Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Ten Year Meme

Okay, this is an intriguing excuse for a stroll down Memory Lane. Well, actually it's an excuse to dig through various documentary sources -- my memory isn't that good. Everything is relative to March 4th, but I'm not being very precise. Anyway...

March 2004: ASAP has recently been released, the first product of mine to hit the market in several years. It's a good feeling, although I dearly wish it was slightly more solid. To make amends, I am spending much of the month rewriting my unit test harness. I am starting, very very slowly, to make a little progress on my big projects. Unfortunately, I've spent the entire past month sick, which has tended to destroy all focus.

March 2003: I am now working at Applied Messaging, which will not change its name to the catchy-but-unspellable Convoq for some months yet. I've been there for about four months now, writing the scripting engine at the heart of a pretty cutting-edge IM system. After several years of writing clients, I'm now square at the center of a server, which is a nice change of pace.

At Intercon C this past weekend, I stepped down from the NEIL Board of Directors; for the first time in a long time, I will finally step back from Intercon enough to begin to regain a little perspective. Unfortunately, my very last act on the Board was the most overtly political one I have ever taken in any club, an implicit parting shot at some of the people who have driven me nuts for the past several years. On a lighter note, I ran Panel: the LARP on Sunday morning, an experimental one-hour game that proves to be really extraordinarily silly; everyone seems to have a good time. I also pulled together the Century of LARP Retrospective, an elaborate and fairly funny satire of LARP and history, written principally by myself, Charley and Christian, with lots of ideas from other people.

March 2002: In a couple of weeks, Buzzpad will go out of business. This is probably the most tragic of all the companies I've seen fail, because we have a really excellent and useful product that is complete and in the box, and which is ahead of anything that will be available in the next two years. However, we are entirely out of money to market the thing. Our intended merger with a larger company will crash and burn due to the market downturn. It has been a really excellent year, with a tiny company showing that a disciplined software engineering process really does matter more than stupidly long hours: this is around the point that I am becoming a serious evangelist of Agile Programming practices. Sadly, I am about to spend seven months unemployed, which is not going to be a ton of fun.

A few weeks ago was Perigord, a truly grand event. It's not every day that you get to play a drag-queen Medusa dancing the Buffens, shortly followed by a down-to-the-napkins accurate Elizabethan feast.

March 2001: We have just flown home from a trip to Paris, which was a lot of fun. We rented an apartment near Montmartre, and wandered all over the city. My poor language skills were sufficient to survival (with the help of a wife who is actually good at French), and we got to immerse ourselves in lots of history. Having come home, it is now about to dump large amounts of snow on us.

This coming weekend, I will be one of the GMs for the second run of Collision Imminent!, at Intercon A. A bunch of us wrote this as the Build Your Own Game at the last Intercon down south, and it didn't suck -- now, we have cleaned it up, added a bunch more stuff, and the second run will truly rock the house. I will help a little bit on the Smurf game that is the Intercon A BYOG, but I just don't know the subject matter well enough to contribute much.

In a few weeks will be the Ommegang event. I'll be helping a bit with the live chess game there.

msmemory is currently out of work, her dotcom having recently gone down in flames, and I'm not far behind. I am working at Trenza, the most preposterously overambitious company I have ever been involved with. Our plan is to create a social 3D front-end to the Web -- essentially turn the Web into a useful MMORPG. Some of the ideas make a good deal of sense, but the business plan never has. I am "Director of Technology" at Trenza, which would be more impressive if there weren't five such directors at a 35 person company. I'm on reduced time right at the moment, and the company will stop paying people entirely at the end of the month. Some people keep going unpaid, but I will be a little too realistic for that.

March 2000: In a couple of weeks, I will start a personal diary, and fail utterly in my hopes of keeping it going for more than a week. This was apparently inspired by listening to Kenneth Branagh reading from the diaries of Samuel Pepys in the car. It is perhaps not coincidental that I will shortly decide that most diaries are not very interesting in large bites. At the moment, I am skirting the edges of a nervous breakdown from accidentally serving as Chair of Intercon XV, which will occur this weekend. While the con will be quite successful, the hellish concom politics will take their toll on my nerves for years to come. I am taking Latin twice a week, in a small course organized by Diego; while I doubt I'll ever be fluent, at least the rudiments will stick with me.

I've just turned 35, and am starting to get uncomfortably aware of the passage of time. I've always been a great fan of Dante, and the phrase "midway through life's journey" (which some scholars take to means Dante at 35) is hitting uncomfortably close to home.

At work, we are in the early stages of working on the Siege Engine, the sequel to the Dark Engine that went into the games Thief and System Shock II. This time, I get to build proper multi-user into it from the beginning; at the moment, we're getting elementary MUD capabilities working. Sadly, this project will die along with Looking Glass in a couple of months. In my spare time, I am just starting on a project to design a massively-multiplayer game intended to teach science; alexx_kay will also come in on this, and do a large chunk of the design work. The theoretical $10 million earmarked for this project by a large European software firm will never really materialize.

March 1999: I have been at Looking Glass for most of a year now, and am deeply enmeshed in turning System Shock II into a multiplayer game. About two months ago, my boss (who had originally designed the network systems) quit; right around now, I am starting to understand that the player-avatar system he wrote is fundamentally broken, and I am in *big* trouble. I have not yet realized that this project is about to utterly swallow my life for the next seven months.

Edit: I am preparing to run the second edition of The Future of Oz at Intercon XIV. This was the first LARP I ever worked on, originally run as a weekender at Arisia back in 1992. The first time around, alexx_kay and hungrytiger did most of the writing, and I did logistics -- I only wrote a few characters. This time, I've decided to take the game in hand and do a rewrite/tightening: I've trimmed it from 70 characters down to 40, and from a weekend down to 4 hours. The other two will help me run it, and it will be a great hit. (Thanks to alexx_kay for the reminder.)

March 1998: I am beginning to figure out how to worm my way over to Looking Glass Studios, a game company that is currently owned by Intermetrics. It's clearly the interesting place to be, but it will be another month before I manage to get myself over there on a consulting gig that I conveniently never quite leave.

I have just finished my event report for A Winter's Revel at the Inns of Court, a theme event that I ran in January. This had a performance of Taming of the Shrew, an Elizabethan feast, and a revel in the style of the Inns of Court. It was a lot of work, but came out well.

Edit: I am involved in Intercon the Thirteenth, which is coming up next weekend. This is my first time on the Concom; I'm mainly assisting hungrytiger with the Bid Committee, which I will wind up chairing for most of the next five years. I've also gotten myself sucked into an idea by vortexofchaos, who is running the convention. In two weeks flat, I am writing the biggest damned game ever held at Intercon: Who Killed the Con Chair?, a game that is largely about why vortexofchaos has that login name. There are a dozen major factions, each with a bluesheet; everyone at the Con is in at least a couple of factions, and many attendees have their own personal character sheets. None of them have any idea this is coming. This game will prove to be a glorious failure -- it crashes and burns due to poor reality-checking, but it's a great learning experience. It's still a hoot to read: I was on an adrenaline high the whole time, and it shows. (I mean, how many games have the Oscar Meyer Wieners as a major faction, and are concerned with the hunt for Flippitatus the Wonder Spatula?) I won't do anything quite this silly again until Panel: The LARP.

March 1997: The Wyndhaven project has gotten pretty far along -- we have a fully-functional Web-based multimedia MUD. Now, I am in the process of designing an interface between Wyndhaven and a VRML-based immersive environment called (of course) Black Sun. This will eventually prove to be a reallly bad idea, but at this point I still really don't understand the problems of a 3D environment.

A few weeks ago was A Mid-Winter's Day at Le Poulet Gauche, possibly the best-ever demonstration of how a good idea can get out of hand. Our pleasant little event wound up drawing a few hundred people for gaming, a production of Twelfth Night, and an excellent but rather overcrowded feast. I wound up spending much of the afternoon helping Jehan strike Carolingian coins, IIRC.

March 1996: At this point, I believe I'm working on Wyndhaven, an educational MUD system that we're building for DARPA. It's a fun excuse to get very, very good at Web hacking: I'm in charge of the client, and I'm doing all kinds of cutting-edge stuff in Java and Javascript.

I'm about halfway through my year in the East as Master of Hammatt Ocean Lodge. This is proving to be rather unfun -- the job of Master requires a little bit of ritual (which I'm very good at, and enjoy) and an enormous amount of playing Cruise Director (which I'm less good at, and don't).

March 1995: I am currently working on a Fancy Multimedia Tutorial about the Ada language (which is about as sophisticated as an average 2004 Powerpoint presentation). I am integrating it with Mosaic, since I'm the only person at the company who really knows much about this "Web" thing, and it's a convenient way to show some of the multimedia.

March 1994: A couple of weeks ago, my apprentices Gwydden and Fiametta called me from their current abode in the West, where they had just returned from a BoD meeting. They explained to me the horrible decisions taken at that meeting, which is how I got to be the first person in the East to find out about the Membership Crisis. At the moment, Carolingia is deeply enmeshed in figuring out what to do about it. This situation will consume a completely ridiculous amount of my attention for the next ten years.

Next month, alexx_kay will direct, and I will produce, The Knight of the Burning Pestle. I'm deeply enmeshed in procuring and building props for the play at the moment. Ten years later, the floor of the coffin is still sitting in our attic...

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