The year was 1995, and CompuServe's online service cost $4.95 per hour. Yet thousands of people logged into this virtual world daily.
WorldsAway was born 20 years ago, when Fujitsu Cultural Technologies, a subsidiary of Japanese electronics giant Fujitsu, released this online experiment in multiplayer communities. It debuted as part of the CompuServe online service in September, 1995. Users needed a special client to connect; once online, they could chat with others while represented onscreen as a graphical avatar.
I was already a veteran of BBSes (I even started my own), Prodigy, CompuServe, and the Internet when I saw an advertisement for WorldsAway in CompuServe magazine (one of my favorite magazines at the time). It promised a technicolor online world where you could be anything you wanted, and share a virtual city with people all over the globe. I signed up to receive the client software CD. Right after its launch in September, I was up and running in the new world. It blew my young mind.
It may come as a surprise to you that the stuff I write about on my blog – whether about technology, dreams, food, film, games, relationships, or my life in general – isn’t actually always written off-the-cuff. To the contrary, sometimes a post is edited and re-edited over the course of weeks or months before it finally makes it onto the web. When I wrote late last year about some of my controversial ideas about the ethics (or lack thereof) associated with telling children about Santa Claus, I’m sure that it looked like it had been inspired by the run-up to Christmas. In actual fact, I’d begun writing it six months earlier, as summer began, and had routinely visited and revisited it from time to time until I was happy with it, which luckily coincided with the Christmas season.
As an inevitable result of this process, it’s sometimes the case that a blog post is written or partially-written and then waits forever to be finished. These forever-unready, never-published articles are destined to sit forever in my drafts folder, gathering virtual dust. These aren’t the posts which were completed but left unpublished – the ones where it’s only upon finishing writing that it became self-evident that this was not for general consumption – no, the posts I’m talking about are those which honestly had a chance but just didn’t quite make it to completion.
Well, today is their day! I’ve decided to call an amnesty on my incomplete blog posts, at long last giving them a chance to see the light of day. If you’ve heard mention of declaring inbox bankruptcy, this is a similar concept: I’m sick of seeing some of these blog articles which will never be ready cluttering up my drafts folder: it’s time to make some space! Let the spring cleaning begin:
Title: Typically Busy Unpublished since: March 2004
Unpublished because: Better-expressed by another post, abandoned
In this post, I talk about how busy my life is feeling, and how this is pretty much par for the course. It’s understandable that I was feeling so pressured: at the time we were having one of our particularly frenetic periods at SmartData, I was fighting to finish my dissertation, and I was trying to find time to train for my upcoming cycle tour of Malawi. The ideas I was trying to express later appeared in a post entitled I’m Still In Aber. Yay, in a much more-optimistic form.
Title: Idloes, Where Art Thou? Unpublished since: June 2004 Unpublished because: Got distracted by rebuilding the web server on which my blog is hosted, after a technical fault
In anticipation of my trip to Malawi, I was prescribed an anti-malarial drug, Lariam, which – in accordance with the directions – I began taking daily doses of several weeks before travelling. It seemed silly in the long run; I never even saw a single mosquito while I was over there, but better safe than sorry I suppose. In any case, common side-effects of Lariam include delusions, paranoia, strange dreams, hallucinations, and other psychological
effects. I had them in spades, and especiallytheweirdtrippy dreams.
This blog post described what could have been one of those dreams… or, I suppose, could have just been the regular variety of somewhat-strange dream that isn’t uncommon for me. In the dream I was living back in Idloes, a tall Aberystwyth townhouse where I’d rented a room during 2002/2003. In the dream, the house caught fire one night, and my landlady, Anne, was killed. Apparently the fire was started by her electric blanket.
Title: Are We Alone In The Universe? Unpublished since: March 2006 Unpublished because: Never finished, beaten to the punchline
Here’s an example of an article that I went back to, refining and improving time and time again over a period of years, but still never finished. I was quite pleased with the direction it was going, but I just wasn’t able to give it as much time as it needed to reach completion.
In the article, I examine the infamous Drake Equation, which estimates the likelihood of there being intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy (more specifically, it attempts to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations “out there”). Which is all well and good, but the only way to put the formula into practice is to effectively pull unknowable numbers out of the air and stuff them into the equation to get, in the end, whatever answer you like. The only objective factors in the entire equation are those relating to the number of stars in the galaxy, and everything else is pure conjecture: who honestly thinks that they can estimate the probability of any given species reaching sentience?
The post never got finished, and I’ve since seen other articles, journals, and even stand-up comedians take apart the Drake Equation in a similar way to that which I intended, so I guess I’ve missed the boat, now. If you want to see the kind of thing I was working on, here it is but better-written. I wonder what the probability is that a blog post will never end up being published to the world?
Title: Why Old People Should Be Grumpy Unpublished since: October 2006 Unpublished because: Never finished, possibly bullshit
In this post, I put forward a theory that grumpy old people are a positive sign that a nation is making just enough change to not be stagnant: something about the value of keeping older people around crossed with the importance of taking what they say with a pinch of salt, because it’s not them that has to live in the world of tomorrow. I can’t even remember what the point was that I was trying to make, and my notes are scanty, but I’m sure it was a little bit of a one-sided argument for social change with an underdeveloped counter-argument for social stability.
In any case, I left it for years and eventually gave up on it.
Title: The Games That Didn’t Make The List Unpublished since: July 2007 Unpublished because: I could have kept refining it forever and still never finish it
After my immensely popular list of 10 Computer Games That Stole My Life, I received a great deal of feedback – either as direct feedback in the form of comments or indirectly in other people’s blogs. Reading through this feedback got me thinking about computer games that had stolen my life which I hadn’t mentioned. Not wanting to leave them out, I put together a list of “games that didn’t make the list”: i.e. games which could also have been said to steal my life, but which I didn’t think of when I wrote my original top ten. They included:
Castles and Castles 2
The original Castles was one of the first non-free PC computer games I ever owned (after Alley Cat, that golf game, and the space command/exploration game whose name I’ve been perpetually unable to recall). It was a lot of fun; a well-designed game of strategy and conquest. Later, I got a copy of Castles 2 – an early CD-ROM title, back before developers knew quite what to do with all that space – which was even better: the same castle-building awesomeness but with great new diplomacy and resource-management exercises, as well as siege engines and the ability to launch your own offensives. In the end, getting Civilization later in the same year meant that it stole more of my time, but I still sometimes dig out Castles 2 and have a quick game, from time to time.
Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates!
Early during the development of Three Rings, I came across an existing company with the name Three Rings Design, based in the US. Their major product is a game called Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, an MMOG in which players – as pirates – play puzzle games in order to compete at various tasks (you know, piratey tasks: like sailing, drinking, and swordfighting). Claire and I both got quite deeply involved during the beta, and played extensively, even forming our own crew, The Dastardly Dragons, at one point, and met some fascinating folks from around the world. When the beta came to an end we both took advantage of a “tester’s bonus” chance to buy lifetime subscriptions, which we both barely used. Despite the fact that I’ve almost never played the game since then, it still “stole my life” in a quite remarkable way for some time, and my experience with this (as well as with the Ultima Online beta, which I participated in many years earlier) has shown me that I should never get too deeply involved with MMORPGs again, lest they take over my life.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
As a Civilization fan, I leapt on the chance to get myself a copy of Alpha Centauri, and it was awesome. I actually pirated my first copy of the game, copying it from a friend who I studied with, and loved it so much that I wrapped up the cash value of the game in an envelope and sent it directly to the development team, asking them to use it as a “beer fund” and have a round on me. Later, when I lost my pirated copy, I bought a legitimate copy, and, later still, when I damaged the disk, bought another copy, including the (spectacular) add-on pack. Alpha Centauri is the only game I’ve ever loved so much that I’ve paid for it three times over, despite having stolen it, and it was worth every penny. Despite its age, I still sometimes dig it out and have a game.
Wii Sports Tennis – Target Training Perhaps the most recent game in the list, this particular part of the Wii Sports package stole my life for weeks on end while I worked up to achieving a coveted platinum medal at it, over the course of several weeks. I still play it once in a while: it’s good to put on some dance music and leap around the living room swinging a Wiimote to the beat.
Rollercoaster Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 In the comments to my original post, Rory reminded me of these games which stole my life during my first couple of years at University (and his, too!). RCT2, in particular, ate my time for years and still gets an occassional play out of me – but was pipped to the post by OpenTTD, of course.
X-COM series Another series of games which hooked me while I was young and stayed with me as I grew, the X-COM series (by which – of course – I mean Enemy Unknown, Terror From The Deep, and Apocolypse; not Interceptor and certainly not that modern travesty, Aftermath). Extremely difficult, each of them took me months or years before I completed them, and I’ve still never finished Apocalypse on anything higher that the lowest-two difficulty settings.
I wanted to write more and include more games, but by the time I’d made as much progress as I had, above, the moment felt like it had passed, so I quietly dropped the post. I suppose I’ve now shared what I was thinking, anyway.
Title: Rational Human Interaction Unpublished since: September 2007 Unpublished because: Too pretentious, even for me; never completed
I had some ideas about how humans behave and how their rationality and their emotions can conflict, and what this can mean. And then I tried to write it down and I couldn’t find a happy medium between being profound and insightful and being obvious and condescending. Later, I realised that I was tending towards the latter and, besides, much of what I was writing was too self-evident to justify a blog post, so I dropped it.
Title: Long Weekend Unpublished since: April 2008 Unpublished because: Too long, too wordy, and by the time it was nearing completion it was completely out of date
This post was supposed to be just an update about what was going on in my life and in and around Aber at the time. But as anybody who’s neglected their blog for more than a little while before may know, it can be far too easy to write about everything that’s happened in the interim, and as a result end up writing a blog post that’s so long that it’ll never be finished. Or maybe that’s just me.
In any case, the highlights of the post – which is all that it should have consisted of, ultimately – were as follows:
It was the Easter weekend on 2008, and town had gone (predictably) quiet, as many of my friends took the opportunity to visit family elsewhere, and there was a particular absence of tourists this year. Between Matt being in Cornwall, Sarah being out-of-town, and Ruth, JTA, Gareth and Penny off skiing (none of them wrote anything about it, so no post links there), it felt a little empty at our Easter Troma Night, which was rebranded a Troma Ultralite as it had only two of the requisite four people present: not even the three needed for a Troma Lite! Similarly, our Geek Night only had four attendees (but that did include Paul, unusually).
Claire and I took a dig through her wardrobe about found that of the skirts and dresses that she famously never wears, she owns over two dozen of them. Seriously.
I played and reviewed Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty, which turned out to be a second-rate first-person shooter with a reasonably clever alternate history slant. I’m a fan of alternate histories in video games, so this did a good job of keeping me amused over the long bank holiday weekend.
Paul and I were arranging for a beach-fire-barbeque with Ruth and JTA when they got back, to which we even anticipated attendence from the often-absent not-gay-Gareth.
Title: Confused And Disoriented Unpublished since: April 2008 Unpublished because: Never finished; abandoned
Having received mixed feedback about my more-unusual dreams over the years, I’ve taken to blogging about a great number of them in order to spread the insanity and let others comment on quite how strange my subconscious really is. This was to be one of those posts, and it catalogued two such unusual dreams.
In the first, I was at my grandma’s funeral (my grandma had died about two years earlier). A eulogy was given by both my mum and – confusingly – by Andy R. Afterwards, the crowd present booed them.
In the second, I revisited a place that I’ve dreamed of many times before, and which I think is a reference to some place that I found as a young child, but have never been able to determine the location of since. In this recurring theme I crawl through a tunnel (possibly of rock, as in a ruined castle) to reach a plateau (again, ruined castle-like), from which I am able to shuffle around to a hidden ledge. I have such vivid and strong memories of this place, but my faith in my own memory is shaken by the very “dreamlike” aspects of the event: the tunnel, the “secret place”, as well as the fact that it has appeared in my dreams time and time again for over 15 years. Perhaps it never existed at all: memory is a fragile and malleable thing, and it’s possible that I made it up entirely.
Some parts of it are less dream-like. For example, I’m aware that I’ve visited this place a number of times at different ages, and that I found it harder to fit through the tunnel to re-visit my secret childhood hiding place when I was older and larger.
A few years ago, I spoke to my mum about this dream, and described the location in great detail and asked where it might be, and she couldn’t think of anywhere. It’s strange to have such a strong and profound memory that I can’t justify through the experience of anybody else, and which consistently acts as if it were always just a dream. Maybe it’s real, and maybe it isn’t… but it’s beginning to sound like I’ll never know for sure.
Title: The Code In The School Unpublished since:May 2008 Unpublished because: Never finished; abandoned
Another dream, right after Troma Night 219, where it seems that the combination of the beer and the trippy nature of the films we watched inspired my brain to run off on a tangent of it’s own:
In the dream, I was visiting a school as an industrialist (similarly to how I had previously visited Gregynog on behalf of the Computer Science department at Aberystwyth University in 2005, 2006 and 2007). While there, I was given a challenge by one of the other industrialists to decipher a code represented by a number of coloured squares. A basic frequency analysis proved of no value because the data set was too small, but I was given a hint that the squares might represent words (sort of like early maritime signal flags). During mock interviews with the students, I used the challenge as a test, to see if I could get one of them to do it for me, without success. Later in the dream I cracked the message, but I’m afraid I didn’t make a record of how I did so or what the result was.
Unpublished since: May 2008 Unpublished because: Forgotten about; abandoned
At the beginning of the long, hot summer of 2008, I wrote about the immenent exodus of former students (and other hangers-on) from Aberystwyth, paying particular attention to Matt P and to Ele, who left for good at about this time. And then I forgot that I was writing about it. But Matt wrote about leaving and Ele wrote about being away, anyway, so I guess my post rapidly became redundant, anyway.
Title: =o( Unpublished since: June 2008 Unpublished because: Too negative; unfinished
I don’t even know what I was complaining about, but essentially this post was making an excuse to mope for a little while before I pull myself together and get things fixed. And that’s all that remains. It’s possible that it had something to do with this blog post, but without context I’ve no idea what that one was about, too. Sounds like it was about an argument, and so I’m happier just letting it go, whatever it was, anyway.
Title: Spicy Yellow Split Pea Soup Unpublished since: November 2008 Unpublished because: Got lazy; unfinished
I came up with a recipe for a delicious spicy yellow split pea soup, and wanted to share it with you, so I made myself the stub of a blog entry to remind myself to do so. And then I didn’t do so. Now I don’t even remember the recipe. Whoops!
In any case, the moral is that pulses make great soup, as well as being cheap and really good for you, and are especially tasty as the days get shorter and winter tightens it’s icy grip. Also that you shouldn’t leave just a title for a blog post for yourself and expect to fill it in afterwards, because you won’t.
Title: (untitled) Unpublished since: December 2008 Unpublished because: Too busy building, configuring, and working on my new PC, ironically
December is, according to Rory, the season for hardware failures, and given that alongside his troubles, Ruth’s laptop died and Paul’s computer started overheating, all at the same time, perhaps he’s right. So that’s when my long-serving desktop computer, Dualitoo, decided to kick the bucket as well. This was a particularly awkward time, as I was due to spend a weekend working my arse off towards a Three Rings deadline. Thankfully, with the help of friends and family, I was able to pull forward my plans to upgrade anyway and build myself a new box, Nena (which I continue to use to this day).
I began to write a blog post about my experience of building a computer using only local shops (I was too busy to be able to spare the time to do mail order, as I usually would), but I was unfortunately too busy building and then using – in an attempt, ultimately successful, to meet my deadline – my new computer to be able to spare time to blogging.
But I did learn some valuable things about buying components and building a mid-to-high spec computer, in Aberystwyth, all in one afternoon:
Daton Computers are pretty much useless. Actual exchange:
“Hi, I need to buy [name of component], or another [type of component] with [specification of component].”
“Well, you’ll need to bring your computer in for us to have a look at.”
“Umm; no – I’m building a computer right now: I have [other components], but I really need a [name of component] or something compatible – can you help?”
“Well, not without looking at the PC first.”
“WTF??? Why do you need to look at my PC before you can sell me a [type of component]?”
“So we can tell what’s wrong.”
“But I know what’s wrong! I only took the shrink-wrap off the [other components] this morning: all I need is a [type of component], because I don’t have one! Now can you sell one to me or not?”
“Well, not without -” /Dan exits/
Crosswood Computers are pretty much awesome. Actual exchange:
“Hi, remember me? I was in here this morning.”
“Yeah: how’s the rebuild going?”
“Not bad, but I’ve realised that I’m short by a [type of cable]: do you sell them?”
“We’re out of stock right now, but I’ve got some left-over ones in the back; you can have one for free.” /Dan wins/
It’s possible to do this, but not recommended. The local stores, and in particular Crosswood, are great, but when time allows it’s still preferable to do your component-shopping online.
Title: Child Porn Unpublished since: April 2009 Unpublished because: Never finished; too much work in writing this article
I had planned to write an article about the history of child pornography, starting well before Operation Ore and leading up to the present day, and to talk about the vilification of paedophiles (they’re the new terrorists!) – to the point where evidence is no longer as important as the severity of the alleged crime (for particularly awful examples of this kind of thinking, I recommend this article). I’m all in favour of the criminalisation of child abuse, of course, but I think it’s important that people understand the difference between the producers and the consumers of child porn, as far as a demonstrable intent to cause harm is concerned.
Anyway, the more I read around the subject, the more I realised that nothing I could write would do justice to the topic, and that others were already saying better what I was thinking, so I abandoned the post.
Title: 50 Days On An EeePC 1000 Unpublished since: May 2009 Unpublished because: By the time I was making progress, it had been more like 150 days
Earlier in the year, I’d promised that I’d write a review of my new notebook, an Asus EeePC 1000. I thought that a fun and engaging way to do that would be to write about the experience of my first 50 days using it (starting, of course, with reformatting it and installing a better operating system than the one provided with it).
Of course, by the time I’d made any real progress on the article, it was already well-past 50 days (in fact, I’d already changed the title of the post twice, from “30 Days…” to “40 Days…” and then again to “50 Days…”). It’s still a great laptop, although I’ve used it less than I expected over the last nine months or so (part of my original thinking was to allow me to allow Claire to feel like she’d reclaimed the living room, which was being taken over by Three Rings) and in some ways it’s been very-recently superceded by my awesome mobile phone.
Title: El De-arr Unpublished since: September 2009 Unpublished because: Too waffley; couldn’t be bothered to finish it; somewhat thrown by breaking up with Claire
Over the years I’ve tried a handful of long-distance romantic relationships, and a reasonable number of short-distance ones, and, in general, I’ve been awful at the former and far better at the latter. In this blog post I wrote about my experience so far of having a long-distance relationship with Ruth and what was making it work (and what was challenging).
I’m not sure where I was going with it in the first place, but by the time Claire and I broke up I didn’t have the heart to go back into it and correct all of the references to her and I, so I dropped it.
Title: Knowing What I’m Talking About Unpublished since: October 2009 Unpublished because: Never finished; got distracted by breaking up with Claire
On the tenth anniversary since I started doing volunteer work for emotional support helplines (starting with a Nightline, and most recently for Samaritans), I wrote about a talk I gave at BiCon 2009 on the subject of “Listening Skills for Supporting Others”. It was a little under-attended but it went well, and there was some great feedback at the end of it. I’d helped out with a workshop entitled “Different Approaches to Polyamory” alongside fire_kitten, but strangely it was this, the workshop whose topic should be that which I have the greater amount of experience in, that made me nervous.
This blog post was supposed to be an exploration of my personal development over the previous decade and an examination of what was different about giving this talk to giving countless presentations at helpline training sessions for years that made me apprehensive. I think it could have been pretty good, actually. Unfortunately a lot of blog posts started around this time never ended up finished as I had other concerns on my plate, but I might come back to this topic if I give a similar presentation at a future conference.
So there we have it: a big cleanse on my perpetually unfinished blog posts. I’ve still got about eight drafts open, so there’s a reasonable chance that I might finish some of them, some day: but failing that, I’ll wait until another decade or so of blogging is up and I’ll “purge” them all again, then.
And if you had the patience to read all of these – these “17 blog posts in one” – well, thanks! This was more about me than about you, so I don’t mind that plenty of you will have just scrolled down to the bottom and read this one sentence, too.
Back to work after a great weekend. Troma Night was particularly successful this week – we watched a RiffTrax‘d copy of Eragon (“Get your ragons online at e-ragon!”), which was suitably hilarious; the classic bit of self-deprecating sci-fi that is Barbarella (“Hmm… camp bad guy number 104… how will Barbarella get past this one? Oh; using sex. What a surprise!”); and Human Traffic, which is what Trainspotting could have been if it wanted to appeal to the 24 Hour Party People demographic. Kinda.
That’s three mediocre-to-good films, plus a RiffTrax on one of them. That’s pretty good stamina for Troma Nights these days. After the last film had finished, everybody stood up and meandered towards the door, chatting as they went about the various recent events (floods, terrorism, blah blah) that had been going on. Then stopped walking. Then kept talking. “Well, I’m sitting down again,” I said, after awhile, and so did everybody else. And so, for the first time in years, a 3-film Troma Night ended with everybody sat around chatting for half an hour or more. Which is fab: Troma Night’s always supposed to have been about the people (not the films, the beer, or the pizza, which jointly come about second), and actually stopping to pass time at the end of a night was a fun and unusual reminder of what we’re all really here for.
Then on Sunday we had a low-key but “different” Geek Night. We only had Matt P, Claire and me, so we took the opportunity to learn and try out a handful of the games from the Playing With Pyramids book and Treehouse sets Claire had gotten from Looney Labs (creators of Chrononauts and Fluxx, amongst other things). Aside from Treehouse itself (which is an easy-to-learn and short game – with perhaps a little too much luck – that gets you used to playing with the pyramids), we played Icehouse, Homeworlds, and RAMbots.
Icehouse is the original Icehouse strategy game – a real-time (no, not simultaneous turn: actually real-time – players can all perform legal moves whenever they like) board game, which is somewhat unusual. Icehouse is fun, but I think it would work better with more players, more diplomacy, and more thoughtful strategy than we were executing.
Homeworlds is a stunningly-clever turn-based game of space strategy, diplomacy, exploration, and conquest. There’s a few things in it that make you have to think quite hard (such as the way that the hyperspace system works, the fact that the orientation, not the colour, of a piece implies it’s ownership, and the difference between free and sacrificial actions). Not to mention the secret alignments of the players. This game’s been running through my head ever since we played (I’ve just come up with a strategy that I should have done in the last three turns to lead me to a victory that would have been particularly brutal).
Finally, RAMbots – which I quite liked, but which I think could be ludicrously good fun with four players – is a simultaneous-turn based game of secret orders, which reminds me slightly of the ship-to-ship combat in Yo-Ho-Ho! Puzzle Pirates! or Space Fleet. Players each secretly “program” their robots using instructions from their “limited” code pool and execute them in a way that will seem instantly familiar to any computer scientists who play it (at least, those who are familiar with ideas like priority queues, program counters, and parallel processing), and shouldn’t be so hard for others to learn, too. These robots can drive around the board (actually a chessboard) trying to activate and ram “beacons” in an order chosen by the player to their right, but it’s also possible to ram, push, pull, tip up, and shoot at the other robots too… causing damage lets you “steal” from their instruction set, making it harder for them to write effective programs… and so it goes on.
We’ll be having another Geek Night on Friday, if you want to join in: we’ll be playing more of these four games (and perhaps some other bits of pyramid-related fun), and maybe even a game or Illuminati, if it’s not too late by the time it (and it’s carriers) arrive.
My mum and my sisters came down for the weekend. I’d not quite gotten around to recovering from my illness these past few days, so I was probably at least slightly grotty company, but nonetheless we all had a good time.
We visited Little Amsterdam, Aberystwyth’s first sex shop, shortly after they opened on Monday morning. They’ve got a huge selection of smoking goodies on display, and magic mushrooms for sale, but the sex toys won’t be arriving until Friday, I’m told. Aww. I play with myself a lot more often than I smoke. Ah well; I’ll return when they have some. At any rate, I got the chance to congratulate the store on making it to Aber after it’s months of legal efforts. Great work!
I’ve just bought a lifetime subscription to Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates!, perhaps the best MMORPG I’ve ever seen. It’s very, very impressive. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a go.
When my family left, Paul, Claire and I lounged, drank a couple of bottles of red wine, and played You Don’t Know Jack, a hilarious quiz game, on our TV. Paul won by a mile, and only a few times did I manage to finish with a score above zero (although I did improve as I got more drunk). Claire puked.
I need to catch up on all the lecture notes I’ve missed this last week. And apologise to my personal tutor for not having been at the tutorial meeting. And get to the office tomorrow and catch up on some *real* work. And harrass the Student Loans Company into getting me money faster.
I’m sitting doing some work on a web site for one of our clients, and Reb (you know, the ex-girlfriend) sends me another text message:
you around for easter? xx
As it happens, I won’t be. I could go visit my family for Easter, but this would result in two things happening:
My family would eat lots of chocolate, and I wouldn’t, on account of the fact that if I did my head would explode and I would die horribley.
I’d have to meet up with Reb.
I think I’ll stay in Aberystwyth. I’ve got heaps of work to do, anyway.
Kit and I ate at Burger King this evening, and each had one of their fantastic new special offer “Tex-Mex” burgers. They’re like their quarter-pounders, but with spicy cheese and spicy relish and… fresh jalapeno peppers instead of gherkins. Sweet.
Spent most of the evening playing the Alpha test of YoHoHo! Puzzle Pirates, which seems to occupy most of my time and probably my internet bandwidth at the moment. Ho hum.
Ursela is her own, walking, talking, swashbuckling example of the monopoly flag argument. I see the flag distribution happening along almost the same lines as the current crew situation.
A new player logs on. We’ll call him Steve. Steve is quickly greeted by a member of the largest, most aggressively expansionist flag/crew. We’ll call her Ursela. Ursela seems nice, her politics look good, and she is certainly persistent, so Steve joins the Dastards. Steve, as a new player, quickly sees the advantages of having such powerful crewmates. Many ships to job on, knowledge to be shared, a snappy in-house trade system.
Steve puzzles away happily with the Dastards.
Steve gets pretty good and wants more power and renown. Steve soon realizes that the sort of fame and riches he can get through the Dastards is only in keeping with the Dastard heirarchy. Much as he likes the Dastards, Steve thinks he can make it on his own, with his own ship, and this time… as Captain!
Or, Steve stays with the Dastards and they live happily ever after. Or there’s a terrible row and Steve’s new crew and the Dastards become lifelong foes and their rivalry and animosity are legendary. Or Steve never joined because he’s a distrustful paranoid and starts his own Crew of fellow misanthropes and they never amount to much because they’re always afraid of everybody stealing their maps.
People in this game are governed by their personalities just like in the real world. In the real world there are many different groups to be part of. And no one group gets everybody. And don’t forget, there are ooo-run flags too. So, we’ll have some in-game influence of what’s going on too. If the need for some sort of anti-trust activity arises, we’ll confront it, but until then, I think the system is working out pretty well.
(Who will likely have his own renegade flag of anti-imperialists, operating out of a volcano near the Canary Islands. Then all we’ll need is a giant submersible war machine…. mmmm)
Steve? Why didn’t you just call him Ava and be done with it.
Also an interesting group are the developers, not the ringers, but all the other game developers playing this game, and there’s quite a few of them. Im curious if they can say why they chose this game instead of Sims or Everquest etc?
I’m a dev. (not a PP dev., of course), and you’ll probably laugh, Rengor, when you hear how I discovered the game…
I’m currently spending way too much of what little free time I have developing a secure online database system, which I’ll be selling at cost price to a network of charities in the UK providing night-time telephone listening and information to students. This system will help these voluntary organisations find and manage volunteers for specific nights of the week, send text messages to them to remind them when they’re due to be ‘on duty’, provide a secure forum, and (eventually) a host of other features.
While the selection of organisations which this system will serve are… somewhat diverse in thier policies (much to my horror as the system I develop has to cope with all of them), one thing they all have in common is the amount of time the telephone has to ring before they will answer it: three rings. As a result, my system is called Three Rings.
So; I looked for a domain name for it… threerings.com was already gone. Oh, I thought, I wonder who owns that? So I hopped to the web site and thus found Three Rings Design Inc., and, being a fan of MMORPGs and all things MUD and puzzle games, I signed up for Yohoho!
But what about the rest of you dev’s? I know there’re more tech’s out there than just me, arr!