Thought Dump | League of Legends Design Thoughts I

So, this is probably going to be the first of these, and there may be several. The reality is that this won’t mean a lot to most people who come to my blog, but it is a bunch of ideas. A few important things to note, these thoughts assume a basic familiarity with League of Legends and are back-dated to earlier states of the game. For the purposes of my sharing this with the world, I’m going to be trying to include the patch number of the game when I wrote this stuff down. A lot of things, systemically, have changed since some of these ideas were written down and I will try to clarify those where I can. I’m going oldest to newest, so that should be interesting. The vast majority of these are re-designs of existing champions with an eye toward two things: enhancing the thematic expression of a character and improving what Riot calls the character’s effect on “game health,” which based on their design ideology aims for a few things in a modern sense but at the time of writing might have meant different things.

Continue reading

Back Again

I’m back posting my blog again. I have struggled with how to attack it again, and I continue to struggle – one of the problems with having a singular voice that you chuck out into the ether is that, in stage performer parlance, the ‘room is dead.’ There’s not necessarily a response, not necessarily an echo that lets you feel like you’re being measured. That means that when you fall silent, the vacuum doesn’t necessarily notice. There’s a pretty terrible equivocation you could make to the significance of human experience on a universal scale, but the point is that I actually feel that in a very real way. When I disappear for six to eight to twelve to thirty-six months, I enter a perception that, in having failed to throw my voice into the vacuum, I have demonstrated some fundamental failing as a creative person – that as someone who seeks to create in the world, not dumping my voice out into it, regardless of how ‘live’ or ‘dead’ the room is, is a kind of moral failure.

It’s weird, because people don’t by and large care – after missing my blorg for a few weeks, they might resign themselves to another of its intermittent disappearances, but chances are, because I’ve never sought to grow my audience, really, and thus my audience is generally just you, dear friends.

So let’s talk about why I haven’t been here – the short and long is that I have been dealing with depression and anxiety. Feels good to say that, I’ve said it before, but it’s important, to me, to keep it at the forefront. This isn’t an excuse, really, so muchh as it is me revealing the facts.

Over the past four months, maybe five months, the world has kind of beat up on our little family. It’s not that we’ve been massively disenfranchised or whatever, just that we’ve had some circumstantial hardship and a lot of really great support from friends and family. Rundown:

  1. Katherine got really sick in a weird way. It’s been ongoing for the better part of three months, and it feels like we’re getting out of the woods now, but nonetheless…
  2. During the depths of her illness, we came across and ultimately rescued a Chihuahua/Terrier mix puppy. This is the first puppy for either of us, and it’s been a  lot of work, work that has fallen on all of us, including our families, and work that sometimes I’ve been the only one able to do because of the above-mentioned sickness.
  3. My grandfather, John Robinson, died. This one is relatively recent. A death in the family is always a tragedy, despite his readiness for the end to his life – this one was particularly complicated by some of the events in my life that have contributed to my anxiety.
  4. My work situation has changed in interestingly complex ways. For obvious reasons, I can’t get super deep into that on here, but it has been a big factor. It changed pretty drastically over the last month or so, but it has been a slow burn toward this point for a few months.

So that’s what’s up. High-level, undoubtedly. I’m getting counseling and resolving as much of the rest of it as I can, but it’s been a lot.

In the interim, I’m facing other strange, new health questions related to my weight and I’m finally well enough on the other vectors to start taking weight loss seriously, which I am now doing. So FNtCG will resume and/or continue. I have lots to say about board games and my own efforts, and I’m going to d a few radical things:

I’m going to dump my most private game design stuff here. I need to stop living in a vacuum on some of this stuff. Even if no one can care who ultimately reads it, I can’t sit here with a folder full of League of Legends champion design notes with the ludicrous “notice me senpai” dream of someday impressing Patrick “Scarizard” Scarborough or any of the other Riot dude and ladies I follow on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/whatever. I’m going to start exposing my thoughts here because that’s important – and unsurprisingly it was my amazing wife who helped me remember that.

The other night we were talking about her Social Media presence (as a performer, that phrase isn’t actually ridiculous to her). I was comparing our relatively private, hands-off approach to the approach of some successful actor folks I know from way back when (Hey, Kasters, if you’re reading this) and I said something she really liked: “Any person who endeavors toward the Creative can’t avoid the Conversation.”

And that’s what stuck with her. She insisted we tweak the quote before I start putting it on mugs or whatever in my egotism (now available at [Just Kidding]), but the point of it was not lost on her and she kinda turned it back on me.

That’s how we find ourselves here. This is my monologue in the Great Conversation that constitutes the modern socio-digital landscape. Thus I cannot let it go gentle into that good vacuum.

So… I’m back again. Please like/share/retweet and whatever. It’s time for me to get real about this. Posts will try to stay to 500ish words and will range from exposing my ideas about games, their design and play, to conversations or even story notes from the D&D game(s?) I’m running.

So I’ll check you next week, when we’ll talk about me losing weight (again) and why at not-quite-32, that ain’t no joke. Take care everybody, and hope to see you back here soon.

Pop-Dev | Netflix Shows (Voltron: Legendary Defender & Stand Up Specials)

Going to try my best to keep in the format of “post more often with fewer words,” because honesty it makes me feel more accomplished. That’s an ironic thing, by the way, given one of the two topics we’re touching on. This isn’t, by any means, an exhaustive list of excellent Netflix shows (like, at all. Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt represent a small sample of the hot sauce slathered about that streaming pile of delicious), but these are a few new entries that really stand out for a number of interesting reasons.

Continue reading

Fat Nerd to Chic Geek | Round 2: Week 1

Week 1 is in the bag. Again. And it wasn’t a bag of doritos, which I guess is a sign of improvement? That said, it was a fraught week. I didn’t get a chance to get solid workouts going, which stinks, but I’m working on sorting it out. Mostly achieved without carbonated, high-fructose libations, save for a cheat day that was Father’s Day.

This also coincides with our (Katherine and my) one-year wedding anniversary. We had a pretty amazing time recreating our wedding night at the Hotel Monaco.

…so I guess there is a kind of exercise I didn’t have access to the first time around. Still, going mostly to water and eating better has yielded the shedding of a few pounds, as it did before. I forgot how tough the first few weeks of dieting is, but I have the faith borne of evidence that it gets better. Things accelerated to a place where I enjoyed my efforts after only a few weeks, so I have high hopes for this time around.

Pop-Dev | Overwatch: The Good, the Bad, the Watch

A couple of things up front:

Overwatch is great.

It’s not just that’s it’s:

  1. Fun
  2. Easy to start, hard to master
  3. Gorgeous
  4. Got incredibly high production values

It’s that it’s all of those things combined and rolled into a design philosophy that hasn’t been executed to this level of complexity in a new way in almost a decade. That doesn’t sound like much time, particular for other entertainment mediums, but five generations of computer hardware have emerged and been supplanted by faster, smarter systems in that time. A full 12 Call of Duty games have released in the intervening time, and at least that many spinoffs from that genre. 10 years is a long time in a medium that’s only existed in any real sense for 40 years.



Continue reading

Fat Nerd to Chic Geek | Round 2: Week 0

And then, upon the preordained time at the Circle of Stone, ye will be visited unto by measurement, and, your weighs found to be in surplus and your means of wellness proven lackluster, will know the doom of the Daemon Beetus, which will onto thy humors attach and lash you with frailty until thy sweet release is found only in the warm blanket of Death. 


Fat Nerd to Chic Geek, Round 2: The Skinnying! It’s Happening!

We, heretofore and for all times stretching into eternity referring to my lovely and charming wife, Katherine, and my self, just finished celebrating her 28th birthday. Part of my gift to her and selfishly to myself is to start taking my weight and my health way more seriously. Which is how we find ourselves here. And I cannot believe it to be real, but the last most consistent posting to this blogospace was a full and true four years ago.  At that time, I was writing a series of article posts called Fat Nerd to Chic Geek. They chronicled my adventures and efforts to no longer be such a grossly overweight man-pudding and to be something more in line with a healthy male member of the species homo sapiens.  Unless I get dat X-gene dough, for that homo superior goodness.

That was a really successful effort. I went from 250 pounds to 198 at my absolute lowest. I chronicled my efforts and felt good about them. It was easy to get started and get going because of how few requirements life had for me – no job, no place, no social life, no significant other. With none of that going, it seemed inexcusable to also have such little sense of self-worth that I couldn’t be bothered to keep my body healthy.

But now we’re four years later. And you know, it took four years and a lot of pain and suffering, to do it, but I’ve managed to find all those pounds I’d previously lost. I found them and I found 38 more.

As of today, the first day of Fat Nerd to Chic Geek Round 2, I am cataloging my failing here, not as a bleak condemnation upon myself but as a moment in time for a point of datum (that’s the singular form of data, son). I weigh 288 pounds. Which is more or less 20 stone, and the fact that one must measure their weight in stone in order for it to capture enough of force of terror is significant.

It is also the very first day of Fat Nerd to Chic Geek Round 2: The Skinnying! It’s Happening!! Yes, that’s the full and formal title. I am currently divesting myself of all consumption of soda, I had my last one, a zero-calorie aspertame laden affair just two hours ago and now I banish that demon from my mind and my heart. I am saying no to high fructose corn syrup. I am rejecting my bad habits borne of expedience and ease and now embrace health as a lifestyle decision meant not just to make me feel better but to prolong my life.


So! Here it is. Week 0-1, a promise and a beginning. This time I’ve got a job, a house, a commute, a wife, two cats, and a dog. Because beyond wanting to be better at life, I’ve got too much to live for to kill myself a little more every day.

As one might have said in a 90s action flick, this time? It’s personal.

Status (and some other thoughts)

So, Fat Nerd to Chic Geek Round 2: The Skinnying! It’s Happening!!! is delayed slightly. For those not in the know, I apparently did something stupid to my foot during Fat Nerd to Chic Geek Round 1 and the old injury snuck up on me recently and immobilized my right foot in a walking boot for the better part of the last 4 months. It proved pretty not useful for running, walking, taking stairs, driving, or doing anything, really, so I’m delaying my return to vigorous exercise until I have a better handled my recovery.

You may have noticed the corresponding hiatus from the blogging. I have been, in no minced words, pretty depressed for the last few months. I’m taking care of it and myself to the best of my abilities and to the extent of consulting professional help for it. My wife, coworkers, and friends have been super supportive of the effort to address these psychic woes, so it’s been easier than expected. Not without its bumps, mind, like any time someone is navigating a depressed state, but easier than I expected.

So, I want to get back to blogging, but I also want to make it clear that I may have relatively very little to say on matters filmic anymore because Movies with Mikey is an amazing web series that absolutely murders any capacity I have to think independently about film. I find Mikey’s thought process, if not his eventual conclusions, so enthralling, and because I sort of acknowledge the inherent futility in discussing a complex, multi-dimensional medium in a relatively single-dimension space such as text, I’m loathe to try to present some independent pontifications on the matter. I will occasionally post links to his content with my textual (and sensual — wait, what? whoa.) responses.

The series presents some just amazing visual cues to help you understand just how much thought and effort goes into the creation of a film. It’s so worth your time to realize just how fucking much the best directors, cinematographers, designers, artists, and writers put into the construction of these movies, many of which, when taken as a whole, are not the most amazing movies ever. The beauty and joy of the show is that Mikey points out deftly how they can, even shy of film perfection, contribute something meaningful to the medium and to the world. Even if he thinks Last Action Hero is the best movie of all time.


(I recently rewatched it, and, actually, ok. Shane Black. Shane Black. Shane. Black.




…really is as amazing as I always thought, because somehow this ancient time warp of a piece is actually just as good as Mikey says it is.)


The Force Awakens

Obviously we have to talk about this. The Force Awakens happened, and, even though it lacks a great acronym (TFA just looks weird. It shares more with TPM than ANH, ESB, RotJ, AotC, or RotS), I think it was pretty fun. This is going to be what passes for a review, with two important caveats:

I love this movie. I love this movie.

And second: Spoilers below. I mean, spoilers. 

Continue reading

Pop-Dev – Pairs

For example, this ordinary reference Pear. Pair. Pears. DJAGETIT?!

When I started work at the Pew Charitable Trusts back in September, I was instantly concerned that I was entering a world of Serious People™ that do Serious Work™. It’s true that everyone there does Serious Work™ and they’re quite serious about it, but I think I was afraid of entering this glass chapel of high thought and being relegated to becoming a severe person. By the end of the first day, any such misapprehension had dissipated entirely, and by the third day I had made good acquaintance of a guy there called Zhalgas. He prefers Zee for a lot of reasons, so we’ll call him that for our purposes. Zee is another programmer and all around cool guy. His interests are wide-ranging and eclectic, but we share many, including, in all its forms sundry and less so, games.

Continue reading

The Blog Awakens: FNtCG Round 2; Pop-Dev; Guest Thoughts

Chewie… We’re home.

That’s right, friends, compatriots, and scoundrels, I am back in the business of making a blog. It’s real, it will be short-lived as ever, and it is happening literally right now. We’re going back on Fat Nerd to Chic Geek because I truly fucking found all that weight I lost and a few more scraps that someone else lost at some point. I’m doing a thing I’m calling Pop-Dev, which is a not-entirely cute programming joke where I’m going to talk about cultural things and entertainment, specifically my express wish to create something therabouts. And I hope to have guest thoughts from smart people in my life, because I have an astonishingly absurd profundity of smart people in my life these days.

Continue reading