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Note to self: Portage downloads and installs programs from the /usr/portage/distfiles/ directory.

Moving on...

Posted on 2017.12.16 at 01:55
Now that I've gotten the anger out, what messaging platforms are you using these days now that AIM is dead? I mean besides Facebook which I already know about.

An angry eulogy for AIM

Posted on 2017.12.16 at 01:40
Current Mood: angryangry
Tags: , , ,
^%$$*#%#@ AOL had to kill AIM this morning?! I knew it was coming today but they couldn't have waited till midnight like any decent service? Lots of logs, my buddy lists, all gone? ;___; In hindsight I should have exported them sooner but I just lost a good bunch of my adolescence. And I don't have any backups of that stuff, because, well, my backups failed. Curse you AOL, and your decades of ineptitude and callous implosion. You're a shell of your former self- a shell of a shell of your former self even; all you have left is email and I wonder how long that will last. This proves that the cloud is not a safe space to rely upon to store your information.

Admittedly, few of my former buddies signed on much anymore and even I didn't use it much but there was always the chance we would happen to sign on at the same time and catch up on stuff and talk about old times. Now that is an impossibility.

AIM and net neutrality in the same week- it is no coincidence. There was no technical reason to kill AIM. The powers that be want to censor the Internet and wipe away a history of libre speech and freedom. December 15 will b remembered as the day the Internet succumbed to the machinations of a powerful few and turned its back on a semi-anarchic adolescence and grew into an Orwellian nightmare.

It disgusts me. And the loss of my AIM account, without me getting a chance to export my data, saddens me greatly. All in all, a depressing turn of events. Goodbye AIM.

May you rest in peace.

10-Minute Space Warp: Revised

Posted on 2017.11.22 at 12:34
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Tags: ,

Here's my work from the Coursersa Intro to Game Design course, this time assignment 2. The criteria for this assignment was to make a new game (or revision of the old) incorporating the feedback from the playtesting of my previous assignment. As I had more time to work on it, this game is a bit (but only a bit) more polished.

I'm still not happy with the rules and I'm chafing under the assignment parameters- limiting it to one A4 sized board and only being a one-player game. But here's what I've got:

1) From the previous assignment, what peer feedback did you find the most
useful, and how did you incorporate it into your new game?

In the first version my game had no walls, more haphazardly placed
teleportation spots and slightly different rules. Also, even though it was
supposed to, the original game had no rules text at the top of the board. I
just ran out of time drawing the grid.

I added the walls because the game was too easy and basically came down to
"Do I want to use the teleporters or simply make a break for it running across
the board?". The walls are supposed to act as impediments to make the game more

I changed the location of the teleportation spots because in the original
game they were too valuable. You'd hop on one near the starting row, and then
just keep teleporting until you got to the one near the exit. In this version
the teleporters are clustered around the center of the board, making them less
valuable (but perhaps now useless).

I changed the rules to make teleporting more dangerous; in the first version
they were really toothless.

But I also changed the rules to give you more "lives" and a slightly
different win condition. In the first version you only had one pawn and won the
game by getting it off the board. This version, of course, gives you five but
you only need to get three off. I think I like this setup better.

2) Describe how you articulated the world or gameplay rules in this
game. Specifically, have you used documentation, narration, or in-game
discovery? How has your approach to game rules, instructions, or gameplay
enhanced balance or engagement in your game?

There's really no "world" - it's an abstract strategy game. The
documentation, as I stated above, is now written at the top of the board. Which
is an aesthetic improvement, but I hesitate to attribute balance or engagement
to it because honestly the thing is so rushed and limited by the parameters of
the assignment... I don't want to want it to be judged on those terms.

ETA: In case anyone actually wants to try the game out it would probably help if I linked to the gameboards I made to play the game. Here's the SVG version of 10-minute space warp (version 2) and I also made a 10-Minute Space Warp (version 2) PDF.

Senet variation

Posted on 2017.11.22 at 08:20
Current Location: United States, Pennsylvania, Denver
Current Mood: upbeat
Tags: , , , , , ,

My latest foray into game design, this time completing assignment #2 of MIT's Intro to Game Design course. Basically the assignment was to add a rule to an extant game. I chose Senet and my addition was an ability to force an opponent's pawn back to the square 1 one a good die roll. I briefly playtested this with my dad and now consider the rule a failure, but if anyone is interested in seeing what I did, my write-up continues below.

1) Choose a game to analyze, and analyze it, describing its mechanics and systems.

My choice of game is Senet, a very old game from ancient Egypt. It is a very simple two-player game, with a board consisting of of three rows of ten squares and two teams of about five pawns each (one team of pawns are shaped like cones, the other like spindles). The original rules aren't known but varying reconstructions are offered. You can read the basic rules in this pdf: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/1950/senetpdf .

Four painted sticks are used as randomizers; they're basically two sided dice. These determine how many spaces you can move one pawn each turn.

The game is a race to move all your pawns off the board before your opponent gets their pawns off. There are two main tactics to achieve victory. The first is to advance your pawn onto an opponents pawn; when you do your pawn and the opponents pawn swap spaces. The second main tactic is to position your pawns consecutively in groups of three- no pawn can advance past three or more consecutively spaced pawns. These two maneuvers add variation and strategy to what would otherwise be a rather dry predictable game.

2) Decide upon a major change to the player’s experience in the game, and implement it.

My alternation is to add a player vs. player element to the game beyond just landing on your opponent's piece. In my version a pawn can spend a turn attacking an opponent pawn one space ahead, even when the opponent pawn is otherwise protected by being adjacent to a friendly piece. To attack, flip a coin (or throwing stick if you're using throwing sticks) and if the attacking player's "roll" comes up heads/the painted side, the attack is successful. Otherwise the defending defender wins. Whichever piece loses then swaps places with any pawn pre-existing on the starting square (if no piece is on the starting square the the loser is simply teleported there without replacing anything).

The intention is to add an extra bit of spice to a game that can otherwise turn into a stick throwing grind. It gives a player who's trailing behind a hope that a carefully positioned pawn and a good die roll can turn around a losing game. It gives a well-positioned player reservations about positioning their pawn adjacent to an opponent's- an extra consideration that may hamper an otherwise quick path to victory. Finally, when invoked, it makes a single die roll dramatic, suspenseful and hopefully fun.

3) Have testers play the original game and then the altered one. Ask the testers what the major differences were between the two games.

There really weren't major differences. I playtested the game twice and my modification only really came up one time, at the end of the first game, when I had to decide whether to risk a possible victory for a 50% chance of defeat. I decided to play conservatively and not chance the victory, and I lost.

Upon reflection, my modification really wasn't very good. There's a statistically optimum solution each time, reducing the game to a high-stakes puzzle. There's no push-your-luck aspect like in Can't Stop, nor much of any interaction with the rival player. There's not enough choice to make it interesting, and it's the sort of rule you only invoke when you're certain to lose otherwise; in a way it's akin to mortgaging your properties in Monopoly. And like mortgaging properties in Monopoly, the game grinds on out of formality until the player, obviously in the lead, wins.

Ten-minute time warp

Posted on 2017.10.14 at 04:11
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated

In preparation for NaGaDeMon I'm taking a couple of introductory courses on game design, one on EdX from MIT and one on Coursera from the California Institute of the Arts. For the first week, both courses require me to design a quick and dirty game, and me being the model of efficiently that I am, I've decided to design one game that fulfills both assignments. Both courses are designed around peer review and interactive participation via fora HOWEVER it seems the message boards aren't available anymore/yet/unless you pay. So I'm taking to Livejournal and posting the first assignment here:

Here's the criteria for the Coursera assignment:

This week you are asked to make a simple game on a single sheet of paper. Your
game should include:

  • A clearly articulated goal, and

  • A degree of difficulty enhanced by chance
    and/or skill. Additionally, you must keep the following limitations in mind:

  • The game should all fit on one piece of paper, ideally letter-sized or A4 so
    people can print it out, if they wish.

  • The game should be a one-player game.

  • A short description and instructions for your game should be at the top of
    the page.

  • The only extra thing anyone should need to play are two six-sided dice,
    which are an optional element you may include in your game. (If you don’t have
    dice, there are websites that can simulate dice rolls, such as
    https://www.random.org/dice .)
    Even though there are a lot of limitations for
    this assignment, there’s plenty you can do within those limitations. (Hint:
    review the previous video for some ideas.)

You can draw your game by hand, or create it on your computer. Scan it and
save it as a PDF. Be sure the image is legible for your peer reviewers!

Don’t forget to include a title for your game, and submit!

The criteria for EdX:

Creating Your Game

Gather supplies:

  • Timer

  • Paper - one large blank piece for a game board, a smaller
    lined one for writing rules on. (Index cards or post it notes
    are also invaluable.) - Writing instruments - a ball point pen
    & a heavy marker. One color is enough! - Markers - could be
    pennies, dice, poker chips.

Make a game: Remember this is a speed exercise. Do the first
thing that comes to mind, and move on to the next step.

You’re not looking to make a good game, or a balanced game, or
even a fun game - you’re just looking to make a playable
game, quickly!
Go with the flow.

  • Set the time to 10 minutes, and start it.

  • Choose a player interaction style:

Competitive: Only one player can win; the rest lose.
Cooperative: The players work together to win the game.

  • Choose a setting. With the setting, you also create a
    theme for your game - if you choose space, it’s unlikely your
    players will be exploring a haunted house. - Create the game
    Grab the marker and draw a board. It’s ok if it is
    nothing but lines, dots, and abstract representations of what
    you imagine things to be: for example, if you’re drawing a set
    of planets, draw a bunch of circles scattered randomly around
    the board. If you’re drawing the woods, then those circles
    might be trees! Keep your marker handy! If you add a rule that
    requires something to be added or subtracted from the board,
    you can edit as necessary. - Choose a goal for your
    What do they do to win the game? Get the most of
    something? (Points, bird nests, rooms explored, planets blown
    up, fish eaten, etc.) Get someplace first? Visit a series of
    places first? Remove all of something from the board? Make up
    some other winning condition! - How do your players achieve
    their goal?
    You only need one player action. Giving your
    players options adds complexity, and sometimes depth, of play.
    What action(s) can a player take to advance toward their goal?
    What action(s) can a player take to hinder another player?
    What action(s) can a player take to help another player?
    (Cooperative games especially!) If players move around on the
    board, how do they do it, how far can they go, and how do they
    know ‘where’ they can move? How many actions can a player take
    each turn? One is a good default! How do players lose? -
    Starting game state: If the players are collecting things,
    destroying things, or visiting things...where are they, what
    are they, and how do they get placed on the board? - What
    interferes with players achieving their goals?
    Could be each
    other (see above). The game might have actions, adding
    complications to the players’ game. - Choose game actions:
    Very necessary for cooperative games, unless the Starting Game
    Setup has all the challenge needed. Does the game need to do
    something each turn or round to keep the game challenging for
    the players? Does the game create more things? Destroy them?
    Move them around? Does the game move the players around? Is
    there a time limit (or a turn limit) for the players to
    win/lose the game by? When do the game actions happen? -
    Finishing Up: Once you feel like you’ve got a complete
    game - it’s OK to turn off the timer. If you’ve got time left,
    it’s also fine to do some very fast playthroughs - just a few
    moves - to see how the game plays and feels, and make some
    changes based on that. Don’t be afraid to do partial
    playthroughs - play it for just a minute or two, and as soon
    as you notice something you think needs changing, change it,
    and start over.

And here's the game I came up with:

10 Minute Time Warp: The game

Draw the board

To create a board for my game I drew out a 14x20 grid of boxes on a sheet of graph paper. (This took up most of my 10 minutes, I'm sorry to say, and I ran out of time before I had completed the board or written the rules.)

Mentally number the columns and rows (with the paper oriented portrait-like), starting in the upper left. Now at column eleven, row three write a '1'. At column two, row four, write a '5'. At column nine, row nine write a '2'. At column three, row thirteen, write a '3'. At column fourteen, row twelve write a '6'.


Place a die on the bottom row. This will be your pawn. As this is a one player game, only one pawn is needed to play.


Each turn move your pawn 1d6 spaces. If you end your turn on a numbered space roll the die again and teleport your pawn to the space with the corresponding die result. If you roll a four, rotate your pawn so the so the number showing is decreased by one (for example if you roll a four with at the start of the game when your pawn shows a six, rotate the pawn such that a five is on top). If you roll a number corresponding to the space your pawn is currently on, move the pawn back the the starting row.

End game

The goal of the game is to is to get your pawn from the bottom of the board to the top of the board (in as few turns as possible). If you accomplish that, you're victorious. You lose if your pawn is reduced to zero (i.e. you roll a four after landing on a numbered space while your pawn was already oriented with a one on top).


So how well does the game meet this week's objectives?

  • ✓ The game has a clear goal (getting across the board) and the possibility of
    failure (rolling too many '4's on teleportation spaces can be fatal).

  • ✓ It includes difficulty- the challenge is mostly provided by chance (rolling the die).

  • ✓ The game all fits on a single sheet of paper.

  • ✓ The game is single player.

  • ✓ The game was created in 10 minutes, albeit with some forethought and the rules and description added afterward.

  • ✓ The rules are listed above (although I didn't get them written out
    during the 10 minute period, so it's kind of cheating).

  • ✓ Does the game have a setting? Well, the game was more designed as an abstract strategy game than anything else, but I suppose, with the teleportation, you could theme it with some sort of Sci-Fi setting. Or maybe wizards.

  • ✓ The game fits on a single piece of graph paper and requires nothing more than the board and two dice to play.

  • ✓ As a single player game it's not competitive OR cooperative but if I have to choose one I'll say it's competitive because you can compete
    (against yourself or against another player) through successive games,
    attempting to get across the board faster.

  • ✓ The game has a very specific starting state.

  • ✓ What impedes the player as they attempt to win the game? Bad rolls,


I played the game a couple times and I made the following observations:

1) Kind of boring.

  • Can I fix it by removing a rule? The game mechanics are rather minimalist as is, but I notice that the failure condition almost NEVER comes into play as rolling a four when attempting to teleport happens so rarely that the rule might as well not be there. However I do like the possibility of loss and I think there should be some risk when teleporting.

    • Can I fix it my changing a rule? Maybe. If I keep evolving this game I
      think I'll make teleportation more dangerous.

    • Can I fix it by adding a new rule? If I continue development on this sort of game I think I'll add in threats other than rolling fours while teleporting.

    2) The game is too predictable with few meaningful choices. On average it takes about seven turns to move across the board even without teleporting. That means you either go for the teleporting on the first few turns hoping for good rolls
    or you don't. Once you make that decision there's not really more meaningful choices to be had.

    • Can I fix it by removing a rule? Not really. Again, the game mechanics are minimalist, there's not much to remove.

    • Can I fix it by changing a rule or adding a new one? Yes, if I continue working on this game I plan to add more obstacles on the board (I would have added walls to the board if I hadn't run out of time).

    3) Victory condition is kind of blah.

    • Can I fix it by removing a rule? No, right now there's only one way to win- if I remove that goal and didn't replace it with anything the game would never end!

    • Can I fix it my changing a rule? Not sure but maybe if there was some way to change the goal over the course of play that would spice things up some.

    • Can I fix it by adding a new rule? I'd need a new rule to determine how
      the victory condition would change.

    Should any of you out on the Internet feel inclined to critique my game, feel free. The game is more of a brainstorm than a balanced and fun game (this is week one, mind) but I welcome all feedback.

    How to build better recipe sites. Like, now.

    Posted on 2017.09.26 at 01:58
    Current Location: United States, Pennsylvania
    Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
    Tags: , , ,
    You know what the Internet needs more of? Recipe sites that aren't dependent on Javascript. I'm frak'n tired of lowering my NoScript protections just to search a glorified cookbook. And it would really be desirable if someone built a SPARQL endpoint for cooking. Feastie used to come at me with all sorts of recipes full of exotic Indian ingredients, but now that I have urad dal and kallonji in my pantry when I search for recipes that use them I turn up next to nothing. What's with that? I know the recipes are out there! Just let let me craft a SPARQL query. But no. It's unstructured text all the way. And unstructured text search that doesn't even work, because I know there are recipes which include these ingredients but they're not turning up in the search results. *Sigh*

    The Day We FIght Back, privacy

    The Day We Fight Back

    Posted on 2014.02.11 at 22:19

    Fight Back Today.
    I oppose mass surveillance and you should too. Click the above link to find out what you can do to support the cause.

    Have computer problems? Check out this site!

    Posted on 2013.05.23 at 22:23

    A guy I know and who has helped me with my old PCs is setting up a computer business and he asked me to do some promo for it; so here I am, plugging it. Check out his webpage: http://zackscomputerinfo.angelfire.com/

    Zack is easy to work with and I recommend his services. :)

    RPG Personality test result

    Posted on 2012.10.28 at 00:37
    Tags: ,

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