Waiting for the fall

So often my life has been full of great chances or experiences followed by huge falls. I often tell people that I don’t have a fear of heights, just a fear of falling, because I know how much it hurts when you land.

I find that this has slowly been changing for me. As I work on bettering myself for me, I have found that I take great pride in my ups and lessons in my downs. No longer do I fear the fall because it will hurt. I understand that falls happen and that if I breath and use my tools I can learn from them and grow in a new or better way next time. So, Let’s talk about what I am pumped about doing.

So far I have lost over 10lbs. Which is amazing for me. Not just a loose it and gain it back like normal but a good month or two of being down in my weight. Or as my handsome husband likes to say, “Making new lows and lowering our highs.” He is right. When I stopped looking at it as a loose or you lose, I started noticing that yes sometimes I go up, but I have been rocketing down so even as I gain a little here or there, they are my new high which is still much lower then my old high. With that I have been pushing on. Focusing on my body and what I eat. Pushing myself to do more and move as much as I can without hurting myself.

Another thing I have going is my business. I started a new company called Mochi Photography. I had an idea a year and a half ago to have a booth where cosplayers or families could come and take pictures during their convention. I am also selling plushies and other crafty things I make in my spare time. I am now working on my sales pitch to get into daycare centers and other children rich areas where I can take pictures for them.

My other ongoing project is school! I am now in my second year of school to get my business degree. I am proud to say that my grades are awesome, my work is…. in by the due date, and I have really enjoyed the classes so far. I am so proud of myself for having stuck to my schooling and keeping up with it regardless of how I am feeling that week. I keep reminding myself that I started this school at the same time as Nik to keep me accountable. If he can do it so can I!

And one of my greatest ongoing joys is that Nik is doing so great in school. He is even leading the pack in the emergency drills and keeping focused on his work without a teacher or helper around to help. This is a big change from last year at the end of the year and a huge relief to my anxiety!

With all that said, I still have one more thing I am picking up in the next two months or so. I will be doing NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I am going to focus down and split up my current novel work into a few novellas. So my project in November will be writing every day, and a deadline to finish the first draft of my Novella by the end of November.

So much to do, I am feeling a little tired just talking about it. Guess I should take a nap really quick before getting back to my homework, Mochi plushie making for this weekend, and taking care of Nik…… Nahhhhh I got this!

Kris is terrible at drawing

Kris here,

I thought I’d made this week a bit picture heavy and start my “stop sucking” drawing thing that I mentioned 2 weeks ago. I used to be a… proficient, artist. I haven’t done any of it for about 10 years, because it was worse than doing the dishes. But lately, I’ve been losing that mindset  – thanks to my adorable wife – and figured I’d put my skills to the test. I’ve always been a big advocate of “everyone can draw, you just need to practice.”

I decided to start three different images – one from my imagination, one from a reference, and one from an actual object. The first is “Bob Moss”, a big tree guy that I just thought would be amusing to draw. The second is a tripod that definitely wasn’t just sitting a foot away from me after I finished Bob Moss and THAT’S why I chose it – that was my real object. And Tina suggested I draw a Squid she painted a while back for my image from reference- it’s a cute squid, sure I’ll draw it.

One thing I learned from this experience is that…I should probably scan the pictures next time, instead of taking pictures. Another thing to do is probably to draw my sketches lightly on the back of the 5 minute drawings, because this paper was VERY thin, or it’s just easy to smudge graphically. I drew most of this with a mechanical pencil, except the squid, which was a normal wooden pencil. Which was way better, I have to say.

I spent 5 minutes on each drawing for 1 image, then I spent 30 seconds of warm-up, a sketch of the object for 30, 60 and 90 seconds, and then a second 5 minute draw. The warm-up thing is just to loosen your hand up a bit – just draw some shapes or whatever makes your drawing hand comfy. I’m not sure the best format to actually show the images – I was thinking of just pasting them right here, but that would be pretty confusing I think and might look weird. I’ve posted them to imgur for now, and I’ll see how that works for the time being.  Let me know if it’s better to just post the pics on the post – it’ll be more to look at all at once, but will also save a couple of clicks!

Click the links to view the pics, feel free to follow along at home on your journey to become an amazing artist! Feel free to giggle, I definitely did.

Bob Moss the tree guy –
Sketches: https://imgur.com/t0OktYz 
1st 5 minute: https://imgur.com/Cupzgrt
2nd 5 minute: https://imgur.com/hN4nm2l

The Tripod of Convenience –
Sketches: https://imgur.com/Gf4Cetv
1st 5 minute: https://imgur.com/3WycvTp
2nd 5 minute: https://imgur.com/2Rw1gxB

And Finally, Squidly the painting (I need to actually photograph the painting still…foreplanning!) –

Sketches:  https://imgur.com/xkzvriR
1st 5 minute: https://imgur.com/dGrAH9i
2nd 5 minute: https://imgur.com/qZTJRba

As you can see, my artistic skills are incredible. I’ve decided to stick with pencil for now. Once we’re happy with our progress, we’ll spread out into other mediums, don’t even worry about it. If you get inspired to draw along, choose an object in real life, an object from a picture or drawing, or just something you concoct in your own head, and have fun with it!

Kris finds more things online to take up all his time

Kris here,

Sorry we went totally AWOL last week – we had a crazy week and the 4th of July was just all up in our grill. Haha! Grill. We didn’t cook outside because it started raining and I’m already 90% inept in the ways of starting fires as it is – thunderstorms truly are my kryptonite.

 

For those not living in the US, the 4th of July is where we celebrate not being blown up by trying to blow ourselves up. It’s a great pasttime, very traditional.

 

This week I thought I’d plug a couple projects that have been taking a bit of my time recently and probably a lot more time in the near future. Project Gutenberg and Librivox. They’re both sites dedicated to crowd-sourcing the digitization of public domain literary works, but the former works in print and the latter produces audiobooks.

 

I know a lot of public domain works get a lot of bad rep sometimes, but spend some time perusing the libraries and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting. The part of the sites that has such a draw on myself personally is the contribution bits. I don’t mind reading something from a hundred years ago or some dry piece of information, but I have a really hard time focusing on one thing at a time. In this case, you get a chance to read a bit and help preserve at the same time, and that’s totally great by me.

 

Librivox is a little different in that they need listeners to help listen to recorded works and make sure nothing is amiss, but you can do some of the recordings yourself. I’ve always been a huge fan of audiobooks, helping to make them personally sounds pretty interesting. Give them a look the next time you’re bored and check it out – the worst that could happen is that you get to read or listen to free books!

Kris definitely not going stir crazy

Kris here

Tina’s been in OKC for a couple of days visiting everyone so I’ve been down here with a lot of time on my hands. Awesome right? I can do all kinds of VIDEO GAMES WOOOO. I totally did too, I played the Witcher 3 finally, and colony survival and I got some Tales of Berseria in. These are fabulous games, you guys should check ’em out. Do you know what else they are?

That’s right, they’re roleplaying games. Okay Colony Survival is technically not a roleplaying game but it kind of fits so let’s play pretend for a minute.

These are all pretty fun, but I’ve noticed a huge downturn in my desire to actually play any kind of electronic games for quite some time. A BIG downturn. Like I didn’t turn my computer on except to write the blog from February to May. I wasn’t doing anything better though, I’m not some born-again workaholic or anything silly like that. I’ve been turned off recently by the odd boundaries game developers seem to be implementing when they clearly have the technical capabilities to do something I think would be simply amazing – or they can’t actually push that boundary because of the technical limitations. So instead, I’ve been working on Dads ‘n’ Dragons. I’m sure a few of you have heard about it , especially since about all of my recent posts have been about nothing else.

So I’m hanging out by myself in a sweltering Texas summer (air conditioning is expensive yo) just writing up some cool ideas I have to stow away, or use in the finished product, when I run across a question in my mind. Has another game done this? Am I copying someone? Is there a better way of calculating this number without forcing it on the players? A quick google search and two weeks later and I haven’t even touched my own game since like day 2. There are a pantsload of tabletop games being published every single day, and they’re pretty good! I didn’t give up on my own of course, that would be silly. But I’ve found myself wandering a repetitive cycle of the last week or so essentially doing yardwork, housework, and gamework. And games.

Okay, I did spend a few hours just gaming while listening to game developer podcasts, but that’s fine and I forgave myself. These guys repeat a lot of talking points I’ve learned over the last few months, I actually really like the format they work through and listening to someone from an industry repeat the things you’ve learned through reading is awesome. Like “Yes! It wasn’t a waste of my life! In your face Reddit!”

We’ll be visiting with Zack for a few weeks once Tina gets back from OKC, so I thought I’d see about a few tabletop games we could use to hang out with the children too, since I have all this free time on my hands. (Literally reading, writing or cleaning.) “But Kris what if the kids won’t because it’s not electronic?” I hear you readers, don’t even worry. I have a plan. I’m gonna make Tina play instead and then the partypoopin’ munchkins can just go to bed at like 7 or something so we have time. It’s foolproof I know.

I’ve run across quite a few I think would be good to learn, but I narrowed it down to three for the sake of time. Pokemon Tabletop United because children and also Pokemon. Mutants and Masterminds because my wife has convinced everyone that they like superheroes. Lastly, Call of Cthulhu. Okay the last one isn’t necessarily children themed, but I mean. They’re old enough to learn about our lord and savior Cthulhu. That, or I can convince the rest of the regular Pathfinder group to try it out; honestly most of the local group is more into the roleplay and less about the hack and slash of the game in the first place, which this game is amazing for. Which is fine, but also sad, since I myself am way interested in finding cool combinations to work together and murderhobo an entire universe worth of monsters.

Allow me to summarize each game briefly, so I don’t send everyone on a wild goose chase trying to figure out what these words mean.

The Pokemon tabletop game is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a Pokemon game, played on top of a table. It actually took me a little while to figure out some of the finer details of even just creating a character or building the teams since there’s quite a bit of involvement, but it’s a lot of fun. Imagine playing a pokemon game where you could have a team of like 2000 just waging war against a neighboring nation. Okay don’t imagine that, Pokemon are not instruments of war you tortured, angry souls. As long as you can put in a bit of effort to do some reading and watch a few youtube videos, this game has a pretty solid foundation – and if you find something broken, you’re welcome to fix it, because it’s your imagination!

The Mutants and Masterminds game is actually one I wasn’t super interested in at first. I’m not a fan of superheroes or their universes for the most part. I got to listening to some gamers on YouTube play through a few sessions of their own game and it was a lot more interesting than I figured it would be. I think the context of a dystopian future or a distant past mixed with the ramifications of being a super person in their own time can actually make for a pretty interesting story. I mean sure, you could rip everyone opposed to you in half, but that has consequences. Saving damsels in distress will make the bad-guys angry and attack more innocents. Helping the bad guys will make innocents angry and everyone will hate you! Dang that Captain Castor Oil is such a rascal!

Lastly, Call of Cthulhu is basically the polar opposite of the M&M game mentioned previously. Where you’re playing super powered heroes in that game, in THIS game you’re playing their mild-mannered alter egos trying to solve a case. Except you don’t have the super bit and you’re detective-working a case that will pit you up against world-ending monsters who can’t be comprehended with mortal minds. The game is a lot more focused on the “role” aspect and is pretty fun to listen to and design for. Ideally, you’re playing with people who like gritty worlds full of despair and horror, but I’m willing to bet I can come up with some lightweight games that even a twelve year old could play. Heck, maybe even Tina could play!

Kris’s game design ramblification

Kris here

Last week was a bit hilarious and a lot tardy, sorry about that! By the time Saturday rolled around, we were off gallivanting across the state to visit dear friends and eat all the food they had.

I tracked it!

Some of it.

So here I am today just chatting about more game design stuff. I’ve been doing a lot of digital legwork and game designing can be an interesting experience, so I figured I’d lay down a few “why the hell didn’t they tell me this earlier”‘isms. Not everyone is interested in game design and that’s fine because the first rule of game design is that you don’t talk about game design it’s super hard.

Thinking about designing an entire game is a daunting aspect and it requires a few key points that aren’t necessarily obvious, but they’ll hold you back until you figure them out. Since I’ve spent a few months spinning my wheels and having a ball thinking about ‘bell curves’ and ‘probabilities,’ I think it’s safe to say I’m now an expert in the field. Don’t worry, you’ll all get the life-altering chance to play my amazing game once I find a better expert to tell me what in the hell I’m doing. It’s right around the corner.

At the beginning of my journey, I looked at the tabletop games I was playing and thought to myself “yeah this is good, but it’s not great.” You ever get the feeling? Yeah this salad is pretty good, but that pizza is great. Sure my car is okay, but that monster truck is AMAZING. I don’t want to drive a good RPG, I want to drive a monster truck RPG!

Okay, but that’s wrong – you don’t make a game because you want a better one. Trust me. You won’t play that sucker for a year. Or years! There are thousands of every kind of game you can think of – pick one at random for a weekend get together every week for 10 years and you won’t run out of material, I promise. This was a tough lesson to swallow because I just want to play my game why can’t it just be done. Nope. You have to work first. I know!

The second thing I did was to create some mechanics to judge how to, you know hit stuff and scale walls. Not the actual actions or why’s, just the mechanics.

“But Kris who are you hitting? Why? What’s the deal with climbing walls, what kind of mechanics are needed there?”

I donno :<

That’s right, my second step and I was already into my second mistake. You probably think I’m really bad at this by now. Ha! And you’d be right! Then I stumbled around the Googles for a few days hours and I discovered that this wasn’t exactly undiscovered territory. There have been people who made games before. This bro even put together a list of questions out of a different set of questions which is an amazing tool to outline if you can think  of the answers.

http://socratesrpg.blogspot.com/2006/01/what-are-power-19-pt-1.html

And that’s from 12 years ago! So my third step was when I reached out to a few game design communities across the tubes – Reddit, StackExchange, Giant in the Playground forums. Yeah that’s right, mistake! No just kidding, this was actually fabulous. You never realize how stupid some of your ideas are until you find a group of peers and explain to them why having people do long division is an enjoyable experience. Every time I’ve hit a slump where I kind of stopped and whined and fidgeted about something not being right, I’d hop on one of those boards and tell everyone what a great idea I’d had. They were brilliant – less than 2 hours each time to convince me what a mistake my mother made when she released me into the world with such naivete and misunderstandings. I can’t say it’s always easy taking criticism, nor should it be. Heck, I had to dig into more than one persons’ questions just to actually figure out what they didn’t understand, why they couldn’t understand it, and why past me wrote his descriptions in such a dumb way.

Designing games is a lot of work, but it’s a good time you can share with a partner or even just do in your spare time to mess around. If the SocratesRPG guy was a bit too much of a read, just make sure you think through a few ideas before you get too far into the process:

1. What experience does your game provide. People scared of the dark for a week, looking over their shoulders and nervously laughing the whole time? Riddle solving, pitting spouses against each other in mortal combat!?

2. What do the characters, or the part of the game the people playing the game interact with, do. Why, how, and when do that do that. Is it a fantasy game and you can pretend to be a buff macho dude, or is it farm simulator 0018?

3. What do the people playing the game actually do to interact with the characters mentioned in question 2. Pushing buttons, rolling dice, drawing cards. Strip D&D?!

4. Play your game every time you make any change and play it again because you didn’t do it enough the first time.

Okay number 4 isn’t really a question, but you have to play the game you’re building. Really, play it all the time, you have to know how everything is working. And when you think you have it down solid, give it to someone else and have THEM explain it to yet another person and you’ll be well on your way to starting the design process. And if you’re married, your spouse might even buy you a brand new blanket to sleep on the couch!