David Foster Wallace

Recently read a book by David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again : Essays and Arguments, based on a reccomendation by a friend to read “Infinite Jest”. The don’t always have what you want at bookstores, but hey I’m on a non-fiction kick anyways. It was a great non-ficiton collection from a great humorist and intellegent author. Worth a read any day.

I was cruising around and found an article on Salon.com about his latest collection of stories, titled Oblivion : Stories. The Salon article (free day pass available), is a good read. It makes mention of Wallace’s very interesting and well done use of footnotes when he writes. I wasn’t sure about this while reading his collection, but it added greatly to the overall reading and I’m interested to see it used in his fiction work as well.

The Perils of Rosella

Feeling a wave of nostalgia after the fact that Sierra is being ?downsized,? I went and looked through old folders of older games that I hadn?t played in a while. King?s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, the game that consumed me for months and months of my childhood, said play me and I obliged willingly.

I remember seeing an early screenshot for King?s Quest 4 in an old computer games magazine, and I knew I was going to be hooked. After experiencing the King?s Quest I, Space Quest I and II and such, I knew that this new amazingly colored and detailed game had to be mine! It was on the top of my Christmas list in 1989, and my parents put up with my constant stream of information about Sierra On-Line and the amazing new game they had. Just look at these pictures on the back of the box!!

When I got it for Christmas that year, the family was visiting my grandparents (who owned a Mac) and so I poured over each and every page of each and every insert. Just biding my time until I could arrive back at home and pop disk 1 of 9 into the A: drive and type the ?sierra? to get things rolling. 9 disks. This game was huge! Our home computer didn?t have a hard drive, just two handy 5.25? drives with a good old 640k of ram. MS Dos 3.2 and GEM desktop if I wanted to draw with the painting program.

The game?s opening with King Graham looking old and gray, getting sick and Rosella (his Daughter) going off on an adventure to save him. The plot was great back then and now ends up just a little simplistic and cute. Skip past it all and Rosella stands on a beach, alone. Waves lap up on the shore. This was heaven and it was only beginning. I soon discovered the problem of having a 9 disk game with no hard drive. Walk one screen, ?Please insert Disk 4?, walk two screens north, ?Please insert Disk 2?. You get used to it quickly, and the excitement of playing disk that had never entered your drive until that request before was great. You were making progress into unknown territory.

I spent months traveling around the land, talking to the natives, getting fishing poles, and true to a Sierra game, dying constantly while climbing circular stairs. My friends soon had their own ?copies? of the game and we gave each other hints, and exalted over new areas and puzzles as we made it further in the game. My sister would join me in the quest, offering help and advice, but mostly watching me die by the hands of the troll, or the blind witches. Eventually it all came to an end with my father saved, and the family happy again. The ending of the game never really mattered to me, but it was more the experience of the game that stuck with me. From there I continued my Sierra love affair with Space Quest and Manhunter: New York.

Sad as it is to admit, I wrote fan letters to Roberta Williams when I was a kid. Twice. I received letters back from her both times. As a kid, having your game designer idol write you a personal letter back was thrilling, and I had the envy of my peers. I was even thanked for my game design ideas, and told they preferred to use their own in-house ideas, rather than those from their fans.

When replaying it this weekend, it was amazing to see how quickly the typing and the interface of walking around came back to me. It was like it never left. I remembered where things were and where I had to use them, and where random little things lay. I also quickly remembered to save often and really save in a few different save files. The game will let you get to places without the items you need to get out of them, and end up in a dead end. I really only forgot one piece (giving the book to the minstrel) but all of the other puzzles came back to me like I had never left the game.

The thing that surprised me was the lack of sound and music. Sierra helped to pioneer sound cards for the industry, just like ID did for video cards with Quake. Kings Quest 4 doesn?t really seem to show it so much. There just was a lack of ambient noises (aside from opening a door or getting a point) and music was severely limited. Maybe it was still early in the days of the AdLib card (ohh how I drooled for one of those, and ended up getting a Sound Blaster Pro a couple of years later), but the music was just a slightly upgraded version of the PC speaker sound. Maybe the MT-32 sound would blow me away, but I don?t think they hit their stride with the music till King?s Quest 5 and onward for full use of sound cards.

Go find it, play it, ignore the dated graphics and the lack of a mouse interface. Save often and play it. You?ll feel all warm and fuzzy if you like adventure games. One of the finest in a series that died in its later incarnations. It?s the pinnacle that was all downhill from there.


I have wanted for a while to be able to write about things I’ve read or watched or played, and record what they’ve made me think about, but I wanted feedback and other ideas to enter into the picture as well.

Enter this blog. Writing in it gives an odd sense of… I’m not quite sure of exactly what the feeling is, but it is a release of thoughts and ideas that I have mulled over. Some of them will probably not be as coherent as I would like, some might be to clear or one sided. That’s why I like the idea of public viewing. I want to be called on things that are off, and have countering viewpoints. I like this idea and we’ll see if it works in action. It may not.

Distractions from work

Since work is insanely boring from time to time, you need distractions. Quick ones, that are easy to close fast as well. Also it has to have a score so you can compete against your co-workers. Enter Copter.

It’s not new to the interweb, but it’s fun, and fairly addicting (“Just one more run”). My top score has been 1,345. Beat it. Let me know.

Star driven animation vs. character driven animation

I was reading an article on “The Terminal” where it was speaking about how Spielberg and Hanks both work well together, and it mentioned Dreamworks SKG, where Spielberg was the “S” in SKG. I couldn’t remember who the K or the G were (Jeff Katzenberg and David Geffen for those who care), so in finding the Dreamworks website, I found out about Shark Tale.

Putting aside any similarity to another fish movie, it made clear to me again the differences in Dreamwork’s style of animated film and Pixar’s style.

Take the advertising for Shrek: “Hey we have this animated movie, with Eddie Murphy, Mike Meyers and Cameron Diaz playing the lead roles, and by the way there is a story somewhere in there.”
Then you have Monster’s Inc: “Hey we have this great story with monsters in the closets, and oh yea, by the way Billy Crystal is playing one of the characters.”

Completly different marketing stratagies, and also different goals as a movie.

Dreamworks has it’s focus on it’s talent that it brings into it’s movies. It wants the stars names to drive you to see it. Go for the stars, and it’s a bonus that the movie might be good. Pixar on the other hand is so story driven that it’s the characters that matter much more than the actor that plays them. Not to say they don’t get top rate talent, and that they don’t push them, but for an example see the latest trailer for “The Incredibles,” the latest Pixar movie coming soon. Do ever really get to see who is actually playing these characters? No, it’s focus is on the creators of these great stories that you remember, and the quirky new one they have created, not Will Smith as a fish!

This isn’t to say that I don’t like Shrek. It was a fun movie, and I will probably watch it again someday. Sure I’ll also see Shrek 2 and possibly even this new Shark Tale movie. For me, at the end of the day I care more about what happens in Pixar movies and where the characters end up when the movie is over. For some people, it’s different, and that is why Dreamwork’s movies do so well in the market.

Beating me to the punch

Every once and a while, I’m sure like all of you, I get a great idea. Something that would be really great to do and would be helpful to lots of people. Then I go and play Dr. Mario or something and do nothing about it. One of those ideas for years has been to scan in old Nintendo manuals in high quality and not to put any kind of watermarking, tagging or selling them like some other sites.

Enter HQ Scans. These guys have been scanning in manuals from all sorts of different systems and preserving all of it with nice high quality releases, giving them out for free, with no watermarking or tags. They are even scanning in things like the maps, ads, and warranty information that could easily be forgotten about and lost. I have to commend these guys, and even try and contribute to their worthy cause.

Here is a torrent link to their latest NES pack: NES Manual Pack 1.01 torrent

Give it a looksie, help them out, and be glad that someone wasn’t as lazy as I am and actually did something about his idea.

The Blog

Why blog? It’s not as if there arn’t 2,000,000 other blogs out there pertaining from the mundane to the profound. This is more of a learning experience and a way to express thoughts on whatever is happening around.

I’m not verbose like some people seem to be, typing and typing just to hear the sound of the keys, and LoL hoping that somewhere in the midst of all that a nugget of sense might pop out. Short and sweet. We’ll see what happens.

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