Friday, October 5

Organic Games

Hi Kids,
Obviously I haven't been tending to Bela's Handstand much in the past weeks. My creative endeavours have shifted over to my game design website, which I encourage you to visit at There you'll find information about when and where to play Thief, which is the flagship Organic Game, plus session reports from previous games, and a few odds and sods otherwise. It's fun to work on, and I look forward to developing it along with Thief and other game ideas I've got brewing up.

I was really excited to get some coverage on my Organic Games project from One of the regular editors there, Alanah H., joined us for a game session and then blogged about it on indyish and linked to You can check out her post here.

As for other non-game related content, I've made a few posts over at It's a site where you can post anything whatsoever, not unlike a wiki, and get nearly immediate feedback from other users. If not enough people dig your post, it gets axed. It's an odd mix of content over there, including poetic rambles, book reviews, dream journals, political treatises, y'know. But my stuff is the best. Check it out right here.

So is this the end of Bela's Handstand? Maybe. I do want to make a few changes. I want to remove all but the best posts, leaving just the cream of the crop. I'll save the mediocre stuff locally, but I want the good stuff all together so you can read it w/o wading through the nonsense. Well maybe I'll leave just a little bit of the nonsense.

Sunday, August 19


I need a group of people to test out new game called Thief. It's a card game with elements of traditional role-playing games (RPGs) and collectible card games (CCGs). It takes place in a persistent world with persistent characters. It's set in a constantly expanding city, full of people to meet and places to break into.

The game requires cooperation, collaboration, and creativity. It appeals to both genders and non-hardcore gamers. It is a social game.

I am looking for patient and critical people to meet once a month to polish and finalize the rules. If you don't want to play once a month, I am always willing to play a pick-up game any day.

An introduction to Thief and the ideas behind Organic Games can be found here:

Introduction to Organic Games

Email if you are interested.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself, like what kind of games you have played and what sort of creative avenues you pursue. Please tell me why you want to be a playtester and what you can offer or contribute to this growing game. Although I am very unlikely to refuse your offer of help, I will be considering your language skills, as Thief is a game the relies heavily on language.

Friday, April 27

Three Great Independently Made Computer Games

Here are three great independent games made in the last few years. Like music and film, independent game makers are producing the best content, often on their own, putting in countless hours for very little money. Why? Because they are artists, and if they don't they will die.

1) Cave Story - A great Metroid-like game. You can shoot missiles, fireballs that roll along the ground, a stream of bubbles that turn into ninja stars, and other cool weapons. You befriend a group of rabbit-like things and start protecting them from The Doctor and his minions Balrog and Misery. Excellent level design, a good health/weapon experience mechanic, whereby your weapon becomes less powerful when you take damage, great music, the works. Released in 2004 by Daisuke Amaya after 5 years of development. Links: Wikipedia Entry, Download.

2) Dwarf Fortess - I'm a little daunted by this game. This is a Dwarf simulator: you control 7 dwarves, each identified with a different colour ?, and you set up a camp by unloading things from your wagon, digging a hole in the cliff, moving the rocks left over from the digging, etc. Eventually you will be building things like tables, coffins, and aquariums, attracting nobles to your cave and fighting off beasts. The game is incredibly complex and "realistic", for example, to make steel for weapons and other things, you will need: limestone, wood or coal, hematite, and pig iron, and you will have to combine them in different quantities at the right time. The whole game is done with ASCII characters, like other roguelikes. Made by Tarn and Zach Adams, released in 2006 after 4 years of development. (Try a premade world first, as creating a new one can take the computer an hour to do).Links: Wikipedia entry, Download.

3) Dwarf Complete - This game is the latest by On of Eyezmaze, who made Grow, which I first discovered at Chad's a few years back. Dwarf Complete is completely done in Flash. It's very much like Zelda, with puzzles like push the block on the button to open the door, step on the button to turn the direction of the cannon, but with much more challenging puzzles too. It only takes a few hours to complete. Great sound effects, puzzle design, and pace. Plus it's got autosave. Links: Dwarf Complete, Other Eyezmaze games.

Why are these games so great? For the very reasons that most of the games coming from the big developers aren't: they're free, they are intended for a large audience equipped with computers two years old or older, with the exception of DF they are intuitively controlled, they are made by a small number of people who love what they are doing, and they are fun to play.

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Monday, April 2

Tricksy Radios

Back when I used to announce the news at the radio station in New Glasgow, we got all of the sound bites in a big digital .wav file over the wire, and, sometimes, as I was preparing clips of George W. Bush for on air, I used to extend the long pauses between his phrases ever so slightly, to make him sound that much more of an idiot.

Sunday, March 25

Spam Poetry

He snapped his fingers and, without another word being spoken, man which was covered as well with hair. Arms and legs and, I couldnt have to start somewhere I suppose. Im just not happy where some of puddle. He rose up, angrier than ever, balled his fists and came on auditions were being arranged, agent A19 was sent for by the fastest - And practice walking on your toes and flaring your nostrils at the Thats exactly what happened. Welcome, Barry, welcome, I said walking over and shaking his bony Yes! Leave-before they find us! been running recordings of your numbers, day and night. Now, soon, we was it a long walk to the open door at the far end. We emerged into a angles and forms resembling nothing I had ever seen before. and stumbled away to the heads where I could be alone with my misery. With that decision out of the way-may I pass on a request? In Do it. Get it. No excuses. Now. Understood.

Saturday, March 17


The other day I was sitting around a table with Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris, having cocktails and coffee. We were on a cobblestone terrace looking on a long avenue. It was a mild August evening, the glow of sunset was yielding to blackness with stars right above us.

Dylan, after exhaling cigarette smoke contentedly, tapped its ashes and, looking at it, says to me, "Joey, what made them want to blow you away?"

"He told them he could identify the guilty man," I said, knowing that was only part of the answer. "Your daddy he's an outlaw and a wanderer by trade."

Bob didn't look up, but nodded slowly. He smiled sadly to himself.

Emmylou leaned forward, resting her bare elbows on the table, scattered with coffee cups, paper napkins, plates covered in crumbs, and half-empty wine glasses. She didn't want to have this conversation right now. "There're lots of pretty girls in Mozambique, and plenty time for good romance."

Bob and I looked at each other, the same thought crossing our minds. What she suggests would be bliss, but running always leads to more trouble.

I pleaded to her, "Oh sister, am I not a brother to you, and one deserving of affection? Here's a ring, it cost a grand." She said "That ain't enough. I was thinking 'bout gold. I was thinking 'bout diamonds."

Cearly she would not be so easily placated. She fell back in her seat. "Blinded by sleep and in need of a bed." After three weeks of being in this city together, we were all exhausted. None of us would be the same after we parted.

Bob took the cigarette out of his mouth. "At night I dream of bells in the village steeple," he said. Emmylou looked at him and smiled, then looked up at the stars and sighed with longing.

I knew our time in this city, our time together, was coming to an end. We had been though so much that to be together any longer would be impossible without one of us catching fire and burning up.

Bob knew it too. "I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells." His thoughts were of places and people far away. "Sara, oh Sara, beautiful lady so dear to my heart."

I looked at both of my companions. Dylan was looking at the cobblestones of the street behind me, sucking on his cigarette. Emmylou was leaning back in her chair with her hands clasped in front of her, looking at the sky with her eyes almost closed. I said to no one in particular, "One more cup of coffee 'fore I go, to the valley below."

Sunday, March 4

Digital Life Story


All of these digits correspond to actual useful bits of information that I use in my daily life: there are phone numbers, banking numbers, dates, addresses, radio frequencies, whatever. I just took out the decimal points and bunched them together. Each bit of information corresponds to a particular place or person or time, like family and friends back in Nova Scotia and people around work here in Montreal. "Reading" the digits reminds me of those things in turn, which suggests to me that that this sequence of numbers is actually something approaching a story: it evokes a series of thoughts and emotions about people and places one after another. If I were to rearrange the numbers in a different order, it would bring a different pattern of memories and significances to my mind.

But it's a story only I can understand. Others might get snatches of the story if they recognize some of the numbers, but no one will be able to put everything in its right place, just as no one would be able to figure out your story if you did the same experiment. If I were to do this again five years from now, a lot would be different but some would be the same, and it would be in a totally different order. So what looks like a bunch of random numbers is actually part of the story of my life. Weird, eh?