Daily Thoughts 138: Heroes of the Storm

Author's selfie Almost two years ago Blizzard launched Heroes of the Storm. I played a few games, but haven’t really spent any time playing. As I near the end of my MLIS classes (other than the portfolio) one of the things I’m looking forward to having more time to do is play games. I have tons of projects I want to do from my massive reboot of my writing and publishing efforts, to library work (outside of my regular job), to coding and development projects.

And I want to have time to enjoy games, both of the tabletop and video variety. Blizzard is about to launch Heroes of the Storm 2.0. Since I haven’t played much at all, I’ll be starting essentially from scratch. Looking forward to spending some time in the Nexus!

 

Daily Thoughts 137: Favorite Games

A great many years ago, we embarked on great adventures with StarCraft, WarCraft II, and Diablo. Expansions and new games followed, eventually World of WarCraft and StarCraft II. It’s been a blast and these games have endured, remaining favorites.

Today we received a box of Blizzard merchandise. They’d had a Spring clearance sale with items 75% off. It’s been a fun evening. I’m looking forward to more flexibility in my schedule as I finish my MLIS classes. For the first time in a couple years, I have an active WoW account again. It’s going to be fun!

Daily Thoughts 129: Late Night Studying

Author's selfie It’s late! I’ve been busy all day working on assignments and studying. We did take a break at one point to run out and do some quick errands in town, but mostly I’ve been in front of a computer screen all day. It’s nearly midnight. Time to get to sleep!

Gnome Efficiency Team

One of my assignments today—a game designed for library folks.

Example of gameplay

This shows the game in play (from my demo on how to play). More information about the game is available over at Shush Games.

Chipmunk

On my walk this morning I spied a little chipmunk. I named him Waldo. Can you find him? I think this picture would make a good jigsaw puzzle.

Picture of a Chipmunk named Waldo

Daily Thoughts 122: Network Analysis and Games

One of my tasks today has been working through analyzing networks with an example from 2007 Senate voting data, using NodeXL in Excel.

Graph of Senate voting clusters (2007)

It’s interesting to see how divided the clusters are in the Senate and to see which Senators are the ‘bridge’ members. It’d be interesting to explore the data for multiple years.

Game Assessment

For another assignment, I created a visual assessment of the game Mice & Mystics.

Game Assessment chart

Creating the assessment graphics took time (probably more than necessary), but it was fun. I particularly enjoyed creating the cheese wedges to use for each area of the assessment. Assignments like this are a welcome excuse to learn more about using Illustrator.

Other than work for my MLIS, I didn’t do much else today. Except I did go out and work on the yard for a bit.

Daily Thoughts 77: Early Start, Busy Brain

Author's Selfie Today started early! And it followed a night when I couldn’t sleep. My schedule always has a degree of variability to it, but most of the time my morning routine is consistent. Not this week! Different days, different start times, it’s been all over the place.

Busy Brain

via GIPHY

I love new ideas! Too much sometimes. I think of a new idea and want to run with it right away. Being back in school encourages this behavior.

One of my classes focuses on gamification of information, or how we can use game elements to help with learning, exploration, and creation. I have an assignment to create a game this week. Not finished, polished, and beautiful, but a game with an information science focus.

I came up with a wonderful idea the other day in the shower. The idea didn’t work for the assignment, but then I realized I could use the same or similar game elements for a game targeted for the assignment and that led to even more ideas! I have other things to do over the next several days but I’m excited about this idea. I plan to have a working model of the game in a couple days so that I can film an initial gameplay attempt to turn in for the assignment.

The game idea keeps pulling my attention. I lay awake last night thinking about details. Hopefully, tonight will go better.

 

Daily Thoughts 64: Ludology, Brainstorms, and Stranger Things

Author's selfie I’m busy with ludology (the study of games) today. That, and trying to keep my eyes open. I’m interested in the material. I’m also tired from the trip and too little sleep. I got back late yesterday but the dogs didn’t care this morning. They wanted out. I can’t say I blame them. And I did have to get up anyway.

My internal clock is messed up, and I’m tired today. I still have a lot to do.

Brainstorms

most people fall into the trap of running with the first solution
they find, even though it might not be the best solution – Tina Seelig, inGenius

Cover art for InsightOutToday I worked on a brainstorming session with classmates. It was fun, quick, and useful. I plan on taking a deeper look at Tina Seelig’s work, starting with Insight Out:  Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World. When I get time to work on it more.

I enjoy reading about creativity, innovation, and ideas. It’s something that fits well with libraries (and, of course, writing).

Stranger Things

I’m late to the game, but on my trip I ended up watching Stranger Things. I mentioned it briefly in my travel post. I downloaded the first few episodes (glad that Netflix added that option). I also watched episodes to decompress at the end of the day.

Now I understand why people liked the series. It was great. Hit all of the things that I enjoy, and I especially liked that it was set in the 80s, a time I remember from my own childhood. Lots of fun!

 

Daily Thoughts 58: The Shallows, Planetary Society, Defining Games

Author's selfie Sporting my new Planetary Society t-shirt while hanging out in the hammock chair. It’s been a long day! After my walk this morning I spent time cleaning out our shed of things to go to the transfer station. Followed by errands, before coming back to work on my assignments for class, and wrapped up with a movie.

The Planetary Society

It is surprising to me (in retrospect) that I hadn’t already joined the Planetary Society. After listening to books by Bill Nye and Jim Bell, I finally took the leap and joined. I should have done it a long time ago.

The Shallows

We watched The Shallows tonight after having rented it nearly a month ago. This was a good surprise. A survival horror movie, a short of Halloween meets Jaws. Lively did an excellent job carrying the movie (since for much of the movie she’s the only person on the screen). I also loved that her character was named Nancy. I don’t know if that’s a nod to A Nightmare on Elm Street or not, but I’ll appreciate it as such anyway.

Defining “Game”

For class, I had to define a “game” and discuss the definition. I’ve worked on it the past couple days.

Games are structured social activities found across human cultures that involve rules and challenges which may be mental, physical, or a combination of both. Games elicit emotions in players, observers, or both.

This is the definition I wrote. I’m not going to post the entire discussion. I mostly focused on the social and cultural implications of games, and why it is that humans spend so much time and energy on games. Is there an evolutionary advantage to this sort of behavior? Potentially, yes, I think that an argument can be made. I also addressed why I think that even single-player games are inherently social in nature.

Daily Thoughts 56: Forbidden Island and Games

Author's selfie I’m tired this evening! I left for work before 6 AM today, in order to get out to the Ocean Park Timberland Library on the coast. Several of my co-workers went with me to cover the library while the staff attended training. It takes almost three hours to get there! Our library encompasses a large geographic area.

When not at the library, I’ve been busy with my classes in my MLIS program. My main focus today: playing games!

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island boxI enlisted the help of my family to play Forbidden Island tonight. It was exactly a requirement for my gamifying information course, but it was an additional activity suggested that we could share on the discussion boards. The game offers an entertaining mix of fantasy, adventure, and cooperative play. I also enjoyed the random elements that promise a lot of replay options.

Games

Aside from playing the game today, I also enjoyed lectures and articles about games. One the tasks to tackle? Defining ‘game.’ What is a game? It’s one of those terms that describes a range of activities. It includes games like Forbidden Island, poker, baseball, and Minecraft. The articles offer various definitions of games, but we’re tasked with developing our own definitions and writing a discussion of that definition, with references to the materials. Plus we’re to write peer reviews of work by our classmates.

I’m out of time tonight to finish that up, so I’ll continue the work on it tomorrow.

Daily Thoughts

Self-portrait of the author Errands take time and energy. It’s easy to forget that sometimes. I woke up this morning at 3:30 AM and went back to sleep until 5:30 AM because I’m off work today. I went for my walk in a slushy rain/snow mix. After recognizing and dealing with my depression, I started exercising each day. It’s easier when the element of choice is removed. I listen to talking books and use Zombies, Run! and generally look forward to my walk.

Later, after breakfast, we ran errands in town and that also included getting our flu vaccinations. After the shot and his initial panic, my son decided it wasn’t really too bad after all. Still, with shopping, doctor’s visit, and a quick trip to Olympic Cards & Comics, I was a bit worn out—and well over my step count goal for the day!

‘Out of Print’ Still Exists?

In today’s era of print-on-demand and electronic access, I find that I tend to assume the content I want is available to buy. Not always so! I enjoyed an older episode of Tabletop the other day and went online to find Unspeakable Words (hence the visit to Gabi’s today).

Unfortunately, it seems that the game is unavailable except from folks that are selling it at a premium. It looks like fun―just not that much fun!

This isn’t the only case of something being unavailable. There are plenty of older science fiction titles that Open Road Media hasn’t republished yet.

Origins

While I’m tackling the big questions, how did life begin? Evolve? That’s the topic of two books I’ve been enjoying lately from Audible and Overdrive.

Cover for The Vital Question by Nick LaneThe Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origin of Complex Life by Nick Lane

Lane tackles the “black hole at the heart of biology,” the questions of why life is the way life is and what powers it. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m enjoying this interesting take on big questions.

Cover art for The Story of Earth The Story of Earth: The First 4 Billion Years, From Stardust to Living Planet by Robert M. Hazen

Hazen explores the complex co-evolution of the mineral world and the living world. He paints a compelling scenario that covers the history of the Earth, the cycles of change, and speculations on the future evolution of the planet. I’m just about done with this one.

The origin of life interests me. Science fiction speculates endlessly on the question of life elsewhere, imagining numerous potential scenarios. Hazen’s book calls into question some of those speculations. If, as he indicates, so much of Earth’s mineralogy depends on life and vice versa, in a sort of feedback loop that includes the geographic evolution of the planet, then it calls into question if life could develop beyond an initial form on a world lacking such features. For instance, how would life develop in temperate cloud layers in a gas giant without access to the vital minerals necessary for life? We tend to focus on water, but Hazen’s narrative suggests much more is required.

What Hazen doesn’t answer (I don’t know if Lane addresses the question), are my core questions about the origin of life. Assuming life formed out of regular chemical interactions, how often does it happen? What, precisely, is required? Do the conditions for life arising still exist on Earth? If not, when did that stop? What prevents those conditions from existing now? Where else in the solar systems might those conditions exist?

Clearly, we don’t have all of those answers yet. Even so, life did develop here. Do we know for sure that it didn’t happen multiple times? Although we can point to evidence that shows all living things (that we’ve tested) show a common lineage—what if that is because there is only one way for life to evolve? Does life always arise with the properties we see here on Earth? Or are the speculations of other biochemistries in science fiction plausible and possible? Or will we find that all life, everywhere, has the same sort of DNA, molecular handedness, and building blocks for proteins, cells, etc.?

If life is the inevitable outcome of natural processes, then maybe it is as predictable as fusion in the stars that created our basic elementary building blocks.