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ErikH2000
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icon Love the Grid. (+7)  
Can we stop apologizing for the grid? Yeah, that's right. I mean your basic, everyday square-lattice-aligned unit-distance graph. You know what I'm talking about--a fracking grid! When I grew up, people had respect for the grid. Sure, occasionally you'd see some turbohipster trotting out his hex graph to impress people, but still, nobody messed with the grid. It was solid. It did its job. It did it well.

People making video games took to the grid easily. Some of those folks said, "hey, this video display we got is arranged in a grid, therefore we should make games that are also grid-like." And that was fine, but they were missing the point. That's a very shallow basis for a relationship with the grid. That's like me dating Natalie Portman for her looks and celebrity status, but not at all appreciating her Harvard psychology degree.

How many dimensions do we humans have immediate access to? Some people are going to say "four", because they are counting time as an axis we all get to walk down. But you can't see any point along that axis beyond the one you currently occupy. The conventional answer people give would be "three" (X, Y, Z). I'm not going to call those people stupid, but I asked about "immediate access", so let's narrow this down to what one sad little human can actually perceive at any given moment. The light bounces off the world and comes streaming into your eyeballs. Those rods and cones in your eyes have no way of detecting how far that light has traveled, the angle it came in at, or any sort of depth-related information. Your eyes are essentially given two flat planes of information. It's your brain that adds in all the 3D stuff, and that's why ViewMasters and Captain EO are so convincing.** So we think in 3D, but we see in 2D. Let's not complicate this by throwing in the other four or five (proprioception) senses--they all tend to be even more hobbled than our eyes.

** Caption EO was not convincing in his ability to solve problems with the power of music, love, and jerky dance moves. However, it really did look like this little creature was flying two inches in front of my nose, and I couldn't resist the urge to swipe at it. Did you miss Captain EO? Oh, you poor unfortunate.

So say you are put in charge of creating some kind of fictional situation involving spatial problems. And say also that it matters to you whether other people can see the situation clearly. You don't want them making a bunch of guesses about it--guesses that could be right or wrong, i.e. "is that a mailman standing behind the refrigerator, or is that his decapitated head laying on top of it?" Assuming also that you'll be delivering the information payload through somebody's dimensionally-impaired eyeballs, you want a 2D representation of the scene.

Now the next thing you have to consider when you're in the business of representing spatially-oriented situations is whether or not you're going to quantize. Real life, a.k.a. the universe we live in, might be quantized. But if it is, then it's done at such a fine level of detail, that we can't really tell. Well, I can't. Maybe you can. So in this scene you're making, people might be asking questions like, "is that mailman behind the refrigerator?" You could answer coyly, "perhaps he is. What do you think?" Then people get annoyed, because the mailman is just partially behind the fridge with one tentative leg and part of his torso jutting out like maybe he's contemplating a bolt over to the toaster oven. And whether the mailman is behind the fridge or not isn't an interesting question for our scene observers to spend several minutes thinking about. It's really just a question of interpretation--not some tricky problem solved with cleverness. So let's just quantize the mailman, already. You can say in your representation that there is one location considered behind the refrigerator, and the mailman is either in that location or not. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, because now they don't have to worry about your impolite ambiguities.

After you've committed to representing your little world as a series of discrete points, you have to decide how you're going to arrange those points. Remember how many axes our eyeballs have immediate access to? Two--that's right. So it's a reassuringly natural thing to say we're just going to have columns and rows. Some bright youngster out to make a name for himself will suggest that the distance travelled orthogonally to adjacent points should always be uniform. Yeah, it's good to know what to expect when you're traversing two-dimensional space, whether it be with your eyeballs or some kind of planiversal self-propulsion system. And even though it's an arbitrary decision, I have to think that for most depicted situations, it comes in handy to have all your points along an axis-following line equidistant to their neighborly points on the line. I mean, you should have a good reason to make it more complicated than that, right?

And that's how we arrive at the grid as a clear and efficient means of expressing spatial information!

So why is it that game makers are running away from the grid like it's three-year-old lasagna from the back of the fridge? I think there were a lot of people making griddy games early on because they had to--hardware constraints, you know? But they weren't really into the grid--not like I am. As soon as they found an opportunity to abandon the grid, they took it. I'm talking about topology traitors like Jeff Vogel who converted his Avernum games to isometric view just be cool. When some NPC in Avernum tells you to travel west to find the Mystic Spring of Power-Up-Edness, you have to think about whether west is up-left diagonal, down-left diagonal, or maybe combinations of up-left and down-left to actually go left-left. What good is that? And was Lemmings really improved when they made it three-dimensional? Do you want to set up some lemmings to solve a problem, or do you want to spend five minutes adjusting camera view before you actually do something? Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper, a game wonderfully suited to two dimensions, thankfully survived the tacked-on first-person view that some overfeisty code jock threw in. But only just barely. Perhaps the most tragic example in the entire history of gaming is TLK's DROD3D, whose faults I cannot elaborate upon without hurting the feelings of well-intentioned people. Suffice it to say, that nobody can tell what the fegundo is going on with that game. Are the roaches sneaking up behind you? Better whip that camera around, zoom it out, pan all over, and clean the dust off your monitor. Sheesh. Can't we just have a grid?

Some games should be about figuring out what you are looking at or simulating a visceral experience. But if the game is about giving spatial information to a player quick, with minimal head-scratching, a game maker should come back to that good old-fashioned reliable grid. There's no need to express regret that your sprites stay neatly inside the confines of their squares. You're quantizing, right? Enough said. And if you're playing a game of chess on the computer, should it involve camera angle adjustments to figure out if your opponent can castle or not? Of course not! Finally, under no circumstances should you ever describe a grid-based game as "retro". That's like calling oxygen "retro" because you've succeeded in holding your breath underwater for twenty seconds.

Love the grid, my friends.

Smitemasters, Smitemasters

Alright, the Summer/Fall 2006 Smitemaster's Selection is late. It was already late, and now it's even more late. There is very little left to do on it though. In fact, there is really just one thing left to do on it. We need Sten Ryason to finish recording his Beethro parts, and then the two new Smitemaster's holds will be released on CaravelNet shortly after and CDs will ship.

We already gave out an extra downloadable credit to people earlier to make up for the delay. It will still likely happen that some people, at the end of their CaravelNet memberships will have received three Smitemaster's Selections instead of four. If you are such a person, please contact me and we will make it up to you. But wait until your membership ends, so we can tell if you actually got short-holded. I.e. if your membership ends next weekend, we can't tell yet if you will have received three or four Smitemaster's Selections. Also, if anyone is seriously steamed or regretful about purchasing a CaravelNet membership, I would like for you to e-mail me about it--erikh@caravelgames.com. Worst case, we can give you a refund.

I thank you for your patience. Larry Murk's Master Locks and Jacob Grinfeld's Smitemastery 101 will be with us soon!

The Winter 2006 Smitemaster's Selection is likely to follow the release of DROD: The City Beneath, and should include a hold based on new game elements in the DROD 3.0 engine. And yes, it is Winter 2006, because by my definition, Winter began last year in December.

I Speaksum Good

This is a cool contest that NiroZ came up with. You write something using the goblin style of speaking. You probably want to know which exact regional goblin dialect should be used. Neth-Tuenan, Western Clarbagi, or Old Green Tongue? Whichever works out best for you, really. You decide!

As I write this, you've still got a solid week to put something together for the contest. Give it a shot!

contest info

Michthro, Master Solver

How did I overlook Michthro before as a candidate for the Don't Ask award? Schik had to prod me into looking into this fellow's long and illustrious DROD career. A few facts about my new hero Michthro:

* He has an amazing 2000+ #1 high scores. He's the best player on the highscores, even if not the most prolific.
* He's pointed out numerous optimizations and fixes for bugs in the DROD code.
* While involved in hotly debated topics, he keeps his cool pretty well considering the outright attacks on him.
* He helped Elfstone recover her CaravelNet progress by volunteering to recreate her player file for her.
* He beta-tested a ton of holds, both on private beta boards and in architecture.

So Michthro is good people. Schik had the idea that we would create a special rank level for him, i.e. instead of it saying "Smitemaster" under his title, it could say "Owner of a Lonely Heart", or whatever Michthro wanted, within reason. So what do you say, M? By what special title or status shall you be known?

Topic Picks for January

Dare any man hold high chosen words of his brethren, whilst the speech of others lay beneath thick carpets of obscurity, gaining not the favors of mention, whether by frolicking whim or loathesome bias? Yes. I dare.

Smiting Snakes with Zamm and Groobus
Does your child require an innoculation against the real pains and horrors of the world? That's what children's stories are for.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=13392

Secret Rooms a Big Waste of Time?
Pangyan wants to know, before he spends half his lifetime on it, whether or not it's worth finding and beating all the secret rooms.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=13369

Count Theme's Dungeon, MetDROiD Echoes
These are all the holds (level collections) that have been released since last month's Illumination newsletter. You'd think that this is a slow month, but consider that those two holds between them contain 577 rooms!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewboard.php?BoardID=11

Because You Are Time Magazine's Person of the Year
Don't be shirking your Web 2.0 duties. Patrick Fisher is patiently waiting for you to contribute some content to our website!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=8936

Human Brain is Obsolete
We will be issuing suicide pills along with CDs of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, now that Halyavin has written the Deep Blue of DROD solvers.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=13363

Radiant Entrance of SubTerra II
How did I miss this? We just had the sequel to SubTerra dumped on us in December, and I didn't catch it until now!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=13210

Stop Calling 'Em Comic Books!
Can you believe this guy, Steve, actually asked for graphic novel recommendations? Bury him in a dogpile of advocacy!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=13271

Alright, I am soooo late to get to work. See you chumpies, later!

-Erik

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[Last edited by ErikH2000 at 01-16-2007 04:13 AM]
01-15-2007 at 10:52 PM
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Briareos
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+1)  
quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Stop Calling 'Em Comic Books!
Can you believe this guy, Steve, actually asked for graphic novel recommendations? Bury him in a dogpile of advocacy!

I think a link might have fallen through the grid there, Erik...

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=13271

Also, why do you post this 5 minutes after me last checking the forum? :rolleyes :lol

np: F.S. Blumm - Flosse (Summer Kling)

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01-15-2007 at 11:06 PM
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coppro
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (0)  
Second Post! Whoo!


No, really, nice message. It's good to know that we beleive in the grid. Unfortunately, this speech tells me that a certain dreamy concept will remain such. I think. But that's okay, it probably wouldn't have worked out so well.
01-15-2007 at 11:15 PM
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Oneiromancer
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+1)  
I definitely enjoyed Captain EO. And I totally remember that flying thing in front of my face too...good times!

Game on,

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01-15-2007 at 11:19 PM
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NiroZ
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+2)  
for those of you who have no idea what Captain EO is, or were born after it was released.

I think I will also be the first to extend a hearty congrats to Michthro, you've deserved it.

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[Last edited by NiroZ at 01-16-2007 04:32 AM]
01-15-2007 at 11:27 PM
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Rabscuttle
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+1)  
If you're all in favour of grids, why aren't you 
using a fixed width font instead of letting all the letters 
jostle up against each other.  Where are the neat columns?  
The people respectfully demand answers!



(hmm... probably because self justification is annoying)
01-16-2007 at 12:54 AM
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Banjooie
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+2)  
quote:
i.e. instead of it saying "Smitemaster" under his title, it could say "Owner of a Lonely Heart", or whatever Michthro wanted, within reason.


Well, Owner of a Lonely Heart is pretty terrible, but it's much better than Owner of a Broken Heart.
01-16-2007 at 02:25 AM
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Mattcrampy
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (0)  
quote:
If you're all in favour of grids, why aren't you
using a fixed width font instead of letting all the letters
jostle up against each other. Where are the neat columns?
The people respectfully demand answers!


The FAQ Ninja respectfully demands reading comprehension.

quote:
Some games should be about figuring out what you are looking at or simulating a visceral experience. But if the game is about giving spatial information to a player quick, with minimal head-scratching, a game maker should come back to that good old-fashioned reliable grid. There's no need to express regret that your sprites stay neatly inside the confines of their squares. You're quantizing, right? Enough said.


(This certainly explains why I keep trying to break the grid.)

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01-16-2007 at 03:44 AM
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techant
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+3)  
I        l  o  v  e         g  r  i  d  s

                                        d
l                               
                                        i
o                               
                                        r
v                               
                                        g
e                               
                   :thumbsup 
                                        e 
g                                                               
                                        v
r                               
                                        o
i                                
                                        l
d                                

s  d  i  r  g         e  v  o  l        I    



And Michthro is a great 5 x 5 droder!! :thumbsup

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[Last edited by techant at 01-16-2007 04:52 AM]
01-16-2007 at 04:28 AM
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RoboBob3000
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+3)  
The conversion of existing games from 2-D to almost certainly achieved its popularity as a direct result of the corresponding intensity of their new subtitles. Who can forget such great games as Worms... 3D! Or Bubsy... 3D! Or Sonic... 3D Blast! Clear upgrades, all.

This is why I would never, ever propose creative conversions of existing games in three-dimensions back to lowly 2-d. Almost makes me wish there was a way to write a lowercase two. Terrible, terrible idea.

Why would we want to needlessly introduce innovation back into mainstream gaming? I'd rather settle back into my tired, overworked 3-D genres anyday.



Best newspost in a while. 'Grats to Lonely-Heart and Godspeed to Sten.

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01-16-2007 at 05:15 AM
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michthro
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Wow! Thanks, Erik. hmmmm.. What title to choose.. Big decision. Grid Lover? No. (Not that I'm not in whole-hearted agreement about the Grid.) Most Addicted Drodder? How about some suggestions? Let's see what you guys come up with.
01-16-2007 at 08:46 AM
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Mattcrampy
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+1)  
Level: Up

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01-16-2007 at 08:51 AM
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Blondbeard
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quote:
Stehpen4Louise wrote:
If it [a DROD solver] does exist it's probably called michthro.exe


I laughed when I read this, because it's true. I think it would be fun if you called yourself "michthro.exe, the DROD solver" :D

You might think this sugestion is totally stupid, in which case I apologise.

[Last edited by Blondbeard at 01-16-2007 08:59 AM]
01-16-2007 at 08:59 AM
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Stefan
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+1)  
Level: Elite Smitemaster
Level: Superior Smitemaster
Level: Optimized

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01-16-2007 at 09:22 AM
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NiroZ
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Level: Don't ask and you shall receive!
Level: Three Headed Monkey
Level: Legendary Optimiser

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01-16-2007 at 10:00 AM
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Maurog
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (+1)  
Level: :D
Level: Beyond Smitemastery
Level:

Okay, now I'm just being silly.

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01-16-2007 at 10:29 AM
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Briareos
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quote:
Maurog wrote:
Level: *bad bar, baaad*

1-pixel wide images are eeevil, I say... evil! :lol

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01-16-2007 at 10:38 AM
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Level: Slayer
01-16-2007 at 10:50 AM
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Rabscuttle
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Level: Master Smitemaster
01-16-2007 at 11:50 AM
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Level: M&M Consumer

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01-16-2007 at 01:51 PM
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Syntax
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I like NiroZ's

Level: Legendary Optimiser

Fits with the theme, and I can't wait to see new players asking how to reach that rank ;)

"I wanna be a Legendary Optimiser!"
"Erm... well... you can't."
"Why not?"
"Well, there just ain't enough rooms left out there to optimise."
"Oh... what if I make some more?"
"Then there'll be less *potential* rooms to optimise."
"Oh... I'll settle for Smitemaster then."
"Yeah, good idea..."
01-16-2007 at 02:21 PM
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Schik
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I like that one too. Or:
Level: Kasparov

Or we could always fall back on Owner of a Lonely Heart.

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01-16-2007 at 02:28 PM
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zex20913
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Or, Level: Human Deep Blue.

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01-16-2007 at 03:00 PM
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quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
We already gave out an extra downloadable credit to people earlier to make up for the delay. It will still likely happen that some people, at the end of their CaravelNet memberships will have received three Smitemaster's Selections instead of four. If you are such a person, please contact me and we will make it up to you. But wait until your membership ends, so we can tell if you actually got short-holded. I.e. if your membership ends next weekend, we can't tell yet if you will have received three or four Smitemaster's Selections. Also, if anyone is seriously steamed or regretful about purchasing a CaravelNet membership, I would like for you to e-mail me about it--erikh@caravelgames.com. Worst case, we can give you a refund.



I should note that I'm not actually complaining about the lateness of the SMS. But I do have a question: For those people who have been Caravel members since the first SMS was released (or at least since it was still available), and who don't intend to let their membership expire anytime soon, do the credits have any value at all?

I'm perfectly happy (although, I admit, not as perfectly happy as I would be if I had more SMSs to play with), and if the credit isn't worth anything unless I let my membership lapse, then I'll just file that info and move on.

Just wonderin'
Josh

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01-16-2007 at 03:25 PM
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Elfstone
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Congratulations michthro - it's well deserved!

. .and may I respctfully suggest:

Level: Smite Maestro

or perhaps just

Level: Maestro :cool

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01-16-2007 at 04:38 PM
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jbluestein
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quote:
Elfstone wrote:
Congratulations michthro - it's well deserved!

. .and may I respctfully suggest:

Level: Smite Maestro

or perhaps just

Level: Maestro :cool


I like both of those. What about 'Smitemichthro'?



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01-16-2007 at 04:43 PM
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Jason
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Level: Infinity

Level: Infinity + 1

Level: Impossible

Level: Legendary Awesomeness

Level: Guess!

Level: Solver

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01-16-2007 at 05:01 PM
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kzc
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quote:
jbluestein wrote:

I should note that I'm not actually complaining about the lateness of the SMS. But I do have a question: For those people who have been Caravel members since the first SMS was released (or at least since it was still available), and who don't intend to let their membership expire anytime soon, do the credits have any value at all?

I'm perfectly happy (although, I admit, not as perfectly happy as I would be if I had more SMSs to play with), and if the credit isn't worth anything unless I let my membership lapse, then I'll just file that info and move on.

Just wonderin'
Josh


I'm in the same situation. Ideally, I'd like to trade the credit for a discount on TCB, but I realize that could be troublesome logistically. Short of that, perhaps it could be traded for a three-month extension of CaravelNet. However, the main value I get out of CNet is the SmSs, so if such an extension were to cover a span when no SmSs were released, that wouldn't really be worthwhile.

On the other hand, I consider $12/yr. a great deal, even if it only buys three SmS realeases instead of four, so technically not getting what I paid for is not much of a big deal.
01-16-2007 at 05:48 PM
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BeefontheBone
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icon Re: Love the Grid. (0)  
Erik did say he'd try and work something out for people in that situation when the last SMS was cancelled, so bugging him again might work quite well :)

Incidentally, there's a typo snuck in there - I don't think Michael Jackson was ever in "Caption EO", unless that was what they called the subtitled version at Disneyland Paris (which probably didn't exist at the time, anyway, thinking about it). Also, an "enjoyable time at Disneyland" is still a contradiction in terms :P

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01-16-2007 at 06:23 PM
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Briareos
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quote:
BeefontheBone wrote:
Incidentally, there's a typo snuck in there - I don't think Michael Jackson was ever in "Caption EO", unless that was what they called the subtitled version at Disneyland Paris (which probably didn't exist at the time, anyway, thinking about it). Also, an "enjoyable time at Disneyland" is still a contradiction in terms :P

IMDb thinks otherwise... -_-

np: Sole - Dumb This Down (Live From Rome)

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01-16-2007 at 06:57 PM
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