Monday, June 29, 2009

Green GM—Meet Seasoned GM

There are probably some spoilers ahead—those that visit from the Savage Worlds Forum may want to skip the read if they plan on playing in a Zombie Run Game. You've been warned.

Friday was busy to say the least. The bulk of the day was spent at a Family Reunion, and a good time was had by all in attendance (as far as I could tell)—and it was great catching up with cousins that I don't get to spend as much time with like we once did.

The game was planned for 7, the invitation says people can show up at 6 (this allows for socialization before the game—i.e. the game can actually start at 7—in theory this allows us to not play so late: making for happy spouses where necessary). We left the location of the Family Reunion late. The Drive takes just over an hour—unless they happen to have the freeway closed because of an accident and you literally come to a complete stop.

Curiously, my sister had called and talked to us (because she had left her phone behind) and failed to mention that there was traffic. Normally I'm patient, but the kids had not had naps. One was asleep in the back, and the other (the one that gets upset if the car stops moving) was threatening to wake her sister because the car was not moving.

I took the first opportunity to get going in the other direction. We went back to town and took an alternate route home. Meanwhile the first player shows up at our house and finds us not there. Since we have been friends for years we instructed him on how to get into the house.

When we arrived home, he was still the only one there, and he had made delicious enchiladas with what he found in the kitchen—for which we were very grateful.

So we were waiting for one person, who said he would be a little late. I called him for an ETA. . . . Earth to Justin, an hour late is not to be considered "a little"—just for future reference. Not that it mattered that much, after eating and setting up he arrived fairly close to go-time.

Now, I have mentioned this is the first campaign that I have ever run. The first player that showed up at our house, the person who graciously fixed us dinner. He has been our GM for years. He is the GM guy, they guy that is always the GM. The guy that loves being GM. The guy that given the choice between Playing or Running a game, will always choose to run the game—Yeah, that guy is playing in my first campaign.

Thankfully, he's a good player as well as a good GM, and allowed me to run the game. He did help me out with some rule things that I was still a little confused about. Yes, we've had three sessions and three different ways to kill a zombie. (I still haven't decided how I want to run it for the rest of the game, but at least I've had some different flavors to mull over [different flavored zombies?—that's just not right])

Once we got started they entered the First Methodist Church of Camettesville, and were faced with terrors so horrible and disturbing, that I'm not going to mention them here.

The party did come up with an interesting way to handle the challenge laid before them, and in essense defused the "trap." I must say I was quite pleasantly surprised.

I also forgot about part of the conclusion to the Camettseville chapter of the Zombie Run saga, so there was a little less punch to the story than there could have been. If I had gone ahead with the original ending, there would have been some continuity problems, so I had to wing it a little.

I'm actually a little more nervous about the next session. There's two ways I could go about it—one involves furthering the story, and the other involves allowing extra player creativity. We'll see how that goes. I'm leaning toward player creativity, because I want to see how that plays out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Little Taste of Being in My Head Throughout the Day

There is constantly a song in my head. It prevents me from thinking sometimes. It's out of control. I've been thinking of blogging a play list of the songs that get in my head throughout the day.

Catch Me—Smurfs (Yep, this was running through my head when I woke up. Trust me it was better than that crazy world of Tim Burton meets E3 meets Transit Oriented Design that I was stuck in. Dreams are weird, but sometimes I'm glad to wake up from them.)
Viva La Vida—Cold Play
I can see clearly now—Johnny Nash
All You Need is Love—Beatles
All My Lovin'—Beatles
She Loves You—Beatles
Band on the Run—Wings
Getting Better—Big Daddy
A Day in the Life—Big Daddy
James K Polk—They Might Be Giants
Chill Theme—Dr. Mario
La Bamba—Ritchie Valens
I don't know the name, but the part that keeps repeating goes—Bop Bah-Dop Bop Bop Dah-Dop.
Music Box Dancer—Frank Mills
Fixing a Hole—Beatles
Transformers Theme from the Original Cartoon
The Mesopotamians—They Might Be Giants
Dare to Be Stupid—Weird Al
Escape—Rupert Holmes
Transformers Movie Themes (The 2007 Movie)

Rules: These were songs going through my head throughout the day, Songs I listened to did not count (I listened to several albums as I worked today) if something I listened to was lingering 5 minutes later when I was onto another task and not listening to music, it qualified for the list.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lost and Found

I'm a backpack guy. I haul things in backpacks. Since elementary school I've hauled things in a backpack.

In kindergarten it was square and looked like a Hershey Bar, and the straps could be reconfigured to work as a backpack, or messenger bag, or satchel.

In Jr. High and High School I avoided my lockers almost religiously. They were in far too inconvenient locations, so I carried everything. Except Senior Year, that was a good locker year. For a brief stint in high school I tried a satchel, but the canvas material just didn't hold up that great.

On my mission I started with a back pack, but there was a bombing at the Olympics—and the bomb was in a backpack, so our mission president bought leather man-bags for all of us.

Home from a mission and off to college, I bought the biggest day bag that Jansport made, and lugged that bad boy all over campus. That bag has been retired to Hobby Game transporter status. I keep Carcassonne, Battle Cattle, The Settlers of Catan Card Game & Expansions, Guillotine, Zombie Fluxx, Fluxx, Family Fluxx, Lupus in Tabula, Are you a Werewolf, Ticket to Ride USA 1910 expansion, Cranium Zigity, and Lord of the Fries in it. (Funny Fact—I still haven't taken all the art supplies out of it, probably because games won't fit in that particular compartment)

Even now I have a backpack that I take most places. Good places to buy backpacks are Ross and TJMaxx. You can generally find a nice $80 Laptop Backpack in the neighborhood of $25-30. I bought one for a laptop, then I bought another one for toting around the Wii. The one that I bought for the Wii had a secret compartment in the bottom that held a Rain-jacket for the backpack.

I swiped that rain-jacket from the Wii pack (which resides behind the couch most of the time) and gave it a more permanent home in the pack that I use all the time; and it has been very useful as of late.

I got drenched last week, but my bag and its contents were bone dry.

Yesterday when I left the house it wasn't raining, but it looked like it might be when I got downtown. I was going to put the rain-coat on my pack, but it was missing. I searched the places I keep the pack but it was gone, and it was time to go. I guessed that it had fallen out of the pocket I keep it in, or that Moira had been playing with it. I didn't have time investigate further, it was time to walk to the bus stop. In walking to the Bus Stop I found it. It was sitting on the lawn of the High School. Good thing too, because it was raining when I was walking to the bus stop after work.

Monday, when it was time to leave work I checked my pockets and found that my cell phone was missing. I called it to see if it was nearby; it wasn't. So I was trying to think of all the places I could have dropped it. On the walk from home to the bus stop, on the bus to downtown, on the walk from the bus stop to work, in the company car that I took to a remote office, at the cubicle in the remote office... or maybe I didn't pick it up when I left home and it was still sitting on my desk.

It was still on my desk when I got home.

Yesterday I forgot to grab my keys when I left the house. I didn't notice until Emily informed me during a phone call a little before I left to go home. I'm glad she told me—If I had noticed on the way home, it would have been another panic session all the way home.

I found a Lighter on the ground at the bus stop yesterday. One of the nice Zippo ones. I picked it up—then I felt guilty about it after I got on the bus, since I had just that morning benefited from someone not picking up something I had lost. It's broken, the lid doesn't close all the way, and it's scuffed up a bit—perhaps it was tossed out the window of a moving vehicle. It sparks, but doesn't light, so it's most likely out of fuel. Maybe I'll put it back where I found it. Could I get fined for littering?

I pick up any and all change I find on the ground. Including pennies. I found a Euro Cent a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Deadlands Board Game=Awesome Cowboy Figs

At our Game Saturday, P was mentioning that he was looking for a place to get some Cowboy Mini Figures.
I told him that you can get Cowboys and Indians made of the Same plastic that Green Army Men are made of at the Dollar Store. (F.Y.I.—The ones at Honks are of much better quality than those at Dollar Tree)

I just noticed that there are some new pictures from the Deadlands Board Game posted by the publisher.
I'm definately getting this game when it comes out.
Look at these Figs!! (Click Image For Full Rez)

Don't Go In the Mall!!!

There are probably some spoilers ahead—those that visit from the Savage Worlds Forum may want to skip the read if they plan on playing in a Zombie Run Game. You've been warned.

Saturday Night we continued our Zombie Run, Savage Worlds Campaign.

Only one player from the first session was able to attend, but we had Three new players for a Total of Four. So it was a good size group. After the first session we had a lot of questions about the combat, so I spent some time online researching what exactly we did wrong. Turns out it was mostly inexperience with the system, there were all kinds of strategies that would negate the difficulties of fighting zombies, and armed with this knowledge we disengaged the House Rules from the last session.

This session involved a Mall. The party was notoriously low on fire arms, and this mall happened to have a Gun Store in it. In the Middle of the Mall. A Mall with 240 Zombies in it.

I had Fun, I hope everyone else did as well.

Things of Note in the Image (Click for Full Size):

LARGE Map of the Mall.
240 Zombies, some already off of the map—having been mowed over by the Cars the players took into the mall.
Dice Tray from Dicecapades for those that don't have their own dice. (Shocking that some people don't have their own, I know)
Orange Mini Poker Chips, used as Bennies.
Red Mini Poker Chips, indicate Shaken.
White Mini Poker Chips, indicate Aiming.
(Not Pictured) Blue Mini Poker Chips, indicating grappled.
Notice the  Small Map of the Mall on the Outside of the Customizable GM Screen. (I had this covered, and when they got to the mall there was a dramatic reveal and I told them that these could be found at each of the mall's entrances)
Zombie Run Character Sheets—located at the Savage Worlds Yahoo Group.
Two allies for every Player Character.
(Not Pictured) Spontaneous Batch of Fresh Chocolate Chip Cookies.
They drove two vehicles into the halls of the mall and Left the truck outside. I made the Paper Flats for the Vehicles based on Pictures I could find.
I was looking for a Chevy Silverado, but could only find a Ford F150 (1997)
One of the Cars is the car I drive but a slightly newer model, Ford Taurus (2003)
The other is a car I've never heard of, but I found a good picture of it: a Volkswagen Phaeton (2004) which I couldn't recall the night of the game.

Things I noticed during the Game:

Everyone was getting pretty tired near the end—next time we won't go so late (the next Encounter shouldn't take as long—but it is kind of disturbing)
Players will always surprise you. I didn't think they would explore the Mall as much as they did, or split up as much as they did.
I did play it a little easy on them, I had the metal gates for the stores down, so the Zombies weren't all constantly converging upon the players as soon as they entered the mall.
Brian seemed to be dying to be more creative, but wasn't sure what to do—if he comes next time, I can assure he will have a chance to be more creative. This session was mostly a combat encounter.
Justin is still a power player (Munchkin) and I'm not sure if he will ever change, he always seems bored if he's not getting loot of some kind.
I'm still a little unsure of some of the rules, but this session went much smoother than the last.

Things I remembered after the game.

I forgot to hand out XP. Two points to everyone that played.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Animation Studio

My blogging frequency may taper off a bit. My Father in Law sent me an odd e-mail last week. It had a description of an animation studio looking for local talent. It then stated if you are interested, to e-mail—but there was no e-mail address. But it did have a phone number.

I mulled it over in my head for a while. There were some things about it that made me wary. A collective of passionate artists working for a share of the revenue was one a flag that appeared red to me. Ultimately my curiosity got the best of me and I called the guy. He was in a meeting and asked if he could call me back.

When he called back he had just left the meeting and was on his way to another meeting. So he very quickly described the project, asked me a little about myself, and asked me to send him information about myself and some examples of my work. He also solved the Mystery of the Oddly worded e-mail; it was cut and paste from an online add and was relying on the internal e-mail system of the page. This was around nine in the morning. I still wasn't sure about it. He stated that the reason they were working for a share of the revenue, was because they didn't want to get an investor—and then have that investor pull out. A good friend of mine working on a feature film lost his job recently due to that very situation, so it certainly makes sense to me.

I briefly talked to my wife about it and she thought it would be good for me to be working on a project. I mulled it over a bit more and decided to send my resume and show reel. It took me a while to find the good copy of my resume, then I kept getting distracted when I was updating said resume; I almost shut down my computer to go to bed multiple times, and would remember I hadn't sent that e-mail yet. When I finally got the links to my show reel, and portfolios up and running it was about 1:00 in the morning the next day and I finally hit the send button.

I heard back quickly, there was an e-mail from them when I got to work informing me of a time and a place we could meet. (I just now thought to look at when the reply was sent—just shy of half an hour after I sent mine, he wasn't kidding when he said he doesn't sleep) I still wasn't sure about it. I didn't really want to give up my Saturday to a job interview with a company that was already giving me a weird vibe, but after talking to my Wife again I had decided to give it a go (one of my hang-ups in all of this was spending all my time on it—this requires a lot of patience, understanding, and support from the family, and I just wanted to make sure that they were on board with me). So I called to verify the meeting. Apparently it was the first company meeting, they would talk to me beforehand and invite me into the meeting if they liked me—or send me packing if they didn't, with the possibility of a callback.

Saturday...Still not sure about this, I wanted to look nice, but not like I was trying too hard. So I felt a suit would be overkill. I wore Pinstripe Cargoes with a Short Sleeve Shirt and Tie (My Rush Limbaugh No Boundaries Collection Tie) and of Course—Suspenders.

I arrived at the location about about 10 minutes early. It was located on Campus of a Local College—a campus I didn't know they had. The building was small. I waited a few minutes, no need to show up too early. When I tried the door it was locked. I tried every door of the building (3) all locked. Someone else was there for the meeting as well. Then a couple others showed up, then some more. Casual conversation and cell phone call to our intrepid leader took place. Apparently everything was ready for the meeting, except, our intrepid leader had misplaced the door code. As a result, the meeting started late, and I was just invited in. (Did I mention that everyone else was in shorts and T-Shirts)

I was jazzed after the meeting. It seems like a goofy way to start a company—but what do I know about starting a company. There's a possibility that the project will be a success and I'll get a decent amount of money from it, or I may see nothing, but I'm still glad to be on board.

This marks the first time I've ever signed an NDA.  It's kind of an odd feeling—I'm not sure what I can and can't talk about.

Thus far I've sunk around 20 hours into it in 4 days—the add said 10-15 hours per week. Guess we'll see where this goes.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

NOA wants all my monies.

E3 is happening this week, and the Nintendo of America's Keynote just ended.

New, Old School, Side Scrolling, Cooperative Play, Super Mario Brothers Game
Wii Fit Plus
Wii Sports Resort—Motion Plus, Skydiving, Archery, Basketball, Golf, Table Tennis and More.
Motion Plus—one to one motion sensitivity.

Wii Vitality Sensor—peripheral for relaxation/meditation game

Plus, from other companies:

Rock Band Beatles
Rock Band Lego
Guitar Hero 5
DJ Hero—maybe
EA Sports Active—out already and an expansion has already been announced
Tony Hawk Ride—with skateboard peripheral
TMNT: Smash up
Your Shape—another fitness game, but this one looks at you with a USB webcam type peripheral, whuch is almost creepy "wii will be watching you"

Luckily a bunch of this stuff is slated for 2010, then again a lot of it is slated for this year.

I FOUND IT!! (An Accidental Diatribe on the History of Table Top War and Role Playing Games)

See Yesterday's Post First.

I knew I had seen it somewhere recently, I knew I had seen it and that seeing it is what had jogged my memory of it—I couldn't remember where I had seen it though.

The Program is Called Vassel Game Engine.

Looking through the games available, it appears that the reason the program was created, was primarrily for those that play war simulation games. Have you seen these games?

These Games Come With manuals that are books. They come with pages and pages of Chits that need to be punched out. They come with large maps made of hexagons, and you generally have to have a pretty good grasp on war history and be very good at strategy to play them. And they take a long time to play, people leave these things up for months. At least that's the impression that I get—I've never really wanted to play those games.

What's facinating about these historical war strategy games, is that they are the direct ancestry of the Table Top Roll Playing Games that I enjoy so much. Table Top War Gaming has a long history. In 1911 H.G. Wells wrote a book called Floor Games, and in 1913 another book titled Little Wars. These were structured rule sets for tabletop war-gaming. In 1971 Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren published Chainmail, a rule set for Medieval War-gaming in a Fantasy setting, meant to capture the feeling of the Swords and Sorcery pulp fiction of the 1920's (i.e. Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian).

Swords and Sorcery Fantasy is different from Contemporary Fantasy. The main difference is level of magic. Swords and Sorcery is often referred to as Low Fantasy; the Villains are Human, there is a little bit of Magic, and there are some Fantastic Creatures (i.e. Conan). Contemporary Fantasy is often referred to as High Fantasy. Magic is everywhere, Wizards abound and Dragons Fill the Skies (i.e. Lord of the Rings).

Chainmail was a proper war-game, where each figure represented a group of units. Dave Arneson used the Chainmail rules in a setting he named Blackmoor; but instead of having each player represent several units, he had them represent an individual—and thus Dungeons and Dragons was born (originally published by Gygax and Arneson in 1974), the father of Table Top Role Playing Games.

But I didn't mean to get in to a diatribe about the history of Table Top Gaming. I just wanted to mention that in attempting to repair my Windows 2000 machine—I saw a Vassal Windows folder in the Desktop Folder, and knowing the name I could easily find the website. Someone even already started the work and has Zombies!!! and three expansions already available.

By the way, does anyone have a ntfs.sys from Windows 2000 service pack 4 handy?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Do you ever?

Occasionally, I run across something when looking for something else; invariably I file it away in my head—and then I can't find it again when I want to revisit the idea.

Ever since I introduced the Google Toolbar into my life, and started using Google Bookmarks, this hasn't happened with as much frequency; because I can file things away and even if I've rebuilt my computer, my bookmarks are all still there.

I bring this up because I just spent an hour or two trying to locate something, and I cannot remember what it was called to save my life.

Ages ago, I wanted to try playing Carcassonne on the computer. About the time I had decided to buy the computer game, they discontinued it. So I was just looking for alternates—I knew there were several unofficial versions of Settlers of Catan, and was looking for an unofficial Carcassonne.

I found something, I downloaded it, thinking it was an unoficial computer game—what it turned out to be was a program that allowed for the playing of board games over a network exactly like playing at the table. No automatic scoring, no helpful hinting at where you can place the tiles. You had to download the base program and then the graphics set for whatever game you wanted to play (they had several).

The Carcassone one, when launched displayed a virtual table (grid) and had some placeholder "buckets" for the pieces. One bucket had all the tiles in it and the others had the different colored meeples and scoring track. If you connected via network or internet with the same set you could use this to play the game, by dragging and dropping pieces onto the virtual table, and it was just like the real game, you had to do it all yourself. I thought it was interesting, but not what I was looking for.

Recently I've been trying to do a game mashup of Zombies!!! and Savage Worlds. I think I'm ready to do some Game Testing with the modified rules I've written up, and this program would be perfect. I could just scan the tiles and cards into it, take some pictures of the zombies, I think it had a dice roller built in, I could use whatever custom art I need for additional cards without having to print anything out or have play testers read my handwriting. But I can't find the program—I can't remember what it was called.

Do you know?