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: (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)
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.
ltmurnau: (Default)
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)
Yep, this weekend Lianne and I went over to Couverville to see The Residents, among other things. It was lots of fun mostly, and rather underlined that I ought to get out more, but perhaps I ought not.

We went over on Saturday morning, saw [livejournal.com profile] red_thread and other Gothvic people on the ferry - they were headed over for the Goth Prom that night, so had duffel bags full of costumery with them. We stayed at the Holiday Inn at Howe and Nelson, which is Lianne's favourite. It's convenient, I'll say that.

We walked around for a few hours; she went to seek out a pair of shoes and I went to seek other things, and to scout out where the show was that night - the Rickshaw Theatre, just a block and a half away from the infamous Hastings and Main. That whole area of Hastings reeks of weed and used booze and anger and barely contained violence and mental illness.

Spartacus Books has moved about ten blocks away from where it was, and I had no time to trudge that far - but fortunately McLeod's Books on West Pender is still open, though every time I go there there is less room for the customers. It's almost impossible to move in there without knocking something over, the heaps of books are themselves heaped on other heaps and everything is only barely organized according to subject. But the prices are OK on a lot of things and they had a sale on hardcover books. I went back the next day and got some Edward Gorey books I had missed the day before, and went to Criterion Books across the street - smaller than Mcleod's but even messier, with a creaky floor that seemed bound to buckle under the weight of the books - and then to Albion Books just up the street, much nicer and better organized. I mean, I love old bookstores full of junk but after a while it's just a task trying to find anything at all. Anyway, I am amazed these three stores are still hanging on, as independent booksellers are closing up everywhere.

Back to the hotel, quick shower, rest the feet and then we walked to the Rickshaw. Lots of seats in a gently sloping floor, perhaps it was a movie theatre once upon a time. Anyway, the place was sold out and as soon as the show started everyone got up and stood next to the raised stage, so we had to go too. This was only the second time I had seen The Residents, there were three of them this time. The sound system was turned up way too loud and I could not tell what "Randy" (the Resident who I think has been the main singer for most of their 40 year career) was singing half the time. Got an eyeball tee-shirt and a CD of Not Available. Lianne had never seen them before and pronounced it the weirdest thing she'd ever seen.

Kind of an expensive weekend (ferry fare for a car and two adults is almost $75 one-way, and is going up soon), and I still don't think I could ever live in or near Vancouver, but it was a fun time. Found myself gawking up at the skyscrapers like some rube.
ltmurnau: (Default)
The day after Remembrance Day I went over to swingin' Surrey for "BottosCon": a wargame convention organized by one Rob Bottos, who had been asking me to attend for a few years. It was held at the Compass Point Inn by the King George Highway, which hardly means anything because to me, Surrey looks like an enormous strip mall criscrossed by highways.

The hotel was adequate and they had enough space for the con in one of their two downstairs ball/meeting rooms: the last two years running there was a furry convention in the other ballroom, and guys told me that furries would wander into the room in costume, look at the fat nerds playing their complicated games, and wander out again. The hotel staff were pretty upfront about how they liked our crowd better. This year the furries had had their convention the weekend before; I've been told that next year the two coincide again so, I'm definitely planning on going!

I met Michel Boucher, a guy with whom I have been corresponding and trading games for several years. He is from Ottawa, but his daughter lives out here so he makes a combined visit. He's helped me a lot over the years with practical suggestions and in making a French translation of the rules to my game on the French Algerian War. It was great to meet him finally! Here we are playtesting a game I just started work on the week before, on a hypothetical second invasion of Lebanon by Israel in the near future to stamp out Hezbollah:



But honestly, a good digital photo cannot be taken of me - it's as if a hidden Photoshop filter or macro slides in place, a filter that would have the name "Moronify" or "30% Drunk". And I am not as fat as I look in that photo. Here are some better ones:



Better picture but my mouth is open, as usual



Listening to Wilhelm



What could he have said to make me my grab my head like that?
He doesn't look as if he cares....



Making notes, revising on the fly - "no, don't do it that way, do it this way!"



More note-taking but this one shows off my widow's peak to greater advantage, as well as my bad posture and gracefully rounded shoulder-humps.

We also played Hearts and Minds, an interesting newish card-driven game on the Vietnam War, and I got several people to play Guerrilla Checkers with me. Everyone said they had never played anything like it before. I sold a couple copies of my games, and about $100 of other games I had been trying to hawk on Boardgamegeek, so my hotel was half paid for. I bought a copy of Combat Commander: Europe, which looks to be very interesting.

What a nerdy time I had of things! It was great to meet people who had heard of and liked my work, and I talked for hours about game design with some other designers. I got an invitation from an organizer to attend Dragonflight, a gaming convention that has taken place in Seattle in August for the last 31 years.

The only bad part was finally succumbing to a cold I had been successfully fighting off for a week (something Akito had brought home with him from school). It was the hotel air conditioning, it always gets me in the end. I took Monday off sick and I'm only just now out of the woods, a week later.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Took a short vacation. Lianne was on her way back from Ontario, and we agreed to meet up in Vancouver and go to Nelson for a couple of days. Which I did, and we did, and it was pretty nice. I'd forgotten how far it was to get there - a good eight hours driving but once we got there it was worth it. We went up to a hot springs a few km north of the town where they had the hot water coming out of a cave you could wade in, and a big pool, but a big thunder and lightning storm came so everyone had to leave the pool or become soup ingredients. (We had excellent weather otherwise.) We scooped quite a few DVDs as the local Movie Gallery was going out of business (along with the whole chain). We actually took two days to get home, first from Nelson to Hope (where we found a great small diner that had been there since 1962, very good food) and then from Hope to home. Then back to work the next day, at least for me.

Travel is nice but I prefer the being-someplace-else part to the getting-there part. We agreed there are lots of great places for us to see right here in BC; I'm reminded every day that this is the best province i've ever lived in.

Last night I talked to Akito on the phone. He's been doing all right - saw some movies, went to some caves - but he will be back home in only ten days. He was really worried about catching the right plane and about potential trouble at Customs/Immigration but there were no problems at all, which I think really boosted his self-confidence.
ltmurnau: (Default)
1. How do you feel about travel? Like it, love it, hate it? Wish you did more or less or neither? Do you have wanderlust? Are you a homebody?
I don't particularly like travelling, but I like being someplace else. I like travelling with a purpose - to see friends or see or do a particular something. And, with my gimpy leg, I think I am a bit more of a homebody now.

2. What's the furthest you've ever been from home (whatever that means to you) in terms of physical distance? How about culturally?
Physically, Japan (over 8,000 miles away). Didn't feel very culturally close-to-home there either.

3. Are there places you'd like to go but haven't? What's appealing about them?
I want to see Mongolia. I like deserts.

4. Are there places you return to? Are there places you return to because you want to?
Black Rock City (though I skipped last year and it may be a while before I go again). And yes, you only return there because you want to.

5. Travel is often associated with things like self-discovery and identity formation. Does it work this way for you? Why or why not?
Again, it's not the travel, it's the being and living elsewhere that I like, and where I think you learn the most. Living overseas in Japan made me a lot more self-reliant and helped to solidify my identity of myself as a Canadian (I know that sounds pretentious, shaddap).
ltmurnau: (Default)
Well, last week was certainly an experience. Not a waste of time, but certainly not what I expected, for hardly anything went to plan.

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ltmurnau

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