?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Mar. 17th, 2019 @ 09:30 am (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, ashmedai!
About this Entry
eten
Mar. 9th, 2019 @ 07:04 pm Star Trek Adventures
Current Mood: okayokay
Tags:

Our (semi-)weekly Star Trek Adventures campaign has been completed, after twelve sessions. I made session reports, the first of which you can find here, and each report links to the next one.

I quite like how the game played. I have no idea whether that was because of the rules-system or because of our GM. Thanks to Roll20 automating almost all of the dice rolls, I never had to engage with the rules themselves other than selecting a few options in the sheet and clicking a button! That really made it easy to play as a casual player.

But there were some subsystems that we, as players, engaged with directly. I really liked the Momentum mechanic: you can ‘bank’ extra successes on a skill roll as Momentum, which can be used later to get extra dice (for an extra chance of success) or to make a success worth ‘more’. This is especially important when gathering information, such as using the ship’s sensors to find something out. In tone, it is similar to the Advantage you could get in the new Star Wars games (though those have to be spent immediately) or the FATE mechanic of creating an advantage or Aspect for another player to exploit. And I quite like mechanics of those sort: it’s like the ‘tide of battle’ being with the characters, and it rewards cooperation between the characters, since you can pass the Momentum to the next character. That’s also very in-genre: the crew works together towards a common goal!

I also liked the Values/Determination mechanic. Each character has some Values, and when you try to do something that is aligned with one of your Values, you can spend a point of Determination (you get 1 per session if you have none left) to get two automatic successes. But it gets even more interesting when you think of doing something opposed to one of your Values — and the GM may tempt you with a point of Determination to do so! Next session, you will need to come up with a new Value to replace the one that turned out to be opposed to your character’s goals. A really nice way to reward character development.

Maybe it was just this scenario with this GM, but I think the majority of our skill rolls were actually to gather information one way or the other. I don’t know if that is how the game is designed, but it is very thematic: in episodes of the TV series, most of the time is spent on getting information, deducing what is going on based on that information, formulating a strategy and only then springing into action to execute on that. So using a point of Momentum turned out to be almost always worth it: the extra information allowed us to formulate better strategies.

While the system is good and fast, where it really bogs down is in combat. In the whole campaign, we had one spaceship battle and one “in person” fight, and both bogged down significantly. Sometimes it’s really lethal, at other times it’s a drawn-out slugfest. It doesn’t play fast, which is totally not in line with our experience with the rest of the system. But that’s not too bad: it’s not a large part of the game, which is also in line with the source material. But on the other hand, it’s a missed chance: wouldn’t it be cool to play out a large space battle and have your characters affect the outcome? But with the system as it is, a single round of space combat between larger ships is just too slow, totally killing the mood.

There might be a sequel, what with some of the officers getting a good promotion…

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
D20
Mar. 3rd, 2019 @ 08:08 pm Preparing for our vacation
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

I hardly left the house today, and decided to do some chores to prepare for our vacation. One of those is to brush up on the mailing list: I tend to write long(ish) reports each day which I send to a special e-mail list. Every time, I mail everyone on the list to see if they are interested in the reports of the coming trip — don’t want to spam people who are not interested! (I don’t post those reports on a blog somewhere, because I want to feel free to discuss very personal things in those reports.)

Something we’re going to do for the first time this year is to send quick snaps and small updates through WhatsApp. I’ve hired a ‘Pocket Wifi’, a device that is connected to the cellular networks and offers a wifi signal. So we should be able to use data on our devices during our whole trip. This makes it viable to just pop off a quick snap in between, which should be fun. We’ve made a read-only group, so that only the both of us can post — don’t want to have it devolve in a lot of pointless chatter.

I also updated the Raspberry Pi that I use as a VPN server, and installed all the client software on all devices that we will be using. This way, when we use public wifi signal, we can tunnel to our own Raspberry Pi — so there will be no way to eavesdrop on our communications.

Small chores, indeed, but important to us.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
ADM3A
Feb. 24th, 2019 @ 02:46 pm Silly Pokemon fun and attacking kittens
Current Mood: sillysilly
Tags:

One of the silly things we do is insert the names of some Pokemon that we catch in Pokemon GO in the lyrics of songs. (It’s mostly klik who sings them to me, because her singing voice is so much better than mine.)

In the Valentine’s Day event that just ended, a lot of pink pokemon were spawning all over the place. One of those is the apty-named ‘Luvdisc’, a heart-shaped, pink fish. So when we caught the umpeenth one, klik sang to me: “The Luvdisc soon will be making another run…” But my inner music lyricist sings: “We missed you, hissed the Luvdisc…

Turns out she didn’t know the song, so I looked it up on YouTube and we watched it together — it’s been quite some time since I saw the video myself. It’s a typical product of the 80’s, and it looks like it was all shot in one night. There is a funny scene (which starts at 1:13) with Robert Smith sitting with a little kitten in his lap, singing. You can see the moment the kitten starts to get agitated, but Smith isn’t paying attention to it, so when the moment comes the kitten attacks because it had enough, he gets scratched a bit and seems to yelp out in surprise. And then in the rest of the video, there’s no more kittens — I guess he had enough of kittens for the rest of the night!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
nixie
Feb. 3rd, 2019 @ 09:08 pm DS2 hitless
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Tags:

The Dark Souls series is known as one of the hardest game series to exist (whether that is actually true is up for debate…). It has a huge following, and some people played the games so much, that they come up with so-called “challenge runs”: playing through the game in a suboptimal manner, like never levelling up, or having to satisfy certain conditions.

One of those challenges is the “hitless run”: to finish the game without getting hit even once. I’ve seen some people stream on Twitch playing Dark Souls 3 with hitless runs, even restricting themselves further by specifying they’d only use the pyromancy attacks, for instance. It’s really fun to see the thought that goes into such runs, as if it’s some kind of puzzle that you need to optimise.

So I thought I might as well try it myself, with a Dark Souls 2 hitless run. DS2 is my favourite in the series — many people will tell you it’s the worst, but something in this game meshes really well with my playstyle. DS2 rewards careful exploration and taking your time to explore every nook and cranny. Just barging in won’t get you far, but positioning yourself in an optimal manner, using ranged attacks and paying attention to what is happening around you, certainly helps.

And a hitless run is a special kind of “cheesy” run. (When you stand at a safe spot and get rid of the enemies with a ranged attack, that’s called “cheesing”.) My love for “cheese at a distance” is well-documented, and so I see a hitless run as a special kind of cheesy tactics.

Of course it’s been done before. So I have started to analyse this video to see what other (successful) people do on their hitless DS2 runs. It’s been a lot of fun to watch and analyse, and it works too! So far, I have managed to get further and get there faster than if I had played the game “straight”.

Once I’ve had some base practice, I think I’ll stream some attempts, just for the laughs.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
bonfire
Feb. 3rd, 2019 @ 03:09 pm (no subject)
Happy birthday, nucleosides!
About this Entry
eten
Jan. 7th, 2019 @ 09:46 pm Online courses
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Tags: ,

I like learning new things: I have broad interests and I enjoy expanding my horizons. And there are enough free online courses and MOOCs that it’s really easy to dip your toes into something new for free and without a lot of up-front commitment.

So the course “Japanese Culture Through Rare Books” is right up my alley, in the intersection of my interest in Japanese culture and history, and books/bookbinding/printing. I’m looking forward to learning all about this!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
hand-eye coordination
Jan. 5th, 2019 @ 02:13 pm Anime of the Year 2018
Current Mood: okayokay
Tags:

In 2018, we watched 54 series and ‘specials’ — mostly series though. Looking through the list, I see three series that we awarded a score of 9 out of 10. Two of those were actually aired in 2017, and they are continuation of previous series, so maybe they are disqualified? On the other hand, we only watch series when they are completed, so that means that no series from the Fall season could ever qualify.

There is Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen, a continuation of a previous series, and aired in the Winter season of 2017. It is a delightful conclusion to a very interesting series about how Rakugo, the traditional story-telling, fared into the modern Japan. You do need to have seen all the previous seasons. While I recommend the whole trio of series, it’s not quite the AotY.

There is 3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season, another continuation. Again, a superb conclusion, but again not sufficiently stand-alone.

My anime of the year 2018 is Hataraku Saibou (“Cells at Work”) which is hilarious: it shows cells having every-day ‘jobs’: the red blood cells are dressed like delivery people, carrying boxes of oxygen to other cells. A sneeze is a rocket launch, etcetera. And it’s also quite educational: I learned some things about the human immune system too! Every episode is fun and had us laughing out loud.

Some honourable mentions:

  • Darling in the FranXX: Basically, the second coming of Evangelion. Recommended for mecha-heads who can appreciate a bit of distopian setting;
  • Violet Evergarden: Post-war (equivalent of WW1) drama with a girl who has only known war coming to grips with civilian life.
  • Hakumei to Mikochi: Heart-warming series about a paid of mini-people making their life in a mini-world.
  • Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou: A pair of girls travel through the war-torn ruins of civilisation, probably the last two people to be alive… It’s very slow-moving and philosophical at times.
  • Houseki no Kuni: A world where people made out of gemstones live. They are regularly attacked by ethereal beings that look like Buddhist iconography. Super interesting setting.

What’s the best anime you have seen in 2018?

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
azumanga
Jan. 3rd, 2019 @ 09:43 am (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, borchmadsen!
About this Entry
eten
Dec. 30th, 2018 @ 11:29 am Dice gachapon
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Tags:

So I have a modest dice collection — certainly not on par with some of the people in the Dice Maniacs Club! But one of them had their dice displayed in a capsule toy machine, and I thought that was really cool. I could imagine people coming over to play an RPG, and having to randomly draw a capsule with dice from the machine for the session…

And the wonders of the internet mean that you can easily find those machines for sale, too. Cheapest I could find was EUR 50, the nicest one was EUR 75.

And it’s a fun idea, but not EUR 75 worth of fun. Maybe, some day, but not now.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
D20
Dec. 28th, 2018 @ 11:16 am Vacation planning
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Tags: ,

We’ve started planning our vacation for 2019. At the end of March, we’ll be flying to Tokyo. After a few days there, we’ll rent a car and drive to the coast near Enoshima.

And after that, Hakone and then onwards to the Fuji Five Lakes area. With a bit of luck, we’ll make the most of the cherry blossom season…

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
sakuracoin
Dec. 19th, 2018 @ 09:09 pm Pinball
Current Mood: amusedamused
Tags: ,

I was reading through a set of articles about things that used to be A Thing and are not anymore — stuff like the walkman, VCRs and i-mode. Another one is the pinball machine.

Of course, being the age I am, I played my fair share of pinball. In my teenage years, we preferred the arcade video games, but during my time as a student, there were some bars that we frequented that had pinball machines. In the early 90’s, pinball machines were feeling the crunch from video games. In response, pinball machines were adding more and more digital effects, often using a LED matrix display. Wouldn’t it be fun to play pinball again?

It turns out that there is a Dutch Pinball Association. Their clubhouse, which houses 120 pinball machines, is in Veenendaal, which is only half an hour by car away… And they had a ‘Funhouse Friday’ coming up, just an open house from 15:00 until 23:00, with all the machines on free play. Entrance fee was EUR 10 for non-members, and I sent them an e-mail to ask if one could just go there as a non-member, pay the fee and play.

It was possible, but you’d have to get invited by a member first. And the person in charge of the clubhouse decided that he’d invite me! Such hospitality, I really liked that. But it turned out that there were more people interested in an evening of pinball: Klik wanted to come, as well as a friend of ours. And I didn’t feel like it was proper to take advantage of the hospitality by showing up with three people instead of one.

So we got a membership. And they have a semi-professional kitchen as well, so you could even have dinner there! Which is what we did.

The view from the bar area. There were three ‘corridors’ like this, and there was also a line of pinball machines along the far wall.
There was a good spread of machines: some really early ones, and more “modern” ones, including some that I played a lot in the early 90’s.
Left: Klik playing Black Knight 2000. Right: Friend O. playing Tommy.

Such good fun! We’ll definitely do this more often, perhaps we’ll get good at pinball eventually…

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
display
Dec. 10th, 2018 @ 09:37 pm Meltan quest
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: ,

Some months ago, there was a new Pokemon introduced in Pokemon GO: the Meltan, a metal type. It was first shown during the Chikorita community day, and turned out to be all Ditto’s. And with the launch of Pokemon Let’s Go on the Switch console, Nintendo introduced a way to transfer Pokemon to the Switch, and the reward is a box that spawns Meltan.

There was a special event that coincided with the launch of the game on the Switch, that allowed you to catch a Meltan without a Switch connection. It was a nine-step special research, and it required quite some special things, like battling in 10 raids. And while the quest would stay once you started it, the event that spawned the pokemon you needed to catch ended some time ago.

I had already resigned myself to not being able to finish in time, but then on the last evening my RPG session was cancelled, so I could walk around and do a few raids (in one case just throwing my raid pass in the raid and walking away). With only one hour left on the event, I finished up all of the required “research” and managed to catch Meltan!

But Klik lagged behind in the number of raids, so she was still working on it. And the going was slow, because the pokemon needed were not spawning regularly! But this Saturday, as we were returning from dumping some old bookcases, I saw a Cubone on the radar — so we turned the car around and drove to the spot indicated. Sure enough, there was a Cubone and she could finish the seventh step!

The eighth step involved catching two Anorith or Lileeps, and two Kabuto or Omanyte. The Anorith are spawning regularly around the gym behind the house, so that was easy. And there was one lucky Omanyte spawn that evening around here too… But that last needed pokemon was elusive! Until tonight, when someone remarked on the local Pokemon GO WhatsApp group that there was an Omanyte near the petting zoo. So we jumped in our shoes and went there without any detours. Sure enough, it was there!

So now we both have our Meltans!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
waaai!
Nov. 27th, 2018 @ 09:24 pm ProductTank
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Tags:

Last week, I was in Copenhagen to visit our office in Lyngby. I’m going to take on some of the product management tasks for the product they make there, and my visit was mainly to talk to the product manager there to see where I could contribute.
They had already planned to go to a meet-up of ProductTank, a local chapter of a global (IT) product-focused group, loosely affiliated with two annual product management conferences. As PM, you’re often working in isolation, so it’s always interesting to meet up with peers and talk about our work and learn from each other. So we went to the meetup together, to see what it is about.

At the start, I thought it was a bit intimidating: lots of people who do the same work, but have lots more experience. The person giving a presentation also used phrases like “As we all know…” and I didn’t know. So it felt like I was a newbie who still had so much to learn.
But during the informal discussion, there were quite a few things that some of the other people attending said that told me otherwise. Apparently, some things I find completely obvious were received as interesting suggestions to improve their way of working. Of course, I have the advantage of having a process defined that helps me: it is the result of many years of product experience, so I don’t have to re-invent those wheels myself. But I also understand where those processes come from and can sometimes point out improvements.
So perhaps I shouldn’t be so intimidated after all: I do my work well, and perhaps I have more to bring to the table during such discussions.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
Fleeing rabbit
Nov. 12th, 2018 @ 05:38 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, silverthief2!
About this Entry
eten
Nov. 12th, 2018 @ 05:37 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, anemoona!
About this Entry
eten
Nov. 10th, 2018 @ 04:32 pm Vacation planning
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Tags: ,

So, every once in a while, I get a question from a colleague or acquaintance about vacationing in Japan. We have been there quite a few times ourselves, and it’s a big country, so people want to know where to go and get some “insider tips”. Often, people have already done some homework, and they can point to some trips prepared by tour operators.
I get that you want to see a lot of different things from the place you are visiting — especially from the Netherlands, Japan is far away, and I guess most people would visit only once. But those trips have a lot of travel — and sitting in the train is interesting the first time, but after three trip in a Shinkansen, you know the drill and I think you would be better served by spending more time seeing the sights. And why would you schedule an excursion to Nara and Fushimi Inari on the same day? Both those places can be enjoyed for a full day by themselves!

I guess that I’d rather spend some time at a place to really be there, instead of hurrying along, take a few pictures and then go to the next place. It makes it hard for me to give advice. Perhaps I should think of a ‘recommended itinerary’ that I can just give to people as inspiration, as a starting point?

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
sakuracoin
Oct. 30th, 2018 @ 07:21 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, kitzune!
About this Entry
eten
Oct. 28th, 2018 @ 04:52 pm Spiel 2018 trip
Current Mood: tiredtired
Tags:

Every year, when the end of October looms, it’s time for Spiel, the largest tabletop gaming exhibition in the world! It’s held in Essen, which is about a 90 minute drive from our home, and we have been attending on a single day for some years now. We prefer going on the first day (when everything (and everyone!) is still relatively fresh), but it wasn’t clear until late whether klik had to work on Thursday evening. But her lesson on Thursday was cancelled because everyone was out, because it’s the fall vacation here — so we could go on Thursday after all.
We set out at 09:00, which would see us arrive at the fair about 30 minutes after opening. When we started going, quite a few years ago, we could always park close to the fairgrounds themselves. Later, it got busier and we had to park in a parking garage a bit of a walk away. We were aiming at that again this year, but everything was full as we arrived. And since every road towards the fair had been jam-packed with cars, it took us a long, long time to get to the off-site parking where we could park and grab a shuttlebus. Next year, we might leave earlier, and we’ll go to the offsite parking straight away — it’s conveniently just off the highway (for future reference: exit 26 of the A52), and the shuttle buses are quite frequent.

So we were off to a bad/late start, but we had an excellent day anyway. We didn’t have enough time to look at everything (ain’t nobody got time for that!) but we managed to hit all the stands I had marked up as being interesting before we joined B&G for afternoon tea, so after that we just wandered the halls. Mainly halls 4, 5 and 6, because they’re not as crowded, and that’s where all the ‘odd’ stuff is: the first three halls are large hard-core boardgaming companies, but the halls with the larger numbers are the smaller publishers, RPG companies, cosplay accessories etcetera. It’s a bit more chaotic, but I find it more interesting.

Read more...Collapse )

It’s always kind of exhausting: lots of walking, lots of simuli, but it’s always a lot of fun. We’re going next year, too.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
UN Spacy
Oct. 28th, 2018 @ 08:33 am Daylight Savings
Current Mood: pensivepensive

So we’ve gone back to winter time (the ‘actual time’ with 12:00 being the time when the sun is highest in the sky. There’s the usual grumbling (“The government is messing with our clocks again!”) but I really like daylight savings time. Our schedules are not set up such that 12:00 is the middle of your day: rather, you spend more time awake in the PM than the AM. So DST really means that you have more daylight in spring and fall after your working day.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
About this Entry
Glowing LED