September 15th, 2005


Tell us about that twenty-sided die, Barney

Things are generally at situation green here; work is rolling on apace, one more set of shifts to go and then I'm off to see Meg. Before then, I'm off to London tomorrow. All that and I have my driving test booked for November 12th. Life is going pretty steadily, all told.

So Netscape co-author (back in the days when it was good) and current San Francisco nightclub owner jwz mooted Celebrity Dungeons & Dragons as a reaction to the fad of celebrity poker shows stateside, only for geek celebrity poster-boy (and, incidentally, inhabitant of jwz's Fantasy Celebrity D&D League team) Wil Wheaton to respond that he'd already helped people try to pitch it. Unsuccessfully. Fie on you, Comedy Central. There may or may not be sufficient backlash to make a difference. This would be ideal for television distributed by IP - over BitTorrent or somesuch, maybe even a live stream - but IPTV probably doesn't have the budget to bring in the celebs for the show. I guess we're down to hoping Wil will get a load of (celeb or non-celeb) buddies together for a game and then just record the proceedings.

Considering the current fad for British shows whose titles begin with Celebrity these days, it's tempting to wonder whether they just pitched it in the wrong country. However, a British Celebrity D&D would probably be a travesty; can you imagine any of the usual suspects who maintain their celebrity status purely by appearing on shows with celebrity in the title taking the game at all seriously and being anything other than lazy-modern-Britsh-comedy ironic on the show? Even if they were to get the likes of (say) Jon Tickle - and that's a generalisation about his areas of geekiness - I can't imagine he wouldn't play without an air of "I can't believe I'm doing this" about him. Now the game not taking itself seriously would be a good thing, but the show not taking the game seriously would make it a waste of time.

Legend has it (which translates to "I think I read somewhere, or maybe mr_babbage told me, or maybe I'm making this up") that there have been discussions about putative TV D&D in the UK in the past, but they've always struggled in the past with conveying the cause and effect of the die rolls in the game and what the rationale for the particular numbers being required is. As a case in point of what can be achieved, see the three episodes of TV extremely-simple-rules abstract-miniatures war-game Game Of War. The obvious rejoinder would be to remove the die-rolling altogether and run it as a live-action game; the last time celebrity LARP was tried in the UK - before some of you lot were born - the result was The Adventure Game (albeit with space trimmings rather than Tolkein fantasy). I think it's fair to say that at least a large minority of history judged this a critical hit.

Unrelatedly, Google have launched Blog Search, which has an extremely interesting feature whereby you can subscribe to a blog made up of an aggregation of every mention in the blogosphere it can find of (search topic of your choice). This seems like a decent interpretation of LJKibo, extended from just LJ to the entire blogosphere. Effectively this gives you an automatic weblog on whatever obscure topic, or whichever local politician you choose. It's very much like Google News Alerts except that it searches the blogosphere instead of the newspapersphere. You can trick Google News Alerts into producing output as a RSS or Atom feed, though the procedure to do so doesn't seem to have a GUI. These two halves are surely due for optional amalgamation at some point, aren't they?
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