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About Peter

This guy lives in Boston MA with his beloved wife and two kids. You can get some idea of his likes and dislikes from posts on this website or elsewhere.

Magic Eye Films

Just a random idea I had at some point. Don’t know enough about the technology to know how one would go about it, but . . .

So “Magic Eye” pictures (a.k.a. autostereograms) are those 3D images that you have to stare at a book to get. A few folks can see the images really quickly, some can only see them after staring awhile, and apparently there are quite a few who are never able to see the things.

It’s kind of an interesting effect though if you can get it to work: Hiding information in the background noise in such a way that when you are able to interpret it you can trick each eye into interpreting it differently.

I think one of the things that makes it tough to pick out the 3D image is that there are no obvious visual cues. It seems to me that in a lot of cases with normal vision the human brain is picking out the edges of things, or contrasts and gradations of solid colors that define shape. But those things are absent in autostereograms, so it’s tougher to pick them out.

It occurred to me though that what would happen if you ran together a string of similar autosterograms to produce an animation? The consistency of the 3D image against a changing background might make it easier to spot the image than with a non-animated version.

Voila! I’ve just invented 3D animation without special glasses!

Well, not quite. Apparently someone else already thought of it.

I don’t know if the image portrayed on wikipedia is exactly the best example though. ‘Twer it me, I probably would’ve made the background as a more randomized image (like basic static), rather than a sweeping colored pattern which seems to distract from the 3D image.

Aside from the wikipedia article though I’m having trouble tracking down other good examples of animated autostereograms. Seems to me there should be some small creative sector devoted to them though: Cartoons maybe. Or segments of horror film where a random background (foliage or TV static for instance), kind of becomes 3D and leaps out at the viewer. Or possibly some sort of video game.

I also wonder if there might be ways to color the 3D objects, or have the background pattern be somehow meaningful in the context of the 3D scene it’s self, rather than just the standard splatter painting effect.

Black Tiger

Have you seen this man?

This ball-and-chain wielding, knife-spraying thug in a horned helmet is the protagonist of the Black Tiger arcade game.

This game stuck in my imagination for years, along with Gauntlet (and some unidentified game mentioned later) in defining what a sword and sorcery videogame should include. It has always been an icon of nostalgia for me. I think the only thing necessary to make this picture complete would be Benjamin Bird (the local arcade god) carrying a tube full of quarters on a lanyard.

My hat is off the guys at who helped track down the title based on my sketchy description. Imagine my surprise and delight to find it available free online!

Playing it again (now with unlimited quarters to fuel my sorry gaming skills) Black Tiger still lives up to my expectations. Gameplay is a treat, the graphics are nice (though some of the upper levels seem to have glitches), the backdrops are evocative, there hidden treasures to plunder, and sweet looking weapon upgrades to purchase.

But I think most of all I love the monsters. There are a pretty wide selection, but a couple I’ve always loved include:

Betentacled, poisonous, chomping mandrakes that spiral up out of the ground at you.

And hulking, flame-spewing, cycloptic mummies.

At this point there’s only one other beloved arcade game of yore I’ve never been able to track down. Anyone able to find a game fitting this description would certainly earn my gratitude:

IIRC the character was a little guy with a sword. I think each level would begin with the hero falling down a shaft into a dungeon. At different points in the dungeon you could climb up using ropes. There are only three things I can remember about the monsters:
  • One type of the standard wandering monsters resembled a disembodied eyeball, cut of steak, or paramecium which would bounce down the corridor toward you.
  • I think there were several bosses that were dragons.
  • Some of the bosses (or maybe not bosses, just opponents to be overcome?) consisted of swarms of something. Like I seem to recall one where you entered a room you couldn’t climb out of and there was a magician who would send a swarm of flying brooms or pixies or magic wands or something to attack you. But maybe I’m not remembering this accurately.

Whence Baltimore?

So Adrienne and a friend were watching Hairspray the musical recently and I ended up watching most of it with them. For those who’ve not seen the movie yet I’m not spoiling anything by mentioning that at the very beginning the protagonist belts out a song called Good Morning Baltimore in which she soliloquizes the city while marveling at it’s assorted vermin, bums and deviants.

This got me pondering a serious question which seems to have been overlooked by accredited historians and other limbs of what might be called “The Establishment”. I know ya’ll are from Salisbury, but my hope was this might be an issue that some of you folks from the Maryland Krew might be help shed some light on. My question is this:

What evidence can you provide to support the theory that after his death the body of Lord Baltimore was not in fact buried as is commonly thought, but was instead brought to his eponymous city where it is maintained in a tank of formalin and rare earth salts and kept animate through a combination of geomancy (ie. Look at the map of Baltimore for crying out loud! Druid Hill Lake ring a bell? I defy any right thinking person to look at this map and tell me those highways don’t correspond to major ley lines.), ritual magic, and increasingly with an array of modern biomedical devices fed via thick snaking cables and tubes implanted in his back and abdomen; and that he stands at the head of a “shadow government”, controlling the state of Maryland, and indirectly much of our country’s national policy, through a set of political agents working in the Maryland Chamber of Commerce?

And if I might add a corollary question to this, it would be: Which Lord Baltimore is really running things? Are we only dealing with a Cecilius Calvert here? Or is he in turn actually the puppet of the good old original Baltimore, the real power behind the throne: George Calvert, who wanted the land not for the originally stated purpose of giving good Catholics a refuge from the wrath of British tyranny, but instead as a base from which to pursue his own existential domination, first over North America and thence the world?

d20 – Deadlier Dungeons Hitpoint System

Thanks to Cyrusjle’s recent comment for reminding me about this.

A bit under two years ago now, shortly after playtesting the Injury & Consequences system, I started work on a completely different variation how to record damage.

Injury & Consequences was inspired by a similar system suggested in the D&D/d20 Unearthed Arcana supplement (not to be confused with the AD&D supplement of the same name). And it was an interesting take on how damage was received and what it’s effects were. But I couldn’t help thinking it was just getting too complicated. Too many rolls to determine the effects of damage, too much to keep track of.

This annoyance provided the impetus for the Deadlier Dungeons rules set.

Those familiar with White Wolf games “Storyteller” systems might find the Deadlier Dungeons rules system a slightly familar, but anyone initiated into the Ars Magica cult will no doubt notice that an even more significant parallel with that system.

And fair enough. There are many elegant and well designed aspects to the Ars Magica mechanics and I’m proud to draw inspiration from them.

Unfortunately It was taking a little long to re-format Deadlier Dungeons for convenient reading here, so it’s been converted to PDF to dowload and peruse at your leisure:

Deadlier Dungeons

The Bilge Song

(a hyperlinked sea chanty)

Verse 1:
In the bilge of the boat
‘Neath the billows and waves
Sleeps the bilgy-man’s boatswain
Witta biscuit he craves.

Chorus (sung after every verse):
So HUP! the ol’ hanker
Han’ furl patchy sail out.
Th’ scull’ry-mun’s cookin’
Han soon there’ll be shall-out (shallot)!

Verse 2 (Nanook’s solo):
A’ the snewy narth pool
Ware the snew people liv
Thay etts blubbery sausages
Caught wit ‘are shivvs!

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