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August 31, 2006

Junk D.N.A.

Close up of hardware, looking down at DNA

My father in law was an inspiring guy to know. Most people are alive in the regular sense; he was alive in the sense that he squeezed every drop out of life. He was a professor and, though retired for a number of years, he felt an absolute bond with all students. Still at the age of 82, while hooked to portable oxygen, he continued to teach as a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Louisville. He continued teaching until just a couple of days before he died.Dna_combined_vsmall_3

That was a little more than a year ago. Soon after that, my wife and I visited his small office at the school. His office expressed his varied eccentricities. No space was unfilled: piles of paper and stacks of books were shoved in every corner. There were strange silver bulbs, glass tubes, wires strewn across the room.

This DNA strand is one of the few things we took. I'd seen it once or twice before but my wife remembered it from time out of mind. As far as we know, her Dad threw it together from an odd assortment of junk – golf balls, garden hose, wire, brackets and whatever else he managed to scrounge up – and from all this he created his own DIY DNA: an inexpensive prop for his lectures.

It's strange (but not surprising) how this aged piece of what might be considered junk has taken on a sculptural quality here in our house. It seems to represent him so perfectly.  We can't help but see this aged, colorful, quirky DNA strand and see him.

Large Resolution DNA Strand

© Rbyn Miller, Some rights reserved.

August 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Under the Ever-Evolving Tinselman Rainbow

TinselmanrainbowHere me, my dear Citizens! Our Illustrious Magnanimous Khan (me) makes a bold proclamation to all! It is time for the Republic of Tinselman to grow, to change, to evolve (and finally get off this blog). We must no longer be a lone voice, crying in the wilderness! We must no longer be a lonely Khan! It is time for citizens to take the power into their own hands, regardless of the consequences! This is a nation! Power to our people!

And I'm absolutely thrilled to say that Super Gopher Boy Wilmey has recently been the first minister (and loyal citizen) to heed the call and spontaneously create his own Republic of Tinselman web adjunct.

I warn you: it's his own weird brand of the Republic (and it's history) but it's more than anyone else has done! So... bravo Wilmey! Much more of this and we'll soon defeat our greatest enemy, Wikipedia!

Note: If you want to make contributions to Wilmey's website, just write him an email.

August 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 28, 2006

Test Your Tinselman Loyalty


Proud citizens! Have you dedicated yourself to the eradication of our various enemies? Have you pledged your loyalty to our great and all-powerful Khan? Do you worship the image and all-consuming power of Megophias Megophias (may it live forever)? Shirts2_1

If so, then now's your chance to show your true Tinselman colors with the Official Republic of Tinselman Uniform! A must-have for any serious citizen (Wilmey already ordered up three dozen!).

An added bonus: the shirts are highly attractive, bordering on sexy. That tinsel-colored lettering works like a magnet

By popular demand, Bugfish t-shirts are also for sale. Enjoy it all at the Tinselwear store!Shirts03

Note: These shirts are made by American Apparel and, yes, they're a bit more expensive then many of the cheaper brands made in sweatshops around the world. However, I think you'll be pleased to find that the American Apparel shirts are also of a much higher quality: they look fantastic and they refuse to wear out.

Also... please take a photo of yourself in one of these shirts (or both of them). I'll blog you!

August 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Re-Splicery Strikes Back

From Dismissive-Complacent Disorder

I love seeing Myst user-created work. To me, these creations are an expansion of the Myst universe. Myst has become much larger than the strictly controlled ideas upon which it was designed and, in this sense, Myst is weirdly out of control.

Every once in awhile, one of these Myst-offsprings really stands out. Such is the case with Justin Norman's latest installment in his ever expanding Re-Splicery series: Dismissive-Complacent Disorder. You simply must watch this... it really hits home.

August 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 25, 2006

Bugfish Expanding


This is the view from my desk: a pinboard. It runs from one end of the wall to the other and is covered with sketches and quick ideas. I usually sketch on newprint but sometimes I'll grab whatever's closest at hand...


And speaking of ideas, I'm currently working on a project named Bugfish and have just redesigned the Bugfish website. I've only posted a small sampling of the project... but I may post more later.

August 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

August 23, 2006

No Cameras/No Recorders


Just another reminder... the admission into the Republic of Tinselman is FREE!

August 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

Lovely Nightmare


3:54 pm October 17th, 41 degrees 46 N 70 degrees 31 W.
2001, Oil on Panel by Anna Conway.

August 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 21, 2006

Click to Enlarge

The ever-expanding house (click to enlarge)

If a house somehow reflects the spirits of those who dwell within, then I'm sure the people living here are complex and endlessly interesting (and maybe a little weathered around the edges)! I recently saw this place while wandering around the big island of Hawaii;Map_bigi_2 we practically screeched to a stop while I hopped out and began to (unashamedly) try to find a decent photo. This was the best photo I manage to come up with.  

This map roughly shows the location of the mystery house. If one is on HWY 19, coming from Hilo and about to enter Waimea, the house is on the left.

At some point, I'll have to put all my Hawaii vernacular photos up. There's a lot of them!

August 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 20, 2006

Myst Origins to Offspring

Map of Lincoln Island from Jules Verne's novel Mysterious Island

I just wrote a lengthy article about the inspirations and evolution of our Myst game for one of my favorite magazines: Make.

I loved writing this article! In it I've had the rare opportunity to talk about a lot of things that we never touched on before now (or, if we did, they've been scattered and lost). The bad news is, the article won't be appearing until Make's November issue. The good news... I'm going to preempt that issue and preview a very small portion right now (because they said that was cool).


Preview - Make Magazine Article
by Robyn Miller (me)

How did you make Myst?”

This has got to be the question we still hear the most. So we begin to talk about the production. How we created mountains out of grayscale grids. Or how we attempted to create a sense of detail using textures instead of geometry. But typically people are not overly interested in these things. What people usually want to know is “How did you come with the ideas for a game like Myst?”

I’m always left fumbling for a quick sound-bite answer to this question. Something quick and easy like, “Designing a world like this is largely an intuitive process... we made decisions because they felt right.” And though this is true, practically speaking it explains nothing.

In truth, there was a history to many of the concepts behind Myst. There was an evolution to these concepts and there were clear inspirations. Some seemingly odd sources gave birth to core Myst ideas (some of which even we almost took for granted). And now, all these years later, it’s relatively easy for me to look back see the enormous impact these sources had on the ideas in Myst. There is a more practical answer to the question, “How did you come up with the ideas for a game like Myst?”

First we have to go back number of years. Maybe to something like 1981-82, when I’m doing time at Henderson High in rural East Texas and my brother Rod routinely gets together with a group of his closest friends once a week and slips into the skin of a Wizard. Or a Paladin. They sit around a big table and pretend to have big adventures in trap-ridden dungeons where some horrifyingly grotesque monster or demon hides behind each new corner. This was a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons and was growing in popularity around that time (and I believe still has quite a following).

(left) Illustration of underground ocean from Verne's haunting Journey to the Center of the Earth compared to (right) illustration of Dn'i from dime-store Myst comic.

Every once in awhile, I’d sit in on one of these games. They were curious. And fun. These times I played “D&D”... they were something like mini-vacations. Or in some ways even better. I could explore ancient castles. Or dig through the ruins of some futuristic city, long dead. Hey, this wasn’t half bad! Especially when Jeff Zandi (who was later immortalized in the Myst related Uru) acted as Dungeon Master. He told a lot of jokes, seemed to ignore dice rolls that weren’t in the players’ favor, and generally kept things moving along at an expeditious pace. This was all vitally important because usually the game moved like molasses and the rules were so numerous that they filled up three heavy books (faithfully brought to every game). A bad Dungeon Master spent half the game looking through his books; a good Dungeon Master (like Jeff) would just confidently pretend to have it all memorized.

My oldest brother Rand also sat in on a few of these sessions and later, he and I would enjoy discussing what we saw as D&D’s various successes and failures. The good stuff was obvious: the adventure and the sense of escapism. But we’d also talk about how we disliked the slow speed and endless rules. We felt it was a poor interface that only the most devoted fans would ever bother to commit to memory.


That's the beginning! To read the rest of the article, subscribe to Make magazine or pick up their November issue (I'll remind my faithful Tinselites).

Note: The images I've chosen for this preview are not the images that will appear in Make... a couple of the Make images are maps and drawings that date back to before Rand and I founded Cyan. They're amazing bits of Myst history!

August 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

August 18, 2006

Praise You, Kuretake!

Kuretake Brush Pen refill cartridges

A couple weeks ago I fell in love with a Japanese brush-pen that's quickly becoming my all-time favorite drawing tool. Blick Art describes the Kuretake pen on their site as follows:

Technology meets tradition in this sumi brush fountain pen. The Kuretake Brush Pen is exquisitely designed in Japan, with super-fine nylon bristles for smooth, controlled strokes.


Now I can't help but look for every chance I can get to work with this brush-pen! Like a great brush, its lines are alive and dynamic but, unlike a brush, it never leaks, never dries out, and seems to never need a refill. I love this thing!

As of today, I am an official Kuretake evangelist! Buy it... and all your past bad drawings will be forgiven.

August 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack