Game of Life on Google

So I spent almost all of my weekend preparing my intensive lecture for tomorrow (and playing some minecraft >_>). The lecture is about artificial life and artificial intelligence, and I decided to find a link for an online version of Conway’s Game of Life.

So, I go to Google’s homepage, write “Conway’s Game of Life”, and suddenly on the corner of the screen a mini version of the game of life started animating. Google, oh you!

If you are too lazy to type “Conway’s Game of Life” on google, you can probably see the easter egg in this link.

Little Saturday

This weekend I’m slaving away at a intensive class that will be held Monday and Wednesday for visiting high school students in Tsukuba.

For a break, I went to the Nagareyama City central library. I find it fantastic to go to these libraries, for there are always people from all ages reading different stuff. Today, a large number of “ojisans” were reading newspapers in a long table, while two school-aged girls were peering over some musical score. This library had a CD selection, and right on top of it I found a disk with Dragon Quest musics performed by the NHK orchestra. Awesome.

On the way out, I saw this tiny coffee shop. The owner probably fancied himself (or a close friend) a cartoonist, for there were a bunch of different picture books from the same author, along with many drawings in the same style as the books along the walls and menus of the coffee shop.

As I was having some coffee, a group of 10-15 small kids were doing their own version of a matsuri parade, carrying a big box that said “Ice cream” in the style of a mikoshi shrine.

And that was my small break. Now time to go back to work…

Some cool links!

Found some very cool stuff on the internet recently:

“If the Moon were Only one Pixel”. This is a map of the solar system – to scale! To paraphrase the website itself: “the problem with a scale map of the solar system, is that there is a lot of empty space. To fill the void, the site starts with some witty remarks, but eventually changes into some pretty interesting insight about the place of humans in the universe. After scrolling around for a while, click on the small “C” button in the bottom right corner to set the scroll speed to the speed of light — prepare to be surprised!

If you enjoy this map, you might also enjoy Neil deGrasse Tyson’s podcast, “Startalk”.

All of Minecraft: Pre 0.0.9a to 1.8: Minecraft has recently released its newest major version: 1.8. To celebrate it, one user has created a video that shows all the new features that were added since the early alpha versions, back in 2010. It is worth a watch to see how far the game has come.

Game Report!

Today was my first D&D 5th edition game! We decided to play this last week, after a botched numenera adventure. I bought the new Player’s handbook, and was, honestly, pumped about it.

Two of our regular players were missing today. Add that to the new system we had to learn, and I decided to prepare a really simple, short game to get everyone comfortable — including the Game Master. A local noble had his Jewels stolen, and asked the players to get it back to them. I drew inspiration from this image:

Original from Skycam on Deviantart

The group had three players: A dragonborn paladin of Torm, a human cleric of Ilmater, and a tiefling warlock. We spent almost one and a half hours creating the characters – some of the delay was because character creation has a surprising amount of crossreferencing necessary: background and class choices influence in equipment, so you have to go back and forth among three chapters to take into everything. But I assume that if one is more acquainted to the system, this can go pretty quickly. After building the characters, though, combat and social encounters went much more smoothly.

If anyone is reading this ;-) let me know if you want a more detailed game report.

Geolocation for Desktop

In my recently finished Ludum Dare Game, the level that you play is determined by your geolocation. In other words, as you walk around the world, the game presents you with sligthly different levels.

Calculating an user’s location was reasonably straightforward on Android, but I had no idea how to implement it on the Desktop. The basic idea is to get an user’s IP address, then access some sort of geolocating service to get the location data from that IP address. But how to do it, and what geolocating service to use?

There was this very cool Ludum Dare Entry that used Geolocation to show the location of all participants. Better yet, the source code for that was pretty easy to grok. Diving into the code, I found out that they use a service called “Geolite2″ from “Maxminds”. Link diving brought me to this page, which has pretty much all the info that I need. In the short future I will be able to update my game to read your location even from the Desktop :-) (I hope!)

If you want to play my game “GeoQuest”:

Na na na na na na na …

You might have seen the “Japanese Batman” floating around the internet recently. A guy dressed as batman, on a batman themed trike(?) has been seen in Japanese highways by many people, and pictures like these have been floating around:

Author unknown
Author unknown

Reddit recently linked to an interview that this guy gave to a Japanese TV program.

After watching the interview, I became a fan. The guy is a 40-something that works repairing containers in Chiba’s port. His hobby is “making” things, such as the bat-bike and his costume. He has been driving around as batman for 3 years, and his goal is “to make people laugh”. I find it pretty amazing. I love it when people dedicate themselves to their hobbies, and I think this guy is pretty cool for being proud of what he does.

Ganbare, Chibatman!

Geoquest Title Screen

Ludum Dare 30!

If you don’t know what Ludum Dare is, get the short version before reading the rest of the story :-).

Last week has been Ludum Dare #30. Like every time, I was really looking forward to it — on the week before LD, random gameplay ideas had started popping into my head. I had recently played Ingress, so I was thinking about how I could include geolocation into a game in cool ways.

Luckly, the theme of LD30 was “Connected Worlds” — so I could basically apply all the ideas that were cooking on my head right as they were!

Continue reading

Failed RPG Experiments – Bring in the dragons!

This week I brought the Numenera campaign I was running for the Kanda group to a halt.

Numenera is a recent game written by Monte Cook. The premise is a Sci-fi Fantasy in a post-apocalyptic world millions of years in the future. Sufficient advenced technology of former generations and civilizations did become magic. The system is extremely light weight, with only three attributes, and a very interesting free-form character creation.

At first these modern design decisions felt like a breath of fresh air. The basic idea of the setting is also something that really appeals to me, as “alien technology behind mysterious magic” is a trope I like. However, after running about 2 months worth of games, I started feeling limited by the system. All players started playing the same, and there was not a lot of good guidelines for balancing encounters or rewards on the core book. This made creating adventures a real shore, and I ended up spending way less time prepping than I should.

I must say, the general idea and setting of the game made me create some adventure hooks that I’m proud of. But the game just didn’t have enough crunch to help me make sessions that used those hooks to their full potential. Oh well.

At the same time, a number of my friends started commenting and praising the new (5th) edition of Dungeons and Dragons I decided to take a plunge and bought the Player’s Handbook in my local game store (DayDream). After leafing through it the past few days I must say: I’m pumped! 5th edition feels a lot like good old 2nd edition AD&D, but with a lot of the improvements that modern RPGs have developed over the years.

I’m looking forwards to writing dungeons again!

Wonderful New World

Today I had a bit of a nostalgia-fest on twitter, as people were talking about Ultima games of old. A friend of mine added that she wanted to add an NPC playing “Stones” in the game, and quickly got a reply from none other than Iolo himself!

I love how the internet make these snap connections possible. Arnold schwarzenegger is someone else who prowls fitness-related subreddits, giving tips and encouragement to random anonymouys on the web. Also recently, I posted my impressions on the movie “Edge of Tomorrow”, and promptly got a head’s up from one of the actors in the movie.

We are living in interesting times!