MTG: Kamigawa Revamp, Part 3: Legendary

Wizards of the Coast Employees, this article is going to feature custom card designs.

We’ve talked about the structural problems of Kamigawa 1.0, but just to recap, the whole set is about six conflicting factions – five mono-coloured groups against the five-coloured omnishambles that is the Spirit faction. With that problem ‘examined’ last time, it’s time to attack the next structural problem: Legendary.

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Decemberween: ASMRtists

Hey, I have a hard time sleeping. I experience the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a pleasant effect in the back of my head caused by a variety of audio effects. I’ve taken to listening to ASMR audio this year in order to take control of my sleep schedule and to manage my stress levels. This has so far been better than my standard Be Angry All The Time Forever policy.

Anyway, I’m going to link some ASMRtists I listen to because their format works well for me and what I use it for. First of all, I like ASMR Glow‘s sci-fi roleplay videos. They’re deliberately unreal but don’t go too over the top and don’t make me feel embarassed.

I also like listening to ASMRequests, who has a quirky sense of humour I like a lot. She doesn’t do a lot very actively right now, but her ASMR work has featured some really interesting 360 VR stuff (not my thing), some very sincere product inspections, and she has the character of Salmon. Salmon is adorable and shady and awkward, so if you want that kind of work it’s very good.

He’s not technically ASMR, but David Bull‘s youtube channel features lots of long-form restful videos of things like wood carving. I don’t find his work triggers the response, but it’s all very sweet and wholesome so it can work to keep me restful.

The ASMRtist Ephemeral Rift produces both a lot of content, usually an hour or so long, and often with long, restful pauses on particular soundscapes. Not everything he makes is for me, but he uses ASMR to both create a fictive space (such as his Arkham Asylum stories) and to contextualise gentle conversations. He’s also a male voice that doesn’t bother me, which are not too common in the landscape.

Lastly, there’s Goodnight Moon, who I want to highlight because her work is very aesthetically interesting. She’s done long-form essays (?) on things like local landmarks; videos about explaining the process of makeup, hairstyling, and even making ASMR videos. Also, Goodnight Moon has some very subtle queer coding that might make it more comforting for those massive gays amongst you – she occasionally references a girlfriend, and talks to the viewer with only the occasional expectations that they are femme.

Here are some. You might like ’em, if you don’t, it’s not a problem.

Decemberween: Homestar Runner!

What’s something from when you were young that’s still good?

I don’t mean something that when you go back to it still has something to it, still gives you nostalgia. I mean something that when you reach back to share it with someone makes you laugh now even though you’ve changed. Most of my early life is this smear of false memories, confused experiences and violence. The time I feel confident about my memory doesn’t really kick in until my teenage years, and one of the cartoons I love from that time, one of the things I still revisit and quote and use as an example for other things is the wonderful, imaginative, nonsense world of Homestar Runner.

I’ve talked about it before – in my MASK review and my review of the Homestar Runner videogame. This year, I started watching it again – in large passages, too. See, now I have nephews. And you know what works out really well for connecting with them? Helping them understand your sense of humour and your frame of reference? Sharing it with them.

If you haven’t partaken of the Star Runner Homs, consider this a recommendation to check them out. They’ll probably bounce off you, if odds are anything to go by. Maybe you tried them a little but they weren’t your thing at the time. Maybe you need to have been an imaginative and embarassing dork to click into the mindspace of a kid who thinks he’s the coolest supervillain ever. I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy it. But I don’t care if you don’t enjoy it, because Homestar Runner has been so formative to me, it’s been able to both sarcastically codify ideas in my own mind and help me appreciate the joy of playing and being a dork for its own sake.

There’s a pure joy in Homestar Runner. A handful of ideas that have just echoed with me; ideas like Decemberween, Buy All Our Playsets And Toys, Don’t Play With 2 Many Knivez, about making things that can be bad, the dynamics that look bad forced, Do You Has The Times, I’mma, and – just a host of ways my language and mind have been guided by loving this series. Hell, Homestar Runner made a recurrent joke about realising when a funny comment isn’t actually funny years before Twitter.

But I mean, I call this month of celebrations of things I love Decemberween for a reason, and this is where I got it.

Decemberween: JK Rockin’

Jenn is a friend I made at a convention, a few years ago. Our first major interaction was one where I was being called upon to judge a panel about fanfiction and queerbaiting and her first line in the whole event on the mic was, as I remember, an angry ‘LET THE QUEERS FUCK.’

Jenn is great and great in one of those ways where I don’t want to provide description myself. Proud and angry with absolute reason, she is fearsome and powerful and I want to encourage you to follow her on twitter.

Jenn did something this year really cool that I wanted to highlight. There’s this problem we have where we tend to think of some forms of creation as ‘lesser’ because of how they’re made. The twitter thread is basically the babby essay, for example. I wanted to bring to your attention the absolutely heroic twitter thread that Jenn made this year, following her audiobook reading of the Harry Potter series.

This thread is thirteen thousand words. It’s not just an essay, it’s almost a thesis. This many words is basically a book. It’s easily a commentary track for the entire series of books, but it’s also got something thanks to Twitter breaking up the thoughts. It isn’t meant to be long form reading but rather serialised commentary, and thanks to the text it references setting the timer, you’re going to be buoyed along with the reading as you listen.

I really like this. I don’t follow it well, because I haven’t listened to these books, but this is a really cool, interesting medium for critique and reflection on a work. You should check it out, and if you want to start on media critique or talking about media forms that really matter to you this can be an interesting good start.

Story Pile: Good Will Hunting

I don’t really like chess.

I mean I don’t play it. I never have. Not really. Played a few games, sat down to try and learn it, pushed pieces around, failed to identify a way to win, lost a lot, never really got into it. Chess isn’t very fun. Being good at chess is, from what I can tell, pretty great. As an actual game though it’s really basic and there’s this huge investment of research to be good at it and the people who play it tend to include some really tiresome people.

It’s not that chess is a bad game really, I just find it really boring.

Gotta know the basics of chess, though.

That’s what smart people do.

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Decemberween: Desert Bus

This year, I contributed a print-on-demand game, The Pipesm’n Conspiracy, to the Desert Bus for Hope 2018 event. I’ve shared some pictures of this game, both in development and once it was finalised.

The game was made over the course of a month, and printed at Gamecrafter, then sent to the LRR folks. I have never handled a copy of this game, but I’ve tested a prototype I made myself.

It was made into a silent auction, where it it raised a thousand dollars for Child’s Play, with a bid of $987.65. This obviously blows my mind and I’ve spent the intervening time processing the feelings as a result. I’m confused, I’m stunned, I’m honestly ashamed – because I know the work that went in to getting that stuff in place.

To tell you the story, briefly, of how this happened; I made the game, in my home, on cards and in GIMP. I then exported the files and sent those to The Gamecrafter, and had them print and send them to Vancouver, to my friend Hazel.  At this point, expected delivery was within the week, but something went wrong, and instead they were delayed on the way to her.

That means they arrived at Hazel’s place late. Hazel is in Vancouver, which for the Munchlaxen amongst you is basically the next city over from Victoria, its destination.

Hazel received the games, then bagged them as per Desert Bus requests. Then, with the deadline ticking down, as we fumbled through the records for address information, we did our best to find our shipping options that would get it to the right place at the right time. We almost got it right, but I want to shout out to Hazel here – she was willing to personally get on the ferry right there and detective work her way to the right location to hand the game over to people personally to make sure it got there on time.

She didn’t have to do that, as we got her the address, but I messed up on the information, and that meant the prize got there but wasn’t labelled for Desert Bus and went into general Mail Time.

What happened after that point was, thanks to encouragement on the Discord when my prize wasn’t showing up on the Desert Bus page, I contacted the Prize people, who then – while they were very busy– went digging through packages for my mislabelled one, found it, put it on the website, put it on the schedule, and that’s how it got to happen.

I feel awful about putting people out like this.

I want to thank Hazel so much for her part in this – she did nothing wrong, she executed on the information I gave her perfectly. She gave me tracking information which was invaluable for getting the right package. I also want to thank the hard work of Fugi (Foo-Jee) and Ashley Turner (and anyone who helped her, who I cannot name by name), in getting the prize into the pool. Everyone involved was doing other stuff, they were busy, and I made everything a bit harder, and a bit more complicated. I’m so embarassed by this messup and I’m sorry that it went the way it did.

I’ve been trying to approach LoadingReadyRun with my games for a while; you might remember the ridiculous way I got excited when they opened some of my games on Mail Time last year. Except thanks to a cock-up on my end, they arrived without boxes and therefore, without rulebooks, a point of unprofessionalism that also hugely embarasses me. I don’t like twitch chat very much, so I feel very bad being this person @-ing people on twitter like I’m an exciteable fan going oo oo Mr Stark, Mr Lauder, please pay attention to me!

Desert Bus is an amazing charity that does things that matter to me a lot; it aims to be inclusive and respectful and indulgent, which is what I want out of my games. This year they passed the $5,000,000 lifetime earning mark, brought in dozens of amazing people, and in a tiny way, in the tiniest of ways, I was part of that. Not only was I part of that, but people involved in that worked to keep my contribution from falling away. They didn’t need my thing to raise that money, they didn’t need it. They could have kept it for next year, or told me sorry, you messed up, or sorry, we’re too busy.

They could have and they didn’t.

I feel ashamed that it’s necessary, but I am so, so grateful to the people who spent their time and effort in such an incredibly busy time to make something like that happen, to let me and Hazel be part of this.

Desert Bus is wonderful and good and as much as I hate the way I lose a week of my life just paying attention to this stream, I am so blessed by the work and actions of the people involved to be included in it.

Thank you, Desert Bus.

MTG: Kamigawa Revamp, Part 2: The Kami War

Wizards of the Coast Employees, this article is going to feature custom card designs.

When you want to dismantle a set and fix it, it seems to me you should want to get down as close as possible to the basics of what went into that set. Strip it down, examine the central principles, and see what you can do to fix them. You need to find the things that made the set feel the way it did without, hopefully, carrying forwards the things that made it feel bad. Which means that you want to represent the same general factional struggle and strife, you want things to broadly still have the same boxes they can land in and in Kamigawa that means addressing the big flavour underpinning the whole thing:

The Kami War. Continue reading

Decemberween: Big Stevie Dee

First up hand on heart, I like Steve Dee‘s games. That’s a weird thing to disclose, because it’s normally the other way around. They’re not the kind of games I play, but I have bought some of them, because I like having them and they have good mechanical ideas that I can use for my own projects. That doesn’t reflect on my opinion of him as a person, though.

There’s this idea I have as a game developer that I want to hear from people who have something going on other than games development. Games Development As Identity is kind of how you wind up with these small, insular groupings of games that feel similar, even if they have huge or small budgets. There are lots of Games Developers who got into Games Development by being Games Developers.

Steve Dee came to my house this year, and he spoke to me about dogs.

He spoke to me about dogs, because he was here to give us lessons in understanding and helping our dog. Elli, who is a beautiful but somewhat silly dog. And in one afternoon, Steve was not only able to explain to me behaviour from our dog that bore out as true, but he was able to do it in a way that made sense to me.

That’s an under-appreciated skill in game design. You’re trying to communicate a way things work to people through rules, through game play. Steve has it, but crucially, Steve works at it.

Decemberween: My PhD Supervisor

This PhD scares the hell out of me.

It’s not a rational fear, by the way. From what I can tell the biggest part of the PhD is doing a lot of cataloguing so I can put my – fairly interesting but not groundbreaking – idea into a greater historical context. What I’m doing, the reason I want to be doing it, that’s clear to me – I want academia to be able to talk about games better, in terms of them as media objects, as things that let people see the world, heal themselves, understand complex problems, and solve bigger problems.

PhDs are not a small amount of work. I’m okay with the work.

What scares me about it is the idea that any minute now someone, anyone, will turn to me and say “Okay, but who do you think you’re fooling?” and I’m back in an ACE school where there’s a right answer and I picked the wrong one. This has never happened. It never will happen. It’s a persistent fear nonetheless.

But my supervisor recognises this messed up part of my head, and is kind enough to keep reminding me that I don’t need to think this way. Pushing me to build not just what I’m working on, but the tools and habits that are going to make me better at building it. Recognising very real things – like my grandmother dying and the importance of marking – while still driving me to expanding and improving where I’m weak.

It’s something that’s really helped on this incredibly weird journey.

I really appreciate it and I just wanted to say it’s very nice to have the feeling someone is in my corner. And I don’t want to let them down.

Announcing: Decemberween 2018!

I liked Decemberween last year. Just as how I try to spend October being spooky and April being self-indulgent, I wanted to spend December just celebrating things. December is a month of minimal-bummers, positive boosting and just straight-up gratitude and encouragement for the people around me. It’s a time to reconsider the things that have happened around me, boost other people’s projects and work in a non-urgent way, and reflect, hopefully, on the things that have happened this year that are good. I won’t be talking about my projects this month, downer topics or weirdo theories until the new year.

Game Pile, MTG, and Story Pile articles will continue – don’t worry about that!

Story Pile: Star Trek: The Next Generation

At the start of this year I was in a really weird space when it came to free time. I was at the time, technically unemployed, because I had work contract coming, with the next semester, but at the same time, I didn’t have a job (or my PhD project yet). This meant that I has an absolute void of free time, and I sought things to fill it up.

And let me tell you.

There’s a lot of Star Trek.

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Project: Casino Worker Placement

The Pitch: It’s a wallet worker placement game, where you’re commanding a gang of The Suits inspired thieves hitting a casino, avoiding guards, and trying to have the best score at the end of the night, in a high contrast black-white-red style.

Details

First up, I wanted this game to use a small number of cards, some tokens and to fit entirely into a gamecrafter style bag. That meant trying to use a small number of cards to create a space. What I got was when I looked at cards like this, it wasn’t just nine rooms, it was also a series of hallways between them.

hey look maw, I’m vaporwave.

These are nine rooms, and players can move any amount, but there are guards that block hallways – and you can move them, too, with the right game action. That means that in addition to trying to put your thieves in some rooms, the guards also limit where you can be, but they also let you block your opponents’ movement or make it less convenient.

Each room has a value like a poker card, but also a type and a special rule. So there might be a room that pays out to everyone in it, or a room that pays out to the player who pays the least, or whatever. So it is a worker placement – you put in a worker, you get a thing. At the end of the game, though, your workers’ positions represents a poker hand and that determines your share of the final payout from the heist.

Needs

The biggest barrier to this is … well, stuff on gamecrafter is harder to sell at conventions. People tend not to buy my stuff on Gamecrafter, and this would want to be Gamecrafter for its tokens-and-cards style, as well as the small bag.

Think there’s a demand enough to continue on this idea?

Queued Down

Well this is weird.

See, one of the things that this blog has been doing now for over a year now in its Daily Blog Adventure, is pretty much posting constantly, thanks to coordination from a bullet journal system I’ve gotten very comfortable using. Story Pile posts are usually a month or two out in advance.

It may surprise you that these Story Pile posts are in some cases very thoroughly researched. I double check the things I want to talk about. Sometimes I cut them down, sometimes a whole point of an article is removed because I simply don’t want to be mean. I was pretty harsh, I feel, in my final assessment of The Punisher series, but that final assessment was mild compared to the positively blistering rage I had for the series. I was genuinely offended that The Punisher wanted to try and represent itself as a series that could have an opinion about the question of gun control. That had chunks of talk about American attitudes towards guns and about what it means when you esteem a symbol of violence more than the lives of children, and… I cut it. I cut all of it because it wasn’t really that important. I don’t think everyone who watched The Punisher is watching it to make something of it, I think most of them watched it because they liked the character in Daredevil or somewhere else and they were curious.

Earlier in the month, my queue ran out.

Not entirely. There were still a lot of queued posts. I just haven’t done much in October, in part because it was the final month of the semester, and its closing argument was marking every student’s work as quickly as possible. This is non ideal. It also means that over the course of four days, I have been reading roughly two books worth of text, then double checking that to existing media and texts I know, conferring with other tutors, then providing feedback in a way the student can grapple with.

Simply put, I’ve been pretty fried.

Then I look at the things I could Story Pile About. I was looking forward to the end of October and the Spooky Month because it meant I could Story Pile about anything again. I could write about whatever cool thing seized me. I had a list! I have a list! There’s Netflix shows and movies and albums and books and I have really, really enjoyed reconnecting with older stories as I share them with my nephews. But important to all this is that my Story Pile posts are actually pretty hard to just hammer out. Even when I’m talking about something I know well, I still need to spend time referencing it, still need to spend time checking it out.

That’s something I hope you appreciate. I don’t shoot from the hip with my Story Pile posts. They’re meant to be interesting and thoughtful. To some extent I want to be able to justify what I have to say about a piece of media even if I’m being a sassy jerk.

Say Your Name

I have beef with superheroes that wouldn’t ever use their own name.

Given the way I’ve been complaining about the Iron Fist series for the past two years, it really should stand to reason that I have a fine example of why a character wouldn’t use their superhero title, because Danny looks like a stupid asshole every time he says it. Now, the answer to why that’s a problem is because, as I’ve said many, many times, is that Danny sucks, but the real problem is that, right now, superheroes are being written and conceived as if they are too cool for hero identities.

Cool in this case not actually being a quality – you know, Luke Cage is super cool, for example. No, cool meaning aloof, possessed of a certain removed quality. That quality means these characters often don’t want to think about themselves as people others see them. Heroes who are tangled up in their own heads, but aren’t interested in being a public figure, aren’t interested in what their hero identity means to people around them.

This is the complex problem, and it’s complex because it often requires you to write a character with an inner life that is at odds with the simplified version of the superhero we see. In Daredevil, Matt Murdock does not call himself Daredevil – other people refer to him as the Daredevil. The identity is an observational one, and it doesn’t connect to the way the hero sees themselves. Sure, the Netflix Marvelverse is a fine place for this – you have basically five superheroes, and they are Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, The Iron Fist (Danny sucks) and the Punisher. Two of them are street names, one doesn’t like the title, one is Danny, who sucks, and whose use of the name is a literal joke, and the Punisher doesn’t go by his name either.

This carries through to the DC movie universe where Superman doesn’t have an S on his chest for superman, it’s the Kryptonian symbol for hope. Batman is Batman, but Batman is a symbol of terror, who brands people (though they seem to have quietly dropped that plot point). Wonder Woman introduces herself as Diana of Themyscira, Cyborg is a cyborg that calls himself Cyborg, while also being actively ashamed of being a cyborg.

Now why does this matter to me?

It matters because the ability to construct an identity, the ability to make a brand of the thing you are, is both empathetic and indicative of an inner life. You can’t create an illusion of what you are, you can’t make an identity if you’re not capable of considering how other people are feeling. You can’t create an identity, then inhabit it, without showing not only what you think, but how others think about it. That requires some empathy. That shows us some of your values. This is often drawn at a long series, that moment when a character finally dons their outfit, finally picks up their weapon, or maybe, just maybe, finally refers to themselves with their name.

He’s a character I regard as a complete tit, but I really like how Iron Man – the movie, not the guy – handle this. Tony is able to look at himself, look at the way people think of the identity of Iron Man, and makes the snap decision to be okay with wearing that identity.

In the end, these identities are created and assumed. These identities are the byproduct of empathy and values.

Many of these heroes don’t have those.

The irony is that of the lineup I’ve listed, the one who has the most values, the one who has shown the most concerted ideology of what he’s doing, and therefore the one constructing an identity is Luke Cage. He wants to be a symbol, he wants to matter to the people around him, and he wants that person to be someone the people around him can respect and look up to.

Anyway, this is just something that makes me mad. If your superhero would never use their name, they don’t belong in a story with that name in it. Just write a story that doesn’t use that word and stop pretending you want to write about superheroes.

Story Pile: Iron Fist, Season 2 – Danny

Joking aside, the fact is, I think Iron Fist Season 2 deserves some consideration as an object lesson for writers. It’s a series that has a structural problem – something is wrong in the way that the series is made, there’s a brokenness in it, and that break means that everything that connects to it is itself, in some way, sharing in that brokenness.

Spoilers, in a broad sense. I’ll tell you some of the plot points, but not in any kind of specific way.

The problem with Iron Fist, Season 2, is that Danny sucks.

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Friggin’ Venom

I’m seeing a lot of Venom fanart.

Some of it’s being shared by people genuinely horny for it, and we’ll just set that aside for now. Some folk are amused by it, who like the transgressive comedy in treating Venom and Eddie as if they’re boyfriends. It’s a fairly widespread thing, which has both a broad texture (in that there are lots of fairly specific opinions and niche representations of both symbiote and Brock), and almost entirely generic taste (it all kind of feels the same).

Mostly, I hate it.

In amongst this, someone pointed out that it’s weird how, in all this fanart, nobody can draw Tom Brady. He doesn’t look the same in any of them, sometimes not even from the same artist. They all wanna tell a story or show a moment, and yet, despite all of it, none of them seem to be able to represent the person they’re supposedly so driven to draw.

This is the kind of thing I’d normally find as kind of concerning. It’s not quite like how in Overwatch, where every artist brings their own style to the characters they draw and inevitably, the way they represent the unknowable or flexible facts of those characters’ bodies. That’s fine, that’s normal. What’s really strange to me about the Venom fanart is how utterly unable they are to ever represent anything of the character they’re trying to show.

But it doesn’t matter, because they don’t care. They don’t need to show him, because by being the guy with the Venom parasite he’s talking to, you know it’s Eddie Brock.

This is both excellent character design and terrible character design. Eddie is literally nothing, a vessel for Venom to exist next to; he can be anything, do anything, and there’s no reason to doubt or expect anything of him. There can be no out-of-character behaviour, and therefore, no really in-character behaviour. There’s nothing there to get wrong.

This is pretty saddening, really. Because people love this character, even though all he is is a set of fenceposts they can put whatever they want in the middle.

I’d love to put some sort of high-minded, positive coda here, some sort of ‘and isn’t it great that everyone can have that space to create in’ but, like, no. No, I actually find it super annoying that when critics point out problems the movie has, the work of criticism and analysis is discarded because The Venom In My Head Is Better Than The One You Saw, and therefore the critic must be clueless. I hate that a multi-million dollar movie franchise being made by someone who apparently doesn’t have a flipping face is given so many special breaks and given so much love not because of what it is but because of things it absolutely and definitely is not.

And as someone who makes things, who makes things for people to love, it makes me sad.

Because I can’t do that.

And I probably never will.

And that’s just how it goes.

Sorry about hating Venom. I’m sure not all you fans are just monster-frickers.


I’ve been informed that Tom Hardy is the actor I mean when I say Tom Brady and you know what, I’m willing to let that mistake stand because that’s how little of an impression Tom Buckley makes.

Game Pile: Blades in the Dark

It took a lot to get me out of 4ed D&D.

I’ve been playing D&D 4th edition since 2008. Our playgroup has a two-DMs policy, so the DM doesn’t have to wear out only ever playing; so we have two campaigns running side by side. This year, I sat down in the heat of a summer night with my friends, pulled out some printed sheets, and asked if we could give Blades in the Dark a try.

I’ve been running this game now for a year. My players’ crew, the Six Towers Station, a gang of daring smugglers, who I sometime tease for their lack of interest in smuggling. They have pulled off bank heists, woken up in a shipping container, relocated the bodies of ghostly lesbians, sold a soul in bits to the eletrical grid, created the myth of a refugee goddess, and ensnared in their web of crime a tanner’s and an undertaker’s.

I planned exactly none of this.

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Ethical Jealousy Of Others’ Happiness

Anonymous Asked: How do I deal with jealousy regarding other people’s happiness? It always feels like everyone around me is happier, more alive, and generally *living* better than I do. I know being the bitter Old Man staring between the blinds at the happy kids on the street isn’t good for me or anyone, but I can’t shake these feelings off.

Marshall Rosenberg expressed once, “At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” I don’t recommend Rosenberg for all your life, but he’s got a good handle on a theory of how a lot of toxic masculinity disconnects us from our feelings. And I mean, look at the guy:

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Unintentional Optimisation

Let me complain about a problem I’m having.

One of my games, currently titled under the genius name Boat Game is about shipping containers. I’m very proud of it, I did the art myself, I’m liking seeing the bits come together etcetera, and I have a lot of system stuff done for it, but it’s not in that turbo-get-it-done stage that led to games like Winston’s Archive being blurred through.

What’s holding me up is that question I vented about earlier of procedurality. I’ve made a bunch of procedural games, where everything that exists exists in a specific set. You know, n hands of cards, or cards exist in these two-part combinations.

For Boat Game, I was trying to avoid that. Which means that while there are a bunch of shipping container cards that show two containers, I don’t think I want it to be as simple as ‘every combination of containers shows up the same amount of time.’ This then puts me in the next challenge.

How do I divide this up?

What I’m afraid of, at core, is the idea that by distributing these things unevenly I’m going to create a scenario that’s unfair. This is a card game – shuffling cards tends to increase variance, so if the distribution of cards has an unfairness in it, it won’t show up readily or easily. That means if I do create an unfair game state, it’s entirely possible I won’t catch it in the game development and playtesting.

I’m paralysed.

I am writing this to exorcise this, to some extent. After all: These things are distributed on markets and player behaviour. If there are some things super expensive or super valuable and rare, then the odds are good that players will still scrabble on it. The question is about whether or not things get too desperate, if things become too high-stakes.

m hoping by the time this publishes, the game is out, but hey.

MTG: Pet Cards XIX, Amonkhet Block

I guess… this is the end?

The most recent set to cycle out, the most recent set I can think of as having ‘gone’ from Standard. A set I played a lot, with my fistful of change, a set I watched streamers drafting. A set that I really did like.

I might go back and look at Odyssey block again, because, I mean surely I should? But I’m going to enjoy digging into Amonkhet in the coming weeks, to play with it out of standard, to see what casual modern feels like in the MTGO playrooms.

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Minecraft, MMOs and Word Counts

I write every day.

Well, okay.

I wrote every day. I write every day, most every day. Sometimes things will interfere with that. These past two weeks, the thing that’s interfered has been being sick.

Oh don’t worry, it’s not now now. This is back in September. September I got a flu so serious it knocked me flat out and resulted in a giant pile of just forgotten paperwork. I got things done, but there were all these small things I was on top of that I’m not on top of right now, as I write this – in October.

During this time I did climb back into feeling okay, and started looking at my dwindling backlog of writing. It sit usually somewhere around 30 to 40 posts. As I write this, it’s dipped down to 27 – but I was really riding high when I got sick, nearly 45 posts, all on schedule. I’m very happy with my blog productivity, and I’m happy with how often I write.

While I was sick, I reinstalled Minecraft. And that resulted in something… interesting.

See, back in 2017, I thought that I had to stop playing MMO-like games because they were sapping my creativity. I’d spend a lot of time on grinding and building and learning lore and all those things to roleplay in these spaces, and that work was, in general, pulling me away from my blog. I kept anxiously shifting to writing tasks or creative work, because I was afraid of all the time I was losing to playing the MMOs, and I found myself in this awful loop of just refreshing two or three websites endlessly in a loop for hours at a time, to make sure I didn’t miss opportunities to RP that I might enjoy.

Right now, I have Minecraft open and I have basically been running around in a small loop for most of the afternoon. It’s 3AM now. That’s not sensible. That’s not healthy. And part of it is that I kept breaking my attention from the tasks I wanted to do to run around in Minecraft, move near a farm or set up a thing or check what I was doing, and that, that’s where I put a handle to the problem I was having with MMOs. The problem I was having with my blog.

October has a theme of spooky games. I, as I write this, still haven’t got my final spooky game lined up and writte up. This is really late for me – I’m usually a whole month ahead of time, so I’m a bit bummed out that I haven’t done a good job there. Even as I sit here writing this I feel the urge to tab across and double check things, to see if I missed things, to see if there’s something important I need to do.

I realise that the problem isn’t that MMOs are failing me or that Minecraft is too addictive.

I’m just anxious.

And I’m so anxious I’m losing whole days on the same simple mental loop.

This sucks.