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January Film Roundup: How you doin'? I'm bringing the beginning of February into this post just so there's more than two things in this list. I was pretty busy all month and we spent a lot of evenings watching this month's Television Spotlight. Missed the whole Coen brothers retrospective at Film Forum, oh well.

And now, the Television Spotlight, focusing on a show that we started in January and finished in February:

The Lonely Dungeon: Tactics: The huge monstrous crab is hungry and
attacks all non-locathah who enter the water or
attempt to travel on the ledges. It uses its 10-foot
reach to attempt to grab victims on the ledge. If it can
establish a grapple (note its +22 grapple modifier!), it
deals automatic constriction damage each round.
While partially submerged in the pool, the crab gains
improved cover (+8 to AC and +4 to Reflex saves). Dear diary, once again I have created the greatest bot ever. It's The Lonely Dungeon (Tumblr, Twitter), another in my tradition of "out-of-context selections from a very large corpus". In this case the corpus is all those RPG sourcebooks that came out in the late 20th century.

I found these books fascinating when I was a kid. They were full of secret information, obscure contigencies, bit characters with weird motivations, worldbuilding for made-up societies. Each paragraph was a little story about why this part of the game couldn't be handled by the normal rules.

Now the books have been replaced by newer editions, or just forgotten since nobody plays the games anymore. As forbidding as they seemed, all those crypts and forests and space stations were incomplete unless someone was going through them and uncovering their secrets.

One of my current interests is worlds that end not through some calamity, but because the inhabitants get bored and move out. Like Minecraft Signs, The Lonely Dungeon is a spotlight picking out features of abandoned worlds.

I've been working on this bot for over a year in spare moments. For the first time in Leonard bot history, The Lonely Dungeon's primary medium is Tumblr, so that I can give you the full OCRed text of the text box. It's better for accessibility, especially as those scans can be difficult to read. I had to learn a lot about PDFs and image processing, and I've scaled back this bot from my original plans, but those plans are still on the table in some form. More on this when it happens! In the meantime... keep adventuring.

#botUPDATE: Last week I fell ill and my cognitive capacity was limited to simple bot work. I created That's Life!, a bot which posts distinctive lines of code from Conway's Life implementations.

For reasons that will shortly become clear, I have cloned about 4000 Git repos that contain implementations of Conway's Life. (Well, I trust my reasons are already clear, but my overall strategy will shortly become clear.) That's a lot of code, but how to pick out the Life-specific code from generic loop processing, framework setup, etc?

Well, I have also cloned about 14,000 Git repos that contain Tic-Tac-Toe implementations. I used Pygments to tokenize all the code in both corpora. Any line of a Conway's Life implementation that contains a token not found in the Tic-Tac-Toe corpus is considered distinctive enough to go in the bot.

Alas, my condition deteriorated, until I was no longer able to write code at all. So I turned towards fulfilling my final vision for The Lonely Dungeon: augmenting the text clips with spot art. This meant a lot of miserable grunt work: scrolling through about 30,000 candidate images, marking the ones that looked cool or weird. But I was already miserable, so I was able to get it all done.

The Lonely Dungeon is now complete! We've got line drawings executed with varying levels of skill, glorious oil paintings, tons of maps with mysterious labels, and old RPG advertisements from magazines. And now I feel better and I can go back to work. Great timing!

The Ephemeral Software Collection: A lot of stuff has been happening around the Minecraft Archive Project, and NYCB is no longer the best place to put all this information, so I've created a separate website for it: The Minecraft Archive Project. It incorporates most of the stuff I've told you over the past year-and-a-half, about why I'm doing this, what's in the captures and who has copies of the data, but there's also plenty of new stuff, which I'll summarize.

The big thing is that I've started a whole other collection, the Ephemeral Software Collection, which is now bigger than the MAP. My goal with the ESC is to archive software that's likely to be overlooked, forgotten, or destroyed by a takedown notice. Also stuff that I just think would be interesting to have around. The ESC contains the non-Minecraft stuff I got from CurseForge in the December capture, but it also contains a ton of Git repos that I cloned from GitHub.

I asked around about games that had active level creation/modding communities, searched the GitHub API for the names of those games, and cloned all the repos that showed up in the search results. Then I started branching out, running searches for classic games like checkers and Snake, as well as more general terms like 'surreal' and 'gender' and 'senior project'. This is how I got the data for That's Life!. IMO the most significant part of the ESC capture is 750 gigabytes of games created for game jams.

I stopped when I ran out of old hard drives to fill up. You can see the full list of ESC collections; there are about 100 of them.

Before creating this web page, when I heard about another source of Minecraft maps or other ephemeral software, I had two choices: 1) do a lot of work to incorporate it into the MAP, 2) do nothing, feel guilty, eventually forget about it, and suffer a nagging feeling that I'd forgotten something important. Now when I find out this sort of thing, I stick it in the "What I Didn't Capture" section and then forget about it guilt-free. It's a nice system.

I guess the only other piece of news is, I did another MAP capture in early February to see if it was too much hassle to do a capture every month. Total haul: about 75 GB of images and binaries. It was a pretty big hassle, but that number implies that I save about twice as much stuff if I act within one month than if I wait a year, so I'm torn.


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