ltmurnau: (CX)
Believe it or not, I am here most days for a quick troll through my Friends page.
But I don't post much anymore, obviously - mostly because I am busy doing stuff that I would be posting about, if I posted more.

Aki made it through his bridging semester program and now he is in 3rd Year of Mechanical Engineering!
He's finding it a lot of work, but I think it's coming together for him and he can see the purpose of it, unlike the Shakespeare they made him swallow in high school.
They have them working on projects, he is doing one with a team where they are developing a way to 3-D print custom braces for children with club feet.
He's also 21 now, how did that happen....

Game designing takes up a lot of my outside-work time, my blog on that is at http://brtrain.wordpress.com .
I never did figure out a way to feed entries from there to here, I should just do it manually but I am not sure who would be looking at it.

Current projects, since the last time I talked about them, include games on the following in no particular order:

- the French-Algerian War of 1954-62 (two games actually, using completely different systems: one large one with lavish production and wooden bits, another one a revision of an earlier design)
- the Battle of the Bulge (revision of earlier design, published 11/15)
- a set of 3 battles from the first year of the Korean War (published 11/15, mangled by publisher's "development" team)
- the 1973 coup in Chile
- the Slovak-Hungarian War of March, 1939
- the invasion of Canada by the United States, 193? (revision of earlier design)
- the Polish-Soviet War, 1920 (revision of earlier design)
- the Cyprus Emergency, 1955-59
- Binh Dinh province (central coast of Vietnam, 1969; did this one up a while ago for a history professor at Nipissing University for students in his course on 20C wars and revolutions to play)
- the 1943-45 Allied invasions of Greece and Yugoslavia that weren't (two games actually, using completely different systems; one from the publisher that mangled my work (though they seem to have not mangled it too much this time, it's still the last work I will ever send them) and one I published myself)
- the Finnish Civil War of 1918

People want me to talk about my work too, which I find extremely difficult to do... I mean, I can talk technique, but as to what value there is in it, or what makes some thing better than another thing - I can't be articulate.

But week after next I am going to Washington DC to talk to people at RAND Corporation about what I do, and how it might help them in what they do... a very unexpected offshoot of a conference I went to last September that featured a workshop on quick game design that I helped facilitate.

Then in mid-March, UVic has an event on gaming (http://gameswithoutfrontiers.uvic.ca/) and I will be showing some of my work and maybe talking about it.

Then at the end of March, I am going to the American Popular Culture Association's national meeting in Seattle, to present a paper on... well, here's my abstract:

Bored of War

Board wargames, or manual military simulation games, are a form of civilian entertainment that peaked commercially in the 1980s but continue today as a small press, near-DIY activity. They remain one of Western culture’s most complex analog artifacts, rich in their ability to generate narrative and explore historical possibilities.

However, only a very small number of published civilian wargames address the dominant modes of actual post-World War Two conflict: irregular war and counterinsurgency. This paper will explore the cultural reasons for this absent focus, explain the social and political utility of these games as a means of interrogating and critiquing contemporary conflicts, and present specific games in this field as examples of “critical play” (Flanagan, 2009).


See what I mean about being inarticulate?
This is a big conference, with thousands of presentations... and the Game Studies area is quite new, with only about 100 presentations. But all of them are about digital games - their design, the sociology of people who play them, etc. - except for 3: my presentation, and 2 presentations on role-playing games.
I feel no one will have the vaguest idea what I am talking about, much less care, even if I could make myself understood.
But Lianne is making a presentation (on horror films) in much better company... I've never been to a conference quite like this before.

And then in April, trying to work through arrangements to visit the Army War College in Carlisle PA to do some facilitated play of my Algeria game, to match with a screening of The Battle of Algiers.
I wonder what the Army officers there will make of that one.

Then in June, to Tempe AZ for the annual Consimworld Expo, for more showing of work and meeting with publishers.

It took 25 years to get to this point, I don't mind being so busy but again, it's hard to write about this stuff in the larger sense.

Oh, and I have something in a book too: this spring will see a game studies anthology come out from MIT Press:
https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/zones-control
It's the first time any of my writing has been in an actual book!

Anyway, this is in large part what I have been doing instead of posting.
I will try to pop in here more often, if only to leave links.
ltmurnau: (CX)


The second issue of YAAH! magazine is out, containing three abstract games by me (Army of Shadows, Guerrilla Checkers, Uprising). I also wrote a short simple article on the think-value of abstract games, these in particular, hooked to Ben Franklin’s love of chess. It’s partly adapted from a presentation I gave at Connections-UK in 2013.

Perhaps you'll find it interesting:

https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/from-yaah-2-thinking-about-and-through-abstract-games/

Or the original item:

http://www.flyingpiggames.com/yaah--magazine-issue--2.html
ltmurnau: (CX)
Reposted from t'other blog.

https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/a-bit-in-the-guardian-about-political-board-games/

Games referenced: Labyrinth, Train by Brenda Romero, and A Distant Plain. As you might expect though, the article is illustrated with a stock photo of Risk.

The writer, Matt Thrower (“MattDP” on Boardgamegeek), had a long interview with Volko Ruhnke and while I am certain that Volko mentioned it, there is nothing in the article to indicate that ADP was a co-design. The writer also indicated in the comments that he had a lengthy discussion with Volko where he vigorously defended the bipolar political model in Labyrinth, but there was no room for it in the article. Sigh, so it goes.

James Kemp (http://www.themself.org/) pops in to mention megagames, the ones that he and Jim Wallman have run are very good examples.

The comments also contain this gem by one “Winston Smith”:



“Any 5 year old can create a board game, but the same can not be said of Crusader Kings II, one of the most genius strategy games of all time. I’ve played thousands of board games, and none of them come close to CKII. You have to be a moron, or have some secret agenda to think board games will ever hold up as anything other than a novelty in 20 years. “

ltmurnau: (CX)
Constant Readuhs will know that most of my posting these days is on my game design blog "Ludic Futurism".
There appears to be no way to automatically publish or otherwise connect a Livejournal blog with a Wordpress one, so I will pop in here to post when I've done something over there.
Here is the first such:

https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/notes-on-the-first-four-folios-from-oss-games/

Go and look if you like, if this game design thing of mine interests you.
I have really fallen out of the habit of blogging about my life, in general things are pretty OK - it seems lately I just pop in here to post some especially upsetting bit of political news or foreign policy development.
Even the novelty of that is waning as there is more and more bad news to relay, we seem to be heading down the De-evolution slope....

ltmurnau: (CX)
[Reposted here from my game design blog http://brtrain.wordpress.com with some additions, well cut-and-pasted since I don't think I can automatically repost to LJ from Wordpress. Eh, anyway...]

Earlier this year I was contacted by Marc Guenette who wanted to know if I wanted to be one of the Guests of Honour at Stack Academie, an annual wargaming conference in Montreal. Gee, would I!

I went to Montreal a day or two early, on Tuesday April 30, since I had not been in the city for 24 years and wanted some time to look around. I flew Air Canada and everything went suspiciously smoothly, to the point where I even arrived a few minutes early. I took the 747 bus from Trudeau Airport (what was once called Dorval), it runs about every 7 minutes or less most of the day, very convenient though you have to buy a transit daypass – $9.00 but that’s 24 hours on the whole transit system, other parts of which you will probably need to use to get to your destination. However, I didn’t because the hotel (an otherwise unremarkable Comfort Inn) was right downtown – just around the corner from the 747 bus stop, 1 ½ blocks from the Berri-UQAM Metro stop, and 2 blocks from St. Catherines Street, the main drag for restaurants shops and bars.

Montreal after 24 years seemed much as I remembered it (which is barely, as I was more interested at the time in my then girlfriend, who was doing electrical engineering at McGill). Half of it is being torn down or rebuilt, and the other half is being measured for the same treatment. There was a heatwave, and it was sunny and 22-27 degrees all week long. And me without shorts, in fact at the last minute I decided not to pack my cardigan (however, two guys at the con told me that two years before there had been pouring rain and wet snow on the streets).

Wednesday I did a little bit of shopping, at some Army surplus stores on St.-Laurent and at Le Valet de Coeur (Jack of Hearts), a good wargame store not far up the street. I even found a few old DTP quality titles of mine, from Schutze Games (Pusan Perimeter, Somalia), still in the old comic book bags. I got a couple of back issues of Vae Victis, a French wargaming magazine with interesting games in it, a copy of Battle for Hill 218, a simple card abstract game, and two little finger puppet characters they were selling near the cash register. They were all kinds of historical characters like Edison, Leonardo and some others, but there were also others like Hannah Arendt, Frida Kahlo, Spinoza etc.. The little Michel Foucault puppet was especially funny, but I got a Che Guevara for Lianne and a George Orwell for me, so they can have mild disagreements. Anyway, a neat store. Here is George in my office, looking as happy as he ever did in life.


Wednesday night I went out to Bar Passeport, (http://www.barpasseport.com/) which has not one but two EBM/Industrial/Goth nights! One on Wednesday is more EBM/industrial (e.g. Funker Vogt, And One, Eisenfunk) and less well attended than the one on Saturday. I don't go out to bars much except for Circuit Breaker and when seeking out such nights when I'm in a different city, but one thing I did notice is people being tied into their mobile devices, even saw one guy dancing by himself on the floor with his beer in one hand and his mobile in the other, absorbed in whatever was coming in over it....

Thursday I spent the afternoon and evening at the Interuniversity Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (http://www.mcgill.ca/icames/), where Rex Brynen (of Paxsims blog fame) is one of the Directors. He had set up a micro-armour game that he umpired, while six of us directed the forces of Natonia (guy called Tom) and East Norkea (me) in the “Battle of the Namgang River”. A shot of one of the tank battalions heading down the road into the "Cauldron of Death":


A full account with pictures is at http://genericgaminggoodness.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/the-battle-of-namgang-aka-the-battle-of-the-cauldron-of-death/ . It was tremendous fun, even though I lost most of my command in a huge Natonian ambush. Even worse was a missed chance to take out his two tank unit commanders by infiltrating East Norkean commandos, who lofted RPG rounds onto the tops of their tanks, only to see the rounds fizzle and misfire (I rolled two 1s in succession, the only thing that could have saved their collective bacon!). It was very kind of Rex to arrange this, as he and I had first met 30 years ago while he was doing at history degree at the University of Victoria and I was a high school student who would go to the weekly meetings of the Gaming Club there. We would have these massive micro-armour battles, usually with Rex’s models, but as he collected mostly Warsaw Pact stuff we usually played Russian vs. Chinese. (Actually, we were playing with some of the same models and terrain from back then!)

Friday was the beginning of the convention, and we got right down to it – the other guest of honour was Volko Ruhnke, who ran games of Cuba Libre, his COIN system game of the Cuban Revolution, while I ran games of A Distant Plain. I also demonstrated Kandahar (in its present configuration with the District Commander engine under the hood), 1848 (a rarely-seen because rarely-requested game on the European revolutions of that year) and Dios o Federacion (card game on post-Chavez Venezuela). Even got in a few playtest turns of the last one. A Distant Plain was a big hit, a lot of people stopped by to look and we even had one young fellow who had never played before but still managed to pull off a quick win by the Coalition, a difficult thing in this game – he moved in lightly, manufactured a lot of popular consent for the Afghan Government, and pulled out, ending the Western role in the war in 2004!


I met a lot of people who I had only corresponded with online, through Boardgamegeek or Consimworld, so it was great to put names to faces – also to see people again after some time, like Volko, Michel Boucher and Barry Setser. I came away with some excellent ideas for future game projects and extensions or fixes to ones I am testing now. I wish these events were at least a week long, so I could have conversations of appropriate length with everyone I wanted to talk to. Jean-Francois Tremblay, a re-enactor when he is not instructing at UQAM, showed up in period gear to play Volko's game Wilderness War:


Saturday night we went out to Le Pied de Cochon, a very popular (you have to make reservations a month or two ahead) restaurant with most of the menu devoted to pork products (one favourite special is “Pig’s Head For Two”, at market price though I did not think price fluctuations for such a commodity would be extreme) and the remnant devoted to other meats (another great favourite is “Duck in a Can”, and that’s just what it is). Even my French onion soup had most of a small pork chop in it, it seemed. I paid a bit much for what I got, since there were several bottles of wine on the table I did not drink from, but it was still a worthwhile experience… probably never pass that way again.

After dinner I went out to Bar Passeport again, music led off with some good Goth oldies (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy) but soon gravitated towards newer stuff (though they also played some Laibach!).

Sunday I had breakfast with Rex, Volko and his wife Jill (it was the weekend of their 22nd wedding anniversary) and got back in time to finish packing and head out to the airport. Again, things went smoothly and we even landed 48 minutes early in Victoria (they asked us over the PA to remember this the next time they were late).

It was a great week and I was honoured to be asked to come by Marc, who was a fantastic and generous host, taking time to talk with me even though he was run off his feet with convention business and real-life business. Merci a tous!

ltmurnau: (CX)
.. but as usual a lot has been happening.

Games

Publishing schedule is now:

- Finnish Civil War (1918) in #82 of Paper Wars magazine, later 2013 or early 2014.

- Greek Civil War (1947-49) in #11 of Modern War magazine, summer 2014 (publisher had me adapt the game's "Algeria" family system to a COIN system Joe Miranda will introduce for his Iraq game in Modern War #6, but it wasn't hard to do and I managed to keep the flavour of the game)

- Next Lebanon War (hypothetical 201? IDF invasion) in #13 of Modern war, fall 2014. New system very loosely based on Joe Miranda's Bulge 20, shows asymmetry between high-tech conventional IDF and inchoate Hezbollah quite well I think - was to go in issue #9 but DG's publisher thinks an attack on Iran is more likely, so mine got pushed back for a game on that instead. I hope we're both wrong.

- Kandahar (2009-10 COIN in Afghanistan) in #17 of Modern War, summer 2015. Had an ambitious and intricate COIN system like a very upgunned Algeria that worked quite well and did a lot, in many subtle ways. But publisher thought it was too complex for a magazine game (they figure people want to spend 20 minutes or less learning the rules and plan to play these things possibly twice before the next issue comes out), so dropped in the District Commander engine for it (see below), which runs faster.

- Green Beret (1964 Central Highlands Vietnam, before US intervention) in #18 of Modern War, summer 2015

- Palace Coup, simple small multi-player game about a coup in an imaginary country, sent to Victory Point Games in the winter, they liked it but haven't heard from them lately

- EOKA (Cyprus 1955-59), been shopping this around but it's too obscure a subject, a guy made a very nice map for it but wants to put it on Kickstarter and I have my doubts. Sometimes I just want to dump these things on Wargamedownloads.com and let the 25 or 30 people who really want it, have it for $9.95 and then I'm shut of it.

- District Commander, COIN in a generic Red vs. Blue setting, just to test the engine which has three levels of complexity (diceless, diceless with chits, 1d6). I designed it with classrooms in mind, and in developing historical scenarios for it later (e.g. Helmand, Al-Anbar province, etc.). Kandahar will be the first such, now.

- Dios O Federacion, just worked this one out, it's a multiplayer card game on the power struggle in post-Chavez Venezuela (though really it's the setting for an engine I want to test out). Meant to point up the tension between expending resources on building one's own power base and battling others, and expending resources to solve common economica dn social problems which if left unattended make things worse for everyone, quickly. And you can do a coup.

Next week I am going to Montreal for six days for "Stack Academie", a game convention where I am Guest of Honour (!) with Volko Ruhnke. We are finishing off the last bits of A Distant Plain (our game on Afghanistan), which will be a major focus, and will cause some stir when it comes out in August. I haven't been in Montreal for 25 years, taking an extra day or two to walk about and see what's what. I don't care for flying anymore but I am looking forward to this. Also haven't spoken any French for 25 years, we'll see how much of it comes back.

Music

Circuit Breaker has been chugging away monthly, quite nicely! Two-year anniversary in January. Have started a Facebook group for it now, don't know what took me so long.

Setlists:

January 12, 2013 – Two Years of Circuit Breaker!

Murnau

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft - Co Co Pino

Klaus Nomi - Cre Spoda

Nash the Slash - Wolf

Cabaret Voltaire - Doom Zoom

Neon Judgement - Chinese Black

Severed Heads - Mambo Fist Miasma

Chris and Cosey - Pagan Tango

Suicide Commando - Better Off Dead (remix by Dive)

Blutengel - Der Spiegel

Manufacture - Armed Forces

Feindflug - AK47

Apoptygma Berzerk - Friendly Fire

Tactical Sekt - Syncope

Clan of Xymox - Emily

Aircrash Bureau - 120 BPM

Ayria - Insect Calm

Legend - Benjamite Bloodline

Otto Dix - Ostrazhenie

Komor Kommando - Love Your Neighbour (request)

Neuroticfish - Prostitute (NYC club edit)


February 10, 2013

Murnau set list:

Nash the Slash - Reactor #2
Portion Control - Divided
Chris and Cosey - Pagan Tango
... Cabaret Voltaire - Doom Zoom
John Foxx - Underpass
Skinny Puppy - Deadlines
Kraftwerk - Numbers
Ege Bam Yasi - This is an Egg
Front 242 - Operating Tracks
Severed Heads - 4WD
Funker Vogt - Child Soldier
Covenant - Dead Stars
Mechanical Cabaret - Let's Go to Bed
2Bullet - Army March Drawn Sword Police
Combichrist - This is my Rifle (AK-47 remix)
Orange Sektor - Endzeit
Straftanz - Blood In Blood Out
Wumpscut - Krieg
AD:Key - Gruene Augen Luegen


March 10, 2013

DJ Murnau

Nash the Slash – Wolf
Einsturzende Neubauten – 3 Thoughts
Nash the Slash – Reactor #2
Portion Control – Chew You to Bits (rebuild)
Danse Macabre – She Believes
John Foxx – He’s a Liquid
Chris and Cosey – Exotica
Skinny Puppy – Chainsaw
Matt Sharp – We Have a Technical
Spine of God – Stripped
Covenant – Like Tears in Rain
Combichrist – God Wrapped in Plastic
Nachtmahr – Boom Boom Boom
Rotersand – Life Light
Technoir – Darkest Days
Apoptygma Berzerk – Friendly Fire
Ayria – The Gun Song
Orange Sektor – Polizisten

April 14, 2013

DJ Murnau

Test Dept - Long Live British Democracy (Which Has Flourished And Is Constantly Perfected Under The Immaculate Guidance Of The Great, Honourable, Generous And Correct Margaret Hilda THATCHER. She Is The Blue Sky In The Hearts Of All Nations. Our People Pay Homage And Bow In Deep Respect And Gratitude To Her, The Milk Of Human Kindness)
Test Dept - Legacy
Klaus Nomi - Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead
Attery Squash - Devo Was Right About Everything
Digital Emotion - Go Go Yellow Screen
Welle: Erdball - Tanzpalast 2000 (Commodore 64 version)
Kraftwerk - Die Modell
Nash the Slash - Swing Shift
Gary Numan - Cars (Dave Clark remix)
Prayer Tower - Warm Leatherette
John Foxx - 030
Clan of Xymox - Emily
Assemblage 23 - Surface
Spine of God - Stripped
Solitary Experiments - Star
AD: Key - Gruene Augen Lugen
Hocico - The Intruder
Ayria - Hunger
Eisenfunk - Citizen


Jeez

And now this:

"A bill that would revive some provisions of Canada's Anti-terrorism Act will get a final vote in the House of Commons Wednesday night.

The bill — known as S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act — would bring back two central provisions that were originally instituted by the Jean Chrétien government after the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 but were "sunsetted" after a five-year period.

One allowed for "preventative detention," meaning someone can be held without charge for up to three days just on suspicion of being involved in terrorism. The person can then be bound by certain probationary conditions for up to a year, and if he or she refuses the conditions, can be jailed for 12 months.

The second provides for an "investigative hearing" in which someone suspected of having knowledge of a terrorist act can be forced to answer questions. The objective is not to prosecute the person for a criminal offence, but merely to gather information.

If he or she refuses, that person can be imprisoned for up to 12 months. When the Harper government, during its first term, tried to bring back the terrorism measures in 2007, the Liberals opposed the move. Now, however, the government has Liberal support and only the official Opposition, the NDP, is protesting the bill.

The bill has already been though the Senate, and has been awaiting third reading in the Commons for months, but was rushed suddenly into debate on Monday in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. A final vote expected Tuesday was deferred for a day.

Opposition critics have accused the government of trying to exploit the events in Boston and have skeptically pointed out the coincidence of pushing the bill to debate on the same day a major terrorist arrest was announced in Toronto.

In debate, the NDP pointed out it had proposed 17 amendments to the bill at the committee stage, but all were rejected by the Conservatives, who dominate the committee.

The Liberals support the bill and proposed no amendments."


I suppose this is as close as They feel they can come to a home-grown Patriot Act, at least for now. And I also find it difficult to believe that the arrest of those two useful idiots on Monday, who apparently had been under uneventful surveillance for a year and hadn't worked up to do anything yet, was not somehow coordinated with the Prime Minister's Office and the near-railroading of this bill (though with the help of the Liberals, it will be a slam-dunk).
ltmurnau: (Default)
DATE: 9 August, 2012

SUBJECT: After Action Report – Exercise CONNECTIONS 2012

FROM: Brian Train

TO: Dear Readers

CC: Dear Linkers

1. PURPOSE:

CONNECTIONS is an annual conference on civilian and military wargaming. 2012 marked the 19th consecutive year this conference had been held. This year the conference was hosted by the Centre for Applied Strategic Learning (CASL), a department of the National Defense University located at Fort McNair, Washington DC. The general purpose of the action was for this writer to deploy from home station in Victoria, Canada, participate in the Connections 2012 annual wargaming conference with host nation (HN) personnel in Washington DC, and to redeploy to Victoria.

Key tasks during the exercise were to:

- Attend and participate in presentations and discussions during the conference;
- Meet new people and strengthen connections with prior acquaintances;
- Conduct a major “show and tell” of the relevant design work I have been doing over the last year;
- Facilitate a working group in the Game Lab event, wherein conference participants collectively discussed the opening stages of how to design an educational game on a disaster response situation (for these purposes, the [REDACTED]).

2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This exercise was conducted in five phases:

(i) Pre-deployment Phase: 1 June – 16 July 2012

In the pre-deployment phase, the focus of training was on logistical preparations for deployment and redeployment, and preparing game designs for the “game demos” part of the conference. Some time was spent doing preliminary reading and planning for the Game Lab event.

(ii) Deployment Phase: 17 July – 22 July 2012

17 July – On arrival at the Victoria Airport at 0dark30, it was discovered that the flight to Los Angeles was cancelled. After considerable time spent waiting in line and with an agent, emplaned for Vancouver BC, where I sat for several hours before emplaning for San Francisco, followed by a flight to Los Angeles. Arrived over six hours late; however, the rail portion of the deployment was the following day so there was no worry about making a connection.

18-20 July – travel to Union Station in Los Angeles to catch the afternoon train to Chicago, called the Southwest Chief. Travelling with Joe Miranda (editor of Strategy and Tactics, World at War and Modern War magazines, the world’s most prolific wargame designer, bon vivant, raconteur and inveterate punster). I’d never taken a long train trip before. Accommodation on the train was a roomette, which consisted of two chairs facing each other that converted into a bed at night, while a second bunk could be swung down from the ceiling. It was awfully hot so it was not easy to get enough sleep. And finally, 28 miles short of Chicago after travelling over 2,600 miles from Los Angeles, the engine packed it in – I think we just ran out of gas but it’s Amtrak, they don’t have to explain what happened. We waited three hours in a stifling hot car that we could not leave with no power and windows that did not open, until they sent out an engine to push us into Chicago very slowly.


Me and Joe Miranda in "Albakoikee", NM

After a pre-planned night and day in Chicago, we took the train the rest of the way to Washington DC. After crossing the Mississippi everything was much greener and bumpier than the West, which looked fairly badly affected by the drought. The hotel in Washington was a block from the Navy Yard Metro stop, which was convenient, and a bit more than a mile from the National Defense University. We usually caught rides though, as it was over 95 degrees and humid all the time we were there it would have been a pretty hot walk.

(iii) Employment Phase: 23 July – 26 July 2012

Conduct of the conference at National Defense University, Washington DC. I’ve outlined the entire agenda, with comments and rambling from my notes (in italics) on the parts I attended.

[ APPROXIMATELY 3,000 WORDS REDACTED ]

Day 4, Thursday, 26 July, Marshall Hall 155

This was largely Working Groups outbriefs and the best part, the Connections “Hot Wash” discussion. See 3. Lessons Learned.

(iv) Redeployment Phase: 26 July – 29 July 2012

Spent Thursday and Friday walking around Washington with Joe Miranda. Thursday afternoon we went to the Dupont Circle area to scope out a nightclub that was going to have some kind of Goth night, and spent some time at a nicely stocked, very cheap bookstore that was right next door. Later walked around in Georgetown and had lunch there. That night we went back to the club (Phase 1), but the club remained shut even after 2200, so we walked back towards downtown, passing by the White House at midnight – there was one small light glowing there, as if the President had gotten up in the middle of the night and left the bathroom light on. All the Metros were shut down it was so late, so in the end we got a taxi back and went to bed about 0130.

Friday we walked around looking at many monuments, and I went into the Smithsonian (well, the one that is dedicated to American history, there are about five other Smithsonians) for a short while. Quite unexpectedly at the Lincoln Memorial we ran into Callie Cummins and Chris Cummins Jr., of Decision Games, who had been at the conference to sell a few games.



Saturday I saw Joe to Union Station as he was catching the train all the way back to Los Angeles, and then took the train out to Maryland, where I was met by Volko Ruhnke. We played a few turns of A Distant Plain and had a nice dinner with him and his wife. Got back later and finished packing and moving items around various bags, as I usually do before travelling.



Sunday 29 July, returned by air to Victoria, Canada. Dulles Airport is a LONG way out of the city! Original plan was to go home via Chicago and Calgary, but flight was cancelled due to mechanical breakdown. After several hours delay, I got on a flight to San Francisco, then Victoria, which saw the return home several hours late, and with no luggage (this followed the next day).

(v) Recovery Phase: 30 July 2012 onwards

Post-exercise repairs, cleaning, maintenance and critiques. Begin work on post-conference tasks. See 5.

3. LESSONS LEARNED

As always, there were lots of suggestions and lively discussion in the Hot Wash section of the conference. Some of them included:

[ APPROXIMATELY 400 WORDS REDACTED ]

4. COMMENTS

The conference itself was an unqualified success – the only drawback was that there were so many excellent presentations, it was difficult to choose which to attend and which to pass up.

Approximately [REDACTED] people, mostly from the Beltway region but also from Canada, the European Union, and Singapore, participated. Portions of the conference were livestreamed on the Internet through the [REDACTED], and some speakers took part through videoconferencing.

Less successful were the deployment and redeployment phases – movement plans were drastically revised each way, due to circumstances beyond the unit’s control. However, the effects of the changes were mitigated by having extra “down time” incorporated into travel plans to begin with. And packing lighter would have been a help, as it would have allowed my bag to stay with me! I also found it difficult to sleep on the train due to the heat and motion, so arrived in Washington without adequate rest. It was certainly intersting to take a long train trip like this, but I'm not sure I would do it again.

5. ACTION ITEMS

I have a number of things to do, read and revise as a result of this conference. Also, much of the rest of the year will be taken up with playtesting and refining A Distant Plain. More details [REDACTED].

Thanks for reading.
ltmurnau: (Default)
I’ve been nominated in the 2011 Charles S. Roberts Awards for a “James F. Dunnigan Design Elegance Award” for my game Summer Lightning!

http://charlesrobertsawards.com/voting.php

(scroll way, way down to the bottom)

I highly doubt I’ll win though – as much as I liked the game, just not enough people own it to vote on it, and I would not ask my Deah Readuhs to stuff the ballot box. No. That would be wrong.

But it’s nice to see your name on the list, at any rate.

- Notorious B. R. T.
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From Times Higher Education:

***
Playing at war, pestilence and death (but it's only a model - shh)
21 June 2012

By Matthew Reisz

Matthew Reisz reports on how serious games offer insights into politics, pandemics and propaganda

Simulations and games can be highly effective in helping to teach students about politics and war - but often suffer from oversimplification, a lack of clear purpose or insufficient time to explore issues meaningfully.

These were among the views put forward at a workshop - held at the University of Westminster earlier this month - on the use of games to model everything from the effects of a global pandemic to last year's London riots.

Simon Usherwood, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Surrey, opened the event by exploring "the problems of making simulations work".

He said it was essential to develop an "appropriate level of conflict" so that participants were neither too laid back nor likely to come to blows while acting out, for example, the Middle Eastern peace process.

Philip Sabin, professor of war studies at King's College London, explained that he used games and simulations "to teach students how to understand past military confrontations - and the military how to fight future battles".

It was virtually impossible to analyse conflict without using models, he added, but all had to strike a balance between accuracy and simplicity.

What they could never do was teach people "how to look someone in the eye and tell them to go off and risk getting killed", he said.

Keynote speaker Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild distinguished professor of digital humanities at Dartmouth College in the US, who has been designing such games since 1994, said they often had the goal of "moving educational tools out into popular culture so as to help people think more critically".

She referred to one of her games, Layoff, where managers are confronted by details of "workers' personal biographies" to "encourage an emotional response to the human suffering created by the economic crisis".

Pox was also developed in Professor Flanagan's design lab when a public health organisation asked for "a game that would effectively educate about issues related to vaccination".

She said the real challenge was "the subversion of introducing critical games into the marketplace".

When in doubt, she joked, it was a good idea to introduce some kind of "zombie attack" into the design.

Meanwhile, Richard Barbrook, senior lecturer in Westminster's School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, argued that playing, critiquing and designing games offered an excellent way of "modelling political processes".

Recent students, for example, had come up with a London riots game based on backgammon, he said.

Dr Barbrook has a particular interest in The Game of War, a board game created in the wake of the 1968 Paris student uprising by Guy Debord, the French Situationist, "to teach the strategy and tactics to win the next revolution".

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

***
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=420310&c=1
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cover – all artwork by Kerry Anderson



Kerry Anderson has done some wonderful artwork on The Scheldt Campaign and the game will soon be ready for release through the Microgame Design Group. This game will feature a 17×22″ map and 244 die-cut counters!

This will be the first board wargame to focus exclusively on the clearing of the Scheldt Estuary by the First Canadian Army, an important campaign that has received scant interest in history.

CSW discussion area at http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1dd6f4d9/0?14@@
BGG game entry at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/125416/the-scheldt-campaign for a look at some graphics samples (well, they are all reproduced here, but can be viewed at different sizes there).
small section of the map

small section of the map



The game uses a heavily adapted version of the Staff Card system first seen in Joe Miranda’s seminal game Bulge 20

Each player has a C2 Level which represents the maximum number of Staff cards he may have in his hand at any one time. The current C2 Level also determines how many Tactical Units the player may have under command of a single Task Force HQ at one time. Also, the mix of Staff Cards differs between the German and Allied sides.

Each Player selects his hand of Staff Cards from those in his Available Pile during his Planning Phase at the end of his Player Turn. Cards remain in your hand until played or your ensuing Planning Phase, at which time you keep or discard any cards in your hand and then select back up to your current C2 Level (thus planning out your next turn).

In the game you have four kinds of staff cards, with the following functions:

G-1 (Administration):

  • Enter reinforcement units (not in Isolated hexes);

  • Recover 1-3 Hits from Tactical Units (only one card per Tactical unit, and if not Isolated)



G-2 (Intelligence):

  • Regroup Tactical Units in Operations Zone of a Task Force HQ;

  • Play in Battle sequence to take or keep Tactical Advantage (first fire);

  • Play any time to inspect enemy card hand or OOB Mat for 30 seconds



G-3 (operations):

  • Conduct Tactical Movement with one unit (which can be anything from a single battalion to a Task Force HQ fully loaded with combat brigades and supporting arms);

  • Conduct an Attack



G-4 (Logistics):

  • conduct Strategic Movement (either triple MF with one unit, or cross-Scheldt movement with one Tactical Unit);

  • Play in Commitment step of Battle sequence to give Combat Support (German can play one for artillery; Allied can play one for artillery and one for Air Support)



Also, the combat system uses multiple dice so that units wear away as they take hits and become less capable. There are never enough Staff Cards so you have to balance out the need to push on vs. the risk of burning out your front line units.

section of the counter sheet

section of the counter sheet



[laboriously cut and pasted from my Wordpress blog on game design. Is there a way to republish or repost blog entries to or from automatically?]
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Ooooff, what a month it's been. I was looking forward to a good ten days off during the Xmas-New Years bit but halfway through it Body thought it should get even for all the stress Brain had been placing on it all fall and I fell ill from a terrible cold that's going around. That was over two weeks ago and I'm still an exhausted, brain-dead snot factory, at least for the first couple of hours until the night's accumulation of phlegm has dispersed.

I hate being ill, I mean there are a few perks like sitting in bed most of the day watching crappy movies, preferably on VHS (Saturday I saw Back to the Beach, Master of the World, Tunnelvision, and two Andy Kaufman TV specials - gave up on After the Fall of New York because of a headache). But there are always obligations, even when sick, and that's not much fun. Worst is the tiredness, of not feeling up to doing all the things you want to do, or starting something and tiring after just a little while.

Anyway blah blah poor poor pitiful me... otherwise December wasn't bad, I made progress on a couple of projects including the Naval Postgraduate School-related project, and finished the year with the information that one of my new(ish) games, Third Lebanon War, will be included in a new game magazine to be launched this August (but "my" issue probably won't be out until 2013 or maybe even 2014), and two other games, Greek Civil War 1947-49 and Balkan Gambit, will finally come out in the first half of 2012, four years after handing them in to the publisher. At least, that's the plan.

I cooked and baked a lot last month, my mom was sick (with that same terrible cold, don't think I got it from her but she has COPD so it's not good) so we took her turkey and I roasted it and it came out pretty well... and I made ten fruitcakes, a kilogram each, that's an awful lotta fruitcake but they made nice gifts (mostly fruit bits stuck together with buttery cake batter), and I made "Ginger Dead Men" - I found a 10 cent metal cookie cutter in the shape of a playing-card spade at the thrift store, and a moment's work with a pair of pliers turned it into a skull outline - couple of dents for eyes and teeth, and you have ginger cookies that will stare back at you, along with all the other people staring at you for bringing a box of these weird atrocities into the office!

Lianne went all-out for Christmas, she wanted a tree (we got an artificial one, I don't see the point of killing a tree, or rather buying an already-killed one, just to have it inside for two weeks while it drops needles on the carpet) and put up all kinds of lights and decorations. Her Mom died near last Christmas so this is the first time we'd all been together for the entire holidays. She gave me a nice little Toshiba netbook for Christmas, the one thing I would find quite useful but would never buy for myself. It's nice to carry around and I think I will brave the DHS goons and take it on trips, it also uses Skype so I can call folks on it for free - Akito calls his mother every week on Skype, and often talks to his friends that way. Wonder how much longer it will be before that little bit of convenience gets shut down or overrun by ads - yeah, you can talk as much as you want for free, but your call is interrupted by a 15-second ad every 45 seconds.

Akito is 17 now. Yikes, once there was this little baby I could hold in both hands and now there's this man living in my house who calls me Dad. He went to a school semi-formal dinner and dance, so we got him some nice clothes - he does clean up well, and he had fun, so that's all to the good. He has been accepted into the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at Camosun, it's a good two-year program that offers a bridging semester right into 3rd year Mechanical Engineering at the University. It's an intense program and the bridging semester is tough but the classes are small and the instructors seem to care about the students, so I hope he will be all right.

Uh, what else - last night was another Circuit Breaker, the one-year anniversary. Here's my setlist:

Nash the Slash - Reactor #2
Cabaret Voltaire - Spies in the Wires
Severed Heads - Dead Eyes Opened (spooky remix)
Skinny Puppy - Far Too Frail
Chris and Cosey - Lost
Hilary - Kinetic (remix)
Numb - Theme to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
Encephalon - Rise
Die Sekto - Accelerant
Laibach - Alle Gegen Alle
AD:Key - Lass Mich Los
And One - Wet Spot
Digital Poodle - Head of Lenin
Soviet Radio - Love is a War
Covenant - Leviathan
Eco - Hass und Liebe

So that's that for now!

You know, Livejournal has not collpased as I thought it would four months ago - I'll be here for a bit yet, but will still maintain my game-design related blog on Wordpress: http://brtrain.wordpress.com/

So, Happy New Year to you - not going to bother with year-end memes this time. Heck, I did not even observe the 13th anniversary of my accident, save for riding over the spot I got hit in the bus home, but I do that half the time anyway....
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Oh dear, and another month slips by. It has been such a busy year, at least since May, and there are only a few weeks left in 2011.

But not time for end-of-year accounting and 2011 memes yet.

Chronological accounting-for-myself:

October 10 (Thanksgiving) - we gave this a miss because Aki had his wisdom teeth out a few days before and couldn't chew - and I was not about to make a turkey smoothie for him. He had five (!) taken out, they are a lot bigger than I remember. The procedure is different now too - when I had mine out, about his age, it involved day surgery in a hospital with a general anaesthetic. He had it done in the dentist's office, with IV sedation. He bled for a day or so and recovered very quickly. The following weekend we had a proper dinner at my mother's.

October 19-22 - I went to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California. Dear Readuhs will remember the conference I went to in early August, and how well one of my games went down at the demonstration period there (http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/237527.html). Well, out of that I got an invitation to go to the NPS and talk to them about using digitized versions of this and other games of mine, in a project related to another, much larger project they have going on. I got to make a lunchtime presentation to their Irregular Warfare students, mostly Special Forces captains and majors - I was kind of nervous about this but they were very friendly and interested. I spoke for less than half an hour and they filled up the rest of the time with questions, so I didn't get a chance to talk with them which I really wanted to do. I did have a quick chat with a Marine Corps major who had trained in Armor, and instead of charging across the desert dealing death to enemy tanks from two miles away found himself and his tank company in a neighbourhood of Baghdad, working out which streets would have priority for garbage collection and which block leaders could or couldn't be trusted.

If anyone wants to look at my script or Powerpoint slides, they are here: http://brtrain.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/presentation-at-naval-postgraduate-school/ . This is another blog I have started that will be confined to my game design and "serious games" development and other stuff. Not much there yet though, as it has not proven possible to port my game-design related entries on LJ over to Wordpress en masse.

Anyway, the ensuing discussions with the project team went well, I came up with some new ideas for games for them that I will be working on and I put them in touch with [livejournal.com profile] emperorkefka who has made up a version of Guerrilla Checkers for Android mobile phones, and will probably do the technical work for the team on what they need for the project. See a screenshot at Little Viking Games.

A "guided gaming session" went less well, I tend to forget that a game I regard as being comparatively simple (especially if I've designed it) is still quite complex to people who have grown up playing ordinary board games or just computer games. As much as I tend to dislike computer games, a lot of the complexity and fiddliness of a game design can be subsumed into the structure and interface of a game. Players do not need to remember what pieces can move where or how, when the program will simply not let them do it, so they can concentrate on playing the game - and that's enough for most players, but there needs to be some explanation of why this or that thing can't happen, or the penalties for doing so. And it's a lot easier to change a sentence to two in a rulebook than it is to rewrite hundreds of lines of code. Anyway, I left them with a big bag of playable copies of my games.

Monterey is a beautiful little town, and Friday night I went out to look around. The NPS is just a few blocks from downtown, so I walked down to the big pier that is full of shops and restaurants. I looked at I don't know how many cheap t-shirts, and got a pound of salt water taffy for Aki (and a bunch of cheap assorted candy from the Walgreen's downtown later). I had a plate of completely ordinary chow mein at a small Chinese restaurant where this huge Mexican family was having dinner - I think it was someone's birthday or something. "Dad" was at the head of the table, obviously the patriarch and wearing the biggest hat - they were having a great time. Later I walked back by a different route but did not turn when I needed to, and ended up walking by this highway to a gigantic shopping mall with no way out except the way you came in, and the buses had all stopped running - in the end I did get out and back, but had walked five miles more than I had planned!

I went back on Saturday the 22nd - the NPS had actually paid for my flight and hotel, which was great. My flights were well spaced so I didn't have to hurry at all; and I have resolved to hand-carry my luggage from now on if I can possibly help it. You can get a lot into a small bag if you roll it right. (I saved even more room on the flight down by forgetting my good pants at home! Luckily I remembered this in the air on the way to San Francisco, and got a pair of acceptable golfing slacks at the pro shop in the airport - otherwise it would have been pretty embarassing.)

October 24 - was my 47th birthday, which we didn't really bother marking except for a good dinner at San Remo. I'm feeling rather more middle-aged now, and while I'm happy to have outlived George Orwell, I don't have TB and haven't come near to matching his output.

October 29 - was "Grave Situation II", the second annual Gothvic Halloween party. (entry in respect of the first: http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/225987.html). Lianne came out for this one too, and we had a nice time. I was supposed to DJ for the first hour and a bit, but the person who was supposed to bring the CD players didn't show up until late so for the first while I had to improvise some with what Gray had on his laptop, using Mixxx which was not-bad software. No one was dancing anyway, so it was OK - can't post my setlist right now but will later.

October 31 - we just left the lights off. I didn't see any kids out and about. Very disappointing. Aki went to play computer games and have some pizza with his friends.

November 4-6 - We went to deepest darkest Surrey, for BottosCon 2011 - the fifth annual board wargaming convention put on my Rob Bottos. It's small, maybe 60 people came this time and that was the biggest yet. About half of the attendees were Advanced Squad Leader players, who usually don’t play much else (or at least, they came to the convention to play ASL only), and the other half were people playing practically everything else, from non-wargames like Urban Sprawl to Angola or Storming the Reich.

I don’t go to many conventions, and when I do I usually don’t play games – I spend my time talking to people, catching up with friends or trying to interest people in my new designs in the hope of snagging playtesters. Guerrilla Checkers (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/71035/guerrilla-checkers ) proved to be a hit again, and someone expressed an interest in writing an iOS application for it so it can be played on iPad, iPhone, iKettle etc., which would be great. I also played out a few turns of the brigade-level version of my Finnish Civil War game (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/68072/finnish-civil-war ), which prompted someone to say that he thought he’d seen everything now, and did a complete run-through with a playtester of a newly written 2006 scenario for my Third Lebanon War game – it worked well and concluded on time, with a marginal Hezbollah victory. A minor revision to two to the rules and they’re even better – the basic designs are quite sound.

We also went out to one of Surrey's many industrial zones - the whole area looks like it's composed of strip malls, suburbs, and warehouse districts, there's more than that but that's what you see form the highway as you're whizzing through - to get 25 pounds of Cerrotru, the metal I use for casting my miniatures. It's gone up in price a lot, and this will probably be the last time I buy it for quite a while. I kind of like going to these industrial parks, reminds me that things are still made or at least assembled here.

Anyway, I went for the gaming and metal, Lianne went for the shopping. The con hotel was next door to the last Skytrain station, so it was easy for her to get downtown without aggravation. She went to check out the Occupy Vancouver campsite at the Vancouver Art Gallery, what she saw and what I've seen of our own Occupy Victoria site makes me think that perhaps it's time to fold the tents and continue the next phase in the fight. The continued and enlarged presence of conspiracy crazies (Truthers, chemtrail people etc.), deinstitutionalized mental health cases, homeless, criminals and drug addicts at these camps are just the sort of thing the detractors of the Occupy movement want to see (and in fact have even been encouraging, as NYPD cops regularly send these people from other parts of Manhattan to Zucotti Park, and police in other cities are infiltrating different Occupy campsites to instigate trouble themselves). Yes, I am fully aware that these people are just as much products of the version of semi-feudal corporate capitalism as anyone else camping out down there, but continuing to sleep out in tents like this will tend to make it easier to trivialize the whole movement as, well, sleeping out in tents.

I'm not going to say anything more about the Occupy movement itself; anyone who reads this has already read what I would say, in many other places and probably better phrased. I was looking up some George Orwell the other day and found this telling chapter from The Road to Wigan Pier, which he wrote in 1936 - he makes some good points, and this chapter contains some of his more spiteful writing, but it's also interesting to look at this from 75 years in his future.

Read more... )
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Well, I'm back from the "Connections" conference at National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, and things went VERY well.

http://connections-wargaming.com/ (site)
http://web.me.com/mgkkmk/Connections/2011.html (agenda)

I got to Washington late late on Sunday night. Monday afternoon I went to NDU, first to the Metro station (what is it about every subway system I've ridden on that they all smell the same? It's a hot, dusty smell that must come from the engines on the trains or the stale air down there) and then a few blocks to Fort McNair (a small Army post named after a general who was killed by friendly fire in July, 1944 in France). Met up with Skip Cole, late of the US Institute for Peace, and reunited with Rex Brynen, the McGill professor I mentioned (http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/233392.html), after thirty years! That night Joe Miranda and I went out and looked over Washington at night - we saw the Washington Monument, and the White House, both from afar. We wanted to have a beer at the bar of the Watergate Hotel, but apparently it has been pulled down - there is still a building called The Watergate but it is full of condo apartments and dentists' offices.

Tuesday: first day of the conference proper. Keynote speakers were James F. Dunnigan and Peter Perla, both great figures in the development and history of board and professional wargaming, and they spoke well. The panel on which I was presenting came right after. I was third, and was sitting at the end of the table waiting to go, and James FREAKING Dunnigan walked back into the room and sat down next to me, muttering that it was "standing room only back there". I told him I thought he could sit anywhere he wanted. I went up and made my presentation, which went well but was a bit rushed because I was third. My presentation was called "Ploughing in the COIN Field" and was about the series of seven counterinsurgency/guerrilla warfare games I had designed since 1995, very different from each other in topic but using the same basic system.

I went back and sat down, fielded questions and that was it for the panel discussion and then JAMES freaking DUNNIGAN shook my hand and said, "I like what you're doing".

Anyway, that's certainly my brush with greatness this year.

That afternoon were game demonstrations, my Guerrilla Checkers was a hit! (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/71035/guerrilla-checkers).

Ya know, sometimes Value Village will give you just what you need... I had found a bag of 1,358 little red buttons, 1 cm across with a "handle", just in time for $2.99. This made up 20 sets of 66 guerrilla pieces, and I used some miniatures from an old parts copy of Risk for the 6 counter-insurgent pieces for each set. I copied a grid and shortened rules onto a card, and gave those away for free. I got some cotton napkins from VV as well, and had an 8x8 grid silkscreened on them, and got some large and small stones in contrasting colours from Michael's to make up another set of nice copies.

I started showing someone how to play, and within five minutes the free copies were flying away and there were five or six games going at once.

Rules, in case you're interested, at: http://www.islandnet.com/~ltmurnau/text/Guerrilla%20Checkers.rtf. Next thing to do is make some kind of Web or mobile app for the game; I had a couple of discussions with people on this.

Tuesday night were some more playtests, Wednesday was devoted to more presentations and working group work. Interesting discussions, including some talk on how to involve non-military people in military wargaming. I suggested we should call ourselves "ludic futurists"!

Wednesday night Joe and I went out to Georgetown. It started to pour rain the moment we stepped outside the Metro station, and we walked and walked. I was absolutely saturated but it was quite warm, so we dried out a little bit at a good Italian restaurant staffed by Filipinos.

Thursday were some final discussions and meetings, promises of further action, and the long flight home. I still think it's pretty remarkable that I could travel over 5,000 km and visit three coasts of the continent in less than a day. I got home at midnight on Thursday. Security wasn't too bad, only one pat-down in Seattle and I lost the little snow-globe of the White House Lianne asked for - apparently those are verboten, in any size, unless you drain them yourself first. So remember!

All in all, a good week - I made a lot of good contacts and plan on going back next year (it will be at NDU again).

Oh, and I also found that the article I wrote on the Dieppe Raid (http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/225987.html) was nominated for "Best Historical Article" in the Charles S. Roberts Awards (http://charlesrobertsawards.com/results.php?theYear=2010). But it didn't win.
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So, last week I was interviewed for a podcast by a guy who writes a blog on games. Oh God, there's almost an hour of it.

http://ivebeendiced.blogspot.com/2011/07/ive-been-diced-episode-20-brian-train.html

http://armsandinfluence.typepad.com/IBD/IBDEp20.mp3

I really, really hate my voice on the air - do I really sound like that IRL? I sound like something's pinching me inside. The cordless phone I was using died midway through the interview, as if it had killed itself rather than listen to me anymore.
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Yes, been a while, hasn't it... Among other things:

I didn't write about the outcome of the convention in Tempe. I think I found homes for ALL of these designs, except Virtualia, which nevertheless was the predecessor for Kandahar and EOKA, both of which attracted interest. But hoo boy, I never talked so much in all my life - and I owe a great debt to Todd Davis, He of the Blue Hair, who made sure that I got a chance to talk to people who mattered.

I observed and kibitzed some folks playing Summer Lightning, and at least one copy was given away as a door prize. I helped to playtest Andean Abyss, (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/91080/andean-abyss)a new game on counterinsurgency in the 1990s in Colombia that was quite clever, and showed Guerrilla Checkers (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/71035/guerrilla-checkers) to quite a few people. Got a couple of small games and picked up two items in the game auction, normally the high point of the convention.

It was up to 105 degrees in the daytime, and would cool to about 80 around 4 in the morning. My good intentions of getting exercise by walking up the butte behind the hotel in the relative cool of the morning soon evaporated, and we never did get into downtown Phoenix (it would have been easy as there is a new light rail station a couple of blocks away) to look around. But we did walk around in the general area, and I got some cheap CDs at the record exchange down the street we always visit - Lianne got some nice antique glassware at the little store down the street from there, that we also always visit.

We went out to the club (it was called Sanctum) twice that week, Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday the music wasn't so great, and not many people there, but Saturday was a lot better. Lianne came along the second time and had a good time, I think.

I hadn't been to this convention in three years, and it appears my reputation has grown slightly in the meantime - getting published in Strategy & Tactics and World at War magazine certainly helped. Joe Miranda and I also made a presentation at a rather sparsely-attended panel discussion on simulating modern warfare.

We left on Sunday, and getting home, while it took a while, was less unpleasant than getting there. On the way down I got the full TSA style pat-down three times, including having my hands swabbed for explosives/gunpowder residues in the Victoria airport, before I'd even left the damn country! It's the metal rod in my leg that does it - the metal detector trips, and then I get the business... the TSA drone knows I haven't done anything wrong, I know I haven't done anything wrong, but we both have to go through this non-consensual Security Theatre piece - he'll lose his job if he doesn't do it, all it takes is one smart crack from me and then I get on a watch list forevermore, and both of us, it has been decided, must demonstrate to everyone watching that You Must Submit, It's For Your Own Good, Really....

Anyway, in Phoenix airport they had a full body scanner, so all you do is stand with you hands in a triangle above your forehead while they probe your innards. It was easier that time. Then we flew to San Francisco and sat there for a few hours, thankfully did not have to go through Security again, and then a flight straight home to Victoria. But we arrived late, and took a while to get through Customs, so did not get home until almost midnight, too late for me to go and do a set at Circuit Breaker - sigh.

Monday the 13 I had a cleaning appointment at the dentist - tired as I was it was still only all right to sit in the chair while he poked and scraped at my teeth, until *SPUNG* an inlay popped off. Well, if you are going to have your dental work wrecked, a good place to do it is in the dentist's office - so they cemented it back on until I could get it seen to that Wednesday. Oh how I love these dental follies - but it beats having to whittle a new set of choppers every month.

The following week was Aki's final exams, he did OK on the things that counted - A in Math, A in Social Studies (he got extra credit for volunteering in the federal election and that made the difference), B in Auto Mech, C+ in English - could have been better but the exam was sooner than he thought it was - bad planning on the school's part, and I was certainly less than impressed with his teacher. Anyway, it's good enough and after English 12, he'll never analyze another novel in his life. This week he is on the Trades Awareness Program, something Camosun College puts on in the summer - each day they go to a different shop in the Trades area of the campus to see what's involved in being an electrician, plumber etc. and they go to a construction site to see how it all comes together.

By the end of the week my boss was back from her vacation, so that was the end of my nearly-one-month-long Reign of Error acting in her position. I really don't care for being Boss. But I like the job a lot. Oh, and because of the dental stuff I missed the ceremony for getting my 15-year service pin too(actually I've been in the Public Service since 1993, but better late than never).

Canada Day I stayed well away from downtown! We finally got a big and good-quality barbecue, so I have been grilling dinners lately - so that's what I did, and later stood on a chair on the deck to see the fireworks going off over downtown, six miles away from drunken vomiting teenagers. The following night we went out to a gallery opening, and had dinner at San Remo, a place I have been meaning to go to for over ten years. It was pretty good. And Sunday the 3rd was the annual "Gothnic" in Beacon Hill Park: Lianne came along and I made up a big batch of sandwiches. I don't think my priest getup fooled anyone, but it does look rather like a demented church picnic.

And that night was Circuit Breaker again (a week earlier than usual because of Pride Week)! Here's my setlist:

Severed Heads - Come Visit the Big Bigot
Nash the Slash - Wolf
Epsilon Minus - Antigravity (to test the outpout from a laptop)
Yello - Bostich
Residents - Diskomo 2000
Einsturzende Neubauten - Abfackeln
Laibach - Now You Will Pay
Ad:Key - Seelenstrip
Front Line Assembly - Provision
Blutengel - Bloody Pleasures
Mythos - Robot Secret Agents
A;Grumh - New Fashion
Penal Colony - Third Life
Die Bunker - Gewalt
Die Krupps - Machineries of Joy
And One - Panzermensch
DAF - Der Mussolini
Apoptygma Berserk - Electronic Warfare
Einsturzende Neubauten - Yu-Gung

That about brings things up to date. This summer I am spacing out some vacation days to go to a four-day work week, and there's lots to do to fill in the time.

In the first week of August I am going to the Connections conference at the National Defense University in Washington DC to speak on a panel, and demonstrate some of my games. Again, I am not looking forward to getting there (Continental Airlines, which I understand is one notch above the way Aeroflot used to be, and a long period of cooling my heels in Houston TX of all places). I am taking just carry-on luggage so at least none of that can go wrong. And DC in August is a steambath, I hear, and there are no clubs for Joe and I to go to on the nights we are there (without travelling 90 miles to Richmond or Norfolk VA!).
ltmurnau: (Default)
I haven't read Vonnegut in years, but this makes me want to go out and get his last book:

Read more... )

In other news, tomorrow we're off to Tempe AZ for the Consimworld convention! Lianne will lie by the pool and read while I bring her ice cream from time to time, and I will spend my time trying to get people interested in the batch of unpublished games I will be bringing with me, besides showing off Summer Lightning:

- EOKA (Cyprus 1955-59 - yep, whipped it into shape on the weekend, still think it's a bit too fiddly though)
- The Scheldt Campaign (First Canadian Army Oct-Nov 1944, first game focused on the campaign)
- Third Lebanon War (Israeli Army invades souther Leb in near-future to stop Hezbollah, Or Not)
- Kandahar (non-historical game on Afghanistan)
- Virtualia (FID in a fictionalized post-Chavez Venezuela)
- Greek Civil War (been waiting a long time for this to come out, there is a new mag-with-a-game-in-it coming out that focuses on post-WW 2 conflicts)
- Balkan Gambit (when, o when?)
- Guerrilla Checkers (simple, interesting abstract game I invented last year)

Holy mac, I have been busy the last couple of years.

We also plan a visit to a Goth club (the only one, I think) and visit downtown Phoenix; I think there's some kind of desert flora centre we can visit too - I like cacti and desert plants, they're interesting.

It's gonna be hot!
ltmurnau: (Default)
Or rather, one of my games is... an Italian wargamer does a 14-minute video review of Summer Lightning, so you can take a look at what goes into one of these things:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OsuG5ZCJmw

You know, I think I've finally arrived as a game designer with this one, due to the packaging. When I first started, we packaged the games in plastic comic book bags; later those tin boxes and small cardboard boxes, that were roomier but still pretty full of cardboard. The box for this one is 80% air; it must mean I'm nearly a professional!
ltmurnau: (Default)
I haven't received my personal copies yet, but here is a look inside my new Poland 1939 game:



Not a bad job on the graphics, not bad at all....

Kandahar

Apr. 28th, 2011 11:38 am
ltmurnau: (Default)
A year or two ago, in response to the thoughts comments and feedback received by one of the Pentagon guys who was using my game on the 1954-62 Algerian War to model an online counterinsurgency game (http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/169938.html), I worked up a new game called Virtualia, using a thinly-disguised post-Chavez Venezuela to look into urban guerrilla warfare. Later, I reworked that again into a game on the Afghanistan situation, in Kandahar Province and named Kandahar (hey, I never said I was completely original: http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/221686.html).

Anyway, an acquaintance from a long time ago who has since become a Poli Sci professor at McGill University used my Algeria game in one of his classes last year, and wanted to follow it up this year with another of my games. So he used Kandahar with some of his students, and they seemed to like it despite its relative complexity. Another student of his used the game for her Honours thesis and wrote a long playtest report/game review of it, and I got to write a response - both pieces are found here, on the professor's blog on peace-building simulations: http://paxsims.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/deconstructing-kandahar/

Go and look, it's really boring and irrelevant to you!
ltmurnau: (Default)
I had a dream last night that aliens had invaded and taken many of us (including me) back to another planet, and Charlie Sheen was a collaborator/ overseer.

And he was being a real jerk about it, like "Who's standing here WITHOUT a shovel in his hands, NOT mining thorium? Duh, WINNING!"

In other news, my Poland game is due in the publisher's warehouse inside of two weeks. Links to aspects of the game:

Buzz: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/42591/summer-lightning-the-invasion-of-poland-1939
Where to buy: http://www.locknloadgame.com/Section_Cat_Content_Detail.asp?SID=33&SCAT=87&ID=95
Rulebook: http://www.locknloadgame.com/www.locknloadgame.com/sneakmanuals/SL-Manual-part.pdf
Very nice map, complete: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/952346/marc-von-martial

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