YOIS News Archive (2015)

12/31/2015Ugh. Peoria got nailed on Monday with a massive ice storm that knocked out power all across the state. So, once again no progress on the Shoppe or auction front. I'll keep trying.

After three days and nights of freezing my ass off while bored out of my mind, I'm treating myself by turning the thermostat up to 88, which is as high as it goes. Either I time travel back to 1955 and meet my parents as kids, or I get to sleep nude with no covers in the middle of winter. Both good outcomes.

12/02/2015I suppose I owe everyone an update, as I'm starting to get people asking where I am. Apologies for the lack of response lately. Currently I'm right in the middle of what will most likely end with me switching jobs. So I need to get everything settled with the current one, and teach myself a few new skills in preparation for the new one.

Between that and the holidays, I know I'm not going to have time to prep and mail a bunch of additional packages, so I've set aside the auctions for now. (You may have noticed that the last set ended with no bids at all. That's partly because I didn't have time to promote them like I normally do.) Once things settle down, hopefully early next year, BetterThanTheBay will be back, with that Personal Software Zork I've been mentioning for so long.

In the meantime, everyone have a pleasant Holiday of your Choice.

11/09/2015I've listed a few BetterThanTheBay auctions - another set of sale glossies, an Infocom holiday card, and than damn damaged Dan Kitchen (say it three times fast) Crystal Caverns, which I suspect I'm going to end up stuck with until the day I die. I'll try to get some more rarer pieces up later this week. Last Thursday I got hit with either stomach flu or food poisoning, I'm still not sure which, or they would have been posted then.
11/04/2015Sorry for the delay, everyone. A couple of things came up that have held me back from updating the Shoppe. First were some issues with work. I'd better not say too much beyond that, since I'm sort of looking for a different job and don't want Google telling any prospective employers about me bad-mouthing my current one. That's a serious concern these days, and I've experienced the negative side of that before.

The second issue was, my digital camera died. So before I could take any more pictures of auction items, I had to research and find a new one I liked. I ended up going with a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W830 (man the cameras these days have catchy names) since it's an easy to use point-and-shoot, wasn't expensive and takes decent quality pictures, especially compared to the old HP PhotoSmart R717.


See?

New Shoppe items are now posted for sale (scroll down), and I'll get to BetterThanTheBay soon. I promise.

And since the holidays are barreling toward me faster than I'd like, here are the USPS's cutoff dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery:

  • Domestic (U.S.):
    • Parcel Post: December 15
    • Priority Mail: December 21
    • Express Mail: December 22
  • International:
    • Priority Mail: December 11
    • Express Mail: December 15


10/14/2015I'm sorry about the wait on the new auctions. The last couple of weeks at work have been stupendously awful, and I just haven't felt like dinking around on the computer even more when I get home. I'll get a few more things listed as soon as I feel up to it.
09/27/2015I'm back, everyone. I would have been back sooner, but... I got Super Mario Maker for Wii U, and it's been taking up a lot of my time. I've wanted to make my own Mario levels since 1989, when I first played the original on my cousins' NES. (My parents wouldn't buy me a game console. I had to save up my money and buy my first one myself a few years later. TurboGrafx-16, and I still have it.)

Back in the 1980s, there were two computer game creation tools into which I sunk months of my childhood: There was Broderbund's Lode Runner, which came with its own easy-to-use level editor. I'm pretty sure I figured out every possible trick that could be done in that game. Some of my levels were even harder and more intricate than the ones in Championship Lode Runner. The second tool was Adventure Construction Set, which let you create tile-based adventure games with some light RPG elements, everything from items, obstacles and creatures to redoing the graphics themselves if you wanted to.

There are other modern equivalents of course, but none of them have been as satisfying for me. The RPG Maker series for PS1/PS2 was too limiting for my taste. I find LittleBigPlanet too clunky to use with a game controller. I just couldn't get into Terraria for whatever reason. And I can't play Minecraft because the low-res textures at 60 FPS give me a mild form of motion sickness. So Mario Maker is my choice. If anybody wants to swap levels or friend codes, you know what to do.

Side note, does anyone know if the Rivers of Light game included with ACS was actually winnable? I recall one puzzle with a mouthless spirit, and you had to get it to speak in order to learn what to do next. Using ACS itself to peer into the inner workings of the game, I found a "mouth" item defined in the object library, and I remember systematically searching every square of every room of every area, trying to determine where in the game it was located, and never found it. 25 years later, this is still bothering my OCD-ravaged mind, and it seems to be the one classic game for which no complete walkthrough exists.

Anyway. The Shoppe is open again, and I'll try to get a few BetterThanTheBay auctions posted in the coming week. I know several of you are eager for the chance to win that last Personal Software Zork. I also have some regular sale items to catalogue and list.

Results of the poll are inconclusive, matching my own thoughts. I still haven't seen any of that guy's items listed, making me suspect it was someone taking a picture of some of their own rare stuff and trying to bait me, for whatever reason. Although... I did notice the one Akalabeth that went up as a regular auction, then suddenly changed to a BuyItNow for only $500, and immediately got snapped up. If you're the person responsible for that, please let me know. I would love to post your information and publicly shame you for being a sneaky weaselbastard. Er, I mean, um... congratulate you on your winning! Yes, that's what I would like to do. >:}

08/03/2015Due to my schedule, I'm closing the Shoppe for the next few weeks, until things settle down. But here's a lengthy post to entertain everyone until I reopen.

Probably the biggest collecting difficulty I have these days is the lack of a consistent, reliable source. I just don't find the stuff in the wild like I used to in the days of Cyber Exchange and Software ReRuns, and I've willingly closed off certain... "venues" to myself. So I post a lot of online classifieds asking for vintage software, and sometimes I get a bite. Recently I got an offer that seemed too good to be true, and you know what they say about those. Here's the picture they sent me. Go ahead and click it for a better view.



Wow. Cue unearthly angelic choral music rising in the background. Personal Software Zork (the Apple version!), Space Gamer magazine #28, May/June 1980, with the Denis Loubet demon Akalabeth artwork, California Pacific Akalabeth... and below that it sure looks like one of the dozen or so handmade copies that Richard Garriott sold as a teenager through the Texas computer store where he worked... or at least one of the leftovers he sold a couple of decades later. Any serious collector would beg, borrow or cheat honest bidders for the opportunity to own this lot.

Except, here's the full message that accompanied it:



Note the liberal use of emoji and the blatant blabbing of family dysfunction that, if real, would seem a bit too personal, such as the reference to CPS (that's Child Protective Services)... To me it lends the whole thing an air of deliberately constructed wackiness that makes it hard to take seriously. I'm no stranger to collector pranks, having engaged in them myself.

On the other hand, the picture wasn't lifted from a current auction, and a Google image search did not turn up a source. My scrutinizing eyes could detect no Photoshop at play here. The items do not appear to have been cut-and-pasted together, they overlap each other and appear to all have existed in the same place at the same time when the photo was taken. In particular, the stripes on the pillow, visible through the CPC Akalabeth plastic bag, would have been difficult for an amateur to pull off. I suppose the image could have been saved from a long-expired auction that would no longer show up in search results, but who would go to that much trouble? (Does anyone else recognize it?)

So I wrote back, careful not to get my hopes up. I was honest (always try to be) and informed him that the Zork and Castle Wolfenstein were easily worth three figures, and the Akalabeths probably four figures each. I told him that they are seen for sale infrequently enough that it can be difficult to put a definite price on them. I asked him about the origins of the self-published Akalabeth, if he knew where and when "Dad" had obtained it. And I let him know that I'm a dealer as well as a collector, so if he sold to me I would make an offer based on, but somewhat less than, what I would expect them to resell for (sort of like an estate sale broker or a consigner who takes care of pricing and selling things in exchange for a percentage, except I typically pay in advance, before anything is sold), and that if it turned out one or more of them went for a much larger amount than what I paid him for them, I would split the extra with him. I requested larger pictures of the individual items, mostly to serve as proof that he actually had them, though I didn't say that, and asked if I could meet and inspect them personally, since it seemed unlikely that this individual with (possibly) an Original-12 Akalabeth just happens to reside in the Peoria area. I mean, what are the odds? I couldn't do an IP check on the email, as it gets routed through a Craigslist exchange for privacy.

His reply, the following day (curiously emoji-free):



Fair enough on the reselling, although it does make me wonder why he didn't simply auction them to begin with. In the past, some people have sold me collections they don't want to mess with selling piecemeal on their own. If you're wondering why I laid all my cards on the table and told him I'd be reselling, it's because (1) I was already pretty convinced this was a prank, and (2) even if it wasn't, I wasn't keen on dropping several thousand dollars on things I would just turn around and resell. With the Infocom lot there were enough pieces going into my own collection to justify it, but I already have a manual for the PS Zork and didn't want to drop that much cash just to obtain a disk, and I'm not an Ultima / Akalabeth collector. I was actually sort of hoping he'd go the online auction route, just so I could see if it was real. If you're wondering why I didn't try to lowball the guy, it's because (1) honesty is important to me, and (2) since I half-suspected it wasn't real, I considered that it might be someone testing my honesty. I've done that before as well.

Other pieces of the exchange that don't quite fit: He doesn't even address my suspicion that it's a prank. Most serious sellers, and most serious scammers for that matter, would try to convince the person that they are in fact for realsies. Then there's the paranoia over meeting in person, although that's somewhat understandable, but I suspect he's exaggerating or misquoting about the shooting and carjacking IN an actual Walmart parking lot. I couldn't find an actual news article, but Walmart incidents have a tendency to spread across the Internet, at least in America, to the point where it's kind of impossible to miss hearing about them. And there's the mention of "Ma" again... Doesn't she let Gregorie and Bobbie have their own eBay and PayPal accounts? How old are these people anyway?

I did write him one more reply wherein I recommended listing the items individually instead of as a single lot, and cautioned him against the backdoor bidders making an offer that sounded good, but would in actuality be significantly less if he just let the auctions run their course. I haven't heard back, and as of this writing the games have yet to turn up on any auctions. If you do see it, please let me know. (Don't worry, I'm not gonna bid against you. It's eBay, remember?)

So, what does everyone think?

I'll close the poll when I reopen the Shoppe.

07/28/2015I just wanted to say that I can't think of a more appropriate place for a Satanic temple to be located. ^^)
07/26/2015Aaaaand, DONE. The Vault page is current, except for Infocom, the small-case cassette games, and several shelves and boxes of stuff I haven't gone through yet. Plus I really need to un-clutter things enough to take an updated picture. The current one still shows my old apartment, and I haven't lived there in over ten years!
07/24/2015Just a reminder, this weekend is your last chance to bid on the Microsoft Adventure and my other auctions. I've been really slammed with both work and things I need to do at home, and it doesn't show any sign of letting up soon, so this will probably be the last batch for a while. I still have quite a few things left to list, including one last Personal Software ("Barbarian") Zork. If you're on the mailing list, you'll receive an email notification when new auctions are posted. (Be sure to add "yois@if-legends.org" as a trusted sender, as I have had a few emails bounce back rejected.)
07/12/2015I just got back from VGS, and am a bit exhausted from the drive. It's grown a lot since the room where I, Jim Leonard, TomMage and a few other people would set up tables, years ago, and end up mostly browsing each other's stuff. Thanks to Dan Iacovelli for putting it all together. Like Midwest Gaming Classic, it's primarily geared toward consoles, although I did find exactly one boxed Amiga title (Dragon's Lair II) and a box of loose PC and Commodore disks. There were some rare titles, but the guy wanted too much for 'em, considering loose disks don't seem to generate much interest. Like at the moment, there are no takers on a $10 Mystery House. (Hint??)

One guy beat me by seconds to a decently-priced pair of Genesis shoot-em-ups... although he referred to them as "shmups." Personally I can't stand that name. It sounds like the result of an unholy sexual act between the Smurfs and the Muppets. "Shmups." Blecch.

Another game-related term I dislike is "feelies." You know, the story-related props that came with Infocom's games and a few others. Just call them props. "Feelies" sounds like a bad touch. I have a bunch of the things in my basement, and you can have them if you want. I will give you feelies. In my basement. If you can't pick them up yourself, send your wife. I will give your wife feelies in my basement. Actually there are probably more than she can carry. Have her bring your kids along too. I will give your wife and kids feelies, in my basement. See? It just sounds inappropriate.

If the Smurfs and the Muppets give each other feelies, you're going to end up with Shmups.

Okay, clearly the sleep deprivation is taking its toll. 'Night.

07/08/2015Any collectors out there familiar with this game? Medieval Quest by Instant Software, published by Panasonic for their personal computer, the JR-200U. I found it during my recent Vault excavations. The blurb on the back reads:

Welcome to the chilly castles of Olde Normandie. So you've
come to save Sir Hedric, have you? Then beware the torture
racks and poisoned arrows!

Your noble friend, Sir Hedric, is about to lose his betrothed
to the Black Knight. He must stop the wedding in time! But
the Black Knight has locked Sir Hedric in his dungeon. An
expert in the practice of medieval torture, the knight has left
orders to be sure Sir Hedric does not get out alive.

You must guide Sir Hedric to the palace in time to stop the
wedding! Get past killer gurads, down dimly-lit spiral stair-
cases, through iron gates, across dangerous drawbridges,
past troops of trolls... You formulate the strategy. You make
the decisions. Sir Hedric's life depends on you.

Will you take on the adventure? Can you find the way out of
the perilous dungeon?

I haven't been able to locate much information on this game, just this mention on Armchair Arcade. I wrote Bill a while back but didn't get a reply. My copy is sealed, but I would like to get a look at the manual and find out what type of game it is: Strategy, RPG, parser adventure, or something else. That's likely why it ended up buried in the "I'll get to it" pile of the collection room.

I'm finished up through and including Sierra on the Vault organizing process, but still need to enter the changes into the database. I've been trying to put in an hour most nights, comparing the online list with the actual shelves and jotting down uncatalogued acquisitions, all while chanting "Game Hoardaz" from the latest column. If you heard me doing it, you would laugh and make fun. This is why there will be no YouTube video.

Also don't forget that there are a few auctions ending in the next couple of days.

07/05/2015If anyone's in the Chicago area next weekend (the 11th), I'll be at the Video Game Summit for at least part of the day.

Sorry no updates for a while. My efforts to organize the Vault sort of fell by the wayside as outdoor projects have taken over. But I'm hoping to get back to it this week. In the meantime I've listed another set of the Infocom sale sheets on the auction page. Part of it is, after sitting in front of a computer at work for eight hours, I rarely feel like doing it some more when I get home.

I've told people this in person, but I might as well confess it here, too: I've grown to hate computers. When I was a kid I loved them, because back then not everybody knew how to use them, especially in my little bumblefuck home town, so it made me feel unique and smart. Now they're freakin' everywhere, they're a thousand times more complex, with ten thousand times as many things that can go wrong with them, and endlessly infuriating. If I'd known the future back then, I might very well have chosen a different career path.

I'm starting to get fed up with the state of video game consoles as well, because it feels like they're slowly turning into computers. (Yeah, I know, PC Master Race, blah blah blah, you don't need to say it.) But prior to the Xbox 360 and PS3, there were no Internet connections, no firmware updates, no game patches, no digital rights management... You put in the game and you could immediately start playing it. I miss those days. This sums up my feelings nicely.

06/26/2015Auctions are ending tomorrow, and some new ones are posted, including a Microsoft Adventure for PC and a Mystery House disk for Apple II.
06/25/2015I'm looking at cleaning up the waiting list sometime in the coming week, as some of those entries have been around since the current incarnation of the Shoppe launched, clear back in 2003. I've just sent out an email notification to everyone with a pre-2015 entry, and will be scrubbing those with hard-bounce unreachable addresses.

If you've changed your email address, or if you've acquired anything you're still on the list for, please let me know. (I'll assume everyone IS still looking for their items if I don't hear otherwise.)

06/20/2015Auctions are ending tomorrow. I've been really busy the last few weeks, but will try to get some more listed soon.
06/13/2015I've just posted a few new auctions. Don't forget, you can sign up for the mailing list if you want to be notified when I do this.
06/09/2015Just a reminder to recent BetterThanTheBay auction winners: When you have a chance, please send payment for your auctions. It's fine if you'd like to pay just the item price, and wait to have multiple winnings mailed together. But I'm running into the rule I coded where I can't post anything more until I leave overdue feedback, which I can't do until I've received payment. (Yes, I am bound by the same site rules as everyone else.)

Thanks.

05/28/2015ProTip for anyone who ever wants to help Amazon correct inaccurate data on their website: Don't bother trying.

I sent them my correspondence with the author of Building Applications with Cornerstone, to illustrate that the Addison-Wesley version listed on their site was never published, and sent them cover scans showing the ISBN of the actual book (which they don't have listed). In response, they sent me some links to a couple of other sites that also list the Addison-Wesley version... one of which actually stated at the bottom that their information was obtained from Amazon's pages!

So, garbage in, garbage out. Enjoy your garbage, Amazon. I tried.

05/27/2015New items for sale have been listed. This includes most of what I found from my hunting expeditions in April, and a few things excavated while cleaning up the Shoppe. I have a few rare pieces which will probably end up getting auctioned instead.

As far as updating the Vault, my Adventure International list is now current, except for the cassette games which I keep in a separate area of my collection room and haven't gotten to yet.

I'm looking for some information from anyone who collects Level 9 games, regarding the company's address on the back of their box and plastic wallet packages. I've noticed their usual address is a 229 Hughenden Road, but I have one Return to Eden wallet with a PO Box 39, and several with no address at all. I'm trying to determine how many variations exist, so I've put together a .csv file of what I have. If any Level 9 experts are inclined to compare it to their own collections, I'd appreciate it.

There's also a revision to the Cornerstone Database Database, after hearing back from the author of the Building Applications book about the alternate version that was slated to be published by Addison-Wesley.

Finally, this Sunday, the USPS is once again making changes to their web API, which YOIS uses in determining postage, both for the Shoppe and the shipping cost displayed on auctions. I don't think it will affect any of the features I use, but unfortunately I'm not going to have time to test it until after the changes are live. So if anybody encounters any problems with it, please let me know.

05/22/2015New auctions are posted.
05/09/2015New BetterThanTheBay auctions are posted. Just a few to start with, but as always I'll add more and cooler stuff in the coming weeks.

I've also made a pretty massive update to the Cornerstone Database Database, finally adding notes on the new materials I've acquired. As always, contributions are welcome. Would you believe there are still people actively using Cornerstone, after more than 30 years? Just this week I got an email from someone who bought a business and found their computer systems set up with it. They were looking for documentation, but unfortunately I'm out at the moment. I did point them to some (fairly expensive) copies on Amazon, and confirm that it was what they needed.

(Lately I've also been receiving an inordinate amount of spam wherein there are allegedly many local hot MILFs desirous of meeting me. These I ignore.)

05/05/2015Okay. April is finally over and now I have some weekends open. First order of business, I intend to post some more auctions this Saturday. It probably won't be much at first, just a few repeat listings of old favorites, but after that I'll get into some new pieces you haven't seen yet. Second, I need to go through the acquisitions from the last couple of months, organize and list those, and also prep for the local flea market which I am doing the last Sunday of May. Third, pick up where I left off cataloguing the Vault. I'm current through "P" (Penguin/Polarware) as far as inventorying it, though I do have some notes and updates I haven't had a chance to enter into the database. After that, my want-list, which is even further behind than the Vault.

That's the plan. Now let's see what comes up to unexpectedly wreck it.

05/01/2015Sorry about the lack of updates. April has been insanely busy, but after this weekend it should quiet down. My German buddy is passing back through town tonight, and then we're going back up to Chicago for his flight home. I'm dropping off a stack of disks from my collection for Jim Leonard to archive. Non-shrinkwrapped items only, of course.

Next weekend I hope to start listing auctions again, as well as some regular Shoppe items. Between the lot I bought from the IBM guy and a stash from a game store I hit in Chicagoland a couple of weeks ago, I've got some interesting stuff piling up here. Seeing as how it's the one-year anniversary of the relaunch of BetterThanTheBay, is anyone interested in trying it out as a seller? If so, drop me a note.

04/13/2015 Had a blast at Midwest Gaming Classic this weekend. Here's a quick rundown:

Left straight from work and drove three and a half hours up. I have got to stop talking to my GPS. I call it "Carmen", because that rhymes with Garmin, and also because "Carmen Sandiego", since I always know Where In The World I am. Nothing to do with the opera, although it does have a pleasant voice. I'm amazed by how often it perfectly syncs up to the electronica I have playing on my car stereo. Sometimes it hilariously mispronounces names, for instance it refers to GameStop as "ga-MESS-top", which, depending on how you feel about GameStop, may be strangely appropriate. I find myself thanking Carmen after navigating a confusing section of roads, and even having little one-sided conversations with it. I am so very alone at times.

*ahem*

Got to the hotel, checked in, enjoyed the pool and the hot tub. Back when I registered, the Sheraton was already full so they refered me to another nearby hotel. Lots of other people too, apparently, as I started receiving StreetPass tags on my Nintendo 3DS as soon as I checked in. That never happens in Peoria. I'm lucky to get even one after a day running errands.

I got to MGC early the next morning. Before event security, it turns out. Nobody asked for my ticket, and I was able to wander the arcade room and play a few games before they booted me out because they were still setting up. Got the high score on the R-Type standup, and it was still there when I left the show. Explored the museum areas, where they had vintage consoles and computers set up for people to play. Blazed through the first third of Dungeon Explorer on their TurboGrafx-16. The family used to do 5-player on it in my teen years, so I can play that game from memory. One of the computers had Zork running, and there was a Hitchhiker's Guide grey box for TI-99 which was the only Infocom item I encountered at the entire show. The owner also had a Scott Adams Hint Book on display. Alas, not for sale.

I spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon browsing the vendor tables, which were in a huge tented area attached to the hotel. Not a lot in the way of computer games, and when I did find them they were mostly more recent CD-ROM titles, and just a couple of vastly overpriced Commodore games. Console game heaven, though. It was the first place I'd been to in years that actually had TurboGrafx games. While browsing, I realized that I own some rare, valuable console titles. Games I picked up just to play that are now highly desired and impossible to find cheap, such as Haunting Ground and Rule of Rose for the PlayStation 2. Also saw some stuff I had as a kid that I wish I'd hung on to, particularly the Pac-Man miniature tabletop arcade game by Coleco, now selling for at least $100. I still have some Q*Bert plushes in my closet. Wonder what they'd go for?

On one end of the tent row was a stage where bands would play tunes from classic games (liiiitle too loud for my sensitive ears; I felt bad for the vendors who had to set up shop right next to them). At the other end was a tabletop gaming area where I'd sit for a few minutes after each pass around the vendors and check my 3DS for StreetPass tags. I got almost 150 tags in a single day, and would have gotten more if a 3DS firmware update didn't limit you to 10 at a time now. (When my friend Pix_Z and I went to E3 in 2012, she got half that many before noon, without having to stop and check and clear out the old ones.)

I found exactly one item for my I-F collection, a U.K. version of the most recent Space Quest compilation, but I bought a bunch of console stuff as well, and definitely spent more than I should have. Bought one game that ended up not having the disc when I removed the vendor wrap, but I did think to snag a business card from the dealer so I'm hoping they're honest. (Note to self and others, always open vendor-sealed items in front of the vendor immediately after you buy them.)

The show was fairly crowded, not nearly as bad as E3, but it wasn't uncommon to have to stand a bit at the vendor tables before you could get close enough to actually browse their wares. There were quite a few cosplayers walking around. I saw two or three Marios, a Luigi, Princess Peach, Bub and Bob the dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, an excellent Joel from The Last of Us, and a couple of women in outfits I didn't recognize, who may have been actual game characters or may have just been using the event as an excuse to walk around in public while wearing not too many clothes.

At this point I still hadn't officially checked into the show. I was able to pass freely between the hotel lobby, arcade room, vendor booths, and museum rooms, and nobody stopped me even though I wasn't wearing the blue wristband indicating I'd paid the admission. Finally I found the right place to check in on my own, got my pre-printed ticket scanned, and got the wristband. This was well after noon, meaning I'd meandered back and forth across the event for half a day without being noticed. Tip for next year, in case anyone from MGC reads this. Security at E3 was much, much tighter.

Back into the hotel and down a set of stairs, there were conference rooms where more museums and smaller events were set up, and even some actual hotel rooms where indie developers and Internet gaming site operators had set up shop. I scored a nice pile of swag from the Nintendo room... played a variety of Pac-Man machines in one room as kids and parents made Pac-Man themed get-well cards at a nearby table for hospitalized children... decided NOT to make a fool of myself on the Dance Dance Revolution game (for 40, I'm still fairly awesome at DDR with my RedOctane Ignition 2.0 pad at home on the PS2, but I've barely set foot on the arcade version)... saw the alpha version of SkyCurser, an absolutely awesome old-school 2D shoot-'em-up (I hate the term "shmups", it sounds like the retarded mutant offspring of the Smurfs and the Muppets)... and in one room they had more original Xbox Steel Battalion controllers in one place than I'd ever seen before. (If you haven't heard of it, it's THE most complicated game controller in existence.)

Between the vendor booths and Nintendo I made 3 trips out to the car and back to make loot drops. At that point I had exactly three dollars left, so I decided I'd better keep myself away from the vendors, even though many of them do take credit cards. I caught a presentation in the hotel restaurant/bar from two of the developers of Gottlieb's Exterminator, which I remembered as one of the oddest, most unique arcade games ever made. Then back to the arcade until about 7:00 when I started to get tired, so I found a great little BBQ rib place (I hadn't eaten all day), spent my last $3 cash on a chocolate custard cone (Wisconsin is famous for this... and cheese... and legal fireworks sales if you live in Illinois), then drove back to the hotel and hit the pool and hot tub again.

I'd only bought the one-day ticket, and to be honest I felt like that was enough, so I spent Sunday driving around to various stores I found online that sounded promising. Didn't find much, but a couple of them looked like they'd be worth checking again the next time I'm up there. One comic and game store had a kitty wandering around that let me pet it. It was a grey tabby like mine, but smaller, but equally noisy. Google Maps needs up update, as lot of the places I investigated were no longer actually there, and the address of one was clearly in the middle of a residential neighborhood that was rather... economically depressed, that's a nice way of putting it. For the record, the Mega Media Exchange on Farwell in Milwaukee, BattleBox Video Games, Northern Novelty and the Music Recyclery at the Shops of Grand Avenue all appear to be defunct, as is GameCorner in Beloit. Fortunately I had Carmen to navigate. Took a slightly longer route through Rockford to bypass the Chicagoland tollways, since I didn't have any cash left to pay them and didn't feel like messing with paying online. Got back home about 6:00 last night.

TL;DR version:

If you love console and arcade games and live within driving distance of Milwaukee, definitely check out Midwest Gaming Classic. Bring lots of money for the vendors. If you're only into computer gaming you won't find as much there, but it might be worth checking out, and maybe you'll get lucky. If you're a sneaky miscreant you might be able to slip in undetected.

I may go again next year. Drop me a line if you'd like to meet up.

04/02/2015Sorry about yesterday, I couldn't resist. As long-time visitors to the Shoppe may recall, I loves me some April Fools' Day. The next real auctions probably won't go up until May. I just have too much going on right now, between work, Midwest Gaming Classic in a week and a half, yard projects I need to get started on now that the weather is decent, and my German buddy passing through again.

Vault-wise, I'm up into the M's, specifically Melbourne House, but bypassing Infocom for now and I still have some Adventure International additions and revisions to make.

04/01/2015To celebrate the beginning of April, three very special BetterThanTheBay auctions have been listed for one day only! Don't miss out!
03/29/2015Had a great little road trip yesterday. It reminded me of the old days when I would just drive around to places and look for games, then stop at TomMage's and dig through his storage lot, back when he still had the storage lot full of games. Got back at about 10:30 last night, totally exhausted. The guy I met with had some good stuff, though not as many older games as I'd initially believed, and not as many rarities. I did score a Microsoft Adventure in the grey plastic folder, and a few other early Microsoft items. Lots of early IBM marketing and technical materials, if anybody collects those. Need to get everything organized and photographed. The non-game stuff will probably go up on my Bonanza booth.

I was also lucky enough to raid the free bin at Disc Replay in Hoffman Estates. Scored a bunch of Family Guy DVD box sets that they couldn't buy from the person who brought them in (already overstocked), and that person didn't want to lug them back home. So they let me take them just to get rid of them. Something to add to my flea market table this year.

In two weeks I'll be at Midwest Gaming Classic 2015, if anybody wants to meet up.

03/26/2015Had a great time seeing my German collector friend again. We went around to a few stores in the Naperville area, got some American food (Portillo's, very tasty), then drove back to Peoria where he went through the Shoppe, browsed my collection, and he presented me with a shrinkwrapped Deja Vu by Axis (a German text adventure, not the same as the ICOM title). He and his girlfriend are on a road trip across America for the next five weeks, but he'll be stopping back again before he flies back to Europe.

Inventorying the Vault, I'm up to "L" alphabetically, although I did bypass Infocom (which is like a third of my entire collection) until I get all of the promotional stuff bagged and shelved. I have notes on Adventure International but haven't had time to make all of the additions and adjustments yet. Oh, and I found the missing Wombats! It was on a nearby shelf, moved out of place at one point when I was shifting things around. To mark the occasion, I used it for the first vault item page since, I think, 2003. I'll put up more if I can find the time, but I'd like to get the collection itself organized first.

This weekend I'm meeting with a guy who used to be an IBM PC dealer in the 1980s. I met him at a ham radio expo, where I bought the one game he brought with him to the show, a graphic adventure version of Wayne's World similar to the early LucasArts point-and-clicks. He said he still has a lot of software from back then, so I'm hoping to bring back a carload. Kind of like the old days.

Oh, and watch for more BetterThanTheBay auctions next week!

03/13/2015Has anyone here used Dwolla before? I'm considering joining, and adding them to the site as an alternative to PayPal, since they only charge a 25-cent fee, no percentages. Then for a period of a few months I'd also credit Dwolla buyers with half of what the PayPal fees would have been, to encourage its use. I'd save half my PayPal fees, you'd pay a bit less for your Shoppe orders. Sadly, they're currently U.S. only, so this wouldn't benefit my international buyers.

I looked around a bit and while Ripoff Report has a few complaints about Dwolla, it's nowhere near PayPal's almost 3,000. And don't worry, I haven't had any bad experiences myself with PayPal, and I'm keeping them. Just investigating other options to maybe include alongside them. To be honest I feel better about using PayPal now that they're getting out from beneath eBay's tuchus. That arrangement has been bugging me since 2006.

03/10/2015I've encountered my first missing game discrepancy in my "organize the Vault" initiative. One I know I had, but it's not on the shelf where it should be. It's Dynamic Software's Wombats I: Gazumba the Great and the Wombats of Borozoa. The most likely possibility is that the game package didn't identify the developer/publisher, so I tucked it away in my "to be dealt with later" box. Somewhere along the way I discovered the company behind it, so I updated the database entry, but didn't actually shelve the game yet. It should turn up once I get around to excavating that area of the collection room. Until then, One of Our Wombats is Missing. (That's another wombat-themed text adventure game. They were very popular in the early 1980s. Not in Australia, though, curiously.)

Also I just noticed the pictures at the top of the Vault page... Those are ancient, from the days when I still lived in an apartment! I have SO much more crap now than I did back then. I'll get some updated pics once I clean up a little more.

03/09/2015Sorry I haven't posted any updates this past week. I'm getting ready for a visit next weekend from a German collector friend whom I visited a couple of times about 15 years ago, but we haven't seen each other since. Most of my effort has gone into cleaning up the collection room a bit. You can sort of walk around in there now without worrying too much about stepping on stuff.

I've also been trying to finally get the Vault page up to date. I have so many items in my own collection that I've obtained over the last few years, but haven't gotten around to listing. Been meaning to get that current for the longest time, because it serves as a record of everything I have. Quick reference, insurance purposes, bragging rights, et cetera. I put in a solid hour on Sunday before remembering it was the start of Daylight Saving Time, so technically I guess I put in a solid two hours... but not really. I did get all the way through the A's and B's, with the exception of Adventure International, which will be the most time-consuming since I have that shelved by number for the Scott Adams 1-12, and by subgroup (Other-Ventures, Questprobe, etc.) for the rest, but the Vault page code displays it all alpha by title. But definitely watch for new games appearing on the Vault list, and once I get that up to date, maybe some new individual item pages with pictures. Feels good to scratch that OCD itch again.

03/03/2015Didn't much done in the Vault room this past weekend, mostly because it was so frikkin' cold. I'm starting to really dislike Illinois winters. I can't bicycle and I always seem to put on weight.

Anyway, if anyone's interested, I've got some old computer magazines: Analog, Antic, SofTalk, possibly Computer Gaming World once I check for duplicates. The Questbusters have been spoken for, by a Shoppe visitor who responded about the questions I had. Still need to look at a couple more before I can feel my theories on some of the early issues are 100% confirmed.

If anyone has any 1980-1983 issues of DEC Professional I'd be interested in possibly buying or trading for those.

Finally, I can't be certain, but the Shoppe may have been visited by an old friend. Remember the jerkwad who was selling self-printed Infocom T-shirts as originals, years ago, and went psycho stalker on me when I busted him? The full story is in YOIS' Secret Column, which is only accessible to pre-approved viewers. Anyway, I got a number of hits from his old IP address. (Yes, I keep track of such things.) If you read this, James, let me know if it was you. Nicely.

02/24/2015I've posted the final auction for now, and will pick up again in few weeks.

Making slow progress on the collection room. I cleared out a bunch of shipping boxes last night, enough to move other things around and clear a path so I can actually walk in here again without stepping over stuff. Next phase is to finish organizing my old computer magazines, possibly sell some of them because it's getting ridiculous, and in the process hopefully excavate my New Zork Times and Status Line issues, which are missing in action at the moment. (Found XYZZYnews though!)

Here are a couple of pics of what it looked like before I started cleaning, if anyone is interested:

   

It's a very special Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe episode of "Hoarders".

02/23/2015While cleaning up a corner of the Shoppe last night, I unearthed a small treasure trove of Shay Addams' Questbusters newsletters I'd forgotten I had. Does anyone else have any of the earliest issues from Volume III, which were the first ones to be printed on 8.5" x 11" paper, and the first two volumes which were printed on smaller pages? I'd like to compare mine with yours on a couple of things, if you have a moment. (Thanks in advance.)
02/22/2015BetterThanTheBay auctions are ending on Tuesday the 24th, and the rest a couple of weeks after that. I'll be listing a couple more, then taking a break to give everyone's disposable income a chance to regenerate.

In the meantime, I've forced myself to spend an hour a night in the collection room, organizing stuff. My collection and want list have been outdated for years now, and I'm determined to make this the year I fix that. I also realize that I say that every year, but this year I finally seem to have the time and the ambition. (Now just waiting for some real-life crap to hit and derail my efforts yet again...)

I did finally get around to cleaning up the badly decayed links page. All of the sites still in existence now have their locations updated, and I've removed the defunct ones. If you have a page, or know of a good one I've left out, please tell me and I'll set up a link to it. It does need to contain information about collecting or playing vintage computer games. If you have a page where you sell such games, that's fine too, but please no links to your eBay items.

I'm also planning to attend Video Game Summit and the Midwest Gaming Classic (possibly as a vendor) this year. Anyone interested in meeting up?

02/08/2015New auctions are posted. Got a Suspect press kit, shrinked Sorcerer folio for a rare platform, and the last Moonmist poster and Spellbreaker launch invitation I have. Don't miss out!
01/25/2015New auctions are posted. Got a few relists of previous items, a Hitchhiker's Guide press kit, an invitation to a Lurking Horror and Stationfall promotional event featuring The Second City, and a Wing Commander III Deluxe Edition I picked up a while back.
01/20/2015I'm back, sorry for the delay. The holidays were really horrendous this year, and I can officially add Amazon to my crappy customer service list. Just got back from the WCRA Mid-Winter Hamfest, which wasn't as big as I'd hoped, but I did make contact with a guy who was a software dealer in the 1980s, and he said he's still got some games, so we'll see what I end up with there. In the meantime, a few new Shoppe items are listed. BetterThanTheBay is still vacant, but I'll try to get the first new batch of auctions listed this weekend.


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