Monday, April 30, 2012

Write d20 Ideas

I receive this newsletter every day. I normally just skim it and toss it. This time though, that linked article jumped out at me. I realized that the first bullet point is really good advice, especially for the time-strapped blogger. Not only that, but I can combine that advice with my love of randomness.

Think of this like a random encounter table, for my blog. Whenever I do not have a topic, I'll grab a random number generator, or a d20, and write the idea that comes up. Then, I'll replace the idea with a new idea, repost the Write d20 Ideas at the bottom of the post. Here are the rules:

1. There must always be 20 ideas. Twenty ideas, there must be.
2. If a topic is written about before being rolled, it will be replaced during the next update.
3. These can be any writing exercise or topic that develops content.
4. It must be written the same day it is rolled for.

As you know, I tend to, uh, break my own rules sometimes, but I'll try to keep myself honest. See below for the first set of 20 ideas. In general, the first 10 will have to deal with fiction, writing, theory and gaming. The second ten will focus more on history.

Occupy Meter Socket

Occupy Meter Socket!

It is a tiny fairy eviction notice.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Telltale's Walking Dead & Writing Adventure Games

When I was growing up, I played the heck out of Sierra adventure games. I liked the puzzles and the stories. So, when Steam told me that Telltale had a new adventure game about The Walking Dead, I figured it would be worth checking out. Especially after going through Guild Wars 2. The game actually does a really good job capturing the feel of zombie apocalypses, and it creates some good, convincing characters in a short time. Spoilers follow, so, you know. Click at your own risk.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Evening Guild Wars 2 Beta Update: Ranger

Normally when I play open betas, I try character types I normally don't play, or I go random. The guardian was my random pick, so this time I decided a human ranger. I'm not normally DPS, but I do have a soft spot for archer types. I did like the feel of the ranger, and once I get weapon swapping, I think it'll feel much more fluid.

Mid-Day Guild Wars 2 Beta Update

I've gotten in about two hours now of the Guild Wars 2 Beta. Something I always have trouble with a game is deciding what I'll play, and the fact that GW2 has a built in random character roller is icing on the cake. I've randomized five characters on the Isle of Janthir: I have a human engineer and ranger, a Charr guardian and warrior, and a Norn necromancer (for the alliterative appeal). So far, I've only taken a crack at the Guardian, but with some past experience with the Mesmer and the Warrior, I feel like I've got a good feel for one way to play these classes.

On Why We're All So Negative

I'm running a little early for my trip to the Red Cross, so here's an article and my two cents. I think that we all know the negative Nancies of the world, but the NYT throws in that journalistic ambiguous pronoun of 'some:' "Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail." Either way, apparently, it is all psychological and physiological that you can only remember the glass being half empty, apparently. After all, there's a reason that Fail became an internet meme, but not Success.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links, April 27

This is a week where I both find old things I should have known about and also prepare for new things. Namely, the Guild Wars 2 Public Beta.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Side of Fowl

In about 18 hours or so, if my estimate on the lag to auto post is right, you should be able to play the Guild Wars 2 Beta. So, while I expect to write about that over the weekend, today and yesterday, I was out of the area for work. So, today is a content light day. But that's OK! You can flip back and read about handling horror and my rule of three. Or click below the jump for some pictures of water fowl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GM Secrets: The Rule of Three

Hello! If you're reading this, either I was able to access my Blogger account via my Nook, or I finally figured out Blogger's auto update tool. Either way, congratulations us! This is the third installment of my GM Secrets posts (I'm considering both parts of Conversing With NPCs one post.) Here, I'm going to explain to you my Rule of Three.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

GM Secrets: Horror Is Hard

Scaring your players isn't easy. In early editions of Dungeon and Dragons, players understood the pseudo-adversarial role you play. You put that sphere of annihilation at the bottom of the pit trap, but it wasn't personal. Somewhere along with the way, players were exposed to the soft, downy warmth of challenge ratings, cooperative fiction and the disposable heroes of Call of Cthulhu. They lost that visceral fear that we feed on. We, of course, being GMs.

Monday, April 23, 2012

GM Secrets: Conversing With NPCs 2

The last post was getting too long, so I split off some of my random notes and put them here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GM Secrets: Conversing With NPCs

The key to any good story, which is all a table top game really is is a shared story, is fun characters that we connect with.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Totally Non-Scientific Poll: America's Greatest Military Foe

My first ever totally non-scientific blog poll. I'm so proud. You may need to go back in blog time, that is, read the archives, to fully inform yourself on what we're voting on. If you want to be informed and not just shoot from the hip, you'll have to do real research. If you want the lazy way out, start here and then click through to read my not scholarly researched, but better than nothing, write ups about Lee, Howe, Yamomoto, Giap and Sitting Bull. Then, go below the jump to the poll.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links, April 20

Since this is a non-political blog, we're going to let sleeping dogs lie. As much as I make fun of CNN, their Geek Out blog occasionally has stories there that I find actually interesting. This week was one of them. Well, maybe one of them was from their Tech section. I don't really remember. Anyway, below are the non-political links, which is how this cookie crumbles.

America's Greatest Military Foe 5: Sitting Bull?

After the first four, I really wasn't sure who else deserved a mention as I rambled through the possibilities. But, there's at least one more name that I think won't be controversial. After these five, I really can't think of any other general or commander you could really suggest who would have a better claim to the title than these guys. Namely because Sitting Bull's command lasted a significant time period, defeated General Custer and ultimately demanded a level of loyalty from his followers that any general would envy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

America's Greatest Military Foe 4: Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap?

You know what is embarrassing? Copy and pasting your title to make sure you keep the same wording, and forgetting to update the number in the title. Yamamoto is now properly listed as post number three, as opposed to sharing post number two. Anyway, our next possibility is North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, who according to Wikipedia, is 100 years old.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some Zombie Semantics

I felt like the posts were getting a bit too heavy. We've been looking at generals, talking about military history, and then going on about big, heavy books you and I should read. Friends, let's all take a moment to sit back and be silly. So, a blast from my past, originally posted May 29, 2007, when MySpace was still a thing.

America's Greatest Military Foe 3: Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto?

By the time we reach World War II, naval operations were becoming even more important to warfare. In 1890, Mahan wrote one of the most important treatises on the subject. World War I demonstrated the power of the U-boat, and by World War II, ruling the waves was critical to maintaining operations, especially for island powers like Japan and Britain (though I'm sure Britain would not like me to refer to it that way). While America had Nimitz, Japan's naval forces rested in the eminently capable hands of Isoroku Yamamoto.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Election Cycles

This blog is not primarily a political blog, however, some topics, I feel, are political without being politicized, so I feel safe blogging about them. Election cycles is one of them. Like redistricting, there is a partisan aspect to them, but we should be able to see beyond partisanship to find a compromise that serves the need of our nation the best.

America's Greatest Military Foe 2: Gen. William Howe?

I don't really have a set order I'm reviewing my suggestions. I started with Lee because I figured he was the easiest. I feel that Howe is probably not going to be nearly as popular a choice as Lee (in fact, I don't think any of them are!) But, Howe does have some arguments going for him.

Monday, April 16, 2012

America's Greatest Military Foe 1: Gen. Robert E. Lee?

I wanted to start with the one person I thought would probably be most universally chosen. I honestly think that most people are going to think of Lee as the epitome of America's greatest military foe, for a number of reasons. Let me outline them below.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cherry Blossom Parade 2012: Unexpected Things

Today I went to the Cherry Blossom Parade! I got to see a parade. I liked it. Even if there were many unexpected things, and some things that were too high that needed help getting down. One thing that was too high was a young woman, who needed help getting down. I am a gentleman, so I helped her down.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links, April 13

Every now and again, I collect links and I think: "I don't want to use a whole post to link to a single thing." So, I start a folder. But then, I do nothing with the links.  Each week, then, I hope to have a couple of links of things that I found interesting. It should run the gamut of history, nerdery and things I like, er, that I link. Friday the thirteenth seemed as good a reason as any to start.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Closing Out Art of Video Games Discussion

Thank you for reading! If you haven't been, feel free to go back here and read through about the exhibit! If you're new, you can also go back to the first post and catch up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Discussion: Are Video Games Art?

Now that you've had a chance to see bits and pieces of insight on the inside of the exhibit, I think it is time to have that discussion that the Smithsonian wanted when it asked us, "Are video games art?" I don't believe I've linked to their FAQ, so here it is. Chris Melissinos described the exhibit like so:
"Using the cultural lens of an art museum, viewers can determine whether the games on display are indeed worthy of the title 'art.' Some visitors will encounter a game that transports them back to their childhood, or gain insight into how games are made. My hope is that people will leave the exhibition with an understanding that video games are much more than what they first thought. They may even be art."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Inside the Exhibit

Getting inside the National Portrait Gallery isn't that hard. It's near the Gallery Place Chinatown Metro, so you can get there without too much of a hassle. On the top floor of the building you can finally find your way to the small corner that they've relegated for the Art of Video Games exhibit. You can even get a nifty book at the museum gift shop when it is all over.

Anyway, what can you find inside the exhibit?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Every Day Art of Video Games

First, I wish I had had the presence of mind to title my previous post "I Never Promised You a Moongate Garden." It is an oppuntunity forever missed. Also, I forgot to use the Video Games label in the last post. See what I mean by I am a bad blogger?

Speaking of which, another benefit of video games is that they let you see the world in a completely different world. For example, the Smithsonian is asking us: "Are video games art?" My first instinct is to say yes.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Precursor to Games as Art: Smithsonian Moongate Garden

I was on my way to the actual next exhibit that I was going to cover, when I came across the Moongate Garden. While the Smithsonian tells us that it "draws design inspiration from the Temple of Heaven, a 15th-century religious complex in Beijing," I couldn't help but look at it. As you can tell by the nifty new feature available from Blogger, this is near the Sackler gallery.