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What I'm Reading
  • Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
    Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
    by Jim Butcher

    Butcher has done it again. After 14 books, the Dresden Files is still my favorite book series. If you’re a fan, you know why you’re a fan. If you’ve never read any of this series, start with book one, Storm Front. This is not one of those series where you can pick and choose which ones you want to read. Well, you could, but it would suck.


Game Design Concepts: Level 3 Challenge

Here was the assignment:

Most war-themed games have an objective of either territorial control or capture/destroy (as described earlier). For this challenge, you’ll be pushing beyond these traditional boundaries. You should design a non-digital game that includes the following:

The theme must relate to World War I.The primary objective of players cannot be territorial control, or capture/destroy.

And here's what I came up with:

Tunnels and Trenches

Tunnels and Trenches is a two-player, tile-laying game where the object is to be the first player to dig a tunnel from your trench to your opponent's trench.

  • 1 game board (an 8x8 grid)

  • 16 Trench tiles (9 tiles with a tunnel outlet, 7 tiles with no outlet)

  • 56 Tunnel tiles (similar to the road tiles in the game Carcassonne )


Trench tiles:
Shuffle the trench tiles and deal them all to the two players (8 tiles per player).

The players then take turns laying the tiles down in the row closest to them on the game board. This row is the player's trench. Note: Once the trench is complete, some of the trench spaces will have tunnel outlets and some will not.

Tunnel tiles:
Put all the tunnel tiles in the draw bag and mix them up. Each player then draws three random tiles from the bag. This is the player's hand. A player may look at his own tiles, but not those of his opponent.
Game play

The player who did not lay the first tile in the trench-building phase goes first. Play then alternates between the two players.

  • The player draws a single tunnel tile from the bag and adds it to his hand.

  • The player then places a tunnel tile from his hand onto the game board. The placed tunnel tile must connect to the player's trench via the trench's tunnel outlet. On subsequent turns, the placed tile must connect to either the tunnel already under construction or to another of that players tunnel outlets along his trench.

  • The player's tunnel is never allowed to connect with his opponent's tunnel.

  • If a placed tile has two separate, unconnected tunnel segments, however, it may be possible for the player to add to his opponent's tunnel while in the process of building his own. As long as the two tunnels don't connect, this is allowed.

  • Similarly, if a tunnel segment that has already been placed is not connected to either player's tunnel, a player may connect to it on his turn, provided that all of the other rules are followed.

  • After drawing a tile, if the player cannot legally place a tile or is unsatisfied with the tiles in his hand, he may put ALL FOUR tiles on the discard pile and draw three more tiles from the bag. The player is not allowed to play a tile on this turn.

  • After all of the tiles have been pulled from the draw bag, the discard pile goes back in the bag and those tiles may be reused.

Game End

The game ends when a player successfully connects his tunnel to his opponent's trench. Note: A player may connect to any point on the opponent's trench. A tunnel outlet is not required.

Game Design Concepts

My brother and I are both taking an online course in non-digital game design this summer. Just a week and a half into the course, I am finding it both extremely challenging and highly rewarding. The class forum is closed to the public, so I've decided to share some of my coursework on this blog as well.

Though the class forum is private, you can follow the class blog here.

Holden's Christmas List - 2008

Holden's list this year is a little more thorough than his sister's. Some of the things he has asked for are:

  • a baseball glove

  • a baseball

  • a baseball bat

  • colored pencils and markers

  • Mighty Muggs (NOTE: for some reason, the Mighty Muggs seem to be much less expensive in stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us than they are online. They are usually located in the toy section near the action figures. They come in Marvel, Star Wars and Indiana Jones varieties.)

  • DC HeroClix (starter sets and/or booster packs)

  • Marvel HeroClix (starter sets and/or booster packs)

And, of course, Holden has many more ideas on his Amazon Wish List, which you can find here:

Like his sister, Holden likes to come up with additional ideas, often through Christmas Eve. As he does, I'll update this list accordingly.

Emaline's Christmas List - 2008

This year, Emaline is heavily into High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Anything that is even remotely connected to these two areas would thrill her to death. She also loves the Wonder Pets and still plays with her Littlest Pet Shop toys all the time, so you can't go wrong with those, either.

If you need more specific ideas, you can find her Amazon Wish List here:

As Emaline comes up with more ideas (and she always does), I'll add them here.

Barack Obama: Presidential; John McCain: Contemptuous and Ill-suited

I was so infuriated by John McCain during tonight’s presidential debate, I wanted to write an in-depth breakdown of each candidate’s performance, along with a full explanation of why I thought that Obama won the debate handily.  Sadly, Twitter, text messaging and Facebook have rendered me incapable of composing thoughts longer than 140 characters. As a result, I can’t write myself out of a paper bag. Thanks a lot, Twitter.

That being said, I still feel the need to mention a few key points from tonight’s debate that really set me off:

  • McCain referred to Obama as pro-abortion four times. Personally, I find that offensive. And I am extremely hard to offend. You’re either pro-choice or anti-abortion. Nobody (or, at least, nobody sane) is pro-abortion. Boo, Senator McCain. Boo.

  • OK, I’m used to the constant political B.S. that occurs back and forth on both sides in these debates, but it’s rare that I hear a candidate take a firm position and state, “Here is what I believe.” McCain did that tonight on education. And, while I respect his candor, that man is insane. During the debate, he suggested the idea of “Troops to Teachers”, which would allow soldiers to, upon leaving the armed forces, gain jobs as teachers – without any training or certification. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!? This idea still, two hours after the debate, makes my face turn red with anger. Don’t get me wrong. Although I disagree with our current war, I have nothing against our troops. I hope they all come home safely. And soon. But that doesn’t mean I think they are automatically qualified to teach our children. McCain’s proposal further propagates the idea that “those who can’t, teach.” Teaching is a calling. Not a fall-back or safety job. Shame on you, Senator McCain, for suggesting otherwise. Even if I had been a huge supporter of yours, you would have lost my vote tonight on this point alone. A wise person once said, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well, and let them lead the way.” I think that person was Abraham Lincoln. It may have been Whitney Houston. I always get those two mixed up.

  • My last point has less to do with what the candidates said, and more to do with how they conducted themselves. McCain said a few things tonight that I knew to be absolutely untrue. So, how did Obama react? Well, a few times, Obama’s disagreement with McCain’s statements registered on his face for a second or two, but he politely waited until it was his time to respond before addressing his concerns. That is the kind of behavior I look for in a president. McCain, however, responded to Obama’s (mostly true) statements with interruptions, eye rolling and awkward hand gestures. Now, I realize that after eight years of George W. Bush, our standards for a president’s public speaking skills are pretty low. At this point, I’m impressed when our current president can face the public without pooping himself. That, however, should not be the gold standard. I heard a few right-wing pundits refer to Obama’s performance tonight as “professorial”. Why is “knowledgeable” considered a pejorative? I, for one, EMBRACE the idea of a professorial president. Senator Obama, I look forward to your presidency.

Readers, (and by “readers” I mean “friends and family members”) I am obviously an Obama fan. And that’s the most important thing I’d like you to take away from this blog post. Although this particular missive is very anti-McCain, this election is the first time since I have been legally allowed to vote that I will have voted FOR somebody instead of against somebody. I believe in Barack Obama, and I hope you will too.
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