Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

5 November, 2012

Musings on Piracy. I Mean, Arrrr.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’m fairly certain there is a name for the phenomenon that the easier way wins out, that the concept is formulated in a law named after some clever word-smith who managed to relate the path of least resistance to consumer activities. I’ almost completely positive that there is such a named law when it comes to user interfaces for computers, that states that a better interface is the one that requires the least number of actions. For all my googling, though, I can’t find these names, so I shall have to proceed without them.

The point is, consumers will do what is easiest. We’ve heard this in the debate about piracy for some time, and it is obviously true, but the legitimate content providers are very, very reticent about being the ones providing the easiest path. In my youth, I downloaded shows I wanted to watch, because they weren’t on TV where I lived, and I really wanted to watch them anyway. There was no way to get them legally, so I downloaded. Arr, me hearties, etc.

I stopped that after a letter from MGM scared me straight.

Anyway, that’s years ago, but the situation today isn’t all that different. There’s loads of good TV being made, and not much of it makes its way to channels near me – or if they do, they do so months or even years after original airing. Being fickle consumers seeking instant gratification, the pirates are there to fill the gap. I manage to stay on the right side of the law while still getting to see the shows I want – it’s all technicalities. Morally, what I do is no different from piracy, I know, but legally, I’m in the clear. And I do it, because pirates successfully deliver the content in the easy way that the legitimate content providers won’t. It’s not a matter of wanting it for free; even in my downloading days I would go out and buy the DVDs as soon as they were available. It is about ease of access. I have always maintained that I would prefer the completely legitimate way. People in the US have it easier there, with services like Hulu and Netflix.

But now, see, Netflix has launched in Norway! My legitimate path is open to me!

And it’s still shit.

Well, OK, not completely. Netflix Norway has a very limited selection of shows and titles, and most of them are at least a couple of years old. They have shows that are currently airing, but only let you watch up until a couple of seasons ago. I assume this is because the industry is still locked in the model of thinking that gave us the utterly moronic zone system on DVDs – they want to control when people in various regions get to watch their stuff. And never mind that with current technology, they can’t.

I do sort of sympathise with the problem here. I imagine the profits from sales of airing rights to various markets are significant when it comes to making TV. And I don’t want TV production stifled by lack of funds. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but the Internet has so globalised communication that the model just doesn’t work any more.

So, Netflix Norway has poor selection, and I can only get it to work in (gag) Internet Explorer, and it only has Norwegian subtitles with uninspired language. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. I’ve spent the past couple of days diving into some older shows I might not have bothered with had they not been all that was on offer. Andromeda isn’t bad, it turns out. Presumably the selection will expand in the future, but until I can actually watch the latest episode of Modern Family as soon as it’s aired in the US, it won’t hold a candle to the pirates.

And isn’t that just a sad state of affairs.

29 October, 2012

Procrastinating on Fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’ve pretty much decided to try this online game idea. However, I also know that I don’t really have the time for the start-up yet – life’s a bit hectic at the moment. The result is that I still putter around with the idea, but not with the parts that actually matter.

See, all the important stuff from here on will depend largely on the players, should I find any, so until I’m ready to go looking, I can’t very well do much of the real work. So, in a characteristic move, I obsess over needless details. Except, in my head they’re obviously not needless. If I’m aiming to run a campaign focused mostly on a sea voyage, I want to know which sail I’m talking about when one of them catches fire.

I’ve been puttering around with the details of this ship for a couple of weeks now. I made a little floor plan, gridded out should combat arise, based on some other ship maps I found. I’m pretty pleased with the results, so long as I don’t think too closely about the scale.

Ship plans

Sail plan

So, yes, I’m procrastinating on something that is supposed to just be fun. That’s the level of procrastination I rise to.

22 October, 2012

A Lack of Board Games

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I feel like I don’t have enough board games.

I don’t know if I’m properly qualified to be a board game geek (though I do have an account on BoardGameGeek), since I haven’t really played a wide variety of games. I do however feel like one, like someone who will go out of their way to get in a fun board game. But I feel like I don’t own enough of them. I’m actually less than impressed by some of the mainstays. Carcassonne, for instance, I’ve never seen the appeal of. There are a few I do like enough to have standing on the shelves however.

For a good long while, the only game I had was the Game of Thrones board game, which I’ve written a bit about before,  and which I used to play with friends pretty regularly. I still play it, but much less regularly now. It’s probably my favourite game, but it takes a while and needs many players, so we have to make an Event of it.

I’ve got a couple of card games. Monty Python Fluxx and Chrononauts are both good fun, but rarely see play. Bohnanza is a fairly recent acquisition, and has also not seen much use. Citadels I’ve had on the shelf for a little while, but never played – the opportunity has yet to present itself.

Kill Doctor Lucky I have gotten to play since obtaining it, and it was as much fun as I remembered. I quite like that style of humour – the family board game of murder in the dark. Earlier today I purchased a copy of Pandemic, which I have enjoyed playing in the past. I even played a little solitaire round to refresh my memory of the rules. I won.

And that’s it, really. That’s all that’s on my shelves. Like I say, I feel it’s not enough, but I don’t know where to go next.

I have been watching and enjoying Wil Wheaton’s TableTop show, but it hasn’t really inspired me to go get the ones I hadn’t heard of before yet. Maybe one will show up eventually?

Or maybe you, gentle reader, have some suggestions?


15 October, 2012

A Very Quick Word while Short on Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I continue in my withdrawals, and in my plans. Although the short break is now over and work ramps up again, I continue to explore the possibility of running an online game, and I think the exploration has progressed to the point where it is only a question of when, not if, it will happen.

As part of these almost-preparations, I have been catching up on and rereading Chris Perkins’s column on DMing, on the theory that learning from the best can’t be bad. I used to follow that column pretty regularly, but fell off at some point, possibly due to lack of a real game to experiment on. After reading about the way he uses arcs and his efforts to tie characters to the world through origin stories, I’ve tried to jot down some things myself. I managed three vague sentences that might describe viable arcs, and I produced a couple of potential origin stories, but they didn’t feel too good, really.

I fear I am running up against the limit where I can’t really do too much more without committing fully. Perhaps I should be posting a game ad already? How do you even choose players? I don’t know the first thing here!

I think I’ll postpone for at least another week, just to get some school work out of the way at least, and contend myself with reading the Iomandra campaign summaries while I wait.

8 October, 2012

Managing Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Predictably, writing about my D&D withdrawal didn’t alleviate the problem so much as exacerbate it. I have passed the week with the possibility of a game swirling around my head, a maelstrom of ideas and notions and desires. Of course, it always comes back to the same stumbling block: I don’t have the time.

Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself? When am I ever going to get more time? Could I do it if I just managed my time better? There’s probably no question that I could squeeze out some extra hours if I accomplished that, I am terrible at time management. Or, viewed from a different perspective, I am great at it, and really do need quite a bit of time to just digest.

I have, fearfully, toyed with a thought of jumping in with both legs and just see how much of a train wreck would result if I did try to do everything I wanted. This is a busy and important year in my education, my final year at University, and there are quite a few things I need to do and write over the course of this fall. I have, for many years, bemoaned the fact that NaNoWriMo takes place in November – the only moth that could possibly be worse for it is May – but in this dread fantasy of late I actually try to do it again this year. After all, it is lots of fun.

And maybe I could try running a net based game on top of that? It couldn’t hurt, my fevered brain whispers, what’s the harm in trying. That’s an argument that’s hard to counter with just a general feeling of impending doom, but you have to work with what you have.

Of course, maybe I’m overestimating the amount of work such a game would be; it’s not like I have any experience running one. Maybe it could be a slow runner, where I’d only have to post up a thing once or twice a week. Maybe I should just post an ad and see where it goes?

Of course, I have no real plan yet. My explorers idea is just that, an idea, not fleshed out at all. If I send players out to explore the world, I ought to have some world for them to explore as well, it seems to me. I could go against my every instinct and try to wing it, but I don’t know if that would end up fun or just messy.

I realise, by the way, how self-indulgent and spoiled I am – oh, no, not sure if I have the time to play a purely entertaining game on my magical electronic box – but I am blessed with a fairly drama free life, so this is what I angst about. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have wallowing to do. See you next week, when I’ve probably already posted an ad at this rate.

1 October, 2012

Idle Desires

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’m having a bit of D&D withdrawal.

It’s been a good while now since last I played the game, and a few months since I even wrote something about my world to release some of the steam. Today, I finally watched this year’s Acquisitions Incorporated episode, and many laughs were had. I also recently got caught up on the excellent Critical Hit podcast, after having fallen a month or so behind. It all adds up to a great big desire for more D&D. Before you know it, I’m scouring Obsidian Portal for interesting wikis, trying to soak up the mood like some desperate sponge.

There’s a new edition of the game on the way. I have barely skimmed the playtest materials currently out there. I like some things, am very sceptical about others, but I’m trying not to make up my mind before I see the finished product. I quite like 4th edition, though – and I already have a bunch of the books – so I doubt I’ll be switching any time soon. Late adopter, that’s me.

But as I’m not really playing, it hardly matters at the moment. I don’t have the time for running a game; that much is certain. I suppose I could try to find someone else to run one and just play in it, but that’s not the easiest project in the world either. No, gathering a group around a table at this point seems an unassailable task.

But, there’s always the Internet. I have been toying with the idea of putting up an ad on Myth Weavers. I don’t have much experience in play-by-post games; I’ve participated in one that sort of petered out pretty quickly when the DM disappeared, and been the DM of another, on Google Wave, that also did not last long. People do make it work however, so maybe I was just unlucky. I could try signing up for a player on a game, I guess, but there aren’t that many 4e games advertised on there, and among those even fewer that I think look interesting.

If I decide to try running one myself, I think I would want the story to circle around exploration – adventurers sailing off into the unknown to explore the world and discover what lies in the blank spots of the map. Possibly structured around a central search for a lost treasure. It’s all in the vague not-even-early stages.

It’s something that I think I will eventually talk myself into, even though I have no idea if I actually have the time to run it properly; I don’t even know what the time requirements will end up being. It’ll take a little more time, though, so while I wait, I’ll just have a look at Obsidian Portal …

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