It's All Fun and Games

Thursday October 11, 2012 at 2:47pm video games, gaming, pirate party, ootscon, ruchtcon Comments (1) »
 Hannah, Doug and Nerf
Hannah, Doug and Nerf

Well, in terms of recent free time anyway.

Up, up and away

So Tony and I finally reached the end of Skyward Sword.  Well, Tony did anyway - I never actually beat "Ganon", but I made it as far as to triumph over "Green-eggs-and-ham" immediately preceding.  The game was solid, though I might have had a little trouble "getting into it".  When you only play for about an hour a week, the experience doesn't gather as much momentum.  On the other hand, it was a lot of fun it go through the game with a friend, and there were definitely some fun times there.

As for how it compares to previous games:  The gameplay is great most of the time, and the motion+ gives it a leg-up on Twilight Princess.  On the other hand, I think the latter's story was more interesting.  Overall, I'd say they're pretty comparable.  Fi was not as entertaining as Midna, however.

Sidenote: upon reaching the end of the game, during part of the dialog, Fi tells you that she needs to 'repeat something she's said many times before'.  Sheri assumed this would be 'Master, the batteries in your wimote are dangerously low'.  I mean, that's mostly what she said to us...

The Classics

Having completed our quest (to a greater or lesser extent), we decided on a new game for Crackle Night: this time, we're playing the old snes game Secret of Mana.  This is one of my all-time favorites and Tony said he'd never played it - an oversight I felt compelled to remedy.  The fact that it's a simultaneous multiplayer game is also a plus, and we're having a lot of fun with it.


In addition to the crackling, I've been enjoying a couple of PC games recently.  

I mentioned Minecraft before - as of this point, I've built three massive keeps on the first map, but, unable to find much besides snow anywhere reasonably close on that map, I decided to start a new game and go in search of an NPC village.  It took me about 20 minutes to find one, and I am now in the process of building a castle on its outskirts.  Verily, I shall be lord of the land.

Also, I have started playing through Myst IV.  Since I borrowed the game from Chuck about a year ago, I figured I'd better either play it or give it back.  Part of the reason for the delay, however, was getting it to run on my Mac.  The installer it shipped with apparently doesn't play nice with modern versions of Java on OSX, so I had to find a workaround.  After a few hours of attempting, I ended up finding a workable third-party installer that got the job done.  Once installed, the game plays great, and I'm enjoying it as much as I have the previous 3 games.  The addition of an in-game camera/viewer is fantastic.  

As I've been playing this game I have, of course, been reminded of how cool the setting ideas are, and how much I think they could be used to make an awesome tabletop rpg - and i've put some more thought into that.

A Sea of Possibilities

My Savage Seas game is continuing to go well.  I'm really liking the Savage Worlds system, and the nautical theme is turning out to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  I was also (unexpectedly) given a metric ton of ships from the old Pirates papercraft tabletop game (now out of print) to use for ship miniatures.  That will be fun.

I'm still kicking around a few ideas in terms of where I'd like this game to go in a narrative sense.  I intentionally left it pretty open-ended at the start (to see what the players would do), but we're a few games in now, and I'm getting some ideas on how i can integrate facets of the setting as sources of conflict - I'm just not 100% sure which I'm going to include or emphasize, or exactly how.

Nerf, Matey

Talk Like A Pirate day was the 19th of last month, and we had our annual TLAP Party at Robb & Edie's place - complete with the obligatory nerf war.  It was good to hang out with some friends again - seems like we don't do that enough these days.  Hannah had a good time playing with the darts and the "pirate treasure", too, and I also managed to get a few good pictures.

Pros and Cons

With respect to "OotsCon", the "locals" have had a couple of meetings, and we've decided we need to get a little more serious about this thing if we're to retain our sanity.  Next year's event may well be different on a number of levels - but still tons of fun.

First talks about Ruchtcon III have been happening, too.  March of next year.  Looks like the attendee list is expanding a bit, too - which is cool.  Those are always fun.  I assume I'll be running something(s), but I haven't given it much thought as of yet.


OotsCon VI, Little Fears v1.5 and Gaming Notes

Wednesday July 4, 2012 at 5:25pm ootscon, photography, gaming, social media Comments (0) »
 group shot at the Greenwood Challenge Course
group shot at the Greenwood Challenge Course

So, the 6th Annual Southeast Trogland Giant in the Playground Meetup was awesome.  Really awesome.  Thanks to Steven for the group photo here.

Meet The Press

The last couple of years my own photography has been scaled back to only the "main event" at the ropes course - those pics turned out great as usual.  Actually shot quite a bit on full manual - using my 50mm prime at 1/200 or 1/250 and f2.8.  This year I also supplemented that documentation with some Twitter/Instagram posts as a bit of an almost-play-by-play of the weekends events.  That was fun.  Probably the only real "use" i've had for Twitter thus far.

Over Capacity

We had a ton of people at our house on sunday.  Traditionally, we have had the sunday afternoon meetup-winddown at The Igloo (which is, in fact, an all-ages venue) - but many people head back to their home states/countries before noon.  This time, I think everyone stayed for this.  The count, at one point, I think was 33 people in our 1100 sq. ft. house (that doesn't have a what could be described as an "open plan").  This may not be the high water mark.  It was fun, but I think we were a bit overcrowded.  This is one of two or three reasons we're looking into non-residential facilities for more parts of the meetup - possibly conference rooms at local hotels or somesuch, if it could be arranged.

Little Fears: The Awesome

This year we had several pre-planned gaming events - and I kind of kicked off that idea by offering to run Little Fears for some people who had thought it sounded interesting last year.  By the time "sign ups" were concluded, I had 11 or 12 people who wanted to play.  The sessions I ran were completely awesome.  So many memorable moments and great in-character dialog.  I think my revised mechanics ("v1.5") worked very well, and even the character creation seemed to be pretty balanced.  Also, the "creepy" level was just about perfect - a creepy/horror game is a difficult thing to pull off.  The second session was especially successful.  Not that the first or third sessions were bad (they were really great, in fact), it's more that the second session in particular was more of a perfect storm.  It was probably one of the best sessions I've ever run.  All of the players in all of the sessions really got into it, and they played into the atmosphere and their characters perfectly.  They really made the games work.  They were awesome and I'm glad to have had the chance to run games for them.  Most gratifying, most of them even told me in so many words that they loved the games - and that is what I enjoy the most out of GMing: watching my players have a great time.

Like I mentioned before, I've been into some tangible bits for games. I got several comments on the character cards and handouts I made for this game, and I thought using crayons for them to write their names and also as their bennies/chips in the game was a nice touch as well (if i do say so myself).  Also, I liked using tokens for injury and fear in this game.  Overall, the mechanics had some pretty great physical representations.  

Game Notes

On a quasi-related note, I've been discovering recently that I don't use game notes for much anymore.  I tend to write things down in my planning as an exercise such that I don't forget the key points and have a general impression of the specifics, but I really don't use the notes I write during the session.  The basic exception to this rule is to look up a name for a tertiary NPC.  Other than that, I go off of my memory and what the PCs are doing.  This wasn't always the case - I used to rely on my notes pretty heavily, but I think as I've gotten more animated and descriptive as a GM, I've started doing more of that flavor stuff (which is the fun) just off the top of my head (which is rooted in my understanding of the setting).  I think my games are better that way, really - for the same kinds of reasons that I don't like to roll dice as the GM: I don't have to stop the flow of the action and description to reference something external to the "story" as it is unfolding.

Coming Up

Getting ready to start a new game with my local group on saturday.  I think we're going to do an urban fantasy game using the World of Darkness rules.



Things Have Been

Monday February 27, 2012 at 10:49pm recording, work, friends, ootscon Comments (0) »
Things Have Been Image

Well, Feb. is almost at an end, sadly.  As usual, I had had hopes for doing something with RPM again this year since I actually have my own gear now, but it has turned out not to be.  I've had too many other things pulling me in different directions.  I think i've basically reached the conclusion that now isn't a good time in my life for a hobby project with those kinds of time constraints.  I actually struggle more than I used to just to get a rp session planned.

That's not to say I haven't been doing a lot with music & recording stuff - i have.  I'm really enjoying my new setup like I said before.  I just haven't been able to spend 4 hours a day with it.  It's more like 4 hours a week - and that's if I really try.

Earlier this month I also went on my first-ever "business trip" (it's like I'm all grown up or something) down to a web design conference in Orlando.  I didn't learn anything earth-shattering, but it did point me in some new directions and shift my focus a bit.  Overall worthwhile.

Also, Sushi day has come and gone.  The site is 7 years old now.  On a similar note, if some hypothesize that a new version of the site might be forthcoming, they wouldn't be completely wrong.

Hannah is 9 months now - and still super cute.  Tony and I have been enjoying some Zelda.  Talk has begun about the 6th OotsCon meetup this summer. 

Things have been.


OotSCon '11

Monday June 27, 2011 at 1:22pm ootscon Comments (0) »
OotSCon '11 Image

I am so tired - but this weekend was awesome.

I am, of course, speaking of our 5th Annual Southeast Trogland Giant in the Playground Uber Gaming Meetup of Doom - which always takes place the last weekend of June.  And this one lived up to the previous 4 incarnations of awesome just swimmingly.

Some of us have notice the scope of this gathering expand just a bit in terms of longevity.  It was conceived to be Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, but as the years have progressed, more and more people have been coming earlier and staying later.  This year, quite a few people arrived thursday evening and stayed until monday morning or afternoon.  Don't get me wrong, more time hanging out with cool people is great.  This is just and idle observation.  And perhaps further explanation as to why I am so tired.

Thursday night was the "unofficial" kick-off.  A few of us met up at the Hippie Hut that evening for dinner and some socializing.  Friday was the "official" kick-off, and what much the same only with 4x as many people and many, many more games.  Saturday was our traditional cookout at the challenge course with games in the shelter house, kubb on the lawn and Cash & Guns Live down at the course itself.  This was followed by a brief respite and a reconvening at Mid City Grill for tasty dinner and board games as late as anyone would care to stay and play.  Sunday's venue was our house, as usual, and despite being quite crowded, I think it went well.  As the day wore on, more and more people dispersed to return whence they came, but a few people were at our place till after midnight playing games.

The weather this year was pleasantly cool by comparison.  I think the highs on saturday when we were outside all day were only lower 80s.  Compare this to the upper 90s we've usually had in the past, and you can understand our relief.  The bugs weren't too bad either.

Pretty much all of my photos of the event this year are from saturday at the challenge course and Mid City.  They've been posted here.

Baby girl did, of course, impact our involvement in the meetup this year, but we still got to hang out and play games - and Hannah herself was fairly cooperative with our efforts to do so.  The only real issue (from my persepective, anyway) was timing her feedings.  Also, she was exceptionally popular. :-D

So now it has come and gone.  Kind of a bummer, really.  I loved getting to hang out with so many cool people.  All my awesome local friends - as always - but also Jerry, Amanda (+ Pickle, when he wasn't upset), Scott and Katie in particular - mostly because they happened to be around the most.  It was good to see all of the others again too - and I wish I'd had more of a chance to hang out with quite a few of them.  Ah well, so many people, so little time.

There's always next year.


OotSCon 2010

Tuesday June 29, 2010 at 11:51am gitp, ootscon report, photography Comments (1) »
OotSCon 2010 Image

I'd say most of the people who might read this are already well aware (and were probably present), but this last weekend was our 4th Annual Giant-in-the-Playground / Order-of-the-Stick Johnson City Meetup - or OotSCon, as we've come to call it, believing it to be the largest of such meetups relating to the forums.

That's right, 4 years and counting. I consider this quite an accomplishment for us locals. Even more, pretty much everyone always intends to come back for future gatherings. Indy (Scott) even told me he'd rather miss GenCon than our meetup. High praise, eh? (hahahahaha I typed that out and then saw the Canadian/Eh joke. hehehe)

Anyway - it was, as always, an awesome time.

The meetup started early this year as quite a few people arrived on thursday. Usually there's one or two, this year I think there were 10 or so. I had a previous commitment for thursday evening (Patrick's Star Wars game), so I didn't meet up with them until close to midnight, but it was cool to see everyone for the half hour i was there. I met up with Reinholdt who was staying at the Igloo there, and also took Indy & ZRS back for the night (since they didn't have a hotel till the following day).

Scott, Dave & I spent friday morning relaxing. I was working on leveling my SW character, and they were trying their luck at some Super Mario Bros. Wii (which became a bit of a staple of the Igloo for the weekend). It was nice to mellow out for for a while - esp with the canadians, who are awesome.

When Sheri got home from work, we made our way over to the Hippie Hut to join the rest. Upon arriving around 2pm, we realized that food might have been a good idea at some point, so we went out to Chic-Fil-A - a place Scott had been told he should try (Aside: Scott did ask me what I recommended there - I told him to try the chicken :-D).

Friday afternoon/evening/night was spent at the Hippie Hut in the usual fashion: with copious amounts of board gaming. We did take a brief break for dinner at Main Street Pizza, where it was good to see Matt again. I officiated a game of Touch of Evil for some of the newer players who wanted to try it - I think I actually know the *rules* to that game now, instead of relying on llama to tell me what to do.

Saturday is our big meetup day - cooking out at the Greenwood Challenge Course. In the interest of Robb having a bit more time to hang out and not being exhausted, we didn't actually do the high ropes that had been so popular previous years. Instead we had some swordplay and some amusing games of Cash & Guns Live. We *did*, of course, have Kubb. It wouldn't be a meetup without Kubb.

Saturday night we met up at the Mid City Grill, as is tradition. We think we're actually included in that place's planning now as the owner knows our group comes in in late June and, i believe, asked about it specifically this year. Also, after our massive year 2 group, some of us couldn't help but notice some new paint, lighting and other decorations.

Anyway, we took over about half the place for the night, enjoyed the food and played more games. I participated in Trog(Jeff)'s 4e adventure wherein a Forum Mod, a Troll and a Noob battled a group of vicious cat-muffins. Many inside forum jokes abounded. The introduction to the scenario was even in prose. After that, he, Gryf and I sat around discussing rpg's, systems, gming and all manner of geekery. That was also a lot of fun.

Sunday was our turn to host, as is also tradition. There were quit a few people still around on sunday this year - even later into the evening. Hippie & I grilled most of the rest of the chicken and there was more general hanging out, more board games, a small birthday celebration for Reinholdt, and more Mario Wii.

On sunday night, those of us who still remained - a remnant by this time, but still a good size - went for dinner at the Crazy Tomato. I think this is the first time we've had more than one or two around on sunday night. After that, we returned to the Igloo where a few of us played a game of Ticket to Ride while the others hung out and Reinholdt continued to mercilessly sacrifice his Toad minions to insure his own survival.

So, my thoughts/reflections:

So many great people, so little time. As Trog pointed out, there's so much awesome in such a small span of time, you can't possibly experience it all. You hear other people talk about stuff and it sometimes feels like there was a whole other meetup you missed. Still, this event continues to be awesome.

Scott/Indy in particular, is awesome. Our personalities seem to mesh really well and we had a great time hanging out and chatting about all kinds of random stuff. He needs to move down here.

So I've played in a 4e game now - however briefly - and I spent a good chunk of time talking about it with Gryf and Trog. My impressions of the system are pretty neutral - there are things I like about it, there are things I don't. I certainly don't think it's "better" than 3e, but I'm not sure it's worse. It definitely has a different *feel* than previous editions of the game, and that may be where they're losing people the most.

As always, I took a lot of pictures of the weekend's festivities and posted 'em on facebook. They have garnered quite a few comments and some rather high praise from Scott, Jeff & others and, - i can't lie - that makes me feel pretty good. I'm glad other people enjoy them. :)


An Epic Weekend

Monday June 29, 2009 at 9:37am gitp, ootscon report, friends, games Comments (2) »
An Epic Weekend Image

As I previously mentioned, this last weekend was the 3rd Annual Southeast-Trogland Giant in the Playground Meetup - aka: SET GITP Meetup 2k9. This is our third year hosting playgrounders from all over (which i find to be pretty impressive in itself), and it continues to be awesome.

Our group this year wasn't *quite* as big as last year (there were several who really wanted to, but were unable to make it - and we *did* miss them), but in some ways, the smaller group was better overall.

Here's basically how this all went down:

On friday night around 7pm, we all met up at Thunderdome. This was the "official" start of the festivities, but several people had arrived earlier that day, and we hung out at the Hippie Hut for a while beforehand.

Thunderdome is basically a JC gamer's hangout. They have about 20 networked PC's as well as some consoles hooked to projector screens, and a bunch of board games. They also serve some pretty tasty food. We had told the owner that we were going to be invading on friday night, and he said they'd stay open as long as we wanted, basically... we all had a good time playing video games, board games and card games (and some played a session of Paranoia) till about 3am.

On saturday around 1pm, we all went over to the Greenwood Challenge Course, which as been a meetup locale for all three years. It's a private area with a shelter, an open field area, as well as some high-ropes climbing elements that Robb is certified to administrate. We had a cookout and spent the afternoon playing Kubb and some other games and watching a few climb up about 70ft to 'the wall'.

On saturday night, we all headed to the Mid City Grill for food and more games. Mid City is a great place for this, as it's about the most laid-back restaurant i've ever been to. Oh, and they're also open till well-past stupid-thirty in the morning. Zeb & Alarra taught me and Sheri to play the Ticket to Ride card game, which we'd never had a chance to play before. It's really cool. If past years are any indication, there's a good chance Sheri will get that for her birthday or christmas this year. There were also games of Munchkin Fu, Monty Python Fluxx, Battlestar Galactica and a session of 4e D&D (which was testing encounters for a module written by one of the absent playgrounders). Probably more as well.

Sheri, Ginger and I left the party around midnight, but I'm told festivities continued (in various places) until about 6am. I do wish I'd been able to stay with them a while longer, but we had to get up for church in the morning and honestly, I was pretty tired by that point anyway.

When we returned from Erwin on sunday, our house had been occupied by the remaining playgrounders (some had had to leave earlier). This *was* the plan, but it was still kinda odd to walk into your house to find a bunch of people you'd only met a couple days ago. We played an interesting game of Monster Manual Charades (high recommended, btw ;)), a game of Werewolf (the party/card game, not the whitewolf rpg), and then there was some Ticket to Ride, Arkham Horror and Set.

I need to point out here that, while the Ticket to Ride and Arkham Horror games were going on, I was sorting through some pictures in here on my computer. As it happened, the acoustics in our house were such that I couldn't tell whose voice was coming from where. Also, everyone's voices were at almost the same volume. At one point, I heard the following dialog:

Voice 1: "Ok, I'm going from Raleigh to Pittsburgh"
Voice 2: "So, are you attacking it or what?"

It was... ...a little surreal.

Anyway, people began to head out, but the rest of us hung out and had a great time till all had departed.

It was a great weekend. I miss everyone already and can't wait for next year. About 129 of my best shots from the weekend have been posted in the Gallery (plus the pretty-terrible-but-existent group shot shown here - next year, I think we're going to try to stage this at the challenge should also be noted that the shot is missing a few people).

I feel like I should mention that the weekend *was* marred by one pretty significant black spot: one of the guys ended up in the hospital. I haven't mentioned it on the boards, and I don't want to talk about it here much because other peoples' health concerns are kind of a private thing, but I felt like if I didn't mention it at all, it would sound like I didn't care - and that's completely untrue. I should also point out that this incident isn't directly related to anything going on this weekend - it was just something that happened to happen here. We're all pretty sure everything is going to be ok, but he's going to be there for a couple of days. He's had some visitors from a few of the playgrounders before they left town, and I think he'll have some more from the locals. And of course we all wish him a speedy recovery... ...and that it didn't completely kill the experience for him.

EDIT: Supagoof has since told us to let people know what happened: basically, he's diabetic and his insulin pump stopped working, causing his blood sugar to skyrocket (like, 600+). We went to hang out with him in the hospital last night. He seems to be doing pretty well and was in fairly good spirits. We were actually there for over 5 hours playing games and talking to pass the time. His brother is flying into town tonight and he'll hopefully be released today. He said he had a great time at the meetup right up until this happened. We hope he comes back next year.


Ootscon '08

Monday June 30, 2008 at 7:17pm gitp, ootscon report, kubb, friends Comments (2) »

Or, the "Second Annual Southeast-Trogland Giant in the Playground Meetup"

The meetup was an unbelievably huge success. Our gathering of 35+ forum members from all over the country (and even from canada!) here in Johnson City was an absolute blast. So many cool people, so little time in the weekend.

A short run-down of the events is as follows:

On thursday night, there were some early arrivals - Ceika, Tantolain, Sir Dustin and Trog. Llama and I made cookies for the meetup on thursday night. Well actually, Ceika made cookies and Llama and I helped.

On friday, I went to pick up our first house guest, Krade, from the bus station. From there we went over to the Stable where we hung out with those gathered, played tetris and watched Dusty (Sir Dustin) run around the room chasing his chew toys.

By friday night, most of the others had arrived. We met in the basement of ginger's church where we had pizza, games & music.

On saturday we went out to the Greenwood Challenge Course, where we had an awesome cookout, played many epic games of kubb, and quite a few went up on the high-ropes course.

On saturday night, many of us met up at the Mid-City Grill - a cool little restaurant downtown that has good, cheap food and an incredibly relaxed atmosphere. Also, they're open till like 5am.

On sunday afternoon, we met here where we intended to have another cookout, but it rained so we had a pretty decent lunchmeat spread and played Wii for most of the afternoon.

Even though most of the people had left by sunday evening, those remaining met up at Robbs place where we hung out, chatted and played the Oots board game. Ok, we played a very small part of the Oots board game.

Which brings us to this afternoon when Krade, the last one still in town, left around 2:30 after playing a rousing game of Grave Robbers from Outer Space.

That was quite a bit of a fly-by, but I couldn't possibly go into all the details of the weekend. You just had to be here. It was awesome. Can't wait till next year... ...though I am glad for some recovery time before then...

It was awesome to get to meet so many cool people, and fantastic to see some of the one's I'd met before again! :-D Words can't describe the coolness.

A gallery has been added for the event on the Gallery page. It contains 107 98 of the best pics from the weekend. :-)


GitP Gathering: June 30 - July 1st 2007

Monday July 2, 2007 at 11:30am gitp, ootscon report, lawn games, friends, gaming Comments (5) »

This last weekend was a blast. Those of us here in Johnson City, TN who are members of the GitP Forums all got together and also hosted several out-of-state members for the two-fold purpose of getting to meet each other in person and having a lot of fun.

I would say our mission was a complete success.

Sadly, not everyone who wanted to was able to come, but those of us who were present had an awesome time.

The meetup started friday night as we converged upon Llama's apartment. I believe Jerry was the first to arrive. Amanda and Ginger had also arrived by the time I got there around 8:00pm. Justin (who I'm told is Lord Xerxes on the board, but whom I've not actually encountered there) was also around, as it was his house too.
We tried to play a game of Kubb, but it got called on account of lightening. We had just begun a game of Apples to Apples when Ron arrived, so we dealt him in.
After some games and a run to the grocery store for refreshing beverages, some of our company departed to Ging's place for the evening. Llama was trying valiantly to stay awake on the couch while me & Jerry talked about random stuff until about 3am when Dave finally arrived.

On saturday, we went over to Ginger's place for breakfast around 10am for breakfast. From there, we went over to the Greenwood Challenge Course to use their little pavilion and field for some grilling out and playing Kubb. There we met up with Robb (who got the place for us), Edie and Ken. We spent the afternoon playing Kubb, eating grilled goodness and generally having a good time. I took a lot of pictures (see the gallery) with Ginger's spiffy camera. I kinda want one of those.

After we left our outdoor meeting location, we proceeded to Ginger's church's basement (where the Just Coffee coffeehouse is) for the evening where some of the group played the OotS board game and a couple played some other board games. Sheri, Llama, Ron and I played a D&D one-shot I'd made up a while back. It was pretty fun.

After church on Sunday, we met up with the group here where we did a little more grilling (with our spiffy new gas grill!) and hung out and talked until people needed to leave.

All in all, it was one of the coolest things I've done. :-) I am so looking forward to doing it again. Like I said after meeting Ceika and the Hippie (the first time), it was so cool to get to meet people from other states you'd only talked to online - especially when they are so much fun to hang out with.