Wednesday, June 29, 2011

oh, and another thing

Peter Falk died.

He will be known forever as the rumpled detective Columbo. I remember watching him when I was young and watched the movies when they brought him back. As Colombo, he was always underestimated and yet kept plugging away at the inconsistencies until he revealed the killer. Even with the glass eye and gravelly voice, he was a true star. I will miss both him and his character.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blood Bowl redux

While I have been enjoying the Blood Bowl over the last few weeks, Shan has been a bit snarky about it. Even though I specifically bought the laptop to be able to watch TV and play games and do the internet in the living room. But it wasn’t entirely just normal surliness – and now I found out why.

Over a month ago, before I had even bought the Dark Eldar version of Blood Bowl for the computer, she had picked up the regular version of Blood Bowl for the x-box. Talking about it and about getting the Legendary version of Blood Bowl only highlighted the fact that I had already bought a gift that she had bought me for my birthday.

Truly though, they are completely different. As the x-box is not ours but rather our son’s so my playing on it is dependent on his whims. Plus I wouldn’t be able to play and watch TV. On the upside, I can now play easily against him and he can learn how to play without having to use the computer.

Plus, the thought counts for a lot. As we had been looking for the DS version of it for the last year and haven’t seen it. She had to get it from EB Games. Normally, I’m pretty good about not buying things in the month or two before my birthday or Christmas due to these very reasons, but the game wasn’t really on one of my lists. That’s what I get for having a wife that knows me so well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Red River Ex

We went to the Red River Ex on Saturday. The kids and I got all-you-can-ride wristbands and Shan got the admission. In addition, two of Gee’s friends came along with ride passes as well. This meant that I didn’t need to ride the Polar Express with her.

We did the Crazy Mouse and there was a great picture but someone had thrown a drink at the camera after us and they were unable to get the computer to print.
We did the Drop of Doom. Gee was tall enough last year but we decided to skip it so she has been looking forward to it all year. I hadn’t been on it before either so it was a first for me too. Not being afraid of heights, I didn’t find it too bad. The drop itself is neat but it only lasts a second or two before it starts slowing down. We even did it again later in the day.

We managed to see a nice aerial act and we got to see David Smith being shot from a cannon. Shan was very excited. D3 and I watched the dog show and the girls went to the farm.

The only bad thing was that it started to rain about 11:30pm as we were leaving so the parking lot became jammed. People weren’t merging properly and we didn’t manage to get out until 12:30. That’s right – it took an hour to get out of the parking lot.

These pictures are all from last year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In brightest day, in darkest night

Again, while I have read some Green Lantern comics, I didn’t follow Green Lantern avidly. The movie hit all the points I was expecting, galactic adventure, Green Lantern Corps, Guardians, OA, Abin Sur, Sinestro – all are in here. It’s just what they do with them.
Ryan Reynolds manages to pull off Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. The costume is still recognizable to the comics. But with all the time in space he doesn’t convey any sense of wonder to us. Even a test pilot should have some awe at flying under his own power and that doesn’t come across.

A hero is defined by his villains. Green Lantern does have a great villain, a true challenge but, while he does appear briefly in the film, he’s not the villain. Instead we have a big black and yellow cloud called Parallax and a big-headed guy called Hector Hammond.

The ring allows you to create anything, limited only by your mind. Using it to bring the beat down on a wheelchair-bound big-headed balding guy does not make for good visuals.

All in all, a passable enough film but only a tease of what the second one might be. We saw it in 3D and again it wasn’t used enough to justify the additional cost at the ticket counter.

There was nice scenes with him trying "the oath", and with Carol Ferris recognizing him in costume. I really look forward to the next film - with a full-on Sinestro and Star Saphire.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

lil' Tuece coupe

For Father’s Day I got a pair of T-shirts and some movies – including Tron Legacy. We had gone to my dad’s for a barbeque and I climbed up and retrieved my Apple IIc boxes from the garage rafters.

In packing away my Tuece (Apple IIc) for storage my daughter said that my keyboard was “broken”. She is learning keyboarding already in school. I explained that my keyboard was fine – what I had done was changed the layout to Dvorak.

The Apple IIc had two dip switches on top. One would let you change your monitor resolution from 40 characters to 80 characters across. The other would toggle between Qwerty and Dvorak. I had to fix a key and I ended up removing a third of the keyboard to get access to it. At that point I had changed over to Dvorak. My then-girlfriend could touch type when she needed to use the keyboard and I could hunt and peck as it was.

Good times. Good memories of GEnie, and many hours of Lode Runner, Ultima III and Ultima IV, and Moebius.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blood Bowl

We used to play Blood Bowl a lot. We even had a league going one year. I ran an Undead team - using Warhammer figures - an Undead Blood Bowl team still maintains its position on my want list.

While at XS Cargo I found a copy of the Dark Elf edition of the computer game (with 9 teams) for $6. I'm super impressed with it. But then I’m only playing the classic game – not their real time version. I'm finding it very true to the rules I remember - including the campaign rules.

It took me a few games to remember the rules enough to be dangerous. I’m playing campaign – I lost the first tourney (of 4 teams) and have won the next three cups. The last one was pretty close though; I’m playing Humans and my Ogre was sent out on the first turn of the final. But I still squeeked out a win.

The only odd thing is (possibly due to the British-ness of it) you often have to right click to confirm. That might be changed in the Legendary edition. The Legendary edition also contains 20 teams - including my Undead team.

I'm putting it on my want list as is my son - who is putting the x-box version on his want list.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Snafu - intellivision

Back in July of 2009 I had posted this to Game Design Concepts Forum for the game design course I was taking at the time.
We had to take an older video game and translate the rules to be a board game. I didn’t post it here as it is a very simple game. It could also be done with laying tiles into a gridded board.

What has caused me to revisit it though was the new Tron movie and some other games that people have made with light cycles. Using the diecast lightcycles as models and acetate sheets as the trails, this makes it much more visibly interesting. I’m going to have to look at this again with that in mind.

- - -


Players: 1 or 2

There were 2 main versions of the games (trap or bite) with 16 variations of these on the cartridge. You (and up to 1 other) could control a head that would either create a trail that you would use to block your opponent’s trail to force them into a collision [very similar to the lightcycles in Tron] or in the bite version would try and nibble away at the opponent’s tail. In addition to the two trails that could be player-controlled, there were also an optional two trails that were computer controlled.
I will do the trap version.

The game board is 37 squares across by 21 squares down. In the prototype this is very easily drawn out on a piece of paper and photocopied for the trap games.
In trap games, the trails are represented by marking in the squares with colored pens (crayons/markers) in the variants where the trails remain after a collision. In the variants were the trails disappear after collisions, you could use erasable pencils (or marking in letters for the different-colored trails and erasing the appropriate ones.) Alternatively, you can draw the grid on a dry-erase board and use dry-erase markers for the trails.
You would also need a 6-sided dice.

The four starting spots are as follows:
The green trail starts 19 in and 5 down. This is optional and game controlled.
The red trail starts 6 in and 11 down. This can be a player controlled trail.
The blue trail starts 32 in and 11 down. This can be a player controlled trail.
The yellow trail starts 19 in and 33 down. This is optional and game controlled.

The basic rules:
1. Each turn fill in a new square attached to the end of your line. (You may not wrap around off end side to the other).
2. If there are no squares for you to add to the end of your line you have a collision and your game ends.
3. If two trails want to enter the same square – both trails roll a dice – with the higher roll getting to add that square first. A tie would mean that both trails have a collision with each other.
4. The last trail still able to play wins.

The game controlled lines always move in a straight line if possible. If doing so would cause a collision, then they move to a random non-colliding space. If they have no valid spaces in which to move, then they have a collision.
The starting direction is decided by rolling d6. If diagonal lines are allowed, then a second roll is needed - 1-3 diagonal, 4-6 non-diagonal. If diagonal then roll again - 1 up left, 2 up right, 3 down right, 4 down left, 5-6 roll again. If non-diagonal then roll again - 1 up, 2 right, 3 down, 4 left, 5-6 roll again.

The variant rules:
Players – the red and blue lines are always in play. The variant would allow all four lines to play. [In a board game version – all 4 lines could be player-controlled.]
Movement – all lines only move to adjacent horizontal or vertical spaces. The variant would allow diagonal moves.
Trails – normally the trails remain after collisions. The variant causes the trails to be erased after the trail has a collision.
Obstacles – Obstacles are 2x2 square boxes that are placed on the board. Trails may not move through obstacles. Normally there are no obstacles on the board. The variant allows 5-8 [4+1/2(d6)] obstacles to be placed on the board.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Garage sale

My daughter wanted to have a garage sale. Shan and I have been involved with them before and know what is involved and don’t believe the time spent outweighs the value earned. But, since G is young and because she has pretty much ground down our will, we said she could have one. So, we have been saving a few things for a garage sale instead of putting them out for the ‘free give-away weekends’.

Luckily Shan’s friend Erika called about helping her out with her garage sale. She has had garage sales before so we packed up the van and went over to help. Her sale was scheduled only from 10am to 1pm so it wouldn’t take up too much of our day.
We got there a bit after 9 am to find she hadn’t set out anything yet. We unloaded the van and then helped her bring out an endless supply of items. By 9:45 people were flocking in and we were still bringing stuff out.

By 11am G was already getting bored so we did a walk around the block to check out another garage sale. By 1 she had picked though Erika items and bought a curling broom and some rub-design toys.

She was really impressed by all the money in the cash box (the float) but ultimately we only sold a few things – a bike, some toy guitars and music set, a few books, and some outgrown costumes. Total haul – between $10 and $15. None of the large yard toys we had priced for a couple of dollars went.

We packed the remaining items back in the van and reloaded Erika’s stuff back into her house. The leftovers were taken to Value Village. We did keep a few things – G had enough fun that she wants to have another one

Friday, June 3, 2011

battle of the dinos!

With the cleaning I'm going through old boxes and came across a box of my old artwork. The kids thought it was neat to see how I used to draw and how I had improved over the years.

Here's one from July of 1993 - it would have been around the time of the American Godzilla release. We had been chatting about how the creature looked more like a T-Rex than Godzilla.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

So we lost about 20

We watch a lot of TV. We’re willing to give a lot of shows a chance and we check out shows that contain people we like. Usually they don’t last but they have been more lenient about giving them a chance since the writer’s strike.

This year we watched and are losing:
Breaking In, The Cape, Chaos, The Defenders, The Event, The Good Guys, Hellcats, Human Target, Lie To Me, Life Unexpected, Mad Love, Medium, Mr. Sunshine, No Ordinary Family, Off the Map, Outsourced, $#*! My Dad Says, Smallville, Tudors and V.
Of these we’re really going to miss The Good Guys, Human Target, Off the Map, and Mr. Sunshine. Outsourced and Smallville were both good as well and Hellcats, Breaking In and Chaos were also fun newcomers.

For whatever reason, Desperate Housewives and One Tree Hill (both of which we watch grudgingly) both made the cut and are coming back – even though One Tree Hill had a great final episode that wrapped up all its loose ends and would have been a great ending to the show.