The PAX East Files: The Disc
Mar 30th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My favorite game developer is Steve Meretzky. I could go on at length about exactly why – I could totally spaz out in excruciating detail, like how the Malls n’ Muggers scene in Spellcasting 101 is one of the things I like best about video games… but I’ll simply say I want to make games like he does.

In 1998 I went to E3 with my pals Walrustitty and his girlfriend-turned-wife Cathy. It was in Atlanta, and I recall it behind hot, humid and miserable at day, but quite pleasant at night. The citizens seemed to have an almost palatable dread that their football team wouldn’t win it all before their rivals in New Orleans. I’m just kidding, nobody in Atlanta cares about the local teams. Douglas Adams was at E3 promoting Starship Titanic, an adventure game that he created with The Digital Village.

Douglas was sitting by himself before the official thing for Starship, and I had my “Masterpieces of Infocom” CD. I said hello and asked if he would sign it. He did and I thanked him and immediately left before I made a jackass out of myself. That was critical, I thought at the time.

I had always said that if I could ever add one autograph to that disc, it would be that of Douglas’s co-collaborator on the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game, Steve Meretzky. Well, on Friday, thanks to the generosity of GET LAMP director Jason Scott, I was able to meet Steve and tell him I love his games. I wanted to just put a picture of the CD on the Internet because otherwise it will just continue to be one of my favorite things at my house, and nobody can get here because of the hollyhocks and sunflowers.

You can click on it to get the larger photo. I know that HHGG isn’t actually on that disc (both Hitch-Hiker’s and Shogun were unable to be included, as they were based on previous novels) but I like it anyway. I probably even like it because of that. I don’t have many autographs or anything, but it makes me happy every time I look at that.

The PAX East Files: Fallacy of Dawn
Mar 28th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Hello! Today I got an opportunity to sell Fallacy of Dawn at PAX East at Jason Scott’s table. If you happened to pick up a copy, let me please, first, thank you. There’s always the possibility that something may go wrong in a printed version, so if you have any trouble running the game, please do not hesitate to get a hold of me:

Robb Sherwin: e-mail –
Twitter: icecreamjonsey

I wanted to make sure there were a bunch of ways to run the game. Any of the following will work:

– run the setup.msi program from Windows
– drag dawn.hex (the story file) onto hewin.exe
– you can extract the archive on the disc to your hard drive and launch dawn.hex from hewin.exe

And if you are running Linux or you’re on a Mac, there are interpreters there as well. I’ll be flying tomorrow so if I don’t immediately respond it is because my cell phone reception at 35,000 feet is marginally worse than at home.

Bull by Kent Tessman, on Netflix
Mar 21st, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My blog post about what Kent did with Bull is coming shortly, but you can add it to your queue here: – I completely recommend it. If I understand how it all works, if enough people queue it, Netflix will order it, which is a good thing because it’s a great film.

The PAX East Files: Welcome to Adventure!
Mar 11th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Stephen King once said that he considers you talented at writing if you’re able to pay the electric bill with money somebody gave you for something you wrote. This is great, but I have an ever-increasing number of arcade games down here, meaning my electric bill creeps higher and higher each month.  I therefore become more and more untalented at writing in the eyes of Stephen King every time I add another one. This sucks, though I’m one impulse Pengo away from getting a three-picture deal as I transmorph into Dan Brown.

I can’t get any money from the writing of interactive fiction, but luckily that doesn’t stop me from pumping money into it. I just ordered 100 promotional CDs, to be handed out for free at the Interactive Fiction Suite at the end of the month at PAX East. If you don’t know what any of that means, here’s a link. I tried to add some new games to the 2005 version on the archive. I don’t want to imply that the only people likely to read this blog post are my fellow developers of Interactive Fiction, but if I didn’t add your game, it’s only because I got this project at the last minute and was only able to get a hold of people I already knew. Games 40-75 on the thing are just recompiled Annoyotrons. My favorite’s “grape,” and I think yours will be, too. In putting the disc together, I became extremely frustrated with both of the .ISO managers I used, but I complained into Google Buzz to ensure that nobody would ever, ever see it. Oh, except for Chinese nationalists (你好, amigos!).

I think we’ve got Mrs. Winchester’s other nightmare nicely defined here, but at any rate, that should prevent anyone just walking off with the entire spindle of discs because they were attracted to pure aesthetics of it.  I did clean up the ripped wallpaper under the Lacuna Bee, but – “Template Is On,” more like GAME IS ON, BABY one sec, I have to get the door, a guy is dropping off an environmental Boon-ga Boon-ga cabinet tonight.

Okay, I’m back. My kitchen is actually more of a patient-zero mess than the one on the disc there, so I have to go. See you at PAX East! Oh – right: the gentleman that dropped the game off was average in height, with a slender build and narrow shoulders.

I Know I Hadn’t Opened Steam In A While, But
Mar 6th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Liveblogging the Silent Hunter 5 Release
Mar 2nd, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

March 1, 2010 11:51 PM Ice Cream Jonsey: It’s March 2nd most places. Pinback Is Not Playing Silent Hunter 5. This Isn’t Over Ubisoft. This Isn’t Over.

March 2, 2010 12:11 AM Horrible Gelatinous Blob: If there was ever a time to pirate as a form of protest, it’s now. I can’t believe that there’s no organized, concerted effort to call Ubisoft out on their bullshit.

March 2, 2010 10:17 AM Ice Cream Jonsey: I guess my main objection is that these retards put in their laughably terrible form of DRM on a goddamn SUB GAME, which is played by forty grognards in their sixties and my pal Pinback. They felt the need to ensure that a 12-year old warezer wasn’t pretending to run a German sub in a simulation of a war that was so long ago, it might as well be cavemen throwing rocks at each other, using the most restrictive form of copy protection ever. When we had zero games for our PCjr, we still weren’t pirating GATO or Silent Service. So, with this on-line based DRM, Ubisoft can control exactly when… EXACTLY when the PC version of Silent Hunter 5 works.

Yet they didn’t deign to preload the fucking thing anywhere.

It’s been established that digital downloads ended up giving the consumer exactly nothing. Now, this isn’t so bad, because video games – much like comic books and playing an arcade game – are always going to have a price expectation that resists inflation. A $50 video game in 1980 should cost about $120 today. People are never, ever going to pay that, so it’s understandable that consumers got no break on price when games shifted to software-only. However, digital downloaders are paying the same price, but also playing the game well after the customers who get it through retail. How the fuck does that make any sense? I can go to GameStop in a couple hours and pick up Silent Hunter 5 and play it over lunch. Pinback gave Ubisoft more profit than anyone at a brick and mortar store two weeks ago and will be allowed to begin downloading it sometime today. Sometime today, in theory. Nobody’s fucking said when it will be activated.

And again, I can’t make this point strongly enough: the common reply given to the lack of a pre-load option is that pirates would get a head start on it. This can not apply to Ubisoft’s next few releases, if their DRM is actually worth a damn. As it stands, Silent Hunter 5 is not available on Usenet, but then, Pinback ain’t playing it either. The impression I’m getting is that Ubisoft knows this DRM is shit and it’s as hollow and pathetic a threat as Tom Benson leaking plans to possibly move the Saints to Albuquerque, NM pre-Katrina.

March 2, 2010 10:19 AM

Pinback: The button just changed to “Download Now”!!
Pinback: Of course, I was not notified via email as I was promised.
Pinback: The button says DOWNLOAD NOW, but it is not <a hreffed> to anywhere!
Pinback: It is just a graphic!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Hahahaha
Ice Cream Jonsey: “Just a man in a dress!” — Saied, A Fire in the Sun
Pinback: I am OUTRAGED with outrage!!
Pinback: Please don’t let Enviro-Bear 2000 (well, and Basketball, of course) be the only games I play today.

March 2, 2010 10:47 AM

Pinback: Still just a graphic.  The “Send Info” button still appears active, though!  Let’s SEND SOME INFO!  SOMEWHERE!

Ice Cream Jonsey:
This is how you play. You send information to your sub in German-controlled waters. By clicking on the “send info” button in Direct2Drive.

Pinback: Yeah!  It’s a Doenitz simulation!

Ice Cream Jonsey: THAT’S why Ubisoft needed that remote server. And the genius is, it’s all text based. If this game is any good, we’ve got an early favorite for the 2010 XYZZYs.

March 2, 2010 1:10 PM

Ice Cream Jonsey: OK, it’s got to be ready NOW.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Those fat fucks have finished their meals, and went into EditPlus.
Ice Cream Jonsey: They must have.

Pinback: Let’s check-a-doodle do that shit!
Pinback: Come ON, people.
Pinback: Really it just has to be ready by about 6:30.
Pinback: That is when I planned on DIVING INTO THE MURKY DEPTHS OF THE ATLANTIC.

Ice Cream Jonsey: It should be ready by 6:30
Ice Cream Jonsey: If that means June 30th.

Pinback: So actually, 6, cuz I’ll need time to download and install and see just how bad the documentation is this time. For reference, the documentation in SH4 was… what’s a word for “the love child of abominable and embarrassing”?
Ice Cream Jonsey: ubisoft
Pinback: ZING!!
Ice Cream Jonsey: FUCK YOU WORM

Pinback: I feel bad for the Romanian developers. This is making people hate Romania even more than they did before, which is not fair. Not completely fair.

Ice Cream Jonsey: I guess what I like is that there is almost literally no place on Earth where this thing shouldn’t be out yet. It’s been March 2nd forever in Europe, even in countries like Romania, where I am not 100% certain anyone tells time.

Ice Cream Jonsey: But yeah, when your entire country is famous for sub sims and the nightly housing of the wretched undead, you tend towards a binary mode of time telling: vampires out / vampires not out.

Ice Cream Jonsey: This is a fucking abortion. It is March second EVERYWHERE. The only places farther west than us are Venus, Mercury, the moons of Mercury we haven’t found yet and the Sun.

Ice Cream Jonsey: Ubisoft’s DRM server better be located in the crabshoe fucking nebula

Ice Cream Jonsey:

Ice Cream Jonsey: Hello?

March 2, 2010 2:46 PM

Pinback: It’s gotta be ready now, right?
Pinback: Let’s take a GANDER.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I mean, it’s GOT to be ready now.
Ice Cream Jonsey: This is No-Excuse Radio!
Pinback: Right. Someone’s gonna die.
Pinback: And it’s NOT going to be the captain of any British merchant ships!!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Unless that captain moved to Romania to make unreleasable sub games.

Pinback: Unbelievable. Unbelievable!
Pinback: Good thing D2D doesn’t have a FORUM, or I would type something angrily into the internet!!
Ice Cream Jonsey: DO they have a forum?
Pinback: They do NOT.
Pinback: Can I buy it off Impulse yet? LET US SEE.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Impulse has it???
Ice Cream Jonsey: Last time they fucked you over!
Pinback: Aw sure. Gold edition too!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Unreal.
Pinback: Well, they’re right on top of this one!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Let’s complain on Brad Stardock’s forum about Direct2Drive.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I’m sure he’d eat that shit right up.

Pinback: Also, from the The World Is Against Poor, Poor Me file:
Pinback: I asked the guys at Pho Vy today, “Hey, how come I can’t order (or “pre-load”) any tripe or tendon with my pho?”
Pinback: He says it’s a PARKER HEALTH CODE THING.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Hahaha, what??
Pinback: Parker has a NO-TENDON LAW, I guess.
Ice Cream Jonsey: They’re tendons. Tendons! We even HAVE them as humans. It’s not like the Viet Cong decided to fill their soups with green strychnine.

Pinback: But wait, know what I told the guy after he said I couldn’t have tendon and tripe because the Parker health code?
Pinback: KNOW WHAT I TOLD HIM??!?!
Ice Cream Jonsey: What did you tell– no!
Pinback: I said:
Pinback: “That’s just offal!!”
Ice Cream Jonsey: AHHAhaha
Pinback: DAAAAAahahahaa
Ice Cream Jonsey: Ahhhahaha

March 2, 2010 3:41 PM

Editor’s Note: An hour ago, Pinback opened up a ticket with Direct2Drive over the fact that the “Download Now” button was not properly hreffed. Clicking on the “Download Now” button… didn’t go anywhere.

Pinback: HAHAHAH
Pinback: Well, they seem to have taken my support ticket to heart!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Did they write back?
Pinback: No they did not, but the button is back to saying “PRE-ORDERED”.

March 2, 2010 4:47 PM

Editor’s Note: Futher investigation has revealed a forum on Ubisoft where people are flipping their shit that the game isn’t out via digital download yet.

Pinback: Check this shit:

Hi [Redacted],
Thanks for contacting us, I can confirm that the game is being released today, please bear with us and we’ll have it available to download shortly.

Kind regards,
Rich Metcalfe
Lead Technical Specialist
Digital Distribution

Pinback: Wait, that was from two hours ago.
Ice Cream Jonsey: They’re doing great work.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Shortly!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Someone lost the piece of paper with the bit to flip.
Pinback: Another:

I tell you this. This is the first and last time i will try a digitasl download. I cannot believe the problems with this. To top it off the game is buggie anyway. So when we fiasnlly do get it downloaded and installed its not going to work all that well anyway. What a shame!! And no one else is making sub games either.

Pinback: I can’t believe I’m waiting all day for a buggie game.

Ice Cream Jonsey: “The lead designer of Centipede approves of that sentiment.” — shitty comment

Pinback: HAHAhahaha


March 2, 2010 4:55 PM

We are defeated at the last. The silver shapes were the key to entering the main chamber wherein resides a gloating Mangar. We are trapped like rats in a tiny room where even now the wizard sends his minions to storm the door.

But we are given wise counsel by Soriac, who advises us to try to get this journal to Pellis, in the hope that he will pass on the experiences written here to one capable of defeating Mangar. One final spell, using the life forces of Soriac, Corfid, and myself, will render Isli invisible for a time, enabling her to escape this place with the journal. Yet it is evil magic. Everything we have accomplished will be rent from the fabric of time and destroyed, and as the spell burns itself out Isli will be consumed.

I embrace my companions, and taste the salt of Isli’s tears. Ghaklah has asked for my dagger — he has no wish to be captured alive. As he prepares the spell, I can but reflect that no man could wish to die in better company.

Ghaklah begins. They come.

March 2, 2010 5:31 PM


March 2, 2010 7:34 PM

Pinback: The install file is just a zip, with no directions on how to install it. Now obviously I know I need to unzip it and then probably run “setup”, but that’s not the point. NOT THE POINT, Robb.

Ice Cream Jonsey: What the fuck?
Ice Cream Jonsey: You just DOWNLOAD a zip file on Direct2Drive?

Pinback: Yes.
Ice Cream Jonsey: So you can send that to anyone. And all this fucking time, they could have e-mailed you a link to the zip file, which could be nothing more than an ISO of the retail CD. All this fucking time. It came down to a link. A link to a zip.

Pinback: You have to plug in an activation key at some point.
Pinback: That is the last obstacle, it accepting my activation code, before I can run it and realize that it doesn’t work.

Ice Cream Jonsey: Yeah, I am looking forward to that.
Pinback: I hear it’s a bit buggie.
Ice Cream Jonsey: You steer something German in the game all right, but it ain’t a sub
Pinback: Ha!
Pinback: Alright, I’m GOIN’ IN.
Pinback: Christ, there’s already a 70 meg patch.
Pinback: I guess that’s good? Maybe it won’t be so buggie.

Ice Cream Jonsey: What the fuck??
Ice Cream Jonsey: How … how the…
Ice Cream Jonsey: Jesus Christ

Pinback: Yup! “patching to 1.01”.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Nothing they do can surprise me any more.

Pinback: I am now struggling to create a account, which is required.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Is there a captcha?
Ice Cream Jonsey:Tell me there is a captcha. Tell me they put a CAPTCHA there for a service that only provides an authentication benefit for those fucks at Ubisoft and is therefore useless to spam.
Pinback: There is not.

March 2, 2010 7:44 PM

Pinback: It isn’t using 3D hardware acceleration for some reason. I’m getting about 2 FPS.
Pinback: Now I’m reading that if you have a 256 meg video card, you’re hosed.
Pinback: How can this be.
Pinback: I can run every other game at max settings smooth as silk.

Ice Cream Jonsey:
They…. they released a day-zero patch.
And there’s a fucking bug
For 256 MB video cards.
I know this is outside the scope of the live blog, since it’s been released now, but what the Christ.
Doesn’t work with 256 MB video cards. A sub game. The sub sim genre has DRM around it that requires a constantly-working and live Internet connection, and a video card that has more, or less, but not exactly, 256 megabytes of RAM.
Un fucking real.
The end.
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