Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dingus Ahoy!

So, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 does indeed have two separate, unrelated sequences where the heroes roll down the hill in a barrel. I'm not sure this was entirely necessary. (Spoilers ahead. Sort of.)

It invites comparisons to Star Wars, when taken as the second installment of a trilogy. The first movie was basically, self contained, because they don't know if they're going to be able to make a second. The second movie builds on what the first did, and ends with all these wacky cliffhangers. You know how the next one's going to start: they have to go rescue Han S--I mean, Captain Jack Sparrow. And you know who the big bad guy is, and why. (The heart, the death star--the details are different, but the basic message is the same.)

I still haven't quite wrapped my head around the structure. This thing has, at barest minimum, three separate dinguses. The heart, the compass, and Jack Sparrow. So you've got one people need because they want the other(s), one that starts out as two separate dinguses and then keeps transforming into different ones, and one that's actually a person, with all the wacky hijinks accompanying that trick.

That's a lot of dinguses. Add in the number of people after those dinguses, and just figuring who has what becomes an adventure in itself.

The other thing I noticed was there's just a lot of stuff in it. Stuff that only shows up for one sequence. (the cannibal/villager people never show up again) Stuff that is there mostly to make things even more complicated. (The jar of dirt being sort of a case in point. The only reason that item is there is so they can pull the three-way split.)

And then there's stuff that's just sort of there--like Davy Jones playing the organ. It's cool, and it adds a bit of complication to one scene, but they could have done the same thing with something else--something that didn't involve taking thirty seconds to show him playing it. But it's cool, because it links him up with the Phantom of the Opera and associated awesomeness.

The letters in the chest also stand out. They could easily have been taken out. They serve no mechanical purpose at all. But they're still really cool, because it's obvious what they are, and it underscores exactly what the heart is.

There's mostly just a lot going on. More than in your typical summer blockbuster. Maybe more than was in the original movie--I haven't watched it in a while. But I don't recall it having all the different characters and interlacing plots that this had. It did have several dinguses, though. And although it didn't have the amazing transforming dingus, it did pull a similar kind of sleight of hand with the whole "Ha ha! Not Turner! You fail!" thing.

Play D&D Archive

This is actually kind of cool. Handy, like.

Didn't know it was on the website. Google told me about it -- I've got it set to watch Wizards D&D for new updates, and tell me about them.

It's generally a good website. I've learned lots from the Design & Development column, as a quick example.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Evil Genius Hoaxes

Today there is naught but a link. I'm on a trip, and very tired. Didn't get enough sleep last night.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Best. Webcomic. Evar.

Seriously. Yeah, I'm writing two posts in a row about the same thing, but Girl Genius is Just. That. Awesome.

It's got mad scientists. It's got robots. It's got constructs. (Oh, man, does it have constructs.) It's got wacky Germanic accents, a circus, lunatic heroes, hats, plumbers, and a talking cat.

Mostly, what it's got is win.

All the characters have clear, unique voices. I can hear these people, the way they talk, and they all talk in a distinctive way. There's heavy use of dialect, which is normally a bad thing, but in this case it's cool. (My theory is that it's a large group of characters that all use the same dialect, so you don't have to learn a different one for each individual character. And it's very funny, the way they talk.)

It also exercises my plot sense, (like spider sense, only for plot rather than danger) in an extremely satisfying way. Everything that happens feels right, but it never feels boring. It's always, "That's exactly what has to happen! Awesome!" and never, "Gee, I kinda saw that coming." It escalates a lot, with plot twists galore, but it never feels cheap. It's exciting, and frustrating, but in a seriously awesome way.

It's got major character death that doesn't feel like a lame plot device! It's crazy!

Yeah, so, read it. NOW!

Girl Genius

I have a new favorite webcomic.

It's the writing, really. Strongest character voices I've ever read.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Team, Argh

Oh, how I love this laptop. I am actually writing this as I give my exhibition. I'm not actually doing anything at the moment. It's not a normal exhibition; it's a debate. And I don't have anything to do right now. I'm listening to another guy on my team give a speech.

Which is why I'm writing. I hate team projects.

As long as I'm listening to the other two guys on my team talk, all I can think is, "I could do it better." They're not using exactly the argument I would, so it's annoying, because naturally, my argument is the best of all possible arguments.

I don't mind failing, if I do it on my own. I hate it when I'm on a team, because either someone else has screwed me up, or (more often) I've screwed someone else up.

Yeah, I really don't have anything useful to say. Just a bit of a rant, because I'm bored.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Webcomics You Should Read

Scary Go Round
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This is a good comic. Very funny. Lots of weirdness. (Not as much mad science as it used to have, sadly.)

You're probably already reading this, but if you aren't (and you like this blog) you probably should be. (If you hate this blog, I'm not going to be much help.) It has a lot of jokes that I don't understand, because they involve advanced math, but the jokes that I do understand are unbelievably funny.

Order of the Stick
Again, you're probably already reading this. If you aren't, you should start soon, or there is no hope for you or the human race. I'm serious. This is a really, really good comic. Lots of Dungeons and Dragons jokes but, hey, another reason for people to play D&D.

This one's actually over, but they're re-releasing it, with commentary, one strip a day, so it's going to be around for another six years. However, you should read the whole strip plain first, because otherwise, you're quickly going to learn a lot of major plot points. Plot points the comic builds up to over years of strips. Needless to say, this is a really awesome comic. Mad scientists are always awesome.

Looking For Group
Another one I've mentioned before. It's only gotten more awesome.

Special School
This one's maybe not quite as good as the others, but it's good and getting better. (And, seriously, "not as good as the Order of the Stick" almost doesn't count as information.) It's about superheroes. It references the evil overlord list. In a word, awesome.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Missing Reference

This is an awesome comic strip.

I have no idea who or what The Witcher is. I don't care. It'd probably be funnier if I did know, but the beautiful thing is, I don't have to know.

This strip is still hilarious.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why Martin Is Awesome

I threatened, a while ago, to describe why I think Martin is a cool character. And now it's late, and I'm tired, and I need to write something. So I've compiled a list. Well, the rest of the list.

He's not annoying in combat. I mostly credit his use of ranged magic attacks for this. (If only all NPCs were so skilled.) He doesn't hit me, he doesn't get in my way, and most of all . . .

He doesn't die. Except for a couple of plot critical points, he can't. Now, sure, this makes the game easier, but it also makes it a lot less annoying, because you don't have to worry about him wandering off and getting himself into trouble. Which is good, because he wanders off to fight bandits more or less constantly.

As an added bonus, his immunity to death means that, if for some reason he ends up very angry with you, you can just knock him out. When he comes to, he'll have no memory of whatever it is you did that ticked him off. There is endless entertainment value in this phenomena.

In general, though: He does things. Granted, sometimes he does annoying things. (Dammit, Martin, I just need one point of blade to level up!) But for the most of the game, he's actually kind of useful. He tells you a lot of interesting things. He's as involved in the whole "saving the world" gig as you are. But what he does, he does without upstaging you. In a major way . . .

He helps you be cool. He's constantly coming up with crazy plans that, basically, only you can pull off. Because no one else is awesome enough. And he never doubts that you can do it. Every conversation you have with the guy reaffirms your awesomeness.

And, of course: He's kind of geeky. I'm serious. There's no other way to describe someone who's constantly coming up with bizarre schemes, covers a table with books, gets another table so he can cover it with books, and responds to you showing up with an incredibly evil artifact by saying, "You should give it to me, because it's, uh, dangerous. Yeah."

Why does this make Martin cool? Because the only people who care whether he's cool are geeks. RPG geeks. The kind of people who actually watch video game cut scenes. The kind of people who combine English major style literary analysis to video games. Even if video games are going mainstream, RPGs are still played by some pretty geeky people.

I'll probably come up with some more reasons, eventually, but those are the basic reasons why I think Martin is cool. Besides the scowling, anyway.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Fourth Wall, She Is Sundered

I am in pain.

It's not that I don't have anything to write about. It's that I have too many things to write about. And I don't want to write about any of them.

I have all these topics: writing, fiction, how to act smart, identity, how I've just come off my theme kick and am in the process of really discovering character, my superpowers, goals, how awesome GMing is, video games as a media for stories. I have about five half finished drafts sitting in the Blogger "Edit Posts" section.

But then, as I sit down to start writing these topics, I discovered they're all tied together in strange ways. So then I'll start debating whether I should just finish the post on the original topic, or include all the other things I've discovered were there, or write a new post for each individual sub-topic. And then I don't actually get anything written, because I'm too busy thinking about what I should write.

And now you're probably thinking, "What nonsense is this? I came here to read your weirdness, not to read about your problems writing your weirdness. Also, you have missed a few posts, and need to catch up before the end of the month or it will be enshrined behind the golden arrow forever."

Okay, so that's not true. That's what I'm thinking. You're thinking, "Finally, a post that's not about Oblivion."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thoughts on Superheroes

I'm thinking about building a superhero universe. Not like I don't already have enough going on, but I'd mostly be working on it in art class. Which has been going weirdly well this year. It's nice to have one area of my life where I have just flat out, easily measured improvement. (Hey, that figure doesn't look nearly as wonky as those older ones.)

I like superheroes. Hate the format they're published in, but I like the concept.

I hate the format for a lot of reasons, but the basic reason is the bizarre time dilation that it produces. Time advances in some ways but not in others. Or it advances at a different speed. You end up with series of issues that cover maybe a couple of weeks of time, but take years to publish. Technology and current events advance faster than plot. Some characters age, some don't, and it causes weird things to happen to their relationships.

But I like superheroes. I like superpowers. They have interesting metaphorical implications; they have interesting "hit you in the face!" implications.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Arbitrary Revelations: Not Cool, Man

This suggests what might be bothering me about the Oblivion main quest ending.

The reversal comes at the end.

My intuition tells me that this is unusual. Most goal based stories--most video game stories--have a fairly reliable structure. They set the stakes, the win condition, and then they don't usual mess with it too much. They might raise the stakes, through villains or other opposition, but they usually don't make that goal totally irrelevant.

When they do, it's to make a point--it sets the other events of the story into a new light, that reveals new things. I'd list an example, but even mentioning that a movie has a reverse ending can destroy the viewing experience, because in the best one's you're not even expecting it, but it still makes perfect sense. Oedipus would be a good example, except that the audience is in on the secret from the beginning. (That's what makes it ironic, ya see.)

Oblivion's ending is not like this. It comes out of left field, is not anticipated at all, and doesn't cast any kind of new light on the existing events of the tale. It just makes the goal you thought you were working towards through the whole quest totally worthless.

The details of the reversal make it even more annoying. Basically, you find out there was a time limit on your goal, and you just blew it. Trick is, because it's a video game, you know that this "time limit" nonsense is ALL LIES. If the little number hasn't been counting down, you know it's just a cheap excuse for the game to spring it's reversal on you. No matter how fast you complete the quest, or how slowly, you're always going to show up just five minutes after you were supposed to.

It doesn't help that the NPCs act like they've known about the time limit all along. And by NPCs, I mean Martin. One of the neat things about the game is that it makes him actually useful, because he knows what's going on with all the daedra stuff. (And he's satisfyingly cryptic about just how he knows about it.) If you need to know something about the rules, how this whole "Oblivion vs. Tamriel" thing works, he tells you.

So when you suddenly learn this new rule, and he acts like it's totally obvious, but somehow never bothered to tell you about it, it's kind of irritating. Especially since, if I'd known about this rule, I probably would have picked up the pace a bit. Wouldn't have done any good, but at least I'd have known I tried.

I suppose the reason you're not informed of this secret time limit is because if you knew about it, it'd be totally obvious that it was going to come up. That's just how video games work.

However, if a plot twist is that obvious, the solution is not to withhold information from the player for no good reason. Make it some weird new thing that the bad guy's done, at the very least. Make the reason that the player doesn't have the information make sense.

Or, just don't mess with the twist ending. This is a personal quirk. I don't tend to appreciate twist endings, if they're done just for their own sake. They're usually either really obvious, or really stupid. Often, both. (Atlantis, I'm looking at you. First time I watched that movie, my brother had already seen it, so when I turned to him and said, "That guy totally goes evil and betrays them," about two minutes after the character was introduced, he got kind of weirded out.)

I'm also not sure if video games support twist endings all that well. That's another topic, though.

Bottom line: Don't totally change the rules of success for the protagonist at the last minute. Especially in a video game. It's irritating, and frustrating, and generally not a good idea. Like all "rules," in storytelling, you can break it, but only if you know what you're doing, and you have a good reason. Trying to trick the audience does not count as a good reason.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rabbit Attack Day

At first that I thought this was pure joke, perhaps a parody of some kind. A made up incident; nothing that bizarre could be true.

Then it occurred to me that it might be a reference of some kind. Some sort of strange geek culture thing. So I googled it, and discovered something both deeply disturbing and incredibly amusing.

It actually happened.

On April 20, 1979, the President of the United States was attacked by a giant swimming rabbit.

It ought to be a holiday.

Stupid Plot Tricks

Hey, 100th post. Not bad. Naturally, it's about Oblivion.

One of my favorite little things about the Oblivion main quest is this structural switcheroo it pulls right at the beginning.

Traditionally, a story starts with some kind of setback. The protagonist starts out in some kind of minor trouble, so they can have some kind of minor achievement, which then makes you care when they experience a major setback, so then they can emerge victorious from the crushing doom. Down, up, double down, double up.

Most stories don't follow that pattern exactly, because it's a hideous oversimplification. But, generally speaking, the move out of status quo is a move downward. That lets the early part of the story be about the protagonist trying to restore the status quo, until they figure out what it is that they're actually supposed to be doing.

Following this principle, in Oblivion, things start to go bad quickly. Jauffre sends you to Kvatch to find Martin; when you arrive, Kvatch is a smoking ruin. (Which is how it will stay, nigh unto eternity. On fire. Forever.) You bring Martin safely to Jauffre; you find that Jauffre's lost the damn amulet.

Getting the amulet back drives most of the rest of the game. The funny thing is, though, is that it's not all gloom and doom. In a way, you're actually better off at that point, right after the enemy steals the amulet, than you were when you gave the amulet to Jauffre.

Because at that point, you've got Martin, and you're fairly sure that he's not going to get killed. Not without you getting killed first, anyway, and since you're a video game character (in a video game that's not Nethack) you're functionally immune to death. So you've still got one of the two dinguses you need to win the game. You have, essentially, traded the Amulet for Martin, and that means you've come out ahead.

(Assuming that the amulet is a proper artifact, in the D&D sense, and can't be destroyed. Mankar Camaron's behavior establishes this as more than idle fancy--he doesn't destroy it, even though it'd be really smart for him to do so. Thus: he can't destroy it. It does end up being destroyed, at the end, but I have a theory that it could only be destroyed in that specific way.)

For a video game, this is incredibly clever. There's an early setback to drive the rest of the action (find the dingus!) but you also have a sense of accomplishment. You've done something useful.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thoughts on Introversion

What I learned this weekend:

I am, officially, still an introvert.

Time alone is critical.

Specifically, having a day during the weekend that I spend mostly on my own terms is critical.

Otherwise, homework suffers, the game suffers, and mental health suffers.

Since Wednesday I've been feeling the "ragged edge" of exhaustion more or less constantly. It goes and comes, but I can always find it. I spent the entire day on Wednesday, 09:00 to 10:00, interacting with people, and I still haven't properly recovered. It's a different kind of tired from when I don't get enough sleep. I'm aware of my surroundings, and my mind works perfectly well. I just have a hard time processing people.

That's my basic definition for introversion. Being around people takes energy. Being alone recharges that energy. Extroverts, presumably, experience the opposite phenomena.

I'm not shy. (Found that out this weekend, too.) I like being around people, I like hanging out. But I need to spend time alone.

That puts me in the minority, in the United States. A strange minority. Invisible, but still discriminated against. Extroverts tend to have a very hard time understanding why someone wouldn't like being around people all the time. They tend to assume that it's because of fear, of shyness, that there's something wrong that needs to be fixed.

People in power are, generally, extroverts. Because being in power generally requires a lot of interaction with people, so extroverts are drawn to it.

Also: I'm going to need to keep my need for alone time in mind at college. Because--while I doubt it will be impossible to get--it will take action on my part to secure. Some kind of initiative.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Iron Age Safety Shoes

Saw it on the back of a truck the other day. What are they? "Iron Age" brand safety shoes seems most likely, where "safety shoes" is some kind of sub-brand.

My favorite interpretation, of course, is that they are shoes, that are safe, from the iron age. What this would look like, I have no idea.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Biffy Dunwhite

Best character I ever ran: Biffy Dunwhite.

Biffy was a lot of things. Mad wizard. Follower of Kord. Total yahoo.

Mostly, she was a lot of fun to play. I want to play her again, especially now that I have the Spell Compendium. With all those crazy spells available (I'm thinking scatterspray would be about her style), she'd be awesome on ice.

Not that she wasn't awesome just with the standard PHB array. See, the thing about my characters is that they all end up crazy. They always end up freaking out about mole people, or pitchforks and torches, or trees. I have a tendency to go off on crazy, paranoid rants when I'm roleplaying. Probably has to do with decreased inhibitions, and this is how I see the world all the time, I just can't tell people about it in my normal persona.

That being the case, the beautiful thing about Biffy was that she started out crazy. I made her for a campaign called "KordCon," where we start publish adventures and never finish them. We go on these adventures because we're all followers of Kord and we've gotten together for a "religious" convention.

The first time we did it, I wanted to play a wizard. (Our usual spellcaster was playing a fighter. A dwarven fighter. Named either "Aleboot" or "Axebeard," the other name belonging to the party's (dwarven) cleric. It was just that kind of campaign.)

Now, when we started making our characters, we didn't know that it was going to involve KordCon. We just knew that the adventure was going to be "really stupid," because the GM had gotten it from some contest.

So, following that line of thought, the guy playing the cleric decides to worship Kord. Kord, in this instance, being the "god of hitting things, and drinking." And it kind of snowballed from there.

So I made Biffy. And Biffy was fun-crazy. She hung out with a couple of dwarves, got into fights, liked wacky spells, and mostly managed to avoid the kind of ranting that had plagued my other characters.

I liked her enough that when we ran the second KordCon adventure, I played her again. A couple of other people played different characters--we had a different, human cleric that time. Which is the only one I remember.

Why do I bring all this up? Because I want to play Biffy again. Next time someone runs a D&D campaign, I plan on playing a wizard, and I plan on playing Biffy.

(And because I've missed a couple of days, and I have to write about something.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An Air of Desperation

I'm not sure what to say.

One wonders what Superboy looks like from other angles.

Superwoman looks awesome.

Information Themes

At the end of Oblivion, the Empire no longer has an Emperor, and it probably won't be getting one any time soon. There aren't even any possible heirs, so far as your character knows. They're going to have to come up with some kind of new system.

Note, however, why this is. It's not because there aren't any dragonborn. No one knows of any, but all that means is that there aren't any officially. In 433 years, no way is Martin the only illegitimate heir. There have got to be at least a handful of other people who fulfill the technical--if not the legal--requirements to be Emperor.

The significant thing is: there's no way to tell. No more Amulet of Kings, no more dragonfires, no way to be sure that someone's dragonborn. It has exactly the same effect as extinguishing the line, and it's more interesting.

It ties into the basic ideas of the Elder Scrolls world. History--reality--isn't defined by what actually happened. It's defined by what people know. It's defined by what's written down. It's defined by how you interpret it.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Needs To Be Said

I'm not planning on seeing 300.

It's probably a good movie. I don't care.

The "Look we have computers! Shiny!" thing not promising. When Time does a piece on how your movie is a "sign of things to come" in the movie industry, because it involves technology, that's not good. It indicates that the movie's focus is on the shiny, shiny graphics, which is where we get things like Phantom Menace.

Of course, it's also where you get thins like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and that was a good movie. It was all about the shiny, shiny graphics, but what it was showing was cool enough that it was good. Giant robots attacking New York? Good. Vaguely Spartan MEN! MANLY MEN! talking about how "free" they are? Not so much.

Mostly, I'm kind of off Frank Miller. Since I figured out that his subtexts weren't limited to weird crypto-fascism, "but he's a genius!" hasn't seemed like much of an excuse.

Because if what you're doing is evil, being really good at it doesn't make it any less evil. Depicting women as sex objects, as accessories and plot devices for the male characters, as anything less than human, is evil.

Because it ties into and supports a culture that says, "women can't . . ." because they're women. A culture that says they're not as smart as men, or not as stupid. A culture that restricts human potential based on gender, and that's evil.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Light Years Behind . . . Painting

Not too be too down on BBC News, but their tech guys are idiots. Complete and utter maroons.

They've got this article about how, according to the industry "experts," we are at most two years away from photo-realistic humans. Which is total nonsense. We may be two years away from photo-realistic movement, but that is not the biggest challenge standing in the way of photo-realism in games.

That, hands down, is skin. Human skin absorbs and scatters light in a way that we don't really have the technology to do, even in pre-rendering, let alone real time. You'll notice that a lot of games, like Oblivion, with high quality graphics have characters that kind of glow. It's a way of tricking you into letting computer people be pretty, and not freakish. We may not be able to simulate subdermal refraction, but we can at least make people glow!

That's not my favorite part, though. My favorite part is down at the end. After the article has made a big deal about how, in the future, computer characters will be totally indistinguishable from humans, it quotes Ian Livingstone of Eidos: "We will be able to play with people's emotions - we can make them laugh, we can make them cry, we can make them sad."

Because, y'know, you totally can't affect people emotionally, unless your characters are totally, perfectly human. We're totally impervious to anything that doesn't look 100% real. Without the perfect visual experience, without being able to see every nuance of the characters action, no one ever feels any connection to a story.

Because no animated movie, or novel, or radio show has ever made anyone feel sad.

Honestly, I think that games would be better off if they went less realistic with their graphics. Not lower quality, mind you. Just less realistic. Characters drawn with broader strokes can actually be more effective, emotionally, because it's for people to invest in them. It's easier to imagine them as being exactly what you want them to be.

Eventually, computer games are going to figure out that there are other kinds of art out there. Naturalism isn't the only way to make pictures look good. Someday, video gaming is going to discover impressionism. And they're going to realize that suggesting an image, and capturing a feeling, and making it really pretty, are all way more important goals than "realism."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Outlaws Core Story

You’re an outlaw. You’re a robot, or a mutant, or just be some punk kid with your head screwed on wrong. You’ve got guns, you’ve got the wasteland, you’ve got hacker skills and psychic powers.

The other guys have everything else. They’ve got armies, they’ve got technology, and they’ve got power. But mostly what they’ve got is stuff.

Outlaws is about breaking stuff.

See, I was fiddling with the idea of doing an Outlaws remake. Putting together some outlines for rules modifications I'd like to use. Thinking back on that campaign, and thinking about why it was fun. And reading some stuff on the internet.

I happened to come across a mention of "computer controlled trash cans." Which, of course, would have been exactly the kind of thing to turn into a crazy awesome session. Naturally, "computer controlled" would have meant"controlled by the city mainframe, and connected to the internet." And naturally, as soon as the PCs heard that, they would have hacked into them and started wreaking trash-related havoc.

I think that was one of the major things that made that game fun. The Republic had all this stuff, and the PCs were always hacking into it, or destroying it, usually with some inane scheme. As long as it stuck to that, it was fun. When it didn't, it was . . . less fun.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

All You Need To Know

Boot to the head!

Gamer Lineage

Gamers are like vampires. In a lot of ways, really, but I've been thinking of one, in particular.

We've all got a lineage. By which I mean, there's a person (or several persons) who got you into the hobby. (Tabletop gamers do, anyways. Not computer gamers so much, but I barely fit in that demographic.) In my experience, it's somewhat unusual for someone to teach themselves, or to play their first game without a veteran gamer of some stripe. That may be a peculiarity of my time/space location, but it's how I see it.

Even if you taught yourself how to play, you've still got your first group. The social nature of the medium practically guarantees that you'll teach at least a couple of people how to play, at some point, because you'll need players.

Thus, lineage.

For me, it's been important. The people who taught me to play, who I played my first games with, are still my best friends. Even five years later, even across state lines and time zones. And -- amusingly, ironically, but somehow not surprisingly -- they're the people who I link to.

That first group, back in those early days: Karen DMed, and me and David, Rae, and Andy played.

I got the impression, at the time, that everyone else had already played together, that I was the only one who was new. Later, I think I heard that Andy had joined around the same time I had.

At any rate, that's who I learned from. That's the first group I GMed with, too.

And now I've got three people who I taught to play, who played (or are playing) their first game with me. Which is kind of a weird idea, once I started thinking about it. If I hadn't started the school group, or put together the current campaign, these people might not have gotten into gaming. They might have, anyway--it's not like I'm the only person at school capable of running a game, and Qwerty probably would have gotten around to it with his own friends, sooner or later--but they might not have.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Practice

You know what's great about having a blog? My favorite part about the whole thing? It's a reason for me to write every day.

I really enjoy this thing, updating it, for a lot of reasons. It's a way to keep in touch with people I don't see often enough. It's a way to get rants out of my system. But mostly, it's a reason to write every day, something that makes me feel guilty when I don't. Bit of incentive.

Sometimes I can't really think of anything to write about. Sometimes it takes a while, sitting at the computer, to come up with a topic. But I always do, because I sit down and say "I'm going to write a post today." That's where I start. I don't wait for topics: I make them.

That's the practice. That's the point to writing every day. It helps me to learn how to do that. Because everything else I know about writing basically comes down to one thing: the only way to get better is to write. The only way to get a lot better is to write a lot. And the only way to write a lot is to go looking for things to write about.

This post being an example. I says to myself, "What should I write about today?" And that question, naturally, leads to the answer, "I should write about writing," because that's where my mind is. (Also, because other people have been posting about posting, and that suggests some thoughts.) It's not a great post, but it's something. That's the point.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Yet Another Random Project

I'm thinking of writing an adventure, module style, for publication in my school's literary magazine.

I would never do either of these things on their own. I have no need for "adventures." I don't keep my notes in that format, because it's not useful to me as a GM. I could see writing them if I was interested in getting into the game design industry, but I'm not, at the moment.

I'm also, generally, not interested in submitting things to the literary magazine. I have lots of things I could submit, drawings and short stories and even a vaguely novel-like object, but I don't want to submit any of them. My attitude is, basically, if it's good enough to get published, I want to get it published somewhere I'll actually get something for it. An actual magazine, something that at least pays copies and an actual credit, rather than a magazine where my work will be side by side with a bunch of moronic poems.

I also don't like the people who run the literary magazine, for various reasons. They're just not part of my tribe.

Ironically, it's that last point that gives me reason for wanting to submit an adventure. While I have no interest in letting them anywhere near any of my "actual" work, that means something to me, the idea of giving them something hideously geeky and incomprehensible fills me with glee. I like bothering people with my geekiness. I own a green wool cloak, and carry around D&D books in public even when I have no intention of reading them. There is no greater joy than the puzzled stranger.

Thus: the module gambit. Perfect opportunity to share the joy of the weird, and to confuse people who I don't like, without anyone getting angry at me.

I figure they can't legitimately reject it, especially if it's my only submission, because they're always freaking out about how they don't have enough submissions, and pulling stupid stunts to get people to submit. And they're willing to publish horrible poems about cheese, so they have no grounds on subject matter.

I'll write it for d20, probably D&D, because then I can just use the Hypertext SRD as reference for what I can and cannot use. Probably go kitchen sink golden age batshit on the whole project. Everything I can possibly think of that I think is awesome, but most normal people think is irredeemably weird.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I Only Saw Ten Minutes Of It! I Swear!

You should really be watching Yu Gi Oh: The Abridged Series. If you aren't already.

It's what you get if you take the 4Kids adaptation of Yu Gi Oh and cut out all the interior monologue. Seriously -- the real show, one character will say something, and then repeat it in interior monologue, and then the other character will do an interior monologue about how amazed they are by whatever it is, and then they'll say basically the same thing out loud. And then one of the characters, Yugi, is actually two characters, so that gets really bad because he'll have these long conversations with himself where he keeps telling himself about how he needs to "believe in the heart of the cards." Or something.

That show should be incredibly creepy, but all the characters are oblivious to it. Too busy monologuing, I suppose.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Power Mad

I want to run for President, so I can bury "defend earth from the space frogs" in my campaign platform. Then, I'll be able to accuse my opponent of capitulating to the space frogs. Victory will be mine!