The Daily Illuminator

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May 31, 1996

Bob Trolls For Mail - Part II

Ever since I posted our list of other game companies, I've been swamped with mail. Most people pointed out companies I couldn't find on my own like Dream Pod 9 and BTRC - I looked, I swear! Still others pointed out that my speling waz not qite up too par (ever tried spell-checking HTML? It's not pretty...).

Anyway, the torrent of incoming email has abated for the moment so I've come up with a scheme to change that - SJ Games is proud to present our list of gaming magazines! So get ready to tell me who I've missed and mispeled. I haven't had a chance to track down APAs and this is a perfect opportunity of APAs on the web to get a little (mostly) free exposure.

Consider it another present from your friendly, neighborhood webmaster.

-- Bob Apthorpe
(whose only connection with the real friendly, neighborhood webmaster was dealing with radioactive spiders at his last job...)

May 30, 1996

SJ Games Gen Con Event Listing Online!

It took a lot of typing and database weirdness, but it's finally up and online! If you're planning a trip to Gen Con this year, be sure to check out our Gen Con event listing. We've got a directory of all the scheduled events relating to our games (except INWO). This doesn't include events that we're running, demos, pressing the flesh with Steve, etc. It's a simple list of every event we could find that involves our games. Some of the GMs include GURPS I.O.U. co-author Walter Milliken and OGRE line editor Richard Meaden.

PS: Get your Gen Con pre-reg forms back early and save yourself a couple bucks.

See you there,

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 29, 1996

Game Company Page is Returning!

Yup, we've finally gotten around to rebuilding our list of worthy competitors in this great, swirling mass known as The Game Industry™. The original list was eaten by elves a while back and we've just recently started piecing it back together. It's not complete, but it does have a whole raft of companies, from the very big to the very small.

And, as always, if there's someone not on this list that you think should be, drop us a line and we'll take care of it.

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 28, 1996

Let VR Bring UT-Austin to You!

Take a tour of sunny UT-Austin without leaving the icy glare of your monitor courtesy of their virtual tour. You'll need to install Apple's Quicktime VR viewer, which, oddly enough, is available to both Macintosh and Windows 3.1 / Windows 95; unix-heads will have to suffer with still pictures.

So, assuming you've got the right combination of hardware, software, and interest, you're in for a real treat. Panoramic photos that track as you scroll accross them complete with visual perspective effects. Kinda like a photrealistic DOOM but without the gore.

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 24, 1996

INWO Site Changes Hands

The torch has been passed; another of our fine volunteer webmasters has ridden into the sunset, with that annoying brat yelling "Shane, come back! Shane!"

Yes, that annoying brat is me and the role of Shane was played by the lovely and talented Alan De Smet aka

Mostly Harmless aka aka aka aka aka
Alan's a man of many names and many talents who has provided us with gobs of support and helped me out immensely when I started with this job. He's done a fine job of maintaining the INWO site but has found that time constraints just don't let him put in the effort he think the site deserves.

I think I speak for everyone here (considering the office is empty right now) when I say that our website will not be the same without Alan. He will definitely be missed.

Thanks much and good luck!

-- Bob Apthorpe

PS: So long, and thanks for all the fish...

May 23, 1996

Ugly Americans? Not Us!

Okay, so maybe I'm fibbing. But it wasn't intentional - I swear - that's just how things worked out.

What the heck am I talking about?

The contest, man, the contest! See, when we whipped up our entry form, we had no idea how many people from all over the world would be sending us retailers. Silly us, we used the standard mostly-English- speaking-sections-of-North-America address format. That is, a format that works well for Canadians and Americans but doesn't help you at all if you're in Australia or Norway, as several polite mail messages have pointed out.

So here's the story - If you aren't in the USA or Canada or anywhere else where our address format doesn't work terribly well, use the second line of the address for all the parts of the address that don't comfortably fit and put your country in ALL CAPS in the "ZIP / Postal Code" field. Also, if you've got a phone number that's shorter than 10 digits (including area code, if your country has such things), simply tack on your country code and whatever other random digits the CCITT requires for placing an international call until you get at least 10 digits. If you still don't get ten digits, put some spaces on the front of the phone number until our contest entry do-jobbie accepts the entry.

We apologize for the inconvenience,

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 22, 1996

GURPS Basic Set Arrives From Printer

[Basic Set Cover] It's here! The new printing of the GURPS Basic Set just arrived from the printer and should be scampering toward a retailer near you. With the amazing lay-flat binding (known to professionals as "Otabinding"), this new printing of the GURPS Basic Set will withstand even more use and abuse than normal, virtually guaranteeing endless fun for the entire family!

[Basic Set art, Page 17] Chock-full of new art from the lovely and talented Dan Smith and proofread by Susan Pinsonneault and yours truly, this new printing is delicious and nutritious. And Jeff Koke's amazing cover is sure to impress all your friends.

Purchase early, purchase often!

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 21, 1996

SJ Games Overrun By Goblins

Goblins Cover They've finally arrived - a whole tractor-trailer full of 'em. I'm of course referring to GURPS Goblins, a book so full of vice and depravity, it'll make your pointy toes curl with delight.

Never to fear, these (near) priceless gems will be heading toward a retailer near you very soon, as soon as the twins in Shipping (Burly and Surly; ask for them by name) coerce the nice people at FedEx and UPS to carry them away...

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 20, 1996

GURPS Basic Set Third Edition, Revised, Redesigned -- Printed!


A handful of samples of the new GURPS Basic Set 3rd Edition (Revised, I always forget to add) just arrived. We'll have the full shipment of books within the next week, so you'll be seeing them in stores before the first of June.

Now, I'm not going to tell you about GURPS. More than likely, if you're reading this site, you've already got some kind of feel for what it is and why it's a great system. This newest printing hasn't just cleared up a lot of little problems in the system, it's given us the chance to give the Basic Set the facelift it's needed for years. The book now has a new layout, all new interior art (weren't you getting tired of that late-'70s commercial clip art?) and, incidentally, a new cover.

Jeff Koke, front-man of GURPS graphic redesigns, went all out on this one, bringing its look not merely into the '80s, but all the way into the '90s. One of his biggest pains was giving the book a new interior style while keeping all the page breaks intact -- with over 80 GURPS supplements on the market, all making reference to page numbers in the Basic Set, we couldn't exactly sleep well at night knowing that we'd completely destroyed any hope of internal consistancy just so things would be a little prettier around the edges. Jeff did the cover montage, too.

Then there's the tiny matter of the lay-flat binding. When Bob first made note of it in the Daily Illuminator, I'm sure you said, "Yeah, yeah, slow news day, huh?" I liberated a copy from the Print Buyer's office -- and if you rat on me, Keyser Soze'll getcha -- happily noting how the massive tome of the Basic Set fell right open, almost completely flat, to any page I flipped to. It's a small joy, but an important one. If this was the normal way to bind books, there would be a lot fewer roleplaying games (some of the most frequently-referenced books in print) wrapped with rubber bands to keep all the loose pages together.

So as much as it's sad to see the passing of those old Denis Loubet pieces, like the cowboy holding the bible up to his chest or the cloaked assassin lunging forward with a knife, it's great to see Dan Smith, who's probably illustrated three out of four GURPS books released in the last couple of years, given the task of breathing new life into the look and feel of our ten-year-old game.

GURPS Compendium I, which is being printed this month, was designed by Jeff Koke as well, and features the same look and feel as the new Basic Set. The anxiously-awaited GURPS Compendium II, due out around the end of the year, will also follow suit, although it's design and production will fall to someone else -- Jeff has been lured away from Steve Jackson Games to the lucerative world of web-page design, after working here more than five years. Send your thank-yous and goodbyes to Jeff, we'll miss you.

-- Derek Pearcy

May 17, 1996

Day Two of Mystery Food!

Today's Mystery food is the pudding pop. Yes, jaded Americans are too good for the classic Fudgicle (linguistic trivia question: is it Fudgicle or Fudgesicle?).

Anyway, here at the Illumiator, we salute the pudding pop (well, all but the banana pudding pop - they're gross).

All hail the pudding pop!

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 16, 1996

Today's Mystery Topic - The Pot Pie!

No, don't ask. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Today's topic is the Pot Pie.

Yes, this glorious foodstuff is the mainstay of TV dinner America Deceptively small, the frozen lumps seem to take forever to cook. Of course, you could make the damn things yourself, but who's got the time?. Of course, you could always have someone else make it for you, but it's not quite the same.

All Hail The Mighty Pot Pie!

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 15, 1996

Elves Disrupt Contest, Eat Last Slice of Cake In Fridge

Well, the contest has gotten off to a shaky start but it seems to be roaring forward at breakneck speed. Turns out that those damned elves had mucked up the links to the contest. While it would have been fitting to make it a "you find it, you win it" affair, the Secret Masters had other plans.

While we were fixing the contest links, those damned elves were messing with our spider, the friendly critter that keeps our site in order and keeps tabs on their nefarious misdeeds. After that was taken care of, we tracked them to the airport where they had hopped a plane for Costa Rica. One day we'll get them. Mark my words...

One other thing - I've got an important message from Claudia, our classy Convention Coordinator for gamers in southeastern Wisconsin. If you meet that description, take a look.

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 14, 1996

SJ Games Introduces A New Contest

Yup, you heard us right - we're running a new contest and we've got a mountain of stuff to give away. So get moving, hunch over the monitor, and start typing! Did I mention the mountain of prizes? Anyway, grab a phone phone book and get going; this contest ends on June 15. What's the phone book for? Hey, we've got our unfathomable reasons (never mind that, check out the mountain of prizes!)

-- Bob (No Purchase Necessary) Apthorpe

May 13, 1996

New Draft Of GURPS Autoduel Hits The Web!

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the most recent draft of GURPS Autoduel has been dragged onto or web site, kicking and screaming. Ha! Mere WordPerfect files are no match for the mighty Hercules!

But that's not all! Hunter has been busy this weekend, bringing GURPS Japan to the web (and we love him dearly for it).

Here's today's useful link of the day: In case you have trouble telling your kana from your kanji, try this on for size: Shodouka Launchpad! If you've ever loaded a page and found it filled with mystery goo simply because your cheesy browser doesn't support multibyte character sets, use Shodouka Launchpad to translate it into its native script. Granted, this won't help you much if you don't read Japanese, but at least you'll not understand the page the way it was intended not to be understood...

-- Bob "Hercules" Apthorpe

May 10, 1996

All Wonky!

Yup, things have been a bit wonky around here lately. We only have three new GURPS worldbook pages to report (Hunter has been having access problems again): Also, big news: GURPS Compendium I - Character Creation has gone to the printer, and it should be showing up in stores within the next month or so.

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 8, 1996

No more! Please - Make Them Stop!

Hunter's been at it again - a raft of new GURPS worldbook pages: While he's been providing me with pages, I've been busy messing with our online catalog. We're moving toward the One True Database paradigm. Ideally, the stock status and other vital statistics about GURPS books will be magically lifted from our products database and stuffed into the web pages with no one being the wiser that all this is being done automatically. This means I update the information once instead hunting around for it and it means that changes are instantly and accurately reflected in our site.

But enough gearhead trivia - here's today's patriotic link: The Voice of America! The site is a bit slow and you might want to switch to text-only to speed navigation, but it's well worth it to get to their RealAudio server. Pick a language, any language (from Farsi to Urdu, which, as I recall, aren't too dissimilar when written)

Practice your Hindi so you can get a job in Traffic Analysis at the NSA. Broaden your horizons! Confuse your cat! This site has a million uses!

Have fun,

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 7, 1996

Lo! The Labors of Hercules!

My brain hurts. Yours would too if you spent all day cleaning up fifty-odd GURPS worldbook pages. But I'm not complaining (no, really.) In the meantime, Hunter Johnson has built a couple more for me, adding to our Space and Supers collection: (L-R) TV's Frank, his brain, Dr. Forrester

Tonight's Insomnia Inducer: The Beatniks/B&W/#415

A talent scout offers the leader of a terrorist gang a shot at stardom. Trying to break from the gang, he gets involved in a murder.
Host: Joel Hodgson.

For the last week I've been having delusions of being Hercules - I don't know why. I'm going to go now; Hercules is so tired, he could sleep for a week...

-- Bob Hercules Apthorpe

May 6, 1996

Playtest Area Receives Big Time Update

... And about time, too! The GURPS Requiem files relented after I threatened the Mac with a tire iron (it began to cry and I felt a little guilty about scaring the poor little monster later. Also, the incessant pouty noises are getting on my nerves. There's gotta be a better way. . .).

But that's not all - the other playtest pages got a facelift as well. The playtest files now come complete with descriptions so the filenames aren't such a mystery anymore. Everything looks a lot more consistent and coherent. Also, I've made some modifications to the script that pulls the typsetting goo out of the files so they should better resemble text files now.

But, just as the webmaster giveth, he taketh away. There was a lot of stuff lying around that there that just needed to go away. Like the Cthulhupunk and Robots playtest files.

It's been a busy weekend. . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 3, 1996

Herculean Effort in Vanquishing AppleScript

I thought today I'd give you a break from the seemingly endless lists of new GURPS Worldbook pages. I was intending to post a few new manuscripts for playtest, but I ran into some "big problems". Besides, it's getting late and I've got a pressing engagement with, uh, my laundry.

So, come Monday, we should have most of GURPS Autoduel, 2nd Edition posted, provided the floppy can be recovered and the files translated from the ever-cryptic and bizarre Word Perfect format (SEND US ASCII TEXT, PLEASE, FOR GOD'S SAKE USE ASCII).

But that's not the worst of it. Enter AppleScript, the friendly, English-like scripting 'language' for the Macintosh.


Q: "Why would anyone want to use an obtuse, confusing scripting language like perl when AppleScript is so intuitive and reads so much like English?"

A: "Because as ugly as perl is, it works."

I really shouldn't get into this, especially on an empty stomach. Suffice to say, I finally scripted ClarisWorks (don't ask...) to bulk-convert the GURPS Requiem files into something reasonable (like ASCII, i.e. what passes for ASCII on the Mac). Tune in next week when our poor, battered mostly-text files are moved to the peaceful, friendly, and obedient unix environment where their Quark tags will be gently removed by terse, trustworthy, goofy-named utilities. There they will live free and be forever happy, at least until someone downloads them back onto a Mac... [RANT=OFF]

The Horror, The Horror...

-- Bob Apthorpe

PS: Please don't send me snarky mail re:Mac abuse. 1) I don't (irrationally) hate Mac's and I don't play those BS advocacy games; 2) it doesn't help me any, and hence, it doesn't help you any either; 3) I just want to get my work done and the [expletive] machines make it so damned difficult to do the simplest things (bulk file renaming, anyone?). Familiarity breeds contempt . . .

May 2, 1996

More Hot Air...

More pages is more like it! I feel like a used car salesman hooting about this, but hey, how else are you going to find out about these if I don't tell you? Further horrors! We've added two more adventures to the GURPS Horror page.

As Monty Burns would say, "Excellent, excellent..."

Which brings us to today's slightly silly link, the National Scientific Balloon Facility. Yes, there actually is one. It's located about 4 hours away from Austin by car in Palestine, Texas. I smell an adventure hook in here someplace.

Or maybe it's just a slow leak from the Strategic Helium Reserve . . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

May 1, 1996

Pardon Our Dust . . .

Like I promised, here's a list of a few of the pages we've added in the last few days: As a special bonus, we've also added an adventure to the GURPS Horror page (Thanks, Richard!).

Even better, we've added a new script to keep the print status of GURPS worldbook pages in synch with the online catalog. This should cut down on the amount of confused and angry email I get when the print status on the pages don't match. Just a friendly reminder - IF IT'S NOT IN THE CATALOG, WE DON'T HAVE IT AND NO AMOUNT OF PLEADING WILL CHANGE THAT!

Man, I've wanted to get that off my chest. I feel better already.

One more special link for you: Rocket Movies! Courtesy of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, you can view QuickTime movies of sounding rockets.

One other bit of bizarre trivia: It turns out I know one of the guys that had an experiment on Mission 27.132UH - Dan McCammon, the Electronics Instructor From Hell (who's a really nice guy if you aren't taking electronics from him). Small world.

They also have pictures of weather balloons. This is very important because many times UFOs are mistaken for weather balloons. Make sure you know the difference before you go on Oprah and tell the world you've been abducted by a weather balloon...

-- Bob Apthorpe

Extra Credit (5 pts.): Compare and contrast the following objects: UFOs, weather balloons, Oprah Winfrey

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