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May 31, 1998: The Pirate Game

On my convention trip over the last couple of weeks, I ran The Pirate Game at both ConDuit (Salt Lake City) and Miscon (Missoula, Montana). Lots of fun, lots of good players, and I learned a lot . . . as I will, no doubt, every time I play.

Tom Lentz, who played in Montana, took a lot of pictures and wrote some good commentary . . . so I'll just point you toward his page.

Incidentally, his speculations are dead on. Yes, this is a game I'm writing for fun rather than because I think it will be published and yes, deck shots are too strong and hull shots too weak (already fixed; we'll see if it's fixed well enough). And yes, more space (and time) would have been better, but you work with what you get!

Big thanks to fellow Lego nut Derek Schin, who showed up at the con to help, and brought, not just the big ship, but 3 or 4 others!
-- Steve Jackson

May 30, 1998: Armory West Warehouse Closes

In a fax dated May 29, the Armory announced that the Armory West facility in Sparks, NV was closing "effective immediately." The press release stated that the closing had been under consideration for several months.

Armory is currently in the process of merging with Chessex to form the new "Alliance" distribution company (see recent Pyramid stories). Alliance will be by far the largest distributor in the industry.

May 29, 1998: Diana Was Murdered, and EVERYBODY Did It!

Illuminated Site of the Week: It wasn't 20 minutes after the news broke about Diana's death that I got the first "conspiracy" comment. In time, Di may rival JFK as the most-speculated-about celebrity death. The "Poison Frog" The Conspiracy to Kill Princess Diana site follows this thread in at least 850 of the thousand possible directions . . . good graphics, too!
-- Steve Jackson

May 28, 1998: Et Tu E3?

On Friday, I jet off to sunny Atlanta with sights set on the computer-industry megaconvention E3.

Once there, I'll be talking to several game developers and publishers on a few things we have brewing in the background. (I'll also be investigating the latest line of Lego "building blocks" for our Fearless Leader. These things are nearly sentient, to hear him tell it.)

If anyone out there plans to attend E3 and wants to chat, e-mail me Thursday and we'll set up a time and place. Just be warned: the Legos have asked me to block off 90 minutes. They seem a bit peeved about how many of their ancestors I misplaced in my youth ... -- Gene Seabolt

May 27, 1998: More Fun With the Web!

The ever-vigilant Bruce Dykes tells us:

"Those wacky funsters at Netscape have hooked up a bus sign to an SGI machine in their engineering department. Naturally, there's also a camera pointed at the sign. I can only imagine the mayhem that could be caused by an automated submission script fed by SJGs fnord generator..."

Or the rant generator, for that matter ...

Don't try this at home, kiddies.
-- Scott Haring

May 26, 1998: SJ's CGDC trip

The Computer Game Developers Conference last week was (I think) a worthwhile trip. Certainly I was making no secret of my agenda . . . here's the T-shirt I was wearing. Made some interesting contacts and met a LOT of Car Wars and Ogre fans . . . .

 [SJ's T-shirt, which says: I'm Steve Jackson.  Yes, that one.  I'm here to license the computer rights to my games.  Talk to me...]  [Back of Shirt, which says: Yes, I'm always this subtle.]
-- Steve Jackson

May 25, 1998: Baseball Joins the Conspiracy!

Baseball season is in full swing, and the Secret Masters have their plans for this summer's All-Star Game.

For many years, the methods (and results) of the fan balloting has been an arcane mystery to most observers. But now all is revealed, as a careful reading of the rules for the online balloting shows that fans may vote no more than 23 times.

We're not making this up.

The czars of baseball say that the number is equal to the average number of home games each team plays during the balloting period, and the limit is to make sure an online fan can't vote more than one who goes to the ballpark . . . but we know the real reason, don't we?
-- Scott Haring

May 24, 1998: Welcome Doug Hall!

 [pic of Doug]

Newest face around here is Doug Hall,who started May 11 as Convention Liaison, MiB Control, and general Marketing Assistant. Doug comes to us from a career that has included being a TV station manager at UT here in Austin, and a technical support rep for a large computer firm.

Doug's duties will include sorting out which conventions we will attend each year, see to it that the ones we cannot attend are supported with prizes and such, and overseeing the SJ games MiBs.

-- Loren Wiseman

May 23, 1998: Multimmediate

We've had a lot of inquiries on the Multimedia Designer opening here at Steve Jackson Games, but we've yet to find a candidate with that perfect qualification: They work cheap.

To review, we need someone with QuarkXpress experience, primarily to do production work on the GURPS CD-ROM. In return, you'll get valuable multimedia experience in text, animation, video and sound. It's not a programming job, and won't pay programming wages. It's more of an internship in multimedia production using the coming generation of coding-free tools.

The other qualifications are high initiative and willingness to relocate to Austin. If you can meet those standards -- and are eager to learn in this field -- drop me a line. We'll pay (not handsomely but fairly) for the privilege of teaching you.

-- Gene Seabolt

May 22, 1998: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at Home

Illuminated Site of the Week: This just begs for a comment like "Ahh, they've met my roommate's girlfriend!" or even "Yeah, starting with that moldy cheese in the back of the refrigerator." But they're serious. As their site says:

SETI@home is a grand experiment to harness the spare power of hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI.)

Basically, when you're not using your system, you turn on the SETI@home screensaver, and it connects to THEIR system and picks up part of the data-analysis load. Yes, this kind of distributed computation can work, and if you stack up enough little PCs and Macs, they can outperform any mainframe . . .

- Suggested by Jayson Howell

May 21, 1998: A Cardboard Hero

A special thanks to Michael Miller, who bought our April Fools auction lot (a piece of cardboard) for $27. Sir, you are a Good Sport. And we hope you will be happy when you get it . . . we are doing our best to make it a truly remarkable piece of cardboard!
-- Steve Jackson

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes . . .

For those of you in other parts of the country that might have seen something about it in the news, the last two weeks or so have been pretty gray around here. Smoke from brush fires in Mexico and Central America has been drifting our way, and this time of year there are no weather systems to clear it out. Some days are worse than others, but it's overall pretty bad. And the weather guys say there's no let-up in sight.
-- Scott Haring

May 20, 1998: AADA 2048 World Championships Set!

Attention Car Wars fans! This year's AADA World Championships -- both Racing and Duelling -- will be held September 17-20, 1998 at TactiCon '98 in Denver, CO. Complete rules for the events can be found at the World Championships Web Site, set up by the host group. Check it out!
-- Scott Haring

May 19, 1998: Knightmare Chess, Set 2

KC2 Cover Art More mind-warping weirdness for the chessboard . . . Knightmare Chess Set 2 has gone to the printer.

Yes, Set 2. Eighty new cards (well, actually, 78, plus two blanks, and rules for playing them as Knightmare cards if you don't want to use them to make up your own). Like the first set, it makes chess more fun than ever. The set can stand alone, or it can be added to the original Knightmare Chess cards for an even wilder game!

Look for Knightmare Chess Set 2 in stores in June.

-- Scott Haring

May 18, 1998: While you wait for SubGenius . . .

Have a look at the old cards. All 537 INWO cards -- the original Unlimited Edition and the Assassins expansion -- are now searchable in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. The site also features over 3,000 unofficial cards, including the Card of the Week contest winners and the seemingly never-ending INWO - In Nomine crossover, IN INWO.

May 17, 1998: It's All Over!

The Steel Cage Knightmare Chess Death Match between Shipping and Everyone Else is over. Everyone Else won, though it was not easy -- we checkmated Shipping four times, only to have them weasel out of it the first three times with the cunning use of Knightmare Chess cards. We set up a quick-cam to follow the action, so you can click here to see the final position, and click here to see the complete log of moves that got us there.

We'll bask in the glow of our victory for a few days, but when Knightmare Chess Set 2 comes out (it's at the printer now), we'll probably play again. Stay tuned for updates.
-- Scott Haring

May 16, 1998: GURPS Lite

At last, the 32-page version of GURPS!

GURPS LITE is a 32-page distillation of the basic GURPS rules. Compiled by Sean Punch, it covers the essentials of character creation, combat, success rolls, magic, adventuring, and game mastering.

The purpose of GURPS LITE is to help GMs bring new players into the game, without frightening them with the Basic Set, Compendiums, and a stack of worldbooks! With GURPS LITE, you can show your players just how simple the GURPS system really is.

It can also be used as a neophyte's stand-alone introduction to roleplaying . . . but it is really designed as a tool to let the experienced player bring his friends into the game.

It's available free, in PDF format, over the web. You are welcome to copy and distribute it freely, within the restrictions found at the bottom of p. 1 of GURPS LITE itself. It will also be included in some GURPS books, such as the upcoming GURPS Discworld.
-- Steve Jackson

May 15, 1998: Yet Another Interesting Rumor

We heard a good one last night, and like the last rumor we reported on, it could be entirely smoke and mirrors. (Of course, it turned out that the last rumor wasn't, and that's how we broke the Chessex-Armory merger story . . .)

But for now, we don't have enough to go with other than whispers of a major company buying another roleplaying company, or (in an alternate version) buying one or more of the second company's lucrative licensed properties, or (in an even more watered-down version) acquiring sub-licensing rights to that game or games. We know all the names, but we don't have the confirmation we need to run it that way.

Cryptic enough for you? We'll keep bugging people until somebody cracks, and then we'll tell you all about it.
-- Scott Haring

Masonic Luciferian Spiritism

Illuminated Site of the Week: As S.John Ross said when alerting us to this site, "I've seen plenty of paranoia pages, but this one has character."

Check out the AMERICA'S SUBVERSION: The Enemy Within web page, if you dare . . .

-- Scott Haring

May 14, 1998: Armory President Talks About Merger

Daniel Hirsch, president of The Armory, sat down for an interview with Pyramid Magazine this afternoon. He said that the new Alliance Distribution will have over 50% of the North American market for most game companies, and that it takes distributors that big to give retailers the service they need and manufacturers the information and support they need.

Read all about it in Pyramid Magazine.
-- Scott Haring

May 13, 1998: Chessex, The Armory to Merge

Now it can be told . . . The Armory and Chessex, two of the biggest game distributors in the U.S., have agreed to merge into one new company, to be called Alliance Distribution.

Read all about it in Pyramid Magazine. And stay tuned for more news on this story.

Now Shipping

GURPS Wizards Heading out the door this week are two new products you're gonna love:

GURPS Wizards is a book full of magic-using characters from all times, Tech Levels and genres. It uses new "character template" system that makes designing characters easier, and includes over 100 sample characters, pre-built and ready to go.

And INWO SubGenius is also going out the door. Praise "Bob"! One hundred all-new, very weird cards for INWO that can be played as their own stand-alone game, or combined with the over 500 INWO cards already out there.

Look for both of these games on store shelves in the next week or so.

And to further inflame you with the Spirit of the SubGenius, here's a Rant Generator for instant gratification.
-- Scott Haring

May 13, 1998: Infinite Rants!

INWO SubGenius is back from the printers and shipping; its distributor release date is the 18th, so you should see it in stores real soon now.

And to celebrate, Jackie and I have created the Rant Generator. Every time you reload, it will give you a new AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED yet DOGMATICALLY CORRECT slice of SubGenius frothing wisdom. Praise "Bob"!

Don't just sit there. Get some rants! Buy the game! SLACK OFF!

-- Steve Jackson

May 12, 1998: They're Talking About Us . . .

They're everywhere! Can't you hear them? No! No, it's a plot, I tell you!

Frisco del Rosario has written an article on Usenet-related card games, featuring INWO and Netrunner. He also has a few words about that underground favorite, Usenet: The Flaming. Check it out...

May 11, 1998: The Distributor Shakeout, Revisited

An interesting rumor came our way over the weekend. We'll be trying to confirm it today, and if we can come back with more details, we will.

The story has it that one of the top five distributors has agreed to be acquired by another, also in the top five. (Yes, there were specific names attached to the rumor when we got it, but we're going to be a little bit discreet in case it's complete nonsense.) But if this merger/buyout is real, it would create one distributor with better than 30% of the market.

So stay tuned . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 10, 1998: Letters . . . We Get Letters

We get all sorts of things in the mail. Some of it is funny, some of it weird, some of it indescribable. This thing fell under the "funny" definition, so we thought you'd enjoy it. Ray Lunceford is the man responsible.
-- Scott Haring

May 9, 1998: Gaming Intelligence Returns

Gaming Intelligence is a free weekly newsletter sent out by email and mirrored on the web site. It features game industry news, product listings, and reviews, and after some downtime it is now back on its weekly schedule.

To subscribe, email with the message: join gi.
-- Scott Haring

May 8, 1998: Short People from Space!

Illuminated Site of the Week: Their descendants live in China even today. And they've been here for thousands of years, since their spacefleet self-destructed. But Modern Science Cannot Be Denied, and now we're piecing together the evidence. Read about it on the Stone Disk site.

- Suggested by Dana Blankenship

May 7, 1998: Hello from CGDC

The Computer Game Developers Conference, being a civilized place, has a "living room" where attendees can sit down and check e-mail, use the Web, and so on. Sure would like to see more of this at game and SF conventions . . . at any rate, here it is, here I am, and it's going just fine.

Nothing modest about this event. For instance, tomorrow night's party is aboard the Queen Mary, which has been docked nearby for the last 30 years ago, as a hotel . . . but they tell me the ballrooms are still incredible. Tomorrow I get to see for myself!
-- Steve Jackson

May 6, 1998: GURPS Martial Arts, 2nd Ed.

Off to the printer late last week went the reprint of GURPS Martial Arts, 2nd Ed. It's just a reprint we fixed the errata, upgraded a few pieces of art, corrected a few graphic mistakes otherwise, it's the same kick-butt book martial arts roleplaying fans have come to know and love. And it will be back in the stores sometime in June.
-- Scott Haring

May 5, 1998: Off to CGDC

This afternoon I'll leave for the Computer Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California. I'll be joining Micah there (the two of us will be doing a presentation on the ill-fated VictorMaxx Car Wars project) and hobnobbing with the best and the brightest in the computer game biz.

My entirely-not-secret agenda: to come back with one or more deals for computer versions of my games . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 4, 1998: The Laws of Anime

Yes, those amazing Japanese comics and animated videos seem to have physical laws of their very own, as this cool website explains.
-- Scott Haring

May 3, 1998: Origins Nominations!

[ Bright/Dark Dream cert. ] [ In Nomine cert. ] [ Pyramid cert. ]

We got these cool certificates from the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design the other day, to acknowledge our Origins Awards nominations, specifically:

Voting for the Origins Awards is open to the public; you can download a .pdf file of the ballot to fill out and send in. The ballot is also available in a number of gaming magazines including Pyramid #30. The more people who vote, the better the awards will be, so please vote!
-- Scott Haring

May 2, 1998: Pyramid Message Boards Are Up!

Another one of the features built into Pyramid magazine for subscribers to enjoy is now up and running -- message boards!

It's a real-time letter column, playtest comment hub, community forum and center for cyberdiscussion, all rolled into one. We have about ten topics up and running already, with more to be added in the future. Check it out here, if you're a Pyramid magazine subscriber, that is. If not, then subscribe! already . . .
-- Scott Haring

May 1, 1998: Hey, Kids! Try On This Nifty Cloak and Dagger!

Illuminated Site of the Week: No doubt this is one of the signs of the coming Apocalypse. The CIA now has a web page for kids. Read all about the CIA's purpose, the Intelligence Cycle, and of course the strong control that the President and Congress have over our intelligence community . . . all in the Beltway's concept of kidspeak.

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