Königs-Pittsburgh walk success (mostly)

The Königsberg bridge problem is an (unsolvable) problem where you want to cross each bridge in Königsberg exactly once and end up on the landmass you started from.

The Königs-Pittsburgh walk, similarly, is a 39-mile walk that crosses each pedestrian-accessible trans-river bridge with at least one endpoint in Pittsburgh exactly once and ends at its starting point. (Thanks to the exploded nature of the 31st Street bridge, this is possible and you can end on the same node you started from.)
Today we attempted this walk with mostly success. (With thanks to Greg for planning the route, organizing the trip, and jotting down the timing information that I have used below.)

Keith, Dan, Ben, Greg, and I started the walk this morning around 5:30 in Friendship, then first crossed the Highland Park bridge around 6:30.

Next up were the 62nd street bridge at 7:23,

the 40th street bridge at 8:14,

and the 16th street bridge at 9:25 putting us in the Strip District where we met up with Owen and had a small ~30 minute stop for snacks (bread, pastries, hot dogs, chow mein).

Next we crossed (in quick succession) the 9th street bridge (where we also picked up a cbuckey) at 10:27,

the 7th street bridge at 10:31 (followed by a quick stop for camera batteries, as Greg’s point-and-shoot was sad),

and the 6th street bridge at 10:54,

putting us in the North Side where we had a long detour up to the McKees Rock bridge, crossing it at 12:22. We had an hour-long detour afterward for lunch (at a Subway). After lunch, it unfortunately started raining, and didn’t let up for the rest of the trip.

Crossed back over the West End bridge at 3:07

followed by the Fort Duquesne bridge at 3:39, putting us at the Point.

At this point, we lost an Owen and cbuckey, took a 20-minute break, and then crossed the Ft. Pitt bridge at 4:10 to the South Side.

Next were the Smithfield Street bridge at 4:34,

the Liberty bridge at 4:50,

and the 10th street bridge at 5:26, after which we lost a Keith.

We crossed the Birmingham bridge into South Side around 6, where we stopped for a 70-minute dinner at OTB Bicycle Cafe.

Next up was the Hot Metal bridge, leaving South Side around 7:42.

About 15 minutes before the Glenwood bridge, we lost a Dan. We crossed that bridge around 8:48, followed by a 15-minute break in West Homestead.

We crossed our final bridge, the Homestead Grays bridge, at 9:54, finishing around 10:05.

Despite my feet still being fine, and over Greg’s desire to “properly” complete the hike, we decided to stop it there (due to the cold and rain and time) and caught a 64 bus home, for a total trip of just over 35 miles. (Hence the “mostly” success of the trip.)

Overall though, the trip went very well. Learning from the Ohio walk earlier this summer, I bought some cloth tape and taped my toes (for padding), then taped them together (so they wouldn’t rub into each other and blister). This worked far better than anticipated, resulting in my feet feeling completely fine up until around the 10th Street bridge, and even then it was more of a “my feet are getting tired” feeling than a “my feet and legs hurt” feeling. (I suspect blisters make me start walking strangely, which makes my feet and legs hurt because they’re not used to it… so normal walking throughout means my legs and feet don’t really hurt.)
After sitting down over dinner, I had fully recovered and they felt perfectly fine through the end of the walk. Even now, I don’t feel any real pain in my feet or legs… they definitely feel overused, but they’re not complaining like they usually do after a walk of more than 20 miles.

Blister-wise I came out great also. I ended up with only one blister (in the weirdest place; on the very tip of my toe, where I guess I hadn’t covered it with tape and so the sock rubbed against it).

More photos can be found at my photos page.

So mission success. Congratulations to everyone that walked, and particular congratulations to Dan for making it more than 32 miles (including his 2-mile walk from home to the starting point) on his first long-walk experience.

In other, non-bridge related things, I went PIUing with Max and Yubin again this past Wednesday, and Thursday was the usual board games night. Yesterday, all four of the other house inhabitants had a pumpkin-carving party on the porch, and it was kind of awesome. It’s been a good week. :) Photos of games and the pumpkins will be on photos tomorrow, since it is now late and I would like to sleep.

Edit: Board game photos are here and pumpkin carving photos are here.

RPG Get Version 2… 2

The weather decided to get nice again, so Greg and I joined up with Owen for some wandering and photographing today. Fall seems to be in full swing, and pretty.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about here. For the nonexistent people following the RPG Get Version 2 revamp, you haven’t seen any updates in well over a year because, well, I haven’t done anything with it in over a year.

This seemed like a bad thing, so I decided I would revamp the revamp and start out slowly this time, with text cards to test (and tweak) the new rules before starting on anything graphical. And the rules are getting quite a revamp.
RPG Get! Version 2 was pretty much designed to be a complicated card game. The character and enemy cards have stats (representing things like melee strength, ranged strength, spell strength, defense, and speed), and things like spells are filled with symbols describing them (potential users, spell element, general class, etc). I decided to fully embrace this complexity, and also do something I haven’t tried before with a customizable card game: eliminate the randomness in decks.

So. I wanted to discuss some of the changes in the new rules (that obviously are subject to more changes)

Each player has two preordered decks: One deck of mission cards that is not shuffled at any point, and one deck of all other cards that is not shuffled at any point.

  • The goal of the game is to complete all 10 3 or 4 of the missions in your mission deck, in order. Each mission card has an ordering value from 1 to 10. This has a few advantages: No potential deck screw with your “starting” mission at the bottom, more control over when a mission attempt happens, and more ability for your opponents to see what is coming up next.
    • Since there is now always a “current” mission, this allows for interesting varied effects based on how far in your mission stack you are. For example, the top mission may let you replenish a few MP every turn while it’s current, or enemies you play matching it might gain an attack bonus.
  • The main deck is preordered. Cards have values 1 to 100 40, and the deck must be ordered in increasing order. Deckbuilding means picking one card of each number and building the deck with that.
  • Having the main deck be preordered also has advantages. Doing this eliminates the need for a “cost” with weapon and spell cards… as soon as you can draw them, you can play them. I was never a fan of the way RPG Get! dealt with equipment versus spell costs (basically, the same way, with a recurring cost each time they were used in combat) since this didn’t feel true to RPGs. But there wasn’t otherwise a good way to prevent players from loading up their decks with only the best weapons. Limiting where in the deck they can appear is a much more effective way to gradually “improve” characters’ abilities over the game.
    • Doing this also frees up counters to be used as “money” for recurring costs (like purchasing items or MP to use spells repeatedly). This, again, feels truer to RPGs where spells can have a recurring cost for each use, while things like weapons are freely reusable. (Weapons don’t break in this world. :P)
    • Doing this also opens up the possiblity of “rare” equipment, with numbers after 100 (and therefore not reasonably accessible by drawing) and corresponding things that allow access to them. For example, defeating a boss or completing a mission could allow searching for a card in the 101-110 range.
    • Doing this also allows a “next area” mechanic where completing a mission will let you draw all cards up to a certain number. For example, completing the first mission could let you immediately draw cards until you have all your 10 or below numbered cards.
  • This also seems like a good way to eliminate deck screw. Each player draws a card each turn, and has the opportunity to reorder the top few cards to prepare depending on the current game state. Mages won’t be stuck with bad luck on their spell card draws, and melee attackers won’t be stuck getting their strong weapons before they can reasonably use them.
  • The deck ordering combined with counter cost changes makes it so you can’t “screw” yourself by putting yourself in a situation where you have no reward counters (and therefore no means of using non-standard attacks), and are unable to complete a mission to get more.
  • This also opens up easier avenues of “you’re behind, catch up” mechanics, where you could jump to a further section in your deck or automatically score a mission card from your pile.
  • This also means things like characters and enemies will be playable as soon as you “find” them (or the leveled up version of your current characters), simplifying the way limits are done on missions.
    • Mission cards can limit enemies played during the attempt to “enemies under value 20” or something similar, to prevent someone from getting too far ahead in their deck and making missions impossible. Rules relating to enemies haven’t really been fleshed out yet.
    • Right now the assumption that any hand limit in place will only be to limit enemies (and events) in hand, and non-boss enemies can return to your hand after a combat. This makes sense thematically (infinite stream of same- or lower-level enemies) and also makes decks less reliant on a huge enemy:other card ratio.

Reward cards are split into types: equipment, items, and spells

  • This seems truer to the RPG feel, since all of these things are very different. Equipment (weapons, armor, accessories) are reusable and generally are used constantly in battle. Item cards are used once and have the be refound (or repurchased). Spells are castable infinitely (at a small cost each time) once found. Splitting them makes sense from a narrative point of view.
  • With the new ordered deck mechanic, this also makes sense from a gameplay perspective. Spells are stronger ways to attack, or reusable ways to heal, but have a cost each time. Items are free but can only be used once. Weapons have no continued cost.

A player’s inventory is now limited to 5 cards.

  • As stated above, I was never happy with the “use a weapon or armor, pay its RC cost” mechanic. It existed only as a way to limit use of stronger items to later in the game. The new “you find it, you can use it” mechanic is more effective, but could make it so that a character can never take damage (for example, because they have 10 armor cards in their inventory for use and just use them all whenever they are attacked). This is boring.
  • Forcing choices is always interesting… you found an awesome new shield… do you ditch your old shield, or use both of your shields and throw out the armor? Maybe the new defense is enough so you can throw out the old healing item you found.
  • It’s worth noting that spells don’t count toward this inventory limit. Which, you know, makes sense since you learn spells and can use them from that point forward.

I think this should make for a more interesting card game, emphasizing player skill over luck of the draw. Which, really, is what games should be about.

The goal is to get some basic cards knocked out and start testing the mechanics by next weekend. Undoubtedly, this will meet with further delays. But if you find this at all interesting, you should let me know, because this can use all the playtesting it can get.

Edit: Another few thoughts…
– I can limit cards in the deck by only allowing one of any given numbered card. This is another good way to force decisions (the rifle and gifoie are both numbered 25… which do I want in my deck?). Doing this means I would probably want base numbers 1-200 (so 20 “slots” of deck cards for each mission card).
– Mission cards should probably have an upper bound of what numbered cards can be played. This obviously makes sense for enemies, but applying it to all cards makes sense to prevent players from loading up their decks with only the highest n cards (where n is the deck size). (This problem would self-correct to a certain extent as they would have no enemy cards playable during early mission attempts, but seems like it could escalate into an arms race to see who can get the highest cards fastest and block the others at the end of their mission stack.)
– Equipment cards probably want to belong to a particular character. Since everything should be reusable infinitely (as long as you can pay associated costs), not binding an equipment to a character would allow a player to just play as many characters as they can (with unique numbers) that can all use the same basic weapons. I do want players to have more than one character, but I don’t want it to be so necessary that every time you can put a character in your deck, you have to.
– Equipment or inventory or the way characters work may want to be tweaked though. I’m not against the idea of mages being behind for a bit (and then finding their awesome spells and plowing through everything), but this seems incompatible with the upper bound of cards on a mission.
– Maybe these issues can be solved via one time use NPC character cards that are much stronger than their current area, but go away after the attempt ends.
– Bounding what number cards you can play during a mission shouldn’t cause permanent blockage because other players will keep drawing, eventually getting enemies that can’t be played, so you can complete the mission without opposition. But delaying is also bad because the limited hand size will mean you discard your better cards instead of playing them. So this *seems* like it should be okay.
– All of this really needs extensive playtesting. I should get some cards created up through the fourth mission (so deck cards 1-80) to try out some of the base mechanics.

Edit edit: I’m wondering now if it doesn’t make more sense to start this game off as a fixed card game. I can more easily design a couple decks with fixed cards (maybe a Hunter deck and a Ranger deck, since the base set will be PSO). This will make it easier to playtest the game also. After things are working, I can expand it into a full CCG. This is perhaps a better idea.

Edit edit edit: I think maybe trying to fit 10 missions into a 40 card deck seems terrible, especially given that missions now give no particularly special thing on completion. Therefore, I think the game would be better with only 3 or 4 missions, and deck cards numbered 1 through 40, requiring exactly one of each. It would then be easy to build as a fixed deck game (just make 40 card decks) and easy to allow customization. I like this much better. Edits made to the above as well with strikeouts.

So basically, decks should consist of exactly one character (with subsequent level up cards in the deck), three (or maybe four?) mission cards, and a 40 card deck, with exactly one card of each number in the deck. Each deck’s missions will cover just one “area” in an RPG’s plot (such as Forest or Caves, as opposed to all of Episode 1, in the case of PSO).
This will make designing and testing easier, and will also make games shorter.

Edit x4: Okay, still happy with the above ideas, I think. Just a small change for the final CCG aspect: maybe I’ll just have each card say a “minimum” position in the deck (for example, Rafoie has to be the 20th card or later in the deck). Each player then brings a deck of cards numbered (manually) from 1 to 40 with one of each card. (I’ll leave space in the upper left for this.) It has the niceness of allowing complete customization of a deck’s contents (have all weapons if you want to!) while still having the nice limiting of stronger things for later and keeping the preordered decks aspect I think is the best part of this revamp.

Wine, Tartan, Celïdiluh, and fun

life has gotten an update bringing it up to the beginning of this month. I had quite an eventful last month, it seems. But it’s also been an eventful last week.
(Also, because I was sick of referring to the sections as “stats” and “life proper”, they are now called “photo stats” and “photo journal”, which hopefully will be easier to refer to. So yeah… the photo journal has been updated.)

Besides the usual Thursday board games, we went to Yubin’s this week for a wine tasting (with 5 different cheeses and 4 different kinds of crackers), and it was pretty awesome. Yubin really knows her wines.

This weekend was also Cèilidh Weekend (AKA Homecoming) and so there was the usual chili cookoff. I wasn’t able to enjoy it as fully this year (had to work starting at noon, so I just grabbed a bowl of chili and a burger and went upstairs to work), but I got my mug, so I continue my streak of having every year’s mug.

Yesterday was also the opening of Vincent’s exhibit of photographs at the Trinity Gallery. It was kind of awesome to see… yay gallery shows by people we know!
(Photo kind of related… it’s bblum biking home on the way to the opening.)

Today was Tartan production. I had done a crossword for the paper last week, but it was a really crappy one. This week, Greg helped me and (after one failed attempt and a couple times of giving up) we ended up with a reasonable crossword that is reasonably dense and rotationally symmetric. Hopefully we’ll do even better next week with finding more common words.

Earlier in the week was a 66th monthiversary and an associated dinner at Point Brugge which has really tasty mussels (and reasonably good, but very oily, fries).

Life continues to be good. :)

I really should be pursuing more personal side projects, but I’m kind of a fan of this whole “fill my life with friends and events with friends”, so I suppose it’s not all bad.