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.

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?

Building my support

Tina here! I want to look back on the last year of mental health improvement that I have been working on and mostly remind myself of how far I have come and how far I can still go.

When I started out on my journey to help my depression, I didn’t have much hope that anything would change. I spent everyday in bed. Food and drinks were brought to me. I entertained my son with videos and video games and limited my interactions with people to the point that I truly believed I had no one besides my husband. Even then he was just putting up with his lot in life because he would never give up. I had convinced myself with what I felt was firm evidence that no one wanted to be around me, that they put up with me for one reason or another.

One day, Kris said that there was help being offered at work. He encouraged me to take the information and just talk to someone. I didn’t do it because I had some epiphany that I could get better. No, I truly thought my family would be better off if I was gone. I did it because the one person I saw as having a choice to stand by me was asking me to try. Not some like lovey dovey reason. Just that it might make his chore of caring for me a little bit easier.

So I called the number and talked with a coordinator who took action to get me a list of people in my area I could go talk to. Which is great but it took many reminders from Kris and several follow up calls for me to even start calling anyone on that list. I didn’t know what to say or if I would say something wrong. I tried several of the numbers only to leave messages that were never returned or to be told they had no openings. I was defeated. I gave up. Kris had a few more weeks of sad mopey me who had “tried”.

I get a call from the wellness coordinator with my husband’s work who was check in to see if there was anything she could do to help because of recent ER visits for migraines. I don’t know what sparked it in me but when she said, “But seriously if there is ANYTHING I can help you with please let me know.” I cracked. I started bawling and telling her of my struggle to find someone to talk to and how I had gone over the list and still couldn’t find someone.

This amazing nurse jumped and started calling for opening herself. Then gave me a list of those. She then helped me set up a Primary Care Doctor so that we could get me started on long term treatment plans. I called and left messages on 3 phone number and felt defeated again. I was sitting there crying about how even if I wanted to change that the universe was against it, when she called. My saving light. She called me back and set up to have me come in the next morning.

Jane was my push. She saw me not as someone broken and needing to be fixed, but as a strong intelligent woman who had faught for so long and was so tired now. She helped me rebuild that confidence and self reliance that I had once been so proud of, and she pushed me to seek help for the things I often dismiss as unimportant.

She helped me realize that it is okay to be tired. It is okay to feel useless. But you have to remember who you are in your core, and set up people around you who know you and can remind you at times as well. Build your ladder as my favorite YouTuber Martina says. How to build your own ladder.

What kind of ladder can you start building today?

Enlightened and Rambling

Howdy ya’ll, Tina here.

I am now in my 6th week of classes at the University of the People, UoPeople for short. It is a tuition free, online based, accredited university that is open to people around the world. When I say tuition free, I mean, you don’t pay for books, you don’t pay for classes, you only pay for your application and final tests.

“Tina, that’s great and all but I don’t really care…”

Yeah I know and you are so sweet to be so supportive of me in my three sentence intro. I only said something because I am so excited about the application I have already given to some of my current classes.

I am seeking a Business Management degree and in my business class I had to create my own mission, vision, goals, and strategy using the various methods we are being taught. They were to pertain to my own personal life and what I want out of it. Well, see, trouble is, I have never really known what I wanted out of life. I have always held on dearly to the dream of living in Japan, but other than that I never set my mind that I would become something more than just me. Mostly because I don’t tend to think very highly of myself. Now before you get all, “Oh poor Tina” , I have to say that a great deal of who I am today as a person was shaped by my past. Even more of who I am has been shaped over the last few years as I learned to move past that and push on with becoming my own person. So I would say the whole self discovery thing was just, uh, delayed. I talked about my assignments with family members who all without knowing what the others said gave me the same advice.

“Tina, you love Japan and writing. Always have.”

See, writing as a kid was therapeutic for me. It provided a way for me to press my own feelings, goals, hopes, dreams and demons onto someone else. Pretending for a while that it wasn’t me going through it. I wrote everything, love stories, poems, dark and depressing or light and hopeful, I wrote adventure, and I wrote horror. Lots of horror. I don’t really know why writing didn’t pop up to me right away as a possible goal for myself. I guess really because I think of it more of a thing someone does as they work a real job. However, as my mentor and cyborg queen overlord has said over and over again, Writing is hard, and anyone who says differently isn’t a writer. Writing is a real job, with insane hours, a cranky and sometimes rude boss, unrealistic goals and dreams, and a killer time sink if you just quit. So if you dive into it, you gotta be ready to live it. Family and friends don’t support you, or worse do but don’t understand the kind of commitment you need to give to writing and call you selfish, it is gonna happen.

I have been given the most amazing ideas and creativity that can spin up yards of ideas in an instant. My husband is logical, intelligent and always willing to help me out. He is my chosen editor and key reader for my works.

 

So, if you have never done it before, find out what you want from life. It might surprise you and lead you to joy you didn’t know you had access to.

Creatively Speaking

Howdy all, Tina here.

Kris and I have been talking about it and we would like to let you all know that we are planning to start a podcast. We want it to be a more personalized voice to our whatever we end up making our blog post about that week.

Now, so much has happened. We got decent mics so that we would sound less horrible and we both have been doing research into what type of podcasts out there might be similar to ours. We talked about format and how we would upload it. For now we are working on getting an Apple ID, Google Play and others to post the podcast too. For now it might just be via a link in the blog post to our youtube page.

“Tina, what will you guys talk about?”

Psh, what won’t we talk about?!

Politics… I don’t wanna talk politics, because that requires much more research and dedication to time sinking activities that I just frankly don’t want to do.

Other than that, EVERYTHING. Science, parenting, school, writing, crafting, cooking, you freaking name it and we are willing to try it out. I want to do a weekly update about our life then just jump into whatever topic we are doing that week.

“What if I don’t want to listen to your soft, honey smooth voices?”

That’s fine… I guess. We will still be posting a weekly blog, the podcast will just be supplemental to it.

“Will you talk about my (INSERT PRODUCT/PROJECT HERE)?”

Sure, but we are going to be honest. That’s just who we are. I don’t want my name attached to an idea that I don’t support. But you wanna talk about your book. Want us to talk about your podcast? Meh, why not!

Also, for those of you who didn’t know we do have a twitter, @keyboardcouple . Tweet us a tweet. Well, thank you all for listening and I can’t wait for you all to hear from us soon!

In which Kris ends things

Kris here,

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately practicing writing short ideas in a concise format. See, I’ve got about a billion ideas in my head just like everybody else, and I can start them off pretty dang well. We’re talking ideas for days here. But I’ve been tripping up around the 50-60% mark on the whole actually having a plot thing. I’m like oh man this is fantastic my main character is A BOSS! And Tina’s like “but Kris what’s he bossly doing” and I’m like “well look he just set a landslide on fire and threw it at an army” and she’s like “oh yeah. Okay but why did he do that?” So of course because it’s an ARMY hello!? But what’s it doing, why’s my guy caught up in it? PSH! Who cares we need more fire in here! “How does it end?” Uhh well I suppose he just, I don’t know he wins a medal and lives in a castle.

Okay that’s not a real life example but I feel it’s exaggeratory enough to get the point across. I have to combat my lack of forward progress or my actual weak point in writing: Ending. The. Story. These things ramble on forever, like holy cow man put a lid on it already! I get exhausted reading through my own notes a week later. This is a problem of course – if you can’t read your own work, who else is going to put out the effort? So I did what any rational adult in my place would do and I just Googled around for like an hour looking for an easy way out.

Ugh, turns out there’s no easy way out. Well there might be, but the people with those secrets are greedy. All the advice I found regarding “How to end my goddang story” revolved around things like “5 ways to end your story. Number 7 will wig you out!” There’s probably a lot of good info out there, but my attention span is basically a knock knock joke and sometimes it’s easier done than said.

I ended up devising a cool practice to help me out. Yeah you guessed it – I just wrote a bunch of endings. I got a (basically) brand new notebook and a pen, and I wrote a brief concept and wrote a plot and ending immediately. Okay, the first try was ten pages long. That’s why it’s practice! I’ve got another few 8-10 page ideas thrown around in various places – I haven’t actually kept them together, that would be silly. The last few days I’ve actually managed to piece together a few one or two page ideas in an outline-able format. This might seem like a trivial issue to both accomplished- and non-writers, but remember: nobody reads stories for the beginning. I’ve never chatted up a fellow reader like “boy this book sure started out amazing. I’m going to spread the word, but just about the first 50 pages!” No way- they’re doing this for that sweet endorphine rush at the end. You gotta nail that bit.

There are probably quite a few authors and writers hanging out here thinking to themselves “Wow this guy is really dumb. I write 100 pages a day, it’s pretty easy.” I totally agree, kudos to your monstrous efforts on the 100 page thing, that’s really good. Lots of people I talk to personally or threads I read through on writing forums are all about how to move a story forward, or I wrote my character into a corner – how do I get out of this?

Try it out sometime – spitting out 300 pages of book into 5 pages is fast, you can write and re-write 20 times with various changes or whatever you want in any writing style that fits your theme. Mine usually don’t include names – the last one I wrote had a main character named “Kid,” supported by two characters named “bro” and “ninja” and the antagonists were “bastardlord” and “gloriousleader.” Of course they were fleeing from the country of THIS to the country of THAT. The important thing isn’t the details of these (hopefully throwaway) stories, it’s the practice you get in resolving those fine details.

Remember, names aren’t important, backstories giving your protagonist reasons to throw flaming landslides at people are important.