Saturday, March 2, 2013

Revisiting: Akalabeth: World of Doom (1979)

Why are these early games so eager to call the player a fool?

As I write my entries for this blog, it's always a pleasure when the original game developers stop by to comment on the games I'm covering. We've heard from Corey Cole on Hero's Quest (and lots of other games!); Robert Clardy on Dungeon Campaign; Steve Moraff on Moraff's Revenge; Gordon Walton on Dungeon of Death; Don Worth on Beneath Apple Manor; Laurence Brothers on Omega; and...probably several others that I'm forgetting (in which case I apologize). But I've never even attempted to get in touch with the man most responsible for my addiction to CRPGs, the Father of the Avatar, the King of Alternate Realities, Lord Cantabrigian British himself, Richard Garriott.

If you asked me the reason, I suppose I'd say that I wouldn't know what to ask him that wasn't already covered in Dungeons and Dreamers (2003) by Brad King and John Borland. The book is maddeningly selective, jumping from Ultima to Doom to Quake to MMORPGs with barely an acknowledgement of anything else happening in the industry. But if you ignore the rest of it, it works great as a biography of Garriott (who just got married and is calling himself Richard Garriott de Cayeux these days). The authors clearly had full access to, and cooperation from, Garriott. We even learn when he lost his virginity, for god's sake.

The book describes how 17-year-old Garriott, a tabletop RPG lover, became entranced with a 3D maze game called Escape on his Apple II. He'd already been programming a bunch of D&D-based games on his school's computers--in fact, he managed to get school credit for it--and he saw immediately how he could merge D&D-style gameplay with first-person exploration. As he worked on the programming for the maze, his mother helped him by drawing the graphics for the monster inhabitants. After a year of furious programming and play-testing the game on his friends, family, and girlfriend, he had Akalabeth.

Over the summer between high school and college, Garriott got a job at ComputerLand in Houston, Texas. He showed the game to his boss, who loved it and convinced him to publish it. With no real expectations, Garriott made 16 copies on disk, photocopied the manual, and offered them for sale in Ziploc bags. (I use this story as the basis of my 1979 date above, even though it wasn't commercially published until 1980.) Fifteen of them sold right away, and his boss (who the book tragically does not name) sent the sixteenth to California Pacific Computing, who immediately flew Garriott out to California and signed him to a contract. Over the next few years, the game sold 30,000 copies and made Garriott $150,000, or over $400,000 in today's money.

The original game in its Ziploc package.

Up until that last two sentences, it's amazing how similar Garriott's story is to that of Joseph Power, who wrote Wizard's Castle around the same time. (See my recent discussion of that game.) Power also got started offering his game in a computer store and was also courted by a California publisher. But subtle differences, including the choice of platform and the lack of graphics, meant that Power's contract fell through while Garriott went on to form an empire.

Akalabeth, sometimes later known as Ultima 0, was the first game I played in my epic project to play every CRPG ever made. That was back in the fall of 2009, before an anoymous Redditor encouraged me to turn my experience into a blog. By the time I started writing, I had left Akalabeth behind and had just won Rogue. Because of this, I covered Akalabeth hurriedly, not even bothering to offer screen shots of the game in my woefully inadequate entry. The title of that first posting is "Akalabeth and Skipped Games"; in addition to Akalabeth, it describes the PLATO games and a few Apple II-only games that I skipped at the time. I've later returned to visit those, and so it only seems fitting that I offer a proper entry on Akalabeth as well.

Garriott's original manual for the game is available at the Museum of Computer Adventure Gaming History (thanks to commenter Natreg for providing the link!) and it identifies the creator as "Shamino Salle Dacil, alias Richard Garriott." The game thus predates Garriott's adoption of the moniker "Lord British," although this wasn't long in coming, and subsequent editions of the game and manual use that name. My understanding is that "Shamino" was Garriott's SCA nickname, and of course he shows up as an NPC starting in the first Ultima.

I was surprised to see that the back story references Mondain, the villain from Ultima; I didn't realize that Akalabeth had such a thematic connection to the Ultima series. Mondain isn't the villain in Akalabeth; instead, he's recently been driven off by Lord British, and the hero of the game is left to contend with the monsters Mondain left behind. You could almost argue that Ultima, then, is a prequel to Akalabeth!


The game begins by asking you to enter a "lucky number" (used as a variable for the random overland map and the starting attributes) and a difficulty level from 1 to 10. I'm not sure exactly what the difficulty level adjusts; but in this expedition, I played on Level 7.

You play Akalabeth as either a fighter or a mage. Fighters have a greater selection of weapons, but mages can control the "magic amulet" that's a major key to character development and ultimately breaking the game. You don't name the character (yet) or set any other attributes like race or sex, but before you head out to adventure, you buy your initial selection of equipment. As I recall from playing over three years ago, at the outset you want to invest almost everything into food.


Movement in the Apple II version is absurdly cumbersome, and I can only imagine it made sense on the Apple II keyboard in some way I don't see. ENTER moves north, / moves south, and the the two arrow keys move east and west. Other commands are (S)tatistics, (A)ttack, (P)ause, (X)enter castle or dungeon and the space bar to pass. There's no save! I'm pretty sure there was in the DOS port I played back in 2009.

The outdoor area. I'm on top of an adventuring shop. There's an impassable mountain to  my east and a dungeon to my north.

In the limited outdoor area (about 400 total squares), you find several adventurer's shops, several dungeons, and Lord British's castle. Finding anything without running out of food is an early game challenge, and a good argument for using the same "lucky number" over and over until you learn the terrain.

Once you find Lord British's castle and give the sovereign your name, the game begins in earnest. Lord British bumps up all your attributes by 1 and gives you a quest to kill a random monster in one of the dungeons.

Dammit. I hate gremlins.

Dungeons are essentially interchangeable. Some appear at first glance as if they have no monsters, or no way down, but that's just a clue that there are secret doors. So you just have to find one convenient to a town and the castle and use that for the entire game. In each dungeon, monsters are entirely predictable: a rat and a skeleton on Level 1; a rat, a skeleton, and a thief on Level 2;  a rat, a skeleton, a thief, and an orc on Level 3; and so on down to who knows what level (I've gone as far as 11). Other enemies that appear are gremlins, vipers, mimics, daemons, balrogs, and carrion crawlers. Combating them is matter of pressing "A" and selecting your chosen weapon, and then perhaps an additional command for the type of attack. Monsters have some limited AI and will flee if their hit points get too low, forcing you to chase them around the level. As you do, their hit points regenerate, which must be a first.

"Throwing" my axe causes me to lose it.

Chests are located at fixed locations and always have the same things; they also respawn when you leave and return. As you explore, kill monsters, and open chests, you slowly acquire gold, backup weapons, and sometimes food. There are ladders, holes, and pit traps connecting the multiple levels of the dungeons. Some monsters have special attacks, such as thieves who steal items (sometimes leaving you weaponless) and gremlins who steal food.

The game also shares Ultima's odd approach to hit point accumulation, by which you receive hit points upon exiting the dungeon, based on the number and levels of enemies you've killed. I originally thought this was exceedingly silly, but I realized that it's essentially the game's way of eliminating the experience-point middleman. For whatever reason, programming limitations prevented Garriott from including experience points and levels, which inevitably lead to more hit points, so he just went directly to killing monsters=increases in hit points.

I had been in a long time.

Thus, advancing in the game is a slow but somewhat satisfying process of entering dungeons, killing monsters, building gold, retreating, getting more hit points, buying food, and re-entering the dungeons. Since there's such a paltry selection of weapons in the game, getting extra hit points--along with the occasional stat boost from Lord British--is the only way you really develop.

This is all true, at least, until you get lucky with a magic amulet. They cost 15 gold pieces and have limited charges, so you can't use them willy-nilly. They have several helpful spells: "Ladder Up," "Ladder Down," "Kill," and one labeled "BAD??" Nine times out of 10, "BAD??" does something bad, like damaging your hit points or turning you into a toad with 3 points in each attribute. But the 10th time, it "turns you into a lizard man," with attributes three times the value of when you started. This change is permanent, and cumulative, so if you can successfully use the amulet this way several times, you can get strength, dexterity, stamina, and wisdom statistics in the several hundreds.

My character after a few successful applications.

Now, using the amulet this way does carry a risk, and you still have to worry about food (and gremlins stealing it; they can steal almost all of it in just a few rounds), and you still have to grind for gold to pay for food (and more amulets), but the lizard man trick does make the game a lot easier if you can get it right two or three times.

Dungeon exploration is primitive but fun. I like how enemies can attack you from any direction, so when you approach a four-way intersection, you tense up wondering which way they'll come from. If you don't map or otherwise keep track of pit traps, you can easily find yourself in a cycle of repeatedly falling lower and lower and unable to climb back to the surface. Levels are only 9 x  9, but even smaller than that because corridors don't share walls. As you play the game, it's worth doing your explorations in a single dungeon and mapping it, since you'll be returning to it a lot.

A typical Akalabeth dungeon level.

As you return to Lord British, having completed his quests, you get increased attributes (paltry in comparison to enhanced lizard man attributes) and new quests to slay monsters.

I'll be sure to give a(n) mimic a real killing.

The monsters I got on this play-through were gremlin, mimic, daemon, and balrog, and I don't know if this is randomized for other games. (I suspect it must be; otherwise, the "a(n)" article doesn't make any sense--but then again, I don't think any monsters in this game begin with vowels, so it doesn't make sense either way.) Once you slay enough of the creatures, Lord British makes you a knight. You can continue playing, but you have effectively "won' at that point.


Here are a few take-aways from the experience:

1. Akalabeth is sometimes called the first commercial CRPG. While this isn't technically true--we've seen other examples here on the blog--it is one of the first commercial games that is unquestionably a CRPG, with the types of statistics, weapons, combat, hit points, gold, and other trappings that we've come to expect. The other commercial games we've seen from the 1970s almost all have little quirks that better characterize them as proto-CRPGs. Only Dunjonquest: Temple of Apshai clearly precedes Akalabeth in the commercial CRPG market.

2. This is also the first CRPG that offers a quest for something greater than just "collect treasure." It is the first game in which your goal is to become a hero, and solve a problem, and not just get rich.

3. Akalabeth is the clear beginning of a line. Aside from the maze game that inspired Garriott to create the 3D maze, there is no obvious forerunner to Akalabeth. It is one of the earliest commercial franchises that doesn't owe its lineage to the mainframe PLATO games.

4. Many of the trappings established in Akalabeth have carried forward into the Ultima series, including Lord British, the reference to Mondain, and all of the creatures encountered in the dungeons with the exception of the carrion crawler. All the way through Ultima V, the approach to the dungeons remains the same: small, no shared walls, multiple ladders and pits up and down, secret doors, pit traps, and random chests.

The game is difficult but fair, and even without the lizard man trick, you could win the game in 8 or 10 hours of playing, as long as you're careful, map the levels, and don't overextend yourself in the dungeon.

When I originally rated Akalabeth, the GIMLET only added up to 9. It was early in my rating days, and probably a bit harsh. Without looking at my previous rating, today I'd give it:

  • 2 for the game world. There's slightly more story than most of the other games of the era, but not much. Garriott had not yet developed the flair for detailed back stories that he'd display in Ultima.
  • 2 for character creation and development. It's not horrible. You get a decent set of attributes at the outset, and each visit to British upon completion of a quest kicks them up.
  • 0 for NPCs. There really aren't any. Lord British handing out quests isn't enough.
  • 2 for encounters and foes. They're pretty basic, but touches like having enemies flee and having rogues and gremlins steal put Akalabeth a little ahead of its time.
  • 2 for magic and combat. There aren't many combat tactics, but vacillating between missile weapons and melee weapons and being able to flee with strategic uses of "Ladder Up" and "Ladder Down" adds a few logistics to the game.
  • 1 for equipment. You have a few items, but not enough to get excited about.
  • 2 for economy. Gold is precious, but you really only spend it on food and magic amulets after the initial outlay. Towards the end of the game, you collect an abundance of it.
  • 1 for quests; a series of very basic main quests doesn't warrant much more.
  • 1 for graphics, sound, and interface. We're well before the era when any of these things were good.
  • 2 for gameplay. The game is challenging but not maddeningly so (and you can adjust the difficulty). It's fairly nonlinear, but without enough stuff to make nonlinearity really matter.

That adds up to 15, which is a little better than I originally gave it. Remember that when I assigned the original rating of 9, it was two months after I first blogged about the game and six months after I played it. I was clearly forgetting some of its elements.

With this posting, I feel like I've at last done right by the game. Let's head back to the modern era with Starflight II.


53 comments:

  1. Great to read about another ancient game I haven't played. My first of his games was Ultima 3, on the nes I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. U3 was the first that was any good. I don't think you missed much of anything with the older ones.

      Delete
    2. While the graphics are more colorful, the NES version is a worse experience compared to the DOS one.

      Delete
    3. The remade Ultima 1 from the mid 80s is excellent and I still play it to completion every couple of years. PC or C64 version of course because sadly the Apple IIGS version seems to be lost to the ether forever. I should LP it some day.

      Delete
    4. I'm pretty sure that's the one I played in 2010. I confess I didn't find it "excellent." It was slightly fun, but I thought the whole space sequence was tedious and pointless.

      Delete
  2. The Apple ][ keyboard layout had the return key above the left/right arrows and the / below them so it made a common method of 4 direction movement in software. The //e onward had 4 arrow keys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! Thanks for the clarification. I Googled images of the keyboard, and they all had a different configuration, but they must have been the later models.

      Delete
    2. It does look like different models of the //e had different keyboard layouts. (Perhaps this varied from country to country.) I played the early Ultima games on a //e using the return/slash/left arrow/right arrow model and it was very intuitive. As I recall you put your index finger on the return key and your pointer finger on the slash. Your thumb could then alternate easily between the left and right arrow keys.

      This actually worked better than using the up and down arrow keys because on the //e the arrow keys were all in a horizontal row: left right down up.

      Delete
    3. Yes, you want to look at a pre-//e keyboard, like this one: http://apple1org.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/img_3158.jpg to see why it was a good choice at the time.

      Delete
    4. Another interesting thing about the picture Geoff linked above is that it clearly shows Apple's intentional design choice to make their early computers resemble typewriters. This was done in order to make the new device seem less foreign to those who had never used (or even seen) a computer before.

      Delete
  3. I wonder how many levels are there? I descended to level 100 before I was killed - tough bastards down there ;) https://dl.dropbox.com/u/65351754/screeny/Akalabeth/akala3.png

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You went down to Level 99 with 159 hit points and 57 food? I raise my glass.

      I guess the levels could theoretically be unlimited, but they're not randomly generated, so you'd think that wouldn't be possible. Perhaps it starts re-using the same layouts after a while? Actually, I'll be that's it.

      Delete
    2. Well, if the picture of the instructions you posted here can be trusted, then the game has infinite dungeon levels.

      Delete
    3. The levels (and overworld) are procedurally generated, using your "lucky number" as a random seed, and the dungeons go on forever. Years ago, I got somewhere past dungeon level 200 by stocking up on magic amulets, casting ladder down as far as I could, and seeing what happened.

      Delete
  4. PetrusOctavianusMarch 2, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    So, where did Garrior get the name Akalabeth from, I wonder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akallab%C3%AAth

      Delete
    2. I'm pretty sure Petrus knows that and was trying to tweak me based on my well-known annoyance for everything being based on Tolkien in these early years. It's like game developers didn't have an original idea in their heads.

      Delete
    3. You mean they do now? Well if you compare big studio games to big studio movies you could say games have much more original ideas ;-p

      Delete
  5. "You could almost argue that Ultima, then, is a prequel to Akalabeth"

    As a long-time Ultima Online fan, and still a player, this just blew my mind

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's more likely intended that Lord British drove off Mondain before Akalabeth, and then Mondain returned for Ultima I, but it does offer an intriguing possibility.

      Delete
  6. "Now thou musk kill a(n) Mimic"


    I come to think every MMORPG, almost 40 years later, still use the same quest system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right! Not to mention the radiant quest system of the Bethesda games.

      Delete
  7. Unrelated note: Hillsfar disappeared from your "Recent and Upcoming" list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how I keep screwing that up. Thanks.

      Delete
  8. This seems like something that would interest the people here.

    I just noticed on RPG Codex ( http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/threads/80987/unread ) that Richard Garriot is planning to reveal something new on Friday. Speculation is that it is his Ultimate RPG being kickstarted. See also:

    http://www.lordbritishpresents.com/
    http://schedule.sxsw.com/2013/events/event_OE02052

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PetrusOctavianusMarch 3, 2013 at 7:09 AM

      When was the last time Garriot did anything noteworthy in the field of CRPGs? 1992 with Ultima 7? Or maybe Ulltima Online some years later?

      Game designers are like music artists. They reach a peak fairly early in their career (like their 3rd to 5th game/album) and after that they are never again able to reach their former lofty heights of creativity.

      Delete
    2. It depends on what you mean by "noteworthy". Of course, he hasn't done anything on the level of Ultima Online, the first truly major MMORPG, but he has been in charge of development for a number of MMORPGs in the last 15 years.

      I know he led the development team for Lineage and Lineage II, which were extremely successful in Asia; something like over a million monthly Lineage II users in South Korea alone, at its height. Sure, they weren't nearly as successful in Europe or North America, but that's still a significant achievement I'd say.

      He did have a major flop to his name in his most recent creation: Tabula Rasa, an MMORPG that was closed down less than a year and a half after it was released.

      All in all, I wouldn't write him off completely as an RPG developer, but I'm not gonna hold by breath either in anticipation of whatever he has to announce.

      Delete
    3. I would give a lot for this announcement to be about a single-player RPG.

      Delete
    4. He didn't lead development on Lineage or Lineage II. His company became part of NCsoft and helped release them in the U.S. Tabula Rasa was his project, but the majority of funding came from NCsoft (Korea) and thus he didn't have full control over what he could release.

      When it finally came out, it was on the heels of Auto Duel, which was a major flop and didn't help sell the NCsoft brand on the next release. MMORPGs were also all vying for market space when WoW was herding them toward a different experience.

      Delete
    5. *sigh* Tabula Rasa is still my favorite MMORPG to this day. It had everything. Action, story, ambience... But it got all this in its last months of life :(.

      Delete
  9. Shamino... a name inspired by a bicycle (and fishing) equipment company from Japan: Shimano. At least it's better than stuff like Trebor or Werdna. :)

    It's amazing what sources of inspiration one might use to come up with characters and character names.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just named my entire Starflight II party by translating their titles into Lithuanian.

      Delete
    2. I used to name one character is the gold box games Dyson, usually a dwarf fighter, after the floppy disks I had laying around. Later when learned about the Dyson sphere concept so I was even more enamored with the name.

      Now we will probably get spam bots selling those overpriced vacuums.

      Delete
  10. I like this re-visit. Very fair, and puts the game more in-line with its peers. I am wondering how Rogue does not qualify as a Game of the Year for 1980? Also, I am really hoping you will try Return of Heracles (for APL2, or another version) on a future "backtracking".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't remember why I decided to start with 1981 for the GOTY. Probably because at that time, Rogue was the only 1980 game I'd played, so I didn't want to just grant it by default.

      Delete
  11. A few things that may be of interest.

    First, the original game had Shamino's name instead of Lord British.

    If you go to the Museum of Computer Adventure Games (http://www.mocagh.org/index.php) and search for the original Akalabeth manual, you'll notice this manual is the printed version of the in-game instructions, with the difference being the name of Shamino instead of Lord British.


    About the random monsters, they are not random. They go up in difficulty. If your first enemy to kill is a Daemon, the next (and final) enemy would be the Balrog.

    Your first quest is determined by your Wisdom skill. The less wisdom you have, the easiest enemy you'll get. I think a wisdom between 5 and 7 is needed to get the easiest enemy which is the Skeleton.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you link directly to the manual you found? I searched for "Akalabeth" but all of the images I found say "Lord British" or "Richard Garriott."

      I should have said the monsters were "random." I realized they escalated in difficulty, but I thought there might be some randomness to the specific monsters in each "tier." Your comment about wisdom suggests that it's not random, but it is at least variable.

      Delete
    2. If the Wisdom comments are true, I guess it featured an early form of level scaling.

      Delete
    3. Here you go:

      http://www.mocagh.org/origin/akalabethcomputerland-manual.pdf

      I really recommend you check this site a bit more. It has a lot of old manuals and cluebooks. For instance it has the manuals and cluebooks of might and magic with the original pictures (collections of those games had the text in the PDFs but didn't have the pictures for some reason...).

      Delete
    4. Thanks! I swear that wasn't among the results when I searched for "Akalabeth" the first time. I'll update the posting above.

      Delete
  12. So, I'm not going to link to the kickstarter, per Chet's rules, but what do you lot think of Matt Barton's new Kickstarter? Here is the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vhynwnsm28

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it! I will donate... a certain amount of money! Possibly in US currency!

      Delete
    2. What, specifically, is he making fun of? Have there been any famous examples of developers raising a bunch of funds for nebulous projects that never materialized?

      Delete
    3. If you watch any other Kickstarter project promos, you'll see that Matt's video is a parody of those. I assume that part of the reason he made it completely vague is so that people won't be fooled into thinking he's really making a game. I'll note that Project Eternity seemed a bit vague to me at the time. They still don't have a name for the game. (I only recently realized that the game title will not be Project Eternity.)

      Delete
    4. Ah, there was a recent Kickstarter that was pulled by two early, classic game developers. I forget the name of it, but it was the one that had nothing in it beyond 'An Oldschool RPG" and traded on the names of the two people making it, and managed to use Old School about 400 times in the video.

      I'll be honest; I normally read the text instead of the video, so by the time I backed Project Eternity it had a number of updates on the world and such.

      Delete
  13. I assumed it's a stab at kickstarter in general;-
    Kickstarter projects need publicity, so famous faces perform song and dance routines. It's like we've turned the games industry into some kind of Vaporware X-feckin'-factor.

    (feck is an acceptable profantity right?)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was thinking, you could edit this over your old post, or place it at the top, so that people read this before your old, less detailed one. That might help your reader retention rate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Already ahead of you. I made edits to several of my earliest postings, including the Akalabeth one, based on material I've covered recently.

      Delete
    2. You should let us know when you do that, so we can go back and reread them!

      Delete
  15. That boss of Garriot's, tragically unnamed in the book, was called John Mayor. Thanks to well-informed, tasteful and all-around great commentator Giuseppe to acquaint us all with Digital Antiquary's awesome blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That blog is high-quality, so I trust that he knows what he's talking about, but a Google search of "John Mayor" + "Akalabeth" only turns up the DA blog. I wish he'd sourced it.

      Delete
  16. and all of the creatures encountered in the dungeons with the exception of the carrion crawler

    Carrion crawlers actually do reappear in the dungeons of Ultima I and II, albeit with the name slightly modified to "carrion creepers". The name change was no doubt to distance them slightly from the D&D monster that, er, inspired them. Ultima I in particular had all sorts of monsters taken from D&D with slightly modified names... the mind whippers (mind flayers), zorns (xorns), invisible seeker (invisible stalker), tangler (roper -- the name may not be that similar, but the original graphic is definitely a D&D roper), and wandering eye (beholder). (In the case of the mimic, they didn't even bother with a name change.) Most (though not all) of these monsters were phased out in later Ultimas, but the tangler is sort of an interesting case... while the original graphic for the reaper in Ultima IV also clearly depicts a D&D roper and therefore the reaper can be considered a renamed tangler, with the new name actually closer to the D&D inspiration (just as the U4 gazer could be considered a renamed wandering eye), in Ultima VI and thereafter reapers were retconned into tree creatures quite different from the ropers that had originally inspired them.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.