September 2001

DONATIONS [Author: myschyf]

Got this in the mail from the New York Times. No idea if its on their website but I thought many of you would be interested.

The United Way of New York and the New York Community Trust have established a fund to help the victims of the attacks and their families. The September Eleventh Fund will provide immediate support to established emergency assistance agencies. Anyone wishing to contribute may send their donations in care of United Way, 2 Park Ave, New York, New York, 10016, or call: (212) 251-4035.

Donations are also being accepted on United Way of New York City’s Web site.

THE FORUMS [Author: myschyf]

Shacknews said it best. So let me quote them:

Consider the comments now under martial law until further notice. You act like a fucktard and you are banned for life. If you dont know what the definition of a fucktard is, if you are unsure of what a “fucktard post” would be, then don’t post. Have some common sense, decency, and respect for those who have been killed and their family and friends. If you dont like it, leave.

This goes double and triple and quadruple for our boards. This would be a very bad time to pick a fight with the moderators and writers of this site. This would be a very bad time to not be familiar with our Forum FAQ. This would be a very bad time to refuse to heed warnings given out by our moderators and writers.

BLOODY, UNBOWED [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

For many of us, the shadows that have stretched over our hearts and spirits will defy the sunshine for the days and weeks to come. Some of us will never know warmth and comfort again. When I went to bed last night, fifteen of my co-workers were unaccounted for. This morning, there is a sheet of paper scotch-taped to the door with the number 9 slashed out, and the number 8 written beneath it. For some, that number brings healing and relief; but for most, it is a devastating tally – a morbid marker of loss. Coming into the office today, it was still possible to feel distended from the disaster; insulated and secure in the knowledge that it happened to someone else, somewhere else. But that number 8 shatters any insulation, and brings the calamity to our doorstep.

As for me, I’m still waiting to break. I’ve come close a few times. Last night, driving north on Interstate 95, at the overpass to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, there was an elderly man holding a massive American flag and waving to the exodus from Washington – wearing his VFW cap proudly. Just past him, as we crested the hill, you could see the tiny wisp of black on the horizon billowing from three states away as the smoke behind still blurred the rear view mirror. Seeing that veteran with his flag was a staggering comfort that had several drivers on the shoulder of the interstate. His message was the most comforting one I’ve ever known: “We’ve been here before; we will prevail. I’ve been there.”

I’d like to take his message and give it to you in the hopes that it will be just as comforting. We enjoy such great liberty in this nation, and often need to be reminded that our comforts and our liberties are not universal – they are expensive commodities enjoyed from the moment we are born. In a global sense, we as Americans are the spoiled rich kids who never know want, and never know discomfort. That wealth comes at a high cost. Yesterday, we made another down-payment. We pay the price in lives, and we stagger at the overwhelming enormity of it. The cost is beyond measure, and the price is inconceiveable – but it has been paid. We as a nation, will gather up, we will clean the streets and we will mourn our dead. We have lost many, many good people. They have paid our marker, and left us to enjoy the luxuries of liberty and freedom for another day.

Fire is a duality of forces. It is death and destruction; pain and suffering; yet at the same time, it is a purification and a cleansing. The same flames that tear apart forest and city is used to cleanse infection and purify raw ore into gold. Yesterday, the raw ores of the American spirit were purified, and in the midst of death was born countless tales of heroism – sadly, most of which also end in death and sorrow. Today, New York City’s fire department is cut in half – two hundred valliant heroes walked into the maw, and were gone in a breath. As the night gives way to another day, and the winds blow the smoke out to sea, I hope that the sun finds us honorable, and worthy of the luxuries bestowed upon us by heroes who have walked into the maw without looking back.

From the safety of my office window, I look down at soldiers and police officers, agents and paramedics; sitting on the grass and holding hands in prayer for our people, our nation, and our planet. I share their prayers and pray that as we commend our lost loves to the arms of the angels, we all find some comfort here.

I need some distraction

oh beautiful release

memory seeps from my veins

let me be empty

and weightless and maybe

I’ll find some peace tonight

in the arms of an angel

fly away from here

from this dark cold hotel room

and the endlessness that you fear

you are pulled from the wreckage

of your silent reverie

you’re in the arms of the angel

may you find some comfort there

A BIT OF LEVITY? [Author: myschyf]

I really don’t feel like posting gaming news just yet but I have to do this now because the firewall at my office blocks Gamespy for some reason (a source of never-ending amusement for me). In any case, Mark Asher did a very tongue-in-cheek interview with Scott “Lum” Jennings and it really is very comical. As only Lum can be. Give it a read.

SOME THOUGHTS TO CLOSE OUT THE NIGHT [Author: Lum the Mad]

This was a horrible day. A horrible, horrible day. I sat through most of it just numbed, in shock. Which was better then that horrible, hour-long panic when it just seemed like the news got more and more horrific, drumming a crescendo into our psyche with each passing minute, and no one – no one at all, anywhere – in this supposed age of information had any idea what the hell was going on, save that Bad Things were happening and many, many people were dying.

Tomorrow things will get cleaned up a bit, and hopefully some survivors will be found.

Soon after that maybe we’ll find the guys who did it. Or not. Maybe we’ll strike at the right guys. Or not. It really doesn’t matter, after all. It would not be retribution, but revenge. There could never be a retribution. Not of an equal scale. It would not be possible. How do you burn the psyche of another civilization?

There are some unfortunate people out there, parroting hatred and twisting what happened to conform to their own sick view of the world.

It is important – it is vital that we – not just Americans, but everyone – do not descend to their level. I have heard reports of American racists attacking Arabs and Indians in the streets, and am profoundly disgusted. I am reminded of much the same reaction after the Oklahoma City bombing, before noted Arab terrorist Timothy McVeigh was arrested.

This was not an attack by Islam, or by Afghanistan, or by any easily quantifiable “Other”. That would make dealing with this all too easy.

No, this is the twenty-first century now, and war is a personal thing. It’s all too easy to imagine a tightly organized group of people planning this. It took years, probably, learning how to fly the planes and defeat the airline security and probably infiltrating employees into the airports. And the people who did were willing to die to make the point that we could be hurt.

Well, congratulations. Even in America we can feel pain. We have greaving parents and orphaned children here as well. What an accomplishment, for whatever cause they felt this was worth.

Unlike most of the media talking heads tonight, I don’t think our world was too profoundly changed today. More’s the pity, really. It’s just more of the same, with those mind-shattering latterday touches like the doomed passengers frantically dialing out their last messages via cell phone. More insanity and death and stupidity. No shortage of that ever, really.

Thankfully, watching television with a manic intensity, there was some hope as well.

The firefighters who marched up the World Trade Center stairs, before it collapsed. We’d better build a monument to them. That’s what I’d like to remember.

ELOQUENCE FAILS [Author: Eldin]

This morning, my mother rushed into the room, releasing a deluge of rolling words about bombs and buildings and planes. I leapt from the floor, rushed to the television, and turned to CNN just in time to see the second plane slide softly into the South Tower of the World Trade Center and surround the building in a ring of fire.

Horrified, I continued to watch, finally seeing the familiar, once solid Pentagon engulfed in flame and smoke. \’e2\’80\’9cThis can\’e2\’80\’99t be real. It cannot be.\’e2\’80\’9d I picked up the phone and dialed the Democratic National Committee. \’e2\’80\’9cWhat can I do? Do you need me to come in?\’e2\’80\’9d My boss, sobbing and out of breath said no, that she was leaving the building along with my co-workers. They were being evacuated. Within hours, the City of Chicago was a ghost town.

When the shock started to leave me, the human reality sank in. \’e2\’80\’9cArc, Lum, and Mys live and work in the D.C. area. Are they all right? My friends Paul and Michael, who I knew in college, work in downtown New York. My God. Where are they? I can\’e2\’80\’99t get through. All the telephone circuits are jammed.\’e2\’80\’9d

Paul soon signed online, telling me he had left work after the planes crashed. He watched as the towers collapsed a scant few blocks away from him. Ash coated his clothing, face, and hair. He was crying, shaking, vomiting. He hadn\’e2\’80\’99t heard from friends who worked in the area. He didn\’e2\’80\’99t know where they were. He didn\’e2\’80\’99t know if they were ok. One by one, the friends called, bringing more and more relief to the both of us. Perhaps we were lucky. Perhaps we wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t have to deal with what tens of thousands of others did.

Then, Michael called. I cannot describe the tone of his voice. I cannot describe the helplessness, the hollowness, or the pure heart break as he tried to explain to me that three of his friends worked in the World Trade Center. It had been ten hours since the collapse. No one has seen nor heard from these people. Not their friends, spouses, or families. They seem to have vanished from the face of the earth. We fear they have. It seems likely they have.

I knew two of those people, John and Michelle. I did not know them well, but I spent time with them at gatherings of friends. I see their faces and cannot fathom that they might be gone. It is inconceivable to me. I\’e2\’80\’99ve deliberately blanked out any thoughts of what their final moments might have been like. Pure terror is hardly adequate.

There is evil in the world, and we have seen it today. Tonight, I feel the earth must be very quiet, trembling slightly. Not from the terror, hate, and evil of the men who have done this, but from the anticipation of an America awakened and united as we have not been in a long while.

There will be much terror in the world in the coming weeks. But, it will not be ours. It will be in the hearts of the innocent and deserving alike who will die when America finally stands up and says \’e2\’80\’9cNo longer,\’e2\’80\’9d to the states who perpetuate the new evil of the 21st Century.

I am not a religious man, but I will pray for them. I will pray for those who find themselves staring into the barrel of the American gun when we pull the trigger. They do not deserve it. We did not deserve it.

John and Michelle did not deserve it.

However, we will not be responsible for it. The responsibility rests solely with those who woke up this morning and decided to dash out the light of so many American lives.

God have mercy on them.

For we will not.

THE SURREALISM OF REALITY [Author: myschyf]

I pass by the helicopter pad at the Pentagon every day on my way to work. Every. Single. Day. Before today, I never had a thought about being a victim of a terrorist attack.

It was a fortuitous morning for me. Really it was. I live pretty much across the street from the Pentagon. Had I not stayed at home to watch the footage of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York, I would have been passing right by the helicopter pad when the plane hit. As it was, I was just about to turn into to the Pentagon parking lot when I heard a loud boom. I thought it was my car. My car is 16 years old — I thought maybe it was finally giving up the ghost. I got out of the car to look under the hood, expecting a fire or something. Little did I know the fire was a mere 100 yards away.

My mind isn’t really prepared to handle all this. Terrorist attacks happen to other people, in other countries and in other neighborhoods. This is America. We are secure. I thought.

For the longest time, the whole experience had a definite surreal aura surrounding it. Until I got to work. As I drove to work I heard about the explosion on the National Mall (where the monuments and Smithsonian are); the car bomb in front of the State Department, the plane crash in Pittsburgh. I work for a company that, among other things, does research and development for many branches of the military and the Department of Defense. I had not been at work for more than 15 minutes when they announced that if Threatcon went up another level they were going to lockdown the building and no one would be allowed to enter or leave. I burst into tears. This can’t be happening! My mind just isn’t prepared to deal.

I wish I had something wonderfully profound to say but I don’t. I’m just too shell-shocked. But other than that I’m alright. My thanks to all of you who jumped into IRC, ICQ, AIM and sent me mail. I’m going to go cry some more now.

I HAVE NO PHONE – PLEASE BEAR WITH ME [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

I’m using a laptop and the battery is probably not gonna last for long –

I dont have a crib-sheet of contacts so this is the best place to contact everbody who is looking for me – but to those who are worried and wondering: I’m okay. I apologize for using this site as a personal broadcast system, but there are folks who I needed to contact.

Pray for our nation,

Arcadian Del Sol

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO WRITE [Author: Hedron]

John Donne: “… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

How do you take this quote? To me this is the ultimate statement of both pacifism and justice. It affirms each person\’e2\’80\’99s place in “Mankind”.

It tolls for thee – as a reminder of our shared soul in the face of loss, and as a reminder of our responsibility to each other, and as a reminder of our duty to hold each other accountable to that responsibility.

When thousands die in a building in New York, it\’e2\’80\’99s tolling for those who committed this act as much as it is for us to bring justice to the situation, as much as it was for whatever wrong originated this condition.

Because WE are involved in Mankind.

MOMENTS OF WEAKNESS [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Marketing is the evil demon of publication. When games are released too early, we blame the marketers. When games crash to the desktop or randomly reboot our computers, we blame the marketers. “They were forced to push it out the door,” is what we hear whispered behind closed cubicles and chatted over the scuttlebutts. Those damned publishers and their market watching fiends. Why dont they just go back to tying women to railroad tracks and leave the developers to just develop games; to let the creative process be, well, creative.

What is a marketer? The simple blue-collar explanation (which is the kind of explanation I always prefer anyway), is someone who watches the market, notes the trends, charts the changes, and graphs the results. They take this information and use it to explain to publishers why releasing “King Kong Komedy Kapers III” in October is absolutely imperative because by January, people will probably figure out that it has nothing to do with giant apes swatting at bi-planes. Well why not keep fixing bugs and release it in November? Well, marketers will tell you that if you miss September, then you’ve missed Christmas. Even if you finished it in November, you’d be better off sitting on it until the next year. So more often than not, publishers, at the urging of their market watchers, will call up Joe’s House Of Development and say, “ship now or pick up your severance.” Joe’s House of Development, already working 20 hours shifts and eating cheese sandwiches, eagerly burns the latest build of King Kong Komedy Kapers III and ships it to the publisher.

And then the Seven Headed Whore of Babylon (also known as public relations) begins to rear its ugly head(s). One head speaks on behalf of the developers (“We released because they forced us to. We didn’t want to do it. We’re going to bust up a soda machine to prove ourselves to you.”), one head speaks on behalf of the publisher (“We were forced by our parent company to publish it now, or cancel the project. We knew that you would rather endure a fuzzy release than never see King Kong Komedy Kapers III ever.”), and one head speaks on behalf of the consumers (“fuck!”). The loudest head speaks on behalf of the ‘parent company’ but I don’t have a Dutch or French translator to post a pseudo-quote for you. Even if I did, it would simply blame the developer or the publisher or the consumers. It is a giant game of hot potato and ultimately, it is the guy who shells out $49.99 at the register who gets burned.

But guess what, folks. Marketers watch the market, and they advise publishers when to move and when to sit based upon that market. Do you know who that market is? It is you. It is me. It is the guy with his $49.99 at the register. They watch us and they make these decisions based upon what you and I have done in the past. We’ve purchased the Outposts and the Ultima IXs and any given sports title by Sierra – and waited for the patches to come. So how can we blame them when we ourselves, are the enablers. If we as consumers are the abused spouse, at what point do we pack up and move out of the house? World War II Online is still plugging away after what is easly the run-away winner of the big “have a cluster-fucked release” sweepstakes. Derek Smart is still DEVELOPING GAMES AT ALL after his stellar offerings (/sarcasm). Companies crank out deershooter clones faster than blue noodles from a Play-Doh Fun Factory(tm), while Dynamix gets shuffled into the coals. Why? Because we dont reward innovation. We reward speed. You’ve seen the posts on development boards, “Just release what you got. I want this game sooo bad!” – Marketers, Developers, Publishers; they see that. It is a safety net they greatly appreciate being given. Basically, we say to them, “I’d rather have your piece of buggy crap now than have a well tuned and smooth running gem six months later.”

And when they give us what we ask for, we want to skewer them on a greased spear and display their carcass for the rest of the industry to behold and tremble. “Release your game now, but dammit it had better be good.” If only this were possible; and knowing full well it is not possible, we keep sending out these vibes, and they keep sending us their betas for $49.99 a pop. We’re like the little mouthy girl in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I want a goose that lays golden eggs, daddy. And I want it NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

“Yeah I remember Dynamix. They went under early in the 2000’s I think. They had some great games back in the day, didn’t they? I wonder what happened – they just started releasing buggy crap after buggy crap and I guess they got what was coming to them.” This is what legacy will be attached to Dynamix ten and twenty years from now. Lost to history will be the fact that they were simply reacting to a market; to the consumers, who told them to just give us what we want today and don’t worry about tomorrow.

I’m not excusing bad business practices and I certainly am not supporting underhanded business tactics. We all have the right to get what we pay for.

Just as long as we stop getting what we ask for.