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’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!

Dang it Kris!

Tina here.

Whatever Kris let in to this house got me bit bad. Metaphorically speaking of course. He has chatted my ear off about his rpg and his back and forth on setup and how it works. Last night he gave me a break and picked up a YouTube video by a guy documenting his progress in making his own rpg. Well damn if I didn’t make him pause and start over after fetching my notebook cause I had an idea.

That’s right. I am also making an rpg. However mine is aimed at nerdy families with younger kids. So if your friends are to busy trying out that new beer place in downtown Austin, you can just rope your family into game night in the guise of family time.

Really I know so many parents who are gamers and would love to play something like the established rpgs with their kiddos but the setup and explanations seem a bit daunting to explain to someone who you just finished explaining why you HAVE to wash your hands after you poop.

Now not to get you all hyped but I am excited and after I make a working model I will need a cast of various kinds of kids to be sacrificed to my little game. I promise to return them eventually. So yeah be on the look out for that and if Kris hunts you down to talk about magic vs physical fights, take a deep breath and enjoy the math and science he is about to throw at your face.

Better Late than Never

Tina Here!

Sorry about that lack in post on Wednesday. It was my day and although everyone around me has said, “Why don’t you pre-write the posts?” Well, I am an authentic writer. I like to write something that is relevant to what is going on with me at the time. However, this leads to some of the same issues we just had. I was bogged down with Doctor appointments of various kinds on Wednesday, which is also my Pathfinder game night where I am the DM, and it was the last day of the week for my online school to turn in work for that week. So I thought, ehh, I will be a day late. NOPE! My life had plans.

One of the greatest things that has happened this year was the meeting of my amazing friend Gen. She is a freaking god send. She loves the same stuff I do, she is right on key with goals and life goals. She is, as one of my favorite books Anne of Green Gables, would say, my bosom friend. Someone that it seems like my life was never whole without. She understands me, she listens and I love her to pieces. Gen has, above everything else she has done for me, inspired me to follow my dreams of owning my own cafe. A dream I have held in my heart since middle school. The reason she comes up now is because yesterday she came over to work on homework with me and we got sidetracked and started talking about my plans for a cafe again. She started asking me some really tough questions about funding and where I was going to get the money for start up and such and it got us cooking on how to make this thing really happen.

So, I would like to introduce Keyboard Crafts. My new craft Etsy store. I am working on finishing up things like logos and other set ups, but I will be crafting for my cafe, using the money I make to fund my dreams. I enjoy making all kinds of crafts, from crocheting cute little dolls, to making notebooks, soaps and custom designed shirts. So keep an eye out for that stuff and a link to the store to come up soon.

In other news, I am now in my 4th Term of school! I have almost finished my first year!!!!! I am so freaking excited and can’t wait to look back at everything I have done and use it as fuel anytime I start feeling low. I got this! We got this! YOU got this! Let’s go make stuff happen!

In which Kris wants to, but can’t yet, roleplay on the table.

Kris here,

Recently I thought about how cool a few different concepts would be if put into a tabletop RPG. I’ve also been playing a lot of Pathfinder, totally unrelated.

Well, one thing led to another and here I am in the midst of writing up the plans for my own RPG type game to play with my adorable wife Tina. I’m calling it Dads and Dragons, or D&D for short. It’ll be smooth sailing if I ever decide to publish it and become rich and famous I’m sure.

One thing I’ve never really thought about was how easy it was to make one of these games. Those game designers really have it made nowadays don’t they? It’s like making a pie for your company picnic only they tell you an hour before the picnic that you’re actually making 15 pies and you have no oven and your career rests upon this pie. But also, seriously props to those D&D and Pathfinder folks and all the other variants out there making these games up. Even if you have stellar ideas for what you want it to play like, there are thousands of tiny rules that will only be invoked once in a basement on a drunken idea. But you have to solidify all the tiny details if you want everything to flow smoothly.

As an example, in my local ring of players we have a few different types. One, we’ll call her wife for anonymity, loves playing finicky characters who are more about the “RP” part of the game and less about the “fictional murder” bits. As IF! Then there’s the polar opposite, let’s use codename Watson for him. His guys are always like blah blah okay yeah yeah gotcha…okay I attack the gazebo. You can’t attack the gazebo! “Well I need to kill something or my character goes into withdrawls.”

So far I’ve got prototype character sheets drawn up and some prototype scenarios played out on paper just to test the numbers a bit. I think by the time I’m retiring I definitely should have enough to post in the blog sometime too. I was going to do it this week, but we’ve had a few distractions getting suspended from school and I definitely think it’s worth putting the fun and games on the back-burner to resolve first!

If I’m lucky, you’ll all be so out of breath from yelling “NEEERRRRRRRD” the whole time that you won’t resist and you’ll just accept what I give you.

A Dream is a wish your heart makes…

Tina here. It has been a while since I was last able to make a post! Kris made sure to bust my chops about getting a post done for this week.

Today I would like to talk about dreams. Not like the kind you have when you are sleeping but just things you want to do with your life. Big topic I know. I think we can work on this.

First thing, I wanted to make sure to touch on this subject far from any dates that might draw you to make yourself promises out of obligation. I want a more organic feel to the ideas you have. So, to get this whole ball rolling, let me share some of my dreams with you. NOTE: Many of them are contradictory to each other. That’s okay I think. It gives me lots of paths to look at.

Small time dreams:

So this is anything from getting Nik to pick up his own toys without being asked, to finishing my new Jenna Moreci book.

Small time dreams are there to help remind you that little steps can have a large change in your life. I like to have lots of little dreams that I can work toward. Currently, I want to help Kris get our kitchen in order, renovate the yard, which can be broken down as: plant in front garden, clear out spaces, plant garden in back, fertilizing the yard, and setting up a single place for Izzy to go to the bathroom and training her to use it. All for the dream of having a lovely yard for my friends, and family to enjoy this summer. I want to be able to host people during events like RTX where I work as a Guardian. I live close enough to Austin that doing a cook out or something with local Guardians would be fun. My son is also starting to get to the age where he wants to have people over to play with him. I want them to be able to have nerf battles out in the yard without having to worry about landmines of dog poo or fire ant hills. Our kitchen has slowly started to build up the things we want to use to make our own food, however, we are quickly running out of space for it all. We needed to work on storage solutions. We made a great stride on this front this week in buying a large shelf from Costco to keep our small appliances and Nik’s lunch stuff on. So he can help in making his own lunch each day.

 

Big/Distant Dreams:

These are not impossible, they are going to just take some work to get to the end of, and I have to keep reminding myself what I am working toward. College. I have been attempting to go to college and further my education since I found out I was pregnant my Senior year of high school. I always found reasons to fall out or fail, or reasons found me. However, now I am enrolled in a free online school working toward my degree in Business. Which will push me toward my other dreams. Such as running my own cafe. I had a dream my first year of high school, that one day I wanted to open my own cafe. A place that I would have wanted, and that I heard my friends longing for. Just a place that was easy to love. I have named, dreamed, and built this place in my head for years and years. Getting my degree is the first step to moving me to understanding everything it will take to not only make it happen, but make it work for a long time. This dream however does directly conflict with my life long dream of living in Japan. Japan has been a dream of mine since I was 11. I was largely influenced by a man named Ken Yamamoto. He was a family friend and gave me my first taste and understanding of his home country. Since 11 years old. I wanted to go to Japan. I went for my 17th birthday, thanks to hard work and an amazing Aunt and Uncle, I was granted the chance to visit for 3 months of my summer. I loved every second of it. Even when I cried, even when I was unsure. I loved it all. I want to move there. However, now I have a family. Not having a degree limits my options, and each time I take a step closer, I get pulled a little tighter to stay stateside.

 

These are all things that I am always dreaming of and working for. It keeps me active every day, working toward each one. What kind of dreams are you working for?