The Garret Tree
Saturday, February 23, 2008
  My microcareer in videogames
When you've got a book coming out you Google yourself a little more frequently just to see what's happening out there.

That's how I found out today that my very brief career in videogames actually resulted in a game called Maabus. Somehow the reference showed up in the second page of my Google search.

Back in the winter of 1993, I was freelancing, mainly as an underpaid casual writer at CTV News and so I was always on the lookout for other work. And that's how I came to be working for a CD duplicating company in Toronto called MicroForum that wanted to move from manufacturing into actual production.

I was hired to write a scenario for a game, where earth was threatened some mysterious force.

Here is the blurb and it is pretty close (as far as I remember) to what I wrote:

The year is 1999.
A mysterious new form of radiation is threatening life as we know it on Earth.

... On a small tropical island, 1500 miles southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific, something sinister is going on...

Rumors abound: monstrous mutants, alien fiends, and inexplicable phenomena. Is this the malicious plot of a hostile country? Or does the threat originate from some extra-terrestrial power?

Many research teams have gone in... not a living soul has ever come out!

Now as the last hope, the military has turned to you to crack the mystery and save the world from impending devastation. Your mission is to explore the island with the aid of a highly advanced computerized robot and an arsenal of state-of-the-art weapons. You must investigate uncharted tropical terrain, examine and analyze clues to seek out and destroy the source of this Evil. It will take all of your courage, skills and wits. And remember...


So I handed in the scenario, got paid and that was the last I heard about it, until today,more than 15 years later.

Now, thanks to Google, I find myself on a game review site called Moby Games, as a game developer!
(There's nothing there right, but I certainly intend to update it)

I never even got a copy of the game. (So I just bought a used copy on EBay.)

When PC Gamer reviewed the final product, it said:" On the box Maabus comes in, Microforum calls it both "the ultimate videogame" and "the ultimate adventure" - and that's a good clue to what's wrong with it. Maabus tries to be two things at once, and it succeeds at neither." The sort of thing you'd expect for a first effort (for both me and the company)

But it appears that the music is quite catchy and that's why the "Maabus Trailer" been posted on YouTube.

From the comments it appears that the song is much more popular than the game itself!

The credits say the music for the game was created by Maurizio Guarini and Steve Convery, but the trailer, according to the YouTube the credit for theTrailer for "Maabus" by Monolith Productions, taken from Softkey's "Game Empire" disc.
(It appears that it was an early effort by the Monolith Productions, now part of the Warner empire.)
So it's unclear where the song came from. I'll update when I get the CDs!

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Monday, May 21, 2007
  Shooting on the Leslie Street Spit
I took my annual spring fun photo shoot out along the Leslie St. Spit (also known as Tommy Thompson Park ) in Toronto Sunday.

The spit is 5 kilometres long from entrance to lighthouse. So the trek out can be between 10 kilometres (if you take the main road) and 11 to 12 kilometres (if you use side trails and alternate routes)

All photos are copyright © Robin Rowland 2007 All rights reserved.

Here is my favourite shot (so far) from the shoot.

(Click for larger image)

This year we were lucky, lots of wildlife, as well as the usual seagulls and Canada Geese, there were garter snakes, rabbits and lots of songbirds.

Red-winged blackbird


Marc Ferreira's shots from the Spit Shoot

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Thursday, May 10, 2007
  The Alan Johnston rally at Simcoe Park
Photographs by Robin Rowland © 2007

Rally for Alan Johnston in Toronto

Hundreds of journalists and other supporters rallied at Toronto's Simcoe Park on Thursday May 10, 2007, to support kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who by that time had been held in Gaza for 60 days.

Peter Mansbridge speaks at the Alan Johnston rally
CBC Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge expresses his support for Alan Johnston and his family at the rally.

Anna Maria Tremonti speaks at the Alan Johnston rally

Host of CBC's The Current, Anna Maria Tremonti, a former Middle East correspondent, spoke about Alan Johnston's reporting from Gaza. Former BBC correspondent Daniel Lak who helped organize the rally is on the left.

CBC News story on the rally at Simcoe Park

CBC Editor-in-chief Tony Burman's letter calling for freedom for Alan Johnston

Sign the BBC Online petition

BBC "How You Can Help"

Toronto Star Canadian media protest kidnapping

Canadian Press story on Canoe

Daniel Lak's blog, Lakwords

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007
  Toronto rally May 10 for BBC's Alan Johnston
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) have called on their members and all journalists to mark May 10, 2007, by attending a rally in Toronto in support of British journalist Alan Johnston. BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped by gunmen near his office in Gaza City on March 12, 2007. Thursday, May 10 marks his 60th day in captivity.

In Toronto at

Simcoe Park
200 Front Street West
(beside the CBC building)

Thursday, May 10, 2007
12:00 p.m. - 12:40p.m.

Speakers include:

Peter Mansbridge, CBC Television
Brian Stewart, CBC Television
Anna Maria Tremonti, CBC Radio
Rick MacInnes Rae, CBC Radio
Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail
Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star

Alan Johnston banner

Click in the image link above or go to the BBC Editor's page on Alan Johnston.

Johnston, 44, is a veteran foreign correspondent. Before moving to Gaza in 2004, he ran BBC bureaus in Kabul and Tashkent. He is widely respected and liked by his peers. His reporting on events in Gaza has been widely acclaimed as balanced, insightful and courageous.

The BBC and media workers rights organizations around the world have been calling for Johnston's immediate and safe release from the day of his abduction. These appeals have taken on a new urgency as time goes on. His parents in Scotland, both in their 70s, have appeared on international television and radio to appeal to his kidnappers for their son's freedom.

Johnston is believed to be alive and in good health but there is no sign of his captors releasing him anytime soon. Why he's being held remains a matter for speculation.

A single media worker harmed or kidnapped is one too many. The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) reports dozens of instances of journalists taken hostage each year, many of them in Iraq and the Gaza strip. Fourteen journalists have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip since 2005. Reporters, camera crew and producers need to know they can work safely in troubled areas like Gaza. If journalists are unable to report freely, the world will have lost vital access to information.

CBC News Editor in Chief, Tony Burman's Letter: Why BBC's kidnapped Alan Johnston needs to be freed.

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I write in a renovated garret in my house in a part of Toronto, Canada, called "The Pocket." The blog is named for a tree can be seen outside the window of my garret.

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Name: Robin Rowland
Location: Toronto, Canada

I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)

New blogs as of Sept. 2009
Robin's Weir
Tao of News

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