25 January 2011

A Little Breather and the Consequences of Being a Careless GM

Outside there's twilight. (Nearly five, and not quite dark yet. Days are definitely getting longer.) I'm sitting here with the lights off, listening to the Rolling Stones' album Goats Head Soup. Have I ever written about Goats Head Soup? It's probably one of my favourite Stones albums, and has been for a long time. It has a nice psychedelic feel to it and I love to listen to it particularly on dark winter nights, feel the sway of the music.

Anyways, I'm just resting from another bout of songwriting. Yeah, another little project in the pipeline. I must be crazy. It's not like I don't have lots of other things I should be working on, and I really didn't mean to do something like this so soon after Sleeping Birds Lie. Honest.

This is how it happened. I ran another session of my current RPG campaign, Tales from the Teya'o Iva, a couple weeks ago. As often happens, we got through the material I had planned with a little time to spare, so I started improvising. I figured it would be fun (and suit the current plot situation) to set up a meeting with an NPC I'd introduced a few sessions back, a quirky teenage goth princess. I picked a location, the island of Otagelava, more or less at random, and the PC party received a mysterious invitation...

And this is where we decided to end the session. It was at home some time later when it struck me: I'd just sent the player characters to meet a goth princess on an island I've earlier described as a centre for music... The situation was simply too perfect for another musical episode. Once the idea occurred to me, there was no going back, not really.

So here I am, with another half dozen or so freshly written songs. We'll see what the reaction will be like this time, whether the novelty has worn off at all... The story will be quite different, of course, and the overall tone perhaps a little darker. There will undoubtedly be recordings of the songs available at some point (if I know my player group, they'll be demanding it), but it may take a little more time, I don't want to rush things this time.

Of course I've probably jinxed the whole thing by writing so much about it in advance. The element of surprise did contribute a little to the success of Sleeping Birds Lie, I think. My players graciously pretend they haven't heard anything, though.

And meanwhile, Goats Head Soup has turned into Dirty Work. This one I haven't actually listened to in ages. Not quite a similar classic, but got some decent harder rock numbers on it. Outside it's darker, probably as dark as it gets (which, in the city, with the snow, isn't really very dark at all).

18 January 2011

Opafu Seva'opa'u Urufata'e Hefek!

Ha'ut ohev!

I just realised that a few days ago was the first birthday of Urufata, or the Urufa language. According to a blog post from last year I would have begun developing it on January 15th, 2010.

Urufata started out as just a bit of fun, with no specific aims in mind, toying around with some ideas I'd entertained for some time. A little later, however, it became closely intertwined with the new fantasy role-playing setting I begun developing, the world known as Va'ita. This association (helped by the fairly active RPG campaign we've been playing set in the world) probably helped keep the language alive beyond the first few days. Otherwise it may have soon been forgotten like so many of my projects.

The language has come a far way since that first afternoon, of course, although a strong foundation was laid down during those first few days, and few radical changes to the basic elements of the language have been made. The vocabulary and grammar have, of course, been expanded greatly (though of course they'll probably never be truly 'complete').

Over the last few days there's been another fit of activity, focusing on tweaking my grammar materials, not really making changes to the language, but trying to better understand the underlying mechanics and use (hopefully) more correct terminology to discuss them (though I have also added a few new spiffy suffixes). I'm really no grammar expert. It's been a long time since those classes at university, and even then it was never my strongest subject. Wikipedia has been a great help, though. (My grammar notes and vocabulary list are currently viewable in Google Docs, but be warned, they are 'works in progress'.)

I wonder where the language will be a year from now. Hopefully not forgotten, I've put quite a bit of, well, 'TLC', if you will, into its creation, and it would be a shame if it was wasted.

Eyuu da'ibe'ot!

13 January 2011

What? I've Played a Video Game, You Say?

It's been a long while since I've added a video game review to my website. Like I said in a recent post, I've been much too lazy with my gaming in 2010. Hopefully that'll change this year.

Well, I recently bought N.O.V.A. from the PlayStation Network Store. It's a little sci-fi FPS title originally developed for phones, and recently ported as a 'PlayStation Minis' title. And for such, it wasn't half bad. Of course it doesn't compare with most modern FPS games, but for a light, affordable Doom alternative (since it's still not available for PS3), for someone like me who doesn't play many FPS games but occasionally gets the itch, it is at least acceptable. Anyways, I wrote up a quick review of it. I think it's also my first review of a game bought and downloaded entirely online. I suppose this is the future, then.

In sort of related news, I popped my head into a local second hand book shop recently, and saw they had a copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for PS3 for a ridiculous 8€. This was the 'Game of the Year Edition', no less, which includes the Shivering Isles expansion. I'd never played any of the games in the series, but for that price I thought I'd take the chance.

I've never played much western computer RPG's, or games with a 'sandbox' style design philosophy. The larger-than-life characters and strong plots of Japanese titles like Final Fantasy VII have always been more up my alley. But having played about 10 hours of Oblivion, I'm fairly impressed. Just walking outside, admiring the scenery (quite pretty and detailed for a game that's a few years old already), stumbling upon a dungeon to loot, is fun enough, and then there's the variety of NPC's and quests... We'll see how long the magic lasts, but this could turn out to be a game I'll play a fair share of in the near future...

5 January 2011

Not a New Year's Post, Quite

Hello world. Today I'm doing nothing at all. And it's about time. I'm knackered.

Of course there were a few easy-going days after Christmas (although there was still that whole Christmas stress to recover from), but then came New Year, the eve of which I spent in fun company, mostly just being our silly selves, and the days since have been spent game mastering, travelling (mostly on schedule, despite the weather), visiting relatives, meeting fandom friends, etc.. Today's only a brief respite, however. There's another role-playing game planned for tomorrow already, and more stuff for the weekend. How can having fun be so tiring?

There have been a lot of retrospective posts all around the web lately. I'm not sure what the point is, really, but what the hell... So what were the real highlights of 2010 for me? I've really loved watching (or re-watching) many great shows, and particularly Buffy, Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5. Also, creating my new fantasy world Va'ita and playing some fun adventures in it was a wonderful experience. On the video game front, I guess Final Fantasy XIII stands out, even if it was far from perfect. Is it possible that that was the only major game I actually beat last year? What have I been doing with my time?

'Get a life,' I hear someone mockingly suggest? There is nothing in this world that could appeal to me more than the imagination and the many wonderful worlds it's given us. A geek I may be, but proud of it. My hobbies are my one true love, and I would not want it any other way.

Looks like over the last two years my blogging pace has been fairly constant, about a post per week on average. How I've managed more than twice that in 2008 I cannot fathom. I don't have that much on my mind, honestly. Thinking about new stuff to write about is, of course, becoming more and more difficult. Also, since these days my blog posts get automatically linked on Twitter and Facebook, I might be thinking a little more carefully about what sort of stuff I actually want to write about. (Not that more than a small handful of friends probably read my posts even then, or that I've ever been particularly shy about 'baring my soul' to the world...)

Todo list for today: Play a video game. Any video game. Just get back into the habit of playing, dammit.