December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

A brief aside from the cleaning, wrapping, and putting together of baby toys to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. This is Evie's first, so we're quite excited -- and fully aware that the boxes will get far more attention than the gifts themselves.

I hope your holidays are equally rich and full of love.

(And good luck to all of you going to MLA this year - I hope the interviews and/or presentations go well!)

Posted by Jason at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Half-Blood Prince

Anyone want to take bets on who the Half-Blood Prince is?

My vote after the fold.

Neville. Do we even know who his parents are, except for the fact that they were killed by He Who Must Not Be Named?

Pure speculation, by the way. Not that you hadn't figured that out already.

Posted by Jason at 11:05 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 22, 2004

Salon's The Year In Games Technology | The year in games

The year in games
Developers, critics, gamers and analysts weigh in: What they loved, what they learned, what they worried about.

Lots of names familiar in the blogosphere, including Koster, Costikyan, etc.

Posted by Jason at 4:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2004

Game Spin Cycle

Grumpy Gamer provides a nice breakdown to the "Games make more money than movies" annual spin. Not news, really, but a nice reminder. Perhaps it is long past time Introductions to critical analyses of games stop opening with "Games are worth studying because ... well, did you know they rival box office sales?"

The sales numbers for Halo2 and WoW are impressive, but hardly the most interesting aspect of either game.

Posted by Jason at 7:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2004

Free Anarchy

Play Anarchy Online without subscription fees

15 December, 2004

Funcom announces that Anarchy Online will be the first major western live MMO without a subscription fee. In a unique move Funcom is removing all cost barriers in the ultimate sci-fi MMORPG, allowing all new players to enter and stay, free of cost! At the same time Funcom is departing from the obligatory need to register with a credit card, making for an easier entrance and registration process.

I've always wanted to try AO after watching several online friends leave for the game when it came out (and actually sticking with it through the debacle that was its launch). As one of the few sci-fi offerings in a field of swordplay, the game looks intriguing. As with all MMoRPGs, there's something daunting about joining in after the game has been running for years - a history that you just can't replicate. But for free - I think I can be convinced, at least for a test run.

According to \., the offer is good only until Jan. 15, so get while the getting's good.

Posted by Jason at 7:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2004

TypeKey Issues - Advice?

I go to this entry in wordherders and try to comment on George's post. I see that I have to log in to typekey, so I do so. I enter my Typekey and it forwards me to a page that says:

Word Herders Comment Submission Error Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

The validation failed.

Please correct the error in the form below, then press Post to post your comment.

It took my TypeKey, but seems to want my email address, even though I don't have e-mail as a required component.

Wordherder settings are currently (toggled on):
- Do not accept comments from Unregistered Visitors.
- Accept Comments from Registered Visitors.
- Typekey Token entered properly.
- Automatically Approved Registered Vistors.

What's going on?

UPDATE: I continued to the error page, as described above, re-entered my name, email, and URL (as per old 2.61 comment style) and hit enter. The comment went into moderation. So far, color me unimpressed.

I noted that according to their own documentation, TypeKey has issues w/ IE 6:

Caveats: If your weblog domain is different from the domain of your Movable Type application, commenters using Internet Explorer 6 may have trouble logging in to comment on your site. This is because Internet Explorer 6 doesn't allow your weblog to fetch your cookie information from Movable Type, which contains the logic to decode it. For example, this situation would arise if your weblog was at but you log into Movable Type at

I'm concerned that this might be a problem w/ the wordherders, since we are all on subdomains. Anyone else having these problems?

Meanwhile, when I go to make sure that my comment did in fact go to moderation, I have 5 new nasty-spam comments waiting to be moderated. If I have Typekey only, with no registered users, and they are (according to blacklist when I despam) already on the blacklist, how the heck is the spam getting through?

Posted by Jason at 6:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mind the Gap

As with all upgrades, there's usually a gap between installation and optimization. Wordherders is now running MT 3.12, but we are all still working out some kinks, especially as we try to get our old 2.61 templates in line with the new features. So, please be patient.

A few things I've noticed already:
1. Still some issues w/ commenting. If you leave a comment on a herd blog and it doesn't show up right away, likely it has been sent to moderation. Herders - you can moderate your comments in the new "comments" section under "Post" (in the left toolbar). I believe you can change your preferences depending on how you want comments to work in the Weblog Config section.

Neil Turner has a nice breakdown of the changes in MT 3.* in his review. This screenshot lists the options for configuring your comments.

2. Blacklist no longer has a DESPAM button, which I find slightly inconvenient (especially since I like to despam several blogs at once). Hopefully that'll change soon, so I don't have to go through blogs one by one.

You can, however, use blacklist as you delete comments in the "Comments" section. The link is all the way at the bottom, so it may be easy to miss. Herders - as always, please be careful what you add to the global blacklist. Also keep in mind that the new Blacklist automatically updates via RSS feed (at least, I think it does).

3. In order to get the new features working right (such as commenting), it appears that several new templates need to be included (and I haven't figured out the right combination/secret handshake yet).

4. They dramatically changed the layout of the CSS and template, which makes things a bit tough. Lots of tweaking to come, I think.

5. I can't see trackbacks (on the Wordherders main blog, which is the only place I've tweaked templates so far)

6. [Update] Somehow, a spammer is getting through on one post in Wordherders. This is particularly odd because I have set to Typekey only for the time being. Very weird.

Posted by Jason at 7:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2004


Wordherders is upgrading to the newest version of Moveable Type around noon (eastern) today. There might be some delays, downtime, etc., so please be patient. Members of the herd, as per email request, please do not post after 12:00 Eastern until I post an all clear on the main Herd blog. Thanks.

Posted by Jason at 11:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 8, 2004


I wasn't quite sure why my father was running me all over town on Saturday, though it was perfectly natural for us to get a pancake breakfast and wander the aisles at Barnes & Noble. Or why, when I called, I heard that my mother felt the need to mop our floors, which weren't that dirty, thank you very much. The evening was planned and simple - a local dinner at an Indian restaurant L and I wanted to try, followed by a play downtown. A nice, relaxing evening. Never mind that our daughter decided to wake us up at 4:45 that morning to wish me a happy birthday. We would be plenty awake to watch the play and, if not, I was sure the seats would be comfortable enough to snooze in.

But then the mobile rang - my parents, babysitting, couldn't find the thermometer. They thought that perhaps Evie, our daughter, was running a fever. Luckily, they called right before we pulled onto the highway. A quick stop to help and then we'd be back on their way.

As we pulled up, I wondered briefly why the house was so dark. Only for a moment did I think that I saw a flutter of streamer through the window.

My wife, who had layered so many obfuscations on me the past few weeks, including an accidental and utterly convincing "slip" that she was going to take me to a play as a surprise (including the rounds of self-flagellation afterwards for "ruining it for you") - well, she got me. As did the many wonderful friends and family members who came to help celebrate.

So, having now spent a few days in the Dark Side of 30, things appear to be just about the same. I truly can't complain. Healthier than last year (thank God). Check. Same beautiful, thoughtful, and intelligent wife. Check. New lovely, adorable, and intelligent daughter. Check. Roof over head. Check. Great family and friends. Check. And I still have a fairly wicked Scrabble game. On balance, a good year and looking better all the time.

It does say something, I suppose, when almost every single gift you get for your thirtieth birthday has something to do either with video games or comics. But I'm too busy playing my new Xbox to think on such things...

Posted by Jason at 6:47 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 2, 2004

Out of the last 1000 comments ...

... there are 871 comments on entries for which you have editing privileges that match your current blacklist.

That makes about 2000 comments I have deleted in 24 hrs. I have now hit that threshold where taking care of this mess has superseded the time I didn't have to upgrade the Herd to MT 3.*. So, Herd, watch out - sometime in the next week to ten days, I am making the upgrade. Please keep a close eye on your email for a notice of exactly when. Meanwhile, please take the time to follow these simple instructions on how to export your blog data (instructions repeated after the fold, if you don't feel like following the link). I will be making a full database backup, but as my dad says, "Back up your blog twice, cut once." Or something.

One positive aspect of comment spam? Occasionally it reminds me to review what I've blogged in the past, including fun links like ASCIIWars - Star Wars, all in ASCII Animation.

Instructions, in case you don't follow the link:

In addition to exporting your data from another weblog CMS, you can export your entries from Movable Type itself. This allows you to keep local backups of your weblog content for safekeeping, as well as to transfer data between weblogs, by combining the export and import mechanisms. To export the entries from one of your weblogs, login to Movable Type, then go to the Main Menu for the weblog you wish to export. Then click Import & Export Entries, and follow the instructions under Export Entries.

NOTE: be careful when exporting data from Internet Explorer; all versions of Internet Explorer have a bug where data marked as plain text can be intrepreted as HTML. The symptom of this bug is that all of your exported data will run together onto one line. If this is the case, use Netscape [ed: or Firefox] when exporting data.

Posted by Jason at 6:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Game Brains

Game Brains ( has a nice collection of selected video game writing (mostly online news articles, with some blogs).

Posted by Jason at 6:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 1, 2004

Game Studies 4.1

Game Studies 4.1 is now online, with the following articles:

Alexander R. Galloway: “Social Realism in Gaming“
Zach Whalen: “Play Along - An Approach to Videogame Music“
Castulus Kolo & Timo Baur: “Living a Virtual Life: Social Dynamics of Online Gaming“
Stewart Woods: “Loading the Dice: The Challenge of Serious Videogames“
Aki Järvinen: “A Meaningful Read: Rules of Play reviewed“
Anja Rau: “Game Studies - Review: Germans at Play“

Posted by Jason at 7:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack