Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tell My Wife I Love Her!

My wife was given WoW and a bit of World of Warcraft time by a friend of hers.

She just started her first character.

Pray for me! ;_;

Dungeons & Dogerell: Spell POems in AD&D

Okay, so it's probably no big surprise that I am Dorky McNerdpants, and thus play D&D once a week with a bunch of friends (and it's house-ruled 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons, to boot!).

One of my characters is a Celtic-flavored bard by the Name of Daffyd ApOwen, and one quirk I gave him are the fact that along with whatever requirment he has for casting spells, he has to end it with some sort of poem.


Armor: "Gather energies around me/ Magic armor doth surround me."
Burning Hands: "Heart's passion, desert sands/Inner flame brings burning hands."
Color Spray: "From my hands, I shall show/ Wonders of the sky's rainbow!"
Comprehend Languages: "With my touch, words are clear/ Whether I must read or I must here."
Enlarge: "Girth now grows with but a word/Magic can be its own reward/"
Reduce (reversed form of Enlarge): "Larger creature, now ye ken/The diff'rence 'tween mice and men."
Featherfall: "Gentle winds, heed my call!/Gift me with a feather's fall!"
Hypnotism: "Trust in me I suggest/ That you heed my one request."
Light: "Glowing softly, captured day/Sliver o'Sun, light our way."
Magic Missile: "Mage's missile shall do harm/ All in sight should take alarm!"
Message: "Bear my words upon this gust/of wind to whom that i must trust."
Read Magic: "Open my mind that I might see/ Reveal thy secrets unto me."
Shield Magic: "Magic Missile, do no harm/Mages now should be alarmed!"
Sleep: "Close your eyes and dream deep/Now 'tis time to go to sleep"
Ventriloquism: "Magic's weaves, place my voice/ In a location of my choice."

Now for second level spells, I figured that instead of just doing the rhyming line again, or adding more lines, a spell could just have a one line evocative image, like so:

Blur: "'Tis neither here, nor there/ but everywhere."
Continual Light: "And thus! The Sun opens its unblinking eye!"
Detect Invisible: "Lo! The Weave's hand parts the Unseen's veil!"
Detect Evil: "Hark! Evil's shroud is ripped away!"
Flaming Sphere: "Doom in fire's what I desire!"
Knock: "No matter the lock, my will is the key!"
Leomund's Trap: "Wand'ring fingers, prying eyes/Rogues'll get a nasty surprise!"
Magic Mouth: "Speak when magic deems others should be spoken to."
Melf's Acid Arrow: "Sizzle, bubble, bowstring and trouble!"
Pyrotechnics: "Snake of smoke, coil about me."
Web: "What a tangled Mythal Weave..."

Now, while this character will not be able to cast 8th level spells for quite some time, I figured that the second-highest level of spells in the PLayer's Handbook needed an awesome for to go with it: Haiku!

I only have one written so far, though.

"The Mythal weaves ties that bind/
Mine bind further still/
An unbreakable circle."

Ninth level spels are the highest level available in the player's handbook, so what sort of epic form should be used for these spells?

Limericks, DUH!

"I'm finally of magickal skill
Enough to bend it to my will.
Of the Mythal I ask
This one humble task:
Make the following wish be fulfilled."

Astral Spell:
"When body and soul're combined,
the complete person's intertwined.
Separate 'em, you're dead,
but with an astral thread,
and this spell, well, you're totally fine."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Raph Koster: "I sit and I look at what we do and I think 'Goddamn we're irrelevent.' "

Raph Koster, the lead designer of Ultima Online and creative director of Star Wars Galaxies kicked off the Worlds in Motion summit with a keynote address. The address was nominally about "...why virtual worlds and online spaces are more than a fad-and why you absolutely should care."

It turned into something that has echoed across the game development blogosphere, touching off a firestorm of criticism, commentary and (one would hope) some self-reflection.

The quote that makes up this entry's title comes during the slideshow presentation where he says

"... the Neal Stephensons dreamt of the infinite promise, and you wonder how it addresses the things that we wrestle with in the real world... The collective venture capital at the summit has to be north of 50 million; enough to replace the FEMA trailers the people of New Orleans are living in. "I sit and I look at what we do and I think 'Goddamn we're irrelevent.' Have I brought you down enough yet?"

But all is not lost, he says. Gaming and virtual worlds do have importance because

"What we do in this room can have an impact... We see windows into virtual worlds when we download the [World of Warcraft]client. The metaverse is more windows -- breaking down the barriers between the worlds. We're heading for a world full of windows -- the question is what we'll be seeing through them. Will it be like a mirror or something new? We're not playing with toys but with people. We need to use what we already have and make a difference. Whether we empower each other makes a difference."
Definitely a lot of food for thought. It's not just video games, but our everyday lives are becoming more and more virtual every day: online banking, shopping, craiglist, ebay, online dating, message boards, blogs, you name it.

How can we harness this focus and energy to help others? It's not like there's zero reach. Ralph said "We have cybercafes in rural Senegal -- people without food and water still have Google. ".

Is this pie-in-the sky idealism, or will virtual world building lead to real social change for the good of others?

And even if it can, does that mean it should? OR should games be games, social movements be social movements and never the twain shall meet?

Kill Dr. Lucky Lord British

Lord British, the in-game alter-ego of Ultima series creator Richard Garriot is essentially immortal and nearly impossible to kill.

That doesn't mean that it's completely impossible, nor that gamers haven't tried.

Computer & Videogames has a feature article that covers all the ways Lord British can or has died.

Bonus video: How to kill Lord British in Ultima IX:

8-Bit NES Tribute and the WWE: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together!

I loves me some pro wrestling. I obviously loves me some old-school NES games.

John Cena, a pro wrestler for WWE has combined both in what is the only T-shirt related to pro wrestling I've ever wanted to a)buy and b) wear in public:

At the risk of losing my "wrestling smart internet guy indie cred", I will say that John Cena is one of my favorite wrestlers, and him coming up with a shirt like this is just AWESOME.

And he's not frontin', either! In his very first DVD, he talks about his love of old-school NES games, is wearing a "NO! I don't need a strategy guide" T-Shirt from the webcomic Deisel Sweeties, and he did a freestyle rap for a webmaster who runs an NES video game site that namedrops everything from Excitebike to the Konami Code.

Gamers, we're EVERYWHERE.

Thanks to Nyterayn of PMO for clueing me in!

Librarian Forgives Fines If You Beat Her at DDR.

No, really.

Look, the article even says so:

Patrons were invited to make good on unpaid fines by donating canned and packaged foods for the local soup kitchen or by entering a dance competition, “Dance Dance Revolution.”

To sweeten the pot, during most of the day the library served coffee, bagels, pastries and ice cream, donated by area businesses.

By midafternoon, the cans and packages were piling up on a table inside library director Michelle Sampson’s office while circulation assistant Katie Spofford was setting up the video dance game on a PlayStation in a carpeted room upstairs.

I'd still probably lose, though. When it comes to DDR, I'm strictly a White Guy Beta.

(Found via The Shifted Librarian.)

Mario Teaches Quantum Physics

The Mechanically Separated Meat blog took the youtube video of merged games played against "Kaizo Mario World" (which I first blogged about in this entry) and used the resulting video as the starting point for an illuminating and very accessible discussion of the Many Worlds hypothesis in quantum physics.

From the essay in question:

tiny quantum events can create ripples that have big effects on non-quantum systems. One good example of this is the Quantum Suicide “experiment” that some proponents of the Many-Worlds Interpretation claim (I think jokingly) could actually be used to test the MWI. The way it works is, you basically run the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment on yourself– you set up an apparatus whereby an atom has a 50% chance of decaying each second, and there’s a detector which waits for the atom to decay. When the detector goes off, it triggers a gun, which shoots you in the head and kills you. So all you have to do is set up this experiment, and sit in front of it for awhile. If after sixty seconds you find you are still alive, then the many-worlds interpretation is true, because there is only about a one in 1018 chance of surviving in front of the Quantum Suicide machine for a full minute, so the only plausible explanation for your survival is that the MWI is true and you just happen to be the one universe where the atom’s 50% chance of decay turned up “no” sixty times in a row. Now, given, in order to do this, you had to create about 1018 universes where the Quantum Suicide machine did kill you, or copies of you, and your one surviving consciousness doesn’t have any way of telling the people in the other 1018 universes that you survived and MWI is true. This is, of course, roughly as silly as the thing about there being a universe where all the atoms in your heart randomly decided to tunnel out of your body.

But, we can kind of think of the multi-playthrough Kaizo Mario World video as a silly, sci-fi style demonstration of the Quantum Suicide experiment. At each moment of the playthrough there’s a lot of different things Mario could have done, and almost all of them lead to horrible death. The anthropic principle, in the form of the emulator’s save/restore feature, postselects for the possibilities where Mario actually survives and ensures that although a lot of possible paths have to get discarded, the camera remains fixed on the one path where after one minute and fifty-six seconds some observer still exists.

You can read the whole entry here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

John McCain: Power Gamer?

Prolific fanatasy author and role-playing game designer Robin D. Laws ( he designed Feng Shui, Over the Edge, Hero Wars, and Jack Vance's The Dying Earth Roleplaying Game) has an interesting and amusing analysis of the recent US primaries:

On the Repub side, John McCain takes the award for most skillful power-gamer. His team saw a process with a clump of winner-take-all states at the beginning and concentrated his efforts there. Now that he’s taken them, Romney is already dead in the water, mathematically speaking. Most of the races to come are proportional, and he’d have to get impossibly high margins of victory in all of them to triumph. It may be Ticket To Ride for McCain, but Mitt's stuck playing Arkham Horror, and he's already lost.

The whole article reads like a hilarious playtesting post-mortem. Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Palladium's Robotech RPG Re-Launch May Release On Time

In a recent press release from Palladium, it was announced that the Robotech RPG re-launch is almost a done deal:

"We are working hard to get the Robotech® The Shadow Chronicles® role-playing game done and to the printer by next Friday."
An since Palladium did announce a release date of February '08, this looks like it's shaping up to hit its release target! Further details include:

We estimate 70% of the artwork is ALL NEW and it looks fantastic!

Awesom-- wait, what? So is 30% of the artwork recycled?

Well, uh, um... the book's gonna look hella-cool, and the staff's pretty sure it's going to the printers by this Friday, right?

The writing is close to completion and many sections are undergoing final editing. That means we are also still shooting for an end of February release, though it could slip into the first week of March (we hope not).

Awww, Palladium, why ya gotta do this to me? Writing is close to completion? With 4 days to to hit the printers? And the release date might slip AGAIN? Of for the love of --

All the text is new, updated and brought in line with the official timeline, data, stats and info of Harmony Gold, plus additional details, info and gaming data... Stats have been adjusted to reflect the official Robotech data and satisfy a new generation of gamers.

Oh, Palladium, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, come back!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mario ROMhacks make even hardcore gamers cry.

Remember Super Mario Frustration? Kaizo Mario World is another of those super-hard Mario level hacks, this one of Super Mario World. Someone played through its first level 134 times, with save states, recording all his deaths, then digitally composited them into one trip through the level. The result was Many-Worlds Mario. (For those interested, here's a video of a tool-assisted perfect run of much of the game. Here's the rest.

Get It While It's Hot: Fan Ripped SSBB Soundtrack

Now that Super Smash Brother Brawl for the Wii is out in Japan, everything that the Brawl PR team endeavored to keep secret has been released to the public by enthusiastic Internet fans.

In what is making me giddier than a schoolboy is that a SSBB fan is ripping music out of the game and dumping it into a directory for everyone on the 'net to enjoy. I'm guessing that it won't stop until all reportedly-300-plus songs in the game are on it.

Guys, there are a LOT of high quality tracks in there that will have you grinning from ear to ear if you've liked any Nintendo game pretty much ever.

There's the orchestral arrangement of the original Legend of Zelda. The boss battle music from Metal Gear Solid 2. And Humoresque of a Little Dog -- aka "The Drugstore music from Earthbound" is my favorite arrangement in there so far. The NES Medley is a great audio quiz to see how many old NES games you remember, though if you want medleys from just a single game there's the Kid Icarus medley.

The theme song to Sonic CD is in there. The ENGLISH version.

You need to go and check them out right now.

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