The personal website of David Dorward
Thursday 4 April 2013
Entry created on Thursday 4 April 2013 at 11:23:19.
I’ve been writing a new CMS for ages (it’s been a low priority rite-of-passage project). It is getting to the point where I am almost ready to start using it.
I know! I think. In advance of moving to it, I’ll update the data in my old CMS and hit build.
Unfortunately, I forgot that I’d started redesigning the site a while ago. I’d also been getting experimental with colour schemes and fonts. (For “experimental” you can read “crazy”).
Worse, my backup includes the change in design.
Even worse, the old system predates my use of version control (I love version control … now).
So the net result is that my site is going to look hideous for a little while. This is motivation to get the CMS finished off at least!
The homepage isn’t going to look hideous, it is just going to look dated and ugly. This is because it is generated from a different set of templates, on a different machine.
Overly complicated and twiddly? I knew there was a reason I was writing a new CMS!
Entry created on Thursday 4 April 2013 at 08:15:00.
I love the Perl community.
I currently have no plans to record, stream or “webinar” my courses. I mean, yes, I’d love to do something like that in the future but have you seen the budget for Perl School?
 What ever that means. Seems to be an anagram of “wine-bar” but doesn’t sound half as much fun.
The courses, by the way, are reputed to be rather good. I might manage to find the time to get along to one at some point.
Entry created on Thursday 4 April 2013 at 07:26:00.
So Opera isn’t dropping Presto for WebKit but for Blink, which is Google’s new fork of WebKit that exists, as far as I can tell, because Google and Apple have a hard time playing together nicely. (See this HN thread in which people make various claims).
Meanwhile Mozilla is teaming up with Samsung to write a new rendering engine (Servo) from scratch. One which, from first impressions, is very heavily geared towards mobile devices.
I’m going to have to revise my testing platforms before very much longer, aren’t I?
Wednesday 3 April 2013
Entry created on Wednesday 3 April 2013 at 13:46:35.
I’m trying to decide if I like Forecast.IO. One thing is certain, there are a few pieces which I don’t like about it. This is the greatest of them:
Detecting that someone is using Mobile Safari and then not letting them use a web application without “Installing” it, is obnoxious.
Detecting that someone is using iOS and then not letting them use a web application without using a feature that isn’t available in their browser is worse.
Sunday 27 January 2013
Entry created on Sunday 27 January 2013 at 22:07:29.
After my GM for yesterday suffered from a nasty case of the “I’ve been ill! My girlfriend has been ill! There’s been a Christmas! Work!” and couldn’t run his game on Saturday I stepped in by grabbing an old Dragon Warriors scenario (A Shadow On The Mist from The Way of Wizardry) and the draft of the Fate Core rules.
(There are spoilers for A Shadow On The Mist ahead.)
Character creation went fairly smoothly, with just two problems (which I didn’t make a fuss about because it was a one-shot organised at the eleventh hour).
I was a little concerned that some of the characters’ aspects were rather too focused on the same things. I suspect there are a number of factors that contributed to this.
First, being in a rush (needing to character creation and an adventure in one day) and defining a very vague world to play in (it is fantasy with a medieval feel). This didn’t give a great deal for players to latch onto with aspects and demanded a lot of creativity from them.
This also meant that the players didn’t get a lot of notice about what the game was going to be, so didn’t have a lot of time to think about what sort of characters they wanted to play.
There was also a lack of experience (among the PCs) with Fate and lots of experience with D&D and similar games where for many games it is enough to be a Tough Fighter. If I continued running the game, I’d let players significantly adjust their aspects for at least the first few sessions so they could flesh out their backgrounds and what they meant to the characters.
For future games, I think I’ll put together (or pillage from elsewhere) a sheet of questions to spark background ideas and give them to the players at least a week in advance.
The second problem—what a lot of space is devoted to problems, they really weren’t bad, I just want to think about what caused them and try to avoid them in the future—was that the example stunts were generally treated as a shopping list rather then an example of how to build your own stunts. I’m going to blame the “being in a rush” thing for this.
Weapons and Armour. I decided that I didn’t want the game to revolve around the toys so I ruled that everybody would get appropriate mundane equipment for their skills, but that “nice” equipment could be bought as an extra for 1 refresh. “nice” in this context meant Weapon: 2, Armor: 2 or some appropriate bonus for any other kind of equipment plus an aspect describing it.
This allowed players to have Massive Platemail or The Enchanted Sword of Ilderial. In the end, only one player took advantage of this with a distinctive suit of armour that was a prize signifying his victory in a fighting competition.
Magic. I went down two routes for this.
I had a Dwarven Cleric who I dropped a variation of The Subtle Art rules on. He took a skill called Invocation and used it to perform blessings. (I removed the 30 minutes in a dark room requirement, but reduced the time span down to that of an ordinary Create An Advantage). He also took a stunt which allowed him to use the skill to make melee attacks with his holy weapon.
Representing the forces of the arcane, was a wizard using the Schools of Power rules from the revised Extras chapter. He created an arcane order devoted to collecting knowledge (and suffered more than the rest on trying to come up with aspects as he had 8 to deal with instead of 5).
Both sets of magic rules worked well in practise, with lots of creating of advantages. That turned out to be the theme of the game…
Between having fewer fate points in hand,
a limit on one fate point spent to invoke aspects per roll and the rules for getting a boost when you succeed with style on defence and when you hit for no stress on attack… there were lots of aspects being created. This… I like, a lot.
The scenario I was (more or less straight of the book) was somewhat flawed in that it didn’t give the characters any motivation to explore most of the “dungeon”. It was very much a case of “We’ve found the sword and we’re pretty sure that the tax money is days away now, let’s go home” after they’d explored about half the area.
It seems I also failed to telegraph the importance of the sword (containing the secret message to a conspirator) enough as it was grabbed, not investigated, then returned to the (evil) employer (allowing his plot to assassinate the Baron to go unchallenged).
I definitely need more experience at setting the challenge level of fights. I think I was getting there—the second zombie the party fought was definitely hurting them more then the first… although it was aided by the wizard who never bothered moving away from it—but ran in to the “We have what we came for” issue I mentioned earlier before getting on to the third fight.
Still, despite those issues, the game seemed to be fun for everyone so I’m going to chalk it up as a success (both as a game and as a learning experience for me). It managed to prove Fate to me as a game that works in the context of a dungeon crawl (I’d never run a Fate game with a significant amount of exploration before) and for traditional fantasy. This has given me the confidence to follow through with something I’ve been plotting for the last few weeks and offer up a Planescape inspired Fate campaign for my London based Tuesday night group.
Wednesday 23 January 2013
Entry created on Wednesday 23 January 2013 at 10:05:04.
We’ve managed to get our new Golfing World application into the Samsung TV App Store.
I wrote a large portion of both the front end and the back end for this, so I’m quite pleased that we’ve finally got it launched.
Now you all need to develop a love of golf and buy a Samsung TV made in the last couple of years and you can stream lots of golfing videos over the Internet!
Sunday 20 January 2013
Entry created on Sunday 20 January 2013 at 14:26:41.
As an experiment, I picked up a piece of the Infinity District 5L scenery from Microart Studio last week.
(TL;DR: I like it.)
The range consists of a series of laser cut sets. The one I had went together without too much trouble. I only had two issues with it.
The first was that the cuts on one side of one of the sheets were not quite deep enough and required a bit of force to get some pieces out. This caused me to half snap a piece. Happily, it was a piece I didn’t need. The kits are designed for multiple configurations and the section I broke was for use in a multi-story building.
My other gripe is that the instructions are dreadful. They contain just enough information to figure out where everything goes, but they could do with being a fair bit clearer. I had to disassemble half my work and put it back together again when I discovered that some of the corner pieces have a double width gap on the outside. I then had to disassemble those bits again when I discovered that the purpose of that gap was to hold the extra-long pillar that would extend to the ground level if I had been building a second-story floor. Thankfully, I wasn’t gluing anything (this isn’t a GW kit!) so I could always backtrack.
It would be helpful if Microart included a link to a website with more detailed instructions and a description of all the pieces on each sheet. Many are similar enough that it is hard to tell which is what.
I’m done with the moaning now!
Acrylic spray paint took to the surface very well, and didn’t obscure any detail. I went for a light grey for most of the building, with a red shade for the roof and doors to provide contrast. I’ll probably go back and take a brush to the closed windows so that they don’t remain a wall-matching shade of grey.
The price is hard to sniff at. I don’t think they are as good value as Battlefield in a Box scenery, but they come very close.
The look is sci-fi, but not excessively so. They could be used in a modern setting without looking too out of place.
I’m definitely going to get some more from this range, and expect to get a decent amount of use out of it in games of 7tv, Warhammer 40k and possibly a few RPGs.
Thursday 8 March 2012
Entry created on Thursday 8 March 2012 at 13:29:14.
I was running a Fantasy Craft game recently, but had been handling combat in a freeform fashion rather then worrying about the grid. (This is a technique I’m becoming quite fond of so I tend to save the grid for the more tactically interesting encounters).
One of my players does like his miniatures though and was lining up a collection of them as the session started out … I threatened to use all of them if he wasn’t careful.
When it came time for the climatic battle, I decided that it was quite a good idea after all. The expression on his face when he encountered a dozen opposition was priceless.
To be fair there wouldn’t have been so many of them if there hadn’t been a critical failure on a roll several hours before (in game time) that gave them warning, so the party wasn’t expecting such numbers.
These were also relatively new FC players who weren’t used to the ease that Standard NPCs can be eliminated.
As it worked out, the number was perfect. Most of the PCs were wounded and one was nearly killed. Just the right amount of danger to make the attack a challenge.