Drunken phone typing

So I’m currently at a party, but I still have to post so here we are. I’m sitting on a porch currently while my friends explain what palindromes are to each other. Apparently, one of my friends wrote a program to figure out palindrome numbers to three million digits.

If you’re wondering how I’m getting this to you it’s actually from the WordPress app on my phone. I’m typing this out one character at a time with my thumb. While drunk, no less.

There are Japanese girls that write entire novels this way while riding the train. I have no idea how the fuck they do it. I always wanted to do a long form piece this way, but I never found the project for this format. Let me tell you, this is an entirely different way of writing.

Now we are in the living room watching The Day of the Doctor, which is the mini episode before the 50th anniversary anniversary of Doctor Who. If you haven’t seen it’ I highly recommend it.

And since we are watching YouTube, everyone is yelling out videos to watch. It gets bad fast.

So I think I’ve hit my quota for today. No one can argue I’m not trying hard to hit this challenge.

Lords of Waterdeep Mini Review

I’ve mentioned this before, but I got a copy of Lords of Waterdeep, which is an RPG based in the Dungeons and Dragons universe.  I was going to do a full review on here but I’ve only played it twice so I’m just going to give my first impressions.

The game is a “working placement” game where each player fights over resources.  In this game, the resources are adventures that are used to complete quests and score points.  Each round, players take turns pacing there pieces – called agents – in different locations on the board to collect money or adventurers in order to complete quests and score points.  After eight rounds, the player with the most points wins.

It sounds like a simple premise, but it has a lot of deep strategy.  The quests you are tying to complete for points are played face up so every player can see what every other player is working towards.  However, at the start of the game each player is dealt a lord of Waterdeep that has a strategy on it for getting extra points.  This is dealt facedown so nobody knows what you’re working towards, which means that you will have to pay attention to what each person is trying to do during the game in order to ruin their plans.

Normally, I’m not a very agro player, but I do like the ways you can mess up another player in this game.  You can do so by either taking a spot that develops a resource they were trying to get, or by playing Intrigue cards that have special effects to change gameplay for a turn.  It’s not super aggressive, and it always helps you while still messing up someone else, which I find the best strategy games do.  

The game itself is very well made.  It has a nice big board that will take up a good size kitchen table.  The pieces are either made out of wood or thick cardboard, both of which would probably survive a spill if you are like me and enjoy playing games while having an adult beverage.  There are about 200 hundred cards used in this game, which are made out of a really robust card stock that deals really fast and just feels good in your hands.  Its the same stuff that really good poker cards are made out of.

None of that matters if the game play isn’t good, and let me tell you, it is. The thing I like best about the game is that there are many ways to win.  You could build buildings to help you collect resources, you could fuck over other players with Intrigue cards, or you could just focus on completing quests.  And that’s just to name the few that I’ve found.  That problem with a lot of games like this is that there winds up being a “Master Strategy” that if you don’t use you are going to lose to players who do.  Lords of Waterdeep doesn’t seem to have this problem, which means each player gets to play their own game their own way while still interacting with the other players.

If you are into strategy games that give you a lot of elements to manipulate, I would totally suggest picking the game up.  The rules are simple enough to quickly explain to your friends who may never have heard of the game.  That said, if your group of friends aren’t experienced gamers, this isn’t the one to start with.  I’d suggest Cardcassonne for that.  But if you have people you game with all the time and are looking for something new, I’d suggest giving Lords of Waterdeep a look.

Making Things With Paper Craft

Making Things With Paper Craft

In the last few years a lot of light has been shed on all sorts of sub cultures and hobbies.  With the advent of social media it would seem that just about every strange group is getting its time in the sun.  One that has come to my attention a while back that still interests me is paper craft.

The concept is pretty simple, which is probably why it has as much traction as it does.  You cut out the pattern of any object and then glue it into shape.  This isn’t entirely new.  When I was a kid you could buy books with pop out cardboard shapes that you could make models of cars or buildings out of.  But, of course, the Internet turns everything up to eleven.

Paper craft as a scene started with patterns of cube like dolls that you could print out and make.  These were usually of movie and TV show characters like Batman.  The open source nature of the Internet allowed people to share new and increasingly more complex patterns with each other.

Now you can find models of any object or character online.  I have seen someone make full scale Iron Man armor, or a statue of any space ship from sci-fi.  All of this comes from the same tools and materials: a printer, a knife, paper, and some glue.

The thing I like most about paper craft is that it lowers the barrier of entry of making things.  Paper craft is a sub genera of the Maker movement, which is a group of people who build all sorts of things using rapid prototyping techniques.  This usually involves 3D printers, CNC machines, microcontrollers, and hard edge materials like metal.  These things can be very complicated and not the friendliest to new comers.  Especially if you are teaching yourself.

Paper craft eliminates that in two ways: the materials are super cheap.  It’s paper.  If you screw up, you just print the pattern again.  And the patterns themselves are either self-explanatory or have the directions printed on them, which make starting very easy.  Plus, most of us have done something like this when we were kids, so its something that most of us should be comfortable with.

I don’t think paper craft has hit critical mass and punched through into the main stream yet, but I think it will.  There is so much untapped creativity out in the world now and this is an easy way to access it.  I have some projects with this that I might try, I’ll let you know if anything cool comes of it.  Or if I fuck up in a major way, which, let’s face it, would be a better post.

And hey, it’ll give me something to do with my printer.

photo credit: a440 via photopin cc

Doctor Who: The World’s First Transhuman

Doctor Who: The World’s First Transhuman

November 23 is the 50th anniversary of the British TV show Doctor Who, and like all good connoisseur of Science Fiction, I am a huge Doctor Who fan.  I’ve been into the show ever since the reboot in 2005.  The Sci-Fi channel – back when it was spelled like that – got a hold of it and started playing it after the second season of Battlestar Galactica.  It had aliens, time travel, and comedy.  I was hooked, and so is the rest of US based sci-fi nerds.

But this wasn’t the first time Doctor Who had tried to make it in America.  In 1996, Fox tried to bring back the show with a TV movie.  This was going to function as a back door pilot.  While that may sound a little dirty, what it actually means is a made for TV movie that – if it gets enough ratings – it will get picked up to series.  This was actually how the Battlestar Galactica remake go turned into a series.

I remember that film back in 96.  I recorded it off TV, but I messed up the tape somehow and the sound cut out about half way through.  It didn’t really matter.  I thought the visuals were cool, so I watched my tape a few times even if I wasn’t sure of everything that was going on.

Sadly the views of my tape did not translate to ratings and show wasn’t picked up for series until the middle of the next decade.  Cut to now, and I just got done watching some episodes of reboot and it got me thinking.  Why was this show canceled back in 89 and why wasn’t it picked up in 96?  Why did it take almost 20 years for us to see a proper Dr. Who series on TV?

I think our society wasn’t ready yet for the kind of metaphor that the Doctor represents.  By 2005, the Internet had proven it was here to stay, bottom had basically fallen out of space travel, and cell phones were just on the edge of becoming full computers and usher in the Mobile Revolution.  My generation’s great journey isn’t going to be one to the west or space, it’s going to be to the inside.  We are going to use the web and microcomputers to become Transhuman.

This is what the Doctor represents.  He is a metaphor for the Transhuman.  He’s a lens for what we can become.  His race conquered death through technology, which if you follow tech news, is something that we are constantly brushing our fingers against.  He seemingly knows everything about every culture even if he hasn’t been to that place before.  This is something that was as a culture or experiencing for the first time with our ability to check Google and Wikipedia at any time from our cell phones.  And the technology he uses is so unknowable that it just looks like nonsense when it is being operated, which if you really think about it, is what our technology would look like to any outsider.

Every society throughout time has had to deal with changes and its surroundings.  As a way of dealing with this, we create metaphors in stories to explain our “now” to us on a subconscious level.
Our current situation is this: we are becoming more than human everyday because of our constant connection to the Internet and our evolving technology.  It’s scary because its new and we need some way of making sense of it.  There isn’t a better metaphor for this than the Doctor, who is alway changing and reinventing himself as we must learn to do, all while still having a good time.

Happy 50th birthday Doctor Who, we are going to need you for the next fifty.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Week 2

It’s the second week of my blogging challenge and how am I doing?  Well, I haven’t quite yet, but I still haven’t wrote a post ahead so I’m always working on my posts about two hours before the midnight deadline.  I guess I haven’t talked about that before.  Another rule to this blogging challenge that I set myself is that I have to have the blog posted before midnight for the post to count for that day.  This keeps me for putting it off and putting it off until this three in the morning on a work day and I just give myself permission to go to bed.

I’ve been down this road with these kinds of self challenges before so I know all of my sneaky tricks that I use to get out of them.  It sounds like I don’t like writing doesn’t it?  Like if I was so in love with this, why don’t I just easy bang out thousands of words at a go?  Why all the games?

Because writing is hard.  That is why I love it, but to do it well takes a lot of effort.  You have to dig within yourself and find the Good Stuff that buried within a lot of just Okay Stuff.  It’s not always the most fun process.  Cupled with the fact that writing when you aren’t getting paid for it requires creating a habit within yourself.  I have been very, very bad at this.  Even in college when I was writing the most, I only did it a few days a month.  And I still managed to write over 20 short stories in just a few years.

But the writing has been easy for the last few weeks.  And something happened to me this week that should make things a lot easier: I got new glasses.  Normally that shouldn’t impact writing but I haven’t had new glasses in about six years.  In that time, my old ones had been screeched to hell and back, so it would get a little annoying to write at the computer for  long periods of time.  I could just focus on what I was doing and ignore the scratches but after a while It would get to me.  More the fact that I hadn’t gotten around to fixing the damn things than my eyes, but both were in play.

As far as the other things I’ve been doing aside from just writing, adding the blog to StumbleUpon was one of the best things I could have done.  My added readership has just about doubled, so if you have a blog, I highly recommend it.  Look forward to me trying more things with the blog.  I’m going to try finding some free pictures to add to posts so that they pop a little more. And I’m probably going to connect the blog to Google plus at the very least.

The challenge is going well so far.  I’m at the halfway point so I think I might be able to do this one.

I’ve Played More RPGs Than You, But Never D&D

I just got done playing my first game of Lords of Waterdeep which a board game based in the Dungeons and Dragons Universe.  The game was a lot of fun.  It’s a “worker placement” style game where you are collecting resources and screwing over your friends, which is always a good time.  If you are looking for a game with a lot of strategy, I highly recommend it.

There are a lot of broad games in the D&D world, and almost all of them look pretty damn cool.  This got me thinking that I’ve never actually played D&D.  I’ve talked about this before, but when I was in high school, I played pen and paper role playing games almost every day.  I would say that I’ve probably logged thousands of hours being a super powered character of some description.

But those were always in either sci-fi games or modern fantasy.  Not only did I never play D&D, but I never played a sword and sorcery style game.  This was primarily due to my tastes and the tastes of my gaming group.  We just didn’t get down to the high fantasy.  Dragons are fine as long as they also have guns and pyramid scheme.  However, we were in highschool so we would never express this in so mild of terms.  “D&D is lame and stupid.  It’s rules are dumb.  They are not balanced like Rifts.”  Rifts, let me remind you, is a game where you can create a character who moves so fast only gods can hope to touch him, but I digress.

We spent a lot of time hating on D&D because it simply wasn’t the game we had invested so much time and money in.  If one game is just as good as the next then how do you assign status – a attribute so important in high school.  (And since most people don’t really evolve much past high school, status is something still kind of important in the “real” world.)

D&D has been around for at least 30 years and was the game the created the RPG genera as we know it.  In fact, video game RPGs took almost all of their cues in the beginning from their pen and paper big brothers that you could argue that even if you only placed video game RPGs that you have still been influenced by D&D.

So even though I’ve never played it, D&D is 100% a part of my DNA, and I think I would like to explore my roots more so look for some reviews of the D&D board games as I work my way through them.

Feedback Loops: The Legend of Me

When I was in college, I became something of an urban legend, not because of anything I did, but because of my friend’s need to fill pages.  You seen when you are in a creative writing track you have to take a lot of different kinds of courses that cover types or writing you wouldn’t normally do.  At UCF, the school I went to, one of these courses was creative nonfiction.  I never took a course on this, which is ironic considering that’s about all I do on this blog, but we are going to ride right past that.  However, most of my friends in college did.

In any creative writing course you are agreeing to turn in at least two or three complete pieces.  And if you are taking multiple course this turns into quite the workload very quickly.  In creative nonfiction one of the key chunks of information you have to draw from is your own life.  This ment that I was turning up in workshopped pieces all over school, and since it was a small enough place, I wound up having classes with students that went to a lot of those courses.

That lead to a lot of conversations like this:

“Are you Josh,” and random classmate I’ve never seen before would say.

“Yeah,” I would say.

“Josh Evans?”

Yeah,” I would say, starting to get alarmed and reaching for some kind of weapon.

“Did you one time punch a guy in New Orleans?”

“Well he invaded my personal space.”

Okay, some background on that.  I really did go to New Orleans and there really was a guy and who singing on the side of the street who got what I will charitably refer to as “handsy” with me.  But I never punched him.  And certainly not in the face.

Almost all of my friends in college were fiction writers, so when they would write create nonfiction, the emphases was on the creative part.  This lead to stories where I got touched way too many times and then punched the guy in the face.  It also lead to a lot of unconformable conversions and a little bit of a strange legend surrounding me.

And I learned from highschool that if anyone assumes anything about you, it’s just easier to admit its true, so I would never disagree with what people assumed I did. That was made easier by the fact that all of my friends would run what they were writing by me first before they would submit them to class, so I always knew what to admit to.

The point I’m trying to make, I think, this that there is nothing you can do to control what others think about you, but the one thing you can control is what you admit to and in that you can control the narrative that they are forming inside there one minds.