Game Design Notes (and other random thoughts)

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Nightfall Card Creator, Guild Wars 2 Subreddit & Some Disc Golf

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Nightfall Card Creator

As I mentioned early last month, I've been working on an alpha build for a website where anyone could log in, design a Nightfall card and submit it to be commented on and rated by fellow peers. Last night I finished what I wanted to accomplish for this early prototype and have uploaded all of the necessary files for my readers here to toy with. But before you go to tinker around with it, know that I've not optimized it for cross-browser support yet (works fine in Firefox 14, but both Chrome 21 and Internet Explorer 9 goof up the card title font. So with that little note out of the way, the actual form is located at: http://creator.s3rvant.com/



Next steps are to start integrating the site design in with the official website, add the ability to actually submit design as well as comment/rate them and then a fluid interface for sorting through all the submissions to view everything easily. Got suggestions for the final site? Let me know; it's a lot easier to plan for features up front then to go back and add them in later.

Guild Wars 2 Subreddit

Another item mentioned a couple posts back, but this time with some additional news: I've setup a subreddit for my Guild Wars 2 guild, Bound by Nails, conveniently located at reddit.com/r/BoundbyNails.

The subreddit is set to private, so you'll need to PM me on the Reddit to request an invite



Some Disc Golf

One of my aunts and cousins visited from Ohio for my sister's baby shower and stayed in town a couple days. My cousin used to throw discus back in her track-n-field days, so I thought it would be pretty fun to invite her and my uncle-dad out for some disc golf. Last time I had tried out a course a bit farther from home and even though we didn't get to finish that particular game, I found that the course was quite a bit nicer than my local one. So the three of us got together and headed up to play that nicer course together. Unfortunately, it started to rain along the way, but... it stopped just as we arrived! Even though the grass was a bit wet the air had cooled to a very nice temperature and we had a great time playing. It got a bit humid about half way through the course, but that didn't stop us from finishing AND heading back to our local course to get in a second game!

I like to keep score simply for bragging rights, but am not a fan of trying to dig out my paper and pen after each hole, so I had looked up some scorecard apps since my last session. My favorite find so far (especially with a nice ad blocker installed) is Easy Scorecard. Here's our scores for these two games:



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Wed Aug 8, 2012 1:45 am
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Nightfall, Video Games and Just in Time

David Gregg
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North Carolina
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Lots of little blurbs today

First up, before I get to the normal stuff... coolcoolcool IT'S MY BIRTHDAY WOOT!!! coolcoolcool



Had a small pool party this past weekend with family and best friend. Having lots of good food to celebrate and otherwise trying to relax a bit. Good times.

Nightfall

In case you've missed the announcements, the iOS Nightfall version has been on sale for 99¢ as the release of iOS Martial Law approaches.

Nightfall: Eternal Darkness (base game and Nightfall: Martial Law combined) is for sale. Cheapest I've seen it so far is on Boards & Bits for $32.49.

Playtesting for NF7 is coming along great. We've finished testing it against previous sets and are now starting to mix several sets at once to see how well things mix together. Feeling pretty happy with the overall balance.

Also completed some more work on my prototype for a card creator website. Looking quite good imo and will have it posted for all to tinker with in the near future.



Video Games

Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event #3 was a blast. Ended up playing mostly Asura (though I did run through the Sylvari character creation and the first few levels). Had some epic encounters and nabbed a couple great screenshots:


Overlooking Metrica Province




Fighting a huge overly powerful fire elemental




My Sylvari character that I plan to main



With my guild Bound by Nails [BbN] starting back up, I've been looking into more options for the members. My latest VOIP service of choice has been Mumble. I've been running the server software on my personal PC so far, but will want something more dedicated to the task whenever it is that I open up access to the entire guild. I asked around on Reddit about my options and got some great answers. Seems like if I want to manage things on my own that I'll need a VPS and just so happens that Amazon's free tier can handle the job for up to 100 users. In addition to a VOIP service I've also decided against setting up a guild forum and instead am opting for a subreddit aka /r/BoundbyNails. For something the size of a small-medium guild this should do basically all the same things while remaining free and can support quite a bit of various content.

One of the Guild Wars 2 focused shows that I watch is Tales of Tyria and in there latest episode Freelancer from Team Legacy went over one of his strategies for manipulating gaming markets to obtain a great deal of profit. For those interested, here's a spreadsheet of his market example and of course the actual video:



Also in the video gaming genre, I've been playing a bit of League of Legends lately (I'm S3rvant if you wanna group up). So far I've only gotten to level 7 playing coop vs AI and have been focusing on Ryze, but it's been great fun. Really wish I could find a good way to obtain riot points without needing to spend cash though... the gem market in Guild Wars 2 has me spoiled... So, back to Ryze: did some calculations based on how well he's boosted from mana and ability power and came up with the following item build order:

Name Cost
---------------------------
Sapphire Crstyal $400
Meki Pendant $390
Tear of the Goddess $205
Boots of Speed $350
Sapphire Crstyal $400
Sorcerer's Shoes $750
Amplifying Tome $435
Chain Vest $700
Glacial Shroud $425
Blasting Wand $860
Archangel's Staff $1,000
Blasting Wand $860
Needlessly Large Rod $1,600
Rabadon's Deathcap $1,140
Cloth Armor $300
Cloth Armor $300
Frozen Heart $650
Blasting Wand $860
Void Staff $1,000
Amplifying Tome $435
Sapphire Crystal $400
Sheen $425
Blasting Wand $860
Null-Magic Mantle $400
Lich Bane $950
---------------------------
Total $16,095


While I know that in real matches you have to adjust your build strategy on the fly I still like to have a good plan going in and am frequently able to get down to Sheen, though I've yet to make it to Lich Bane. I can say that with this build Ryze has some tankiness about him late game and can burst down most enemy champions that he encounters (I went 13/6/6 in my last game). Tis much fun.

Just in Time

Ideas for this one are starting to float around in my head again. Might be time to gather up the gaming group and get back to work! Most of the tweaks I'm come up reduce fiddliness and a couple I think just make it work better overall. Here's the list:

1. Instead of shifting the entire timeline backward at the end of each turn, just shift the players forward... no clue why I never thought of this before, it's so much easier to actually do.

2. Instead of buildings starting off with expensive effects and needing to be upgraded to offer a discount on their effects, the buildings will start free and be damaged by new events, increasing the cost to use the ability. This solves two problems for me: removes fiddly gain of disc from upgrading as now it makes since to gain a reward when you fix damage and before having everything getting cheaper over the course of the game during the cities impending doom felt kinda immersion breaking, so having things getting more expensive feels a lot better. I'm also thinking that a fully damaged building can't be used at all, forcing you to either abandon using it or invest an action repairing it first, with smaller buildings being easier to reach this point. Damage repair will most likely be "up to two per action point".



3. Once the last event has been placed in the timeline, the game moves to a sudden death state as time-space attempts to restore itself. Instead of only moving your own color-coded events down a slot in the timeline, now all events move down a slot, meaning the game will end in a furious rush to prevent a last minute defeat for the players. While I'll have to be careful with balancing the sudden death (don't want it to be too hard), I think it will do a great job of getting rid of the boring last few turns from before.



4. I'm considering adding tiles that cause additional effects ala Castle Panic such as: draw more events, shift all of the current player's events down an additional slot, damage every building adjacent to the current player, etc. Might not need this with the reversal of building damage, but it's something that I plan to implement if needed to keep the pressure up during the mid-late game.



5. I'm also thinking about swapping out all the chipboard bits for cards. Since the timeline will be stationary now, I don't need super sturdy event tiles while shifting things around and mini-cards such as those used in Ninjato may work out really well (and would give me more options for setting up the game such as having two stacks: one for locations and another for event type). I'm still debating what I want to do about the location tiles. I like having a modular board, but as-is you can have broken setups when all of the most powerful locations end up next to each other. I think I'm either going to have to move to a static board (which means better artwork for the board in the end) or semi-modular by having different backs on the location cards that match up with certain places around the board allowing me to force the powerful locations to be spread apart.
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Wed Aug 1, 2012 12:26 am
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NF7 Slowing Down, Guild Wars 2 Beta & League of Legends

David Gregg
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North Carolina
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NF7 Slowing Down

Just a quick mention here: Nightfall 7 is narrowing in on its final balance with playtest teams mixing in older sets and finding fewer and fewer things to tweak. Which is great! Means I have more time to spend on other stuff like the card creator website I mentioned a while back (almost have a function prototype woot!).

Also on the Nightfall front, AEG has been working on a dual package of Nightfall and Nightfall: Martial Law for a reduce price. While I haven't actually seen it for sale personally, I have seen some reports by others who've found it already. Also, Nightfall of the iOS variety is on sale for $0.99 to celebrate the release of Martial Law as an in-app purchase.

Guild Wars 2 Beta

In case you've missed the plethora of announcements, Guild Wars 2 is having their final beta weekend event this coming weekend Fri-Sun. I'll most likely remain on the same server as I've been on so far (Isle of Janthir) and will definitely be exploring every little nook and cranny of the Asura zones (I'm saving Sylvari for release). Probably still going to play mesmer, but will likely be focusing on crafting and PvP this time around.

As for BWE3, looks like we'll be seeing a new level 17-20 zone that sits next to the Asura, Human and Sylvari zones as well as a new sPvP map. Vistas have been added to map completion which are supposed to be somewhat harder to actually get to and then reward you with a cool cinematic view of the area (I think they're pretty neat). Some other little additions too such as a Norn bar brawl and the gem store is actually going fully live for this event (buy gems for cash now, get to use them now and even though they reset for launch, you'll get them again, so no money is lost).

ArenaNet has given out a ton of beta keys for this event and I've been participating in contests etc. to try and nab keys for my friends, but am still one key short of covering all my friends, so if you happen to have a spare key, please keep me in mind.

League of Legends

So... apparently there's this game that has someone of a large following called League of Legends and I have somehow completed overlooked its existence until recently. Turns out, it's pretty awesome! Not a lot of maps to play on, but the game play mechanics are interesting and so far it seems to not require as much dexterity as compared to other real-time strategy games (I'm looking at you StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty).

I'm just getting started with the game having only done the tutorial games and then just one match as coop vs AI. Already seeing a ton of depth and have been doing some research on wikis to see how I want to gear my characters and such (so much to consider...).

Also for those who don't know me well, I tend to take one or two hobbies and obsess over them crazily until they wear off a bit and then move on to others, bouncing back and forth on my favorites. That said, board games are still around, but definitely taking a back-seat to video games currently. Doesn't help that I'm low on funds currently, so the collection is stagnating (not that it matters, I still have games that we haven't played). Once the "new" wears off a bit on GW2 and LoL I expect a nice resurgence in the board gaming side of things.
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Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:42 am
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Nightfall News, PC Gaming and Getting Healthy

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Nightfall News

Nightfall 7 playtesting is going fabulously with a couple new playtest teams joining in, everyone having fun with the set's new mechanic and the effects already starting to reach a nice point of balance. Still some time left to fine-tune things and I'm thinking about changing a couple small core rules to help mesh all these sets and their mechanics a bit better (more on that later).

With the recent release of Nightfall: Dark Rages it appears that folks are enjoying the avatars (quite happy about that). I think it'll be especially cool to mix them with the constructed deck format to be able to not only role-play your favorite minion types, but then to also be able to build the best possible deck that you can think of around that theme. Hopefully as things progress we'll be able to increase tournament support for this kind of thing!

In the past (and as noted on the official site leading up to Dark Rages' release) we've worked with the players to create some cards, notably those who won the tournament for their faction at this past year's Gencon. Moving forward we're wanting to increase player input and so my latest project is a website that will not only replace the Official FAQ here on BGG, but will also give players a place to submit and rate their own card ideas! Check the shot below for a very early alpha shot of the card creator:



PC Gaming

Those of you who've been following my blog probably know by now that I'm a big fan of Guild Wars 2, having had a great time in the beta weekend events and stress tests. Quite a while back ArenaNet had posted a picture of some jerseys for coworkers who were no longer around and since then a huge number of "conspiracy theories" have cropped over the meaning of the numbers.

ArenaNet had this to say about the theories:
Quote:
Those jersey’s are actually a tradition we’ve had in our design department where if a member of our design team who had been there for a while leaves, we’d hang a “retired” jersey on the wall for them. They used to be really crude t-shirts with names and numbers drawn on in pen but when our soccer team had cooler jerseys made we decided to order some for them. The number is their last work day. Sorry to ruin any fun conspiracy theories but any relation between those numbers and any kind of date is entirely coincidental at best.


And while that statement may very well have been true, with the game feeling very nearly done during the past beta weekend and stress test, it was no surprise that ANet chose the theoried day as the day when they officially announced the dates for the final beta weekend event along with the game's retail release date. So for those of you who missed the news:

Final BWE: July 20th-22nd
Pre-purchase Headstart Access: August 25th
Pre-order Headstart Access: August 27th
Retail Release Date: August 28th


Between Guild Wars 2 and all the awesome Steam games piled up on my PC, my keyboard and mouse are getting pretty worn out. Luckily for me my birthday is the end of the month and so I've made an appropriate Amazon wishlist to help my family pinpoint exactly what I'm after (I'm fairly notorious for being difficult to shop for). Whatever tech isn't gifted from that list will certainly be my top priority afterward as I want to get used to using the Nostromo and Naga Hex before GW2's release (this'll be my first non-optical ball mouse in quite a long time).



Getting Healthy

Most on BGG probably aren't aware, but I used to work out and was fairly well built when I first met my wife. Alas, the more I moved toward PC related entertainment/work the more I've shifted into a sedentary style of life and the ol' muscle mass has slowly converted to, well, not muscle. I still enjoy a bit of a workout now and then and have especially enjoyed getting out to play some disc golf, but my heart strength has decreased and I find myself reaching too quick a rate rather early on in my workouts. At a visit to a nearby gym recently I noticed that the newer treadmills had a feature where you could input your age/weight and it would help you maintain an ideal heart rate while you walked/jogged. I thought that was pretty cool and so have sought out something more portable that does similar so that I could better maintain my heart rate regardless of what exercise I was doing. After posting on Reddit on the issue a commenter pointed me to exactly what I'm looking for: a wearable heart monitor that transmits to a watch which uses both audio and visual cues to help you stay within set heart rate limits.

Also on the disc golf topic, my BFF and I tried out another nearby course in Archdale, NC which was quite a bit nicer than my local course. There were 3 course options: a 6 hole beginner course, an 18 hole standard course and then some alternate starting pads to convert the 18 hole course into a more long range course (added over 1,000' to the course)! The holes had a much wider variety of shapes and styles compared to my local course and I never came across any real water hazards (something that annoys me with my local course). Also the holes were mostly covered by nearby trees providing a ton of shade which was a huge help given the heat wave coming through the area (it's been over 100° all weekend).

For the interested, this is the heart monitor I'm after: the Polar FT4F

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Sun Jul 1, 2012 8:27 pm
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Nightfall 7, R&R and Guild Wars 2

David Gregg
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Nightfall 7

My primary playtest group has been pretty aggressive so far with their testing (which is awesome) and has allowed the set to get to a fairly balanced point rather quickly. This is convenient for me as I can now skip the first few versions that they powered through and go right to printing a version that's likely to not need as many changes (saving money, woot). Still had my cards printed at the local Staples, but they've changed how they charge for cutting out my cards, so I've had to hunt for someone else (I know I could cut them out myself, but... it's a pain). My wifey found a local place called PIP that does printing, cutting and other stuff and quoted me about $5 to cut out the whole batch (a bit more than I was paying, but a lot less than what Staples now charges). In the future I plan to continue printing with Staples for small jobs (like updating the set I'm currently working on), but will definitely just give the entire order to PIP if I plan to have them cut them out for me.

As for the actual cards in NF7, several started out rather over-powered and have gone through some major over-hauls from their original design. The new mechanic that the set introduces is going over very well, with only a game or two needed to let it sink in. After reading all these great reports I'm itching to try it out myself, if I could just get a group together...

R & R

My BFF and I had planned to hang out the first half of Saturday including a game of disc golf and then some Nightfall playtesting, followed by heading out to see Brave with my family, but every last bit of that fell through... He forgot that he was working the grave yard shift Friday night, so wasn't going to be available Saturday morning and then I ended up getting a much needed nap Saturday, missing the movie... Alas, I did get in plenty of anime (currently working on getting caught up with Fairy Tail), so while not really productive, was a very relaxing day.

The kidos headed out with the in-laws today, so the wife and I got some nice, peaceful time together, well, aside from a game of JAB: Realtime Boxing. She isn't usually the quick thinker in the group, but did very well her first game, even scoring a round win on me in the second round (she focused on the combos while I whittled away at her health), but I knocked her out the following round. Speaking of games the wife enjoys, she very much enjoyed her first game of Rune Age! I was a bit concerned that some of the cards would upset her (she didn't care for the "Demon"), but she ended up liking the mechanics and requested that we play it again soon. I had them play the cooperative scenario first to warm them up to the mechanics and we proceeded to slowly roll down-hill. While we lost the game, everyone had fun, so I'd say that's a win!

Guild Wars 2

STRESS TEST WEDNESDAY!!! Unfortunately it's only from 1pm to 5pm Eastern time, right during the work day... Granted there are tons of people who don't live in the US, so I can understand wanting to give them the chance to participate in a stress test and even those of us in the US can play so long as we work out our schedules (I just might take the second half of the day off of work, I'm that hooked on the game).

Also on the GW2 topic, I do believe that I'll be working on a website very soon to help people see at a glance how their profession and weapon sets tend to focus with the new "trinity" of control/damage/support. My initial chart for mesmer went over pretty well and the thread gauging interest in the site was also very well received (plus I like have projects to work on), so will likely start on it pretty soon. Unfortunately my web host account is about to run out, so all of my sites are going to be down for a few days while I wait for payday (curse you monthly pay!!!) and I think that I will take this opportunity to switch to a new host (moving from Nearly Free Speech to Fat Cow).
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Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:20 am
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Rune Age, GW2 Jumping Puzzle, Father's Day and BFF Time

David Gregg
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North Carolina
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Rune Age

Finally acquired a copy of Rune Age via trade (been after it for a while now) and had to get in a few games. For my first game I attempted a solo match as the Latari Elves against the Resurgence of the Dragonlords scenario and proceeded to get my face stomped, especially once the card that inflicts 2 damage on your home world each turn that it goes undefeated came out... But was still good fun and gave me a chance to get used to the mechanics (this is the only reason I ever play board games solo).

The next day I got a chance to play a couple rounds with Uncle Dad. I let him choose the scenarios and for our first game he chose to go after the Dragonlords as well. He chose his faction first going with Waiqar the Undying and I tried out The Uthuk Y’llan. Both of our decks progressed pretty well and it wasn't long before we were both making good use of our faction combos, easily taking our strongholds early on and then the neutral cities. During the mid game my deck was focusing more on building up gold to later fund the more massive units while Uncle Dad had focused on his smaller units early for their combos and was seeing several strength heavy hands with little to go after... so he started attacking me for my cities... It wasn't long before I didn't have any cities left at all and found myself a bit choked for influence, but fortunately with my high gold hands and card draw combos I was able to pull out an 18 strength army and rolled zero skulls on the attrition die as I went after the scenario win.

Our next game we decided on the PvP focused Runewars scenario. He again chose first nabbing The Daqan Lords and I went back with The Latari Elves to give them another shot. We started out pretty evenly and traded several blows starting pretty early on as both of our decks started comboing well. But thing he got some free influence via rally event cards and it wasn't long before he was able to claim into the huge neutral dragons. I focused on the manticores and my own destructive combos, but made a huge mistake: I wasn't buying enough cheapo cards to fuel the manticores, so ended up starving my deck (got down to just 2 cards at one point)... He ended up beating on me pretty badly and got me down to just 3 health remaining on my home world. I had finally rebuilt my deck a bit and was hopeful for a decent comeback when I pulled the worst possible event card: the player with the most influence gets to inflict 3 damage on a player of their choice... so... yeah, I lost, lol.

We were wanting to play another scenario, but time ran short. So far I'm very much enjoying this game and definitely plan on going after the first expansion. It's just a nice light deckbuilder with obvious combos (but interesting decisions) that includes lots of ways to play. I'm fairly certain that this one will remain high on my "want to play" list for quite a while.

 


GW2 Jumping Puzzle

While waiting for the next Guild Wars 2 beta weekend I've been continuing to follow the GW2 subreddit along with the Facebook and Twitter feeds, just to keep an eye on any news or other interesting tidbits and came across a cool video. It's a pretty long vid, but the announcer is hilarious and the jumping puzzle they explore looks really awesome, so if you've got some time check it out:



Father's Day

This past weekend was busy with festivities for Father's Day as my wife's family takes the holiday quite seriously. Saturday the vast majority of her family gathered at her folks' place for a huge hotdog dinner followed by a hilarious game of family kickball. And just in case anyone had rebuilt some appetite, we capped off the evening with a sundae dessert. Then Sunday we headed over to my folks' place for another meal and some quality swim time in their new-ish pool (this is also when I got in the Rune Wars games mentioned above). Then yesterday my wife surprised me and her dad with another meal: a low country boil. She went all out, gathering up some snow crab legs, huge shrimp, potatoes, sausage and corn on the cob all in a giant pot. It. Was. Awesome! In addition to all the eating, wifey also surprised me with framed and matted print that I've had my eye on for a long time now and after some debate even let me hang it in the kitchen (surprised she compromised on her domain):

Gimmie that Cookie by ~Lady-Tori



BFF Time

Looks like my BFF and I are finally gonna get some time to hang out again (seems like it's been ages) this coming Saturday. Plan is to take his wife and another mutual friend out disc golfing (not sure yet if we'll hit the local course again or cruise over to another nearby course for the first time). Afterword we're planning to get in some NF7 testing (he's the primary tester in my group), which should be a ton of fun (the testing has been outstanding so far).

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Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:02 pm
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Basic game idea, Guild Wars 2 info, PC work and some sporty events

David Gregg
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Basic Game Idea

Had an idea a few days back about making a game with chess-like movement, but where the movement patterns change throughout the game. Original idea was to give the players a small hand of cards and let them play 1 each turn so that they can have some secret info, but it could work out just as well with fully open info and/or no player hands, just having a deck of cards and revealing one each turn to adjust the moves with.

I think I'd still like to pursue this idea, but first I'd like to get a new chess set (do not currently own one) so that'd I'd have some nice pieces to easily tell apart during playtesting, but also because I value having a chess set around as a common abstract to play with the kidos and any others that visit my place.

I do still think that a hex or triangular grid would be better for this game, simply because it would offer far more possible patterns for movement vs having to use the simpler movement patterns via square spaces.

As I mentioned in the original post, I'm not a huge fan of abstracts (hurty brain), but with the reduction in number of pieces along with the changing movement reducing analysis paralysis (hopefully), this might turn out to be one that I could enjoy.



Guild Wars 2 Info

While waiting for the next beta weekend event I've been keeping an eye on the GW2 subreddit for new info, videos etc and stumbled across an interesting engineer skill chart that inspired me to try making a chart of my own. So far I've really been enjoying the mesmer, so I made a large skill breakdown for it. One commenter asked for a necromancer version and even though I don't plan on playing that profession, I think I might still work on the chart for them just for something fun to do.



With news that the next BWE is this coming weekend I've been nailing down my plans. The wifey and kidos already know that I'll have door closed and headphones on (nice to have some support for personal time). Currently I'm planning to spend a decent chunk of time in sPvP with each of the professions to try to nail down which I'll be playing as my main, but I also might spend some more time in PvE with my mesmer (since it won't be getting deleted) to try out the crafting system a bit.



PC Work

This has been a very busy week for me with PC work. My church has a clothing ministry where people donate clothing, we wash it up and then give it back out for free to whomever wants them. I happened to notice that in the back of the storage area for these clothes were 6 computers just laying around, so I asked about them and turned out that they all were in need of repair. So I volunteered and have been working on those since. Fortunately 5 of them were the same model, so was able to fully reformat, reinstall and update just 1, then clone its hard drive over to the other 4, saving me several hours of updates etc. The 6th one is a nicer model, but its red graphics card channel doesn't appear to be working (didn't see any popped capacitors or other obvious damage to the card), so we'll likely be ordering a new card and then I'll finish getting that one good as well.

Also for the church, last week's sermon was a fantastic message about adoption, one which a prisoner has requested a transcription of. Our pastor contacted me to see if I knew of any transcription software (I do not) and so I ended up volunteering my decent typing speed (just tested at 96 WPM) to manually transcribe the message for the guy. Unfortunately our pastor talks just a bit faster than I can type (only because he keeps using words that I don't normally type... lol), so ended up having to play the video back a bit slower (yay VLC) so that I could keep up.



Also had a coworker ask me to work on a PC for him that he just obtained from a friend. At first he wanted me to crack the guy's password (XP passwords are rather easy to crack and/or simply remove), but he ended up just asking me to format and reinstall everything similar to what I'd been doing with the church computers.

Good times



Some Sporty Events

My mother recently setup a huge above-ground pool at her place (her attempt to get the family over even more often than we already are, lol), so we've been over there a ton as the wife and kidos absolutely love to swim. I don't mind it myself, but I have a weird skin condition thing where my skin dies at a very rapid rate when it remains exposed to liquids (found this out the hard way when employed as a dish washer for a diner). So anywho, hasn't been a big deal really aside from one time last week after being in the pool for a couple hours:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I rubbed against one of those plastic rings that you dive down to grab and the friction caused enough layers to pull right off to draw blood in a couple places...

Wasn't able to swim for a few days after that, but it's all healed up now.

My wife's also been bugging me constantly about scheduling a trip to the ocean (her whole family LOVES the ocean, I could care less), so surprised her a bit with a trip to Myrtle Beach this past weekend, which ended up being a pretty good trip. Was very surprised that everyone was able to get in lots of swim time without anyone suffering from any real sun burns this time around (last time I got sun poisoning).

gulp

Other than swimming, my BFF and I also managed to get some time to head over to a local disc golf course (highly recommend btw) and had a great time. We remained tied for the first third of the game or so before he finally goofed a couple throws giving me the lead. A bit later into the game I attempted a jump over a tiny muddy creek-like area (looked like water had ran there, leaving behind a long trail of mud), but my last step ended up being in the mud and so my jump was short, landing directly into the mud itself and sinking my left foot into the stuff beyond my shin... To say the least Daniel got a huge kick out of it.



I ended up messing up a few shots, giving him the lead again, but was able to catch back up by the end, being tied again on the final hole. Was quite the epic match, especially when Daniel missed his final throw, giving me the win by 1 point! I've very much been enjoying disc golf and plan to visit another nearby course soon that Daniel found out about.

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Mon Jun 4, 2012 4:15 pm
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Dungeon Run, Epiphany and Couple Others

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Dungeon Run

My BFF and I were planning some disc golf for yesterday afternoon, but some last minute thunderstorms got in the way, so we decided to just do dinner at my place followed by a game or two. After a bit of debating, we manage to talk my wife into trying out Dungeon Run, a game that Daniel and his wife really enjoy and one that I've been wanting to play with more then just 2 people to get a better feel for it.

Wifey wasn't really in the gaming mood, so when we hand her the character cards to pick someone out, she goes straight for the graphics and immediately notices that the bottom-right of the text area has a skull and blood splatter which she finds repulsive. So she goes through them all, looking at the art and then suddenly picks one that she says doesn't have the blood/skull: Stabbins...

While the rest of us were going to pick randomly to be fair, we unanimously agreed that that rule just went out the window and so picked who we wanted to contend with the craziness that can be my wife. I went with tundra orc Vargagg as I like his Fury skill along with the nice chunk of brawn.

Game started out with the portcullis room... so most of us were already wounded when finally getting out into the main dungeon. I sorta went off in my own direction, encountering traps (bah!) and the room with the well (woot!) as well as having to cross the dangerous river (it went ok...). My very first opponent was 7 tiles from the entrance and guess what: he required an assist to fight.

After smashing me a good one a couple of times (failed to escape) I was the first one downed and had to drop my precious sword. Fortunately Daniel roamed the guy off my tile so that when I got back up I could grab the sword and get back into the game (aww, how nice). Unfortunately, it was getting late, so we ended early, leaving me with nothing note worthy about the game other then this meme:



Epiphany

Those that have been following my blog know that I recently completed a project for my work that involved a timed powerpoint presentation that loops with various media for a bit of entertainment (along with useful info) in our break room. I had a lot of issues getting all the tech to play nice together, but finally managed a reasonable solution.

One of the ideas I was wanting to explore during my work on the project was to try embedding a live website into a slide so that I could update the presentation's content without having to stop the show. Then I took it a bit further: why not embed all of the various media into a dynamic webpage and let that determine the show's timings etc instead of relying on powerpoint?! So I went to work trying to find the best way to embed mpeg videos in a way that would be compatible with powerpoint and got it all worked out. Then I felt like an idiot. If I'm going to embed everything in a website, why in the world am I using powerpoint to handle the timings when I can just use something like JavaScript?!



So now the plan is to scrap powerpoint all-together and just run a single page website in full screen mode that changes out the page content on timers. Not only will this make it easier to update the content, it'll perfect the timing of the slides (something that powerpoint can't do, long story). So, that'll likely be what I'll work on most of the day tomorrow and hopefully it'll turn out as well as I'm imagining and work a lot better to boot.

Couple Others

Recently picked up the promos Coloretto: The Limit Cards and then oddly hadn't played Coloretto any in a while. Finally got in a couple games the other night and tried out this variant. I really liked how it made you change the way you approach which cards to collect and opened up some new options (can use more colors vs the +2's). The family had mixed feelings on it though as they really like the wild cards and aren't huge fans of change, but I think it'll win them over in the long run.



Also, for those of you who play the Booster Pack Draft Variant, I've updated the site to include the Nightfall: Blood Country promos along with all of the cards from Nightfall: The Coldest War.

cool
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Thu May 24, 2012 1:48 am
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Guild Wars 2, Nightfall 7 and Gaming

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Guild Wars 2

ArenaNet held a stress test for the Guild Wars 2 servers this past Monday, inviting everyone who had pre-purchased the game to come play the beta from 11am until 6pm PDT. With beta weekend events only hitting about once per month, the stress test made for a nice bit of game time to tide us over until the next beta event.

In BWE1 I mostly played a human elementalist, leveling it to 15 and fully exploring the first major PvE zone. Near the end of the event, I created a human mesmer, but didn't have much time to play it and only got to level 4. So during this stress test I decided to focus on playing the mesmer as much as possible.

My original plan was to head straight into structured PvP (sPvP for short) so that I would have access to all of the weapons, skills, traits, etc. that a max level character would have. Unfortunately the PvP servers were down when the stress test started and I didn't have enough skills unlocked to head into World vs World PvP (WvW for short). So I headed out into the same PvE area I had played with my elementalist and focused on getting to level 7, which is where you unlock your second weapon set, at which time I planned to head into WvW for the remainder of the time. I was pleasantly surprised that the same content didn't feel old, but rather I discovered several nooks and crannies along with a few events that I hadn't run into before, so leveling was still very fun.

Just as I hit level 7 and finished unlocking my new weapon's skills, my buddy messaged me to say that the sPvP servers were back up! Woot! So I headed into the PvP lobby to finalize the build I wanted to try out (went heavy illusions with lots of condition damage/duration traits) and proceeded to have an absolute blast. I've been watching a lot of GW2 videos from various streamers, so already had a good idea of the various map layouts as well as some decent strategies for working the points. I also found that my combat practice in PvE carried over very well into PvP, granted a bit faster paced, but still very similar. I was surprised to be able to hold my own as a light armor profession against a heavily armored warrior (and defeated him, wooooot!). Even in fights against multiple opponents I found myself really enjoying the combat, trying to use my various tricks to outwit them and get into better positions to either continue the assault or high-tail it out of there!

After the stress test was done I reflected a bit on the build and realized that I hadn't needed as much illusion generation as I had gone after and instead desired some more utility. Seeing that one of my weapons (staff) created a lot of conditions, I decided to dual focus my build between conditions and mantras via a trait that lets you use a mantra twice before needing to charge it up again. Looking very forward to trying the build out next beta weekend (my build: conditional mantras).

I didn't even think to get any pics of my mesmer, but I did grab one of my elemenalist, who I modeled after myself



Nightfall 7

One of the first steps I have to take with any new expansion to Nightfall is to calculate which color combinations will be included. I have to organize the colors in a specific way to keep the set functional on its own, but also try to use variations that prevent overlaps within the various combinations. Since there's a lot of different possible combinations and over 140 created cards to compare to so far, I write web scripts to help crunch the numbers for me.

These scripts take a great deal of time, brainstorming and effort to make, so I always make sure to pray for inspiration (I'll definitely take any help I can get) and of course offer thanks for the progress I make. Regardless as to how simple the script sounds, there's always those spots where something isn't working right and you just know that it's some stupid mistake that you're not seeing. So happy when something finally clicks and I can be relieved of the stress.



This time around I decided to create a set of scripts that would be forward compatible as I create more cards so that I won't have to keep making new scripts each set. The first part of the set is a script that scans a database I keep of all the existing cards and then outputs an array containing all of the used color combinations as well as how many times they've been used. The second part of the set searches for all unique color combinations, checking for similarities via rotation as well as mirrored rotation (which resulted in 59 unique color wheels). The third and final part of the set creates 24 new cards with each of the 59 color wheels, adds the cards to the existing array from the first script and then assigns a score to the color wheel based on how many color combinations ended up overlapping. The third script then outputs a list of the best scoring wheels (had a 5 way tie) as well as what the array looks like after using one of the best color wheels so that I can see how things are shaping up.

Now that I've got the most efficient color wheels nailed down it's time for me to begin laying out the card text in an excel sheet where I use yet another script to calculate possible kicker combos (helps a ton with planning new combos and preventing instant-win combos). Once I have the worksheet finished I'll be sharing it with my playtesters along with the theme and new mechanics ideas for the set and we'll get to work! Will likely be a couple more weeks or so before I'm to that point and will definitely be making another call for new playtesters before then, so keep an eye out if you'd be interested.



Gaming

In case you didn't know, Mother's Day was this past Sunday, so the weekend was full of motherly goodness, including a cookout with my in-laws followed by a game of kickball; this body is no longer meant for running...

yuk

Aside from that, got a copy of 3rd edition Catan: Seafarers and Catan: Cities & Knights in the mail from an auction I won (finally found matching sets for my 3rd edition base game). Also working on some score cards for Forceball and got in a game of The aMAZEing Labyrinth, which was a weird little game (family liked it though).

Life's been pretty busy otherwise, so haven't gotten in much board gaming lately, a problem I plan to rectify in the very near future.

arrrh
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Thu May 17, 2012 12:16 am
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Training, a Party and a New Bike

David Gregg
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Franklinville
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Training

My first assigned major project at work after my recent promotion to Trainer / IT Guy (weird hybrid, but I'll take it) was to create an official training program for our control room operators. I was given a few months to work on it and have been furiously pouring myself over screenshots, powerpoint presentations and quizzes ever since.

Well, I've finished the training program and have assigned all of our current control room guys (and their supervisors) to go ahead and go through it once to help me check for errors, to which they are finding plenty... Unfortunately for me several of our shifts use slightly modified procedures and the procedures themselves also differ based on which side of the plant they're being used on... so while I've chosen what I view to be the best of the various versions of the procedures, the shifts that don't use "my version" are giving some backlash. Good times...

devil

In addition to needing to create the new control room program, I've also been handed the responsibility for forklift training. The first step for this was to take a local community college course (one 8-hour day) to certify me as a trainer and then I needed to restructure our existing program as it was lacking in a few areas. I need to schedule 2 classes prior to May 14th as the 2 current day shift crews are scheduled to flip over to nights for a few months, but I've been crammed with work toward the control room thing, so that only leaves me with a couple weeks to actually fully create the new forklift program AND get the training completed...

Fortunately I managed to get all my work done on creating the new program last week, including: converting VHS videos to digital, splitting the videos into easier to digest chunks, creating a new powerpoint presentation that fits our new training TV (46" widescreen FTW), spreading out the video clips with useful info between, as well as plenty of funny clips and pictures to liven things up and help test to make sure they were paying attention (things like "what's wrong with this pic").



Party

My eldest daughter just turned 12, so we had planned to party it up over the weekend. Friday night she had a friend stay over and our younger daughter also had a friend over, so I pretty much hid in my room at the computer with the door closed and my headset on...

yuk

Then Saturday another one of my youngest's friends was coming over and all the girls were headed over to my mom's place to swim in their pool and have a hot dog lunch and dessert. So, having a couple hours left before the party I got hold of my Uncle-Dad and my Step-Bro (home from Navy for a month or so) and headed out to do some disc-golfing (been enjoying this quite a bit lately). Uncle-Dad had been wanting to go for quite a while now and since the weather was great it made for a really good time. I had some oddly bad shots compared to normal and ended up as the "first loser" by just 1 point, with Step-Bro 7 points behind me. We still had a lot of fun and am looking forward to going again soon, especially with summer in full swing now.

The party was a lot of fun with a ton of people in the pool (friggin' huge pool... lol) and I finally managed to get my eyes used to being open under water without goggles or a mask (woot!); many laughs were had, especially as the girls all played chicken!



After the party all the guys (and my Step-Sis) headed out to watch The Avengers, which btw, was FANTASTIC!! There was far less bad-lingo than I had expected there to be (always a plus) and there was a ton of great humor, which I hadn't really expected, so was pleasantly surprised. Hopefully when/if they go for a sequel they keep with the same director so that it can be just as awesome.

laugh

New Bike

My daughters have a bad habit of not putting up their bikes after playing around outside and a couple weeks ago we got up in the morning to head out for the day only find that my eldest's bike had been stolen.

soblue

She wasn't overly upset (totally shocked that she wasn't), but it really upset my wife that the bike had gone missing so close to her birthday. To me this just meant it was time to buy her a new bike and made an obvious birthday present choice, so... challenge accepted! As we posted online asking for help finding one, a couple from our church that we had assisted in the past offered to help us pay for the new bike (blessing!) and then another person mentioned that a consignment shop near us happened to have a new bike for sale for just $7 beyond what the first couple had offered us (double blessing!). So we went and nabbed the bike and make sure to thank God for His awesome generosity in the matter, not only for helping us get a new bike for our daughter (she needed a new bike anyways), but for also helping out whoever took her old bike (certainly they really needed it to be willing to steal it in the first place).



So girls are happily riding their bikes around the yard again and everything is going great for the time being!
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Tue May 8, 2012 8:00 pm
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