Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fortitude Save

Howdy all, I apologize for dropping of the face of the internet for the past couple weeks, but things have been a little nutso. The movening is complete and the Wife and I have transitioned to the Unpackening. The holidays were a whirlwind, and I got slammed with a wonderful last-minute gift--a wicked chest cold--from my 2 year-old niece and her little brother. As such, I have barely had enough brain power to figure out where the dish towels are hiding, much less come up with anything profound to say.

However, rest assured that things will be back to their old selves with a new base of operations and some fresh new content once I get myself settled and over this dang cold.

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading!

Now I'm going to go ring in 2014 with a NyQuil toast.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Maps from the Past: Grade School Project

Among the many remnants of my past recovered from my family's storage unit awhile back was this map of an island that I did for some long-forgotten grade school project. It has a grade on the back (it's good), but I had no idea this map even existed until I pulled it out of a musty old folder. I have no idea what the assignment was, but judging by the thoroughness, I suspect I took to cartography with gusto.

The map is clearly contemporary, with airports and railroads. All of the major features are named. Yet the islands are nameless... Spooky... It might be fun to set a modern adventure in this little world, or re-skin it for Eberron or something similar. Also, my childhood spelling was clearly not as good as I remember it being.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Very Lego Christmas: Week 2

And now for the continuing adventures of A Very Lego Christmas, my interpretation of the story contained within the 2014 Lego Advent Calendar. You can also check out Week 1 here.

December 7 (a date, which will live in infamy): The cop tells his dog to turn in his badge and bone for failing to protect the house from the scarf and hat burglar.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Make-it Monday: KSP Day 1 - The Founding of DASA

I know Make-it Mondays are not supposed to be videogame related, but I am going to bend the rule this week, because I think this videogame project fits the spirit of my Make-a-thing-a-week resolution. Yesterday I got together with several of my friends for the first-ever meeting of the Dubliner Aeronautics and Space Administration (DASA). The name is derived from the name of the karaoke bar where we all used to be regulars.

For several months, a group of us have been kicking around the idea of getting together to run a day of Kerbal Space Program as though we were actual 60s-style rocket scientists, complete with black ties, white shirts and lots of hand-drawn diagrams. Well, this weekend, we finally made it happen.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Make-it Monday: SketchUp Modeling the New Home/Game Space

The Wife and I have a proven strategy for effective moving. The two key components of this strategy are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope rolls of color-coded packing tape, and a highly accurate SketchUp model of our abode-to-be.

Color-coded tape FTW!
We used this strategy during our move into our current place, and it proved to be one of the quickest and easiest living-transitions I have ever experienced. Now that we once again find ourselves on the eve of movin' on up, it is no surprise we have, once again, rolled out our old battle plan.

Over the weekend, I began work on a SketchUp model of the new house. This began with a brief stopover to take detailed measurements of the various living spaces. I then used these to whip up a model of our new living/dining/gaming space. We have already begun using this model to figure out furniture placement, new furniture purchases, and potential paint colors.

The room modeled here is the main living area of the new house, which has an open dining room attached. One of the great things about our little family is that we are both totally on board with having our gaming out on display in our lives. This room will not only hold our couch and TV, but will also eventually include shelves full of board games, books and gaming books, because when we have friends over, there is an excellent chance that we will be playing something.

TV area with a candidate for a new couch...
we quickly realized that the full 6-piece sectional was too big, so this model shows a three piece version.
I am still not finished populating the model with our furniture, because, unfortunately, my models of our current apartment and all of our stuff are entombed on a busted hard drive, so I've been forced to rebuild all of the furnishings.

This space will soon be full of shelves... oh, and chairs. Chairs are good too.
One of the tricks to modeling for moving is to not get too caught up in the details. I have intentionally left the models a little low-fidelity in order to save time building them, and to keep the model from getting bogged down in rendering as it grows. However, that being said, it is important that certain elements like the outside dimensions of furniture, window heights, and even overhangs for things like railings be accurate, as these can affect furniture placement in significant ways, depending on the circumstances.

Now, you may be wondering about my previous SketchUp post in which I hinted at making video tutorials on this stuff. Well, I tried to start but quickly realized that Fraps and SketchUp reeeeeally do not play well together. They basically talk to each other as though it is opposite day. When Fraps indicates it is running, it's not, but when it isn't, it is... but not exactly. I only learned this after recording an entire tutorial session only to discover that Fraps recorded everything around the tutorial like getting the screen set up and going to check on the file when I was done. I even tried to play the opposite game with the software, but it seems like there are some rule of which I am not aware... so that didn't work either. In short, I tried, but have not yet succeeded in recording a SketchUp session. I will be sure to let you know if and when I do.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Very Lego Christmas: Week 1

This year, I once again received a Lego advent calendar for my birthday. Last year, I got Lego Star Wars. This year was Lego City. Upon opening the first little bin in the calendar, I noticed something amusing. December 1 contained a mini-figure of a police officer in tactical gear, holding a mug. However, there wasn't just one mug in the set. There were two… and two hats as well.

At some point in the years since I was a child, Lego has wised up to the fact that small pieces are easily lost. So they now include an extra or two among the smallest pieces in any set. With most normal sets, this isn't particularly odd, but when dealing with the VERY limited number of pieces in an advent set, it can produce some amusing results.

I found myself faced with the spectacle of one cop, two cups… Thus, double-fisting cop was born! There is a gaming adage that "no adventure plot survives first contact with the players", which was adapted from a military saying that "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy." Well, I am here to declare that no Lego set survives first contact with the imagination.

I snapped a picture of my newly invented character of the double-fisting cop, and as the days progressed, and new sets were built, I added to his story with amusing (to me at least) results. I plan to keep this up throughout the holiday season, and will share the unfolding tales here.

So now, I give you week 1 of A Very Lego Christmas.

December 1: Meet Double-fisting Cop. He's too drunk to pick up his hat.
December 2: The cop has a cozy fireplace and has switched to more exotic beverages.
December 3: When drunk, the cop thinks it's amusing to feed human femurs to his dog.
December 4: Stepping outside for some air, the cop is accosted by a snowman
who attempts to mug him with a veggie club.
December 5: The standoff escalates as the cop and snowman go for a nearby weapons cache.
December 6: Little does the cop know that the snowman is merely there to distract him
 from the robber who is stealing his hats, scarves and holiday booze.
I plan to post weekly updates of A Very Lego Christmas as the story continues to grow and warp into an absurd tale of holiday shenanigans.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Packening

Well, the Wife and I are officially movin' on up. We are getting ready to close on a home purchase in a couple weeks, and have shifted into full-blown packing mode. All of my game books and my pre-painted minis have been boxed up and my regular game group is on hiatus until after the holidays. As such, I may be going into a bit of slacker mode around here as my evenings are likely to be spent up to my elbows in bubble wrap.

I have some ideas for easy, entertaining, low-effort content, but you may just need to bear with us for a bit.

Hopefully we'll be settled in by New Years and everything will be back to normal... or as normal as it ever is... both online and off.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Make-it Monday: Sporkchop Attempts to Sew a Dice Bag

The Wife and I got back from an uber-relaxing holiday weekend spent at a friend's house in the mountains, and I think the Wife decided that I was just too relaxed by the time Sunday rolled around. So, when we got back into town she decided that Sunday afternoon would be an excellent time to teach me how to use a sewing machine.

We decided that my first project would be to try my hand at a dice bag similar to the one Paul Mason makes in this nifty tutorial video over at Geek & Sundry. It seemed simple enough, but let me tell you, even though the project only involves four bits of fabric (five if you add a decorative piece to the bottom like in the video), it sure does a good job of presenting its share of frustrations. The circular bottom bit was probably the most frustrating to line up properly, and the stretchy fabric I picked out didn't help.

After a bit of hemming and hawing, (get it? hemming!?) and perhaps a paltry amount of pouting and blowing off of steam, I finally managed to create something that I am not horribly embarrassed to use for dice storage.

See! Happy Sporkchop!

I picked out a red paisley print to strike fear into the hearts of my enemies!
I ended up with some unintended pleating around the base of the bag, though
I do like how the bit of paisley I picked for the bottom lined up... sort of tentacley!

The black, velvety lining is also pretty boss.
 For a first venture into machine sewing, I would have to call this a success. Unfortunately, I have little patience for my own learning curve and tend to get grumpy if I'm not perfect on the first try. I'm working on tempering that tendency, but could still use some practice. Because, hey, nobody's perfect!

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