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Okay, so I've been vaguely hacking out a gaming system for tabletop RPGs. Why? Aren't there enough RPG systems in the world? What do I expect my system to do better?

Um. Nothing particularly. It's just fun to work out.

But I'm now getting to the point that I need to start bouncing ideas off of people. I mean, for one thing, it's no fun to write a system by yourself -- you have to show it to people eventually. And, anyway, I'm now getting to the point that I really need people to tell me what sucks about this.

The first draft of an RPG system is behind the cut )
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It's true. When I want something, it is usually an intellectual want, or a mild, vague urge, but I rarely truly passionately desire something.

I'd like to claim that this is because of a careful Buddhist detachment, or training in Stoic philosophy, but, in reality, it's probably just a side effect of the type of depression I've had for years.

So it's kind of neat that I now really, really want something -- something I desire so much that my teeth hurt.

That's not a figure of speech, by the way -- I literally noticed that my back molars were somehow aching with desire for this. Dunno why that happens, but it did.

Bruce Galloway's Fantasy Wargaming generally considered to be a truly awful roleplaying system, and I don't disagree with this assessment. I attempted to play it once, in seventh grade, and couldn't make heads or tails of it -- and I later discovered that this was due to no fault in myself, but simply because it is just that poorly written and thought-out.

So I don't know why I desire the thing so much -- but I found a copy on AbeBooks, for $3.98 including shipping, and bought it. Other copies started at $1, but generally had shipping start at $3 -- there was one that was listed for $1 with $2.50 shipping, but it was listed as "Fair" condition, while the $3.98 with free shipping was listed as "Very Good" condition, so I decided to spend the extra 48 cents.

I don't suppose that the seller is going to make a great profit on this thing, but it gets it out of his or her stock anyway.

Yeah. I just spent nearly four bucks on a used copy of a game that everyone, including me, thinks sucks. And I can't wait for it to get here!!!
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So, as all of you who play WoW know, different races dance differently. But have you ever wondered from where Blizzard actually GOT the specific dance moves?

Obviously, this fellow did. And did some research.

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This may be distressing to a lot of people. But it's ALSO really cool.

Let's say that you're a homeless kid in Miami, dealing with gang warfare, starvation, and disease.

What myths would you create to give your life meaning?

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/1997-06-05/news/myths-over-miami/full

And, my Ghu, wouldn't that make an AMAZING RPG setting?

ETA: And a question for those of you of a more mystical bent: what if they're right?

Or at least, if there is some sort of truth in what they have seen. I mean, I don't believe that God can lose to Satan -- but something smaller can lose to something smaller. There may be . . . things out there. And not all of them are nice.

I don't always believe that. But I don't always NOT believe it, either.
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We were going over to visit a friend, Ben ([livejournal.com profile] vonbeck) and I, and Ben was driving. As we were driving over, we were talking about upgrading the main machine gun in his car, by replacing the projectiles with ones with lifting bodies, to give them longer range. They already had guidance fins, so they were extremely accurate at long-range, since they were steerable. But we weren't sure what the lifting body shape would do to armor penetration, so we were considering using discarding sabot penetrators in them.

Anyway, Ben didn't like driving on the roads, so he drove off the side of the elevated highway, plunged ten or twenty stories onto the roof of another building, drove off the building to a lower elevated highway, plunging another five stories, then drove off the edge of THAT highway to a ground level road which was just next to the home we were going to. I told Ben, "This is why your suspension is always shot." But we did save a lot of time.

Anyway, Scooby-Doo and Velma had gotten there before us, and Velma was telling Scooby that he had to break it off with Shaggy's girlfriend. But Scooby argued that Shaggy was totally ignoring her, because he was stoned all the time, and probably didn't even REMEMBER that he had a girlfriend -- certainly, that's how SHE felt about it. Velma said that he had to come clean, because Daphne and Fred were starting to get suspicious that SOMETHING was weird, and it would be better for Scooby to tell Shaggy what was going on, than for Shaggy to hear about it from someone else.

[livejournal.com profile] shanex was there, too.

And soon, [livejournal.com profile] deyo and [livejournal.com profile] mactavish showed up, and Ben showed off the shortcut that he'd taken, what with the driving off the side of the highways, that allowed us to get here before they did. [livejournal.com profile] mactavish didn't want to get sucked into the argument between Scooby and Velma, so she went inside to fix the washing machine that was broken. Unfortunately, although her General Repair skill was perfectly high enough to do this, she didn't have enough points of material to effect the repair. (Your Repair Kit can fix a certain number of hit points of damage, and, once it's used up, it's used up.) She thought, though, that in order to get the washing machine working, she didn't need to fix all the damage, and that really, if she fixed even two or five hit points, it would probably start running.

Now, since you can also loot Spare Parts from broken machinery, and Spare Parts are worth a certain number of Repair Points, just like Repair Kits, we looked around for broken machinery. So we decided to loot the washing machine for Spare Parts, which we'd then use to repair the washing machine, but it didn't work like that -- once you looted a machine, it changed from a Broken [whatever it is] to Junk, which is unrepairable, so that wouldn't work.

We looked around for other things that we could break and then loot, and we ended up smashing a tape measure, which we then looted for Spare Parts worth, like, about two Repair points, which [livejournal.com profile] mactavish used on the washing machine, but it wasn't enough to get the machine working, so we figured we'd have to go out and attack bandits and loot their cars and mecha for spare parts to fix the washing machine, which, frankly, is what we probably should have done in the first place.

Since it was just against bandits, I figured I didn't need to take direct control of the battle, and just sent my lance (that is what we call our team) out to fight the battle without me, which should have worked, but Juanita had turned into a lycanthrope and started attacking our side. We managed to win the battle, but we not only lost Juanita, but, like, two other lance members. Which shouldn't have happened -- really, we shouldn't have even taken a single hit. So I went back to the last save point, and, this time, I answered the door when the door-to-door saleslady came around, and when she tried to bite me, I was able to defeat the were-saleslady, although I eventually had to use my vampire powers to do it. THAT time, the battle went perfectly -- just a couple shots at the bandits' cars, and our lance won, and we managed to loot the cars for Spare Parts worth something like 45 Repair Points each, with which [livejournal.com profile] mactavish was easily able to repair the washing machine.

LARP dreams

Jan. 3rd, 2007 10:55 am
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Every once in a while, I dream that I'm playing in a LARP that is really awesome.

The problem is, because I wake up in the middle, I never find out what's actually happening.

The LARPS in my dream are usually what I call "WPI-style" -- one weekend long from Friday afternoon/night to Sunday afternoon, pre-generated characters, and, fundamentally, involving some sort of mystery as to what is ACTUALLY going on. When you show up, you only have a partial, and perhaps misleading, idea of what GENRE you're playing in.

In this game, players were put into teams, each team being, basically, a war-band. You were a group of companions who had been traveling and adventuring together for some time. And the setting was mythological.

My character was a Roman centurion, and my band included a big Gaulish or Norse barbarian, and some other people who I don't remember. Each of the rooms in the mansion/function hall/whatever which we were in was supposed to be an entirely different location.

I never found out what was really going on, but it seemed to be that someone was going around and trying to harm, distress, or kill mythological creatures who had formed romantic relationships with mortals. And our job was to stop that someone, since we actually LIKED the mythological creatures and their spouses (all NPCs) who we'd met.
Read more... )
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So, a while back, when Lis and I were at Costco, we saw a Hoyle Card Games thing. I looked at it, and decided to buy it.

It doesn't have all the games I'd like -- I like whist better than either bridge or spades, for instance, and this has the latter two and not the first one. And it only has five-card draw poker, largely because they have a separate Poker game with other variations. I don't care about Texas Hold-Em or Hi-Lo or any of those, but I'd really like five- and seven-card stud.

But it does have about twenty games, plus fifty Solitaries games. And I've been playing some of them quite a lot. Mostly, ones I'd never played before, so I'm using the computer to learn them. Gotta say, for a lot of the games, having the computer deal and score makes things very easy.

I've always liked gin rummy and poker, and those are both in. I've not played cribbage since I was a kid, but intend to get back to it; haven't yet. And then there are the games I'd never played. I can't figure out pinochle, but canasta is a lot of fun. Euchre is a pretty good game, too -- as far as four-hand pairs trick-taking games, it's even easier than whist. I still like whist better, but this one is almost as good.

But the reason I bought the game was that the box said that it had the game of Tarot. And that's one I've always wanted to learn.
The game is also called Tarrocci )
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So, in the gift shop of the Yale Museum of British Arts, our visit to which I have still not blogged, I bought, among a whole lot of other things, a small tabletop skittles game.

"Skittles" is a term for the entire family of bowling games. If it involves throwing a ball at pins in order to knock them over, it's in the skittles family. Um, except cricket. But, yeah.
Read more... )
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The BBC rebroadcast a piece of an interview they did with him last year.

The background of his story: he hacked into NASA and Pentagon computers in order to find out if they were hiding information about UFOs, aliens, and antigravity drives. This was remarkably easy for him to do, because many of the computers were Windows machines with blank Administrator passwords.

Frankly, I've got to ask -- if you're running Windows, and you don't actually set an Administrator password, and someone accesses your files, can you REALLY claim that they're hacking? I mean, c'mon -- if you walk through an unlocked door, you may be trespassing, but you're not breaking and entering.

Anyway. . .

So, McKinnon claims that
1. A NASA scientist said in an internal thingy that he found that they airbrush out the alien vehicles from pictures from Building 8 so that people don't see them.

2. He found the non-retouched pictures from Building 8, and there was an alien spacecraft in it.

3. He found Excel spreadsheets that were about personell transfers from one ship to another -- and several of the ship names show up nowhere else, and one of the personell spreadsheets was titled "Non-Terrestrial Officers."

So, I've been thinking about possible explanations for this.
Explanation #1: He's lying. I mean, that's always one that you've got to suspect. He broke into the computers, 'cause, well, if he didn't, why would the Pentagon be upset, but is just making up what he found.

Explanation #2: The things he saw in the photos weren't alien spacecraft, but rather, weird-looking scaffolding or something like that -- and the Excel spreadsheets were for a roleplaying game one of the NASA scientists was running, doing personal hobby stuff on a work machine.

Explanation #3: NASA and the Pentagon are covering up the existence of, not only alien spacecraft, but an entire spaceborne branch of the military.

Personally, I like #2 the best. Any other thoughts?
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For the situation in video games, and, to a lesser extent, in movies, where, when the big bad guy is beaten up and defeated, the whole base/lair/whatever starts blowing up and the hero has to escape:

"Load-bearing end-boss."
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Now that I’ve gotten several of you hooked on Kingdom of Loathing, I figured I should let y’all know about the other two games which distract me from things I SHOULD be doing.

The first one is a space game. It’s called Transcendence.

How do I explain the appeal of this game?

Imagine if Nethack had been based on Spacewar instead of Rogue. Okay, except there are no gravity effects. So I guess it’s more like it was based on “Asteroid”, then. (But “Spacewar” is a better game, so I give the credit there, instead.)

It’s a freeware game that one developer is making for fun, and I hope he’s having as much fun making it as I am playing it.

The other one is a medieval combat game. It’s called Mount&Blade. It’s shareware, not freeware, and it’s still in beta. The demo version only allows your character to progress to level 6, and the game isn’t finished yet.

Even so, I paid the money to register the game -- if you register when it’s still in beta, it’s cheaper than the full version, but it will upgrade to the full version when then finish it. And the unfinished game still has enough to do to make it addictive.

You can be attacked by bandits! You can join one of two factions and do missions! You can raise your own small army! You can ride horses! It’s a “Morrowind”-style game, in that you play one character and you see yourself walking around from just above and behind, and you fight things. But it’s got some neat things which I haven’t seen other places, like fighting from horseback -- you can actually be cavalry and fight like it.

It’s made by a husband and wife team in Turkey or somewhere like that, who are financing development by having people pay for the beta version. I’m really enjoying it.

So there are two further time-wasters for you! They’re both Windows-only, at least, so far, so you Mac and Linux people are safe for now.

The other neat thing about both of these games is that they’re user-extensible. You can write up your own spaceships or items in “Transcendence”; you can write up your own modules in “Mount&Blade”.

So, there you go. If you’ve had too much productivity in your life, I’m here to help.
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Let's see: in Kingdom of Loathing, both my multis ascended today. I started a second account the day I ascended my first character, and ran the first character as a hardcore Oxygenarian, and the second multi as softcore. The softcore character ascended for the first time a while back, and I reincarnated him softcore again, so I did a hardcore oxy ascension in EXACTLY the same amount of time that it took me to do two softcore ascensions.

In other news, my cousin Todd ripped half a tooth out of my mouth using a pair of pliers. 'Cause, see, that tooth had cracked longitudinally, and the outside half of it was wiggling around and lose, so Todd pulled that chunk of the tooth out, then snipped up the raggedy bits of the gums with a pair of scissors.

Okay, I probably should mention that Todd is a dentist, the pliers and scissors were both surgical steel and designed for this, and I did have Novocaine for it. I'm going back for a temporary filling on Friday, and I'll get a crown in a month, after Todd gets back from a friend's wedding in India. He's been prepping for the trip to India by eating a lot of curries, and watching Bollywood movies from Netflix.
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On Talk of the Nation, or one of those shows like that, they were talking about the new generation of gaming consoles and how they had all sorts of power, and could do movie-realistic video and so forth.

And one of their people mentioned that, apparently, Electronic Arts has, as a motto "Can a computer game make you cry?"

And I thought, "Well, duh."

And he went on to say that that is why EA is pushing for more and more realism, in order to have more and more immersive experiences, and I thought, "Well, no wonder EA sucks."

Because of COURSE a computer game can make you cry, but that has absolutely nothing to do with graphics, or sounds, or photorealism, or anything like that. It has to do with plot.
Read more... )
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I was just thinking about how to model "calm in emergencies, even though freaks out other times." And I got this image of a fun bit for a character. . .
Read more... )
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. . . to ask why I haven't posted in my LJ in a couple days.

This is one of the wonderful things about my family: I don't get "you never phone" complaints from my parents, and I'm now free of "you never email" complaints. Now all I have to do is maintain my LJ, and I'm okay.

Seriously, though, I was sick, and slept for 27 hours, and am better now.

In other news: I've started playing a free online game called Kingdom of Loathing. In it, you take one of six character classes (Turtle Tamer, Seal Clubber, Pastamancer, Sauceror, Disco Bandit, or Accordion Thief), and then you go around adventuring. It's basically text-based, and the graphics are all static stick-figure drawings. It's got a wonderful sick sense of humor.

Like, for instance: a week or so ago was Columbus day in the United States. A user, Christobal Kolon, user ID# 1492, had a new item for sale in his store: Comfy Blankets. If you "rest"ed with one of the blankets equipped, you recovered extra hit points.

You also got The Grey Plague, which spreads from player to player in the in-game chatroom, and appends the word -cough- to the ends of things you write. . .

It's probably going to be a whole-game sort of quest thing to get rid of the disease. But it's just funny.
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Of all the doomsday disease scenarios I've read about -- ebola mutating to be infectious in the incubatory stage, airborne AIDS -- the one I'd never seen was zombie mutation malaria.

I certainly hope that there are massive inaccuracies in this report. And that something entirely not that is actually happening. Malaria is bad, bad stuff. Malaria which is fatal in two days is nightmarish. Malaria which is fatal in two days and then brings the victims back as zombies is just. . . I lack adjectives to describe what it is, because I lack CONCEPTS to describe what it is. But "bad" is probably part of it.

At one point, I'd wanted to run a GURPS campaign based on news headlines. Just find the weirdest headlines I could find, and use those for plots. There would be some sort of great Illuminati-type black magic conspiracy behind them. [livejournal.com profile] jehanna, [livejournal.com profile] copperpoint, and [livejournal.com profile] vonbeck all made characters for it. We played like one session.

But every time I see news articles like this one, I kind of regret that I'm not running this game.

I even remember the news story that made me want to do this campaign. As a matter of fact, a couple years later, when I took an Intro to Journalism class at Northeastern, the instructor used that story as the example of the best lede (opening sentence) of any news story he'd read.

The AP article starts out, "BOSTON (AP) -- An insurance executive was charged with tearing out his wife's
heart and lungs and impaling them on a stake in a fight about overcooked ziti."

The instructor's point was that, if the story is dramatic enough, you don't actually need to work too hard to write the lede. It pretty much writes itself.

(That particular story only gets weirder the more you look into it. Apparently, Richard Rosenthal claimed that he killed his wife because she was really an alien vampire. And he was arrested because, after killing his wife, he followed another couple home and started talking to them about gun control, because their license plate was 357-BAN.)

Anyway. My point is, it must be tough being a writer. And the world is very scary. And ZOMBIE FRICKIN' MALARIA.
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It's a Sierra-style point-and-click adventure. It's freeware -- they just ask that, if you like it, you tell all your friends. So I am.

It was written in AGS, which is a development environment for making Sierra-style point-and-click adventures, and has nearly professional production values. I mean, for 1998 or so. It was apparently a senior project at Yale. I hope it was for a writing class or something, because programming in AGS isn't very challenging from a technical point of view, but WRITING an adventure game IS very challenging. And they did a marvelous job -- plot, puzzles, jokes, voice actors, cartoony graphics, and all.

If you've got a PC, and speakers, and a fast enough net connection that you can reasonably download 117 MB, and enough disk space that you can reasonably store 117 MB, then I highly recommend it. It follows the adventures of a teenaged girl who, instead of being sent to Miss Pernilla's Institute for Unwifely Women (A Facility for Correctional Charm), is accidentally sent to the Amazonian rainforest to foil the plot of the evil Baron von Dusseldorf.

http://www.gregames.net/dusseldorf.zip
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I've started writing up a spreadsheet to do calculations for me.

I honestly think this used to be easier. As I'm sure you all know, writing up spreadsheets is a lot easier than programming, but it uses the same sorts of thought processes. And I'm sitting here working out mathematical formulas to calulate things instead of looking them up off of tables (because it's more fun), and I really think I used to be better at this.

Like, okay, ST is mostly easier to calculate these days. It's a flat 10 points per level. With a value of 10 being the average, the one that doesn't cost any points to get, and 10 points to get a +1, and -10 points to get a -1. So a ST of 8 gets you back 20 points, and a ST of 14 costs 40 points. Pretty simple, right? But they've now given a discount, up to 80%, for larger creatures.

You get a 10% discount on your strength cost for every size modifier you are over human normal. Up to an 80% discount. If you've got a +9 or higher SM, you still only get the 80%. You don't have to pay extra for being extra-strong if you're smaller than human normal -- it's NOT extra points to be a super-strong dwarf or pixie or something.

So, in Excel spreadsheet language, the point cost would be something like
=(((ST-10)*10))*(MAX( (MIN((1-(Size_Modifier/10)), 1)), 0.2) )
right?

It took me like half an hour to figure that out. And I think that sort of thing would USED to have been almost instinctive.

This is actually a lot of fun -- I feel like I'm knocking the rust off of my brain and getting it working again. Things are getting easier as I work with them.

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