shannon_a: (Default)
iOS7 Wednesday. Last Wednesday I spent the day in San Francisco, attending Apple's iOS7 Tech Talks. The basic idea was to bring developers up to date with new stuff in iOS7, but there was actually less iOS7 stuff than I would have liked. Still, it gave me some ideas for things that should be done to bring up games up to iOS7 standards (most importantly: simplify icons; update for 64-bit). Anyway, it was a day-long thing from 8-ish to 6-ish. First conference of that sort I've gone to in a long time. I sat around most of the time taking notes in a paper notepad. How low tech!

Sunday Streets. Sunday was the second (annual, I guess) Open Streets in Berkeley, which means that Shattuck got shut down for cars from just north of our house all the way up to Rose (almost 2 miles). Kimberly and I checked it out again this year, biking instead of walking this time. Sadly, it was kind of disappointing. There was less interactive stuff (like last year's climbing wall), fewer small sellers, and there was no special food other than some barbecuing butcher that had four things on their menu. Instead it was mostly local businesses putting a table on the street. It was also GROSSLY crowded by the time we came back. Still, we got out of the house and ended up having lunch at Saul's -- an old favorite that we don't get to much. I'm glad we experienced the better 1st year, as I doubt I'll want to bother next year.

The Book, She is Done(ish). I haven't talked about it much here, but in my Skotos work time, I've been writing a book on co-op board game design for the last several months, along with Chris A. As of Tuesday, it's done in a very solid third draft. 140k words. We're going to send it around for comments, but it's out of my hair for the moment. I'm very pleased with the result, though the next question will be if the audience is wide enough to get a traditional publisher. Hope so! We'll see ...

Too Much Busyness. I had a three-day weekend with no gaming obligations, which is usually great, but sadly it was spoiled by work. First I took a few passes on some PR for Skotos. Then I spent many hours plodding through an index for Designers & The Dragons: The '70s to make sure that all of the intricacies that an indexer couldn't have known about were in there. Sigh. I did get out: I spent a few hours working up by Lake Temescal on Saturday, then a few hours working in the Tilden Botanical Garden on Monday. However, come Monday night I found that I was in an increasingly foul mood, which is the exact opposite of what I want after a long weekend. I sent myself to my room for a few hours and felt better after a bit of quite reading, but still ... not what I usually hope to get out of a long weekend. Alas.

Fortunately, I'm heading into a short week with no particular obligations other than finishing that index polish in the next several nights (plus daytime work at Skotos, of course, which is going to focus on RPGnet if I can shake free the time). This coming weekend is theoretically entirely obligation free too, so hopefully it'll be better.

Busy Times

Aug. 5th, 2012 10:37 pm
shannon_a: (Default)

Times have been busy, but I haven't written a lot. Now that I use Facebook more, I understand why it's been harmful to plain blogging sites, because it's easy to write just a few sentences there if that's all that's really important.

Kimberly and I have had busier on Sundays lately. So last week we biked up to El Cerrito Plaza (the Greenway is still an awful mess with some parts not even started, though it's supposed to be about done, ) and visited Ross (to no success) then had a tasty dinner at Rubios. This week we biked out to Point Isabel where we watched dogs and read American Gods. Afterward we stopped by Target (where I got a third pair of jeans comfy for biking) and stopped by Out of the Closet on the way home (where I found three comfy light summer shirts, which is what I'd gone to Ross the previous week looking for).

This coming weekend is our anniversary weekend, and we have much more goodness planned for then.

As part of a plan to improve my fitness and lose some weight, I've continued doing evening rides up the hill. I'm trying to do so at least a couple of times a week. So today Kimberly & I biked out to Point Isabel, then after dinner I biked up to Lake Temescal. My total was 2 hours and 20 miles or something like that.

Over at work I finally got done with my crazy, crazy support for Infinite Canvas and was able to get back to Masters Gallery, the Modern Art Card Game variant I was scheduled to release in July. It went out August 1, which I'll call good enough. Starting on Monday is the next project: I'm hoping to get a 4-tile expansion out for Kingdoms by the end of the month, which includes building in-app purchases into our gaming libraries.

On the home front, I am continuing to clean the house of unneeded stuff as I can. Another large set of stuff went to Half-Price Books last week, when Kimberly was kind enough to accompany me downtown.

And finally I have three relatively large projects I'm working on:

1.) Writing toward what will someday be a second edition of Designers & Dragons, beginning with inputting all my corrections. Right now I've got White Wolf in front of me, because I'd flagged it to rearrange and break up some sections.

2.) Programming on the Armorica game for iOS, because I'm *determined* that work will not stop even if I get really embroiled in other stuff.

3.) General work on Mechanics & Meeples, which includes a lot of reposting of articles (though now I'm only doing that Monday-Thursday night, to try and balance out my various projects), but also new stuff too. I spent 3 or 4 hours this weekend preparing my article for Monday, which was a bit more than planned.

As I often say here: busy, busy, busy.

shannon_a: (Default)
Man, it has been two crazy weeks.

The big stressor has been that Chris has been pushing hard on his Infinite Canvas project, because programmer Kalle is in town, and Chris wants to get the app actually released while he's around. So, I've had two weeks at work that were very interrupt-driven, with lots of QA when new ad hoc releases appeared and lots of documentation as requests came in and some interface/UI discussion beyond. Some of those docs exposed bugs which required more QA and/or waiting for fixes. Whew! 

Meanwhile, I was trying to work on my own Skotos product, which is a variant of our Modern Art Card Game for iOS called Masters Gallery. This mostly just requires changing out the art assets, but I have to create the new art assets, and it's also required some programming support, has exposed some of my own bugs, etc. And, y'know, I've been fitting it in whenever I have 30 or 60 minutes free.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Kimberly & I have been finishing up the final work on a refinance on the house that we got rolling way back in March, just after we got back from Hawaii. At the time, we'd hope we could jump on board one of President Obama's programs for an easy refi — but it turned out we weren't eligible as we'd previously done another refi too recently. We opted to try and work through it anyway, even though we'd failed on a refi a couple of years ago due to what I believe was lender dishonesty that really disillusioned me. Last Friday we ended up signing all our final papers, with the refi supposed to close this week.

So ...

Good news is that the craziness is mostly over.

I've finished up on the Infinite Canvas docs I signed up for, and in any case Chris & Kalle are now at iphone-dev-camp. It looks like they're really close on a full release, and the Infinite Canvas development software for users looks quite good.

Masters Gallery is still in progress, but I have until the 31st and I got enough work done in little bits and bobs over the last two weeks that it all looks doable.

The refi was funded on Thursday and theoretically recorded today, so I'm pretty sure we're done there.

The last weeks were such a blur that I was shocked when I looked at my Berkeley Library Record yesterday and saw that two of my books were due today. I've since returned one and renewed the other, but my having a book out until the last day just about never happens ... except, I guess when there's just too much going on.
shannon_a: (Default)
I've been working on a variety of different projects lately, in my free time.

Judges Guild. I finished up my history article on Grimoire Games a couple of weeks ago, and have since published the first part to RPGnet. (Second to follow at the start of July.) And thus I've moved onto a new topic: Judges Guild. Which is actually a company I've written about before, but there's a reason for the return ...

I've been thinking about a second edition of Designers & Dragons lately, and so I've started collecting some new reference material. Last month I got a great deal on a pack of about 25 Judges Guild Journals, The Dungeoneer, and Pegasus — all told, the three magazines from Judges Guild. I've been slowly indexing them, and along the way using them to improve my understanding of Judges Guild — taking notes as I learned interesting stuff.

At some point when I sit down and revise my current Judges Guild article, this should all be really helpful. In the meantime, I'm going to probably write a "Magazine History" for Designers & Dragons: The Column covering JG's publications.

Armorica. For a long time I've been trying to put together an iOS adaptation of my friend Eric V's card game, Armorica. I got side-tracked last year while working hard on iOS releases for Skotos, but in the last several weeks I've managing to get it going again, by writing down a new TODO list for the game, with little bite-sized TODOs, then knocking several things off the list every week.

In recent weeks I've killed lots of bugs and fixed some UI issues. I'm just now getting into the last major mechanic, which is the requirement to discard some cards during "winter". When I finish that, I'll soon be pushing on to AI! I'm hoping to release it in Q3, between Skotos' actual releases.

Web Page. Since the release of Designers & Dragons, I've become increasingly aware of the fact that I don't have any good web site to help plug it. My old web site was created maybe a decade ago, and is increasingly out of date, a mish-mash of several different layout schemes, etc.

So I've undertaken revamping it all. I finally figured out how to get the project underway when I borrowed RPGnet's CMS system, or at least the part of it that creates boxes of information. I've thus far created a new home page. From there, I hope to start converting old data, then string it all together. I'm hoping that the final result will be a nice index of all the work I've done, with links to other info as relevant.
shannon_a: (Default)
iOS. I forgot to note that my second new iOS article for the Safari Blog went up.

I think it's a nice pair of articles that shows off the whys and wherefors of creating new classes in iOS. It also does so via real-life examples of how I've created graphical objects in my iOS games.

Designers & Dragons. While I'm writing about writing, I figured I'd add a note that I'm continuing my redline edit of Designers & Dragons. At this point, I'm not sure if it's going to have utility as Mongoose is still deciding whether to reprint or not. (Meaning: get your copy now if you want one.) If they do, I'll have a redline ready to go, but if not I'd want to do a more comprehensive rewrite to improve the language for a some-day second edition.

Ah well, even if it's not technically useful, I'm actually enjoying reading the book again.
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
My newest iOS eurogame was released today, Michael Schacht's Web of Power Card Game: The Duel. I think it's our most strategic game to date, with the most robust AI as well.

There's already a BGG Thread on the game.

By chance, today also saw the publication of an iOS Blog Entry by me. It's pretty introductory, talking about basic classing techniques, but ones that are much like what I've done in my iOS games to produce a reusable "GameTable".

Otherwise, life continues on.

Right now I'm taking a little bit of time out at Skotos to try and grab some of the low-hanging fruit that might be in my iOS game TODO lists. Pretty soon, though, I need to move that toward pass-and-play as a step toward Game Center.

Cats are still stick and taking care. Munchkin went to the vet today for her one-month-later checkup following the diagnoses of her kidney problems. Cobweb, meanwhile, has started peeing inappropriately, which is one more trouble that I would have liked to avoid. We're trying to figure out how to get her not to do that. The vet says it's probably behavioral.

So it goes with old cats. Our vet explained that it wouldn't be a problem if we just had Depends for cats.

I've been juggling some work for Designers & Dragons right now. On the one hand I'm continuing to go through the book with a red pen, in case Mongoose decides to reprint. On the other hand I'm working on a setting history article for Glorantha and collecting notes for some Arduin-related company histories. Those are all for the online column.

My TODO-in-my-free-time list reminds me that I also have Eric Vogel's Armorica, the next AP for Kingmaker, and taxes all on my horizon.

And coming up, it's my birthday. And Kimberly's birthday. And the cats' birthdays. We're going to have some fun dinners out and other such over the next week, so I'm looking forward to that.

That cats will probably get pills. And needles.

Except Lucy. But it's not actually her birthday. I think she was born in April sometime while our other cats are around March 26.

Steve Jobs

Oct. 5th, 2011 11:29 pm
shannon_a: (politics)
I was floored to read about Steve Jobs' death today. He'd been sick for a long time, so I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise, but damn.

I don't think there's any technologist who did more in my lifetime to fundamentally change the world. I played on my first Apple IIs in Jr. High, worked with my first Mac in High School. The first computer I bought when I was out of college was a Mac laptop. My Twentieth Anniversary Mac will forever be the coolest computer I ever owned. My iPhone connects me to the world, my iPad lets me browse and play games in my family room, and my iMac is a beautiful wide screen computing device. Coding for the iPhone, iPad, and now Mac has renewed my love for the structure and abstraction of computer programs.

Jobs brought user interfaces to the wider world, and then he doubled down when he returned to Apple with OS X, making the Mac even more user friendly and more of a joy to use. Today we can't yet measure how iPods, iPads, and iPhones have revolutionized the world, but they have! I have no doubt that word of his death spread across iPhones like a wave. He's changed the world for developers by opening up the sales floor, so that any of us can sell things to Apple's customers.

Steve Jobs was a genius. He changed the world, and it's now less for his absence. I get choked up thinking about what he could have done with the extra 20 or more years that he should have had.

Busy Week

Oct. 1st, 2011 10:40 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
Been a busy week. Kimberly was feeling ill toward the start of the week, so I played Dominion with her Monday evening, then with her and her friend Lisa on Tuesday evening. Wednesday, Donald was in the area, so Kimberly and I had dinner with him before I headed out to Endgame. (He stayed to play ... wait for it ... Dominion.)

With regular gaming for me on Wednesday and Thursday, RPG prep on Friday, then the actual RPG game today, plus grocery shopping, I'm tuckered out, as is sometimes the case on Saturday evenings.

(Though I wasn't that burned out on Tuesday or Wednesday, despite the high level of peoples, I think because I kept my interactions pretty brief. Though I actually may have been a bit more intolerant of slow gaming than usual, now that I think of it.)

We have continued watching new TV shows. Here's a few more thoughts.

After the second "A Gifted Man" appeared on the Tivo, I decided I didn't really give a damn about it. Kimberly feels likewise and will be deleting the season pass. I now see that its' ratings were suboptimal in any case. I'd bet it's cancelled before the end of the year.

Tonight Kimberly and I watching the second episode of "New Girl" and were pleased to see that it continues to be funny. We were however, both a bit nonplussed by them replacing a black character with another black character, like they're all interchangeable. Mind you, if they'd replaced a black character with a white character, we might have thought they were white-washing the cast. So, they were probably in a no-win situation when the actor playing said character found his previous TV series very unexpectedly renewed.

We started watching "Alphas" some weeks ago (catching up on all the old episodes thanks to a "Syfy" marathon ... though we're still weeks behind). Accepting that it's the weak pablum that Syfy offers up as science-fiction nowadays, it's pretty good. Great characters and a fun scientific setup for superpowers. There's also been some hint of a wider arc, though I don't trust Syfy to push on it very much. But, well worth watching.

"Haven", meanwhile, is a returnee from last summer that we started watching again this summer (and we've got two episodes left to see on our Tivo). It was based on a superb Stephen King novella, and the series has been ... OK. Kimberly liked it more than I did in season 1, though in the last couple of episodes they did some surprising things that really redeemed it in my eyes. This season that excitement continued on for 2 or 3 episodes ... then things mainly reverted to normal and the show became a highly predictable procedural (with a supporting character, Duke, being the only one with a particularly interesting character arc). Both Kimberly and I somewhat groan as it comes on now. We'll probably keep habitually watching it, as summer is often pretty vacant, but I'm not convinced it's actually worth it. Maybe they'll interest me again with the season finale though ...

Came to the realization lately that I've been working on iPhone euro games for something like 2 years now, with 5 games to show for my trouble, plus 2 more approaching completion. I think that's started to burn me out a bit, and that I need to push on to some other things after these games get put to bed. But, I was kind of considering that anyway, because I'm not convinced that the iPhones euros are our best thing to do going forward, as the market has worsened as it's saturated over the last two years. So, we may cut down on the euros and try some other things.

I actually spent much of last week translating one of our iPhone games to the Mac. It's the kind of work that somewhat terrifies me, as I'm throwing myself pretty fully into an area where my expertise is pretty limited. But, a week later I can play the game through on my Mac and I've got a pretty clean code base that I can continue to use for Mac and iPhone alike. And, my expertise is considerably improved. I've still got a lot of fiddling to do to get all of our subwindows working well, but it's increasingly looking doable, which is a relief.

We'll see how this new direction does, as the Mac App Store is much less mature at this point ... I've love it to do well and push all of our games over ...
shannon_a: (Default)
We have Guest Cat back. Melody & Jared dropped him off yesterday. Melody seemed quite distressed that he was unhappy with her for dragging him in a car an hour to a house full of other cats. But, she's in Hawaii right now enjoying the beautiful night sky and balmy weather, so she's probably not worrying about it too much.

(OK, maybe she is.)

We settled Tai Chi in our Family Room this time, which is a bit more relaxing to me, as his stuff isn't all cluttering up my (smaller) office. And, no surprise, he likes the room with all of its windows. There was a bit of a stand-off between our cats and Tai Chi about who was going to hang out in the Family Room, but Tai Chi seems to have won for the moment. We'll see if that stands tomorrow if tomorrow isn't as crappy, gray, and gloomy as today was. (Summer? Never heard of it. We haven't had Summer in Berkeley since 2009.)

Generally, things are relatively relaxed among felinekind. Munchkin and Cobweb do some pro forma hissing and growling, but it doesn't seem that serious. Tai Chi seems relatively relaxed. Except when Lucy corners him, which she delights in doing every once in a while. Today, I saw Tai Chi and Lucy sitting next to each other (underlining how comfortable things are, generally) and I was shocked to see that he's over two times her size. But still clearly terrified of her when she does the stalking thing.

Our own gray tiger stripe, Cobweb, isn't doing as well. She's had more reluctance eating that we suspect comes from nausea. We're keeping a very close eye on it. I suggested she have some nice catnip tonight to help ease he stomach. Surprisingly she seemed to be eating afterward. Dunno if there was a causal relationship or not.

This last weekend was my fourth in a row (I think) with no gaming. Our current storm system broke momentarily Saturday afternoon and I had a nice ride to Oakland and back via some unusual routes. (West and San Pablo there, the hills back again.)

I really just wanted to ride because it was briefly sunny and luke-warm and the air was clean and clear thanks to the rain. However, my excuse was picking up the new Dominion from Endgame and books from the Rockridge Library, all of which was done.

I think we're (finally) starting off the new chapter of Pathfinder this Saturday.

Everything else is mellow. My new iEuro, Modern Art: The Card Game seems to have been well received, and I've been making good progress on both rereleasing others of our games and getting our next release off the ground.

I've been watching with interest discussion about DC Comic's relaunching of their whole line in September. It's unfortunately bringing to an end a number of comics I like, and it looks to me a lot like DC shooting themselves in the foot. I find the fact that they're in many cases giving untrained and untested artists control of the writing of their books particularly disturbing (and that's most likely to keep me from reading some of the new DC books, as I demand good writing). I keep watching for the announcement of the great new comic by a terrific writing team that's going to excite me, but thus far there isn't one.

Our new rooms at home seem to have generally worked out well, though we're still not using the garage so that we can toast it the rest of this week (when the sun hopefully returns tomorrow).

My new windows have gotten put off until after Guest Cat leaves, as he's a bit more likely to try and get out of the house than any of our cats. But it looks like pretty mellow weather is in the near future, so they probably won't be missed. (We were supposed to have them before Guest Cat's arrival, but no go.)

And that's liff.
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
My newest iPhone game released this week, Reiner Knizia's Modern Art: The Card Game. That's #5. You can find a complete list of all my euro games over at RPGnet.

Since I've finished with Designers & Dragons I've also gotten back to my other writing: which is to say articles and reviews about board games (mostly).

New Board Game Articles

On the AI of Modern Art: The Card Game for the iPhone:

How Resident Evil Expands the Deckbuilding Field:

Why Amun-Re is Still a Cool Game:

How Nighfall Expands the Deckbuilding Field:!

New Board Game Reviews:

Cargo Noir:

Castle of the Devil:


Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter:

Zombie in My Pocket:


Sep. 20th, 2010 06:16 pm
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
Kingdoms. Kicked the weekend off by getting an alpha version of Reiner Knizia's Kingdoms for the iPhone/iPad/iCat out. It's certainly not done, but it was done enough to get some comments. And it felt good to have a version out in the wild, given that the goal is to have a complete program in another couple of weeks.

Traveller. Saturday was my penultimate game of Traveller, run down at Endgame. I opted to try out Mongoose's new Living Traveller by using one of the adventures they've offered. It was OK. A bit underdeveloped, but the core idea was good and I ran with it. The session seemed to go well, which makes me happy as we're finishing up this campaign and I'd like to see it end on a high note. Now, I just need to figure out what exactly my last adventure will be (but I have 3 weeks; I should try and start putting my outline together early).

Lazy, Lazy Sunday. On Sunday I largely lazed about. Read some from Love and War (a Doctor Who New Adventure) and Athyra (the 6th Vlad Taltos book). After Lucy and Cobweb both climbing on top of me while I was reading, I napped for a while. Overall, a very relaxing day, though I did actually get some work done, finishing up a Traveller article for Signs & Portents. Part of the restfulness was allowed because I'd already finished up my rpg-history-book work for the week on Friday and Saturday nights.

Busy Week? I've actually been looking forward to this coming week of work. I'm hoping that Kingdoms is far enough along that I'll be able to constantly renovate it with a week's worth of work, really pushing things forward. We'll have to see. Also have a quiet weekend ahead, with no gaming, which is another thing to look forward to (as long as it's on occasion and not constant).
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
Saturday. As usual I was out at EndGame. That's two months straight that we've hit 3 weeks out of 4. We had our second session of the finale to the Savage Tide campaign and things are zooming along quickly! That despite ending at 5pm due to previous engagements for some of the players.

We're quickly coming to a change-up point in our Saturday gaming. Savage Tide just has 1 or 2 weeks left in it, while my Traveller game has a potential stopping point two-three weeks away. So, we're going to have one or both games changing sometime in fall, depending on how play styles balances with new potential games. Donald has talked about running something while Mary has talked about running The Dresden Files. With everything else on my plate, I'm ready to drop back to running just half the time, so hopefully that's how things will work out.

Because of the early game end, I stopped at the new Other Change of Hobbit on my way home. The store is shaping up. It's definitely bigger, brighter, and more inviting than the old store was (than either old store was). I'm not sure how much foot traffic they're going to get, down on the wrong end of Berkeley, however. 'course, that's what I thought about Dark Carnival when they moved up the hill 15+ years ago.

Sunday. K. and I have had a bit of a pattern lately on Sundays. She ends up feeling sick. I fritter around the house until 3pm or so while she sleeps. As it starts to get late, I see if there's a last chance she wants to head out and do anything, then I (usually) go out on my own. So that was pretty much today.

Around 3.30pm I headed out to the Ohlone Greenway which I rode up to Codornices Creek. One of my maps had shown some very short and disconnected trails down there by University Village, and I wanted to explore them.

There turn out to be two current trails south of the Village. One is just a dirt path running along overgrown creek area that I couldn't get into because they closed it down for a four-month reconstruction on Wednesday. (Great timing, that.) A couple of blocks further west there's a block of paved trail followed by a block of unpaved trail that slowly fades away into smaller and smaller footpaths. If you hike up a bit and through some thorns you come to the railroad tracks. Target is just on the other side (and past that, a really easy trail to the Albany Bulb), but sadly there's no particularly good way to get there.

What's perhaps more exciting is the bit in between those two paths, which I'd seen several months ago as being marked for future construction of a trail that would connect the Ohlone Greenway to the Bay. It seemed impossibly far off in our current horrendous financial climate, but surprise, surprise, they started work on it last month (which also explained the closure of the eastern trail). Mind you, those three or four blocks of trail are still a long ways from connecting the Ohlone Greenway to the Bay, with the railroad tracks being the biggest obstacle, but I will look hopefully toward next January when they say they'll be finishing up work*.

(Of course the last trail "finished" in the current economic climate was the Richmond Greenway which has an idiotic several block detour right in the middle, so I'm not convinced this is really the time for getting things done right, as the "finished" Richmond Greenway is so far from right it's not even funny.)

Beyond that, reading, cleaning, and watching of TV went on today. I did a tiny bit of the coding work on a version of my friend's Armorica game for the iPhone, but I've had troubles really getting it going. I'm hoping to do something by the end of this week, though, as I'd love to show at least a skeleton off when he does his release party next Saturday. Perhaps that deadline will encourage some productivity.

* This stuff is always pretty badly documented on the internet, but from what I can see, current plans will extend trail along the creek from San Pablo to the RR tracks, which is certainly a nice little walk, but stops just short of either of the hard parts of connecting up the bay and the Ohlone Greenway ... as is the case pretty everywhere along the Greenway.
shannon_a: (Default)
Well, it's only a three-day weekend, but it's a three-day weekend without gaming, thus it's stretching out to forever right now.

Also good, I finished up work projects this week. High Society, our next RPGnet game, went to Apple on Thursday. I also prepared an updated Money, using some new libraries from High Society, and discovered that I can't actually schedule updates without taking my current app off the market. In any case, it's done, and I should probably send it in a week from Monday.

So, much stress gone, much relaxation ahead. Planning to read, don't know what else. I'll probably end up riding somewhere between now and Monday night.

Actually, I do have one stressor, which is that it's more obvious that Cobweb has once more lost interest in eating, like she did last year. Very sad, but also less surprising this time. I guess we'll just hang in and see what happens.

In the meantime: v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n, for three days.
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
Had two days of busy Skotos work--which is to say work that didn't just involve me sitting on my butt.

Yesterday, Kalle, visiting programmer, came by and we chatted for several hours. He told me a few things I didn't know about Xcode which should increase the efficiency of my programming (if I remember to get into the habit of using them over the next week), and I showed a bit of what I'd done to layout a non-table iPhone app. We also plotted out a few libraries that he or I might program, and a few times he suggesting doing things in a way that I wouldn't have (and that was probably superior to my first cut). Though I'm surely not a people person, it was nice to have someone who's working on the same sort of thing to kick ideas around with for a bit. It's something I vaguely regret losing by not having a standard office/work situation any more (but there are so many pluses with it too).

(Also vaguely regret missing: Friday waffles at Skotos.)

I was reminded how much of a people person I'm not by the fact that after dinner I was totally burned out yesterday. Just from sitting around, talking. I fiddled around with a lot of nothing until maybe 8pm or so, then I started doing some work on the review I was supposed to be writing.

(Not done; maybe tonight.)

Today Chris and I spent about two and a half hours working at the colo, hauling machines in and out. We had one new machine to put in our rack and three old machines to haul out. It was nice work. I always like a bit of manual labor, because it lets me turn the brain off for a bit. But I also felt like we worked together very well. He was constantly taking care of one thing while I was working on another, with very little communication required.

And I'm less tired this evening, because of the sort of work I was doing.

So two days of teamwork, which is pretty rare for me at my job nowadays. But the next three days I'll be getting back to my own programming. I've got pretty much the whole game cycle working for High Society at this point, so my hope is to get the AIs working this week so I can release the game as a draft to our testers.

And it'd be prudent to figure out what I'm going to be doing artwork-wise for Kingdoms, as I want to start that soon.
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
Yet another gameless Saturday today. It's been rather frustrating trying to get that group together lately.

Eric F. has been out of the group for years, absent a few-week flirtation in 2009. Dave W. has drifted back out because he's working Saturday mornings again, since he became a shift lead. Dave P.'s new startup job has him busy enough that he decided to give up half the Saturday. Kevin likewise has decided to give up half the weekends because he's burned out playing, though I don't think he's actually told anyone that face-to-face. Dave S. hasn't been reliable in over ten years. Corina is out of state for school this semester, and a result Chris doesn't show up part of the time because he's visiting her and part of the time because he's tired from working Saturday mornings.

Practically, that should be four reliables (me, Donald, Mary, and either Dave P. or Kevin and several who turn up unreliably), but it hasn't been gelling that much lately. I think things will get better when summer comes and Chris and probably Corina return, so I don't want to seek anyone new out and chance bulking our max size even more. Just a bit frustrating in the meantime.

So, I stuck around home today. Did some reading, but also some work.

I've lately had the itch to program beyond my Skotos hours, but I don't want to let Work-with-a-capital-W eat up all my free time, so I'm taking kind of a half measure. Skotos is going to be offering up a contract to let external iPhone App designers sell their apps through the RPGnet store, and I'm going to take advantage of that myself. So I spent several hours working on getting teeny cards right for my friend Eric V.'s Armorica game. I just finished producing 110px high tall versions of everything except the start cards and card backs (which I forgot). And that's enough for now. Next up is to get a fully laid out design of the game that works on the iPhone, then I can start coding. But not today. Or tomorrow.

While I was doing that graphic work today I also took advantage of my new iPad. It's Netflix app is quite good. I watched the last 4 episodes of 24 season 6 (which I've been working on for two years, because it was pretty mediocre) while manipulating card images, with my little iPad screen propped up against my iMac screen. Yep, that was about the attention that the show deserved. I think I've successfully kicked myself of 24 now, with no need to see its last two seasons. It was mostly crappy after its innovative premiere season.

Also did some writing for the RPG history book. No 24 during that.

Tomorrow, I rest.
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
I just had a moment of vertigo. The day has been so busy that I momentarily couldn't figure out if it were Saturday or Sunday. Whew. Saturday, check.

The busyness is of course because of iPad release day. I spent the week before last converting Money for the iPad and then last week, after recovering, I spent a bit of time prepping ourselves for the release with PR and such. So I've been in the middle of it for two weeks, leading up to today.

I thought for a while that I wasn't going to get my iPad today, as UPS missed delivering it on their normal Saturday dropoff around noon. However it turns out that they had so many iPads going to the Bay Area that they did an extra dropoff around 2pm.

The bad news is that when I got Money running on an actual iPad, I found it had some bugs. Two to be precise. (Two that I've found? I'll stick with just "two".) First, a graphic that's used for the sidebars isn't showing up--apparently because the iPad Simulator isn't case dependent in file name lookups and the iPad is, though I need to verify that on Monday (so that I can write about it if it's the case). Second, one of the outputs is messed up if you start the iPad in face-up orientation (e.g., parallel to the ground), because that's something that's uncheckable in the Simulator.

The good news is that neither of those bugs is likely to be noticeable to the average viewer. The missing graphic just results in white space which *could* have been intentional, though it's not attractive (or not as attractive if you know what should be there). The display bug only showed up when I really slouched on the couch.

The other good news is that I've already downloaded the release version of the SDK, fixed both bugs, and uploaded a fix. Hopefully Apple will be able to get that fix in for the next couple of days and definitely before the next wave of iPads hits.

(Hopefully no one will give us reviews dinging us on either bug before the fix goes out; not being able to test on the physical device before actual release is a real drag.)

Other lessons learned today: though the iPad does do emulation of iPhone apps, it's a wholly inferior experience to an actual iPad app. Caveat developer.

The busyness of the day has also been the result of: working on my history book; starting work on another eurogame app for a game created by a friend; and reading Jim Butcher's Changes, as libraries don't tend to pay any attention to street dates. (I've had it for days now and I've been very happy with it thus far, though I have some concerns that the theme of "changes" may be taken too far.)

And now it's off to read a bit before bed.
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
Well, I've just spent an exhausting week programming. I was going pretty full-bore early in the week, but then on Thursday I put in about 12 hours, yesterday I did about 14 hours, and today I slacked off, finishing the last 4 hours or so of tweaking.

The goal was to get a version of Money that was updated for the iPad to Apple. I may or may not be able to talk about the specifics because of Apple's NDA for their unreleased versions of the iPhone SDK, so I'll go with not. I'm going to prepare an article on the topic for my iPhone blog next week (and release it whenever it becomes OK to do so).

Anyway, now done. It has every feature I wanted to get in there, which includes a bugfix going back to 1.0 and a feature that I'd wanted to go into 1.0 but couldn't get done. Most importantly: support for a 5th player on the bigger screen.

Very tired now. Taking a few days off work. I'll get my undealt-with mail cleaned up on Wednesday, then get back to High Society on Thursday.
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
I've found it very curious in the last month and a half, since the release of Reiner Knizia's Money for the iPhone, that I've found myself in the sudden position of being the reviewed instead of the reviewer. I'd never realized quite how uncomfortable it is.

Fortunately the only notably bad review of Money came in while I was in Hawaii, and so I just shook it off the next day and went swimming in the ocean. (Hey! It was only an Apple iPhone Store mini-review! What can you do when they encourage people to review games only when they delete them? That's the heart of a future article on ratings.) Even more fortunately the vast majority of reviews have been quite good. But we just got the kindest one of all today, on TUAW, The Unofficial Apple (we)Blog.

It's here:

Now, the reviewer generally seems to be reviewing things well, but his description of Money was sufficiently superlative to really take my breath away:

"Today, we turn our focus to the card game Money [$1.99, iTunes link], which might be the best card game app out there. In the near future, we'll be reviewing Mü and some other card games, so the position is not secured forever. Still, of the iPhone card game apps we've played so far, Money is our hands down favorite."

It makes me nervous that we published what I think is the strongest of our first three licenses first. But It makes me feel really good that Money was made with a very abstracted display structure that should largely carry over to the next game. And, it also makes me feel good to realize that, yeah, this new work we're doing on the iPhone is being well received.


Mar. 3rd, 2010 03:03 pm
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
Had a bit of an annoying day yesterday. I was working on some updates to my Reiner Knizia's Money game and everything that could go wrong did.

First I couldn't get one of my standard classes to work right, then I learned that I had to expand its functionality to work correctly in landscape mode, then I couldn't even make that work right for a while. I finally came to the conclusion after the other work that I also needed to change some of my data modeling, and that requires frightening auto-magic upgrades to make sure your customers' apps keep working right. I fiddled with that for a while, only to see it crash after I followed all the instructions right, and then I learned that I couldn't test further because I couldn't compile to either handheld device I have, due to a combination of provisioning profile expirations (which don't upgrade cleanly at all) and being back a minor version on Xcode (which requires 4 hours or so of download).


I finally gave up at 5.30 or so, then K. and I went out and got some dinner. I refused to go back to my computer afterward, so instead I decided to relax in the living room, reading. That was a good choice.

Since K. was doing the same, I opted to start a fire in the fireplace, something that we do very rarely. I've traditionally had troubles getting the big logs burning in our fireplace, but last year, K.'s mother had started collecting twigs while walking around in Florida. She then sent a box of them to us around Valentine's day. So I used some of those twigs, along with the day's junk mail and got a good fire going that caught the logs fine.

We had a nice fire for an hour or two. Cobweb particularly seemed to like it, especially after I put down a towel and some catnip in front of the fire. (But even before then she'd been sitting equidistant between the fireplace and our floor heater, clearly quite happy.)

After Lost I wandered back up to my computer and found that the new version of Xcode had finished installing. I started it up, tried to install my updated app to my iPod ... and it worked fine. No more crashing.


Though I'll still be on pins and needles when I actually release it, given that initial failure (which might have actually been provisioning related or might have been due to the fact that there's a bug in Xcode which can make a model update fail if you don't do an entirely clean build).
shannon_a: (marrach skotos)
Yesterday, my project for the last several months, Reiner Knizia's Money for the iPhone went on sale. Here's the URL:

I'm a writer, as you probably know, so I immediately wrote up some articles about the new release.

I posted "Adapting Reiner Knizia's Money to the iPhone" to my BoardGameNews column. This one talks about artistic and AI decisions:

(For some reason BoardGameNews has been floundering about lately, so you might need to be patient about that one loading.)

I posted "Creating a First Game: Output & Input" to my iPhoneInAction programming blog. This one is more technical, but there's no actual code:

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