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Creations | First Time Flowing
 

All posts in Creations

Symposium V: Fitter Happier

Another great Symposium this past Friday. I’d been wanting to schedule something really different from previous Symposiums to give folks an idea of the breadth of topics people could present. So I was really happy when Greg and Neal each came to me with their ideas. It worked out so that they both presented on the same night.

Greg started us off with Qigong exercises, which reminded me a lot of Tai Chi. While he was teaching us the various movements, Greg interwove his own experiences with this practice. I was impressed with the fluidity in which he could demonstrate movements while telling a story. It reminded me of a musician who is very comfortable with their instrument. Whenever it comes to any sort of martial art or something that asks you to perform precise motions, I tend to get in my head, wanting to do it “right.” With the Qigong exercises, I found myself just going with the motions even if I wasn’t doing them perfectly.

After the intermission, Neal gave a presentation (complete with Powerpoint!) on the Science of Happiness. He covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. I won’t go into everything he talked about here, but I will summarize by saying that he took us through a tour of the concept of happiness and how it can be interfaced with via your mind, body and spirit. We also took a happiness test which assessed our current level of happiness. I fell into the “average” demographic in each of the three categories. Afterwards we played an improv game where everyone was given a small glass stone. The only rules were that the experience lasted ten minutes and you weren’t allowed to speak. It was designed to evoke the playfulness we experienced as children when we could just invent and have fun with no boundaries.

I was pleased with the whole evening and happy to see some new faces. Now I need to book someone for January!

Boldly Go

For this month’s Symposium, we had Reed and Isaac from their band World Racketeering Squad share some music with us. It was very “VH1 Behind the Music” as they shared their writing process as well as the inspiration for several of their songs. Isaac was able to describe some of the more technical aspects of songwriting in a way that I, the average non-musical person, could understand. They also treated us to two new songs still in beta. Their homage to Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was well received indeed. After that, Reed and Isaac blew my mind by creating songs on the fly, based on audience input, improv style. It was like a friend suddenly revealing a mutant power.

For the amusement portion of the evening, we returned to the bridge of the Artemis for a few hours of space exploration. This time around, we set up a network of laptops in the office. The laptops were then paired wirelessly with iPads which controlled the laptops remotely. That way we could all stand on the bridge with nothing but a slick Star Trekky-looking slate and play the game.

We had all six stations in play: Captain, Helm, Engineering, Comms, Science and Weapons. It was great to see how quickly everyone fell into using the bridge communication patter we’ve all been trained to use by Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. Even though the Artemis was destroyed more often than not, everyone seemed to have a really good time.

I’m amazed that Artemis is not more widely known. Thom Robertson could be the next Markus Persson, bathing in money. Artemis is the Rock Band of sci-fi games, hours of fun. If you have a couple of Windows computers, a large screen, $40, and some buddies, I definitely recommend you check it out.

Look at Everything

Your world has always been a smeared, rained on sidewalk chalk landscape of floating, impressionistic faces, every tree a wad of green cotton caught in a thicket. One day they give you the glasses and you see a world once hidden, presumably everyone else’s world.

Your world has always been sliding planes of glass, a parallax trick of time where towers simultaneously crumble and rise. One day someone slides the paper under your tongue and the stars reveal their highways, all clocks chant the same moment.

Your world has always been a sandy beach spilling a silicon waterfall into the basin where the ocean used to be, a forest of dry wine glasses abrading in the constant thirsty wind. One day someone crests the hill and plunges a dowsing rod into your heart.

Your world has always been a rough sketch, hand drawn dreams from the nubs of sixteen Crayola crayons. One day someone gives you the 128 pack and you realize many of the colors are invisible if you are alone.

But you are not alone now.

Thufir Hawat

I’ve worked out the art style for the Dune characters. I decided on a painterly look with unexpected colors. The character design is influenced by the French edition of the game with a bit of the Lynch film mixed in. Here is Thufir Hawat, Mentat Master of Assassins for House Atreides.

I’m working my way through all of the male characters and then I’ll do the females. Today I rendered out all the images for The Duel and started dabbling with designing each of the House planets. There are still a ton of Treachery cards to create.

That’s all for now.

Symposium!

A few weeks ago I sat down to write an email to invite people to a recurring movie night. But then I recalled some other ideas I had discussed with some friends about doing a kind of show and tell type thing. Basically I wanted an excuse to get a bunch of friends together to watch a movie or play a game and also have someone do an awesome presentation. So, instead of sending out an email about movie night, I created a group on Facebook. I called it the Symposium, after its Greek namesake, yes, but more for what we called those nights in Albuquerque when my friends and I sat out on someone’s back stoop, drinking wine, discussing geeky things.

Here is the mission statement of the Symposium:


“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates

“He was a wise man who invented beer.” – Plato

Once a month I will host a Symposium which will always include three things: Amusement, Imbibement and Enlightenment (sometimes in that order).

Amusements will consist of games, films and interactive experiences. These amusements will be curated and presented with care by myself and other participants. The back story about why a game or movie is important will be an emphasized component.

Imbibements encompass all manner of drink and edible delectables. Strange wines, mysterious brews and home-made dishes are encouraged.

Enlightenment is the heart of the Symposium. Each Symposium will feature a presenter or topic of discussion. Every one of you has something to share. If you are a musician, you might have a new song. If you are a poet, a new poem. A game designer might discuss their new game or a work in progress. A writer might read an excerpt from a story they are working on. A scholarly presentation of a subject one has passion for is also possible. Alternatively, one may present a topic for discussion and debate. In any case, questions and answers are encouraged.

The first Symposium, called Symposium I: I Think Therefore I Game, happened this past Friday. About ten other people showed up to hang out, chat and drink wine. Then Marc Majcher led us through a couple of game poems he had created. A game poem can be described as the thinking person’s party game, or a very short role playing game. Or maybe a structured improv exercise. Each game was designed to evoke and explore a particular mood or concept. The first one was a study in fidelity and betrayal. The second one is a bit harder to describe. Maybe a study of identity and empathy? Both were really fun experiences.

After an intermission, game designer Jonathan Leistiko did a presentation on “Applying Philosophy to Understand and Design Board Games.” Really genius, mind expanding stuff about what certain game mechanics say about fate, the future and reality.

Everyone seemed to have a great time and I felt it was a resounding success. I plan on doing it monthly and I have a number of amusements and topics I’d like to schedule. Mostly I’m just happy to give friends a chance to demonstrate their awesomeness and have fun at the same time.

Is it really all that much to lug around

I’ve been physically depressed for weeks now. Makes it tough to get much done, even this post. I’ve started logging my sleep to see if I need to make any adjustments there.

Still working on images for the Dune game. I realized that I had completely forgotten to include the cards from the Spice Harvest expansion in my list of components. They are all pretty straightforward, but it is like three more decks of cards to do.

I have several collaborative projects in the works. I’ll see how they go. It is nice to have projects.

Went out with a really pretty redhead a few weeks ago, but she said there was no chemistry. 🙁

That’s all.

Ishtar

Three days passed and then the man was brought before Ishtar. Her servants positioned him before the throne and then vanished into the whispering scarves. The vagrant wore the robes of an unknown country, their colors long since leached by the road, painted with a new palette of sand. Much like his skin. Ishtar had endured the curious murmurs of the courtesans long enough. She would know this stranger’s tale and sooth her mind’s chatter, for it too had fallen prey to to the courtesans’ inquisitive ways.

“Stranger,” she said with the voice of a scimitar, majestic and cutting, “you survived the desert made from the dried tears of my former lovers. Gilgamesh himself supplied much to their number. You slipped through the gates by bribery or cunning. And now you stand in an audience where even emperors feel as paupers. Your hands are empty? Did I not seem worthy of a gift?”

The man stood silent. Outside the desert winds told secrets. She waited. Even Isthar’s wise eyes could not divine the strange words in his eyes. At last he spoke.

“And what might one bring before Ishtar that she could not take, unmake or break? Who can know what desires haunt her heart? Only fools presume to lay the poor gifts of this world at the feet of a goddess, for all must seem as dust to one such as she.”

“So you offer pretty excuses instead?” She smiled. “I have special oubliettes just for those who traffic in pretty excuses.”

“Forgive me, Lady of Sun and Sorrow, for I mean no offense. I spoke of one kind of fool. Another would be one who made no offering of gratitude for being allowed refuge in this city and even a moment in your radiance. I am neither sort of fool. For I did bring you something: a riddle.”

There is only one of me, but there have been many of me
Every morning you leave me, running towards my younger sister
You promise to remember me, but at midnight you will not know me
What am I?

Sardaukar

Not really feeling it today, so here’s an image of Burseg, one of the Emperor’s leaders.

Out of Focus Much Too Bright

I remember when I was working on House of Whack I could just sit there and create graphics for ten hours at a time. And I didn’t feel it. Time just blew past. Lately I’ve been noticing that it is hard to stay focused on any one thing, be it a job at work, a personal project, video games, TV shows, whatever. Part of it is an energy thing. I’m tired and unmotivated much of the time. After sitting at a computer for eight hours at work, it is a tough sell to tell myself “Okay, now it is time to be creative! Let’s sit in front of the computer some more!”

Another part of it is I feel like I’ve got to get it all done, see it all, play it all, before…what? Before I die? Before I’m in a relationship? I don’t know. So, unconsciously, I was becoming very results oriented, wanting to get to the end as quickly as possible. I really need to relax and enjoy the process of whatever I’m doing.

I’ve been learning some new software so I can create illustrations of the characters for the Dune game. Learning digital tools is like learning new spells. I want to be able to summon the floating palace right away, but first I need to learn how to push little stone blocks around. My mind cracks open with the possibilities and then is daunted by all there is to learn. There’s already so much information in my head.

Ugh, even finishing this post is getting to be a struggle. Sleepy sleepy…

DreyNet 3.0

At least I think it is the third iteration. Maybe it is the fourth. In any case, I have updated the gateway to my small network of web sites. Let’s take a quick tour.

The home page is a rotating gateway to each site. The sites can also be accessed from the main menu. You will also note a link called “The Latest”. That’s where I will display my most recently completed projects (stories, games, videos, etc.). Social media hooks are in full effect with the tweetbox on the right and a “Follow Me” tab displaying numerous online destinations to satisfy your cyber-stalking pleasure.

On to the individual sites:

First Time Flowing – My blog. No doubt you are familiar with this one.

DreamPunk Productions – This is my “game and story-shaped design” studio, home of The Stork and House of Whack. Speaking of which, those each have their own site.

In Between – This is a wiki I made to keep track of all the worlds and characters I have created over the years. Managing several universes is a challenging task.

There is another somewhat hidden site, which can be discovered by the person looking for me.

And there we are, back at the start!