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The Roman Financial Crisis

I’m presently reading The Annals of Tacitus, and the following passage — from Book VI (A.D. 32-37) — caught my eye.

16. Meanwhile a powerful host of accusers fell with sudden fury on the class which systematically increased its wealth by usury in defiance of a law passed by Cæsar the Dictator defining the terms of lending money and of holding estates in Italy, a law long obsolete because the public good is sacrificed to private interest. The curse of usury was indeed of old standing in Rome and a most frequent cause of sedition and discord, and it was therefore repressed even in the early days of a less corrupt morality. First, the Twelve Tables prohibited any one from exacting more than 10 per cent., when, previously, the rate had depended on the caprice of the wealthy. Subsequently, by a bill brought in by the tribunes, interest was reduced to half that amount, and finally compound interest was wholly forbidden. A check too was put by several enactments of the people on evasions which, though continually put down, still, through strange artifices, reappeared. On this occasion, however, Gracchus, the prætor, to whose jurisdiction the inquiry had fallen, felt himself compelled by the number of persons endangered to refer the matter to the Senate. In their dismay the senators, not one of whom was free from similar guilt, threw themselves on the emperor’s indulgence. He yielded, and a year and six months were granted, within which every one was to settle his private accounts comformably to the requirements of the law.

Hence followed a scarcity of money, a great shock being given to all credit, the current coin too, in consequence of the conviction of so many persons and the sale of their property, being locked up in the imperial treasury or the public exchequer. To meet this, the Senate had directed that every creditor should have two-thirds of his capital secured on estates in Italy. Creditors however were suing for payment in full, and it was not respectable for persons when sued to break faith. So, at first, there were clamorous meetings and importunate entreaties; then noisy applications to the prætor’s court. And the very device intended as a remedy, the sale and purchase of estates, proved the contrary, as the usurers had hoarded up all their money for buying land. The facilities for selling were followed by a fall of prices, and the deeper a man was in debt, the more reluctantly did he part with his property, and many were utterly ruined. The destruction of private wealth precipitated the fall of rank and reputation, till at last the emperor interposed his aid by distributing throughout the banks a hundred million sesterces, and allowing freedom to borrow without interest for three years, provided the borrower gave security to the State in land to double the amount. Credit was thus restored, and gradually private lenders were found.

IGDA DemoNight: The Movie

As promised, it’s the long-awaited, Emmy-nominated, gluten-free video recap of IGDA Montreal’s recent DemoNight, where a passel of programmers (and artists, and soundfolk, &c) were given seven minutes apiece to showcase their works-in-progress. I’m on with Red Rover at 00:31:00 and very, very dark — apparently it’s hard to show off The Cosmos on a projector? Meanwhile, my comrades-in-arms Saleem and Bronson drop their Skipping Stones poetry-slam jams at 01:13:41. Check out those and the rest of the sweet and nutritious lineup below.

And once again, a big thanks to IGDA Montréal for putting together a great show!

IGDA DemoNight

About a week and a half ago, I had the opportunity to talk a little bit about Red Rover at IGDA Montreal‘s yearly DemoNight, which is a night where people show demos. So that was pretty rad.

Honestly though: it was great to speak alongside some really interesting projects (check them out on the IGDA’s website, above), and to start actually showcasing in public. What I had on display was very rough — we’d only hired our 3D artist about two weeks beforehand (unwise) — and so it was a lot of talk, but I think people got the gist of it. I got some genuinely positive feedback, which would really work great as an IV drip.

The video’s not up just yet, but I’ll post again when it’s online (and be sure to check it out if only for Saleem’s surprise poetry-slam demo of Skipping Stones). In the meantime, it’s that time of the week. Have yourself a teaserful, pre-early-alpha Screenshot Saturday.

Screenshot Saturday Feb. 2

Greedy Aardvark

Being an Orthodox Canadian, I was raised on The Raccoons, and there’s this one shot during the show’s intro where villain-with-a-heart-of-maybe-like-tungsten Cyril Sneer is shown playing what looks like capitalism. Check out 0:43 of the video:

Bert that is not dignified.

I’d always wondered just what in the log driver‘s name that thing was, and this past weekend’s Ludum Dare 48-hour game jam finally gave me a chance to explore that question.

The result is a new thing: Greedy Aardvark.

It controls rather strangely, but I was working off the 1.5 seconds of footage in the show’s intro. I managed to have some fun with the level design, particularly in the latter third of the…well…ten levels. As I wrote elsewhere — this is not the game Cyril played, but perhaps the first voice in its choir.

Read the README and sing it with me.

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Errata

The Unity folks were kind enough to provide a 4-month trial of Unity Pro to those who participated in LD48. Unity Pro is pretty rad.

How many times did I type “groovy aardvark” instead of “greedy aardvark”? Many, many times.

Didn’t have time to model Sneer, the evergreen trees, the money bags, and the random blue thing. Next time, Gadget. Next time.

The “runs” of blue lines caught me completely by surprise, so I played with ‘em a bit more in the final levels. The importance of playtesting.

Moonlight, Jonas Kyratzes

Jonas Kyratzes has this thing where he writes pretty good: he and his games first won me over with The Fabulous Screech, and he pretty much picked up a lifelong fan with The Sea Will Claim Everything. The games are confidently-written, incredibly original, and possessed of this crazy, carefree, despairing, empowering life-force that mixes whimsy, nostalgia, surrealism, wonder, and really, they are very, very good.

His latest — Moonlight — brings the sweetness yet again. It’s been receiving some rather nice words elsewhere, so I’ll try not to be too redundant: it’s a dreamy game to be sure (it is literally a dream), but the feeling that struck me most was that of a new, enchanted, interactive improv theatre. It’s not some wild experience over which you have no control; instead, you point the way, and the game winks and says “Why yes, why wouldn’t we?” and away you go. It’s intentional, it’s effortless, it’s joyous. That this sort of improvisation can be felt in a browser-based, text-only game is remarkable.

Play Moonlight. Go on.