Apophenia Evolved

Please visit my other blog: Apophenia Evolved.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Amazon Wish List

Because I have difficult to get right tastes in gifts, (i.e. People make mistakes when ordering for me) this year I am using the Amazon Wish Lists. I have looked at them several years ago and it could have been better then. Now however it have some really cool features.

The one I like the most is the Universal Wish List which allows you to add items from other websites to your Amazon Wish List. Then when someone purchases it they can mark it off your list, really cool. Now I can add some of the weird specialty stuff I like to my wish list. (Like Fudge Dice or Euro Board games)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

50,000 words

Wow, It is Nov 30 and I have finally hit the 50,000 word mark of my novel! That means I have won NaNoWriMo! It has been one of the most intense writing I have ever done and probably one of the most rewarding. It feels strange looking back at all the work I have done and realizing that I have made a novel, almost. While I have 50,000 words over 12 chapters I am still not done with the story. It will probably be one more chapter and a least 1-2 thousand more words before I am done, probably ending the story unfinished so that I can later (maybe next NaNoWriMo) write a sequel to my novel.

Again, WOW, I almost can't believe I wrote 50,000 words.

Also I plan on spending a large portion of December editing my Novel and will hopefully get it self-published through Lulu before Christmas.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

2/5ths of the way done!

I can't really believe that I am 2/5ths done with my story. I'm astounded at how my story has grown in ways I never would have expected. It is really quite different then what I thought it would be when I started.

However right now I have reached a point where I'm not certain what to do next. The current big plot thread has just managed to be wrapped up so I'm having to make up something new to happen now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NaNoWriMo.... taking all my writing time

I'm currently at around 12,600 words for NaNoWriMo and it is getting crazy. I want to write a couple of blog posts about some Spirit of the Century actual play but I am so busy with school and NaNoWriMo that when I am done with that day's writing I don't feel like writing anything else.

Blah, NaNoWriMo is sure taking it out on me, though I am glad that I am doing it. I have a part of a novel I never would have had without NaNoWriMo.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

It is a new day and it is snowing here in Utah. We have elected a new president and it is my birthday. Probably the best way to start a day that I have had.

In other news I'm currently at 4,476 words for National Novel Writing Month. You can link to my profile here. I should hopefully end the day with more then 5,400 words which will keep my on schedule.

After reading most of the Characters GURPS book I have decided to take a break. I had to take a break from reading through Advantages, Disadvantages, and Skills. There is absolutely to many options in GURPS. My break included starting to read the Shadowrun core book that I got at the same time. The rules are at least simpler and setting is interesting. I hope to read through some more of that before returning to GURPS.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I know it is probably a little bit crazy for me to attempt but I signed up for NaNoWriMo and have decided to try and write a 50,000 word novel during November. Given my remaining allotment of days I have to write an average of 1800 words a day. Today I somehow managed to complete that many words but I don't know how long I will manage to keep it up.
I have having some fun writing one of the stories I have always delayed written because I never had enough time to write. Now, with a deadline, I am getting writing done even if it isn't very good writing.

I currently have 1,891 words completed and plan to get another 1800 words done tomorrow (Tuesday). I'll update with a link to my profile when then website seem to be working again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Role-playing Design

I have been recently listening to several RPG podcasts like Master Plan, Have Games Will Travel, Narrative Control, Theory From The Closet, and The Voice of the Revolution. Doing so has fired up my design neurons and now I want to create Campaign Settings and RPG Systems.

I have several different ideas, some of which I will outline here. The first is a School-Based Role-playing Game. Parts of that idea involve using the FATE rules but changing all the skills to be the character's grades in their classes.

The second is a bonds RPG. The idea is an RPG about a group of people and the bonds they share. The group to be a school club, a family, a band, or just close-nit friends. Some mechanics ideas involve using the FATE system and giving the group several aspects that you can use when together as a group. Also I wanted there to be a strong aid another mechanic to encourage working together.

The third involves a world that seem crazy. The world changed ten years ago and everything that you can imagine appeared in the world. Magic, Supernaturals, and other strange things now exist. Not just exist, something like 90% of people now have strange powers and abilities.

The fourth is currently called "The Force of One" which is about the story of one person and how the changes in that person change the world. Together the players create the character and then each player takes the role of one of the emotional forces at work in the character. Things like Love, Hate, or Sadness. The players the bring the character to his inevitable future.

So those three are my current ideas, if I have any others I will post them too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Houses of the Blooded

I recently got a copy out Houses of the Blooded and I can honestly say that I was stunned. I really had no idea of what I was getting myself into but the pdf was ONLY $5 so I decided to get a copy.

I don't have words to describe how awesome it is. A game build about the tragedy of the Ven. You play Blooded Nobles who control land and power, fight betrayal, and fall in love. It is everything D&D is not. For ONLY $5 is a steal, I would pay that much (or more) just for the setting, but it also includes great rules that capture the themes of the game perfectly. The only problem I have is that the rules for land and servants seem a little gamest.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I got Spore

I got spore this weekend and managed to get all the way to the space age in one day. Since then I have neglected far too much school work playing spore. You can find my spore page here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Discovery of Indie Games

A few weeks ago I had a realization after I got a copy of Mutants & Masterminds. I have considered myself a Role-player for a long time, but when I think about it the only real role-playing games that I have played are Dungeons & Dragons and White-Wolf. Sure Dungeons & Dragons and White-Wolf are both big names in the role-playing world but I realized that I was limiting my self by not trying anything else.
Mutants & Masterminds change all that. Before I picked up a copy of Mutants & Masterminds I thought I wouldn’t be interested in superhero role-playing games, after I picked one up I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I visited the Mutants & Masterminds forums and read what people were thinking about the game.
Eventually I discovered several other games that I had heard about before but had never thought to play. Two games in particular that I became interested in and ordered copies of are Agon and Spirit of the Century. I am also interested in Geiger Counter which I downloaded a copy of.
I am also interested in other games so if anyone has any suggestions I will look into them. (That is if anyone reads this)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Races and The Land Between

Once thing I wanted to do with The Land Between is I wanted to tie each race’s story into the war between the Eladrin and the Shadar-kai. It starts with those two races who have been fighting for dominance using The Land Between as a staging ground.

The Warforged were easy to place in the world. They were created by the powerful Eladrin wizards to fight the Shadar-kai.

Half-Orcs are interesting because I placed them as the native species of The Land Between, however they lost everything, even the name of their race, when the Shadar-kai enslaved them. The Half-Orcs become the base stock that the Shadar-kai used for experiments. From them the Orcs, Goblinoids, and even stranger things came about. With their true name lost the remaining Half-Orcs are only know by their relationship to Orcs.

When the Shadar-kai originally created the contagious disease Lycanthropy they weren’t able to control the creatures it created. However with their studies of Lycanthropy they eventually created a more predictable strain of the disease which created the first Shifters. While this strain isn’t normally contagious Shifters do pass it on to their children.

While the story for Tieflings isn’t directly related to the Eladrin or the Shadar-kai they are connected to the third great power, Demon. When a person become a Magus it occasionally changes their body, in the most extreme cases they become something else entirely, a Tiefling.

I struggled a long time about what I wanted to do with humans. I didn’t want them to be just humans. I wanted them to have a place and a story like the other races. I stumbled upon the solution when I was figuring out why there weren’t Gods in the campaign. I eventually decided that Gods and their Angels did once exist in The Land Between, however when the tried to stop the war between the Eladrin and the Shadar-kai, the Eladrin built magical stairways into the sky and slew the Gods. The surviving Angels had their wings hewn off and were banished to The Land Between. These Angels became the first humans.

I still haven’t found a place for Dragonborn, Elves, Half-Elves, Halflings, or Dwarves but I am considering leaving some of them out entirely.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Land Between

A couple of days ago I read a blog post by Rob Heinsoo. While reading it I realized that the 100 Kingdoms is a fairly vanilla settings, not to say that is bad. It is just that The 100 Kingdoms follows all the basic assumptions which makes it easy for people to join and understand what is happening.

While I enjoy thinking about The 100 Kingdoms I decided I needed to figure out another setting that was interesting in the setting concept instead of just what happens in the setting. I finally came up with The Land Between.

The Land Between is torn with the endless war between the Eladrin and the Shadar-Kai. Both races use The Land Between as a staging ground for the war. The people who live in The Land Between are drafted on both sides and few people live in peace. However amid the war there exist free agents who work to free The Land Between from both sides.
The people are the Magus. They have made pacts with powerful and dangerous creatures from the Abyss (Which is nothing like the default Abyss). Whether is be through luck, toughness, or strange powers there people are beyond the normal. They also gain dangerous powers called Dark Rites (Which function like rituals).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More on the 100 Kingdoms

While I am currently calling my Campaign setting the 100 Kingdoms, that is more of a place holder then the actual name. The 100 Kingdoms is only the default starting location for my campaign. To the East lies the Ocean of Stardust, a supposedly endless ocean that at times borders with the Feywild leading to a strange Fairy Pirate theme. To the West past The Edge lies the Wilds (Also a placeholder name) which is part Jungle part Swamp. It is populated with Goblinoid and other monsters such as Dinosaurs.

As for what else exists in the world, I am still thinking of different ideas.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

D&D 4E and The 100 Kingdoms

On Friday I got a copy of the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. I’m expected the rest of the books to arrive in the mail on Monday or Tuesday. Since I got the book, I’ve been seriously being to plan my next campaign. I wanted something that fit with the new idea of Point of Light and everything new in 4th Edition.
So after a lot of thinking I came up with The 100 Kingdoms, a land of splinted kingdom left over from the fallen empire of Pyre. It allows for bastions of civilization with large tracks of dangerous land between them.
The starting location for my campaign is called The Edge. It used to be a border fortress, but after the fall of Pyre it turned into a trading town, negotiating deals with the nearby goblinoids
If anyone reads this and has any question I would be happy to answer them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In honor of Gary Gygax, or how Dungeons and Dragons changed my life

I have an early memory of getting my first Dungeons and Dragons game. It was a second edition box which contained everything you needed to play the game, included a scenario. I remember that the box looked so cool and I couldn't wait to play it. However I had no idea what I was getting into.
At that time I didn't have a group of friends who would play this strange game with me so I had to resort to getting my family to play with me. I remember being disappointed when I wasn't able to convince them to play.
Eventually I managed to get my father and my younger brother to play with me. I functioned as the DM and I soon entered the world of campaign building. The Dungeon Master's guide brought me to a strange new world of creativity. However it was my dad who introduced me into real storytelling when he told me that my games were episodic. It took me a while to understand what he meant but it opened my eyes to something new.

Years later toward the end of middle school I finally got a group of friends who were also interested in D&D. We would go over to each other's house and play strange games full of plot holes. I usually functioned as the Dungeon Master, however I always have the desire to be one of the players. I kept the friends I made through D&D and even now that I am in college they are some of my closest friends.

When I learned that Gary Gygax had died I began to think about how Dungeons and Dragons has changed me. I can only thank him for all the adventures I have gone on and the ones I will go on in in the future. Thank you Gary Gygax, we will miss you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

D&D, Programming and the wonders of Core Data

Yesterday I downloaded D&D Manager. I played around with it and immediately began to find places where it could be improved. Instead of pestering the designer about my issues I decided to try and improve it myself. Being the programmer I am I went back to the site and downloaded the source code because it was licensed under GPL. I opened up the project and began trying to figure out what was happening. I quickly learned that it relied heavily on Core Data and that I knew next to nothing about Core Data.

Several hours later I was working on my own implementation and busy enjoying the wonders of core data. I'm still working on my project and learning new and interesting ways of using core data. My implementation is no where near complete but I have already figure out all sorts of cool things I can do with it

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cocoa NSToolbar Tutorial

When I learn things about Cocoa I wish there had been some easy tutorial out there that explained in a simple way what I had just learned.

So yesterday I wanted to figure out how to add custom toolbar item to a toolbar. I dug around and the best tutorial I found was at www.macdevcenter.com. I read it and after a while figured out how it was creating toolbars items.

Yet I felt it was more complex then it could be. It build off old tutorials and had a lot of extra code which wasn't relevant to problem I was trying to solve.

So I decided to use what I had learned and make my own tutorial.
Creating Cocoa Toolbars

You can find the Xcode Project here

Saturday, March 1, 2008

ExpanDrive is Magic

ExpanDrive for Mac is the way I always wanted to do FTP but never knew about. Before I mainly used the free FTP program Fugu. However FTP programs like Fugu and Transmit aren’t as simple as accessing your iDisk.

ExpanDrive uses magic to make FTP that simple. Now ExpanDrive starts when I start my computer and it connects to the remote server as if were an external hard drive. Sure a program like Transmit has more features then ExpanDrive but since I never use them the simplicity of ExpanDrive makes it much more useful to me.

However one problem I have with FTP programs and that iDisk is that since I use a laptop I repeatedly connect and disconnect to the internet. Whenever that happens ExpanDrive simply shows that the server could not be reached without any long delays or intrusive error messages.

There is also and equivalent product for Windows called SftpDrive, though I haven’t tried it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Beauty of "Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou"

Sometimes you stumble across something that unexpectedly touches your heart in a way you didn’t think was possible. What I found was the old Manga “Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou”.

It is a heartwarming yet lonely story about robots, old people, and children who grow up. Set in a nostalgic future Japan after civilization has fallen where the streetlights of old sunken cities still illuminate the night. The story tugged at my heart as I followed the everyday experiences of the robot Alpha. On the surface the story was simple yet it resonated deep within me reminding me of friendship, loneliness, and hardship.

It is a quiet lovely story which I recommend. You can find out more about it here or here. You can also find translations of it online if you look around.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How I currently plan to play Spore

There are plenty of reviews out there for Spore so I won’t waste my breath trying to explain what the game is and why it is so cool. Instead I will point you to www.spore.com for anyone who doesn’t know what the game is about.

Instead I want to explain how I currently plan to play the game when it comes out in September. Since the game allows you to record your gameplay I plan to record my entire game from beginning to end. I then plan to blog about what is happening in my game while providing commentary.

From their meager beginning to their final end I want to create a story from the species. Using screenshots and videos I want to bring it beyond a game and into a story. That said, I haven’t decided what story I want to tell with my species. Like the species my story will evolve to become something different then I think it will be.

I have put some thought into how the story starts. Currently I plan on evolving the creature as an omnivore and playing a middle of the road strategy, however as the game, and the story, progress that will likely change.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Themes and ‘Dark’ stories

When I was younger I felt the allure of action flicks and my favorite genre was fantasy. Adrenaline filled, roller-coster like, combat sequences and chase screens can entice many people. However as I grow older I continually find myself enjoying both action flicks and fantasy less. I still enjoy an occasional action show or fantasy novel, but at the end of the day they aren’t what has left an impression on me.

I continually find myself drawn to shows that have deeper meaning. The genre which is currently my favorite is science-fiction. That isn’t to say that science-fiction doesn’t have it’s share of action flicks, but science-fiction tend to have more
‘Dark’ stories then the fantasy genre does.

While I say ‘Dark’, the word is ambiguous. I mean stories that deal with psychology and emotion. While this doesn’t exclude fantasy or modern fiction, I believe that science-fiction allows the challenging of reality and humanity more then in other genres. Reality is questioned and humans bask in technology that should never have been developed. Those stories are the ones I enjoy the most.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The 'Return to Normalcy' Ending

I am a large fan of anime, as well as graphic novels and books. However there a few storytelling methods that I dislike. One of which that I feel is unfortunately common in fantasy stories is the 'Return to Normalcy' ending.

It happens after the hero finally manages to succeed with whatever task he or she was trying to accomplish only to find that everything has returned to how it was before the task had to be accomplished. Worse the fantastical elements disappear.

Let me give an example. A hero from our world is summoned to a fantastical place where magic exists. A great evil has infested the world and the hero needs to go and defeat it. However once the evil is defeated the hero has to return to his world where he loses all the powers he has gained during his journey. To him it is almost as if the journey has never happened.

While oversimplified, the ‘Return to Normalcy’ ending is one of my least favorite endings because I feel that it makes everything that has happened before less important.