Zarf's Wunderland News Shack

Here's what's new among my web pages. Some of this stuff is related to other stuff done by the Wunderland Toast Society; some is related only and solely to me and my crazy habits. You'll have to sort through it yourself.

Note: nearly all of these links point to my own web site, Zarfhome, which is at If you're exploring, you may wish to keep browsing around Wunderland, and check out my web site later. Or maybe you want to explore my web site and come back to Wunderland later. Or maybe you just wanna dance.

This list is chronological. If you want a topic index, go check out the Redundant Site Map.

April 30, 2003

We have a winner of the IF Logic Puzzle Mini-Competition. It is The Traffic Light by Eric Schmidt. See also the judges' comments on Eric's work. (Judges' comments contain SPOILERS!)

April 21, 2003

Now complete: the Periodic Table of Dessert. Much more clever than other periodic tables you may have seen! Well, I think so anyway. If you agree, you can purchase the Table as a poster, thanks to Cafepress.

April 17, 2003

In January, a British magazine called PC Gamer ran an article on text adventures. It included some quotes from me (and others) on the art of IF authorship. Actually, there was a whole batch of questions I answered, and all my answers (and those of Adam Cadre, Emily Short, and Stephen Granade) are now posted at Brass Lantern. (Thanks to Richard Cobbett for writing the article, and allowing us to reprint the interviews.)

March 31, 2003

With volume 50, the Left Foot Living Review ceases of publication, at least for the present. I have enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading it.

March 9, 2003

Another review, this time a game published only for the Mac -- when was the last time that happened? (Answer: 1999.) Anyhow: Alida. It wasn't bad, but it didn't stand out in any major way either.

February 26, 2003

To further advance the cause of the Million-Tongued Net, I now have an RSS feed of this update page. You can use whatever magic RSS tool you like to see What's New Around Here. Of course, I won't be adding stuff any more frequently than before; every couple of weeks if I'm industrious, every couple of months if not. Nonetheless! RSS! It's good for what ails you!

Meanwhile, the second review of the year follows almost immediately -- at least, a mini-review: Disaster Report. It's a PS2 action game which is, I think, more of an adventure than action.

February 21, 2003

Is it the first game review of 2003? I guess it is. Chemicus, an education/adventure title. One guess what subject it's educational on.

February 12, 2003

I hereby announce The IF Logic Puzzle Mini-Competition. I have created a sample text adventure which demonstrates evaluation of statements. You can enter a statement about the game world, like "The red pyramid is on the table", and the game will determine whether it's true or false. Now it's your turn: do something interesting with it. Or on that theme.

(See also I Had A Dream, a little essay on constructing a logically consistent statement-evaluator which can deal with paradoxes. Okay, my solution is sort of a cop-out. It was fun, though.)

January 28, 2003

Oh, I've had this sitting around since July; I'll post it already. The Martian Landscape Art Project. I originally created these images for Origins 2002, but they didn't get printed in time. Here are small versions -- hopefully, a preview of future display. I also have some explanation of the tools and algorithms I used.

December 31, 2002

Last game review of the year: The Longest Journey. I wasn't too thrilled. But I talk a lot about why I wasn't too thrilled -- and why I haven't been thrilled with a bunch of other games, from Grim Fandango back to Loom. Much ranting, maybe even insightful.

November 16, 2002

IF Competition '02 is over. Nope, I didn't enter this year. (Sorry -- I got this great idea at the last minute, and then bogged down trying to implement it...) Here are my reviews of the entries I played.

October 10, 2002

Game review -- another self-published winner: Rhem.

September 10, 2002

I apologize for having practically nothing, these past several months, but game reviews. I haven't had much energy for projects other than game-playing. Fortunately, I just played a good one: Dark Fall.

August 7, 2002

Game review season continues to continue, with The Cameron Files: Secret at Loch Ness. Only I wasn't happy about this one.

August 6, 2002

As the Left Foot Living Review enters the tenth week of its glorious revival, we also celebrate the addition of its new RSS headline feed. Everybody's doing it, so I figured I should too. (I'm also pinging updates to Such a joiner.)

July 25, 2002

Review season continues: Necronomicon.

July 17, 2002

A few weeks late, or a year late, or eight years late, depending on how you count: my review of RealMyst. (Which is also a review of Myst, the original.)

July 10, 2002

Time for the annual update: cornfield mazes around the US for 2002.

July 8, 2002

A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion on about what IF really is. (Cue the reverb.) Well, definitions are often a trap and a folly, but nonetheless here is my characterization of IF (somewhat extended from the original Usenet posts).

July 7, 2002

Just got back from Origins 2002. Among the gaming-related news: Looney Labs has printed my game Branches and Twigs and Thorns in their annual newsletter Hypothermia 15. If BTT looks familiar, it's because it's an updated version of Martian Go, which I've had up for several years now. But! BTT is an improved, all-singing, all-dancing, no-longer-so-frequently-tying version of the game. I decided it was so much closer to perfection that it merited a new name and a new web page.

Hypothermia 15 also contains Cracked Ice. And, before I forget, Looney Labs is also now publishing a nice little set of cards for playing Werewolf. Plus, the Boodler sound system was running in the Looney Labs Big Experiment room for much of Origins!

June 3, 2002

The Left Foot Living Review, so long neglected in the back corner of my web site, has been given new life! Attend to it weekly; every Tuesday, a fresh selection of life's choices may be found in the LLR's current edition. Or, peruse the back issues.

May 27, 2002

Elliott Evans, Dan Efran, and I have come up with a new Icehouse piece game: Cracked Ice. It's very simple. We showed it off at the Pop Tart Cafe at Balticon, and it seems to be a hit.

April 30, 2002

Boodler 1.5.2, now featuring MacOSX support. I don't have a compiled version up yet, so to run Boodler under OSX you'll need the OSX developer toolkit installed, as well as Python.

April 25, 2002

Goob has put up (on his web site) three recordings of our joint experiment in harmonic singing. You can hear each of us -- sometimes together, sometimes not -- and you can hear the overtones each of us is producing. Sort of. (MP3 files, recorded just about a year ago.)

April 19, 2002

Several months ago I posted a review of Soul Reaver 2, the third of the (now) four-game Legacy of Kain series. SR2 had an astonishing convoluted plot, involving a millenia-long war between vampires, demons, and gods, all manipulated -- I think -- by a scheming time-traveller. It was really quite hard to keep it all sorted out. So I spent some time producing this History of the Soul Reaver. It's a chart showing both Raziel and the Reaver as they flit up and down the timeline... (Spoilers for all four Kain games.) Also some comments and questions about the story so far.

April 15, 2002

I have won Runner-Up status in Adam Cadre's second Lyttle Lytton Contest! (The challenge being to write the worst possible opening sentence of a novel -- like the Bulwer-Lytton Contest -- but in 25 words or less.) I am embarrassingly proud. You need not hit a link to read my treasure of prose -- no point dedicating an entire web page to 25 words -- so here it is -- enjoy --
"I raped your sister," cruelly he sneered, "and now she is no problem," and my friends that is the day my heart tore a sunder.

March 31, 2002

A few comments about Faust (published in the US as Seven Games of the Soul).

March 2, 2002

Added some entries to My Very Secret MacOSX Diary. I wouldn't bother to mention this... but the page has made Slashdot, and people are actually looking at it. Wacky!

February 19, 2002

Third day in a row... Meet version 1.5.0 of Boodler. Many new sounds, many new soundscapes, a couple of new features, and a terminal-based front-end interface (donated by Goob).

February 18, 2002

I've been playing with a new Mac, which came with a new MacOS. You may eavesdrop on My Very Secret MacOSX Diary. It's about the UI, the OS design... anything that impacts my attempt to get stuff done. (I tried to work in the line "Sam will kill him if he tries anything," but couldn't manage it. Sigh.)

February 17, 2002

Been a few months -- sorry about that. We begin the newish year with a non-review of Schizm, a PC adventure game.

December 4, 2001

Updated Boodler to version 1.2.0. It's a small update -- it's compatible with more sound interfaces now, including a file interface (which allowed me to put up some audio sample clips). But the interesting bit is, I've added an Boodler accessories page, which starts off with an X10 connectivity script. I can now control Boodler (or any other Linux program) with a universal remote control from the X10 company... and it should interoperate with all their other wireless tools, including motion detectors.

November 22, 2001

After many months of (slow, lazy) development: behold Boodler, a programmable soundscape tool. Boodler is a system for playing continuous, infinitely varying streams of sound. Comes with many soundscapes, and it's easy to create more if you're willing to write some scraps of Python code. (Requires Unix/Linux.)

November 18, 2001

It's been a rare treat, these past few years, to play a graphical adventure game that runs on the Macintosh (without emulation). I have just played The Messenger (also published as Louvre: The Final Curse). It was not a treat.

November 16, 2001

The votes for the 2001 Interactive Fiction Competition are all in. (No, I didn't enter this year.) The official tallies haven't been posted yet (it's only 39 minutes after midnight) but here are my brief comments on the games I played.

November 5, 2001

After three years: Soul Reaver 2, the sequel to my favorite Playstation game. (Yes, I have a favorite Playstation game. Sad to admit, but true.)

October 19, 2001

And now, Ico -- another PS2 game. Deeply impressive.

October 16, 2001

Finally got my hands on Silent Hill 2.

October 14, 2001

Now I've been to a bunch of those corn mazes, and I've written some notes about them.

August 9, 2001

I've added links to cornfield mazes around the US for 2001.

August 8, 2001

I should have put this up back in May, but now I've gotten around to it: my first experiments with polymer clay. I made a stash of Zendo stones, plus a huge pile of extras. Canework is addictive.

July 10, 2001

Just back from Origins, where I ran six hardy souls through my newly-designed Chrononauts role-playing scenario, The Emperor's Star. I won't be posting the full game to this web site -- at least not right now -- but you can read the Prologue.

June 13, 2001

I've had the list of books I own up for a year. I now add the list of books I've acquired in the past year -- a subset of the first list, but ordered by date of purchase. In case you're curious what I'm reading now.

May 25, 2001

I've put up the transcript of Lighan ses Lion, my entry in Emily Short's Walkthrough Competition. (No, there is no game; only a transcript.)

May 15, 2001

Okay, okay, the Myst 3 review.

May 10, 2001

I played Timescape: Journey to Pompeii, but it wasn't much of a game, so I didn't write much of a review.

April 27, 2001

This is certainly the smallest update I've ever posted: I changed three characters on one web page. You see, Google finally got the DejaNews archives on-line and searchable. So I was able to find out when I posted that review of Alice... and it turns out to have been five years ago tomorrow. Yay! So I can finally replace the "??" date notation on the game review page. That's been bugging me for years.

April 18, 2001

Review of Shadow of Destiny, a game I just played on my shiny new Playstation 2.

April 3, 2001

I had a few cave experiences last week, albeit on a small and unadventurous scale. Since caves are such a popular IF setting, I've written some notes about what caves look like.

March 12, 2001

Behold yet another whimsical way to navigate around my web site: the Pictorial Site Map. (No, it won't do you much good if you use Lynx.)

March 11, 2001

Shade has won the 2000 XYZZY award for Best Setting. You can see a transcript of the award ceremony.

March 6, 2001

The Uncarrot Tarot is now on-line in its entirety.

February 1, 2001

I have begun posting the cards of the Uncarrot Tarot, a deck I drew (by hand!) when I was in junior high school. Fifteen more cards will be posted every Tuesday.

January 24, 2001

Longish review of Riddle of the Sphinx. First review of the new year... is this impressive? I dunno.

1997 - 2000

What was new in previous years.


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