Monday, August 22, 2011

Sexual Networking

...or why you should not friend your students on facebook.

I have a rule: no current students as friends on facebook. Yesterday I realised one of the more practical reasons why that should remain so. That reason was a game called The Sims Social.

This is a Facebook game based on the ridiculously popular game, The Sims. Personally, I hate the standard Sims game with a passion because all I have seen when playing it is confirmation that life sucks. You have to sleep, eat, wash, tidy, play, work and socialise ... but you can only do four or five of them. Which one are you going to sacrifice? Yeah, it sucks. Sims Social removes some of that (at the moment) and rotates around the standard FB game tropes of skills, quests and home building. However, it has another nuance and thats the hotwiring of relationships into the game.

When you visit your neighbours, one of the parts of the game is changing your relationships with them. You start as acquaintances, and then become friends and then best friends and beyond. To do this you undertake social interactions with their avatar. Some of them are purely social - chit chat, shoot the breeze, gossip, tell a story etc. However, you can also flirt with them - compliment their appearance, give them flowers and offer them a romantic kiss. Do these things enough and you get to 'the next level'. Eventually you can start dating them and consummate your love with whoopee in the shower. Together.

OK, thats fine you think ... after all, your neighbours cannot tell which actions you have been doing. Oh really? Well, to progress to the next level of 'friendliness' you have to ask the permission of your neighbour. Look at your friends list? Who do YOU feel comfortable sending the message 'Hey, I'd like my avatar in a computer game to start dating your avatar in a computer game and possibly get shagged in the shower?'. Add to that, that every person I know in the game has made a character that looks like them (well, mine is Sims-Skinny rather than RL-Fat) and you are doing the hootchie-hootchie purposefully with someone who represents someone in real life. What will be the reaction of your RL SO when they discover that you have an in-game girlfriend ... or boyfriend!

If find that quite strange. Creepy even. And definitely something that you shouldn't be doing with say, your ex-girlfriend, an ex-student or your teenage daughter's best friend....!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What is EPOCH?

Its been three years since I launched Duty & Honour and my world changed forever. Its been an amazing adventure so far but I needed some time to relax and sit back and reflect on where things are and where things could be going. I did this during this year's sabbatical from conventions. I finished my teaching qualification, got my job prospects sorted and looked long and hard at the 'Empire' line. A few things struck me. The first was that there were certain commitments that I had made (and half-finished books that I have done) which could be brought to market if I thought a little differently about format and content. Shook things up a bit. The second was that, when all this is done, I'm pretty much bored with Napoleonics at the moment. You can only have so many pointy hats. So I fancied something different.

So I dug out an old idea that just will not die. A game I have written on backs of envelopes for the last few years but never really got my teeth into. Over the last couple of nights, teeth have been well and truly engaged and gnawing has been taking place. So what is it?

Well, I'm not sure, because it can be anything really. I've skinned it as ultra-high fantasy at the moment but I suppose it could do any sort of genre if need be. I haven't even had time to come up with an elevator pitch except that its my take on a pick-up and play game where you can have characters and situation done in about ten minutes and an adventure resolved in maybe an hour? Lots of stuff about hero's journey floating around in my head about it as well.

So why mention this alpha-alpha here? Well, because I'm really excited about it. Its new. Its different. It does not smell of garlic! It could be a new route for Omnihedron Games or it could die a million deaths on the playtesting table of doom tomorrow. Its the thrill of the unknown that makes it so good!

More later...

(Oh and before anyone starts jumping up and down, no this does not mean I am stopping doing Empire at all. *looks at production schedule*  Far from it....)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Here's an honest to god transcript of a message between me and another guy who plays Wrestler: Unstoppable -  a wrestling based facebook game. I'm Joey, he's Acer. Its special....

Acer: actually I won't, because I just fail every move, but the game won't fail a move on you when you pull the same combo three times....that would NEVER happen for me. LUCKY FU C K ING YOU. Unlucky you, you've had all the success against me you're going to have.

Acer: You're busy on the newsfeed, switching stables or companies? Lol

Joey: No, just getting my behind into gear for once. So much to do, so little time

Acer: cool cool...just saw you clogging it up a lot...haha

Acer: yup, might as well just keep the f-ing losing streak alive. god dam it

Acer: maybe next time you could do what would have f-ing happened to me in that fail a pin, I think...oh I can take this, and one of those little bs moves, which apparently never fails for anyone else, fails for me and I still lose the match.. I'm sure glad I can f-ing give matches away...f-this

Acer: Oh look, another win for you, and another loss for me off a failed pin...sure be nice if the game ever let me have that f-ing luxury. Thanks for that birthday present, ass wipe.

Acer: of course....because I get NOTHING EVEER>>>>>>>.all I f-ing do is give and and lose....

(Acer wins a match)

Acer: well, there's a mercy

(Acer loses again)

Acer: well that was a waste of my time, maybe it's time to unfan you and get something out of it. f this bs. go play with yourself, might as well be. more fun for me anyway..f you.

Joey: Whatever. Its not my fault the RNG falls in my favour sometimes. Best of luck though - you have been nothing if not entertaining.

Acer: go fail double axe handles, reverse chinlocks, footstomps....arm bars, bodyslams....funny how you get more moves in one f-ing turn than I get in an entire match....seems pretty much fair. I call bs when I f-ing see it, and if you don't then you're f-ing blind. when the game isn't fun for me, i try hard to make it less fun for you. Go f yourself.

(Acer loses a match with his being a fan of me ‘on the line’ although I had no idea if I had to win or lose for the honour…)

Acer: too never fail to f-ing ruin my life.

Joey: You really take this seriously don't you?Just relax mate - its just a game. A very random game at that. Nothing to get all stressed about at all.

Acer: failed piledriver with 100 momentum = me un-fanning you. I can't help it if the game doesn't want me to succeed moves. You obviously cared a lot about me staying your fan. If I can't succeed moves, then I do what I can do.

Acer: too bad for you. Since I get nothing but disappointment and you get nothing but success, it's time for you to have some retribution for my victimization.

Joey: So you wanted me to throw the match, so that you would stay as my 'fan'? Wow.... thats another level.

Acer: well, I figured that at SOME point maybe I wouldn't fail every f-ing move for no god dam reason, but I guess that's never going to f-ing happen. I didn't want you to throw the match, but since I'm about five succeeded moves from anything good happening to me, something bad should happen to me taking you into the alley and f-ing up your face with a garbage can lid, since all you are is garbage and these matches have been garbage.

Acer: you NEVER f-ing inexplicably fail a move, how f-ing nice. you get everything and I get nothing, so time for you to get nothing.

Joey: Would it help if I told you I lost five title belts and three title matches last week in the biggest run of fail ever? You focus on the bad mate, not the good. You've beaten me loads in the past - months ago you were unstoppable (no pun intended). Its a run of bad form, thats all. But there's no need to be f-ing and blinding about me on the feed, thats just rude.

Acer: well, that's true...I'll take down the feed stuff...but we're done for a long freaking time.

Joey: No worries - when you want to dance again you know where I am. Best of luck

Acer: Thanks...I'd have better sentiments for you if even ONE of these nothing matches had gone my way. I won't dump you as a friend, but don't expect me to send a support your way any time soon, and I have little sympathy for your lost titles. Actions have consequences, even ones that you have little control over. Since you ruined my day last night and today on this game, you deserve a little f-ing suffering.

(Acer decides to fight me again, and after a couple of losses, I win a match after a pretty good comeback)

Acer: yup, amazing how events turn how I say I won't de-fan you and then that happens. Congrats on your good fortune. It ought to have some consequence. I shouldn't be surprised, why would I think that the game would ever f-ing do anything my way ever.

(He finally de-fans me….)