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Tycho / 2 weeks ago

Gabriel is stocking up for an increasingly elaborate Stream Excursion, having recently found the serrated edge where streaming from the same box you’re playing on ceases to be an authentic option.  What’s more, he’d been using the Very Small Stream Deck from El Gato, which I think they officially call the Stream Deck Mini, and determined that once he was trying to run a stream with multiple overlays designed to incorporate the whole family Six Buttons was perilously close to No Buttons.  I suggested that perhaps the Stream Deck Mobile app might give him some breathing room, creating a kind of virtual configurable deck, but I knew deep down that this rhetoric was not a good time investment.  Eric Benson, brewmaster for Acquisitions Intoxicated, put forward that you can make nested menus on the Deck itself, virtually extending its payload, but I have spent enough time with Gruber to know that only a larger deck with more buttons would be acceptable.  He currently has the one with fifteen buttons.  I’ll let you know if he jumps to the thirty-two.

The last thing I heard was that he was trying to utilize “virtual audio cables,” which I think is like hearing that someone is looking for a beast called “El Cuchillo,” and then they walk out the cabin door into a blizzard, never to be seen again.

Part of the upgrade was the construction of a box whose only job is to digest streams from all over the house, a task that was undertaken last weekend, and whose fruits we should see this morning during the Mommy And Daddy Time stream he does with Kara.  They should still be in there, if you’re reading this from 10-12am PDT on Wednesday.  If not,  you know…  this isn’t actionable info.  Do keep it in mind for future dates.  I understand that Gabriel the Younger acquitted himself quite well in the task, and it sounds like he’s received substantial Python knowledge from our engineer’s Monday Morning streams, which will delight our Technomancer to no end.

Technology does hate Gabriel though, and it also hates my wife Brenna, to the point where I’m not a person who goes in for much Woo Woo but I’ve seen things happen around these two that fucking defies belief and I’ve had to warp my orderly cosmology just to allow for occasional projections into our universe from the Demon Realm in their proximity.  Things have gone very well for Gabriel, though, since he switched to an iPad Pro - a raft of what you might call Real Applications has begun to roost there, and iOS 13 has support for Mice, which has caused me to invest psychologically in a fantasy.

  I endeavored to use an iPad and a Bluetoof keyboard as a laptop replacement for trips, but it wasn’t really fit for purpose.  I’m not the kind of typist where all the stuff just goes from the brain to the hands to the screen in a coherent beam.  Typing is more like throwing clay for me.  I put it out there and I shape it and adjust it and then I fuck a ghost.  A mouse-free environment is generally considered a plus, like… in the home, but reaching up to touch the screen all the time with the right amount of precision and pressure to accomplish the task but not so much that it tips the iPad over is the sort of thing that makes me sweat preemptively.  It’s always needed a mouse in my opinion, all I’m looking for is the experience you get from the SDK mapped onto production devices, using a mouse.  And they heard me I guess!  As soon as iOS 13 finds its way into the world in an official capacity, I’ll see if it’s something that might have a broad application at home; something perhaps more resistant to her rays.

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

You can preorder the Sea of Thieves RPG, which is a real thing, from Mongoose right here if you think that might be something you’re interested in; such preorders come with access to a PDF of the same content so we had a chance to dig around in there.

I’ve played a couple tabletop designed with kids in mind, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one so friendly and just… conscious of the broadest range of player ability.  You have a little dock you keep your stuff on - it has “hand” slots for your items and current inventory, it’s very much like the kind of grid-based inventory you’d see in Diorblo or Minecraft.  That’s your character sheet, the end.  The game uses a custom die, as many new RPG systems do.  If I had to compare directly, I’d say it’s like a very simple version of the system in the Star Wars and Genesys games from Fantasy Flight - the Narrative Dice System.  Except where that system has a ton of complexity around how you form dice pools, incorporate negative dice, and then collaboratively create outcomes, this compresses that waveform down a bit.  A “Legendary Die” has two Coin faces for Victories, two sets of Bones for Not That, a Skull and Crossbones that indicates Trouble you must manage, and a Chest that offers a Victory and what it calls a Fun Choice. Storytellers in this game don’t even roll dice - but you can bet they’re there to interpret what it means when the Skull & Crossbones comes up.  You roll these dice toward successes in a fast, legible system that feels like 4e’s skill challenges.  Which I like.  So there.

This is all well and good if you haven’t just, you know, spent a couple months handmaking a bunch of these things yourself.  Gabe talks a little bit about that process today here, if you didn’t catch it.

There’s a book preorder and a box preorder, and both come with the PDF so you can get in there.  You can covet all the stuff the boxed set offers in the PC Gamer preview I guess and when you see what it costs shipped to the U.S. you can curse the stars of your birth.  That’s my go-to and I can’t recommend it enough.  They did include a code for a set of sails in the game; I suspect that for the true enthusiast this is an irresistible flavor.

So, Ryan is gonna be out this afternoon, which means no Bespoke Recitations - our exceedingly strange radio play thingamajig we’re currently doing to Phoenix Wright.  But!  Our engineer Mike Buland and I will be cracking back into Zachronics’ code- writin’, ‘zine readin’ odyssey EXAPUNKS, which takes place in a darker, more cyberpunk 1997.  The last level we beat was a literal hacker battle.  That should help you enter the correct mental arena.  Join us on stream at 2pm PDT!

(CW)TB out.   

Gabe / 2 weeks ago

D&D as a tool

It’s true that I’ve done a lot of work trying to incorporate Sea of Thieves into D&D. Unlike the comic, however I’m not mad that there is an actual SoT role playing game on the way. There are a lot of reasons to sit around a table with your family and tell stories together. I will tell you that one of the reasons I did it is to help my son Noah who has struggled (like his Dad) with math. D&D has a lot of numbers in it and you’re often being asked to quickly add, subtract and even multiply. These are all things that Noah really needed help with but the normal methods of practicing these skills, like flash cards and pages of number problems were not working for him. His test scores were getting very low and Kara and I were not sure what to do next. We decided to try and use D&D to see if that could help Noah focus and work on his numbers.

For example one of the things I tried to do in my game was mimic the discovery of treasure chests based on following riddles which is something Noah loves to do in the game. The way I ended up doing this was turning the riddles into simple word problems that required some math and some role playing. In our story we are following a trail left by the Pirate Queen Eva Norton. She happens to be the mother of Noah’s character and she is leading the party through the places she lived as a child. Here’s one of her riddles from an earlier game we played.

Ten shells upon a sandy beach
Two thieving crabs will take two each
The sea takes three although it pains
Now add my age to what remains

So the party had to do a little work here to find out how old Eva was when she lived on this particular island. That required talking to some folks but eventually they learned she had been 9 years old. Once everyone at the table thinks they know the answer to the riddle they get out their “shovels” which is a d20. You place your d20 in front of you with the number you think is the answer up and that represents you driving your shovel into the sand. If it’s right then THUNK! you hit the chest!

One of my other mini games is diving for treasure. This one is really just a fun take on an old game called Shut the Box. In my version I used 9 d10 and lined them up with the top numbers showing 1-9. These dice represent the gems down in a chest deep below the surface of the ocean.

Two players stay up on the boat to pump air down to the player trying to get the gems. In my game of three players this worked great. The two players on the boat each roll 1 d6 and pass it down to the player in the diving suit. This represents their air and they can keep getting gems only as long as their air lasts. Each time they get handed two d6 they must look at the sum and try and remove a number of gems whose face up numbers equal that sum. For example if the players on the boat pass down a 4 and a 3, the diver has 7 to work with. They could take one gem with a seven face up or they might take the 5 gem and the 2 gem. When they can no longer retrieve any gems they are out of air and have to return to the surface with the treasure they collected.

In my game the players were trying to work together to gather enough gems to appease a giant Dragon Turtle. Noah loved it so much that he kept “diving” by himself after we had finished playing.

I cannot express how much I love our Friday night games. Sitting down together and role playing is some of best family time I could ask for. It gives you insights into your kids and lets you teach and guide them in way they don’t even really notice. So has it helped at all?

Just take a look at our refrigerator.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

We have I guess what is called an “integration” or, legally, a “sponsorship” with Idle Champions Of The Forgotten Realms from Codename Entertainment.  Essentially people can complete Omin’s quests in Idle Champs, and they can shift events in the stream game.  If I was gonna do something like this, I wanted it (a) to matter and (b) not be too unctuous; I think we managed to chart a good course.

It also allowed us to return to a classic Penny Arcade pastime, that of kicking sponsors directly in the mouth.  I can already feel my youthful vigor return!

I like clickers, or Idle Games as they are sometimes called, though I’m not sure if we’ve decided on a robust cosmology for what determines what in this space.  Many of them are dense with hidden avenues, secret routes cobbled with dark purpose, and if that’s happening in this one I don’t know.  Most clickers are far more abstract than this one, even graphics are considered a luxury by genre standards, and where others might even have very long term “stories” that flow from their ongoing mechanical revelations, this one is something like a slide puzzle where the tiles of the puzzle are D&D Paragons and the game is about establishing a metaball of effective synergies and then letting it grind mobs while you do something else.  We did a stream for it once, and I was surprised to learn that just leaving it running is a norm for players.  In truth, I’ve seen it running on Amy’s computer while she’s playing Walnut at the table.  Shit gets pretty meta around here.

But that’s so far outside the boundaries of what Gabe even considers a game that it inspired a conversation we just turned into a strip.  Also!  An inside joke of ours is “Punch it with ‘woo!’ and we’re golden,” which is another way of saying “I am no longer interested in the creative process and am, in fact, far more interested in having lunch” but we found a strip where it actually feels like the right play(!!!).

Having resolved our differences, Gabriel and I will now commune through the dialectic of monster dismemberment.  Catch us streaming Dauntless

from 2-4pm PDT this afternoon to see what happens when we stop being polite to behemoths… and start getting real.

(CW)TB out.   

Gabe / 3 weeks ago

Like Dauntless and PAX?

I’ve been playing a ton of Dauntless recently. It’s a monster hunting game and when someone finds the behemoth they fire a flare up into the sky to alert the other slayers. The Dauntless folks have been coming to PAX for a few years and giving out these cool PAX flares that you can equip in game. Essentially it launches a big firework into the sky that spells out PAX. It will work on any platform but the steps to redeem the code are a little convoluted. I’m going to post them here just to I have a place to point people towards. If you want to snag a code you can keep an eye on my Twitter and watch our streams whenever we play Dauntless.

If you manage to snag a code, here’s how you activate it:

1. Download Dauntless on your platform of choice (Epic Games store, Xbox One or PS4) and create or log-in to your Epic Games account.
2. Launch Dauntless and log in for the first time
3. Visit and click on “Login” in the top right corner
4. Enter your Epic Games account info
5. on this page scroll down and enter the code in the “Redeem A Code” section
6. Log back in to Dauntless and the Flare will be available - it will manifest in the game as a Core you need to crack open

And here are a few codes for the lucky first 20 of you to read this post!


Get out there and rep PAX all over the Shattered Isles!

-Gabe out

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