May 282009

me: oh my
Krystalle: isn’t he already chibi?
me: zomg
Krystalle: QQ
Krystalle: I don’t go there.

Editor’s Note – This is not a serious fight at all. We’re not that bad.

May 232009

With the way things have been going in the economy recently I’ve been thinking a lot about where I spend my money. Specifically, where it goes after I spend it. I’ve been doing a lot of my grocery shopping at Sam’s Club recently, which in the realm of “keeping your dollars local” is about as far off the mark as you can get. I realize that, but I also realize that I have to feed my family and that right now every dollar I spend on groceries has to go as far as it can (I am determined to be out of debt with the exception of my house in the next five years and must stick to my grocery budget).

All of that being said, when I do find the occasion to actually go out and spend some money I’ve had a very strong desire to make sure that it’s going to stay here in the community. When Alex and I went out for lunch a few weeks ago we went to Evo’s, for example. I got a cake earlier today from a place here called Cakes by Carolyn and I’m very excited about the fact that there is a new book store near my house called Books at Park Place that carries a decent selection of gaming, science fiction, and fantasy books.

My desire to do this really makes me wish there was an active St. Petersburg blog and I’m half-tempted to start one myself.

So those of you who live in the ‘burg…tell me…where should I be going?

May 102009

Just making a list here for my own records so that I can update accordingly (and get a piece of paper off of my desk).  This is a list of classes I need to take before I can enroll in the B.S. program at Saint Petersburg College.

  • BUL 2241 – Business Law
  • MAN 2340 – Human Factors in Supervision
  • MAN 2528 – Introduction to Project Management
  • ACG 2071 – Managerial Accounting
  • ENC 2210 – Technical Writing  *Currently Enrolled*
  • CGS 1822 – Web Site Essentials
  • CET 1171c – Personal Computer Systems Repair
  • CIS 2321 – Systems Analysis and Design
  • CET 1172c – Personal Computer Systems Repair II
  • COP 2837 – Visual Basic .NET Programming
May 052009

Basement!Earlier today Green Ronin Publishing, the company behind the Pen & Paper Role-Playing Games Mutants & Masterminds and A Song Of Ice And Fire (based on the award-winning series by George R. R. Martin), announced plans to release a Pen & Paper adaption of the upcoming Bioware title Dragon Age : Origins. The game, according to the press release, “extends the Dragon Age universe, making it more accessible to passionate RPG fans looking for another way to experience the epic fantasy world of Thedas.”

Having never played any of the Baldur’s Gate games (the inspiration for Dragon Age : Origins) or, for that matter, any of the games that Green Ronin Publishing has put out, I can’t say this news made me particularly giddy.  What it did do, however, was get me to thinking about how the line between video games and Pen & Paper games is getting thinner with every passing year.

There’s no doubt that many of the Role-Playing video games on the market today owe much of their success to the Pen & Paper games that their developers grew up playing.  Richard Bartle and his companions were heavily influenced by the original Dungeons and Dragons when they developed the first Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) back in 1978, and that game alone is said to have been largely influencial in the design of most Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games.  In fact, these MMORPG’s have been so successful that many believe they signal the inevitable doom of the traditional Pen & Paper RPG.

I have noticed over the years that more and more that Pen & Paper publishers are tying to woo the video game playing crowd away from their consoles and back to the table by partnering with video game publishers.  Wizards of the Coast partnered with Turbine to release an MMORPG version of the Dungeons & Dragons RPG called Dungeons and Dragons Online : Stormreach back in 2006, and the current version of the Pen and Paper game itself was heavily influenced by games such as World of Warcraft. There have been four video games set in the Shadowrun universe, and there have been Pen & Paper versions of the MMORPG’s Everquest and World of Warcraft.  In at least two cases I’m aware of video game companies have purchased Pen & Paper versions of the game outright (the upcoming Champions Online from Cryptic Studios and the “still in the lots of rumors stage” World of Darkness from CCP).

I had the occasion to sit down over dinner with someone who was pretty close to deal that went down when Champions was purchased by Cryptic and I thought the whole thing was very interesting.  From what I understand there has never been a terribly large profit margin in the Pen & Paper industy to begin with, but it’s been particularly rough over the last few years.  Some companies are turning to on-demand printing in order to save costs, but the allure of the type of money that video games are capable of bringing in is incredibly hard to pass up.  Once the deal was complete and Cryptic held the rights to the Champions property the money came pouring in.  The developers who were still on staff were literally stunned and apparently felt like “rock stars.”

When you’re used to living paycheck-to-paycheck and never being sure if your’e even going to be able to keep producing that kind of money is hard to pass up.

It makes sense, too.   Why should a video game developer go through all of the trouble to pay writers to develop tons and tons of lore and backstory when so many worlds are out there in the Pen & Paper world just waiting to be explored?  Even with the number of Pen & Paper games out there that have already been licensed there are still tons of them that could potentially be turned into fantastic video games (can you say Paranoia kids?  I knew ya could).

My only fear in all of this is that as the lines become less and less clear between the virtual and tabletop world the Pen & Paper versions of the game risk becoming neat collector’s items for the people who really are just interested in playing the video game.  As much as I enjoy the changes they’ve made to Dungeons & Dragons in the Fourth Edition I have to admit that in many ways it feels so much like an MMORPG I wonder what the appeal would be for someone who has never played a Pen & Paper game before (the argument being “If I wanted to play World of Warcraft I’d play World of Warcraft, not sit around my living room playing with toys”).

Perhaps, though, things aren’t quite as doom and gloom as they seem.   While I cannot say for sure that there will always be a place for Pen & Paper games in the universe I have seen signs recently that the video game industry is looking for more ways to bring that collaborative, interactive feel to their games.   Player created missions in the super hero game City of Heroes from NCSoft outnumbered the number of missions that the developers included in the game in just one day. Hasbro was originally supposed to include a “Virtual Tabletop” with the release of the Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons but for now those plans have been pushed back and potentially canceled (much to the ire of many Dungeons & Dragons fans, who claimed that Virtual Tabletop was an essential piece of the Fourth Edition package and that Hasbro was guilty of a “bait and switch” by failing to produce it).  So while the days of sitting around with your friends on the back porch with your Cheetos and Mountain Dew may be coming to an end, perhaps the spirit of those days will find a way to live on.   Change is inevitable, but if nothing else the Mission Architect in City of Heroes has proven that the desire to create your own stories and share them with your peers is alive and well.

In the end isn’t that really what Pen & Paper games are all about?

May 042009

Seriously, seriously nasty mouth.I want you all to look at the image on the right.  It’s from an advertisement.

Does this image make you think “Man, I wish my teeth were that pretty” or does it make you think “HOLY CRAP WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT PERSON’S MOUTH?!”

If you’re anything like me it’s the latter.  Seriously!  It looks like the person pictured has some kind of bleeding lip disease or that the picture was taken from some kind of vampire movie promotion.  Scary stuff.

What’s worse?  The images on the web site it is advertising really aren’t much better.  It’s like they found people with horridly ugly mouths just so they could make the super white teeth look even better.

Ok, that’s all the snark I have in me for one evening.

May 032009

Thumbs UpThat’s a lie.  I do, actually.

Earlier today I was thinking about how busy I’ve been recently, and it occured to me that I’ve done a lot so far this year.

  • I was in a record breaking production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile with the folks at the Jobsite Theater
  • I took on a huge amount of new responsibilities at work
  • I’ve lost 14 pounds and gotten back into the habit of exercising at least five days a week
  • I quit smoking
  • I took three classes towards my B.S. in Technology Management and I believe I have A’s in all three of them
  • I started a business with six of my friends and can officially add Chief Executive Officer to my list of titles
  • I took a major step towards getting my finances back under control by consolidating several of my higher interest credit cards into a loan from my employers
  • I managed to score 38 Studios and Cartoon Network as guests for this years Dragon*Con MMORPG track.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but…wow!  I’m pretty impressed with my list of accomplishments so far this year, and it’s only May!

Oh, and for the record….I do like toast.

May 032009

I may have inadvertently been used to end the marriage of my ex-wife and her current husband.

The long story short version of the story is that he was my best friend at the time my ex and I split up. It sucked, but I got over it. We’re still friendly now. I’m also on relatively civil terms with my ex, largely motivated by it being good for my son.

Well, over the years both of them have at one time or another bitched to me about the other and the state of their marriage. Suffice it to say, things on that front have been terribad for a while. She’s been venting to me a LOT over the situation. He hasn’t, but I haven’t really had the occasion to talk to him much recently.

That changed on Saturday. He and I were at Alex’s baseball game and he asked me to go for a walk with him. He vented his spleen about the situation, up to and including the statement that he was fairly certain he was going to be laid off in two weeks and if he was he was leaving the state without her. Near the end of our conversation he said that he didn’t care if I told her everything he’d said the next time I talked to her.

So I did. This stupidity has gone on too long, and frankly I’m tired of being stuck in the middle.

As of yet I haven’t heard back from her, but Alex has been at their place since I sent her an email. I’m guessing things are going to be interesting at their place tonight.

May 022009
Ned Snell with Monkey Bread

Ned Snell with Monkey Bread

Actor, Director, Author and Monkey Bread enthusiast Ned Snell made a statement today that his dogs were “…clean” during a press conference from his home in Tampa, Florida.

For years now rumors have been flying over the fact that Snell, 47, frequently allowed his dogs to get downright smelly.  An anonymous associate of his told this report that “It was horrible.”  He then went on to say ” They were so unclean.  There isn’t enough hand sanitizer in the world to get past that kind of filth.  I scrubbed, and I scrubbed, and I scrubbed but it never felt like it was enough.”  The source then collapsed into a fetal ball and started sobbing.

Although this particular health hazard has been averted there are still concerns that Snell has attempted to use child labor in the cleaning of the dogs.  When asked if three-year old children had been forced into helping Snell said they were “no help at all” and abrubtly ended the press conference.

To my regular readers – Please excuse this moment of silliness.  Ned gave me an opening I couldn’t pass up.