Friday, October 07, 2005

Fresh from working in the fields... or did we get him at Target?

Yup, I am a sucker for Fall. Fall and Halloween, and Autumn color and pumpkin carving, plastic vampire teeth, hot soups, frosty mornings, change of season, cheese and cheesy decor. The pura, entera enchilada.

We will go to at least one pumpkin patch, and we will buy many pumpkins. We will certainly carve pumpkins throughout the month, because it is fun and I love to eat roasted pumpkin seeds. And another thing: I don't go for the extra scary stuff. No trickling blood or screeching axe weilding, Hollywood conceived beasts of terror. I like black cats, bats, hot apple cider, dry ice in a caldron, straw bales and corn stalks, candle light, homemade costumes and old oak trees.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gamers and Makers

An Essay About “Colossal Cave Adventure”
By William
October 6, 2005

Colossal Cave is a computer game called a text-RPG, or Role-Playing Game. In Colossal Cave, words and long descriptions, like: “You are standing at the end of the road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building down a valley,” are used instead of pictures and graphics to create a huge, interactive first-person story. Colossal Cave (also known as Adventure or ADVENT) recognizes 1 or 2 letter commands, like “unlock”, “get item”, “open door”, or “eat food”. There are compass directions, N, S, E, W, NW, NE, SW, and SE, which enable you to “travel” from one area to another.

Will Crowther, a programmer and caver, created the original “Adventure” in 1975. It was written as entertainment for his daughters. Will Crowther created the layout of Colossal Cave based on the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky. Don Woods, a programmer and a big fan of Tolkien, greatly expanded the game in 1976. He added more fantasy and adventure elements, like elves, troll and a volcano.

Computers couldn't generate graphics in the early 1970's, so “Adventure” did not have illustrations. Players would have to rely on memory, imagination and the games detailed location descriptions to play. Some players also drew maps and layouts of Colossal Cave to make the game less confusing.

Colossal Cave focuses around mazes, which is why it's important to draw maps and illustrations. Some of these mazes, like the “Maze of twisty little passages, all alike” can be extremely confusing without visual reference.

Compared with modern video games, “Adventure” is somewhat confusing and frustrating. However, it's the first in a very long line of adventure games and RPGs. It introduced very simple elements to gaming, like treasure collecting and a non-linear, explorable world. These things are now a requirement for modern adventure games, but Colossal Cave started it all.

Dragon Essay
By Alex
October 6, 2005

My dragon is built of Lego bricks. It is a robot. Robots are powered by a computer or by radio control. My robot is powered by a microcomputer, which has a wire that leads to the back of the robot and powers the motor. The motor turns a long axle with worm gears on it. Worm gears are spirals that both change the direction of the gear and make it much slower, which makes them perfect for robot legs. Robot legs have to move slowly or the legs will fall off the hinges attached to the body.

The hardest part was making the skin out of hard plastic bricks, and still allowing the legs, mouth and tail to move. Long axles in the legs come from either side of the worm gears and turn large wheels that are attached to long rectangular bricks with feet on them the feet go up and forward then down and backward. Moving the dragon forward at a slow speed. The mouth moves along a pole attached to worm gears. When the worm gears turn, it moves the pole up and down. The other end of the pole is attached to the top jaw, so when the pole moves the jaw moves.

When the dragon moves the legs and jaw move at the same time as it walks. The dragon is red and black with green eyes. When the dragon is done it will have flapping wings an opening and closing mouth walking legs and a swinging tale all powered by one motor.
A peak of Frantix can be found at: And of course you can hustle down to your Target store and see a real life copy on the shelves. I realize that Chicken Blog does not get many hits and probably even fewer visits from gamers, but pride motivates my enthusiasm, so bear with me. Remember this is the non-violent, puzzle game that we all backed up with sacrifice and Geoff's brain (and some other guys' brains too.) Even Alex and William contributed suggestions and game testing time. Blah, blah, blah... come on, indulge me, go check out the trailer.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

This did not turn out to be the kind of weekend I had hoped for. I was gearing up for a cleaning rush. We are long overdue for deep cleaning, purging, sorting... even Max suggested we clean "until the house actually looks clean." Are you wondering whether I have an embarrassed grin on my face? Yes, I do.

But last night we had a really good dinner, and it came from cooperative, loving, thoughtful effort. Geoff started dishes while I nursed Maria. Then Alex played with Maria while I made turkey burger patties and grilled onions. William took the trash out. Max played I spy. The radio played classical music on NPR. Geoff lit the coals and we washed lettuce and sliced tomatoes together. Geoff found the ketchup, sliced cheese, and we both turned the onions. We ate dinner together. The onions came out as sweet as dessert. And after the table was cleared we walked outside to see the pumpkin lights Max, Geoff and Alex set up in the garden. It's still hot, and the house is still messy, but last night was one of the nicest evenings ever.