Movies, photos, People Wars, work

In the past few years, I’ve only seen a couple movies in theatres: Frozen this past February with Austin, Yubin, and Max; and The Lego Movie this past March with my dad when I was in Phoenix.
It’s interesting then that I’ve seen both of these movies again in McConomy: Frozen with the rest of the in-town Fairfax group over Carnival weekend, and The Lego Movie tonight with Greg when we were out of ideas of what to do and decided to see whatever movie was showing at CMU.
They’re both really well-done films made for kids but enjoyable by adults. So that’s kind of awesome. I keep thinking I should buy Frozen in Thai when it comes out on DVD. I already enjoy looping the Thai version of Let It Go while I work.

In any case, life has been really uneventful lately. Due to whatever reason, I’ve been taking far fewer photos than usual. A quick check reveals that I only have 318 photos since the end of Carnival (since April 14), which represent a total of 619 shutter releases.
So it’s both interesting how much I edit down what photos to keep now (a huge difference from in high school and college when I would just dump my memory card and keep everything), and how few photos I’ve been taking (619 photos used to represent a single day of photos for me).
A lot of the editing is because tagging photos has grown to be a chore. It’s super useful to have tags to be able to find photos by person or event or location, sure… but having to manually do all that for every photo I keep is rather frustrating. This is probably a good thing for my hard drive consumption anyway.

I think it would be interesting to stop carrying my big camera around all the time. I do so now half out of a sense of fear of not having a camera with me for that one big thing or some important moment I want to capture. And it’s also kind of neat to have photos of mundane everyday life. But my little camera is sufficient for that… and after all, I survived for several months (after the death of my D50) with only the little camera. We shall see.

Work has started on the next People Wars expansion, Hijinks. It’s themed around Climbing characters and Route cards, which enhance task playing and scoring.
I’m worried about maybe having overbalanced the game toward tasks given all of the task-centric cards entering the game recently (and given that I haven’t actually played a game with cards past the Exchanges expansion)… but it kind of feels like attack decks have it so much easier that tasks should be getting boosts. Who knows.

Work has been rather interesting lately. The other senior dev on the team recently left Salesforce, leaving the role of senior team member once again solely on my shoulders. Between that and a bunch of planned vacations from other developers, there are days when I’m the only developer working, and we’re probably down to about 2/3 of our previous productivity. Which will mean interesting things given the jam-packed plans for the upcoming release.
I guess time is showing me to be a terrible leader and coordinator, especially given how I already know I do badly under stress (or, rather, I will get the shit done, but I’ll feel like shit the entire time while doing it and hate my life).
We’re hiring a new senior developer for the team, who will hopefully be able to ramp up and help handle a lot of the knowledge, planning, and design work (which right now I think is falling mostly to me). But until then, onward as best I can.
It’s just frustrating though when a lot of time is being eaten up by bugs and questions and emails. I pulled a task last last Tuesday (the 15th) with the intention of starting it the next day. But between bugs and other things, I ended up not having time to do anything on it until this past Thursday (the 24th).
Let’s hope that’s not a sign of things to come in the coming months.

Emily, Card games, Kickstarter games

Emily has complained that I don’t post photos of her anymore, so here are Emilies. Lots of Emilies. Alllll the Emilies! Bouncing Emilies (assuming your browser supports the good old <marquee> tag)!

Click them… if you can. They get bigger.

Life goes. Not much else has been happening. Photos from my San Francisco trip have been posted to photos. It was really good to see Patrick again (in a context that wasn’t the formality of his wedding).

Before I left for SF, I’d ordered some card games for myself (kind of as a belated birthday present), so it may be time to update this list of card games I own. Key is the same as before.

  • Game of Thrones TCG
  • Lord of the Rings TCG
  • MegaMan TCG (Yes) (C)
  • Sonic X TCG (Yes+)
  • Star Wars: Young Jedi CCG
  • World of Warcraft TCG (Yes)

I’m finding it harder and harder to find rulebooks online for many of the games I have, including .hack, the X-Files TCG, and the Fullmetal Alchemist TCG. I’m wondering if it makes sense to enhance my TCG site to compile information on some older games I play as well… things like rulebook scans, starter deck card listings, and general game info. Meh. I can’t really be the only person who still plays some of these CCGs, can I?

Stonemaier games came out with with an expansion to Viticulture called Tuscany. It’s on Kickstarter now, and if you’re into board gaming, I recommend it.
Unfortunately, this means I’ve been dragged back into Kickstarter. In addition to the recently ended character meeple campaign (adorable Dargon the Dragon meeples!), I also found an awesome card game named POOP (yeah, perfect game for me :P) and an interesting dinosaur-based deckbuilding game called Apex Theropod. Still not quite sure what to do about the last one, as it’s reasonably-priced at $38, but my gaming group (and Greg in particular) tends to shy away from deck-building games. But it’s so, so pretty.

I haven’t really made any progress on People Wars lately, since I’ve been doing things 3-4 evenings a week during the week, and Saturday has been declared computer-free day in an effort to do something other than stare at a screen. (I spent most of last Saturday reading books, which was dubbed “cheating” by Greg, so I suppose future Saturdays will involve more things outside the apartment.)
In any case, I’ve reworked the newest set, Hijinks, to be themed around Rock Climbing instead. And similar to how lots of interesting conversations happen and people from different fields mix and mingle, the “Climbing” faction in the game will be themed around “Route” cards (similar to Kiltie characters and Cheer cards) that boot task scoring. We shall see how that works out.

Yay life.

Climbing, board games, TV shows, card games

Life has been pretty uneventful lately.

I recently celebrated 80 months of companionship and love and awesome. I guess in some ways it’s silly that we still track months together, but it’s also nice. So yay relationships.

There was a Thanksgiving. There was lots of tasty food and lots of fun games.

I’ve started climbing again after Groupon had a $70-for-a-three-month-membership deal. I actually haven’t gotten too much worse (finished a couple V2s yesterday), which is nice. A gallery of December climbing photos will be posted in about a week (since I batch together all related photos from a month).

There has also been copious board gaming, which is always fun and awesome. Eight Minute Empire Legends recently arrived, and it was played, and it’s a really nice filler game. For some reason, all of the recent Kickstarters I backed seem to have all finished production early November, so they’re all shipping around Christmas time. I’m expecting the Machine of Death card game and The Agents card game soon (or, I guess, when I get back from Christmas break), and Euphoria is arriving in January (but only because I used the “delay shipment” option, since it would otherwise arrive Christmas week).
(More board gaming photos will likewise be posted in about a week.)

I’ve become re-addicted to the show Supernatural, after Amazon had it on sale for Black Friday and I bought the seasons I was missing (7 and 8). Watched through season 2 in a few days and started on season 3… and I don’t know why I ever stopped watching. Yay awesome TV shows.
Also bought the last two seasons of Smallville that I was missing (9 and 10), as well as the first three seasons of The Walking Dead. Have a lot of TV to watch now. Maybe at some point I’ll get re-motivated to work on the Investigations card game. I’m thinking of making a tweak to the game where every deck card has a “conspicuousness” value, and every character provides conspicuousness, and exceeding a random conspicuousness value makes you automatically fail the investigation. (Would provide another value to tinker with on cards, and some more strategy in deck building to get good abilities with low conspicuousness cards or worse cards but be able to throw more characters at things.)

Work continues on People Wars: Gatherings. The theme of the set is “dual characters”, so I’m adding a bunch of dual characters along with abilities and skills that key off of them. Also, in an effort to make hybrid decks more feasable, I’m adding cards that reward working characters with kill counters as well as tasks that can provide items and attacks/skills. There’s also new abilities to help score tasks late game, and to help deal more damage early game. (Also notice the new “Climbing” and “Game Group” attributes, which I’ll flesh out in later expansions.)

Work has been super stressful lately. Not much to really say about that. I need to get better at separating work and life, and stopping work when it’s not work time. Hopefully that will come.

So yay for life, at least.

Duck!!!, Renaissance wedding, games, race, Tartan, People Wars, and macarons (phew)

Life has been full of lots of awesome things recently.

In probably the biggest (ha ha) thing, a giant rubber duck is in Pittsburgh! It is super cute.

Greg, Eric, and I went to see it on the night it arrived, at which time they were throwing a huge bridge party for the duck.

Yay duck! I was actually expecting it to be much bigger (not having read anything about it beforehand), but apparently it’s only 30 by 40 feet. It’s still extremely awesome.

I think downtown is enjoying the attention the duck is bringing. Here’s Noodles & Co at Market Square that evening. It’s significantly more packed than usual. (The soda machine was constantly out of ice as well as many kinds of soda. And it’s one of those newer ones that has hundreds of varieties of soda and that makes its own ice.)

So yeah. Greg’s undergrad friends Eric and Dan were in town for the wedding celebration of Vicki and Brett. It was held at the Pittsburgh renaissance fair, which was an interesting venue.

Besides the usual wedding food and things, we had access to the fair with things like jousting (which turned into an “attack the good guy and force a ‘joust to the death’ tournament” thing), strength testing, hatchet throwing, arrow shooting, and fire manipulating.

Naturally, there were also board games.

In other recent board game funness, I acquired the Leaders, Cities, and Wonders pack expansions for the game 7 wonders. I also printed the official Catan board, the “official” Cupertino board, the official Stevie and Esteban and Louis leaders, and some boards from the fan-made Empires expansion. The result is an awesomely complex, awesomely large, awesomely 23-wonder-ful game that I am really enjoying.
(More photos of this, and other board gaming adventures in September, can be found here.)

This morning was also the Pittsburgh Great Race. Eric, Dan, and I went to watch Greg run.

The best outfit was a guy running in full Penguins ice hockey gear. Yes, including ice skates. (Word on the internet is that this is actually Tom7, who I actually know [but only in the ‘I have met him once or twice’ sense], so that’s awesome.)

There were also people with awesome signs cheering on the runners. (My favorites were “Worst parade ever” and “Why do all the cute ones run away?”.) They also cheered on the ambulance, police car, and bus at the end of the long line of runners, which was awesome.

There was also Tartan production today. The situation there is rapidly improving, which is awesome. Swathi is doing a good job as the new layout manager and leading a good group of layout staffers. The section editors have started getting their shit together (well, mostly). Papers are slowly (and sometimes painfully) becoming longer than 8 pages. Let’s keep going like that.

But in fun Tartan things, there was also a Kate tree constructed, which rapidly turned into a Tartan ed staff tree. It’s pretty awesome. (More photos of it, as well as general Tartan stuff from September, can be found here.)

I’ve finally started working on the next People Wars expansion, Flashback. It’s themed around PPA students (and general effects that look at the discard pile or add traits), and should be fairly interesting… but what’s getting me in making it is how amazingly young everyone looks.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised given I’ve been tracking this stuff on my photo stats page for years, but it’s still kind of weird whenever I actually go back and start looking through high school photos. Baby friends! ZMONGS!

Speaking of photos, June 28, 2014 will be the date when I’ll have been taking (digital) photos for exactly half my life. It’s kind of awesome that, in about 9 months, I will have over half my life documented in photos. I plan to keep up with my photo journal, so it should be an interesting adventure.

Last, but not least, a nice new French bakery opened in Squirrel Hill by Greg’s work. I stopped by and couldn’t resist getting some macarons. They’re a bit pricey at $2.25 each, but so very worth it. Their French bread is also very, very good.

Yay awesomeness.

Life, walks, travel, and games

I suppose it’s time for another update.

Today we went on a 12.5 mile walk to Riverview Park north of the city. It would have been longer except it started raining by the time we hit downtown on the way back. After taking the T from the north shore, the rain really started picking up, so it made more sense to bus home. It was a nice walk though.

I recently went on a trip to San Francisco for work followed by a trip to the Northwest to visit Ben in Seattle and to attend Patrick’s wedding on the Oregon coast. Photos of the adventures can be found on my photo site.

Also, as followup to the edit on my last post, Southwest never sent me a voucher as promised for the baggage issues. At this point, I’m mostly apathetic (and I certainly won’t stop flying with them because they still do a better job than pretty much any other domestic airline), but it’s still a rather unhappy end to a terrible flying experience.

My Kickstarted game Pixel Lincoln finally arrived (almost 7 months after its initial delivery estimate). The shipping experience was a huge mess, and has pretty much convinced me never to back another Game Salute game again, no matter how interesting it may be. The games sat in their warehouse for two weeks before they event sent out information on paying for shipping. It then took another week after payment before the games started shipping, and it took three days after receiving tracking info for them to actually get the game to Fedex to ship. Overall, it was over a month from the time the game arrived at their warehouse to when it got to me… which wouldn’t be as terrible if it wasn’t for the absolute lack of explanation from them.
Combined with the already-sketchy expansion Kickstarters they ran before we got the game, it has really been a bad experience.
All of this would be less terrible if the game itself was awesome, but I can’t help feel like I got ripped off terribly. After $49, I got fewer cards than a basic Dominion set and a game that somehow feels not as fun as I was expecting it to be. It seems that there isn’t enough variety in cards (despite me getting a couple expansions offered during the initial Kickstarter) to make interesting enough levels (especially since you need to make two). The characters, mini-boss, and boss cards have no flavor (and no abilities that differentiate them from any other character, mini-boss, or boss card). The rulebook is terribly written and editted, and several important things (like using cards for symbol abilities) are not explained at all. The game itself therefore plays rather clunkily.
Meh. Lesson learned, I suppose. At least I only lost $49 on it.

KoL has been going rather well. The BIG! challenge path that was recently released has made getting the full sea outfits much easier (yay for immediate level 16 aftercore), and I’ve also managed to get down to 3 day ascensions reliably. My last run was a 702 turn run as a Sauceror, which I feel good about (especially given that I do 100% familiar runs).

I’ve been watching quite a few Smosh videos lately and as Zeke says, “Alan’s Law: Anything he spends over 30 hours consuming, he shall make into a card game.”
I’ve hammered out some basic rules and general cards for the game, which is turning out to be a customizable shared-deck game (so a card game where everyone draws from a single deck, but where that single deck can be customized as desired). The rules are drawing from Bohnanza and Investigations, where the goal is to collect cards to complete episodes by trading with other players. Hopefully the player-interaction and fixed deck aspects of it will make it more readily playtestable with my usual Thursday gaming group.
We’ll see if this project actually manages to get anywhere, or whether it’ll fall prey to my laziness like the RPG Get! revamps and the Investigations CCG.

Yay life and things.