Games Games Games

As mentioned in the last post, I have four standing gaming sessions a week (if you include the work one). If anything, this pandemic has been better for playing board games with friends, albeit virtually, than life beforehand. Maybe that’s part of the reason I never feel like I have time to do anything, but at least the relaxingness is good?

We started out at the beginning with our old favorite BrettspielWelt. The last time we used it (years ago) it was a downloaded java client that was reasonable. Now it’s a more web-based interface that is mostly clunky to use, although it seems to be decent enough.

But then someone (Austin?) suggested moving to Tabletop Simulator instead, and that has been a much better experience. Greg describes it as a physics engine that happens to play board games, which makes for amusing interactions sometimes, but there’s nothing like flipping the table when you lose a game. It also fixes a lot of the tedium of playing normal board games, even for non-scripted games, by simplifying things like shuffling.

The Fairfax group has started a weekly Jackbox games session, thanks to Tim, and that’s been a blast. Drawful 2 is one of our favorites, and we’ve gotten maybe a little too good at drawing some of the prompts.


Work introduced me to the joys of Codenames online and Broken Picturephone (AKA Eat Poop You Cat), and that has been pretty spectacular too.

Lastly, we’ve been (more recently) playing board games with Mark and Sharon (AKA my San Francisco crowd) via Board Game Arena. It generally feels like a much better version of BrettspielWelt, with (somewhat) more usable interfaces and clearer game instructions. Its main downside seems to be that a lot of the popular games and critical features (like multiple players from the same IP address, AKA in the same household) are gated behind a paywall. Fortunately Mark’s membership takes care of that for us, so it’s a pretty seamless experience.

I’ve also been taking my first forays into tabletop RPGs with Patrick and David (from high school), somewhat via Roll 20 but mostly just via Google Meet. Patrick DMed a great introductory game for us with the Lasers & Feelings system, which was simple enough for me as a beginning, and also let David’s experience with other RPGs guide us through. We’re looking at starting another campaign soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been putting them through more Jackbox.

In addition to *all* of that, thanks to Tabletop Simulator requiring me to actually make a Steam account, I’ve also started playing some of my old backlog of Humble Bundle (and other) games. I finished up West of Loathing in a few days, had a period of Cities Skylines destressing, and found a great way to “cheat” in Cook Serve Delicious 2 to get huge perfect days and unlock content (serve only sliced turkey breast or brisket, plus one side, with max prep stations). I’ve also been dabbling again in some older games like Mini Metro, World of Goo, A Virus Named Tom, and Girls Like Robots.

More recently, I’ve been playing Overcooked 2 with Austin where we’re nearing our goal of 3-starring every level in the game and all its expansions.

So I guess the nice thing about this whole pandemic, at least, has been keeping in regular contact with many people who are not physically close, since (other than timezones) it makes no difference whether someone is physically in the same city as you. Having regular contact with (old) San Francisco people, high school people, old Tartan people, the Fairfax group, and other Pittsburgh friends that have moved away has been pretty great. I think I’d still gladly give it up for the world to not be so screwed up, but hey, silver linings?

Locking Down Pittsburgh

I feel like I should be writing in here more given the historicness of everything happening right now. But mostly I’m just tired and want things to stop being so terrible. And it’s only like week three or whatever.

In no particular order, recent things: Consistently passing Expert+ on Beat Saber, started playing board games online via Tabletop Simulator, been consistently getting out of the house for at least a 30 minute walk every day, been cooking frequently and succeeding at only making one grocery trip every 1.5-2 weeks, been feeling utterly weird at work despite always being WFH and therefore theoretically unaffected by any of the office closures and such, tried 2-player Letter Jam and it was terrible, been even more bewildered at how people can still think Trump and Republicans have people (much less the “common” working person)’s interests at heart, been photographing signs for various closures and interesting things as a result of Coronavirus/COVID-19.

So because I am bad at writing, here’s some of the photos I’ve been taking from the past week or so.























Christmas, New Year’s, Life

life’s stats and photo journal pages have been updated. Not too much interesting this time around… life has been crazy, but not due to trips, at least.

It was a really weird Christmas, weather-wise. Mostly because it was super warm out on Christmas day and we sat outside on the deck with a bottle of wine, playing Paperback.

I also got Playstation VR for Black Friday, and have been playing a lot of Beat Saber. I’m consistently passing Expert songs now, but am nowhere close to passing an Expert+. I also highly recommend Astro Bot Rescue Mission as a game that makes extremely good use of VR, and is just generally adorable besides.

Otherwise, there isn’t much to update. We had a small group over last night for New Year’s, and ended up starting a game of Salem after midnight (which was great and actually only lasted until about 2 AM since Ben and Steve are so fast).

Lots of photos of everything are at photos, as always. That, this journal, and life are about the only parts of my site I actually update, nowadays.

I’ve been seeing a bunch of “Decade in review” posts pop up recently, and I guess it could be interesting to do one for myself, as well. The highlights though would be something like:

  • Moved back to Pittsburgh
  • Got married
  • Bought a house
  • Lost a parent
  • Had something like five or six years in a row with (at least) 4 weddings to attend

It’s been an eventful 10 years, and I hope the next 10 have a lot fewer big life events.

(Also, related to my reverse games post, we tried Hey That’s Your Fish yesterday and it didn’t work very well. I think the game needs more tweaks to placement or movement rules to be viable as a reverse game.)

Life, Photo Firsts (Grant)

It’s a new year! life’s photo journal and stats pages have been updated. Not many surprises or changes this time around, which I suppose makes sense. I did add Grant to stats though, now that we see him around for board games. So…

First photo of Grant:

September 6, 2004 in front of Doherty, with Howard and Many.

It’s otherwise been both an incredibly productive, and rather relaxing break. I’m really not looking forward to returning to work later this week.

Other than finishing some housework, and dealing with my backlog of photos, I also made a lot of progress on the video game I’m working on. It’s kind of exciting to see things coming together.
I also finished a playthrough of Persona 5, which I think now stands as my favorite RPG of all time (surpassing even Skies of Arcadia), and possibly also my favorite video game… and all this despite not really caring for the ending of the game.

It’s amusing to me that the Christmas present I was perhaps most excited about this year was a Swiffer Vac, so I can now swiffer the downstairs without having to pull out the vacuum to pick up the remnants afterward. So yay for that!

We had some people over yesterday for New Year’s, and it was a nice evening of games and food and friends. There was a Sharon in town, which was also nice.

Hope everyone had a nice break, and here’s hoping 2018 ends up being a better year than the last one, in terms of the world…

Dryer, Water, Gingerbread

Our dryer adventures have concluded with a successful self repair, after an appliance service quoted $180 for someone to come out. We ended up not quite having to take the entire dryer apart… instead, we were able to glue the new seal on while the drum was sitting mostly in place (which meant we didn’t have to unhook any of the belts… huzzah).

The repair was completed just in time for the huge water main servicing our area to break, leaving us with minimal (and contaminated) water, foiling my plans to deal with all the laundry stacking up. Instead, we went out to investigate, and found some impressive remnants of the breakage.


Other than that, life has been going. I’m officially done with work for the year. After we got reasonable water back, I spent most of my first day off (Monday) doing 6 loads of laundry while sitting and playing Persona 5 in the basement to make sure the dryer didn’t catch fire. It seems to have worked properly, which is good.

Persona 5, by the way, is a pretty amazing game. I think the visual novel/relationship elements are integrated really well with the RPG elements. I’ve been kind of obsessed with it, and hoping to finish up the fifth palace soon!

Our neighbors had an ugly sweater party with gingerbread house making, so I tried my hand at making a gingerbread house. It didn’t turn out too badly, I think?





In any case, Christmas soon approaches, which will be nice. I’ve updated my photo journal given the free time I’ve been having. It’s nice having time off to catch up on errands and chores.