Archive for the ‘Rants –’ Category

Ahh, that was much better.

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

So I gave up on the 40k campaign. As much as I wanted to like it, the main problem is that the game is terribly balanced. I was kind of looking forwards to Fantasy Fight Club (or whatever it’s called) which is a kind of minimalist hero fight multi-match. It looks like it won’t be happening Saturday though as the organizer is going to be missing the first one.

However without having to worry about the 40k campaign, I was able to get a few board games in (a little King of Tokyo, some Great Heartland Trucking Company (review coming soon), and a game of Puzzle Strike (review coming soon)). I even got a minuscule bit of painting done. Good enough.

You leave no alternative but Peace

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

So I got to, nay had to, shout this today, in my most enraged voice, during the 40k Campaign meeting. You may already know this, but the “motto” of Warhammer 40k is In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future there is only WAR. We are playing a 40k campaign at the store, and I’m playing Tau. Every race has a special rule, and my rule is each turn I can “diplomacize” one opponent, who then can not attack me or otherwise wreck my shit. Of course, I’m not allowed to do this to the same person twice in a row. I really only have one opponent to worry about, “The Northern Alliance”, a vile collaboration between Necrons and Grey Knights. Space is tight, and planets grow scarce. We were discussing the possibility of them breaking their alliance, or other changes to the political situation, and complaining about not being able to attack me. I offered several possible, mutually beneficial outcomes, to Ryan, but none were deemed acceptable, so I roared, “Then you leave no alternative but Peace!” It’s was pretty epic.

 

I Podcast Magic Missile

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

 

ipcmm

So, we’ve only just started, but my Friday Gaming group has just gone live w/ our Podcast and Actual Play website: PodCastMagicMissile.com

There is a small amount of stuff up already, but here’s the deal: We’ve got two main kinds of content for now, both of which are in podcast format. Some of the shorter ones are just general gaming discussion, and we cover a broad range of topics, mostly related to gaming in one format or another. The second, longer type of post is Actual Plays from games. We’ve done two seasons of Apocalypse World, but sadly the first couple of sessions did not get recorded. We’ve also done quite a few “one-offs”, things like Vesna Thaw, Baron Munchausen, Fiasco (several times!), and much more. We’ve also just started a Monsterhearts campaign (which I’m running) which some of the APs from that will surely go up soon like.

Be warned there is cursing, and some adult content in the actual plays and discussion podcasts.

40k takes too long

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I like games. You might have noticed. Actually, let’s be fair, I love games. Another thing that I like doing is assembling models. Papercraft, or plastic, metal, glue and modelling clay. Yet another thing I like doing is painting models. So one might think (and I fall into this trap repeatedly) that Warhammer 40k or Warhammer Fantasy would be the perfect game for me. The problem is that when I’m spending literally one third of my waking hours playing a game that’s probably, usually too long. I mean sure, the occasional game of Axis and Allies or Civilization the Board Game or Diplomacy.

However something I’m putting this much time and money into, just to get to the point where I’m able to play a game, shouldn’t cost nearly this much of a time investment to play.  A couple hours for a game, sure that’s reasonable. I’m going to try and do some 1000 point “quick games” and we’ll see how that works out. Maybe with a bit more experience I can get the game times down.

Telepathy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Right, so I’m not actually telepathic, but I suspect that if i had a super power that us the one that would leave me most happy. If we are just talking useful then teleportation would probably be the most powerful, or possibly invisibility.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that what ever power we are talking about is not crippled with side effects or granted by an evil genie. You don’t have to disrobe to turn invisible, what you are wearing and carrying disappears with you. Teleporting wouldn’t leave you dead in a mountain or all of your possessions behind. Similarly telepathy wouldn’t be always on, or only one way.

There are many uses to which you could put teleportation, both humanitarian and self aggrandizing . Where I able to teleport, setting up a permanent base on the Moon and/or Mars would probably be my top priority. Which of course is excellent because it fits the bill for altruism and greed at the same time… Saving the human race from global catastrophe would certainly qualify as altruistic, and being in three baskets instead of one would certainly be a worthwhile goal, and the opportunities for profiting from such a venture are basically limitless.

Invisibility doesn’t have as obvious uses for good, but certainly could allow you to steal anything and everything you could carry. You could be rich, maybe steal back precious art, save hostages but the altruistic possibilities are a bit limited and contrived.

Telepathy could certainly be used for nefarious or beneficent  purposes, stealing secrets or interrogation good guys or bad guys for fun and profit. That said, altruism nor wealth directly lead to happiness. On the other hand, I feel like being able to directly, and unambiguously communicate with other people could. So often I’ll talk to someone, and maybe, probably, kind of I think I know what they mean. And even if I act in a way that shows I the way I interpreted what they said obviously there is a high probability that either they’ll misunderstand me in return, or they’ll realize I misunderstood them but are too embarrassed to correct my misapprehension. On the third hand (which is an entirely different super power) maybe telepathy would only reveal the awful truth. If the majority of what people say is polite lies, would knowing, really knowing, that lead to happiness or would it instead cause sadness and depression?

Anyway, I’d be interested to hear what you think the most useful super powers would be for Greed, Altruism and Happiness… Which would you pick? Me I’d probably go for Teleportation, even though I doubt it would make me as happy as Telepathy, I would use it for the benefit of mankind, and hopefully find a measure of happiness in so doing. Or maybe I’d just steal everything (though I’m not sure where I’d put it).

Why I would like to go to Mars.

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
If I could actually be a colonist! OMG, nothing I'd rather do!

If I could be a Martian colonist! Honestly there is nothing I would rather do than help make this kind of book a reality!

So Mars One looks to be one (if not the) first opportunity to get humans on another planet in permanent habitation. They’ve asked for volunteers to go, and while I doubt I’ll actually make the cut (do they really need a web-developer/librarian?) I can think of little I would rather do. I just got an email asking why, and I’m going to go ahead and answer that here (in addition to responding).

I would love to go to Mars. Since I was a teenager I’ve been reading Science Fiction about amazing adventures in space. I know reality will likely be far more tame then most of those old Analog magazines, but I can still think of almost nothing I would rather do.

There’s probably no sentient life on Mars, but it is super important for humanity to spread out to other planets before something terrible happens on this one. It really is only a matter of time before either something beyond our control like a rogue asteroid wipes us out. And failing that there’s more and more ways  we could destroy ourselves whether it’s a WWIII or a Zombie Apocalypse or more likely something else totally unexpected. The sooner we have a viable colony on Mars, the safer the human race’s survival will be.

Then of course there’s the science! We stand to learn so much by living in a different environment, even if the one we would be living in would be mostly artificial, Mars’ environs would be accessible. So many fields could benefit too, whether it’s comparative Geology, to collaborating on Astronomy projects, and a multitude of other possibilities ripe for discovery.

Personally the chance to walk on another planet, and see the Sun set (and rise) on a Mars would be totally worth all the isolation and hardship that would be entailed with this kind of project.

The anticipation is killing me

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

I’ve got big plans for Friday, and I’ll be frank, I can’t wait. I’ve had a game for almost fifteen years, and never actually managed to play it. That will change at the end of this week. The game? The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen: A Role-playing Game in a New Style. I’ve put a little preparation in and I am going to detail that below, so if you are attending and want to keep it a surprise, stop reading nor or when I mention “additional spoilers”.

So this may be the first published story-telling style Role Playing game. I certainly can’t think of anything else that fits the bill and is older. The game mechanics, such as they are are fairly simple. Each person dons the persona of a Noble personage and will tell a story. Wagers will be made, duels may be fought, drinks will be drank, and assuming everyone survives the best story will be decided at the end of the night. Someone starts recounting the most entertaining story that ever happened to them. The more unbelievable and fantastic the better. Actual veracity is not a virtue here. At some point during the story, if say it gets boring, or someone is just feeling persnickety, they can interrupt with a wager. To make this more awesome I’ve acquired a large supply of gold dollars. Now the wager could also be called a complication. The storyteller can either take the wager, and incorporate the suggested facts into their story, or they can refuse, and put up a dollar of their own. This continues until someone relents or a duel breaks out. I’ll come back to duels.

Eventually everyone will have told a story. Some people will be a little richer, some a little poorer. Probably no one will be broke or dead. Here’s the beautiful thing about this game. All the money you’ve earned telling stories, and messing with other people… you don’t get to keep it. Instead, at the end of the game it’s voting power. Each person in turn will take their entire coin person and give the contents to the person who they thought told the best story. You are of course not allowed to vote for yourself. Whom ever has the most money after votes are “tallied” wins, and be they an honorable person will use the money to procure drinks.

I said there would be additional spoilers, and here they are. Remember when I mentioned duels? Well I’ve acquired a brace of Nerf dueling flintlock pistols (on loan from the inestimable Grey). Further I have emptied one of my miniatures cases, might just originally have been a repurposed gun case and arrayed the weapons within. In the game it mentions that swords or pistols are the preferred means of resolving disputes, but that failing to have those handy, Rock Paper Scissors is an acceptable substitute. But yeah, while a Nerf Duel may take a lot longer, it’ll be hella cooler.

Hardcore Casual

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

snow 3

So you are probably familiar with the term Casual Game … the majority of the games on Kongregate fall into this category. One of several ways I like to describe myself is as a hardcore casual gamer. Part of the reason is I like the juxtaposition of words. It sounds like it is an Oxymoron, but it’s not actually. I do get on Kongregate and achieve the Badge of the Day practically every day… Or more accurately most days, I’ve already achieved the the BOTD and it’s just a matter of loading the game far enough to collect my extra points. So in case you’re not familiar with this beautiful skinner box, here’s how it works. Each day they pick a game, and one the game’s badges to be the Badge of the Day. Much like achievements in Xbox and PS3 games, many games have badges you can earn for certain accomplishments, and each badge gives you 5, 15 or 30 points depending on how hard it is. The Badge of the day is worth extra points, and if you link your Gamestop account to your Kongregate account you also get gamer points. And just getting Kong points (and Gamer Points) is itself kind of a game. I did the math when this started a year or so ago, and getting the badge of the day practically every day, I am getting close to the point where I can get a free game from Gamestop.

On the rare occasions when I haven’t already gotten a badge I’ll usually go ahead and get all the badges for the game… most games have 3 badges, with the middle one being “complete the game”. Many of the games can be totally beaten in an hour or two though some require coming back to over the course of the week. Incursion and The Jumping line are my most recent plays, though I am looking forward to putting some time into  Hanna in a Choppa 2. There are tons of other great games in almost every genre on Kongregate, but most are pretty casual. If you have a favorite game I’d love to hear about it.

I want to close with one thing. If you have not played Frog Fractions, you need to do that right now. Seriously. Also don’t read the comments on the site, just go play it. Also no spoilers in the comments here please.

What I believe

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

 

Stare at the center of the picture for 30 seconds then click it.

Stare at the center of the picture for 30 seconds then click it.

So belief is a complicated, touchy subject. I generally don’t bring it up with people, because the starkness of reality tends to make people uncomfortable, besides which I’ve explored so many of the possible conversations that can be had on the subject that it tends to get boring. However I just watched a decent movie that like 5 seconds of terrible logic that pissed me off SO bad that I just have to vent. And venting has made me think that maybe it’s worth putting down my slightly insanely complicated belief system.

So you may know there is only one verifiable ontological truth. “I Exist”. I know I am. You know you are. A self aware being can be sure of their own existence, everything else is supposition. However we can make some fairly good guesses based on our perception of external stimuli. However everything else is a guess. I could be a brain in a jar being fed electrical impulses that simulate what I think of as reality. I could be a computer program, coded to be self aware. Reality could be something even more bizarre and unknowable, but there isn’t actually a way for me to find out.

I consider myself to be a Devout Agnostic … meaning basically I appreciate semantical exactitude. An Agnostic is someone who doesn’t believe or disbelieve in god(s), and possibly doesn’t believe it’s possible to prove or disprove either way. Perceived reality is so messed up and weird, and yet seems so normal all the time… I feel fairly confident that it’s not actually what my senses tell me. However there’s no way for me to find out what’s really going on, hence the Devout Agnostic nomenclature. I don’t think it’s possible actually understand the universe.

Now that’s not to say I won’t do my best to grok what my senses tell me, and form a framework of perceived reality that I can operate semi-functionally within. I regularly fail to be surprised when the sun rises in the morning. I try to develop a sense of ennui about the continued functionality of gravity and inertia. I’ve built up a fairly complex framework of cause and effects that can lead to something as complex as my thoughts telepathically being transmitted out onto the ether where anyone can read them… Yeah, that’s right, WordPress = Telepathy baby!

I’m just saying if tomorrow afternoon we find out that the research dept. has had their budget cut, and the computer that is simulating our existence is going to be unplugged, AND they bother to tell us, I’ll probably be one of the first to pick my jaw up off of the floor. Reality is a strange and beautiful place. I guess I’m glad I’m here, but I don’t recall being given an alternative.

Enforced Difficulty aka Artificial Friction

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

So as a fairly tech savvy person, but also a fairly ethical person, one thing that really gets my goat is anything that makes it difficult for me to enjoy whatever media it is I have acquired. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie or music cd, book or video game. However I was just recently testing* out a thing that the library is considering getting, and it reminded me just how much I hate artificial friction. This is a term I first heard during one of the big eBook lending kerfuffles.

The basic idea is that the publisher would rather sell you a physical copy of the book, because if someone steals your physical copy, they can only steal it once. Whereas with a digital copy, if someone steals it, they can distribute it as much as they want. So the idea is you make it difficult to get the digital version at all in the hopes that people give up and buy the physical copy. There is a pretty gaping flaw in that logic, but it is only slightly worse than Harper-Collin’s idea that all books should magically fall apart after 26 reads. Or Penguin’s insistence that their books not be transmitted wirelessly.

So I’m not going to mention any names regarding this thing… I won’t say database, because it’s magazine access … I’m not really sure what the right word is… maybe virtual newsstand? I kind of like that. Anyways, this virtual newsstand is actually a multi-party affair. That is to say, you access the first party from a special link (given by your library, but for now just for those of us who’re testing it). You need to register for an account which is pretty easy, and mainly requires email verification. Not a problem for someone who knows what they’re doing. Then you pick out the magazine(s) you want to read from those available (a quick look suggested that only the penultimate issue of each magazine was available, that is to say last month’s issue.) Then you go to the second party’s website, where you have to also have an account. Their registration process is also fairly simple, and I’ll be honest I used the same credentials and throwaway password for both.

Not the most difficult access transaction I’ve ever gone through, but not the simplest by far. And if I understand right to read a new magazine I’ll have to go back to the first party site using my special link, and and click on the next magazine I want to read, sending confirmation to the second party site that I’ve got permission to read it, then open it in there.

If you want to read it on an android device (and I’d assume iOs as well) you’re going to have trouble because Android doesn’t have flash (actually it does, but whatever) and so you have to download the app… For all that they say the service is supported on multiple platforms, they don’t make it easy to find the app…

I’ll admit, I didn’t spend a lot of time actually reading the magazine, but I did play around w/ it enough on my phone to know that unless I’m really desperate to read the article I need a bigger screen. I may give it a go on an ipad or android tablet while I still have access to them, and I imagine the larger screen real-estate will be helpful… but there is still way to many hoops to jump through for me to really be happy about this service…

Well, except for the fact that part of my job is to help people use library resources on their diverse devices … so I guess I could look at it as job security. (;

 

*Since this is a test, the actual process could conceivably be easier for the patrons. I don’t actually know.