Sunday, December 31, 2006

Game world notes

The content of this post isn't valid because this project has been canceled is on hiatus. The Shield Lands is slightly more than two years old. In the first year of its existence, it went through four months of building and two-and-a-half months of play. In this last year, it saw three months of building and nine months of play. It has been a mammoth time investment for me, and has greedily devoured most of the time I would otherwise spend on more serious creative pursuits, or socializing, or reading, or personal growth in any other way. Honestly, I’ve been seriously waffling about going cold turkey off of virtual worlds. Instead, I’ve decided to take the board into the next stage of its development. Here are the things I plan on doing:

1. Bioware plans on releasing a huge body of excellent content in the next update of the game. I have a fairly good idea of will be included, it will be mostly stuff from their premium modules. This provides an excellent opportunity to rebuild our resource hakpak from scratch. I wouldn’t say that I’m going to try to minimize our use of custom content, but the hakpak will most likely shrink; Proving less of a barrier for new people to play with us.

2. I’ll repaint all of the areas on the board, because of expanded tileset options, and to accommodate a new play style.

3. In the current version of the Shield Lands, civilized NPCs are static and robotic. The goal of the next overhaul will be to have PCs be able to treat certain populations as either peacefully or hostilely. The home base town as a fixture of the board will go away, as will the axial town-and-dungeon structure of the areas.

4. The economy of the board will change from currency to barter. PCs will be able to attempt to barter with anyone friendly to them with a “Barter Bag” utility item. Yeomen and merchants will cease to function as you have known them. (Brace yourself.) The warehouse will go away. Loot will cease to be about how many tens-of-thousands of ducats you can hoard, and will revolve more around swapping gems, jewelry and art objects. I will also try to spam your inventories less, so I will install the proper code to make food and material components stackable. I also plan on reorganizing and expanding the treasure types.

5. I’ve decided to treat magic items differently from vanilla 3rd edition D&D. Plus one swords and stat buff items will still be the majority of magic items found in the world. Such items will be more simply named. “Magic sword” or “magic necklace” is preferable to “longsword +1" and “amulet of natural armor bonus”. More powerful items I want to design and script myself, these will...
A. Always have some drawback to use. For instance, making you more vulnerable to certain kinds of damage, or having some kind of uncontrollable collateral or unpredictable effect.
B. Powerful magic items will never be “always on”, they will have to be activated and will function for a random amount of time.
C. There will be a small percentage chance per use that the item will become mundane.

6. The treatment of high-level characters in the typical online RPG: that of expanded range, bigger monsters, and truck-loads of loot, is problematic for a game of our scale. Even if I could produce the amount of game content necessary to smoothly maintain such an escalation, the mutchkin-like behavior such a structure encourages is anti-social, predictable, and a drag for new players. It is an unfortunate pattern and I hope to design my way out of it.
1st edition AD&D has a convention tied to high-level campaigns that was fairly important to that game, though left out of the subsequent editions, and computer RPGs entirely. The convention was that around 9th to 11th level, depending on the class, a PC would attain a level that was called “name level”. For instance, a Fighter of 9th level or above was called a “Lord”, and a Magic-User of 11th level or above was called a “Wizard”. The idea was that at name level the character became a fully recognized hero of the game world and would begin to amass followers and territory, as well as greater responsibility.
The obvious incorporation of such an idea would be to shift the focus at name level to a strategy-style game. The amount of work to write a functional strategy game is prohibitive, and there would be no guarantee that it would mesh well with the smaller-scale game, or that it would even be any fun, until we play-tested it. I’ve been wondering if I should include such a strategy element in our game since I started the project. Fortunately, I’ve recently had a much better idea:
A. At a certain level, player characters will stop receiving experience points for killing monsters. They will select a population to champion, and will then gain and lose experience based on the growth and decline of that population. They will be given to option to donate major treasures to enrich the population, supplementing its growth. This is obliquely a gold-for-experience system, another out-of-use 1st edition convention.
B. In addition to population growth and treasure, high level characters will be able to gain experience for leveling up henchmen of their championed population. PCs with a negative Charisma bonus will be denied followers, those with a high Charisma will be able to take on multiple followers. It’s probably important that the followers survive their training for the experience benefits to “stick”.
C. High level characters who are killed will be considered “stopped” for the remainder of the server session. They will not revive like lower level characters, will drop a couple items, and will not be allowed to re-enter the board. Our standard death penalty will still apply, though since these high level characters are not being revived they are not susceptible to the dreaded chain-death/trail-of-tears.
D. I’m considering lowering the death penalty even further, as this new system provides another element to our soft level-cap. The following chart shows the percentage chance of level loss over three different progressions. The changes in color show the loss of multiple levels. We started early this year using the x12 progression, and are current using the x10 progression.
7. I'm not going to schedule sessions while I am making the new build. It may take a several weeks to a few months to get everything in order. I am willing to hold a "goodbye to the old build" session in the next couple weeks, if there is interest. Feedback, cheers, derision, or debate, would be most helpful for furthering this project's development.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

May the new year treat you all very well.

PS - For the contributors that have been eliminated by
The Google/MCPtm (please see announcement two posts down), I hope that before your bodies were salvaged for parts that it had the decency to make a back up copy of your brainscans to be uploaded at a later date for consultation.

Monday, December 18, 2006

This is an announcement from the MCP

Blogger (which henceforth will be referred to as The Google) is apparently offing a new service upgrade for Astromen! which merges a number of previously unavailable Google-rific services into, eh, The Google.

Unfortunately, this will require shifting the current incarnation of Astromen! from it's present day location into the future, which may cause unanticipated login and posting difficulties for Astromen! members who have not yet transmitted a copy of themselves into the world of tomorrow via the Microsoft ChronochamberTM on Sub-level 7J.

This has been an announcement from the MCP.

----END OF LINE----

Yep yep yep!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Julie's Blog

Take a look at the blog, there is quite a bit of info and some interesting things.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Elektro the Robot

This animitronic was exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair by Westinghouse. The same year that General Motors had its "Futurama" exhibit.

Links... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

And Sparko, too!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

NYC: Nov. 24th

I took the train up to New York for a day trip on Black Friday. I spent three hours at the MoMA and about two walking in and out of galleries in Chelsea.
The temporary exhibition at the MoMA was the Brice Marden retrospective. It was very much like going to a restaurant with only one thing on the menu; I mean, why give me a menu? Marden has done three types of paintings in a decades long career. First he did flat, but not immaculate, rectangles of neutral color slightly misregistered on their canvases, so in the margins you could see the brush hairs and paint runs. Then he eliminated the margins and clustered more colorful pastel canvases. Finally, he grouped several interwoven, chaotic but evenly spaced loops on larger and more colorful canvases.
I must say that I was unenthused about the work. I didn't expect to be. I was surprised that the paintings didn't reward closer examination. I appreciate the complexity of the latter type of work and its relationship to mathematical knot diagrams. In relation to string theory, the paintings almost have a cosmological overtone. But I find knot diagrams, and not the paintings, to be mo
re satisfying to look at. As for cosmology, Barnett Newman's and Pollock's paintings are philosophy by example, whereas Marden's are simply examples of tasteful painting; they're domesticated. I concede, though, that this attitude might be the result of me waking up at five in the morning and traveling five hours to see the stuff.
Link to the source of this image.
I do very much enjoy looking at the graphics produced by and for mathematicians. I find that spotting mathematical images in their native habitat (i.e. texts and websites) is more satisfying because they are grouped in a more engaging way.
Check out this video entitled "The Optiverse". It is a narrated tour of the topology of an optimal spherical inversion. I don't claim to understand half of what the narrator says, but the overall effect is like a public service announcement from Tron. (Link.)
* * *
I felt somewhat dizzied taking in the permanent collection. I am used to going to art venues where I am intimately familiar with the collection, like the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the Art Institute of Chicago. In these collections I can criss-cross the museum, actively following whatever associations I am making. I felt subdued by the MoMA collection, and felt that I could only absorb what was around me, so I spent a long time gawking.
There were some odd wall-hung assemblage works by P
iero Manzoni, the guy who canned and sold his own shit, but I found the Kurt Schwitters junk-art a few rooms over to be more eloquent. Talk about being overshadowed by precedents, the room I spent the least amount of time in was the conceptual art room. I walked in and thought, "Duchamp annihilates these people", and walked out. I did the same thing with Robert Gober's "Prison Window" piece (image).
There were several things in the design and architecture galleries that were of interest:
There was a large gallery devoted to the new Central Chinese Television Headquarters in Bejing (image), with some truly awe inspiring construction photos.
I watched a grade school class play with some interactive applets that made jumping and warbling geometry and text in response to sound and movement. These were by John Maeda, a professor at MIT Media Lab. He has an intriguing project on his website called "Design by Numbers" which is "a global initiative to teach computer programming to visual artists through a
freely available, custom software system that he designed." (source). I plan on spending at least an afternoon with this program. (Link.)
There was a set of large, slotted cards with various pictures and patterns printed on them, designed by Charles and Ray Eames. This seems fertile as a vehicle for free association, but they frown on museum goers opening the glass cases to play with the objects, so I must buy a set, or make my own. (image) One of the Eames team's most famous creations is a film they did for IBM entitled "The Powers of Ten", which is viewable on Google Video! (Link.)
There was also a poster by the Beggarstaff studio, who developed a beautiful paper cut-out style for large commercial posters in the late nineteenth century. They also have a certain hill named after them in a certain virtual world. (image)
* * *
Roughly a third of the galleries in Chelsea were closed because of the holiday. Leave it to the art world to close up shop on the largest shopping day of the year. The best show was Yayoi Kusama's, whose work has a very large range, but with a very strong synthesis. My favorite pieces were bunches of oversized pinballs (image), which serve as the contemporary equivalent of Don Judd's wall mounted stacks (image), in that they located the viewer in space. Other notables in Chelsea were Yun-Fei Ji and Nigel Cooke.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holy Mackerel

There was something utterly inconceivable in the used CD bin the other day. Among hundreds of jewel boxes, I spotted a familiar logo: a green fist clutching the earth. Gleefully, I shoved everything else aside. The album is a rock opera, of sorts, with words and music by L.Ron Hubbard. The authorship is a little suspect, because the album was recorded posthumously. The musician responsible for performing the album was Edgar Winter.
After further review I can report: The music itself is the mundane synth-pop that was standard issue in 1985. I expected the lyrics to be outrageous, but they are rather vague and droll. The lyrics are based on Hubbard's ten book series "Mission Earth" and the only entertaining thing about the package is the outline of the plot that goes with the songs. Such as "One of the first people Jettero Heller meets on Earth is Mary Schmeck, once a young bright girl with high goals and hopes, now fallen to drug addiction and prostitution through her involvement with psychiatry and psychology."
This album may be the worst thing ever made. I recommend going to Operation Clambake, as it is far more entertaining.

Link to "Operation Clambake"
Link to "L.Ron Hubbard : Music Maker" webpage, and a link to a page with a RealAudio stream with the fifth track of the album, "Cry Out". Which was somehow a public service anouncement? in association with the United Nations?
Link to "The Church of Scientology"

Saturday, November 25, 2006


..there will be a game held at 2pm Eastern Standard time. Matt's machine in DC will serve as a backup server in case we have more firewall problems, so the game is guaranteed to get going in a timely manner this week.
Link to the Shield Lands vault page...
I went to Manhattan yesterday to look at art. I shall write about that shortly.

"That is a seriously weird career."

The coolest software mogul. He has vacationed as a cosmonaut.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Episode 61: Kerry James Marshall

At the end of October Kerry James Marshall was interviewed on the radio podcast show Bad at Sports in Chicago. He talks a lot about the trajectory and influences in his own work and the economics of being an artist. Apparantly, Bad at Sports got a grant and a space to do their show for a limited period of time. They seem to be taking advantage of it with higher profile guests, much more interesting shows, and less cleverly inane chatter.
This is the best interview of theirs that I have listened to.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pavel Filonov

Conspicuously there is not much art by Russians in the Hermitage, this is primarily due to the creation of the Russian Museum in 1898 which exclusively houses work by artists born and bred there. The permanent collection is primarily 19th Century heroic paintings about the manifest destiny of Mother Russia and early Modernist paintings by the “avant-garde” (see Kazemir Malevich and Nicholai Roerich). Russian ex-patriots are little represented (Kandinsky) or entirely absent (Chagall). There was also a big temporary exhibit of late Socialist Realism (1960s through the 1980s.)
Wandering around this museum, I stumbled into a totally black exhibition hall with a great density of paintings each of which hanging under a warm spotlight. In the background was an eerie music that added to the dramatic effect as much as it mildly distracted ones ability to take in the whole exhibition. This was from a wacky “music machine” which was essentially a pre WWI Futurist robot that, with a painting in it, generated sounds appropriate to the picture.
I was dumbfounded, and shortly there after began running back and forth through the exhibit trying to figure out who these paintings were by, there being no name on the placards. This was an exhibit of the majority of works by Pavel Filonov of which the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg holds almost all of due to a donation by the artist. I find these paintings stunning in visual impact and complexity.
He was primarily a teacher at the art academy and never received much recognition internationally due to a rather ascetic nature which led to him denying any attempt by foreign collectors to purchase his paintings (he lived on a meagre state pension most of his life) and a clamping down of the censors in the times of Stalin which marginalized his work as it was difficult to categorize in the emerging state definition of art. Throughout his life he pursued a somewhat singular project and artistic philosophy termed “Analytical Art” which seems to take some of its roots from analytical cubism but has the intensity turned up to an extreme and is much more encompassing and complex. The result is works primarily of oil on paper (that have since been relined on Whatman) with a lot of colour, minutely detailed compositions and spaces, filled with a fusion of entirely abstract forms with sometimes disturbing figures and heads. The overall effect is hypnotic and I found the work challenging by contemporary standards of painting, while he was cranking these out starting around 1910. Pavel Filonov died in 1941 of starvation during the Siege of Leningrad.
Other than a retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1989 it appears that Filonov is largely unknown and shut out of “The Official Art History Canon(tm)” which I think is regrettable. What is available in images and text in cyberspace is rather poor, but I highly suggest at least a casual glance at this artist if the opportunity arises.

Note: The only decent biography I was able to find on the internet (at the above link) appears to be experiencing technical difficulties. Here is a site with more images ( a little bit washed out), but atrocious translation and writing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bob Jones University Collection of Art

It is interesting that the collection was started just after WWII. I heard when you purchases art from NAZIs they give you a great deal.

A Conversation About Art

Much of the art in the Hermitage Museum from the 20th century collection was taken as spoils from underground bunkers when the Soviet army ended World War II (translated from Russian as the Great Patriot War) in Europe by capturing Berlin. These paintings were part of a broad program of purges from German art museums that later became the “Entarte Kunst” (Degenerate Art) exhibit that premièred in Munich in 1937, organized by the Nationalist-Socialists to highlight the aesthetic, idealogical, and moral depravity of modern art. After this huge travelling exhibition ended, what was not sold at auction in Switzerland or taken as private property by military officers was buried away under the city. There is notoriously no official documentation of how the works ended up in the Hermitage.

A deep sense of irony gripped me after a museum venture in Saint Petersburg when a rather heated conversation sprang up with one of my travelling companions in which it was insisted that the production and exhibition of such art works as what is in the modern art displays at the Hermitage, especially abstract painting, was “offensive.” A litany of defences to that opinion was produced that sharply mimicked most of the important points in the concept of Degenerate Art; rather by accident I believe and minus the theories of racial conspiracy. That someone would find modern, and by proxy, contemporary art relevant enough to be morally outraged on such a broad scale fascinated me at the same time that it dismayed me and I never would have expected someone specializing in business administration to demand that a return to the populist, heroic, and nationalist Romanticism in the art of 19th century Europe be universally instituted. To say the least, after years of witnessing people shrug their shoulders in disinterest when touring a modern art museum, I was caught quite off guard by a rather reactionary and aggressive aesthetic philosophy that in essence hearkened back to the romantic precursors of fascism. Even more so by someone born and bred in Berlin, being the relativist cultural capital that it is today.

Anyone ever encountered something like this?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Malachi Ritscher's Immolation

This was recovered by the Chicago Reader (article here), but was buried in the Sun Times (article here) and was not really covered as a serious act of protest. Merely a suicide, except he set himself on fire on the side of the Kennedy Expressway during rush hour and even videotaped himself doing it (supposedly).
Also here is the link to his website with the mission statement (so his website says) or suicide note (as it was called in the papers) and obituary... that he wrote himself.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Hermitage

and the travel brochure continues . . .

My greatest art stop in Saint Petersburg was at the Hermitage, the largest art museum in the world, with a collection of no less than 3 million objects, primarily housed in what used to be the Winter Palaces of the czars; which are interesting in themselves. It took me two entire days to get through what was on display, and the museum is impressive not only in quantity and variety but in the quality and historical importance of particularly the paintings on display. A highlight for me was an entire hall of just larger Rembrandt paintings including the “Prodigal Son.” Both the Italian and Dutch Renaissances are highly represented, as well as the 18th and 19th century French painting that dominated the tastes of the czars, and Baroque painting from Spain, Holland, and Italy. Other things of interest included many halls of varied craft objects from Eastern European antiquity that were almost entirely devoid of visitors.

On the upper floors is a collection of paintings from the early 20th century that includes work from just about every movement and famous artist that makes up the early Modernist canon of art history. People crowd in daily to get a look at Monet, Pisarro, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, and early Picasso paintings among other things.

I found an interesting virtual tour of the collection. It is well made, but incredibly slow on my end.

Vote please...

...even if you're just going to write in "Satan" like Bob = 666 will. Image via The Propaganda Remix Project.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation.

Part 1: Architecture

In July I was in Saint Petersburg, Russia (also spending some time in Tallinn, Estonia by the Baltic Sea). While I do have a few wacky experiences and anecdotes that I could tell, I just want to write a series of posts about the art adventures that I had in that city.

One of the first things noticed in Saint Petersburg is the huge amount of Baroque architecture in the city center. I have never been much of a fan of Baroque architecture as my experience with it has generally left me with a sense of decadent and crumbling colonial empires and frankly I find cherubs to be disturbing, but this was the first city that I have been in that sprung up during a time when the Baroque aesthetic was dominant. Peter the Great moved the capital to Sankt-Petersburg when the Russia of the czars was at its apex in wealth, his goal not only to build a great port city on the Baltic Sea for greater commercial access to the west but also to literally impress his royal peers of western Europe, specifically in France, Holland, and Prussia with the grandeur of his architectural project. Designed by invited German architects, the city was built on a big swamp, and giant granite blocks had to be dropped into the bogs to hold up the foundations of the city, this required a ban on stone construction in the rest of Russia for about sixty years and by some estimates as many as 30,000 serfs died in the construction effort.

Among the many canals of the city, the density of Baroque styled buildings, palaces, and orthodox churches with the characteristic onion towers gives you much more of a sense of what the point of all the cherubs, flower like moulding, and candy coloured paint was (much of which has been recently restored). Something which I never understood very well in its manifestations in Spain or France which were usually stuck on top of an already impressive Gothic structure with cheaper materials and less sound construction techniques. The interiors are an exercise in visual excess in which every surface is covered in decoration while the exteriors try to continually draw your eye to sweeping architectural details on otherwise rather smooth buildings. You begin to be able to imagine the characters of War and Peace wandering between gossipy galas in their gigantic dresses and ornate Napoleonic military uniforms surrounded by frivolous Rococo paintings.

The city is also famous for its Neoclassical architectural achievements but I found those, while individually impressive, to be scattered throughout the city and the 19th century was more a time of internal political upheaval in Russia than Empire building glory projects.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The self-(dis)assembling chair

Link to Science Daily write-up.
Link to the lead engineer's art-site w/ video page.
Link to Discovery Channel segment.

Jean Tinguely's "Homage to New York" was a self-destructing machine set off at the 1960 garden party at the Museum of Modern Art. It was first conceived of as a drawing machine.

Pete Townshend of "The Who" destroys a guitar.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If you thought Abandonia was waisting your time...

...then you're going to just love LibriVox! And if you haven't (at Jason's suggestion a looooong time ago) checked out Ubuntu yet, you should. After all, it's free!

A good /. thread...

...about a somewhat silly article. Enjoy...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Into the Uncanny Valley

For your consideration:
A NY Times article about a recent application of facial recognition technology to animation.
The Wikipedia entry on the "uncanny valley" phenomena.

Let's Get Mugged!: Fantasy Edition

The server will be up tomorrow (Sunday, the 15th) from 2pm to 10pm EST. I'll be posting a small hakpak tonight or tomorrow morning (link). Also, here is a link to the site where I got this wonderful title screen.

The hakpak is up, it only weighs in at 58k but will have a large impact on the game as I have removed the conjuring time from all spells. Casters will still have to wait for their place in the initiative order to come around, but the waving of hands and mumbling is all gone. Also, characters will no longer be able to finagle the merchants with glowing trinkets. Here is a direct link to the required file.

Update #2: Dammit. I greatly underestimated my work-load when I proposed squeezing in a pick-up game next weekend. I am currently the bottle-neck in three major projects, all of which have major milestones coming up in the next three weeks. Our next scheduled bi-weekly game is canceled because I will be in Boston celebrating Halloween with Scott & Erica. That makes the next game day the 12th of November. I'm not happy about that, but the ramifications are too great if I fall behind at my jobs or school. I'll post some design notes for the Shield Lands in the near future; big-idea game mechanics and such.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Another "Toy" Game...

...which I've been playing recently. The sad part is that the game doesn't seem to have a "free build" mode ala-Blockland. Here's a review via Gamespot.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Revolt is a racer-game that is reminiscent of the beloved game Toy Commander, in that you race remote control cars through suburban neighborhoods and supermarkets. Many things about the game are highly enjoyable, such as the spot-on physics engine and the environments. It isn't nearly as complete in scope or particulars as Toy Commander, as it is a fairly modestly sized game. Even with a joystick, I found the controls somewhat flitchy, though I insisted on playing in "simulation mode". It's a good way to kill an hour or three, and is free to download and play.
Link to Abandonia.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

God be praised!!!

The Foley scandal is so perfectly tailored -- one could even say artistically designed -- to expose every character flaw of this country's Republican leaders (and their followers), and it has evolved so flawlessly (like the most brilliantly coordinated symphony), that one is almost inclined to believe that it was divinely inspired. It is difficult to believe that human beings (let alone Democrats) could create something so perfect (as Billmon wrote in comments here the other day, the relentless efficiency of this scandal is proof positive that Democrats had nothing to do with it).

Friday, October 06, 2006

La Jetée

La Jetée, the montage movie by Chris Marker about mental dissolution, love, and the apocalypse, is available on Google Video in its entirety. Phenomenal science fiction.
"Nothing tells memories from ordinary moments. Only afterwards do they claim remembrance, on account of their scars."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

last minute installation

hi guys
i installed nwn on eric's computer so i can play today but i need the new i.p. address and where do i go for the critical rebuild. it says i need to do that before i can update the most recent version! please help so i can play today.
i'll leave msn messenger on and skype too so i can at least get pete's i.p. and talk on teamspeak. i hope we can figure it out but i think you guys are already deep in the sandbox.

i wan to play too!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lights Out...

"Whatever the cowardly political calculus going on here, it can't be emphasized enought that this is an historic bill that will be looked back on with disgust. Either it will eventually be repealed, in the way the Alien and Sedition Acts were repealed, in which case it will be a dark blot on America's history, or it will not be repealed, in which case it will be looked back on as the formal declaration that the American experiment in divided government and human rights was over. It is not an exageration in the least to say that if this bill passes and stays in force, that the America we knew, and that many of us loved, is dead. An America without Habeas Corpus, where the President can lock up people and have them tried in Kangaroo courts is not the America the Founders fought for and I will not defame their memory by pretending it is."
More here and here...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Just a reminder that we are playing this Sunday from 2pm EST to around 9 or 10pm. Last weekend I got in a full day-and-a-half of programming and finished revising the monster population code. Saturday, I hope to install a barter system for the merchants. If you guys have had any more thoughts about anything that might improve the board and is do-able, lemme know.

: (Friday the 29th) Tonight, I updated the server's artificial intelligence from
Tony K's to Jasperre's. Our old AI was developed mostly for henchman, and coincidentally was a better creature AI than Bioware's default. This new AI was developed with mobs of monsters in mind, with morale and leadership options, and better communication within groups. I've been running around on the board for a few minutes and the difference is noticable, and nothing seems broken or is giving the compiler indigestion. Oh happy day!

UPDATE: (Saturday the 30th) There is a new hakpak posted in the normal place.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

White and Nerdy...


On Tuesday the 26th of September the new art studio and exhibition space OHNE TITEL in Berlin, Germany will be holding its inaugural event. This exhibition and opening party will feature the work of some of the founding members of the space and we will be attempting to make a lot of noise to announce ourselves to the neighbourhood and the larger art world of the city.

The exhibiting artists are:

Midori Harata (Japan)
Ryan Scheidt (U.S.A.)
Jason Benedict (U.S.A.)

DJ Stefan Ende from East Berlin will be spinning records to complete the festivities.

We will also be toasting to Mr. Scheidt who is moving back to Chicago at the end of the month to teach at the Hyde Park Art Center.

By chance it would appear that mothers from across the globe will be attending, from Cascadia and Kaliningrad to the varied neighbourhoods Berlin. So bring your mom out for a party.

Atelier für Internationale Kunst
Eröffnung / Party am Dienstag 26.09, 19.00 Uhr
Kinzigstraße 41 / Berlin - Friedrichshain

Pass the whiskey!

Billmon's most succinct post ever...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A good insight.

Last weekend the Guggenheim in New York held a round-table of sorts to about the 80's hardcore scene; all to promote a newly-released documentary on the subject. The New York Times had a short, but rambling summing-up of the affair. At the end of the article, the staff writer made this statement:
"And although many of these bands defined themselves in opposition to Reagan’s country, the violent, petty, proud, often thrilling place they created wasn’t always so different. It’s tempting to idealize subcultures, but hardcore is a reminder that underground worlds aren’t usually any nobler, or any better, than the overground one. All those Reagan heads on flyers seem pretty spiteful, but maybe there’s also a hint of envy: tough young white guys paying grudging tribute to a tough old one."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Good news!

Chad & Amber are now hitched! The festivities were a stupendous time. The bride and groom left for Australia on Monday. Also, my hang over was miraculously cured en route to Timber Lanes the next morning, despite the river of whiskey I had drank. My bowling game, while never exactly good, has become abysmal. This didn't keep me from having a good time. Timber Lanes is one of my favorite places. Alex's lady friend, Kate, trounced us thoroughly. (She was an extra for a short time in Starship Troopers, everyone's favorite fascists vs. space bugs movie!)
The Shield Lands server will be up on Sunday at 2PM EST. On Saturday I need to finish up revisions I started on Labor Day to the large-scale monster population code. I may have to work on some buildings on Saturday, and if that happens I will be a grumpy boy.
I hope I can find time to write on Astromen in the near future about things other than gaming updates. Jason, weren't you going to write about your Russian art adventures?
Just for the hell of it. Here's a dog house I drew for a one-day assignment in class on Monday:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm making monsters for my friends.

I'm going to revise the Shield Lands schedule to make the game more sustainable at my end. A few things have brought this on: two of our core players are moving and won't have a reliable connection for a while, I need to start going to galleries and museums and producing art again or I'll go batty (I haven't tackled a big project since I started building this virtual world in earnest), and I'm under pressure to take on more architectural projects. I've enjoyed the games thus far, and it's something that I want to keep going as long as there is interest.
After two more weekly sessions (this weekend's game, and the next game on September 3rd), the game will become bi-weekly.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

No room for humans

I spent the day doing field work at a factory/R&D facility. Spaces built to machines' needs, rather than those of humans, are fascinating.
Related to this is the photography of Bernd & Hilla Becher, which is concerned with the variance and mutation of industrial structures.
1974, Bernd & Hilla Becher, "Pitheads"

Friday, August 04, 2006

Shield Lands Ho!

Frank Frazetta, the King of Fantasy Art
is my inspiration for this coming Sunday's session of
The Shield Lands [TM]

(See you in the sandbox, Huzzah!)