Volunteering, Arrival, games, cards

Life goes. I’ve been purposely avoiding news and related things because I would like to not know how much of a shitshow this administration is becoming. (Although, from what I’ve heard anyway, it’s already quite a disorganized mess. So we’ll see.)

To do a (very small) part to combat the havoc this administration will wreak on the environment, we switched our house over to 100% renewable energy. It turns out it’s super easy to do… just go to http://www.papowerswitch.com, enter your ZIP code, and choose an option that fits your needs. We’re paying a bit more than normal because we wanted 100% PA-generated renewable energy (as opposed to renewables sourced from arbitrary locations), but it looks like you could actually see a discount in your bill by switching to renewable. So win/win for everyone!

We also went and packaged meals for 2 hours last Saturday with Stop Hunger Now. I don’t know what I was expecting (maybe pulling turkeys and cans out of boxes and repackaging them), but it definitely wasn’t standing in front of a funnel with 5 other people, filling bags with vitamin packets while others poured scoops of rice, dehydrated veggies, and textured soy flour into the bag. Apparently a bag feeds 6 people and contains all the necessary nutrients (thanks partially to the vitamins), and it’s probably a heck of a lot more shelf-stable than more varied foods, so that’s good?

Also on Saturday, we saw Arrival after a failed attempt at short films for the Three Rivers Film Festival (which was sold out by the time we got there). I thought it was actually a really good film… was scientifically (and linguistically) accurate, and managed to not over-emphasize the military or conflict portions of the plot. Given it was a big film, I was expecting them to have escalated the conflict more, or otherwise focus less on the linguist… but they actually did everything really well, and never took away from her and her role in the film. So yeah… really good, and would see again.

We’ve been playing a lot of board games recently, between the usual Thursday board games, hosting board games over here, and having games at Pat’s for his birthday. The recent favorites are Above and Below, which is a really fun worker placement-ish game, and Codenames Pictures, which is like Codenames but with Dixit-crazy images (kangarooasaurus!) of awesomeness. Game photos for the month are up at photos.

I also splurged on some World of Warcraft cards. I’ve been looking for a new defunct TCG to get into, and WoW had base set starter boxes (6 decks, each containing a 30-card deck and 2 boosters) at $15 each, so I got a case of them (it was cheaper than even just buying booster packs), as well as a few boxes of Death Knight and a box of Drums of War.
I actually had some fun luck with decks… the first 8 base set starter decks I opened had different decks (8 of the 9 possible ones). Of course, then it took an entire box (6 decks) to get the last one I needed. After opening 4 boxes of starters, I have at least two copies of each deck. But I also have four copies of the Paladin and Druid decks, so decks (even within a single case) seem to not necessarily be distributed evenly. (One box of 6 decks had two Paladin decks in it.)
Slowly going through packs and decks (two more base set boxes to go), but I should have a good collection to build decks now, much like my .hack//ENEMY collection. Hopefully I’ll be able to find someone to play with me… Max is starting to get back into Magic, which is very similar, and we had a quick evening of card games, so hopefully this will continue.

Also continuing work on the next People Wars expansion. Still haven’t reworked the Facet icon, but cards are coming, slowly.

Hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving!

Life and People Wars cards

I updated my photojournal today, since we’re closing in on the end of July. It’s been a rather busy few months, between redoing the deck, frequent traveling, and general work things. And we’re just getting started on the traveling part. :(

I finished and released the Juxtapositions expansion for People Wars last Saturday. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone between expansions (a year and a month), and I attribute that largely to the busyness of life… between rock climbing twice a week, board games once or twice a week, frequent rock band evenings, house work, and travel, there hasn’t really been time to work on side projects.
I consider this largely a good thing — doing things with people is always better than sitting alone at home in front of a screen working on card games — but it’s just interesting how much my life has standardized around a few activities (and a few people I see for those activities).
But it’s also sad in some ways. I have a lot of card games that have stalled for years (such as Investigations, RPG Get!, and thoughts for a “quick” multiplayer version of People Wars for game nights), and I just never can find the motivation to work on them. Oh well.
(In entirely unrelated news, my D7100 had its 10,000th shutter release recently, at the William and Greg birthday party, so that’s pretty awesome.)

In any case, People Wars now has 1584 different cards, which is by far the largest card set for any card game I’ve created (Student Wars is next with a measly 963). It also spans over 7 years of people, events, locations, and trips, making it kind of a documentary of my life as it was around the time of each expansion release.
That aspect is probably a large part of why I always want to have *some* card game in progress based on people I know… it gives my photography some outlet that isn’t just batching them to post online, and it also provides me some sort of easy look back on my life.

I’ve started work on the next set, tentatively titled Keith because I can’t think of a good word starting with “K” that otherwise fits the expansion concept.
The set is themed around “Facet” cards that can be played onto characters to specialize them. I’ve been toying with the mechanics for a while, oscillating between attaching them directly to characters, playing them as “additional” characters while the base one is in play, or just having them be standard characters with fewer traits and better abilities. For now, I think I’m going with the “attach” mechanic, but we’ll see if I change my mind here.
Here’s a sample card… the “Facet” icon is totally not finished yet.

Expansion names, opinions on mechanic, or general thoughts are always accepted and appreciated. :)

Life goes…

Life, social media and smartphones, Pepsi cookies

My photo journal has been updated to bring it current to today.
May was one heck of a month for gaming… in addition to the weekly Thursday board games, we hosted board games at the house three times, and hosted rock band a few times as well. Life being full of board games and people makes me happy.

I’ve been meeting a lot of new people recently in life, through both softball photography and board gaming. This has given me a desire to start working on People Wars again, so the Juxtapositions expansion continues onward. The set is adding a new card type Dream, that acts like a character once played but goes away at the end of the turn, and new Softball characters that have abilities that interact with Dreams. It should be an interesting mechanic to explore… maybe at some point I’ll get around to printing updated decks and actually playing again.

Owen sent me this article recently, and it just reinforces my desire to not get a smartphone. I’d previously ranted about social media and I don’t think any those opinions have changed since then. If anything, it’s gotten worse since then… my LiveJournal friends page has become basically a webcomic RSS reader and, with few exceptions, the posts that do still show up there are often only several sentences and seem like something that would be appropriate for Twitter.
I’m so old and curmudgeony. :P
Still, I guess I do see the benefit of having a semi-permanent way of contacting people as necessary. Email addresses change, IM services stop existing or fall into disuse… but your Facebook account (as long as you have an account) is pretty much always going to be you. It’s actually rather alarming how many FB messages I’ve sent recently to people. (Many of them were just asking for email addresses, but still…)

I’d previously made Coca-Cola cookies but they turned out rather strange, I assumed due to the lack of sugar in the soda. We recently got some Pepsi made with real sugar, so I figured I’d give it a try again, this time basing it on this recipe.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 egg (I just used the egg white)
1 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 can Pepsi (with real sugar)

Melt the butter, and mix it with the sugar until well mixed.
Boil down the Pepsi until it’s thick and syrupy, and immediately pour into the butter/sugar mixture. (It should be reduced enough that it turns hard quickly when heat is removed.) Mix well.
Add the egg, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients, then slowly mix into wet ingredients.
Place small spoonfulls onto a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.

I think they turned out better this time? They taste a lot like caramel, and not a lot like Pepsi, but they’re still pleasantly sweet and chewy.

If I was doing this again, I would probably add more Pepsi and remove a bit of the sugar. Maybe 2 cans of Pepsi, and then only 1/3 c of sugar? It might flavor them a little stronger.

Life goes. Yay for life.

Waterrr, Photo Firsts (Maja, Russell, Ryan, Kartik), People Wars

So we’re watching Austin’s apartment over the summer while he’s gone, and as I am alone for a couple weeks, it falls to me to make sure things haven’t exploded and to move his car a bit so it isn’t unhappy.

So I go to do that today, notice his kitchen sink is smelling a little funky again, and run some water down it and run the disposal to clean it out. And… water everywhere! (I guess the drain pipe somewhere under the sink leaks…?)
Which would be bad enough on its own, except there’s apparently some water sensor under his kitchen cabinetry that started going off. Loudly. Loud enough to hear from the elevators with his door closed. So that was clearly not going to work.
Of course, given that Austin is currently in Japan, calling him was not an option. (Called Max and asked him to poke Austin on IM for me, but no luck there either. Sorry for waking you, Max. D:) Checked downstairs in case there was a maintenance dude or some office or something, but no luck there.
I tried finding the source for a while, and unplugging every plug I could see in case that helped. No luck, so I started tripping his circuit breaker circuits to see if that would do anything. Still no luck.
I managed to isolate the sound to a specific area of the cabinets, which happened to have a little access panel cut out, so I went to ask a neighbor for a screwdriver, got it open, and found the alarm. (And dried it off to shut it up.)

So that was my morning, which was rather “fun” for some sense of the word. I’m just glad Austin wasn’t super upset about it… apparently it’s done this before to him, and he was never able to identify why. But I guess I’m not running the kitchen sink again. (He gets back in a week and a half anyway, so that’s not an issue.)

Anyway, in entirely unrelated news, I figured photo stats needed more people I interact with regularly, so here’s photo firsts of four new peoples. Stats has been updated with them as well.

First photo of Maja: July 26, 2013 at the climbing wall, with Michael.

First photo of Russell: September 5, 2013 at Max and Yubin’s (for board games).

First photo of Ryan: September 24, 2013 at our apartment (for board games), with Austin.

First photo of Kartik: December 6, 2013 at the climbing wall.

In other other news, I’ve started some preliminary work on the next People Wars expansion: Juxtapositions. (It’s getting weird to come up with good expansion names for letters…)
The expansion is themed around “Dream” cards, which play for free (with no limit) and act like characters once in play, but are discarded at the end of the turn. They’re intended as powerful one-shot things, with more powerful attacks and more traits, with the tradeoff of taking up deck and hand space for a single turn’s benefit. Of course, there are effects that let them stay around and such too.
(Conceptually, they’re supposed to be alternate universe versions of people, if they had gone on entirely different career paths, taken different paths through life, or generally had different personalities.)

Here’s a sample card. Since it’s a new template (for a new card type), let me know if you have any opinions on it.

Jurassic World, People Wars

Greg is away in Seattle for the week, so the apartment is quiet and lonely this week. Max and Yubin rescued me from isolation last night by inviting me along to dinner and a movie, and it was a nice experience.

We saw Jurassic World in 3D IMAX. The latter two parts were probably unnecessary, but the movie itself was surprisingly well done. I was expecting one of those terrible sequels, but they did a good job introducing just enough nostalgic things (yay Jurassic Park music clips in the soundtrack!) while still having a story that could stand on its own. I don’t think most of the characters were really well-developed or consistent, but it didn’t end up mattering anyway because dinosaurs. :D
(Also, as per Jurassic Park, the terrible people get what they deserve, along with a few innocent ones. And you think they’d have learned a few things from the first time, but apparently not…)

I think this is something like the third movie I’ve seen in theatres in something like a decade. (Previously was Frozen and the Lego Movie.) I’m not sure it’s worth the price anyway… the $15 ticket pays for 1/3 of a nice board game, and board games give a lot more enjoyment, and more social interaction besides. But it was still a nice experience.

Owen paid us a visit this past weekend on his way to Harrisburg for family things, and it was nice. We played board games, hit up Dobra Tea, had food, and made a trip to the pool after he and Greg failed at kayaking downtown due to rough waters.
Mars and Dan are supposed to be visiting Pittsburgh starting Wednesday, so that’ll be nice too. Yay for people.

I also got off my butt and finally finished the latest People Wars expansion: Interruptions. I don’t think I really fleshed out Interrupt events as much as I needed to, but meh. Now there’s a new event type that can be played during other things (much like abilities and powers, but with an aspect of surprise), and card effects that let you play them during other players’ turns. So that’s fun.

Hooray for things.