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Category Archives: Antiquarian Productions

The Pyramids of Giza (A Wonders of the World Book)

While I normally try not to mix the digital and analog sides of my writing too much, I do just have to announce that an e-book version of my just-completed series on the Pyramids of Giza over at The Analog Antiquarian is now available at Amazon. It’s had much more copy-editing and polishing applied compared to what first went up on the web, and I’m tremendously proud of the end result. By all means, check it out if you’re at all interested in the subject matter. Although the immediate feedback I received as I was first writing the chapters online made the book that much better, the finished product is definitely a more natural fit to this medium than a blog-style presentation.

If you do buy a copy, or you got a free copy as an Analog Antiquarian patron, or if you have just been following the ongoing series on the web, I’d hugely appreciate it if you could write a quick (and honest) review at either the American Amazon site or your local version of same (the book should be available worldwide). Reviews are the currency at Amazon which can make or break a book like this one.

Thanks so much!

 

Patreon Security Breach

As some of have probably already heard, there was a recent security breach on the Patreon website. Apparently a mirror of the site that was intended for testing and development purposes was left exposed on the Internet at large and hacked. Data dumps of the whole thing are already out there on the usual torrent sites. Patreon claims — and I have no reason to doubt them — that no credit-card numbers or other financial information was exposed. Password hashes were stolen, but were encoded in such a way that it would take a staggering amount of computing power to crack any of them. Your email address and possibly your home address, if you provided it to the site, were stored in the clear as I understand it, and thus likely have been compromised.

I’m very, very sorry about this, as I’m sure is Patreon as well. They’re doing a great service that’s made a big difference for my life and for this blog, but they’ve been growing fast and obviously some things just got away from them. As for the people who do this sort of thing… I just don’t get it. Why not create something instead of tearing things down all the time?

At this point the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, so there’s not much to be done other than to change your password on Patreon, as well as anywhere else you might have been using the same password. If the damage is limited largely to lists of names and email addresses, it’s not so bad as these things go I suppose. If I hear more, and certainly if I have any reason to suspect it’s worse than that, I’ll let you know.

 

Patreon

Patreon

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s now been about three-and-a-half years since I started this blog. Over that time it’s come a long way. After beginning with no real direction, I found my forte within the first six months or so, and the blog evolved into the grand history you all know and (hopefully) love. Along the way I like to believe I’ve become a better writer, and I know I’ve become a much better and more thorough researcher, with many more sources at my disposal. I must admit that some of those early articles are a bit painful for me to read now (I really need to do something about that someday). But best of all, I’ve found you folks, a core group of loyal readers who seem to grow by just a little bit every month. It hasn’t been a meteoric rise, but it has been a steady one and a fun one. You’re the best readers anywhere, you know, almost unfailingly polite and witty and perceptive and helpful, and I appreciate each and every one of you enormously. Every writer wants, more than anything else, to know some people out there are reading. Thanks for that!

So, having buttered you up, let’s move on to the real subject of today’s post. After some months of dithering over the question, I’ve decided it’s time to take the next step in my blogging career. As you can probably imagine based on the length and depth of the articles I post, the writing and research for the blog  absorbs many hours of my time per week. If I can start to bring in a little bit more, and on a more consistent basis, I’ll be able to devote more time to my work here, which will translate directly into more and better articles for you to enjoy. Imagine if you will a sliding scale of hours devoted to computer-gaming history that terminates in my being able to make it my full-time job. I’m afraid I’m a long way from there, may indeed never reach it, but every little bit of income the blog does manage to generate shifts that scale just slightly in a positive direction, resulting in more articles published, more games and other topics covered, and more depth to that coverage.

I’ve therefore decided to add Patreon to the existing PayPal donation system. As many of you probably already know, Patreon is a way for readers like you to support the work of creators like me through something like the old patronage model that used to fund art and literature back in the day. It has the advantage for me that it represents a steady income stream I can count on on a per-article basis, whereas one-off donations tend to move through cycles of feast and famine that are impossible to plan for. You need only go to my fresh new Patreon page to sign up. If you do so, you’ll be automatically billed for each substantial article that I write for the blog (i.e., articles like this one are not included). You can decide how much that amount will be. I’m certainly not asking you to break the bank here; a dollar or two (or the equivalent in your local currency) is fine, although if any of you love the blog and are flush with cash I certainly wouldn’t balk at more. On the other hand, some of you may want to pay a bit less, maybe just a dollar or two per month. I unfortunately can’t offer monthly and per-article payments simultaneously, but there is a way around it: just set a per-article level of $1 and also set a monthly limit of $1, $2, or whatever you like. This will have the same effect, with the added advantage that you don’t pay anything if I stop blogging for a month for some reason.

Patreon supporters will gain access to a special members area of my Patreon page, where we can interact a bit more informally and where you can have a bit more of a say on certain things that happen around here. I’ll give sneak previews from time to time of upcoming articles, ask for your input on games and topics worthy of coverage, and if there’s interest host occasional meet-ups via Google Hangouts or the like.

The PayPal donation button to the right will not be going away, so if you do still prefer to make a single lump-sum donation by all means feel free. And whether you can contribute financially or not, I could also use your help in one other way. As just about everyone must realize by now, I’m terrible at self-promotion, and worse at social media. So, anything you could do to help me get the word out to potential supporters would be hugely appreciated.

And that’s that, except to say, as Bartles and Jaymes did back in the year of which I’m writing these days, “Thank you for your support.” Next up in the on-deck circle: a certain spacefaring epic.

 

Death off the Cuff, Android Style

Death of the Cuff

I was recently priviliged to help Simon Christiansen make his interactive fiction Death off the Cuff into an app for Android devices. It’s currently available from Google Play and the Amazon App Store, with the Samsung store and Barnes and Noble Nook hopefully soon to follow.

Death off the Cuff is not an epic like my own The King of Shreds and Patches, but it is a thoroughly entertaining little puzzler built around a clever conceit:

“They all stare at you expectantly, like children waiting for you to tell them a bedtime story. Who can blame them? You are, after all, Antoine Saint Germain, the great French detective. No criminal has ever been a match for you, and everybody is looking forward to a description of your brilliant deductions.

There is just one small problem. One tiny detail that makes it different this time. A mere trifle, really. This time you have no idea who did it. An entire day of investigation has turned up nothing. No one even seems to have a proper motive. You are almost tempted to confess to the murder yourself.

No big deal. Most of the time when you do this the murderer breaks down and confesses half way through your speech anyway. All you have to do is stall and wait for the guilty party to slip up. People love talking about themselves. If you wait long enough, they always end up revealing something you can use.”

Inspired by Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories, “Death off the Cuff” is a short Interactive Fiction piece, in which you must bluff your way through the traditional revelatory monologue at the end of a crime story. Can you make the murderer reveal him- or herself, without letting anyone know that you hadn’t already solved the case?

If you do buy the app (available for a modest $.99, or an appropriate amount in your local currency), please think about leaving a rating or, better yet, a review at the store where you purchased it. Ratings and reviews are key to sales in the stores, so help Simon out if you can! And if you enjoy the game please tell your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and, what the hell, even the real world.

 

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Underway in the USA

As you may have noticed, things have been quiet around here for a short time now. To respond to a few queries I’ve received (it’s so nice to know you care): yes, the blog will continue. However, it will be a few more weeks before that happens I’m afraid. My wife and I are taking my German in-laws on a road trip around the Southwest of the United States. (I’m writing this from our first stop after our starting point of Dallas, New Orleans.) We’ll be back home in Norway on the first of May, but it wil likely be a week or ten days after that before I can get caught up on other work and back to the blog. But bear with me please, because then we’ll be getting to Ultima III and the birth of Origin Systems, the continuing adventures of the text adventure in Britain, and at least one topic that may surprise you.

For now I’ll be wandering around my home country translating a lot of German and marveling at how unbelieavably cheap everything is here. Catch you in a few weeks!

(Update: Thanks for all your good wishes. We had a great trip. I’m back home in Oslo again now. Give me a week or so to get things settled, and then we should be rolling again around here.)