Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Digging through my archives

One of the nice consequences of the Great Cleaning of 2006 here at the Webs household is that we get to open and rummage through boxes that have been packed since our last move or two.

I found copies of "the Web", a glossy British magazine from IDG which offered me a column on media in 1996. Upon rereading my work, I didn't find it as crappy as I thought it might have been.

Beside my desk, a foot-and-a-half pile of old file folders waits for me to dissect it. I flipped through it. One of the items is my first ever script, a spec of "Northern Exposure" that back in the early 1990s got a few reads by agents. I still have an electronic copy of that, so the find wasn't as impressive as the blue binder with the label "The Battle of Kadesh: 1299 BCE/Egyptian vs. Hittite/Raamses II vs. Mursil II" on it.

In the fall of 1985, I took Hist 363 with John Guilmartin (then at Rice University). For the class, I designed a wargame instead of writing a common final paper. I've kept the maps and unit counters close, but these blue-bound rules got lost in the shuffles - until now. What makes this so great a find is that my digital copies of the rules have become corrupted and cannot be rescued. A bit of scanning and a bit of OCR and I'll get them back.

What I tried to do with the wargame was establish tactical and strategic phases of maneuver. Each general controlled divisions on a large-scale map. When contact is made, the battle transfers to a map of higher resolution.

I've played the game once, with Guilmartin. It went well, although we decided that we'd need to create some sort of rule to reduce the flexibility of the archers in selecting targets. They could act far too much like modern artillery, firing east, then wheeling and sending a volley north, for example. Each archer may have had that ability, but the group would not have the communication to launch sequential attacks in multiple directions with cohesiveness. (Note to self: maybe step their attack value after changing facing.)

Computers would lessen the complexity of the move from a strategic game to a tactical game, and I've often wondered if I could find programmers to get a computer version of the game out. Now that I have the rules again, I wonder if it's worth the effort.

Bonus archival history:

It's no surprise to me that "Borat" is raking in the cash. Opinions of the film spread by word of mouth should be highly positive, if my observations of the preview audience I was part of mean anything.

For those of you who missed that post of a few months ago and who are too lazy to click the link, here's the key passage: "You'd think Borat wouldn't be for everyone, but the older couple on my left laughed as hard as I or Simon on my right did. I offer my fullest admiration to co-star Ken Davitian for his bravery during the hotel fight and subsequent chase scene. That takes balls."

Balls. Hehehe.


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