Jul 11

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On The Whim of a Coin Flip for 6/20/2013

Our heroes rush back through the MURDER MAZE, triggering one of the traps along the way to slow down and weaken their opponents. They get out of the maze in time to get the healing potions, but soon Ingrid Stomphowler, and her two companions, Virion Iroquois, the Mist of the Battlefield, and Frank Jones, come out of the maze, a bit singed, but ready to fight. What follows is the most dramatic battle in MURDER MAZE history. Everyone but Murdock tries to gang up on Ingrid, who hits hard, while Murdock chases Virion around the battlefield, constantly frustrated with how he teleports away. Murdock eventually gets him weakened, and Heathcliff finishes him with a crossbow bolt. The crowd loves it! Heathcliff soaks in the admiration of the crowd, and decides to take the final blow in a similar fashion on Ingrid and Frank as well! The crowd loves him! The Wonderheart is now an arena star! And the rest of the party is a bit miffed at him taking all the glory!

After basking in the glow of their fans, and getting what they are owed from Mott Battleman, they head to the temple of Slyce for a victory party. The followers of Slyce are overjoyed, and present Nimrod with a holy artifact to attach to his shield, the flattest of all gear, as reward. Nimrod accepts the artifact humbly, glad to help his fellow worshipers.

The next day, the party prepares a plan to head towards Horizon, but first goes to a local wizard in order to check out Zardy’s chest. After a long bit of research, the wizard determines the magical lock on the Falconcats Chest was made by someone of almost ludicrous magical power. His guess is either the Archmage, the Blue, or the Elf Queen. Zardy takes his chest back with new things to ponder. Since no normal sailor is willing to take a chance on buying their weird magical ship, the party also negotiates with the wizard about the Fore Sail. He says he knows a guy who may purchase it, and promises to barter the ship for magical items that may be of use to a group such as them, and give them the payment when they get back to Axis. The party agrees.

Searching for a safe way to get to Horizon, the party eventually finds a caravan going through Horizon and the Golden Citadel to reach the Red Wastes. This caravan is lead by Glyff Searclaw, a Dragonspawn businessman and ranger, and realizing that the party is the Slyce Flatteners, he agrees to give them free passage if they’re willing to work as guards, as he’ll be able to get more passengers that way.

The party agrees, and the caravan soon sets out, with the party entertaining the passengers with tales of arena glory and other adventures.

On the second day, though, there is a problem. Crossbow bolts shoot out of the woods, and injure most of the horses in the caravan! It has to stop. The party meets Richard Hemmingsworth, Gentleman Thief, and his band of well-dressed thieves. After having hit a caravan-load of expensive clothing, Hemmingsworth’s band upgraded their image, and they have been terrorizing this route ever since. However, Hemmingsworth has his eyes on something different this time: the mechanical man, Murdock Steelbeard! Clearly, the party are not going to deactivate and give up their dear friend! Combat is afoot! Will our heroes survive?

Jul 7

Molyneux Text-Based Cooking Simulator 2013

I did another game jam. This one, of course, is Molyjam 2013. Faced with amazing inspiration from Peter Molyneux, I did the only obvious thing. I made a cooking simulator. You can play it here. The official Molyjam page for it is here. I hope you find it interesting, at the very least.

Whoo, I made another stupid game! And this one has an inventory system, which I’m kind of proud of, even though I’m sure it’s really awfully put together!

And if you find any bugs, let me know.

Jun 13

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 6/6/2013

After surviving their brush with the Lich King’s forces aboard the abandoned ship, our heroes finally manage to sail into Axis, the City of Swords. Once there, Zardy tries to convince Sylvia to unlock the Falconcats chest, but she claims she can’t because the enchantment is very strong, and she’s a sorcerer, and enchantments are technical and less natural like her magic. Sylvia heads off of the ship, to complaints from our heroes. She claims she only agreed to ride with them out of Santa Cora, and nothing else. Still, after being pressed for how they can help her deal with Baal’s Throne, she tells them to meet her at a secret address in Horizon once they get there, but she needs to travel alone now, in order to prepare as quickly as possible. She leaves.

Once exiting the Wavecutter, however, after deciding to tentatively put it on the market to see if it would be worth abandoning or keeping and renaming it The Fore Sail, a strange little gnome runs up to Nimrod with an excited expression. It seems he’s with the local cult of Slyce, and he’s overjoyed to see a real, true Paladin of his god! Nimrod tells of his quest to get Slyce recognized by the Priestess, and he says that the small local chapter is helping too, and shows a flyer advertising an exhibition match in the MURDER MAZE of Slyce’s followers versus the Dragon Empire’s finest in order to prove the strength of their god, seeing as only strength is valued in the City of Swords, or so the little gnome claimed. He rushes the party back to the local Slyce shrine, a unfortunate, unpleasant location in a basement near an arena, to show Nimrod off and give our heroes a great… well, okay, a questionable place to crash while in town.

Our heroes meet with the combatants that the local cult of Slyce has picked to fight, and it’s obvious they are going to be murdered immediately in the MURDER MAZE. Pulling Heathcliff into another room, Nimrod reveals that he knows about Heathcliff’s coin, and that he believes it to be an instrument of his god, seeing as it’s so flat. He forces Heathcliff to use it to determine if they need to help these people, and Heathcliff gives in. The coin says they do in order to further their goals. Hearing this, Nimrod and Heathcliff find it easy to convince everyone to change plans to our heroes entering the fight as the Slyce Flatteners, since Zardy is interested in making a comeback in the arena scene and Murdock is wanting to help these nice people in any way he can.. Zardy and Heathcliff take the required change of combat forms to the arena and attempt to convince Mott Battleman, the Arena Event Coordinator, to make this fight a huge deal. When that doesn’t work, Heathcliff uses a bit of charm magic to get the job done, and they arrange not only the pot for the cultists to get them a better temple, but a little prize on the side if they win the fight.

Soon, it is time for the MURDER MAZE. Zardy learns that his old rival for the affections of the arena-going public, Ingrid Stomphowler, has forced her way in as his opponent so that she would have a chance to defeat him once and for all. Zardy fails to intimidate her, but stands his ground.

Once the MURDER MAZE has begun, our heroes barrel through the traps, braving the danger and using endurance and physical prowess to get through the first two, and a little ingenuity and Murdock’s knowledge of Dwarven machinery to get through another. Their great brains solve some difficult riddles to get through a locked door, and finally they engage in combat with a room filled with horrible, poisonous spiders, which Nimrod helps to fight with more righteous fury from Slyce than ever before, in order to obtain the key to the main battle area, as well as the key to activate the traps of the MURDER MAZE on the other team. Armed with these keys, our heroes must now make a choice: will they rush back and try to beat the other team, securing the healing for themselves to prepare them for a tough fight with Ingrid and her team, or will they hang back and try to weaken them with the traps they have barely survived, risking giving them the healing potions? We’ll find out, tonight!

Jun 6

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 5/30/2013

Hearing the Crusader forces outside of the shack Sylvia Highstack is hiding in, our heroes burst into action. The Wonderheart takes position outside of the shack, acting as a street performer, to keep an eye out. Nimrod joins him, pretending to enjoy the music and try to sell him on his religion (which is something he probably wants to do anyway). Inside, Zardy and Murdock attempt to figure out how to hide Sylvia. Eventually, Zardy just busts down the back wall of the shack until there’s a hole big enough for the Elf to sneak through, then covers it up with furniture as Sylvia makes her escape to the Wavecutter. The Crusader leader gets there, and Zardy poses as their friend, leading them on an investigation of Sylvia’s shack. Murdock poses as an investigation robot. They cause the Crusaders to waste time searching, but eventually find evidence she was there. Nimrod then creates a distraction, saying that a woman just stole the cart where he keeps his Slyce Pamphlets! The Crusaders run off after the non-existent thief, and our party runs back to the Wavecutter, taking the long route to make sure they aren’t followed.

Once back on the ship, they find out that the ship itself is actually a special Archmage ship in disguise, and is designed to be driven by wizards and sorcerers, not sailors. They do this via metal cords throughout the ship, and an Attunement Rod, which can focus magical energies to make the ship go. Syliva is willing to do the ritual to set up the rod to her and Heathcliff’s frequency, but needs Phalanthum Dust, rare in these parts. The party sneaks out to find some, and Murdock runs into an old friend, the dwarven merchant Gladys Nightstone, who points Murdock in the right direction of someone who can hook him up with some (admittedly marked up) Phalanthum Dust.

With preparations complete, and not a single ship sank, much to the chagrin of Zardy, our heroes set sail for Axis. Along the way, moving a bit too close to the Necropolis, perhaps, our heroes encounter a mysterious ship filled with horrible skeleton creatures. Nimrod tries to keep them contained in a door, while everyone else attacks horrible skeletal scorpions and a nasty skeletal lich. Even Sylvia gets in on the fight. After destroying the evil on the ship, they search for anything valuable, and Zardy finds a strange chest, marked with the symbol of Clan Falconcats, sealed with some sort of odd magical energy. What could be in this strange chest? And what will our heroes find awaiting them at Axis? Have they made a clean getaway? What’s their next move?

May 30

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 5/16/2013

Following their impromptu leader Heathcliff, our band of heroes attempts to sneak onto the Wavecutter, a ship chartered by Seymour Beuttes to return him and his group to Horizon. Heathcliff attempts several fancy moves, even a magical charm, to try to whoo his way past the guards and security on the ship, but fails. Murdock and Zardy look to each other, shrug, and wade into the fray, starting a fight against Lord Captain Sebastian Wavecutter, a deadly ship captain with a huge scythe which he uses to cut through his enemies like water, and his crew. Throughout the brawl, Nimrod attempts to convince the crew to jump into the water to save their captain, sometimes subtly pushing them forward. After the crew is dispatched, our heroes fish Lord Captain Sebastian Wavecutter’s body from the waves, and place him in the captain’s chair, hoping nobody will realize what happened. They also discover Seymour’s journal, which highlighted that Heathcliff’s coin is needed, at least in part, to try to finish something called Project Baal’s Throne, which is attempting to control one of the hellholes of the Diabloist for some purpose. It also outlines a rebel who was trying to stop the project, the large-chested, apparently, Sylvia Highstack, hiding somewhere in the city.

After trying to get some sleep on their newly “acquired” ship, during which Nimrod sneaks a peek at Seymour’s journal and learns of Heathcliff’s coin, our heroes are woken by the rabble of Crusader forces returning to their ship in the harbor. This causes the team to go to the nearby Seaman’s Cannon, a bar frequented by seamen of all sorts, and learn that these Crusaders are looking through each quadrant of the city in turn. Murdock uses a connect with someone at the Grand Temple’s library, his friend Demitrius Dule Dirigibule, to find out Sylvia’s more specific location, and the party sets off to rendezvous with her. After some tense negotiations, Sylvia agrees to, at the very least, join them on the Wavecutter to escape the Crusader forces for the time being, and suggests that, even if they are going to Horizon, they not dock the Wavecutter there, as it would be instantly recognized. She suggests docking at Axis instead, and going to Horizon on foot, and the party agrees this is a good idea. However, as they are about to leave the building, Crusader forces can be heard outside the door! Will our heroes be able to dodge the forces outside, or will they have to overcome them? And how will a group with no sailing experience pilot a ship with no crew? We will find out… tonight!

May 16

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 5/9/2013

Last time, on On the Whim of a Coin Flip,

Murdock Steelbeard, mechanical dwarf made by the Dwarf King himself, found himself called to the chamber of the Priestess. The Priestess had a vision, and there is someone in the city of Santa Cora he must help. Following the will of his teacher and his goddess, he sets out on his quest, only to immediately bump into Nimrod the Odd, a half-orc cultist who is trying to get the worship of his god, Slyce, recognized by the Priestess so he can spread the doctrine of how flat the world is. Murdock and Nimrod come to an understanding: if Nimrod can prove his worth and strength, Murdock will attempt to use his connections to get Slyce recognized. Without much guidance, the pair set out into Santa Cora.

Meanwhile, Heathcliff, bard extraordinaire, known as the Wonderheart for his prowess, sits in a bar called Bellaluna’s Cup, trying to keep his head down. His demonic lover has tipped him off that he’s already been located in this place, and he must be wary. He’s accosted by a half-drunk and merry Zardy, however, who demands music and ends up taking a liking to the man. As he gets swept up in the revere, Heathcliff notices outside his nemesis, Seymour Beuttes, a lacky of the Archmage who has been chasing him for some time in an attempt to acquire his magic coin, which can answer any yes or no question. He attempts to make an escape through the back, being forced to keep Zardy in tow due to his insistence that he not leave the party.

At the same time, Murdock sees a holy sign in the sunlight, and he knows the goal of his quest must be near. This causes him to be right in the way as Heathcliff races into the alley to get away, causing a collision. Deciding he must be the goal of his quest, Murdock gives chase, attempting to help the man, but the noise of him attempting to get him to slow down draws the attention of Seymour and his goons. While Heathcliff beats feat, Murdock gallantly stands against these enemies, and Nimrod tries to talk them down, still eager to be helpful to the mechanical dwarf. Zardy, however, is filled with the power of the Red coursing through his sword, and urging him to kill, and he’s more than happy to do so in order to help his new drinking buddy. Seeing the bravery of his group to protect him, Heathcliff also rejoins the fight to help, glad to have Seymour out of his life once and for all.

After dispatching of these foes, the group finds out that they were to return to a ship in the Santa Cora harbor, called the Wavecutter, according to a writ of passage on Seymour. Heathcliff secretly flips his coin, and it tells him that he should proceed to the ship itself, and after buying a round for everyone in the bar, especially his new barbarian friend, the group decides what to do next.

Apr 6

The Ceiling: A Game Thing I Made

I heard about a game jam going on today. I think it used to be called the Gayme jam, but now it’s like the QUILT Jam or something? Anyway, I had an idea to participate, but I have an awesome wedding to go to today (Congrats, Brad, by the way!). So I decided to make it yesterday. It all came together, and now it’s done, and then I realized it didn’t really fit the jam’s theme anyway.

But I made something. And that’s significant. I dunno, I don’t make things enough anymore. I’m proud of it, in my dumb little way.

The game is here. It’s called The Ceiling. It’s not a platformer where a ceiling is separated from its walls and must jump through 10 stages in order to get them back, though that would have been cool. It’s kinda personal, but that’s the point. I hope you enjoy it, or at least get something out of it, if you try to play it. And please, let me know what you think if you do.


Apr 3

WARNING: Recording Including My Voice Approaching!

Oh, hey, look! Over at Onthestick.com! It’s a recording involving my voice! They let me on the podcast again to talk about Etrian Odyssey IV, DmC Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, music that only I like, and more! If you don’t hate listening to me, and if you actually are seeing this post on this website, you probably don’t, then you should go listen to it here!

And also check out all the other shows in the On The Stick Podcast Network, like The Action Cast, and What A Maneuver!

I’m out!

Apr 2

Being Taken Seriously

Hi. I’m going to blog for a sec. That cool? Cool.

I read, over and over, all of these stories of women in tech and gaming being completely and totally insulted, disrespected, and disregarded on twitter like… constantly. I’m not one to get angry at politics and things of that nature outside my pet issues. It’s a flaw, I guess. But I find, more and more, this is a pet issue for me. These stories make me hurt, and make me furious, and make me thankful that I am surrounded by awesome people and awesome co-workers for the most part and don’t have to deal with this bullshit.

But it’s more than that, I guess.

I grew up with all male friends, doing “male” things, and generally loving how I spent my time and who I spent it with. When I finally got to be myself, I didn’t lose many of the people I grew up with. As a result, they know me. They know what I am capable of. They know my passions. They know when I should be taken seriously. They know I’m female. It doesn’t really affect things at all, besides a few jokey jokes that I know are jokes that, frankly, I’m glad they feel comfortable making, because it means my identity is clear in their heads, which means a lot to me.

But it makes me wonder. Because when we’re really in the groove, doing things we used to love and still do, they forget. Simple slips, simple mixups, and quickly corrected. Nothing I’m angry or even annoyed about, though they do sometimes catch me off guard. Example: We started playing Magic again. We hadn’t done that in years, way before I transitioned, and when we play, I find that pronouns sometimes slip the wrong way. It’s like a muscle memory. Automatic. Nothing meant by it. It’s there, though. And it makes me wonder if a lot of the respect I get in the sort of areas these women are talking about in their horrible stories are because of my background. That I’m still, in some respect, in that “male” box in some dusty, discarded box in the back of their head, and that affects things.

Recently, my brother and sister-in-law had a party, and invited a couple I had never seen before. CJ and I struck up a conversation with the guy of the couple, and as things do around us, the conversation turned to video games. I quickly had a revelation while this conversation was going on: he would never look at me. He was having a conversation with CJ, and not with the both of us, because I was the female, and thus not a gamer. Even when I’d chime in, clearly knowledgable, he’d quickly move back to CJ, even to respond to things I said. Not in an insulted or frustrated way or anything. In no way am I saying this guy was being mean. He had a super cool wife and super cool kids and seemed really nice. He clearly didn’t realize he was doing it. CJ didn’t realize it was going on until I talked to him afterward either. If I had pointed it out, he would have apologized like crazy. But it wasn’t an important thing.

Compared to the kind of stories you see out there every day, this was obscenely minor and in no way a big deal. But it stuck in my head afterwards, as I realized it was one of the first times I had ever been disregarded for my gender like that. (That might not be true, now that I think about it. I faced a lot of pushback trying to head up the makeup crew on shows back in the day. But first time for my REAL gender, anyway.) And I sat there and pictured that happening to me every day on things like that, where I really care and know a whole damn lot, and fuck, the thought was pretty awful.

I read this stuff and I wonder why I never see it, really, in my life. Is it because of residual “maleness” or just knowing better how to communicate with them, having lived among them? (I feel like I am a better communicator because of my past, but I don’t think that’s what the problem is in all the stories I hear by a long shot.) Is it just that I am a really awesome judge of character and surround myself with the coolest dudes? (That is certainly true regardless, but may not be affecting this particular thing.) Am I just somehow better at sticking up for myself than most? (Feels unlikely where I’m standing.) I really don’t know.

All I can agree on is that it’s total bullshit that this stuff happens to people, and I’m glad people are pushing back.

Jan 25

Show The Bright Side

A blog? What?

Recently, I’ve been playing some little art games that are trying to capture the transgendered experience. I replayed dys4ia before sharing with my class recently, and I just now played a game called Mainichi which was a little RPG Maker experiment that worked pretty well. I think trying to capture this stuff is a fine idea. The vast majority of people just don’t “get it,” even if they are supportive, or think they are. I get wanting to make it clear what’s going on, to some extent.

I just wish they weren’t so negative.

I mean, there are plenty of negatives, don’t get me wrong. And as a, you know, education vector, those are things important to encapsulate and show to people. I’m not arguing that. But it’s a standard “more flies with honey” kind of thing, right? Wouldn’t it be more effective to help people kind of share in the joy of becoming yourself for the first time? Because there is a lot of joy in it. That would help them understand too, wouldn’t it? Nobody ever emphasizes that part. That first moment when you look in the mirror and see yourself and for the first time, you look like the person you’ve always been in your head. That moment when you buy something you never would have been allowed to wear before, and go out in it. That moment when a random person at a store correctly genders you for the first time in your life. That moment when a PARENT correctly genders you for the first time. There’s a lot of bright spots in the experience, and maybe, one could argue, they’re few and far between, but they make it all worth it, don’t they? I think so.

Maybe a lot of people have it worse than me. I wouldn’t be surprised. But I mean, I’m in the middle of goddamn Missouri and things are going well for me. It always helps to focus on the positive, even if maybe I’m often bad at it. And hey, maybe that’s why there’s so much negative in most of these games. Because it is hard to think positive when most of your life, you’ve been overwhelmingly depressed from this stuff. It is hard. And you think about the bad things. The asshole who ruined your day with a stupid, offhand comment. How hard it’s going to be to save the money for that surgery. But it’s just a thing. They’re all just things. And there are better things.

This all may have something to do with me getting somewhat drunk last night and telling everyone I could listen how awful and fucked up I am. But that’s just the bad part of my brain talking. I don’t believe it. I know things are wonderful. I’d like to share that, and not despair. That would be better, right?