March 6th, 2013


Games! (And other Intercon)

I wound up playing only two games during Intercon -- I'd been planning on three, but Pendragon failed to make its minimum number of players. That proved to actually be fine, though: Kate and I had managed to get precisely opposite schedules for the con, with no time actually seeing each other. So we got a lazy Saturday morning together in-between our games.

Saturday dinner proved fortuitous. We had intended to wander over to Bertucci's for a quick and easy meal, only to find it mobbed beyond belief. (Maybe by the teenagers who were occupying the rest of our hotel.) So we began to wander, and drove past Moonstones. (Which Kate had originally suggested, but I had failed to grasp the point that it was Right There.) Remembering that ladysprite had recently given it a good review, we tried it out, and it was delightful -- pricier than I'd intended for a quick between-games meal, but all the food was quite good (if not quite the revelation that Bacaro was the other week), service was solid, and they took us at our word that we needed to be efficient about it. We'll have to remember this for future cons at this hotel.

So my first game was Saturday evening: Hitherby Dragons. I confess, I'd never even heard of the story before, and had been lazy about digging into it before-game. Finally, when Kate went to go play Collision Imminent! (of all the games I've (co-)written, probably the one that has best endured) on Saturday afternoon, I sat down and started reading.

Oy -- I am *horribly* hooked. Hitherby undoubtedly isn't to everyone's taste: it is messy, complex, elliptical and as much a philosophy ramble as a story. But I *like* philosophy, and almost every chapter forces me to pause and think. So my intended half-hour to read into my character (I was playing Siddhartha, so I didn't need a ton of background) turned into a three-hour surf around the story. (Since then, I've bought three of her Kindle novels, and begun to read the story in earnest. I'm still working my way through The Legend of Ink Catherly, which is one of the finest pieces of mystical analogy I've read in years.)

The game itself was good (I had fun, anyway), although several people in discussion afterwards pointed out that it was too widget-hunty. I've brought that up to the GMs, and I hope they'll enhance it and run it again sometime: the mechanics are good, and the concept is very neat, but it needs more plot web to hang the characters on.

Sunday morning was Uwe Boll's Christmas Special, possibly the most perfectly Sunday-morning game ever. I'm not sure that the casting was *entirely* random, but it might have been. You got assigned a character, and a one-line description of what that character was like, which was basically the extent of "casting". (I was playing the son of the family, the bitter cast-off from a failed super-soldier experiment.) Then you, the player, chose an actor that you were playing to play that role -- theoretically a B-list actor, but they didn't really structure our experience. (I chose David Tennant.) We all walked into the room, with pretty much that much information, and the director began telling us the scenes, as they came up -- Go!

This one really crossed the line from conventional LARP into improv comedy. We had Charlie Sheen swanning around the "set", being encouraging at people between sneaking off to snort a line. There was Cher, starting and finishing the movie with musical numbers. (Including a final Rockettes-line of the entire cast singing, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas".) Snoop Dogg insisted that it was offensive to him to be cast as a drug dealer, so the script was hastily re-written during the car chase, to have him smuggling cabbage instead. Dame Judy Dench (playing my character's mother, also a super-soldier) and I got to emote at each other, then wound up working together for the climactic fight scene against the alien vampires. Lindsey Lohan got annoyed about being cast as Burt Reynolds' love interest, and got the director to let her character have an affair with Dame Judy's instead. (Which of course got a response of "Girl-on-girl action! I like it!") And so on.

It was all ridiculous fun -- the most loosely-structured game I've ever played but quite relaxing for end-of-con. The consensus of the players was mild regret that somebody wasn't actually filming it. I hope they re-run it: I suspect that many folks would enjoy it, and by the structure of the game it's likely to be very different every time. It would be a great game to box and distribute, since it requires precious little prep and is super-flexible...

Combatting my own ignorance

One of the LinkedIn links today points to a rather pithy and direct article on the "Ignorance Anti-Pattern" for startups -- basically, saying that one of the common failings for many startups is that they don't know what they don't know, and usually don't try very hard to find out.

It's good food for thought, and I'm pausing and reflecting about it. I've actually tried fairly hard to *not* fall into this trap -- I understand the technical side of the problem fairly well (not that I have all the solutions yet, but I'm at least aware of most of the problems I'm going to face), and I've thought a lot about the business side.

Still, I'm kind of in a bubble here. The biggest problem with founding a company almost single-handed (Kate and Aaron are both substantially involved, but I'm about 75% of it so far) is that I don't have people challenging my assumptions very often, and that's an important exercise.

So here's a request to all of you. Now or later, when you see problems that I'm plausibly going to be facing with Querki -- whether they be technical, logistical or business-related -- please raise them. That won't always be comfortable for me, but it's definitely necessary. Some folks have already been doing that occasionally (my father peppered me with a fine list of questions at Christmas), and so far there hasn't been anything *too* bad that I hadn't already foreseen, but I think people are only now beginning to see the shape of where the company is going. If you see that there are competitors that I might not know about, or business traps that I may be heading for, please bring them up.

This project is, in many ways, staggeringly arrogant, and the only chance I have of success is having my eyes wide open throughout...

Help! Looking for packing help at Crossert, March 30

We're getting down to the wire on prepping my Burlington house for sale. Much of it is packed, but it's time for the final push. We're hoping to get movers for the last furniture in early April.

SO -- March 30th, pretty much all day, I'm looking for a bunch of help. Some of this will be packing boxes, some of it helping move them to the storage unit. None of this is likely to be true Thug work -- the movers will deal with more or less all of the furniture -- but it wouldn't surprise me if we wind up with another 100 boxes that need to be moved. So it's pretty much the more, the merrier. We're hoping for at least six people helping out, and could probably use up to a dozen.

Lunch of some sort will be provided, as well as dinner if things run towards evening. We'll continue on Sunday if need be, but I'm hoping that we can get it reasonably done Saturday.

RSVPs greatly welcomed if you know you can make it, to help plan (and reduce the "Ack! Nobody's going to come!"), but I encourage you to simply show up day-of if it turns out that works best. Thanks!