A Return to Resources

June 22, 2016

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve missed a post this week, it’s been far, far too hot. Today, though, we’re gonna examine another important aspect of game design in card-based games and continue to look at Touché!

We’ve skimmed the top of what decks are and how deck building works. Before we can build on how deck building functions in any game, though, we have to look at the ecosystem that decks exist in. Or, to be less cryptic, we need to look at how a turn operates and the kinds of cards that are important in play. Since Touché! is a simple game, it’s a lot easier to see how turn order is important.

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The Burden

June 19, 2016

There’s a way the wind howls over the rocky plains of the world that sounds like the resigned sighs of a soldier sent to die.

It wasn’t exactly a plain, but it wasn’t exactly hilly. It was desolate and rocky, though, and covered in scrub and withered trees. Memories of towers seemed to over at the edges of the horizon, places where the mountains had been shorn away and foundations laid long before the towers fell. A lone figure walked through this wasteland, a single flicker of life pushing against the unceasing wind. Streaming from his back was a majestic fire, standing in grim judgement over the landscape that refused to know light or life.

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Designing Deck Devices

June 15, 2016

So we started to look at decks in general on Monday. Today we’re going to keep going in that direction by examining the work I’m doing working on deck structures for a game I’ve been kicking around for a while. What matters when putting together deck design templates? What does a designer want to look for when putting together rules for a deck-oriented game? How do decks work?

Well, I can’t answer all of these questions. I can’t answer many more that are relevant. But I can examine design from a designer’s perspective on a game that I think would be fun to play. So let’s talk about what it’s like to be a fencer in a large, wide-ranging tournament.

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This is the first in a series of posts I’m going to write about concepts in game design. This isn’t just going to be about any particular kind of game, either – this week it’s card games, whether digital or paper, but future weeks will explore video games, board games, roleplaying games, and possibly even children’s games. As I said last week, games to me represent a very important element of the human experience. They teach empathy, problem solving, resource management, and extensive planning among other things.

So today, we’re talking about deck building. Not just in the concept of something like Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering where you’re attempting to construct a winning deck before a game is even played but also games where deck construction is a part of the process, like Dominion, Ascension, limited environment Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone’s Arena, and games like Hand of Fate and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (the original release on the Game Boy Advance, not the remastered versions released on Playstation platforms later). Deck building is a great mechanism for teaching planning through interactions in the rules, statistical modeling, and resource allocation in an intuitive manner.

So lets get down to exploring why.

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Wait, what was I doing?

June 10, 2016

Oh, right, I was making a salad. I don’t know why I’m holding the counter, though.

I just have to get the greens out of the fridge, the cheese, the salad dressing. Get a bowl out of the cupboard, get a fork and –

Wait, what was I doing? Why is there a fork on the floor?

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Why Games?

June 8, 2016

I’m sure some of you out there, some of you who are friends and some of you who are not, are looking at the kind of person I am and wondering why games are so important to me. Not just a hobby I’m invested in, not just a cultural zeitgeist I count myself a part of, but something that I think represents and important philosophical and emotional technology to humanity. A very important element of culture that, I think, is currently being treated like no more than a toy. Games, I believe, are the cousin of narrative and storytelling that teach us empathy from the opposite direction. They inform our mechanisms for understanding empathy. Rules allow us to step into another person’s life and understand their motivations because the mechanisms tell us what we can and cannot do – that is, what decisions we would never make and which we would always make if we were the person we’re playing as.

To explain why in detail, come with me while I explore the very idea of what a game can be with you.

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Self Doubt, Disabled

March 23, 2016

I suffer from fibromyalgia.

It’s an invisible condition that causes pain, cognitive impairment, fatigue, insomnia, depression, and a variety of inconveniences like hot flashes and excessive sweating. It’s a condition that still isn’t recognized by many doctors because it’s assumed to be a woman’s disease, and therefor entirely psychosomatic in some way.

I have thrown objects, though, and lost entire minutes of my life to sudden paralysis and thought loss. I have experienced the wracking pain and the inability to focus on anything. I have been wrestling with the slipperiness of thoughts for the last year as I’ve mentally prepped myself to force back into writing fiction, not just working on mathematical and design projects, and starting a Patreon to motivate me to work.

I am still fighting for recognition of my condition with Social Security in California. It’s been 4 years since I started, and all they really required was my medical records to “prove” that I’m in pain. Despite me clearly shaking and having been in an accident in 2010 thanks to my condition.

If you are able-bodied, please think long and hard about how you determine if someone is “disabled” or not. How you think about people who park in disabled spots. How you look at people who use wheelchairs, canes, crutches, or walkers. How you think about people who receive disability support from Social Security or other government agencies. What do they look like? What assumptions do you make? What should they look like, in your opinion?

If you do have assumptions about the disabled, you’re probably participating in the kind of pain this article outlines. If you think that I, a nearly 30 man with long hair and martial arts experience, who can on some days move with great grace, cannot ever require a cane, then you’re wrong. I live a life like that. I exist as walking evidence. I am also not the only one.

Remember that truth is almost always stranger than fiction, and it is a strange thing indeed in this day and age to think that perhaps your fellow humans, en masse, are not lying about themselves.

Misandry Angie

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Disabilities can be visible or invisible to outsiders. A white tipped cane, hearing aid, or wheelchair might make a disability more apparent to others, more visible. Certain chromosomal or genetic differences may be noticeable even without such aids. An amputated limb is visible with or without prosthetic. However, most disabilities are invisible and can’t be readily recognized by untrained lay people.

All mental illnesses are invisible. So are most cancers; the hair loss and other signs we associate with cancer are results of the treatment in many cases. Traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, and learning disabilities are invisible. Food allergies, dietary restrictions, and most chronic pain conditions are invisible too.

Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can get a picture of your insides. A brain scan, x-ray, or MRI can give visual proof of the unseen experience, can make the invisible visible. This may not help much with strangers, coworkers, and neighbors…

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