It is with profound sadness that we at CATAN Studio acknowledge the passing of Klaus Teuber, legendary game designer and creator of the beloved board game CATAN. Our hearts go out to Klaus' family during this incredibly difficult time. pic.twitter.com/gPPIVtleHJ
— CATAN – Official (@settlersofcatan) April 4, 2023
Dan Zak, at the Washington Post — “In a world of Monopoly and Risk, the maker of Catan settled for more” (unpaywalled gift link):
At some point early in the pandemic, I began to dream in hexagons. The hexagons were talismans of order and plenty. One depicted golden sheaves of wheat, another quarried gray ore, another the tufted wool of sheep. The outside world was chaos, collapse and deprivation, but the hexagonal pieces of a board game called Catan imposed a geometric peace on a doomy evening, if only for an hour at a time, with a glass of cab sauv and three covid-bubbled friends.
“I developed games to escape,” Catan’s creator, Klaus Teuber, told the New Yorker in 2014. “This was my own world I created.”…
I grew up in the 1990s, in a house without Nintendo, playing antique products of the Great Depression and the Cold War: Monopoly and Risk, with their 20th-century mandates of greed and confrontation. The exorbitance of Park Place, the alien sound of Kamchatka and Irkutsk — these were backward-feeling games that urged ravenous competition. The board game of my eventual adulthood, my pandemic, was being born around that time, but it would not become globally popular for several years.
In the ’90s, as I was fiendishly fortifying the Americas on a 1959 board of Risk, Teuber, a dental technician from a small village in central Germany, was descending into his basement to escape the doldrums of dentures and to craft a sort of utopia in the form of a board game. It would be a game of graceful simplicity, requiring both competition and cooperation, that would invalidate the zero-sum, total-war ethos of prior parlor pursuits. His invention was born of a childhood rapt by the beauty of an atlas.
My parents are cleaning out a storage unit so we got to take some furniture from it. We got a nice leather armchair and a matching ottoman, and we’re going to get a couch later too. The armchair is great. I’m working on a reading/writing nook in the office, and it’s perfect for it.
No sooner had I gotten it set up, when…
I’m ambivalent about the protector I put on… it’s ugly, but I can shore up the fit, which should help. More importantly it will keep the chair from getting ruined in a month. But now I never get to see most of the leather… choices, choices.
Open thread! I’m playing Return to Monkey Island, which is really fun and also good homework for the adventure game I’m working on. What are you all up to?
‘Tis the season for retrospectives. Since I don’t read or watch that much stuff the year it comes out, my annual lists are always about what I consumed during the previous year, regardless of when it was made. Last year I wrote about John le Carré’s A Perfect Spy. This year I have a little more to say. I’ll write my Best Books post later (Le Guin, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Gene Wolfe, this time around); right now I want to talk about the other books.
In 2022, I tried to catch up on some popular contemporary fantasy, and I was sorely disappointed. I hope I simply ran into Sturgeon’s Law—ninety percent of everything is crap–but I suspect I was also dipping into some pretty craptastic wells. Recent trends are… not promising. I took a number of recommendations from the r/fantasy subreddit. It’s Reddit, so a lot of the users either are or act like fourteen-year-olds, but I wanted to see what the youths were up to. It turns out they’re up to two things: loving Brandon Sanderson, and reading self-published anime clones.
Sanderson is fine. I like the writing podcast he spent many years contributing to. His books are, whatever, not to my taste, but I get it. Characters a bit shallow, plots a bit paint-by-numbers, narration a bit overlong on exposition, everything rather unsexy (befitting his devout Mormonism), but he builds great worlds, and is loved in particular for his intricate magic systems. He is one of the best-selling fantasy authors of the modern era. He’s also insanely prolific–during the pandemic he woke up one morning and found he’d accidentally written four extra novels. Good for him! But his success has led publishers to release a lot of high-concept mimicry–it’s like Brandon Sanderson but xyz–which, unsurprisingly, is not to my taste.
I was especially disappointed with Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett. I’d seen its (excellent) cover on shelves for a few years and finally decided to read it. I was sort of excited. I adore Bennett’s City of Stairs, which I’d recommend if you’re in the mood for a good diplomatic spy thriller. But–nope. This book was not for me. The huge Brandon Sanderson blurb on the jacket should have been hint enough. Intricate magic system? Check. Decent action? Check. Bloodless romance… check… twisty-yet-predictable plot… you guessed it. Check.
On to the next trend: self-published anime clones. Let me begin by saying that I am not trying to crap on self-published authors, who have written some excellent books and who we have a number of among our readership. No, this is about a narrow slice of contemporary fantasy, largely written by people who got their start with fanfiction. And it’s an interesting phenomenon.
Ukraine's ambassador to Japan is really something else pic.twitter.com/7h6aAOUUlv
— Oryx (@oryxspioenkop) August 31, 2022
MMRLG = Massive Multiplayer Real-World Game
Russians now urgently looking for that February save game file they had there somewhere
— Wedge Fellales (@Vuukowski) September 10, 2022
The Biden-Harris Administration wishes you and your loved ones a happy and prosperous Mid-Autumn Festival. pic.twitter.com/YB5DB5tDEP
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 9, 2022
(Mid-Autumn / Moon Festival — as I understand it, roughly analogous today to Thanksgiving in America)
The James Webb Space Telescope recently captured this image of Wolf-Rayet 140 ?
The six spikes of light are instrument artifacts caused by diffraction.
The concentric rings around the star, however, are really there in space. Cosmic dust, spanning 1.4 trillion kilometers. pic.twitter.com/k30bx0g6Tt
— StarTalk (@StarTalkRadio) September 7, 2022
…no, the headline isn’t about me, even if I’ve been a bit of a couch potato lately. Get a load of this guy:
No real updates here at chez Major. Just been playing a lot of Elden Ring. I hadn’t played a From Software game before, mostly because I didn’t like the aesthetic, and I still don’t, but boy is the actual gameplay a real blast. It’s making me wish Breath of the Wild 2 would come out already.
Oh, and I’m doing the latest “expedition” in No Man’s sky. Super fun! I wish there were a few more player bases, though. There were a bunch on the first planet—I found one giving away free copper with big refiners you could use—but people aren’t settling down much elsewhere so far.
What’s been on all your TVs lately?