Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The ache in my brain is a signal to sleep

It's Wednesday, I'm pretty sure, and I am damnably tired. For some reason this week is kicking my ass. I guess Monday was athletics + 2 lessons, so I stored up a whole bunch of tired right there. And the rest of the week has been the usual teaching stuff, which is an uphill battle more often than it's not.

Some things are great. In no particular order:

- Having hard drive space. The upgrade from 160 to 370gb has left lots of lovely room, which will no doubt get filled up in short order.

- Walking to school. It's not actually fun, but it's healthy and fresh-air getting, and only makes the journey about or 8 minutes longer than the automobile version of the same.

- Weekends. More please.

- Veronica Mars and Heroes. More please.

- Drawing. I haven't been doing a lot of drawing recently, but I've really been enjoying what I have been doing. Here's a picture of Hix's character from a game called 'Evil Genius Summer Camp' that Debbie ran:

Friday, February 23, 2007

RPG Art

I saw a request for a piece of artwork on RPG.net, and had a few spare minutes during my day. Well, OK, I had some minutes where I was procrastinating about marking. So I drew this:



I drew it on the whiteboard, and then took a photo of it. I then colourised it using Corel Photopaint. The person who requested a picture has already found someone else to do the drawing (and probably a lot more seriously and well than I did), but I'm pretty happy with what I produced. And I feel I've honed my white-board drawing skills further.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Joys of Collaborative Writing

Over on NZRaG.com I am helping a small group to write a scenario, possibly for the scenario design contest. I am enjoying the healthy flow of ideas, the permutations and spins that other people put on ideas, and the sense that we are writing something with a clear sense of purpose, and tangible results to date. A small sample:

To set up the baby-eating, we need babies. Therefore, the castle should be home to a SUPERGENETIC BREEDING FARM where the most genetically superior people in the world meet to have many many secret babies.


The thread is here, but if you're interested in playing in the finished scenario, you might want to resist the temptation to click on that link ;)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

friendlycomputer.co.nz are great

I have bought a few things over the past year from Friendly Computer Online Store, and they have been great. Very fast service, friendly emails, very helpful when a cable for my USB hard-drive was playing up, all round good service.

And their prices are good too :)

So, I thought to myself, why not officially record my good experience on the interweb. That way if someone's wondering whether friendlycomputer.co.nz are any good, they might stumble across my comments / review.

Stuff I bought:

40gb USB hard drive (notebook hd in a 2.5inch enclosure) (cost about $100, early 2006)
3.5 inch 200gb hard drive in an enclosure (cost about $165 including postage, mid 2006)
3.5 inch 250gb hard drive + an enclosure (um, about $180 last week)
a 1gb usb flash drive ($20?)

The only trouble I had was with the usb cable for the 2.5inch hd, and I've heard that's a common fault with those particular types of cable (1 usb to 2 usb). They sent some helpful emails, then I sent the drive back, and they got it working no problems (it was a dodgy cable that would work for a few minutes at a time, then crap out - so it had been tested briefly, but not for long enough for the fault to show up).

Monday, February 19, 2007

He dodges dung!



This cheeky chap is outfitted for a dangerous sport - dung dodging. Beastmen fling handfuls of dung at a team of 'dogders', who may either dodge the dung (to stay 'safe' and in the game), or punch the dung out of the air to score points.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I meme a book meme.

Since I am curious to see what the words are (and whether I've read far enough to recognise them yet):

(from Mash's LJ) "and let them go to page 123 of the nearest book and transcribe sentences 5, 6, and 7 onto their blogs."

For his part, Tom Leyton remained silent and remote, yet a little of his initial apprehension appeared to have subsided. It wasn't until the beginning of the second week of the holidays that the door opened once more into the private world of Tom Leyton, and it was to be the secrets lost in the cluttered room under the Leytons' house that would provide the key.

By this stage the silkworms had more than doubled in size and even with ten shoeboxes they were becoming overcrowded.


Huh - 2 pages past where I'm up to, but no spoilers. That's good. I should be finished reading The Running Man shortly - I plan to read a few pages whilst walking home today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Study class 2006

Having to supervise study is a great chance to read, or occasionally draw:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cosplay page has 6,000 hits?

I couldn't remember where Debbie and I had written up our adventures in Japan, and was feeling slightly senile, when I came across a hand-written message in the anthology comic I made a few years ago (2000, I think), which I had just gotten back from Hix. It mentioned the old unskilledartworld webpage, and that's where Debbie and I put our Japan proto-blog. It's also where I put the write-up of our cosplay experience at Armageddon.

And now the hit counter says 6,135 hits.

That's a lot of bots trawling for email addresses. I suspect having a link to it from the Armageddon website means that some of those hits are real. But gee, 6000?

Anyways, school is a very exciting place to be, as always. I suddenly value weekends a lot more than I did during the holidays :)

I found out that I'm being sent on a conference at some point this year - an expensive one too! Why can't the school just give me the cash, and let me buy toys? I'm sure the net result for the school would be about as beneficial - I'd buy video making toys after all (well, I might buy myself an LCD monitor for home too, but that's editing related and therefore likely to be used in making the school production video). It's an ICT conference. At least it's in Wellington, so I don't have to be away from home.

Right, Debbie just got home, so I'd best be off.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Paperwork? We don't need no steenkin' paperwork!

Ah, the joy of photocopying:

1. Spend 5 minutes waiting for the school computer system to accept your login. Chat idly about holiday activities with random staff members as they wait in line for the photocopier.

2. Try to find the stuff that you saved somewhere last year - either on your personal drive, or the shared drive, or (for some mysterious reason) on the shared student drive.

3. Give up looking, and make the damn handout again.

4. Hit print. Wait with baited breath to see if the printer will jam.

5. Open printer flaps, clear paper jam, close printer.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5. Hit printer. Marvel at success of this technique.

7. Log out, take freshly rewritten and printed handout to the photocopier. Choose to use the trusty ole risograph, as there is no queue for that machine.

8. Spend 5 minutes waiting for the photocopier system to accept your login.

9. Unplug the control box for the photocopier system, plug it back in, and log in.

10. Place handout face down on photocopier. Choose number of copies. Hit go.

11. Realise that there is no paper on the paper tray. Walk to main office, collect ream of paper, return to prep room, load paper, log in again, choose number of copies, hit go.

11. Clear excess waste paper from the paper catching tray. Hit reset. Choose number of copies. Hit go.

12. Press 'drum release' button, open the risograph, clear stuck paper off the main drum. Go wash hands.

13. Log back in, choose number of copies, hit go.

14. Watch 4 or 5 blank copies fly out of the machine, before some half-way decent looking duplicates start coming out. Celebrate how fast the risograph is at copying compared to a regular photocopier.

15. Run off 5 additional copies to make up for the ones that didn't work.

16. Log off.

17. Remember something else you needed to copy off for class.

17. Goto 1.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Prep done for interview

Hix asked what prep I did for the interview about Kapcon. Since comments are playing up for me, I thought I may as well make a post of it.

First, I got some good advice from Idiot, who's done radio interviews a few times over the past couple of years. His advice - try to anticipate the sorts of questions you'll be asked, and write down some key phrases or answers you could use. He also gave me some cool phrases - 'friendly competition' and 'smorgasboard of gaming' being 2 that I used.

Second, I got Debbie to ask me some questions, so I could practice answering them. I also asked her a few questions, to see how she phrased her answers. It was extremely helpful.

I then talked about it with Luke and Sam, and sent emails to Luke, Paul and Idiot as well. I then set about writing myself some well thought out answers. As it turns out, I didn't have time to read anything during the interview - not even to glance at notes. So I was going from memory, but having prepared fairly thoroughly. Here are the questions and answers I wrote the night before the interview (I think I spent about 15 minutes writing these):

What is Kapcon?

Kapcon is NZ’s largest annual roleplaying convention. It’s a 2 day event, held in Wellington every Wgtn Anniversary weekend. There are 6 rounds of ‘tabletop’ RPGs, plus a big 60 player game on the Saturday night.

What is a roleplaying game?

A roleplaying game is part storytelling, part acting, and part game. It’s a social activity where you get together with a group of people, and you each take a role or roles in a story, which you use your imaginations to create. It’s a lot of fun, and one of the great things about it is that it’s really active. Movies or books are great forms of entertainment, but they’re passive – someone else does all the work for you. Roleplaying games let you get involved, take hold of the story and really drive where it’s going.

What kind of games do you play at Kapcon?

There’s a huge range of games – 6 rounds, with about 10 different games running in each round. There are fantasy games like Lord of the Rings, modern horror games, kung-fu and samurai games, even a Jane Austen inspired game this year. It’s up to the wonderful people who write or bring along games to run, really.

One popular game this year was a game that plays like a slasher horror movie – and uses a Jenga tower to decide whether characters survive. Any time you want your character to do something difficult, or not do the typical, dangerous horror movie thing, you have to pull out a jenga block. If the tower falls, your character dies. It’s a great fun game.

What’s this 60 player game?

It’s called a Live Action game, or LARP, and it’s a little heavier on the acting side of things. Each person is assigned a character, and they have to try to act as their character for the whole evening, whilst also trying to achieve certain goals that the character might have. People often get costumes to dress as their characters, and it’s a lot of fun. Obviously with 60 people playing it can get a little chaotic, but really that’s all part of the enjoyment.

This year’s LARP was set on the Hindenburg, in the 1930s. The characters were pretty varied, from famous politicians, to actors, to evil Nazi’s. The costumes were great, the stories that unfolded were really fun, and man – everyone loves to hate a Nazi. They make perfect bad guys.

How has roleplaying changed over the years?

Well, roleplaying has been a popular hobby for about 30 years now, and it’s grown up a lot. Early RPGs were mostly fantasy or SF based, and while those sorts of games are still popular, there’s a lot more variety around today. Cottage industry publishers are putting out some really cool games, and the hobby is thriving in terms of ideas and range.

Also, the people who grew up with roleplaying as a hobby are having kids now, so it won’t be long before the next generation of gamers start coming along to Kapcon. We already have a couple of father/children sets who are regulars, and it won’t be long before we see more.

Who runs the games?

The people who play in the games also run the games. We offer discounted entry to anyone who runs a game in one or more rounds. We have a few regulars who like to run games more than they enjoy playing in them, but most of our GamesMasters as we call them like to mix it up, running a game in a couple of rounds and playing in the other rounds.

Who runs Kapcon?

It’s run by a committee of volunteers, with a new head honcho taking over every couple of years. We have a different team each year to write the Saturday night game – which is a lot of work.

Are there other events like Kapcon?

Kapcon is the biggest RPG convention in New Zealand, but there are lots of similar events around the country. Battlecry in Auckland is on in a week and a half, February 10 and 11, at the Freeman’s Bay Community hall. They have roleplaying, plus strategy games using little figures, and collectible card game tournaments. Christchurch has Buckets of Dice in July, and Dunedin has regular gaming cons. There are others too, in Hamilton and Palmerston North – all over the place.