Excalibur's Zone Gaming

Games are what I love, games are what I do. But family comes first.

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Second Trike Ride! (Yes, I’ve Recorded the First…)

So, as you may know, I picked up a Sun Seeker T3 CX recumbent tadpole trike after I cashed in my Magic: The Gathering collection. I’d like to get a bag with reflective tape on it to improve my visibility at dawn, dusk, and night. I have my eyes set on one but I’m also looking at saddlebags for my rack.

The first ride was rough because the rear derailleur cable got overstretched, the brakes were too loose (oh, man the stock brakes on this bike), and the seat wasn’t set to what I needed. I recorded this ride, but the footage is very jittery and the sound is entirely too horrible to listen to since it sounds like I’m rolling marbles over asphalt. I’ll be uploading this soon, but will do a voice over to spare you from hearing that junk and I’m going to try to stabilize the video. With this recording, I used a clamp and an adaptor to mount my Cube+ to my seat back. Not the best idea.

This second ride, however, went MUCH better! The brakes needed to be broken in a little, but they are much tighter, I rode to my mom’s house and after dinner, rode back in the dark. My wife and son followed behind me to make sure I was OK. 😉 The rear derailleur was fine this go around (there and back again) so the ride was much smoother.

I’ve since put a strap mount on my helmet and tested it out a little. I didn’t record the ride back because it was too dark and I didn’t record the ride there because I didn’t have the helmet mount attached at the time :\ I’ll be getting more footage soon, however, since it’s my goal to bike every day I can!

I will be uploading my videos to a new playlist, but I could set up a new channel later. The playlist is “Sunseeker Trike“, though I might change the name of this playlist. I’ll play it by ear for now.

My full trike kit is as follows:

That doesn’t seem like much, but a lot of time went into choosing the components (except the bag, I just needed something quick) and building the trike. What should have taken a few hours took 6+ hours due to odd mounting points and bent mounts. Everything is good to go now, though!

Things I have to do: Learn when to shift. I need to get a better bag, either a pannier, a set of panniers, and/or a track-mounted bag. PRACTICE! It was only a few miles today, but I’m so out of shape it was rather tiring. I’m going to need to ride a lot more to get myself to the point where I can take on the full length of the Capital Trail and back! That’s roughly 110 miles! And I want to do it in one day! There are others I want to do as well. Such as taking USBR 1 from Richmond to Washington DC and back or USBR 76 from Richmond to Blacksburg and back. Sadly, at this point in my life, I can’t do a cross-country bike trip. BUT! That doesn’t mean I can’t tackle that at a later date 🙂

Maybe I’ll live stream some of the trips using Periscope? But I’m definitely going to record every trip I take from here on out.

CardCrawl by Tinytouchables

I have been playing various versions of solitaire card games for many years. I’ve played a large number of solitaire variants from Klondike and Hoyle versions of this classic card game to home-brew rules where I used the cards like chess pieces. My most-played variant has to be tri-peaks and I don’t know which rules were the least played.

I recently noticed a Twitter friend of mine playing a solitaire variant about dungeon crawling called CardCrawl (@cardcrawl, http://www.cardcrawl.com). The graphics seemed well done and humorous and apparently, the game allowed you to post your score to Twitter. That was something missing from a bunch of other games that I enjoy playing (well, the ones with high score tracking). The more I saw these posts, the more I wanted to try the game. There was only one problem: the game was only available for iOS…but after speaking with the devs, Tinytouchables (@tinytouchtales, http://www.tinytouchtales.com/) I found out that they had a beta test going for the game! But it was over. After a few months of trying to keep track of beta tester requests, the game finally released for Android. And so I finally got to play, and purchase, the game.

This is the type of solitaire game that I really enjoy! It’s laced with theme, uses the cards in a fashion that makes some choices pretty challenging, and you fight monsters! Basically, you’re going through a dungeon crawl, fighting monsters, finding coins, using weapons, and wearing armor. You also gain keys which you can use to unlock special abilities that interact with the cards in different ways. AND one of the game modes allows you to construct your own dungeon crawl deck.

The game is pretty simple in its layout: Seven spaces for cards which are all filled from the deck and one space for your adventurer. You start with 13 health and nothing on you. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals four cards in the top row. You can find potions, swords, shields, coins, monsters, and abilities in that row. Dropping coins or potions in an empty slot (left or right hand) uses them. Dropping coins on your inventory slot uses the card. Dropping a sword, shield, or ability on a hand or in your backpack allows you to carry the item.

Swords are dropped on monsters to deal damage. Monsters are dropped on shields to reduce incoming damage. Abilities are dropped on whatever cards it effects. Some abilities turn items into potions, others banish cards to the deck, while others allow you to attack or defend in different ways. There are many, many other abilities you can use and I haven’t uncovered them all.

Your goal is to keep your adventurer alive while you deal with the cards that are dealt to you. It might seem like an easy and straightforward task, but sometimes you have to choose which monster does damage first so that you can free up a hand for a potion. Sometimes you get hit with monsters and no sword, shield, or potion to save you. It can get pretty hairy. You can also sacrifice non-monster cards to the shop in an effort to discard them or turn them into gold.

There is another mode, the daily dungeon, which allows you to play a different deck each day; a refreshing feature for a solitaire game.

The graphics are pretty nice in a Tim Burton-esque sort of way. The colors are muted but fit the theme very well. I tend to play with sounds off but they also fit the theme very well, especially when the dealer gets angry that you’ve won or when he drinks his mug of ale between hands.

I haven’t played this game long, but I can tell you that it has quickly become one of my go-to games for when I want a quick game to play while doing other things. I highly suggest this game to anyone who enjoys solitaire and fantasy-themed games. I also hope that the developers turn this into a physical game. If they did, I’d be the first in line to buy it.

Expect to see me post my game score once every few days, perhaps alternating between the Normal and Daily Dungeon modes.

 

-Ex

Re: Fostering an “Open” Game Culture (via subQuark)

Please visit the original article on subQuark’s blog here: http://blog.subquark.com/fostering-an-open-game-culture/ and visit him on Twitter here: http://www.twitter.com/subquark

In this article, game designer subQuark (David Miller) talks about expanding his upcoming game, Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse (MTMA), into a more open gaming framework in much the same way that a deck of cards can be used to create a multitude of different games. I believe this may have been sparked by some of the ideas I threw at him while we were chatting on twitter. David was displaying a map idea he had for using Google maps for the game’s deluxe playmat. I suggested he look at several spots around the world with run down and abandoned areas that look post-apocalyptic and make several mats. I then went on to suggest that these mats could have different missions tied to them, making them a new expansion where each mat has a different objective.

In this new blog article, David asks for opinions about how the components of MTMA could be used in an open framework for player-inspired scenarios. While the default game would be available, players could use the components to modify or create different ways to play the game or possibly new games altogether.

This is a slippery slope, to be sure, because you don’t want to make anything so abstract that players have a difficult time thinking of what to create. The goal is to provide a set of base rules that can be easily modified or substituted to provide a new game experience. Different playmats, layouts, missions, and other elements are a good way to go about this.

In his post, David suggests that you could play the game as is or you could use streets to split the map into zones where players’ meeples may start in different locations, provide alternate routes to the safe zone (through the sewers), or to rescue hostages. Different mats could provide different experiences or hazards to completing the set missions.

David then goes on to ask for opinions and ideas about this idea, if we have ideas, or questions about it. To me, this sounds like a fantastic idea! I have already suggested the multiple mat idea. These can be made into missions, for flavor, change of scenery, or a host of other game elements. What I’m going to do now is make a few (or more) suggestions that David can possibly use to benefit his game. Now I am an amateur game designer. I’ve only self-published print-n-play games on Board Game Geek through design challenges. But I do have a few decades worth of gaming experience under my belt…

Modular rules:

I think that if the rules for MTMA are modular, it will become much easier for players to add, substitute, modify, or ignore what they want to create the gaming experience they want. This might not be an easy task to accomplish, but I think that this would make things easier in the long run. The ability to take a specific element of the game and mutate it can change gameplay dramatically. Think of chess vs hnefatafl. Both are grid-based capture/control games. Except hnefatafl changes the number of pieces per side, the types of pieces, the starting location of the pieces, and the win conditions for each side. Those are a lot of changes, but fundamentally, the games are very similar.

For example: imagine MTMA that you could change those elements as well. You’re on an arena mat. The blue payer has 4 pieces and the green monster. The yellow player has all five pieces. The blue player must get the monster to one of the exits while the yellow must stop them. The pieces move like pawns in chess, moving one grid spot at a time and one piece per move. We’ve not only changed the mat, but we’ve changed the win conditions, we’ve changed the piece distribution, and we’ve changed how the pieces work. Instead of having to rewrite the game from scratch, we simply substitute the mechanical aspects (pieces, movement) and then we allow the mat to provide the setup and theme.

Mission cards:

An open game system might benefit from a deck of mission cards that can be hidden or visible to all players. A secret mission that will allow you to win the game (capture or eliminate 3 of the opponent’s meeples, unleash the monster from the cage, be the first/last to the fallout shelter) can provide a very exciting atmosphere for the players. The cool thing about this is that you do not need to have custom cards printed for this. A standard deck of cards (or a custom one that mimics it) with a chart can provide everything you need. The ability to change the chart is also a wonderful bonus! This way, you only have to print the chart for default missions! But why stop there?

Instead of providing just a mission deck, why not make the chart about equipment? Or items essential to survival? Or events? Or giving the monster different abilities? Or giving the meeples different abilities? Or all of these?

Cards, in general, would expand this game to explosive levels and make it even more expandable! A custom set of cards with stats, numbers, and pictures of weapons or equipment could easily provide most (if not all) of the suggestions in the previous paragraph. Even a plain deck of cards with charts that provide meaning to the cards could be done. And the awesome thing is that these charts could be online! A deluxe option with them printed in a booklet could be available, but not entirely necessary.

Meeple decals:

It is of my opinion that the meeples need to be numbered or uniquely identifiable in some manner that makes it easy to distinguish one meeple from another. This would make a lot of things easier. Players could refer to a specific meeple for effects, missions, or any other number of things. Labeling each meeple this way becomes tedious, yes, but if there is a sticker sheet that’s supplied with the game, put the option to uniquely identify the meeples in the players’ hands (saving a lot of work).

Summary

These are all the things I can think of right now. I do not have a copy of the game’s rules to make any further suggestions, and I haven’t played the game so I don’t know how it feels or what would need to be done to make it a more open system. Though, it’s not like I don’t already use game bits for other things in other games! But building a system from the components in MTMA is a bit trickier without added “stuff”.

Good luck with getting the game funded, David! I know that I will be backing it!

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