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I wasn't in the mood to write anything for a few days, so I'm backed up for content.

Trying to return to normalcy here, but there's still a Max-shaped hole in the universe, and my brain's still coping with the fact that she's not here anymore. I still find myself peeking out the front window to see if she's waiting to be let in at the front door. I still find myself carefully walking to the bathroom at night trying to avoid bumping into her on the floor. Stuff like that is a constant reminder that she's no longer here.

Maggie's off at a sleepover at her grandparents' house. From talking to her on the phone, she's having a really big time. The grandparents had a cute unfinished kids' bookshelf in their garage that they gave us. We had enough leftover pink paint from painting Maggie's bed frame to paint the bookshelf, so now Maggie's got a matching bedroom set. Working with Shelly on getting the bookshelf painted was strangely cathartic.

Frugal hint: $5 worth of cutely-colored paint can make a $15 bed frame from a thrift store look brand new. Add a set of "Little Mermaid" bedsheets, and you've got a happy 3 year-old.

After the big gas rush in D/FW and all of the hoopla about bad weather as far north as North Texas (where I am), we got a lot of clouds and about five minutes of very light rain. We've got clear weather today, so we basically got no Rita at all here. I guess that's a good thing, but I was rather looking forward to the 10-degree temperature drop that the storm was due to bring.

Note to EDI: I got the Morning's Wrath in the mail yesterday. Here are my "haven't removed the plastic" impressions thus-far:

1. The bubble-lined Kraft mailers are the best way to mail 'em, so kudos on that. You can save a couple of bucks, though, by cutting the mailers in half and sealing 'em with tape. The case will still fit, and that'll drop your shipping weight by an ounce (or 23 cents). You'll also use half as many 30-cent mailers, so you'll save close to 50 cents per mailing by doing this.
Provided you sell a thousand copies, that'll save you $500 total. I'm only charging you 10% of your savings for the advice, so I expect your check for $50 in the mail any minute now.

2. Good job on the signed package with the silver pen.

3. Since we were in the car and Shelly was sifting through the mail at the time, I asked for Shelly's "shelf impressions". Her initial impression wasn't positive. She thought the cover-art looked amateurish, and her overall impression was that "this is one of those games where you wander around and slay dragons and cast spells, and that doesn't do anything for me". Her impression softened greatly, though, when she looked at the back. She thought the screenshots looked compelling. Her comment was that the screenshots looked really good, and she said she'd probably install and play the game based on the screenshots.

4. Definitely get in tight with the gamedev brass (myself included). At the last GDC, we had a couple of gamedev pals who wrote a 3D space shooter as an example of what could be done with gamedev's networking. We'll probably need a similar subject for the 2006 GDC. Actually I'm thinking that we oughta make banners or flyers with screenshots of a dozen completed games (Duck Tiles included) that were done with the assistance of gamedev.net.

I always considered Settlers of Catan to have the best instructions of any game around. In addition to a well thought-out manual, they included an "almanac" with a walkthrough of a sample game. If you get lost trying to figure out how to play Settlers, you shouldn't be allowed to play games.

It's been trumped, though, by the (really cool) collectible pirate ship game Pirates Of The Spanish Main. While the game packs come with the typical miniature manual, they are much improved by the animated Flash instructions at the aforementioned link. It's a really terrific way to show you how to play a game, and I hope that other new games will follow suit. I'd like to see part one of all instruction manuals be "If you've got a computer, go to for animated instructions".

BTW, do not purchase this game. It's similar to crack cocaine, only more addictive. They definitely outdid themselves in the "cool bits" department by making adorable little plastic pirate ships that you assemble and send into battle. The only gratuitous silliness is the inclusion in the package of the smallest 6-sided die ever made. While at your comic retailer purchasing this game, I recommend that you spend an extra 50 cents on a decent sized die. You only need one for the game.

Had a lot of fun this Friday, and I need to follow up on an old topic.

A couple of months ago, I blogged with a little analysis of my friendships. I mentioned that I had two sets of friends with whom I found myself interacting from time to time. The first family was rather annoying but was a constant presence in my life. The second was much more compatible, but we rarely saw.

I'm happy to report that that situation has changed drastically. The first family was the one containing David, the guy who suddenly and inexplicably went off the deep end with me (a story that you can piece together by reading the previous two months of posts). After several threats to continue to horn in on my life, he apparently got the hint, and I haven't heard a peep from him for almost two months. Hopefully we can continue in this practice of healthy avoidance forever, as I really have no use for the guy.

On another note, we've been doing regular friday dinners with the second family and have been having a good time of it. We did dinner at our place this week and got to have a good chit-chat about coping with a Max-free life (see previous entry) versus having dicey job prospects, so we all got to commiserate. We then settled down to a game of Mississippi Queen, which is a fun game that's easy to play, but not so easy that it's completely random.

Actually, Shelly insists that it is completely random, but that's only because she never wins. Such a statement flies in the face of reality, as never winning is actually proof that the game is NOT random. If the game was truly random, you would necessarily win from time to time, but this never seems to happen with Shelly. Tough titties.

Despite having a pretty light theme (riverboats lazily paddling down a river), it can get fairly contentious. I pulled out to a comfortable lead about halfway into the game and kept it up for most of the game. Terri wasn't far behind me, with Rick & Shelly trailing by a great distance. Rick & Shelly, though, discovered that there's one chief advantage to being in last place --you don't have to move with caution because you don't know which way the river's moving. Since I was in front, I had to keep my speed governed because I was the one putting up new river-boards, and if I went too fast, I could easily find myself plowing into an island, putting me out of the game. Rick & Shelly didn't have to take that risk, and for the last couple of moves of the game, they were able to plot a straight course through the river, crank their speed way up, shove Terri's boat out of the way, and steal second and third place from her.

Actually, I always found Mississippi Queen to be an interesting phenomenon because it's a game that was designed and was quite popular in Germany despite it's clearly American theme. It took quite a few years for a translated version to even show up here in the US.

When an American company wants to make a game set in Germany, we create "PanzerBlitz: Defend Berlin From The Allied Onslaught" (copyright Avalon Hill). When a German company makes a game set in America, it's "Mississippi Queen: Race your Paddle boats down the river while picking up Southern Belles".

Now that's a cultural clash :)

We're going to have a gamedev D/FW meeting on 10/1 (Saturday) in Grapevine. It'll largely be organizational, but hopefully we'll get to all introduce ourselves and can all work together to make new-n-interesting independent games.

Newbies are more than welcome to come. We'll be happy to help you get started on your magnum opus.

Contact Wackatronic or myself for more info.

I'll have gamedev pens and bumper-stickers and probably a couple of door-prizes from Course/Premier Press, so you'll want to be there.

Finally, if you're getting more timeouts and errors reading my journal than other journals or gamedev threads, there's apparently a reason for that. The gamedev journals are being done with the same software as the gamedev forums, so the software and back-end database considers my journal to be a forum topic. Problem is, this forum thread has hundreds of entries stretching back over seven years, so my journal manages to limit-test the forum code in ways that other forum threads and journals simply don't do. Every time somebody clicks my journal or some RSS aggregator wants a summary of posts, gamedev's servers have to sweat. And sometimes the server just can't piece together the whole goldurned thing before the timeout-limiter decides that the thread is hung up and kills off the process and posts the obligatory "script timeout error".

Hopefully they're working on it. We're adding a lot of stuff all the time, so I don't know when this'll be addressed.
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Ick yeah, the gas situation here in D/FW isn't great.

I wish I could get a box copy(He gave me a digital download, now I want to see the box, at least some pictures all around of it).

I wish I could make it to grapevine next weekend =\. Oh well.

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