Archive for Writing

Bundle Reviews part 6: Hex Kit and Airships: Conquer the Skies

Two from  the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality because I feel like doing some but I’m FREAKING exhausted!

Hex Kit: Hex Mapping tool for table top RPGs

This is a quick and dirty tool for bashing out hex maps for gaming. It comes with a black and white brush set, and several extra sets are available.

I actually bought this tool a few weeks before I got this bundle, along with several add-on packs. This bundle also includes at least one add-on that I didn’t have which I’ll get to in a few hundred reviews… yeesh…

Here is a map that took me a few minutes to create.

We have some woods, we have some water, and we have an old ruined tower. This is all I need to bash together a 3 hour game. This is a neat tool for either creating maps of various sizes for your campaign, or just noodling around and drawing inspiration from the result. The existing sets can be used for your own game, and if you have minimal graphics skills it wouldn’t be hard to put together a set you could use for games you plan to sell.

A neat piece of software I plan to play with a lot.

Airships: Conquer the Skies: Design & fight with steampunk airships

They had me at airships…

This game is really good fun!

It feels like a game that would have been really ambitious on the Commodore 64, but far smoother than it could have been back then. I jumped into the 9 tutorials and then played out the test battle to qualify for the regular game. Here is the ship I designed for that final battle… The HMS Phalanx.

She boasts an impressive amount of cannons, but despite two lift chambers she was limited to relatively low altitude. I probably added far more armor than was called for. Her cannons also ate through the quite limited ammunition stores very quickly, so I was not prepared for a long battle. But against the airship Scoundrel I was able to prevail, losing only a couple crew and my bottom fin.

I will be revisiting this game, I can see losing a long weekend or two designing airships and battling it out in the skies.

OK! only 1720 games to go!

Bundle Reviews part 4: Oikospiel and Beacon

A quick 2 from  the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality 

I’m a bit exhausted, so I’m just going to take a look at Oikospiel and Beacon.

Oikospiel: A dog opera in five acts

Um…

I mean…

Huh…

This is sort of a game, sort of an electronic acid nightmare opera. It is unspeakably weird and for a moment or two I thought it was either causing my computer permanent damage or had triggered a stroke.

I kind of love it.

This is experimental on a scale that is barely recognizable as a game. It reminds me of the weirder end of the CD-Rom book/game/experiences of the late 1980s or early 1990s. But turned up to 11 and spiked directly into your spinal column.

Yeah.

Beacon: Sci-fi Action Roguelite. Collect DNA from enemies and mutate yourself to victory!

A isometric view shooty exploration game with a healthy dose of body horror as you attempt to augment yourself and mutate wildly.

I don’t love the feel and complexity of the controls. It feels a little like the game is fighting me and it’s not pleasant.

The graphics and audio are great, but I’m probably not spending a lot of time on this one.

More soon!

Bundle Reviews part 3: Walden through Lenna’s Inception

A quick 3 more items from from  the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality 

Walden, a game, A Mortician’s Tale, and Lenna’s Inception.

Walden, a game: Experience Henry David Thoreau’s life in Walden Woods.

This seemed like a neat idea. Wander around the woods near Walden pond and learn about the story and the time period and what living there must be like…

Not well executed. Terrible movement, nasty low frame rate when it had no excuse to be that low, and uncertain controls made everything a chore. Good idea, but very rough in execution.

A Mortician’s Tale: A story-driven death positive video game where you play as a mortician tasked with running a funeral home.

This is a VERY short game. It takes about an hour. It’s also not much of a game really.

With a very intriguing topic, this one starts off strong, but then immediately becomes extremely repetitive, with what would be game play basically just being a series of tasks you are prompted to do. There is one moment in the entire thing that asks you to make a choice, and the end result is pretty moot.

This is a story with some interactive elements that could have been a very interesting game if developed further. All the elements intrigue, but none is explored much and then suddenly it’s over. It did make me tear up a couple times, but on the whole the rote performance of tasks with no chance to effect the story or fail makes this not a great game to explore some really deep experiences.

Lenna’s Inception: Procedurally generated Gameboy-style action-adventure game

This is a pretty intriguing Zelda-like game of exploration, monster fighting, and saving the world… but with a lot of twists that reward you and tease you for knowing the games it draws inspiration from.

This is a game where I wish the whole procedurally generated thing had been left out and someone had designed interesting levels… but it’s fun, engaging, and a really neat twist on a classic. I’ll be playing a bit more of this one.

So two misses, but a hit in these three.

This whole project is becoming daunting. I looked ahead, intending to just review the interesting looking ones… But they all look so interesting! This might take a while, but I’ll get as deep as my attention span allows!

Bundle Reviews part 2: A Short Hike through Art Sqool

A few more items from from  the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality 

I’m still just going down the list so today I’m looking at:

A Short Hike, Gladiabots, Lancer Core Book, MewnBase, and Art Sqool.

A Short Hike: A game about climbing a mountain to get better cell reception.

This game is pure joy. It was very hard to stop playing and I have a couple things to do, but it’s cute, fun, and movement is really nice. I never feel like I am fighting this game to do something, and as simple as the story is, it did make me tear up at one point. This is a game for people who want to hike, climb, and soar through the air. It’s not going to have much for people who want hard challenges.

Gladiabots: A robot strategy programming game.

Low poly robots, lots of exciting lines and overlays and lovely glowing blues, it looks exciting!

It’s not really exciting.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and very interesting. You pick your robot types then program them with a series of connected customized command and decision modules then they fight all on their own with no further input from you.

This is not a game of piloting a robot and going pew pew at other robots, it’s a game of strategic setup and programming where the actual battle is against other players programmed robots. The battle itself is sort of an afterthought, the winner and loser are decided before you really see anything, then the battle is downloaded so you can watch it play out. You get no say once the match starts.

This is a game for someone who is totally fine with 12 to 18 tutorials before you know enough to start playing. I got through them, had one match I lost really badly, and put this one back on the imaginary shelf. It’s neat, and I wouldn’t mind exploring it more, but with 1731 more things to look at, this one is not grabbing me and demanding my attention.

Lancer Core Book: This is a tabletop RPG of spaceship, big robots, and swashbuckly action.

I backed this game on Kickstarter and am still waiting for the printed book, but for now the 1st edition PDF has been released. I have been avoiding reading too deeply into it until the bok comes and I can give it proper attention, but I’ll skim in a little now.

Giant Robot RPGs are in a bit of a slow spot right now. With the painful failure of the Mekton reboot, and everything Battletech related being in a sort of wait-and-see mode until the full rulebook actually hits shelves it’s been a while since we could properly stomp our way through city-scapes throwing multiple block long punches and raining missiles like hailstones. Yes there have been a few games that touch on it, but nothing really big has captured this once fertile market in a while.

A lot of people are hoping Lancer is the next big thing.

In overall look Lancer is very pretty. The art and layout give me a very late 1990s to 2000s feel, but turned up a bit. There is a slight lack of cohesion in that the multiple artists styles don’t really mesh into each others as much as some modern games try to do, but it is better than many of the most beloved games managed back when this sort of game was king, and the quality is overall much higher.

There is a LOT of system in this book.

Mecha based games kind of beg for detailed tactical systems that specifically address as much as possible. Exact ranges and ratings and math matters in a very technical game, and this is no exeption. In the 432 pages of this core book, we don’t get to the world, plot, or story until page 334. Flavor text and images sell you on what kind of game this is going to be throughout, but in a world with FATE, Mothership, and Savage Worlds, and where even Dungeons & Dragons has their core system down to about 180 pages this is a bit of a beast!

Now, the very heart of the system behind Lancer is pretty sleek. The four or five pages explaining the basic concepts gives me a pretty good idea what this is going to look like in use… And I’m not sure I am in love.

I would put the complexity of Lancer at about the same as Pathfinder or slightly higher. This is a little beyond what I tend to like these days, a little more thinking and math behind every die roll than I would prefer. I’ll have to dive deeper to see how it all comes together.

Lancer feels like a bit of a throwback to the way we made games about 20 years ago… but a throwback made by people who really understood what was great about those games and wanted to bring some of it back. I will have to take some time with this to see where my sensibilities fit in these days. I am very excited for the printed book. It was due much earlier in the year, but as such things can go, and with the added excitement of the apocalypse happening, it should exist… soon.

Mewnbase: A survival/resource management/base building/etc game of keeping a moonbase from dying… with cats.

So this game lets you customize your cat a little…. I named mine Mr Piddles and gave his spacesuit a green visor. Then after a very brief tutorial you are left to your own devices.

It’s a little bit like a 2d minecraft in space but with less robust building… I have played a few games along these lines, one or two really fun ones on the ipad, and I don’t mind them at all. I’m setting this one aside for now, perhaps some day we will find out what became of Mr Piddles though.

Art Sqool: A game about art and making art and art school.

This game looks deeply weird… I’m into that.

It seems to be a musical?

Okay… so you are Froshmin, an art student being taught by an AI neural net. You are given assignments then set loose in the world to find pigments, brushes, tools, and to draw something which the AI then judges before sending you back out…

The graphics are state of the art Amiga demo disk 3d, the controls are hot garbage… moving around is actively unpleasant, and the music is… really neat!. Game play is confusing and little or no guidance is given on why you are graded high or low.

I think with the proper pharmaceuticals or perhaps a well placed head wound this game could be very interesting. I am shoving it back in the sack possibly never to be seen again. I wish I had the soundtrack though.

10 down, 1731+ to go. Have a Nice Day Everybody!

A few reviews coming!

Happy Trilobite

So a bit ago I bought into the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality for a few bucks, it goes to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50 and looked like it had some interesting games I would not mind checking out.

Then it was suddenly 1741 games and counting… It is a mix of tabletop games, video games, game creation tools, and who knows what else! For the $10 I gave ($5 minimum) I already have spotted three tabletop games I backed on Kickstarter for between $10 and $40 each. There is a tremendous value in here, but 1741! This is going to be a project to just look through and decide which ones I have time to even look at!

To motivate myself I am going to review them. This might take a while and I am not likely to get to all of them. It’s possible they might add more games faster than I can get through the list! But what the hell, let’s see how many I can do!

Wordspew 1 NaNoWriMo 2017

Yep, it’s that time of year again, I’m going to do the thing that makes me no fun for an entire month!

Join me!

In preparation I am trying to use the tiny amount of time I have at work to vomit out some words. Here are some, raw and unedited.

1:

Insert flange GG into socket QB… Harold continued to look for anything like a flange. He had been looking for hours and had yet to find one, or anything with the label GG, or QB, or anything labeled at all. What was a flange anyway? Harold put down the wriggling part he had been inspecting and picked up another with three eyes and a soft downy fuzz. He had to quickly grab it with his other hand to prevent it from biting him. It had two sockets of different sizes and shape and nothing that seemed flange-like. “God damn it!” he put it back in the box and looked at the instructions again. The pictures were so generic he couldn’t really tell one from another, and all the writing seemed to be translated from german into english by way of thai. “Hmm” he looked over all the wriggling parts, each nested in its own form fitting styrofoam chamber in a series of nested trays. He took all of the trays out of the fridge sized box and laid them out in the order he thought they had originally been when he had opened it. The trays had no numbers or other markings so he wasn’t entirely sure if they were in the right order or if they had a top or bottom, but after shuffling a few around and arranging a couple based on some primitive aesthetic hunch he figured he had as good of a guess as he was ever going to have.

The Garage was now dominated by a huge white grid made of trays, each filled with a smaller grid of writhing parts of every description. All the arranging and moving had agitated many of the parts and the small space was filled with growls, mewling, a deep bass hum, and several pitches of piping that sounded like an out of tune march played on a flute made out of meat. Harold looked out over the grid and picked up a marker off of the crowded work bench that had not had any actual work done on it in over a decade and went to work. He began with an arbitrary upper left corner and marked it with A. He then went down the left side marking each row with the next letter in the alphabet. He repeated the task across the top and now he had rough coordinates for any given part. It wasn’t a perfect grid by any means, none of the parts were quite the same size and some of them took up more than one row or column or both, but it was a system. Harold had always been a man who could do anything as long as he had a system.

He traced town one side until he reached row G. Following that slightly meandering row he found column G. At the intersection of the two was a yellow sphere with a beak and several stubby protrusions ending in blunt claws. He gently lifted the protesting part and then found the intersection of row Q and column B. There he found something that reminded him of the sea anenomies at the aquarium, but covered in scales. He turned the beaked thing over in his hand a few times until he found a protrusion that was more or less the same diameter of the scaly anenomies central maw. He jammed it in and the anenomie bit down hard. For a moment the beaked thing screeched and fought, then calmed. The two parts began to throb softly in unison emitting a quiet cooing noise. Harold set them aside and looked at the instructions again. Attatch sub unit GB into the side port of AG and rotate ninety degrees… “Susan better really like her new bicycle he muttered” and began hunting for the parts.

2:

“I think that one looks like the moon.” Linda rolled her eyes and sighed “that IS the moon Derrick.” He squinted for a minute and nodded “well, yes I guess it is isn’t it?” Linda kneaded the bridge of her nose. Derrick Jones wasn’t the brightest bulb on the string by a long shot, but he was good looking, had a decent job by the standards of this crappy little town, and was one of the few labor-level workers with a dataport implant, which meant he was Lindas ticket out of her stuck little life. She counted to a hundred in her head, a feat she doubted Derrick was capable of, and smiled “ooh, look at that one” she pointed to a dark plume belched out of one of the factories secondary stacks “doesn’t that look like a bunny?”

3:

The gun was far too light. Something made to take away someones life should have a certain heft to it, a certain gravity. This was a very special gun to be sure, made of carbon fiber and some sort of plastic that was highly classified and could double as a very intense incindiery device under presicely controlled conditions. It was a carefully designed and extremely expensive tool of death… And it really should have had some heft to match. Agent Baker was not an overly sentimental man, but he took one thing in life very seriously. That thing was the ending of it. “On three” he barely whispered and held up one finger, then two, then hell burst through the door in an explosion of wood splinters, blood, and venemous spray.

Agent Yarric went down without even a grunt. A single swipe had taken his throat and a good portion of his chest. He was dead before his body impacted with the wall. Agents Faraday and Holston began spraying bullets as fast as they could pull the trigger, missing Agent Baker by millimeters. The creature rebounded off the opposite wall, leapt, and was on top of Holston in the blink of an eye. Several eyes actually, it was hard to really get an accurate count but it seemed to have at least twenty. Holston cried out and emptied the rest of his handgun point blank into the beast, showering Faraday with a thick green blood that sizzled wherever it landed. Baker grabbed Faraday by the back of his jacket and bodilly flung him down the hall away from the creature. Holstons screams ended suddenly in a wet gurgle and the creature straightened up to its full eight feet of height and turned, The toothy maw surrounded by eyes dripped hot and red and a second mouth at the base of its throat chewed machine-like on some part of Holston. Baker didn’t waste a lot of time wondering which part.

He raised the gun and fired twice. Two more wounds blossomed on the things body, phasing it not at all. Agent Baker fired twice more and he swore it smiled. “Shit” he took one step back and it followed, taking its time. Knowing that it was probably a futile gesture Baker fired round after round until the gun was empty. The beast spit out a fragment of Holstons jacket then screeched, a sound too large for the cramped hallway. Agent Baker thumbed on the safety then pulled the trigger rapidly in a well practiced pattern. The grip of his pistol immediatly began to heat up in his hand. “Come omn asshole!” he lunged forward, thrusting the gun at the creature. His hand plunged into the second mouth and he was driven to the ground under the things weight. He felt its teeth ripping through the muscles of his forarm and hit bone a split second before the gun ignited. He braced his feet against the creature and pushed, screaming as his arm came away, now ending about three inches past his elbow. The creature stumbled backwards and began to writhe, a thick black smoke stinking of burning fish and petrochemicals pouring out of both its mouthes. Baker began undoing his belt as the beast turned to flee. He wrapped it around what was left of his arm, grit his teeth, and pulled hard as the thing collapsed and began to burn.

July Zine-O-Matic

Yeah, it’s been a while… again. Sorry!

So Zines.

When I was going to downtown Berkeley between five and seven days a week I used to stop in at Pegasus every few days and grab a zine. Occasionally I would trade them with other weirdos and on occasion have been known to make little mini pamphlet zines.

“Wait!” you demand “A what?” or if you are a bit hip “They still make those? What is this 1994?”

Yes, they do, and no it is no longer 1994, you can put down the Prodigy CD and put on some sensible pants.

A Zine, in short, is a little home-made magazine. It’s a little cheap (usually) slice of someones life and worldview and I love them. If you really want to go deep down that rabbit hole I recommend This Book and This One Too. Also go Here and Here, I’ll wait, I have a couple of things I need to get done anyway.

Back? Great!

So I have been missing my constant fix of little chunks of peoples worlds. There are things to recommend about Bloomington Indiana, but the independent book stores are pretty thin on the ground. I could buy lots of them on Etsy, but it’s not the same as walking in and grabbing the first few zines that catch my eye with no idea what might actually be in them.

Enter Zine-O-Matic.

You give them money every month, they grab a handful of zines and send them to you. It sounded up my alley so I plopped down my dollars and waited.

With Blinding speed my package arrived. Inside were a postcard, two stickers, and six zines. I got the “Super Mondo Size” subscription so with shipping it’s about $22 a month, And I do not feel like I overpaid.

The postcard is pleasantly macabre in a surreal sort of way, and reminds me that I should start sending postcards to people.

The first sticker is of cats in clothes… which cats HATE! It has a puzzle piece on the back of the same image like my Star Wars collectible cards had in the late 70s.

I have no idea what is going on here… It has a sort of David Bowie filtered through a Love and Rockets fever dream sort of thing going on.

The first Zine I opened was Flash by Amara Leipzig. It’s a comic zine about a guy who wants to be hit by lightning. It’s clean and expressive art and the zine is very well put together with the title on translucent paper over the cover image.

Tasteful Insect Nudes by Mullet Turtle Comics is a tiny little book with pictures of bugs and their somewhat playmate-like bios.

It wasn’t immediately obvious what this zine was called… or which way was up or which side was the front. I thought it was called “For Rectal use Only” at first because there is a sticker on it bearing that warning… but it turns out it is issue 3 of KJC by Kevin Uehlein and D.W.  It is a screaming mix of psychedelic art and comics. It is a mix of black and white, color, and a couple transparent pages and makes no immediate sense nor does it need to.

Field Notes on the American Sasquatch is about 22 pages of what looks like hand typed text with a few illustrations about the life of the American Sasquatch. I am going to try to get this into the hands of Aaron Akagi who obviously needs it… It is plain black and white copy-paper either made on a dirty library copy machine or skillfully made to look like it was.

The picture can’t quite show you the title of this zine because it is in braille on a black cover. The title is actually Soliloquy by Bast Armannsson and it is a zine about communication. It includes a Braille card as well as information about Braille, Tap Code, Morse Code, American Sign Language, and Binary. This is an absolute gem packed with interesting and potentially useful information and extremely well designed and executed. It would be my absolute favorite of the bunch if it were not for the next (and last) zine…

Imaginary Homework by Theo Ellsworth.  This zine is a series of surreal homework assignments illustrated in a sort of cartoony techno-mayan sort of way. This zine is so far up my alley that I am afraid it might be about to mug me. I’m super into it.

So all in all I am hugely satisfied with this experience and will continue my subscription with Zine-O-Matic (who have not paid me anything or given me free stuffs for this enthusiastic endorsement… though I am not adverse…)

I’ll keep reviewing my treasures as they come in, and maybe soon I’ll make a few more of my own.

How to repair your scooter in 40 easy steps.

1: Be in a hurry but forget that your gas light had come on the night before. Because of this fail to notice that the corner store gas pump, a gas pump you have used a hundred times, has defaulted to diesel and not gasoline for some reason.

2: Fail to notice this long enough to fill your tank and ride a mile where your motor will die a coughing and gasping death while spewing thick exhaust that smells suspiciously unlike gasoline. This step is very important because without actually riding the scooter you could easily fix the problem and skip almost all of the rest of these steps.

3: Since you will now be approximately equidistant between the corner store and home, push your scooter to your garage where you at least have a few tools. Make sure that there are between three and five hills between you and home for maximum sweat stench. For bonus points make sure you do this while kids are getting off school for maximum humiliation.

4: Giving the service manual a quick one over, begin taking off everything that is in between you, the gas tank, and the carburetor. This is about 1/3 of the scooter.

5: Pull out the gas tank and drain the contaminated diesel mixture into a container almost rated for the job. This is a wonderful moment to explore the incredibly slippery nature of diesel. It is also when you can remove the fuel filter and blow air through it to clear out the oily mix. Note at this time the remarkable similarities between diesel and olive oil, none of which include the concepts of “pleasant” or “maybe destroying my life” which each keeps firmly to itself.

6: With the gas tank slowly drooling its poison mostly into the pan but a fair amount all over your new tarp, it is a good time to attempt to remove the carb. It is an even better time to discover that all the screws are locked tightly in place and seem to be made of lead since any attempt to budge them just strips the head.

7: Panic. This is an incredibly important step. Consider exactly what it means if your only mode of transportation is destroyed at a time when you desperately need to get working and you live about 13 miles from the nearest bus stop.

8: Panic. This may seem very similar to step 7, but this step goes much deeper. Really get into how badly everything could go from here on out. Don’t hold back, let this develop into some grade A existential terror.

9: As the sun sets realize there is nothing useful you can do in the dark with a headlamp and a flashlight. Let the panic burn low into a deep and penetrating depression. This is absolutely the most productive thing you can do.

10: Power up your solar array. Watch British quiz shows you have watched a handful of dozen times already. This will keep you from having to think actual thoughts and let the deep funk draped over your soul simmer in the background until you are exhausted enough to sleep.

11: Sleep. Do this fitfully and wake up often enough so the constantly evolving terror dreams never have to give up their hold on your mind.

12: Wake up with a sort of manic enthusiasm and optimism that today you can fix everything. Put the fuel tank back, fill it with a mix of gasoline and carb cleaner and utterly fail to start the engine. The battery you have been abusing now for hours should at this time go dead.

13: Pull the battery out of your scooter and locate the battery charger you haven’t used in two years. It is best if the charger was the cheapest you could get at the time and entirely unsuited to charge a scooter battery. It is even better if it has been destroyed by humidity. If this is the case, rip the cables out of it and make them into a jury rigged set of jumper cables so you can hook the battery into your solar array. Since the charge controller is not intended to deal with a scooter battery, obsessively check it with a multimeter every 15 minutes until it is obvious that the battery is just as in need of replacement as you have been fearing for months.

14: Consider the problem of the carburetor. Decide that your best chance is to force gasoline into it to displace the diesel. Dismantle more of the rear end of the scooter so you can get to the drain screw. Drain the carb in place. It is important at this point to drench your entire engine block in fuel. Now, with the drain left open wrap your lips around the open gas cap and blow as hard as you can for some time. This will force gasoline to flood the carburetor and dribble all over the engine block as well.

15: Remove the battery from your solar array before you destroy it completely. Install the battery in your scooter and attempt to start the motor. This will immediately drain the battery and will not work at all.

16: Just stand there staring at the scooter for a moment. Really look at all the parts and components that you know nothing about and are utterly unqualified to mess with. Really come to grips with how little you know about the things you are trying to accomplish.

17: Panic. Try to revisit steps 7 and 8. This is a good time to swear at the top of your lungs and maybe throw a tool or two around the garage. Spend 15 minutes trying to find your screwdriver.

18: Do a little more reading and order a new fuel filter, spark plug, and battery. Ideally be at a really tenuous place financially and have this use up almost all of your money so that if this doesn’t work you will just have to embrace really long hikes or maybe just wander off into the woods and survive off of hunting wild turkeys with a pointed stick.

19: At this time remember a trick to break stuck screws that you had told someone about only a week or so before. Find your vice grips and break loose some of the mildly ruined screws.

20: Since your optimism has now had a boost, this is a very good time to discover that at least two critical screws are still locked up tight and you still cannot get the carb out for a thorough cleaning. Walk away from the scooter pretending that you will never have to deal with this problem ever.

21: Watch every video you can find online about repairing your scooter. Really delve into forum posts where people address every problem except the one you are having. Give your optimism a really good kick by finding a thread about someone who has done exactly what you have done. Read response after response of people who, instead of addressing the problem and offering solutions, tell the poster what an idiot he was for not noticing it was diesel and question how anyone with the brain power to stand upright could make such an amazingly stupid mistake.

22: Since you need some sort of win. Take side off of the engine to fix the kickstarter which has been really sticky and hard to use for a year or so. This will be much easier than you thought and will go quite well. The renewed ease of kickstarting will not be enough to get the fuel pump working with a dead battery however and the engine will not turn over.

23: Watch more videos and read more forum posts. Become very informed on procedures you cannot perform because you don’t have the right tools, materials, or parts and because the carb is still stuck on.

24: Because you have not bothered to actually do so yet, check the spark plug. Be pleased it is working perfectly and be a little annoyed that you have already ordered one, but realize that it is nearing time to replace it anyway and move on.

25: Following the advice of several contradictory posts, sacrifice your ear syringe by filling it with gasoline and squirting fuel into the carb and cylinder.

26: try to kickstart the motor over and over. Each time it fails to work, take she spark plug out and the air hose off and squirt a little more gasoline in. This will not work at all.

27: Panic. You should be very good at this by now and it will come quite naturally.

28: On a whim, research how to jump start a scooter without destroying its electrical system. Be surprised at the amount of positive information there is on this subject and how little it contradicts itself.

29: Try to charge the battery again just in case. This is a very good time for your multimeter to break so you have to just guess at timing. This will not work at all.

30: Since the sun is now gone, scrub the worst of the grease off of your hands and give up for the night. Watch Dr Who so you don’t have to think about things until you can sleep. Have the episodes you watch be particularly emotional, let this trigger a bit of a cry, feel silly about crying over Dr fucking Who, feel silly about feeling silly. Eventually fall asleep.

31: Jump up in the morning with a strange amount of energy, Pull a battery from your solar array and heft it into the garage.  Repurpose the makeshift jumper cables you had made from the dead charger to hook the battery up to the scooters battery.

32: Holy fucking mother of fucking fuck… Start the engine.

33:Disconnect the battery and run the engine for an hour or so, periodically at full throttle to attempt to build up charge. Eat three packets of instant ramen and drink half a gallon of water.

34:  Kill the motor. Try to start it again which will not work. Panic for a few seconds then kickstart the motor which will work.

35: While the engine is running, begin re-assembling everything you have taken apart.

36: realize you have done so in the wrong order. Revisit the versatility of the word Fuck. Take everything apart again.

37: Realize, preferably at the very last steps, that something is not fitting right. Fiddle with an odd bracket that seems made mostly just to vex you. This will take an hour.

38: Realize that you are going to have to take everything apart again in a few days when parts arrive and just set the bracket aside. Promise yourself you will look it up later.

39: Take the mostly assembled scooter for a very rural ride. Run it full throttle for an hour or so to burn off diesel and build up as much of a charge in the battery as you can.

40: Return home. Drink an ice cold soda very slowly. At this time you may wish to collapse on to your sofa. Feel like a total badass conqueror of motors. Feel like you have not let your ancestor monkeys down by both making and using tools. Feel physically and emotionally drained, but with a pleasant edge. You may at this time wish to… Breathe.

Damn the cliff! Full speed ahead!

I need to start packing… I don’t currently actually own luggage per se…

This problem is solvable, it will be solved, I will solve it, it may have already been solved by someone else, well then never mind.

Continuing to go a bit mad, but I carved out time to finish a few more items.

By popular demand! Notebooks!

They are smaller than the last batch, which is actually much more work to make, but people seemed eager to have some they could shove in a pocket.

So shove away! These are vaguely pocket sized! If your pockets are not tiny!

There are also some Flickerbox Hexes and some Robots? left… those who have pinged me outside of the shop… I am vaguely aware that that happened but I am running quite ragged, the candle is burning at both ends and the middle and has been doused in kerosene and lobbed into a barbecue. the store is there and it tells me what has been sold and reminds me to deal with things, anything else is very hard to grab on to. I will try in the next couple days to turn my attention that way.

In the meantime I am still playing with pricing these things… I suspect I am underselling my efforts, but for now $8 plus shipping, still reduced shipping for multiples.

Eh? Eeeeeeeeh?

D&D and me part 7: This Is Not OK!

Sorry that I have been so quiet lately.

At first I was kept away from by sheer laziness and then a few things in my life became less than awesome and I did/do not feel like sharing them so I just went all CyberHermit.

A few ideas have been percolating in my brain during this time, and one of them was a post on the title/word/label of Gamer, what it once meant to me and what it had come to mean recently. It has been simmering on a back burner for months.

A conversation I had today coincidentally followed by a post that several of my friends have been passing around ignited something and cut right through my malaise.

Words Needed To Be Said!

So this is going to be a bit long and probably it will wander, such is life. Shall we?

LOAD”*”,8,1

I think I have commented before on my mixed feelings RE: the surge in popularity of things that once were obscure.

When I was a kid, even knowing what an Orc was could get you mercilessly teased, and now World of Warcraft is so mainstream it might almost as well be football… or at least rugby. I was talking to a co-worker about this, and about how much easier kids have it these days with nerdiness being kind of hip in general, and more specifically the acceptance of role playing games and the diversity of the players available. Even more specifically the fact that Girls Do Game.

When I was a kid this was an insane idea, even bringing up D&D to a girl was a guarantee of a dateless existence at best, and now I do not know anyone at all who plays in a male only gaming group.

I told my co-worker as much and she mentioned that in high school her friends would not let her role play because she was a girl. This was a concept I found crazy buckets. While I will admit to a prejudice when it comes to women in role playing games, it takes the form of assuming they will be playing an interesting character with emotional depth. (not that plenty of men don’t, but in my experience [and in my prejudice] nearly all women do) I have been proven wrong only a couple times in this, and I am generally very excited when I have a good gender mix in a game.

It was a fun conversation while the business of the day was gotten to. We both moved on to other things, many boxes were lifted, much lettuce was crisped.

Then, at lunch, I found that several of my friends had simultaneously referenced This Post.

I was horrified.

Now I was aware of some incidents of sexism, racism, and other negative behavior that had occurred at game conventions I had attended, but these were usually things a friend or a friend of a friend had witnessed… or stories of the Bad Old Days. Tales from another time or place or involving people who were relics that had somehow survived into the modern age like pleisosaur hiding in the depths, only to emerge for conventions.

I have spent a lot of time today thinking about this.

I am a White Male Player of Games, which means I live on one side of a filter that I rarely have to be aware of. In addition to this filter I swim largely in a bubble of carefully selected comrades (this metaphor is getting out of hand) so there is a lot I will never see. If I am aware of this handful of incidences, then how much is going on that I never see? Tips of icebergs and all that.

Notice I did not call myself a White Male Gamer… This relates to the post I was going to write originally and that needs to be touched on now.

The term Gamer used to have two real meanings. One was that you were a gambler, this term had no relevance to my life so I will just drop it and move on. The second meaning was that you played role playing games, board games, war games, or other tabletop games. The use of Gamer to describe people who played video games came a bit later, but there was a big overlap so using the Venn diagram of “Gamer” was still pretty useful. When a Gamer met a Gamer they had common ground. Both probably had interests the other could relate to and share as well as both being somewhat outside of what society called normal or even acceptable.

Pretty much from second or third grade on I have identified myself first and foremost as a Gamer.

In recent years a few things have happened to make me step away from that term. For one thing, it has come, in the public eye, to mean much more someone who plays video games. And while I do certainly do that, I mostly play one or two older games and generally think the industry stopped producing many worthwhile or fun games with the obsolescence of the Super Nintendo.

For the other big reason I have to bounce back to my misgivings about the increased popularity of things once obscure…

The title of Gamer has become Something Ugly.

By distancing myself from that world I could ignore the rotten elements that had been festering there… or so I thought.

Part of my conversation with my co-worker was about how inclusive the role playing, board gaming, and the like communities were. My perception was that We Were Better Than That.

And we should be.

Gamers, Fandom, Cosplayers, Anime Nerds… People who read too much, people who collect things, people who spend hours poring over obscure information for no reason other than they love it. We should be 100% inclusive and enthusiastic towards anyone who shares our loves and obsessions just our proclivity to have such loves and obsessions! This is true even if they don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, or have the same plumbing we happen to have! The world is full of hate and exclusion and horror, we should be the ones to take care of our own. No Matter Who They Are!

Our hobbies/ways of life are not damaged by the inclusion of others, they are strengthened and improved. Exclusion breeds stagnation and eventually death.

My eyes have been opened, I am going to keep them open. I challenge you all to do the same. If I see this bullshit I am going to act. If you see any of this in the way I treat others, please slap me the fuck down.

Lets play some games.