental – the contract Netflix has with companies that agree to do streaming is that they essentially have real DVDs somewhere, or have paid for instances of the DVDs to exist, and when you watch the DVD, you are holding a “slot” in some bank of machines representing those paid-for instances or DVDs.
Rental stores are not a filmmaker’s little buddy, on the financial side. They buy one copy and give it to many, many people. The same situation exists with libraries, of course, but there seems to be less confusion about the nature of libraries – nobody thinks the filmmaker is making bank off the copies libraries buy, but instead realize these are situations where the libraries themselves are providing access to their membership. Well, the same situation exists with Netflix, except replace “membership” with “customers” and “access” with “sales”.
Netflix has a form where you can request copies of a movie be available. If you want to do that, go ahead – if Netflix contacts me and wants X amounts of copies of GET LAMP I will sell them to them. I don’t think they’ll do it, but go ahead and do it, you have my full support in doing so.
Recently, Netflix put up an option to allow filmmakers to directly submit films to Netflix. But the fact is, that’s not what’s going on – in fact, they’re taking names and then submitting the incoming forms to a distributor, and as I said, I don’t want to work with distributors. I did 99% of the work on the film and I don’t feel like paying someone upwards of 50% to do the final 1% of work. (That’s just my thing, but probably not a surprise if you’ve been watching this weblog and production.)
I realize some people want the ability to download the movie and eschew the whole “package” thing, and I will probably create a high-definition downloadable version of the main feature in the future (and as per the upgrade guarantee, my current customers will not pay a dime for this digital download version). But as it stands, I much prefer the DVD version, with its multiple audio tracks, the roughly 30 features (including a half-dozen self-contained documentaries of various lengths), the subtitles and the DVD-ROM section.
So there we go. I’m always willing to talk about it, but that’s what’s going on on this side. People are ordering the movie quite a lot at the moment (and I thank all of you) and the Creative Commons license means that you can certainly share the movie with your friends (so go ahead and everyone go in on buying a copy and sharing it), but I’m not seeing a Netflix streaming version coming soon.
And there you go.
Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | Filed under: production | 2 Comments »
The next swing of the JET LAMP showing tour is going to start this upcoming week, starting Sunday. Two dates in Colorado, followed by an appearance in Houston.
Nonesuch Theater, Ft. Collins, September 26, 8pm.
The lovely Nonesuch theater will be hosting me Sunday night. As they say, “Nonesuch is a beautiful, downtown entertainment venue with 49 traditional seats, an intimate stage and a cool lobby serving beer, wine and other refreshments.”
Cinebarre, Thornton, September 27, 8pm.
Cinebarre is located just outside Denver and will be showing my film as well. It’s at 10001 Grant Street. Like Nonesuch, drinks are available if this is critical to you.
Domy Books, Houston, September 28, 8:30pm
And finally, I’ll be making an appearance at Domy Books in Houston. A lot of folks have been helping me in Houston, and this looks to be a really fun time.
I hope to see everyone there!
Posted: September 18th, 2010 | Author: Jason Scott | Filed under: production | 2 Comments »
The Portland Commodore Users Group has posted the question and answer session that came after my screening. I went on for quite some time and I cover a lot of different things, and if there’s anything regrettable in there, then obviously I was misquoted. All in all, it’s about an hour, including some good introductions from some of the members of PDXCUG.
Get Lamp Screening Q&A in Portland, OR – PDXCUG.org from PDXCUG Admin on Vimeo.
If you’re unable to make it to a screening, imagine you’re sitting on the edge of your seat with a nice drink in your hand and the movie just finished.
Here’s PDXCUG’s weblog entry on my appearance.