Monthly Archives: November 2011

Linux Mint

I am experimenting with Linux Mint at the moment. Mint is a derivative distribution of Ubuntu. They seem to be taking a different route from Ubuntu. Ubuntu seems to be embracing the touch pad paradigm, which I believe is at best a niche and within a year or two will be considered fad for desktop computing. Mint had modified Gnome3 to look and act like Gnome2, which works much better for me. On top of that, they have forked Gnome2 into MATE. So the experiment is on. Like always, I will be installing it on my backup rig and taking it for test run, if it works well on my 5 year old Inspirion 1505, then I will do the install on my main system, the 1545.

The need for support material

I have noticed a trend among unsuccessful roleplaying games, the lack of follow up support material. I have seen several really good games die with a muffled whimper because the publisher wrongfully thought that the game was SSSOOO cool that everyone would clamor for it without the need for any follow up product. The fact is, publishers do need to produce follow up support material.

First, lack of support material makes the game look dead. If the publisher creates 4 or 5 products in quick succession, it puts product on the shelf and gives the game that vital living feeling. I game on the shelf by itself looks like a zombie game at best and a dead game at worst, this is especially true of games more than a few months old.

Second, don’t assume that your potential target audience is a “Cut Above” the rest and will instantly be able to create their own adventures. Most of us don’t have time to sit down and create epic campaigns, we generally string bits of pieces of published modules and home brew together. The fact is, most of us, when we see a new game will either play a session of it within a couple of weeks or it will never get played at all. If the publisher puts out several good adventure modules right away, they drastically increase the chances of that game being played within a couple of weeks of purchase.

The reason I bring this up right now, is there is this nice little game called The One Ring, which is centered around Middle Earth during the time between the events of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The game is very good, both mechanically and setting wise, it is well written and nicely laid out, there is no reason why this should not be a successful game. But, if you go to their web site, they have absolutely no support material on the horizon. No adventures, no expansions, nothing and this game line is going to die post haste and its really too bad.

This one is for Chad

Enjoy!

RIP: Anne McCaffrey, 1 April 1926 – 21 November 2011

This last week Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragon Riders Pern, died. While she was not my favorite writer, I have read much of her work, and she writes in that light, fun sort of way that new writers don’t seem capable of. I suggest everyone dig out their copy and re-read Dragonflight next week.

Post Thanksgiving

Well thanksgiving has come and gone, the holiday season has officially begun. Currently it is 4:52 AM Central time and as I understand it, the yearly shopping apocalypse known as “Black Friday” has been in full swing for almost 5 hours. As we speak over stimulated shoppers everywhere are engaged in Mad Max style combat to be one of merely 2 million to get a DVD player from Wal-Mart for the low low price of $16.99. PezWitch and I will not leave the house until Saturday, surviving only on leftover turkey and stuffing.

For those of you who are venturing out remember these simple rules;

1. Cardio

2. Beware of Bathrooms

3. Seatbelts

4. Double Tap

5. No Attachments

6. Travel in Groups

7. Keep the dumb dumbs close at hand

8. Kill with Efficiency

9. Guns are for hunting, not Zom…err shopper killing

10. Be quiet.

Good luck everyone, and see you on the other side.

Review: Kindle Fire

I was going to wait on buying a Kindle Fire. First I wanted to let them work the early bugs out and second I wanted to wait for a 10 inch screen. I changed my mind because I got to handle one personally the other day, I discovered Best Buy had them in stock and besides my Birthday and Christmas are not that far off.

First off, the Fire is not an iPad killer, what it does do is fill a niche, The Fire will heavily appeal to people who feel $499 is too much for a tablet. and I am one of those people. My problem with tablets is they tend to be content delivery systems rather than general purpose computing devices. This is why I still use a netbook, creation of even a basic blog post is difficult at best using a tablet. However, for light web browsing, checking email, reading the odd ebook and such, tablets do fine.

The Fire delivers on its promise to deliver Amazon content and it does so very well. I thought the 7 inch screen would be cramped, but Amazon did a good job with the UI and everything is easy to find and manage. The absence of a home button seems to have flustered a few people, but it did not particularly bother me, the soft buttons work fine once you get use to taping the touch screen in the right spots. Once I logged into my Amazon account I was able to access all my Amazon content such as my kindle books, Prime Videos and MP3′s. It was a snap to purchase and download new content. Amazon also gave me the choice to keep the content in the cloud or download it the Fire, which was a nice touch. I was pleasantly surprised by the battery life, once I had it charged, it held up pretty well to PezWitch and I fiddling with it all day and well into the night.

There were a couple things I didn’t like. First, the page flipping seems a bit sluggish, this is not a show stopper, but it is disappointing that something as simple as turning pages on an ebook would be so obviously flawed. Second, the Fire suffered from the same problems all LCD screen suffer from, which is, in bright light they are difficult to read and are not terribly good for reading for long periods of time. I also found the device to be a bit heavy in my hand after I had been reading for a while. For these reasons I will not be giving up my old e-Ink Kindle any time soon.

Overall, I am pleased with this purchase. If you have been wanting a tablet but didn’t want to pay the Apple Tax, here is your chance. The few small gripes I have with it are easily out weighed by the fine design and excellent price. It is not going to replace my laptop, nor is it going to replace my e-Ink Kindle, but it will replace my smart phone as my many tasks.

Cyberpunk RPG

This totally theoretical. I am thinking a game in the cyberpunk genre that capitalizes on the fact that we play online. We are in fact a small group of people in different locations, with varying jobs, responsibilities and resources. So picture this, the game is about a group of near future techno peasants, who in real life are your basic run of the mill losers and corporate drones, but that part of their lives is not relevant to the game. What is important, is online they are a powerful people who influence the cyber world. Perhaps they are a gang of hackers, maybe they are a guild in an online game or they run some sort of legitimate business.

The game would be played in real time, meaning, their real lives keep them from meeting except for a few hours every Friday night and all other communications are done through a forum, email or social network through out the rest of the week. The game would be as much about what they could do individually as well as a group. This game would be the hardest on the GM who would have to deal with actions on nights and at times other than the regular game night, but even the other players would have to be diligent about reading their email and interacting in a meaningful way.

The other interesting question about such a game is what system to use. It would not be terribly necessary to define the actual characters but rather the hardware they are using and how it interacts with the cyberspace environment. Perhaps grab the cyberdeck designing rules from GURPS Cyberpunk or other genre game and use that as the basis of the game.

Another important feature is how cyberspace itself is defined and perceived. Is it simply an extension of the current Internet with some fancy new interface gear or is it a fully immersed environment in neuro interfaces plugged directly into the brain. Is the environment completely “Cyberpunk” and looks like Tron where data centers look like huge glowing dystopian fortresses or is it a game similar to World of Warcraft that grew beyond its original purpose where the same data centers may look like deep dungeons built into a tall mountain.

Hmmm, maybe next year.

Comic Con 2011: Final Wrap

This year was a far different experience from last year. Last year we attended several panels with actors, artists and writers, this year I attended only one. Last year, only Mike Grell felt really approachable, this year Adam Baldwin, Kevin Sorbo, James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter were all very friendly and willing to spend several minutes with each fan and allowed you to take candid shots if you wanted. Over all it was a fun time and I am glad I got to share it with my nephews and sister.

Comic Con 2011: Day Three

We are home, tomorrow I will write a wind-up and maybe add a couple of pictures. In the mean time.

A much prettier looking Blue Lantern than last years.

PezWitch says she is going to burn down “Lifes” house with a Fucking Lemon Grenade.

James Marsters does not know what to think about Thuhlu.

Nightwing…You’ve…Changed?

Peter Mayhew having a smoke break with fans.

No idea, but PezWitch says this is very funny.

Comic Con 2011: Day Two

PezWitch and I. She is dressed as Claire from the Guild, I am a Munchkin Player, we estimated I have +130 to hit, but it is okay because I have the “CHEAT” card, so its all good.

Jade and Black Canary

Marv Wolfman, writer of the New Teen Titans and the mind behind Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Death as a hot goth chic.

Adam Baldwin, the man they called Jayne.

Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), SuperGirl and Starman (Legion of Superheroes).

The Silk Spectre.