January, in a remarkable year

Sometimes I turn around and it’s odd to be in 2020.

When I was a kid, I had an RPG sourcebook with that year in the title: Cyberpunk 2020. I didn’t have anyone to play with, but that wasn’t a problem; I read RPGs for fun, weird combinations of guidebook and recipe source.

I went years without thinking about that book, but I tripped over the setting again last year–someone’s making a video game–and it’s odd to me how much I still remember of it and how much I still care. My reaction went from “yes, that game looks like it’ll be very glossy” to “that’s Johnny Silverhand? They’ve got Johnny Silverhand? I remember him.” and next thing you know I was snickering over the Holy Fathers of the Perpetual Railgun again.

It’s funny the stuff that sticks with you.

None of the impressions that stuck from the stories that talked about 2020 were anything like this. On a larger level–and there’s a lot going on, on the larger level–I’m going to settle for saying that while there are definitely dystopian elements, the fictional version of them seemed like they were a lot more manageable. On a smaller level… well, I’ve been dealing with vet bills and doing the laundry. I like both my jobs, and periodically get very angry at both my jobs, and these two things are not mutually exclusive. Life goes on, and it feels like a lot of it is a rather tired puttering.

Well. The month is nearly over, and some things are improving. I hope that part of current trends continues.

After WorldCon

It’s been a busy time.

I have another novella drafted (that sound you hear in the background is the sound of me despairing of finishing anything before winter; the drafting went fairly quickly, but the revisions generally don’t, and right now I mostly have a lot of things that need revision). I also went to WorldCon, which was what WorldCons usually are; full of people I did not have enough time to catch up with (some of them have been making their own ribbons!), possessed of fascinating panels with conflicting scheduling, and generally a happy experience. I collected many signatures and made it to the Hugos.

My sleep schedule still hasn’t quite steadied. I expect it will over the next week, and then I will spend the first few weeks back home getting up at 5 a.m. or so. (Yes, I am hoping this works out as writing time.)

There’s an effort being made to create a Hugo for games–you can read about it at www.gameshugo.com–and I’m really hoping that that succeeds. Possibly more thoughts on that later; for now, this was the fifth and final day of the con and I can’t do more than mutter vaguely about “Powered by the Apocalypse”-this and “Choice of Games“-that and “the decision to not give the player character the option to ask about weird and surreal details in Kentucky Route Zero is a subtle but powerfully-effective way to suggest that the strangeness of the setting is normalized to some degree!”-other.

Alright. That’s enough for now.

Lost rules.

So over the weekend I had coffee-and-talk with Jason from Genesis of Legend, and among the meandering and many-many-lots recommendations shared[1], I had some thoughts that were turning into a post on the difference between video games and tabletop RPGs.

Then there was a Windows Update and a reboot.

(The gist of it, roughly, was that you expect to have everything necessary to play a video game, but you are expected to bring additional knowledge to the worldbuilding of an RPG–sometimes obvious, sometimes specific–and therefore they require a greater effort.)

There was also something about the difference between games (with rules) and toys (without them), which was basically a clumsy exploration of ideas expressed in one of Chris DeLeon’s essays on the topic, which are honestly very worth reading.

[1] If anyone out there has not read Strong Female Protagonist, may I sing its praises? Right then. Carry on.

Walking Dead: No Going Back

(Yes, well, it’s the holidays. I can’t use the mouse too much, but games which are heavily or primarily keyboard-accessible? I am all over those.)

So, I finished Walking Dead: Season 2–the story game, not the TV show, definitely not the Walking Dead™: Survival Instinct game which from what I’ve heard is absolutely terrible–and it was good. (I generally find the Telltale Games stuff to be really good; the only work of theirs I haven’t picked up is the Game of Thrones one, and if they ever do a 100 Bullets game I will probably go missing for several hours at regularly spaced intervals. I find they don’t branch as much as the Choice of Games narrative fiction, but they are very good at inspiring an emotional connection with the characters.)

Anyway, the game’s been out for a year or for four months (depending on whether you count from the first or last episode), but I realize some people may not have played it yet, so I’m putting the rest behind a cut. Continue reading “Walking Dead: No Going Back”

Yellow and blue.

Look, happy polygons!
Look, happy polygons!

There’s a nifty post going around, The Parable of the Polygons. It’s a study of how small preferences within a society end up producing larger divisive trends within a society, explained through cute little flash games with yellow triangles and blue squares. They’re nice triangles and squares! And you drag them and drop them and move them around, until they’re happy or at least not unhappy. (They can end up “meh”, too.)

What gets me particularly is about the eighth game (anything with a “reset” button under it can be played; it’s just the larger boards, with the dark backgrounds, that look most like games. So: the eighth game, or the fourth big game) is that it shows what happens when you get people without bias in an already segregated society.

What happens? Nothing.

See what doesn’t happen? No change. No mixing back together. In a world where bias ever existed, being unbiased isn’t enough! We’re gonna need active measures.

I am trying to remember this. Because this is not a world with zero bias, and it is useful to remember that correction of existing divisions is not something that happens just because you aren’t actively bad.

You need to be good. You need– I need to be better. I need to actively work to put stuff I’m not used to seeing in the tiny slice of the world that I have curated for placement in front of my nose.

Because it isn’t going to happen by itself.

If not silence, then rarer posts

On top of being horribly sick on Wednesday (and recovering for two days), apparently I’ve gotten an RSI in my elbow. This is putting a serious crimp in both my typing and my knitting. (And it’s my right elbow, so I can’t even take this as an opportunity to learn crochet, since while I am up for many things learning a new crafting skill with my off hand just does not seem like a productive use of time. I do want to learn crochet, though.)

It’s fairly straightforward to treat, involving an elastic joint support and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. I’m going to speak to work and see how they feel about my working at home more often, since my setup here is better for me. (I’ll also need to speak to them about getting an ergonomic assessment done on my workspace, but since I’m technically a temp I am not sure if it should come directly from me or from the temp agency. I’ll figure it out.)

Ergonomic assessments are things for which a medical professional hands you a prescription. I was previously unaware of this, but I find it rather neat. I always think of prescriptions as being for things, not for services.

But overall I am doing fairly well, and it’s been a good weekend, and I am having fun playing with the Last Court now that it’s out. I didn’t expect to–I have generally gotten the impression that Dragon Age is a fairly generic fantasy setting–but Failbetter Games has done a stellar job of making it interesting to play as the lord of a small fiefdom in such a setting and not boiling it down to All Those Mechanics I Have Seen Before.

Carrying on, into the dark of the year

I named it Sidney.
I named it Sidney.

I honestly didn’t remember it was the fifth of November until I was trying to come up with a post title. That puts today as being concurrently in the territory of NaNoWriMo, Noirvember, and Guy Fawkes Day; I think I may go with the “watch a movie and call it good” approach to celebrating.

Hallowe’en was very quiet; while I did the usual jack o’lantern, we ended up putting out candy with a sign asking people to please take one. The trick-or-treaters in our neighbourhood are mostly young kids with accompanying adults, so we figured it was a good bet, and it worked out.

Saturday was awesome; while some of the other people taking the Zombie Diefenbunker Tour were annoying, the tour itself was that kind of cheerfully unselfconscious pulpy creepy setup you’d expect from a Hallowe’en haunted house set in a Cold War bunker. And the bunker itself was amazing, in a rather understated but very stolid way.

(Apparently all 32,000 cubic yards of concrete were hand-poured. I find this particular detail oddly endearing.)

I will need to go back and pay attention to what it’s like when it’s not full of zombies, clearly.

Sunday was fun; the actual getting together and playing of board games in the same room as other people is something I haven’t done in way too long. There were several games of Gloom, one of the new Doomtown, one of Pandemic, and one of Redshirts. I find myself weirdly fond of Gloom in particular; there’s something about trying to kill the family or team represented by your own cards while saving everyone else’s that makes the competition a lot less acrimonious than it could otherwise get, which makes it a good game when you don’t know people too well yet. Plus the art is reminiscent of Edward Gorey.

Work actually ran out of work for me to do, and asked that I not come in today, so that’s kind of nice. I’m trying to catch up on various things around the house before lunch.

Hopes for the weeke– oh, right, free game!

Fallout_NV_logo I was going to mention this last, but I figured that was very much burying the lede; I have a spare copy of Fallout: New Vegas on Steam to give away. It’s an action/RPG, set in a post-apocalyptic retro-futuristic Nevada. It’s honestly a rather cheery setting; less the actual wasteland than an idea of the wasteland that might have been spawned from the ATOMIC SCIENCE of the 50s, crossed with Mad Max and given a cheerful jolt of early- and mid-20th century music.

If you think you might want it, there’s a more detailed summary here. That page also has the system requirements. If you do want it, drop a comment and we can figure out the logistics?

With that out of the way: yesterday work had an incident with spray paint fumes (for a pumpkin; yes, really), and I had been working long hours last week and this week both, so I am at home today. It will mean no headache and being at home.

Am optimistic about the weekend! In addition to Hallowe’en happening (either today or in several hours, depends on where you count from), tomorrow I’ll be making a trip out to Carp to visit the Diefenbunker. It’ll be a day trip; go early, visit the museum before they close it to get ready for their Hallowe’en tour, get lunch or something, and then go back for the Hallowe’en tour that explains just exactly what happened on the night of June 21, 1994.

…I have non-post-apocalyptic interests. I’m just not focussing on them right now, it seems.

And then Sunday is actually getting together with people and playing board games, which is something I enjoy that I just haven’t had a chance to do in months. I’m thinking of bringing a copy of Gloom, a cheerful little board game in which you try to get your own spooky gothic family killed off before the other players can kill off their own spookily gothic family. It’s entertaining.

Staggering determinedly on

Yesterday I ran Zombies, Run! for the fourth day in a row. I’ve decided I’m aiming for the “Every day ending in ‘y'” achievement. The game counts days as running from midnight to midnight, which is fairly straightforward.

Unfortunately, it’s a British game, and I am in North America. So the time difference means that because I ran later in the day on Wednesday, and then ran again yesterday, it counted my runs for this week as happening “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Thursday” rather than “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday”.

(There’s not much I can do about this but shrug. Oh well.)

I am hoping to at least keep going today and through the weekend, at which point I will be able to honestly say to myself that I ran every day for a week, even if I didn’t get the achievement. After that, I will see what happens, and probably get the hospital built for Abel Township. The base-building was revised in Season 2, and the collect-resources/spend-resources/upgrade aspect of it is very motivational when it comes to interval training. (Interval training consists of zombie chases, and if you don’t run fast enough, then you loose some of the items you’ve collected as you drop or throw them behind you to distract the zoms. This means you don’t have those resources to actually upgrade the amenities in Abel.)

Hoping to get the hospital built by the end of the weekend. It would have been done slightly sooner, except I sort of misclicked on the base, and accidentally expanded it in the wrong direction. Hospitals require a 3×3 space, and I managed to clear a 2×4 one instead.

Not very interesting, I know, but it’s been a long week and this is about the only area in which I feel that my efforts to be productive have produced a measurable result.

Blinking at the calendar

Wow, it’s been a long time.

Most of February was taken up with some acute household health stuff (everyone’s fine, life carries on, thank god the crying jags were mostly staggered in timing because I think that if we’d had them all happening at the same time it would have been harder to get through).  March was tied up a lot with some temporary work.  And I can’t believe it’s halfway through April, good grief, where does the time go?

I spent a chunk of last night trying to update my CV to reflect something that I’m good at but that I’m not usually hired to do, and it’s a little scary.  Besides that, there’s not much really going on.  I’m tired and I realized today that I’ve dropped the ball on something, and I’m trying to get it back together rather than bolting in the opposite direction throwing excuses behind me.  Should be manageable, really.

Piper’s having trouble walking, so I’m sitting with her in the living room and going to get through as much as I can today without leaving her alone for too long.  I foresee a lot of laundry in my future today.  It won’t be so bad, if I can get to the doing rather than the talking about.