It’s been quiet…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: "Yeah, a little too quiet."…And writing this, I feel a little like one of those podcast hosts who opens every other episode with “I promise, we’re working on a ton of great new episodes, but meanwhile here’s one from our archives…”

But I do have a ton of great posts coming your way — a few upcoming posts include “Board Games: Socializing with Purpose”, “The Utility Value of Board Games”, and a couple of tricks from the video game universe about utilizing sleight of hand to (successfully) patch over design challenges. Plus a personal update via multi-post epic about Andrea and my visit to Sweden in December (what? 3 months is a totally reasonable amount of time to write a travelog, right…? 😧).

Things are more generally picking up at Flightless, along a couple of fronts, including some Valour news, another round of testing for Terraformist, and a non-gaming SaaS product about to hit the market; I’ve become the classic case of the engineer who gets too busy building stuff to talk about it!

But here’s a public commitment from me to you — the blog train leaves the station next week on schedule.

Lots of games this weekend!

Big weekend for gaming! I hit the trifecta on Sunday: Worked on my game, Valour; tried out a new game; taught an old favorite.

Got all the components for Valour uploaded to The Game Crafter, so now I’m ready to start sending out blind test prototype copies to those far-flung fans who have been asking to give it a try! This week is also your last chance to get on the Valour mailing list if you want the February update!

Then, got a chance to try out A Study in Emerald (2ed), a Sherlock Holmes / Lovecraft crossover game (…I know, right???) which just came out with its second edition. The rules were dense, and there was a lot that may have been peripheral, but overall, it combined several modern game mechanics in a really elegant way. None of us at the table had ever played before, so I think the strategy began to dawn on everyone just as The Old Ones were cinching a victory, but I would absolutely play this one again. See my friend Dave’s review, which was based on this play session.

Afterward, I introduced a group of (mostly) new players to Battlestar Galactica — one of my perennial favorites. I love how well it captures the tension of the series: The paranoia about Cylons among the humans, and the continual panic while fending off attacking ships. I do tend to forget the rules for most of this, like space combat and details around warping the ship around, since it’s usually tabled so infrequently, AND because, in my opinion, all of that ‘stuff’ in this is merely backdrop for the real game: sowing mistrust among the humans, and throwing Cylons out the airlock. I knew my feeble poker skills left me out of my league with this crowd after the following exchange (which I know won’t make sense if you haven’t played… but count that as one more reason to try it):

Nick: “You’re card-counting the Destiny Deck, aren’t you?”
Megan: “Of course I am.”
Nick: “HOW??”

Cylons ended up winning by a hair, but only because an ‘outed’ Cylon served up a crisis card to the still-hidden Cylon who was able to use it to drain the final Population from the Human fleet 😐 Good stuff!

I’m working on a slightly larger post where I’m going to put a stake in the ground around some game design concepts, but it’s going to require a little more research than most of my posts based on experiential learnings. So count this week as a multi-game “review” week 🙂

A Study in Emerald: Worth a try if you can get your hands on a copy, but I’d recommend playing with others who have all either never played, or are all experienced. N00bs would get worked by even second-time players.

Battlestar Galactica: Why haven’t you played this yet?? If you’re in Boulder and want to give this a go, hit me up and we’ll try and get it tabled 🙂

Yearly Goals 2016 Edition: In OKR Form

Goals are back… in OKR form!

Goals are back… in OKR form!

I’ve fairly well documented my feelings on resolutions, and focusing on New Years in general, so I won’t rehash it. Instead, I’ll present publicly, with little commentary, my goals for 2016. After wrangling an (as usual) too-long list of things I wanted to accomplish, I realized that they fit into several basic themes. At the same time, I was working through assembling my departmental OKRs for Rapt Media, and it dawned on me that while somewhat “corporatey” for personal goals, it might be an effective vehicle for framing things in 2016. However, I’m cheating a little, because some Os and some KRs are for 2016 overall, and some are for 1H2016. There are also a few Key Results I’ve left without actual metrics. It’s a process 🙂

Here they are:

  • Objective 1: Personal Growth (or something like it)
    • Key result: Replace at least 1/mo staple items with updates.
    • Key result: Smile more. (Hard to measure… anyone have ideas?)
    • Key result: Learn German. (Measure with DuoLingo Progress, eventually benchmark by conversing with a native speaker)
    • Key result: Spend only [specific percent]% of monthly take-home.
  • Objective 2: Make Rapt Media an awesome place (I got pretty specific with some internals I can’t share publicly)
    • Key result: Keep team happy and grow it.
    • Key result: 2…
    • Key result: 3…
  • Objective 3: Sow the seeds of Empire for Flightless.Co
    • Key result: Ship one game in Q1.
    • Key result: Seize ‘agency’ regarding Valour publishing.
    • Key result: Get “Project T” out the door and acquire some users.
  • Objective 4: “Beach Bod 2016”. I spend dozens of hours a month Crossfitting; might as well look the part.
    • Key result: 3 on / 1 off WODs
    • Key result: 1 GHD day / week
    • Key result: 1 mobility day / week
  • Objective 5: Push Mobility on Demand to self-sufficiency
    • Key result: Land a distribution partner
    • Key result: Sell original break even number on owned & operated site

Soon I’ll round up the 2015 wins and losses and share that too. Thanks for reading, y’all. Posting these in public is uncomfortable, but it’s good to feel a sense of obligation to deliver after doing so.

Back from Europe!

IMG_5368Happy 2016!

I just got back from two weeks in Europe with Andrea — and it was great! Since our birthdays are clustered together with Christmas, New Year, (and this year… Episode VII :D), we made a little multi-celebration excursion out of it. Here’s a quick summary of it to kick off this year’s blog posts:

The morning after my birthday and the Episode VII “midnight” showing, we flew to Amsterdam, where we spent a few days, including Andrea’s birthday. That is a really, really rad town. I could absolutely live there. We hit up an awesome Crossfit gym while we were there as well. We were slightly worried about the language thing in class… but it was coached in English. The only drawback was that deadlifts in Kilos were a little demoralizing.

We caught a train from there to Cologne, Germany for some massive Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) action. Glühwein and sausages all day. All day. They were super charming. My December attempt to cram on Duolingo’s German module was basically a bust, as I went full on deer-in-headlights whenever a waiter asked what we wanted. It was almost worse the times I managed to fumble my way through a Glühwein purchase, only to have the total come out €11, or some other number Duo didn’t cover 🙂 We also dropped in at a box in Cologne, huge gym, with a brutal chipper workout and a ton of handstand work. The coach there was excited to try out his English for coaching as well, and it turns out that most gyms still call stuff like “Cleans” and “Chest to Bar” those same words.

After Cologne was Nuremberg, for one final Christmas market, and Christmas Day. We chose Germany for Christmas because they invented most of the traditions we think of as Christmas these days, and we knew they’d take it seriously — though perhaps too seriously, as everything (everything) closed at noon on the 24th, and only started thinking about reopening the afternoon of the 26th. We went on an underground tunnel tour through old beer cellars which were converted to bomb shelters during WWII… which was very weird to hear a German tour guide talk about. This mysterious war that it’s not really clear how it started and gosh Nuremberg really got beat up in the bombing. Most interesting was to actually see around us how the Altstadt (old town) was rebuilt in the late 40s and 50s, in the exact style that it had been built originally in the 1400s. So it all looks old, but it’s actually quite new.

IMG_5312From Nuremberg, we headed to Paris, which, in all honesty I wasn’t pumped about — everyone seems to have this romantic view of Paris, where mostly I expected it to be dirty and smell bad. The train station and metro totally met my expectations, but as soon as we were above ground and headed to our AirBnB in the Marais, my tune completely changed. We found enough things to do, eat, and drink within 4 blocks of our place that we might not have needed to leave, and our apartment itself really charmed me, with a bizarre labyrinth of doors, courtyards, and twisting staircases to enter. We did almost too much to cover in a summary like this, but we hit all the checkboxes: Louvre, Notre Dame (only outside though), the Louvre Jardin, the Champs, Arc, Eiffel tower, and also spent a lot of meals mad chillin’ outside with wine and cheese. The Crossfit gym here was actually the most non-English of them, but I was amused to observe that it’s not “Trois, deux, une, allez!”, even though the coach shouted “Allez!” frequently throughout the WOD 🙂

We did an overnight in Brussels, which is when I decided I’m never counting trips in “nights” anymore the way hotels do… you’ve only really spent a day somewhere if you woke up AND went to sleep there. Andrea found Cantillon on Yelp, which was a little embarrassing that we hadn’t planned on going there explicitly ahead of time, but wandering the brewery was really awesome, since sours are basically the best beers, and their brewery is straight up old-school spontaneous fermentation. But our impression of Brussels was that it’s mostly urine-soaked. We found some cute places, but on the whole, it was our least favorite city.

IMG_5448The next morning, we returned to Amsterdam, arriving with only moments to spare getting into a costume store to rent outfits for the Crazy Wonderland NYE party we had tickets for. The Dutch are so great — the costume store people took good care of us, even though they were basically closed and trying to sit down for evening cake 🙂 The party was another world. Five rooms in a repurposed church decked out as chapters from Alice in Wonderland, a five course dinner, then a series of DJs doing an excellent job, interrupted periodically by performances on a dance floor dais. I think I counted no fewer than twelve things you’d never get away with in the States. Andrea’s gregariousness made us some cool new friends, who we circled back with the next day for beers.

So awesome… I can’t even capture it here, so that’s going to have to do for now. Amsterdam was our favorite spot by far, and I could easily picture a future where I spent an extended amount of time there. One weird Amsterdam tip: Visit the Noord (north) side of the city, it’s really adorable and there’s a free ferry to get across, but for the love of god, don’t book a place to stay up on that side. Shuttling back and forth every day is a real hassle.

And now… back to the regularly scheduled nerd posts 🙂

Collaboration

My friend Eric tweeted an expression a few weeks back that has been on my mind recently. I’m not sure where it came from, or I’d source it:

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Frequently, I’m reluctant to bring in others on the projects I’m developing, and I’m not sure if my reasoning behind that is a fear of loss-of-control over the end result, or the loner side of my extrovert that just doesn’t want to worry about orchestrating or coordinating with anyone else.

I’ve been reflecting on this as well as what, if anything, I should do about it. I’ve looked at each project, how and when I’ve collaborated on it, and tried to form a mental model to help determine if or when is the right time to work with others. Continue reading

Canterbury: FOR SALE

3229750It’s finally happening.

I’m putting my house in Michigan up for sale. Since I bought it in 2006 while working at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance, the Canterbury house played witness to countless memories, a few bad, but mostly in the good to great range. Dozens of cookouts, get togethers, and several killer Halloween parties went down there. That house was the backdrop to the best years I spent in Ann Arbor.

But it’s time. After moving to Boulder in August 2010, I put it up for rent, since the housing market wasn’t favorable, and I had outside hopes of one day turning a profit. It’s been occupied by a number of people in the intervening years, but the dream of ‘investment real estate’ never quite came to fruition. In the best of months (those when it was both occupied, and nothing broke or needed repair), it only cost me a $200-300 difference in the mortgage payment and rent. Times when things did break, the sky was the limit. It’s now April 2015… so you can do the math, because I would prefer not to.

More compelling than the monthly shortfall, however, was the bizarre budgetary reverberation this outflow/inflow caused. Each month, the outflow had to be set aside, and a few days later, a rent payment may or may not show up, dependent on my account balance with my property manager. It finally dawned on my what a snarl this was for my budget and savings goals, so when my current tenants decided not to renew, I contacted my real estate agent to get it on the market.

Here’s the listing.

It’s been quite a journey, homeownership, and I feel like I’ve gotten to learn about all the aspects first hand, but I’m pretty much ready to be away from it for the time being. Writing this has definitely made me wistful in thinking back — I’m going to miss it, and everything it represented to me over the years.

It was a good little house.