R.I.P. Gary Gygax

Please forgive this minor interruption, but a shadow passed over my heart today. I read on CNN that Gary Gygax, co-creator of the Dungeons and Dragons game, died today at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

For those who are D&D detractors, it may not be news at all. But for me, this is very sad news, because I’ve been a gamer since about 1978, and D&D was an essential part of my formative years. I grew up in a world where I was constantly worried about nuclear destruction due to the Cold War, and for me, D&D not only offered an escape from grim reality, but it also encouraged my creativity in ways that school did not. Playing D&D taught me group dynamics, and I think that’s part of the reason I fit in successfully in whatever job I work. D&D taught me how to work cooperatively with others to solve problems, and it gave me more than a little humor over the years.

Although I am not currently active in a D&D game per se, I am still gaming, using the same skills, dice, and imagination that Gygax’s product first awakened in me.

R.I.P., Mr. Gygax. May your ride to Valhalla be pleasant.

Motor World Online

Longtime readers of this blog might remember when I posted pictures of a custom Motor City Online skin I designed for my character’s 1965 Mustang. I loved that game, and was very bummed when Electronic Arts decided to take it offline to devote resources to The Sims Online.

Now, though, it looks as though a grassroots movement has taken up the mantle. Motor World Online is being developed as an MMORG (Massive Multiplayer Online Racing Game), and if all goes according to the developers’ plans, it will offer similar functionality to MCO for no cost.

I love this idea, and I hope to contribute to the project in some way. If nothing else, maybe these links will help to spread the word a little bit.

What D&D Character Am I?

I’d have to say this survey is pretty close, and I’m a sucker for D&D stuff. I found it through bluejack’s site.

I Am A: Chaotic Good Elf Bard Ranger

Alignment:
Chaotic Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will generally do their own things, without heed to such groups.

Race:
Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.

Primary Class:
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.

Secondary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Deity:
Hanali Cenanil is the Chaotic Good elven goddess of love, beauty, and art. She is also known as the Heart of Gold and Lady Goldheart. Her followers delight in creation and youth, and work to spread happiness, love, and beauty. Their preferred weapon is the dagger.

Find out: What D&D Character Are You?

Back?

It’s been a long time. My last Creativity Journal entry was October 24, 2002. I have written little since then, but I have not been entirely devoid of creativity.

The band formerly known as Flat Rabbit has started getting serious; we added a couple of members, and our first gig is a benefit for the victims of the December 21st Summit Apartment fire in Thornton, Colorado. See the band’s website for further information.

I spent my lunch hour throwing that site together; I expect it to change much in the coming days and weeks.

One of my vices in the last three months has been a game called Motor City Online. It’s an online racing game, and I’ve become hopelessly addicted to it. Even this has not been uncreative, however. I have experimented with building my own skins for the game, and the results are below.

I chose to use my character’s ’65 Mustang for the experiment, since that is the vehicle referred to in Agamemnon’s Skinning Tutorial. Also, I knew I wanted to build a Denver Bronco themed car, and what better car to use than a pony car? The picture below is an in-game screen shot of my first attempt on the Mustang.

Not bad, but it has some problems. Most notably, the orange mane of the Bronco logo washes out next to the orange car. Bad design idea. Here’s attempt #2:

Much better. The blue really sets off the logos and is consistent with the Broncos theme. It was a lot of fun to build the skin, even though I’m the only one who can see it in the game. To everyone else online, this is simply a standard, red ’65 Mustang.

Technically, I did attempt another skin before these. It was a modification of an already modified ’73 Firebird skin, the closest thing to a second-generation Camaro that exists in the game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well because the model that the skin wraps around is much more true to the body of the Firebird than the Camaro. I may post a shot of that car if I can get a good angle on it. Originally, it was an attempt to replicate my old 1970 Camaro Z/28, a car that I miss dearly and should have never sold. I may give it another try, now that I’ve learned a little about skinning.

Thanks to all of the people who sent me e-mail about the site recently. Two of the e-mails were guitar-related, one from a person wanting my final opinion of the Carvin Bolt kit (which gives me some incentive to finish documenting that project) and another from one of the primary guitar playing influences in the early days of my playing, Peter Neds. You can read why Peter is one of my favorite guitar players in “The Zone,” one of the first pieces I wrote for this site, five years ago.

Tired & WotC

I am beat tonight. I will definitely be going to bed early. I won’t get any writing done tonight, but I will get some done tomorrow at lunch an also after Stories for All Seasons tomorrow night.

I did a little creative work tonight, though it was primarily tedious. If you look to your right, you should see that the scroll bar for this (and every page of this site) has turned an interesting shade of bluish-gray. I just figured the site could use a balancing effect for the spiral down the left side of the page. Whatever.

There is one more thing I want to cover before turning in. Today, my son got a letter from Wizards of the Coast, with his Magic: The Gathering DCI tournament card in it. He also claimed that a hand-written letter accompanied it. In this day of custom-printed mail merges, I figured he had just gotten a well done form letter written in some kind of cursive font. I asked to see the letter.

To my surprise, he actually got a hand written letter from someone named Dee Bleifield (sorry if I’m mutilating your name, Dee), a DCI tournament director that he had met while visiting his Mom in Texas. Dee took the time to hand write his letter, complete with her direct phone number and an offer to call her if he needed help finding local tournaments.

That’s pretty damn cool. Evidently WotC hasn’t lost all the small company feel that TSR used to have in its early days. I remember sending a query letter to Kim Mohan, who was then editing Dragon magazine, asking if he would be interested in an article submission about D & D druids and listing different specs for some possible animal forms that high-level druids could assume. I was only a couple of years older than my son is now. Kim responded to me with a personal letter, saying that he would be interested in seeing the article, though I’m sure he knew that the person behind the query letter was still very wet behind the ears. I’ve always remembered that, though I never got up the guts to send in the article.

It seems that Dee has tapped into that same importance in the youth market. Keith, my son, will always remember getting a personal letter from a Wizards of the Coast staff member, just as I remember getting the letter from Kim Mohan. If WotC ever revives Amazing Stories (please please please) I will definitely submit something to him this time.

(Update, 12/9/2014: Amazing Stories has indeed been revived, but not by WotC. It’s now being run by Steve Davidson.)