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Back from bein' out

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Awright, I'm home. Finally got to take a much-needed vacation with the wife and minivan. Traveled to Nevada and Wyoming, attending a buncha amateur high-power rocket launches and fireworks shows. Amazingly enough, I did manage to return with all of my fingers. Sorry about not letting you know that I would be outta town, but it's generally not a good idea to announce a long vacation in a big public forum. After all, my name's in the book :)

Surprisingly, I didn't miss the loss of email and usenet as much as I thought I would. I guess I was so wrapped up in vacation activities that I didn't have a chance to miss the internet. Go figure. That's not to say that nothing game-related happened on the vacation; I got a chance to listen to some of the CGDC conference tapes that I bought and didn't have a chance to hear.

Note to anyone at CGDA who might be reading: There are lots of good info on the conference tapes. If the GDC wanted to provide a valuable service, they should make the seminar evaluations available online so folks will know which conference tapes to buy.

Since the games are basically done, I'm now getting into the phase of tuning 'em up for release, bug fixing, etc. Shelly has, once again, agreed to write the help files. She did quite a good job on the previous ones. I find that getting someone other than the developer to write the help files is a good idea. Since I wrote the program, I have a tendency to concentrate help content on the little details, missing the big picture. Just letting Shelly play the games and write up descriptions works much better. It's also a chance for her to point out some bugs in my stuff.

I've got a reasonable install --the one I wrote one a couple of months ago to drag along to the CGDC. I'm probably gonna spend this week shoe-horning music into some of the games. Unfortunately, I have no musical ability whatsoever, so I'll have to hitch my MIDI-wagon on the musical efforts of others. Since this is software on the cheap, I'm sticking with the free MIDI sources available. I've actually found a couple of places that have MIDI files that can be used royalty-free. This leads me to my

WARNING!

Some of the places that advertise royalty-free music are LYING! One site I found claimed to have an archive of royalty-free music actually contained an archive of current pop hits, which are most assuredly NOT royalty free. That being said, there are a couple of sites that seem to have original music that can be used royalty free (keep me honest if I'm mistaken).

The MS Site Builder network has a set of sample MIDI files made with their Microsoft Music Composer software. There's also the Media'n Music Archive, which appears to be a little one-man shop. He's got some reasonable WAVE and MIDI samples available. There's sseyo.com, which has a small royalty-free archive if you dig around a bit. Finally, I'll do some digging in the classical music archives for some pieces by artists who don't mind their performances being used as game backgrounds. Some Beethoven or Bach will sound classy with some of the board games.

If anyone out there knows of other locations of MIDI I can use, lemme know. FWIW, I've got tons of WAV sounds that I've composed for the games over the years, so I'm fine there.

Finally, I wanna announce that John M, Shelly, and I still don't have a fourth for the up-coming Dallas IGDN conference in October. If you're gonna be in northeast Dallas around 10/10, let John Munsch or myself know, and we'll cut you in. $37.50 for a day-long game developer conference is the best deal going. Head over to the IGDN for more info about the conference. They even claim they're buying lunch!
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