Monday, December 25, 2006

What I Got for Christmas 2006

Merry Christmas to you all, and I don't care if you don't celebrate it. Just take it as me wishing you to have a particularly good December 25. I can wish you a good day, can't I? Why not let me wish you one specific day to be good? You don't see people getting their panties in a bunch over saying "Happy New Year" in Winter when some cultures celebrate it in Spring.

Wow. That went sour fast. Is the holiday spirit wearing off already?

Anyway, since for some reason I feel the need to tell people, here's what I got for Christmas.

  • Socks and Underwear: I don't know if you've bought any recently, but this particular batch of underwear was really something. For one thing, they're tagless, like those shirts Hanes makes, with washing instructions printed on the material. Also, the elastic is now inside the clothe waistband. I can't actually tell the difference myself, but I felt it was worth noting. I just wish I hadn't noted it during dinner, because then people wanted to see them.
  • The Three Stooges DVD: Possibly bought from a dollar store. Features six shorts featuring the slapstick comedy trio, as well as three "Our Gang" shorts.
  • A Thermos: At least one of my aunts gave me something this year. I'm not even sure if I got gift certificates from them last year. Pretty sure I got money. Anyway, one of the dual-language selling points claims that this is the "Best vacuum insulated container you'll ever own" and shows a thermos half-frozen in a block of ice pouring out piping-hot coffee. Nice.
  • A shirt: 100% polyester. Pretty nice. I think I can wash it normally. I'm never sure about polyester.
  • The Far Side Gallery off-the-wall calender: The only problem is I think I may have read them all before. Gary Larsen is dead, you know. Or just retired. I forget which.
  • A new watch: I could use a new one, too. I had replaced a watch that got increasingly fast with a watch that got increasingly slow. Or was it the other way around? This one's pretty slick, too. Tells me the day of the year and week, can be set for two different time zones, has alarm, stop watch, and count down. Also, it lights up.
  • Nintendo DS Lite: I bought this for myself.
  • Digimon World DS: Ditto. I bought it to test for Wi-Fi in my neighborhood and got two access points from my living room. One's password protected, but the other isn't. I want to ask for permission to use it as a courtesy, but I don't know how to figure out where its coming from with just the DS. I've got theories, though...
  • Brain Age: Technically, I bought this for my Dad, but I plan to use it, too. And boy, do I need it. My brain age registered as 60. You shoot for a low score, the best being 20. Daya-, and might I add, -amn.
  • Final Fantasy V Advance: This'd be cooler if I hadn't already been playing it. Literally. It's the exact same cartridge I've been playing on since my stepbrother moved back in. It feels a little bit like being regifted, but it is his game. Or was. It's officially mine now.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series 3-Disc Set: The coolness was initially lost on me when I discovered it wasn't "Gannon's Evil Tower," which you can find on my Amazon wish-list (see profile), but I used to watch this every Friday when I was a kid. I don't particularly remember this event, but my brother said that once our family was out driving and weren't going to make it home in time to watch the show, so he told Dad to get us to a TV. We got to an appliance store and Dad convinced the guy there to change the channel on the TVs to the show. Pretty neat story if you ask me. My brother wants to watch this with me.
This is the first Christmas I remember without my brother. He moved in with my Grandmother after Grandpa died to make sure she was taking care of herself. My Mom had originally put herself in a position to do this, but she got a job and my brother didn't, so she didn't have the time and he did.

It's kinda weird not having him here, but not as weird as it could be. He slept all day and stayed up all night, and I tried to keep respectable hours. We watched anime on Cartoon Network on Saturday evenings together, although I taped the late-night stuff and went to bed during Saturday Night Live. I stay up for the Sunday late night stuff, though. And now I find that I'm just watching the Saturday late night stuff, too, mostly because there's something wrong with the tape and I can't trust it to record anything if no one's there to make sure it's working.

Still, it's weird to visit him at Grandma's and just leave him there. We used to joke something along those lines. We'd hug Grandma goodbye, then hug Grandpa goodbye, hug other relatives goodbye, then pretend to get caught up in the moment and hug Mom and Dad and each other goodbye also, even though the four of us were leaving together.

Soooo... I wish I had more to say. Feels kinda awkward leaving on that note... Have I mentioned yet that I got a job at GameStop? Oh, yeah. I did.

Oh! I've got this DVD of photos taken by my Make Up and Masks teacher of the students wearing their make up and masks. I tried to show it on a DVD player at my Grandma's house today, but the teacher didn't put in any sort of interface. Also, for some reason, the DVD player only showed half of the pictures. I had to put in my computer at home to see the other half. Kind of a bummer, as I didn't get to show the half I wanted. I'll have to upload them to the internet to show them off. Maybe I'll post them up here, too.

Friday, December 15, 2006

PokeOps: Rift Stadium Brainstorming

Now that the semester has ended for me I have been considering promoting my Pokemon roleplaying board, Pokemon: Special Operations. I'm not sure how I should go about it exactly, but I'm sure it involves going to like-minded boards and advertising my board there. Of course getting them to come is one thing, but getting them to stay is another kettle of fish entirely. With a ruleset inspired by PokeWars! and the board itself inspired by Mega Man Crosswars, I set out to create a Pokedex for it but found I had no real drive to complete it. Now I'm thinking of adding something inspired by an aspect of Mega Man Crosswars that drew me in when I first arrived: The Reffed Arena. Since I don't have access to the data for it, though, I'll have to make my own Arena from scratch. I call it "Rift Stadium."

Now, you may notice that PokeOps has a Stadium forum already. That one is set up for free-form battling that essentially ends when someone gives up. Rift Stadium, like Reffed Arena, will use a stat-based combat system and a Game Master to determine a victor. Also unlike normal Stadium, this will have some form of continuity and maybe a storyline.

The first problem is coming up with stats. There are two systems I'm considering using and modifying. The first is the one that West End Games originally used for their Ghostbusters RPG. This one first asks the players to divide twelve points among four traits: Muscle (physical strength and endurance), Moves (speed, agility, accuracy, and perception), Brains (over-all intelligence), and Cool (grace under pressure), with each point representing how many dice they can roll when using said traits. Then for each trait they assign a talent, which can be anything as long as it fits the trait, which allows them three more dice when using that talent. For instance, if I had a Brains score of four, I could have an Occult Knowledge score of seven. Since this is all battle-based, though, I may do away with talents completely. Players are then given thirty Brownie Points, which, kinda like in the video game Killer 7, act as combination Health/Mana/Experience Points. I may do away with that, also.

The other system I'm considering is kinda the same thing as above, but with more points and Pokemon stats: Health, Speed, Physical Attack, Physical Defense, Special Attack, and Special Defense. However, Speed may seems a little inconequential as turn order in Rift Stadium, like Reffed Arena before it, is more or less determined by who manages to post first. But I've already been kicking something around in my head that could make good use of Speed...

I call it the Momentum Meter. It has a minimum of zero, a maximum of 100, and all contenders start with fifty. At the beginning of each round, initiative is determined by rolling for each contender's Moves/Speed score. The highest roll gets a Momentum Bonus of Momentum Points equal to their Speed, but the lowest roll gets a Momentum Penalty and loses Momentum Points equal to their Speed. You can also gain your Speed score in Momentum Points by successfully damaging or casting spells on your opponent, but you can lose just as much by missing, failing spells, or getting damaged yourself. This is doubled for Critical Hits. Effects like Haste can earn you more Momentum per round, while effects like Slow or Paralyze can drain it. When your Momentum reaches zero, you become exhausted and can not act in the next round.

Momentum Points can also have other uses. For instance, you can spend them to buff attacks, perform extra actions, substitute for mana, or on Signature Attacks /Abilities. The default will be to multiply your Muscle/Attack by your Moves/Speed, and use that as the base stat of an attack, which may cost upwards of 50 Momentum Points. Using it too soon or too often can result in exhaustion. If you spend Momentum Points, you won't be able to gain them in that round or win the Momentum Bonus next round.

Something I assumed was unique to the Reffed Arena in Mega Man Crosswars is that, like the Blue Bomber that inspired the board, each character gets a Copy Unit that allows them to use the Signature Attacks/Abilities of fallen foes. This is alot like being a Blue Mage, which can copy the abilities of enemies. Since this will be on a Pokemon board, Rift Stadium will give each character a complementary Snag Machine. This device, featured in the Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness games, will allow players to capture certain enemies using PokeBalls, Dark Rings, Blank Cards, etc., and use them in later battles. I'm not sure how to implement their use just yet. Allowing each player to have a character's pet(s) fight along side them may make battles a tad character-heavy, while allowing the pets out for a single attack in any one round feels like I'm under-utilizing them. Maybe I'll find another solution, and I'll probably include a Beastmaster class anyway to specialize in their use. For the most part, I think giving your pet a command will cost Momentum Points.

Last, but not least, is the part of the Reffed Arena that most appelaed to me: the Hazard and Wyld Surge systems. These were events with random effects that could help or hinder or just be plain weird, sort of like Chance cards in Monopoly and other games, only crazier. One round you could recieve an e-mail consisting of twenty-seven random words, the next Kirby could show up and swallow everyone whose names begin with the letter "D." This is the part I most want to replicate. It adds a touch of insanity to an otherwise plain system. Its also the part that makes me think I shouldn't work on this alone...