of stuff going on here this week, as usual. I'm pleased to say
that everything is going well!
Firstly, I'm very pleased to report that the card artwork
(and Fluxx 3.1) has gone to the
printers Yay! Be sure to check out the greatly expanded EcoFluxx
page for card samples! Also, samples of the color Keepers Alison's
making for Fluxx
Junior can now be seen on the new Fluxx Junior page. (Alison
by the way is now at camp until the end of August, but she'll
be back for a few days between 2nd and 3rd session and plans
to finish up the Fluxx Junior artwork then.)
Secondly, here's a photo of my new Packing
Assistant, James Durfor, at his book-scanning station (i.e.
the multi-user desk in the living room). He's only put in 2 days
here so far, but already we've inventoried and packed up 18 boxes
containing almost 700 books. The packing project is finally moving
into high gear!
speaking of things finally getting in gear, I'm really very pleased
indeed to say that our sales department is staffed and working
like never before! For years I've been whining that what we really
need on staff is someone who's fully focused on making sales
calls, someone who has what we call the Sales Gene, and is good
at and enjoys making sales calls instead of hating and resisting
such work like most of the rest of us here at Looney Labs are
prone to do. We've tried hiring various people to fill this role
but none have worked out until now. But at last, we finally have
on our permanent team (though still only part-time) plus we have
who we can't actually hire yet, but who's working for us as a
volunteer until she gets her Green Card (she's a Mexican citizen
who's been living in Greenbelt for 10 years on various student
visas). Now Alvaro (who has many years of experience in high-pressure
sales of much more boring things than games) is training Luisa
and they're both working our phones, getting retailers excited
about our new releases. Whoo-hoo! I think this is really going
to make a difference.
as if all that we're pleasing enough, I just got some really
exciting news. Nothing's final yet, but it's looking as though
the impossible is going to happen. There's a very good chance
now that ICEBREAKER
BE RELEASED FOR THE 3DO. That's right, the completely unpublished
sequel is finally going to become available for the long-dead
How is this possible? First you must understand why it had
been impossible up until now.
Ten years ago, I had some time on my hands. After I finished
programming Icebreaker, the alien overlords I was working for
(at Magnet Interactive Studios) left me idle for a surprisingly
long time. I kept coming to work, and they kept paying me, but
they couldn't decide what to have me do next, so I mostly just
played Icebreaker. After about a month of that, I couldn't resist
beginning development of new levels and new
features for the game. My friend Dave Bondi, who created
all those wonderful animated pyramids for the original game,
even worked up really cool new art for many of the new features
I added. (I also tinkered around with various other bits of software,
including my first "Neutral
TV" experiments, such as Kristin's
The problem of course was that I was a dinosaur. Magnet had
trained me to be a 3DO programmer, and I was one of the best!
But by 1996 it was obvious the world needed no more 3DO programmers.
The platform was rapidly dying at the hands of the cheaper and
obviously better Sony PlayStation. Eventually, all 3DO work was
scrapped and the programmers (including me) started to learn
to write software for the PlayStation. I was finally assigned
to a new project, regrettably called Incredible Idiots in Space...
and then, the whole company boiled away.
"Yes, yes," I hear you saying, "but why was
it impossible to release Icebreaker 2?" I was just getting
In an attempt to maintain control over their hot new technology,
the 3DO company had a system for requiring that all software
released for the platform go through them first. As developers,
we were unable to create disks that would play directly on standard
3DO game systems, ours would only work on specially equipped
Testing Stations. To make a disk that would work on anyone's
player required a processing step, called Encryption, which could
only be performed by the magical wizards at 3DO. Thus, when we
I sent all my files and the final image to the 3DO company, who
encrypted it for us. They sent back a master CD that we could
duplicate and sell to the thousands of people who bought 3DO
When I left the imploding remains of Magnet in 1996, I agreed
to take a bunch of 3DO developer's equipment home in lieu of
my final paycheck, and thus was able for a few years later to
continue developing 3DO software at home. But of course, with
no one at the 3DO company to encrypt it for me, the final disks
I made were playable only on the Testing Station I took home.
And that's how it's been for the past decade, and that's how
I figured it would always be.
But suddenly, out of the blue, I hear some amazing news: renegade
programmers in California have cracked the 3DO encryption system!
THEY CAN ENCRYPT MY ICEBREAKER 2 DISK! Not only that, but they
-- a company called OlderGames -- wish to publish it for us!
I've got a lengthy email here from their Creative Director,
explaining how legally everything's cool, since Magnet's gone,
the platform's dead, and the number of copies to be sold is so
small it wouldn't be worth suing anybody over. Also, since they'll
be the publishers, not us, they'll be the ones taking the heat
if a legal issue does come up somehow. So I think this really
Of course, what we're going to have to go with is the last
version of the game I burned to a CD way back when... my development
system has been in mothballs since around 1999. This means what
we release will have some rough edges, since it's actually just
a work in progress. Instead of a full 150 levels, it only has
115 or so, plus at bootup it begins with a little programmer's
interface I created, providing access to over a dozen odd little
test programs and such, including Kristin's
Paul Murphy, and Rocks in Space. You can also play Rock Paper
Scissors with me, for those times when I'm not there to meet
such a challenge in person. All of this, and more, will of necessity
be available on Icebreaker 2 for the 3DO. (But not the Aquarius
Girls... I did that stuff after version 6.7, at a time when
I did not have the ability to burn new CDs.)
Anyway, it's not a done deal yet, but amazingly enough it
sounds like Icebreaker 2 may finally see the light of day...
for anyone who still has a 3DO, that is. (And if you never got
one but want to now, check eBay!) And while I still don't expect
to make much money from Icebreaker, it will be a joy to finally
have the sequel -- and all
its cool features -- available for the fans.
Oh, and speaking of done deals, here's one more pleasing thing:
We've signed a contract with a Japanese game company, who'll
be releasing the Japanese
version of Fluxx! Unlike
version, I won't be able to understand it at all, but I'm really
looking forward to trying to play it anyway!