Monday, December 29, 2008

A test! A test!

Crossposting is the best thing ever, and I love redundancy. Will this miraculous little tool let me crosspost to facebook, LJ, AND blogger all at once? Stay tuned for MYSTERY

Testing to see if LJ cuts still work

Sunday, December 28, 2008


(On BoomBlox)

Lisa: "I like how it vibrates your wiimote just a bit when it's your turn."

Maria: "It's so you can play this game if you're blind."


Maria: "I don't have any programming skills, I just think of the ideas. That makes me the designer."

Scott: "I don't have programming skills either, what does that make me?"

Maria: "That makes you a playtester."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Soul Bubbles

One of the awesomesauce people I met at Project Horseshoe was Olivier Lejade of Mekensleep. When he told us about his company's game, Soul Bubbles, on the van ride to the conference I became instantly intrigued. It sounded cute and fun, and the more I got to know Olivier and his cleverness, the more I was curious about investigating his design work. One Amazon gift certificate later, I finally got a copy into my DS.

The game is delightful and super-elegant, and I'm really enjoying it! The world of the game is very strange: You act as a spirit herder, putting spirits in little bubbles and blowing them around to transport them, using the bubbles to solve puzzles to make your way through the level. But the weird concepts are very smartly introduced, so that by the time you start herding spirits, all the weird stuff feels natural.

Part of the delight of this game is simply the core interaction: using the DS stylus to blow around a bubble, slice it into smaller bubbles to squeeze them through small spaces, bouncing bubbles back into one another and combining them back into one big bubble, etc. The interaction makes wonderful use of the stylus and touchscreen and is a perfect fit for the DS.

Above all, Soul Bubbles just feels very, very polished. Everything is "just-so," and is not bogged down with too many features. It is very simple, but very polished, very elegant, and very fun! All the better, too, for my poor DS was stowed away and gathering dust, only coming out for long travel trips. Now I have a reason to tote it around with me more regularly.Huzzah for awesome games! Well done, Olivier :D

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I adore the Tuesday Night Ballers, and I often think of them fondly at various times in my most recent adventures. The times when we are able to get together have been more and more adventurous as time goes on.

Tonight, everyone was "on," and it was brilliant. Not 2 minutes would pass without laughter or wit or some clever exchange sparking another clever exchange. I love them all! Scott, Will, Ian, Brendan, Maria, Matt, Kyle, DC, Beth, and I had dinner at the Mayan Gypsy and launched the night with much gaming.


Left for Dead
- I'd watched this played but never got a chance to play it myself until tonight. Kyle and I played while the others experimented with some new board games. I'll give you an impression of Lisa playing this game: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGETITOFFOFMEGETITOFFGETITOFF!!!!!!!!!!" It got to the point that, later in the night, Maria tossed a container to Beth and I shrieked in terror. This may be too stressful for me to devote too much time with

- a cooperative board game about fighting off spreading diseases. I didn't play this one, but it seemed quite challenging. I'm all about cooperative board games!

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
- This game is kind of like Shadows Over Camelot, where the traitor is a Cylon, and doesn't know it. It's not just a skin, and has its own mechanics, but again, cooperative board games where you fight against the game are fun times!

World of Goo (Wii version)
- I hadn't gotten a chance to play this cooperatively on the Wii, and I was surprised how co-op play so dramatically changes the dynamic of the game! Playing cooperatively is really, really hard, but incredibly fun. I recommend it!

Raving Rabids TV Party
- zomg, such a good party game! A good spectator game at that! The skiing game where you have to sit on the balance board and steer reminded me of way back in the day, when a group of friends and I played Crash Team Racing by sitting on a DDR pad. Good times all around.

The Big Idea
- This card game is awesome. But it's MORE awesome when you play after 2am so everyone is prone to giggling and silliness. Liquid Cardboard! The future is now!
And the fun doesn't stop there! Tomorrow (today?) D Flo is in town, so the fun times will continue all. Hooray for good friends!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Simultaneous Attraction and Repulsion

Yesterday, Jesse and I were chatting about a Civil War game he picked up out of curiosity. We were speculating on what a Civil War FPS might be like*. Jesse figured a lot of bayoneting, and I figured a lot of gangrene.

"Oh!" I said suddenly, "what if there is an amputation mini-game with a hacksaw?"

IMMEDIATELY after the words fell from my fingers, I recoiled in horror. UGGGH!! Ew!! EW!

"Undo, UNDO!" I shouted, but alas, once an idea is birthed into the world, it cannot be forced back from whence it came. It is here to stay.

Even though I shuddered at my horrible idea, it kept coming back up in conversation, both then and again tonight.

At one point I even said, "I want someone to make a BVW World about it. NO I DON'T!"But it wouldn't leave my brain! Imagine the sound design on that. Bits of!! UGGH!! STOP IT.

Jesse laughed and said that there's no word yet for those mysterious things which attract and repulse at the same time. And he's right. Attempting to google it only brings up some science journal article titled "Independent functions of slit-robo repulsion and netrin-frazzled attraction regulate axon crossing at the midline in Drosophila." Which, of course, is not helpful at all. Do scientists publish these things and then giggle behind our backs? Netrin-frazzled, indeed.

Anyway, my poor, horrible Civil War FPS amputation mini-game may as well get logged away on my great list of ideas. Perhaps writing it down will cast it away for good. And who knows, perhaps it will come in handy someday. Poor little idea. Uggh....*shudder**apparently it's pretty terrible.

Semester Recap

This is a slightly abridged version of my most recent posting to my mailing list, so I apologize for repeats. My fall semester project was a HUGE success. The experience we created for the line for the BVW show was incredibly well-received, and people waiting enjoyed themselves (and felt like the time went by very quickly, which was one of our most basic goals!).

 To catch people up, we decided to use Megaphone as the software platform for our games. Basically, you dial a local phone number and, once connected, can control things on the big screen with your cell phone acting as a game controller. In addition to mini-games, we filled our our experience with videos and factoids and break times, all themed for the BVW show. The games worked and people played them, and the people in the two competing lines really got into it, cheering and sighing depending on how their team did with each game.

 One interesting last minute idea was our crude version of a "virtual host" for the experience. Whenever the web camera breaks were on, I opened up Notepad and typed messages to the audience. They LOVED it. If I typed "hello," the guests would wave at the screen. If I typed sassy comments, they laughed. I even got them to do silly things in line, including the wave and an impromptu dance competition. It was a fantastic success! All in all, the experience went really well. We did have one issue with our phone server crashing at the end, which means people didn't get to play our final game, but we glossed over it and no one knew the difference.

Here's a video clip of footage from the day of the show. All the music was composed by my teammate, Soo, and was the music we used in our games. If anyone is terribly curious and wants to watch our final presentation, it's posted on the project website here: 

 So, since I'm doing an internship for the spring semester, that wraps up my official graduate school experience! I'd say it's an incredibly positive way to close off my ETC education. As for now, I've been enjoying my last school break as much as I can muster. I'm already enjoying being back in Louisville for the holidays by being as sickeningly lazy as possible. It's wonderful!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Today I fell into the Flow, this time regarding the tidying of my journal. It has mostly been going back through old posts, tagging things, and correcting image links. However, some of you may recall that between the end of 2004 and 2006, I went away from Livejournal for awhile and self-hosted my journal, then decided to return to LJ in the end. Back when I did this, I'd changed hosting plans for my website, and in the process lost all my on-site journal entries through a mishap. I wasn't overly distressed, however. I knew that if I gave it 6 months or so, the Internet Wayback machine would have the archive of my entries available. It wasn't until now that I got around to digging up my old entries and transferring them to LJ, but I did today. For any who are interested in seeing them, they are under the tag "lost entries," (first post at the bottom). I have to pick up tagging and image link correcting from the end of 2006, but the transfer of posts was the biggest hurdle to get over. Going back and plugging along through my journal has been incredibly insightful! I'm glad I started this blog when I did.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Burbank, Gears, Insomniacs, and Adventure!

First of all, I apologize to Cynthia and the LA ETCers whom I did not get to visit with on my trip to Burbank this weekend. As always, I figured I had more time than I actually did, and my stay was packed pretty full! After arriving and hugging and feasting and post-travel napping, I spent Thursday evening with Drew and Josh, re-acclimating to Gears of War by playing Horde mode. For those of you unfamiliar with it, in Horde mode you are placed on a multiplayer map, and must defend yourselves and survive repeated waves of enemies. It was fun, I will admit, but the nervousness associated with camping and defending a single location, waiting for the enemies to come to you, was EXTREMELY stressful. In the long run, I ended up leaving the Horde defense to Drew and Josh and watched, which was entertaining but not so stressful. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy playing co-op campaign in Gears of War 2 with Josh the next day. My biggest flaw in this game is that I am essentially useless with the Lancer's chainsaw bayonet, and when any enemy comes within an arm's swipe of me, my default strategy is to scream "GET IT AWAY FROM ME!!!" and flee towards my partner (who, usually, is much more adept with the chainsaw than me). Once I picked up a sniper rifle, though, I was all set. I will always be a sniper at heart, I think, when it comes to shooters. Josh and I didn't make it through the entire game, but got a decent way in. We were balancing our Gears day with cooking, which was awesome. I haven't gotten many chances to do a lot of cooking while in grad school, so I wanted part of my mini-vacation to consist of at least baking bread. We baked bread, made mango chutney, and roasted a chicken for a lovely Friday night feast, and I felt satisfied in having gotten to cook and having nourished another human. My love of cooking, afterall, is rooted in feeding others. On Saturday, Drew, Katy, Josh and I visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which I will not even attempt to explain here. It is simply a place that one must visit to comprehend. Nonetheless, it was awesome. That evening was the Insomniac Christmas Party (special thanks to DBang for getting me in) so I got dressed up all fancy-like for the occasion. My outfit had been pre-approved by the Get In Line team for maximum fashion, and I'm happy to say that I mingled all night in my fancy shoes without walking like a velociraptor once! The party was wonderful, as I got to reestablish bonds with all the Insomniacs I'd worked with over the summer. Many were surprised to see me there, and all were pleased, and there were many hugs all around. On Sunday, Drew and Josh and I went to the La Brea Tar Pits. I'm happy to say that we successfully located a new-forming pit that hadn't been bordered off yet, and poked it with a stick. This was the primary purpose in visiting the pits, but visiting the museum was fantastic. They had recently uprooted a mammoth, and the people in the observatory area were working on the skull. This was pretty exciting, as generally they are sorting out mouse toes and other such tiny work. Sunday evening was spent in the laziest of fashions, with board games and more Horde mode and food and cake. It had a slightly melancholy feel, as I had such a wonderful weekend and miss Drew and Josh SO much! I will be sad to say goodbye this morning, but grateful for my fantastic visit. Alas, my beloved Insomniacs, I miss you so! This trip was a Christmas gift well-spent.