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Gaming as a service

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

There are always a lot of people panhandling and busking on the Pearl St. Mall here in Boulder. But today, as I walked along with the first drops of rain starting to flick through the sky, after a good lunch with a good Rosetta Stone friend, I saw a funny thing. Someone sitting with a chessboard, willing to play anyone who walked by and was interested, donations accepted.

That’s really awesome.

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How to spend a summer’s day

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

In this case: watching a cricket game up in Longmont with a few friends and the following picnic:

  • cucumber sandwiches
  • bread, cheese and pâté
  • hobnobs and McVitie’s digestives
  • Pimm’s
  • mustardy potato salad
  • treacle tarts
  • nutella

There was nothing not good about this.

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Meeting

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

I spoke for what I think is the first time today at meeting. It was not really a choice. The message was from me, from somewhere inside of me, but it was not my choice to speak it. Consciously I didn’t want to, but at a certain point, part of my brain said “you’re a Quaker, so get up and quake.” And I did. It was short.

At the end of meeting, lots of kids came in, all the kids from the First Day School whatnot. And I just had to smile; I love seeing old people and young people all intermixed.

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Twitter

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

Twitter is really cool. For a long time, I didn’t understand what it was for, but I’m getting an increased understanding of it. It’s kind of like a room where you can define who’s near you, and nearness is not necessarily transitive. So you can overhear conversations and join into them seamlessly, or hear when someone shouts across the room to you. It’s broadcast IM with a smooth multi-user chat transition.

On top of that, the social expectations of the site are such that talking with people you don’t know is encouraged, which just makes it great at community building, rather than Facebook’s community-recording.

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Why

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

So, I need to always revisit why I am doing a thing. In this case, grad school seems unpleasant currently, so I am trying to see what it is that I like about it. And really, it is the teaching. I very much want to do that. I am sure that I want to do research and publish things, too, but right now that desire is distant, obscured.

I got a great compliment from a student the other day—she said that I was the only TA she had this semester who seemed to know the material. I then had a conversation with another student about the ways in which what they’re learning in intro Ling isn’t, per se, true, but is, I hope, a set of useful simplifications.

This is probably just end-of-semester workload blues. Lemme write 20 decent pages more and talk with you again. I reckon I’ll be fine in a few weeks.

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Public Space

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

It’s a beautiful day, and I’m working at a coffee shop on Pearl Street. Nice space, doors open to the air outside, a comfy chair and a nearby outlet. I don’t feel like their choice of music, so I’m listening on my headphones to Carter & Grammer—Drum Hat Buddha right now, but it’ll move on soon.

And amongst this, I am thinking about the use of public space, by which I only mean “spaces not hidden in someone’s home”. We four here have taken to working at coffee shops, and occasionally a local pub or two, when we want to get things done. It gets us away from the distractions of home, but more than that, it shifts our context enough to jump-start some work.

One thought leads to another, and soon I am thinking about  Cassidy’s, on Westmoreland Street in the middle of Dublin. Some friends took me there once, to find the basement bar full of gamers—some people playing card games, some playing role-playing games, some playing board games, some just talking. This idea has stayed with me since I saw it; rare is the place in this country where that would work, was my first reaction. But maybe not; maybe I just have to talk to a few gamers, and talk to a few pubs. Part of what makes it work, of course, is the size and layout of an actual Irish pub; there’s a whole basement bar that allows people to set themselves aside a bit, and not be disturbed or disturbing.

So, from there, I come to something that Vincent Baker posted about today: Owl and Raven, a community space that’s just opened in Northampton, MA. The idea is to have a space where people can come to work on projects, hang out, and learn from each other and talk with each other. This seems a really compelling idea, and I look forward to following these people to see how it works.

Finally, all of this leads me to remember an idea I had a while ago, that I occasionally revisit: gamerspaces. The idea is to make something like hackerspaces, but for gamers and games. A bit over a year ago, I was frequenting the IRC channel of Hacklab.to, and had the notion to get a group of gamers of all stripes to pitch in some membership fees to get a space and furnish it with what you need for games and gamers: tables, couches, nooks and crannies, and 24-hour access and security. One problem with this idea so far has been that companies will sometimes donate to hackerspaces, but I have a hard time envisioning getting funding for a gamerspace from anything but members’ fees.

All of these ideas are as-yet just vaguely related notions floating around, but I thought I’d put them out there, to remind myself and maybe give other people ideas.

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Disqus

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

Because I like threaded comments and good notifications, I’ve set up Disqus for this here blag. If it perturbs you, sorry. Hopefully, it’ll help people get notified when people reply to comments. You don’t need a Disqus account or anything, but if you have one, awesome.

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The Matter of Britain

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve been working on a game set in Regency Britain of magicians and fairies, drawing much inspiration from Susanna Clarke’s fantastic book, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The themes of madness and manners are so perfectly embodied in the period, with the very king himself being mad. But I’ve had a realization as I work on it that I really need to incorporate another great love of mine: the Matter of Britain.

Some have said that Arthur, the rex quondam rexque futurus did in fact return in Britain’s hour of greatest need, as Arthur Lord Wellington. I think that drawing from this rich body of myth will do nothing but good. So if I start becoming obsessed, and talk all the time about cryptic connections between prominent figures of the late Georgian and Regency periods and figures of Arthurian myth, please encourage me.

There are two prominent and interrelated aspects of game design, system and setting. I’ve got a firm grasp on the system for this game, but now I’m making the meat for those bones.

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The King’s Speech

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

I saw it tonight. Great movie.

I liked the amount of period detail, for sure, but what I really liked was the fantastic structure: every act and scene and beat was just in place. A problem, a new relationship, a breaking of that relationship, an increased crisis that leads to reconciliation. A gradual escalation of stakes until a twist that breaks the relationship again, and then another, bigger crisis, mirroring the earlier one. A climax and victory.

I’ll need to dissect it a bit more, it’s got plenty of meat to chew on.

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Scott Pilgrim

Originally published at Transneptune. Please leave any comments there.

I finally got around to reading the last two volumes of the comic last night. Great ending to a great comic. I just wanted to say that the “wilderness sabbatical” bit is very Yoda-esque: Scott travels far away, goes into the wild, confronts his shadow, and returns, wiser for it. But at least Luke doesn’t kiss Yoda.