Archive for January, 2008

Hydropolis & Wanderlust

January 20, 2008

I have created a new game, Hydropolis. It’s a tile placement game of city building using a Waterworks deck. Players take turns adding to the growing pipe network, jockeying for the highest score when the game ends.

My other game design, Wanderlust, is shown above. I’ve started giving out copies to
friends and family, so contact me if you’d like a copy.

The annual tradition of New Year’s Eve Time Travel Movie Night (est. 1990) was continued. 2008 was welcomed with Deja Vu, in which Denzel Washington uses a time machine to fight terrorism. Very good attention to detail, and great dialogue, just suspend your disbelief during the ‘car chase’ sequence.

Today in Alternate History published another article of mine.

Paladin is back, thanks to DVD boxed TV. Have Gun, Will Travel season 2 is looking as good as the previous season.

BONUS POSTSCRIPT: It’s been awhile since I’ve recommended a webcomic, so here I present a Webcomics Roundup!

THE BOOK OF BIFF: Biff, the luckless protagonist with the impossible eyebrows, constantly fails at applying his creative ingenuity. One of the web’s better one-panel’s, a reading of BIFF involves pondering the inexplicable illustration, wondering what sequence of events led to this bizarre image (or even pondering what the image *is*), and then reading the caption which clearly explains the unexplainable.

CAT AND GIRL: Imagine Lisa Simpson and Hobbes the Tiger rooming together in grad school, presented in lo-fi black and white. It’s not an easy read, in fact it’s heavy as webcomics go, but the surreal dry humor rewards those who know what they’re talking about. Be sure not to miss Dorothy’s art/travel blog while you’re at it, a very engrossing read.

DIESEL SWEETIES: DS is one of the most successful webcomics to make the great leap onto the printed page, being in newspaper syndication for a year now. It took me a while to grok this one, until I realized it’s joy disguised as cynicism. R. Stevens is probably a very whimsical soul trapped in a sardonic shell, Yellow Submarine a la Lewis Black, if you will. I’ll give him credit as a gifted pixel painter, though. It may look easy, but every now and then he amazes me.

DRESDEN CODAK: I loved DC more so before Mr. Diaz started the Hob plotine (OK, the early Hob comics were cool, too). Dresden Codak is a good meshing of scientific literacy with artistic talent. Also spawned the most awesome of holidays, Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day.

GOATS: Okay, I’m gonna complain about this one. I’ve slogged through the 10-year archive of Goats, and I’ll have to say the strip was far funnier before Rosenberg hit his peak in 2004. While I do appreciate the transition to color, I think the only thing keeping me tuned to Goats is the plotline, wondering ‘how it’s going to end’. Please Jon, you passed up the perfect opportunity for a proper viking funeral, but alas you still have my readership and will likely continue in this direction. Be bold… start a new comic and explore your artistic horizons in a new world rather than camp in your familiar sandbox of yesterdecade. It’s time to move on.

MALFUNCTION JUNCTION: My favorite journal comic, MJ is crude in both style and substance, spawning the comic’s own in-joke about it being classy (or more accurately a lack thereof). Matt Milby reminds me of the roommate we undergrads get freshman year… confrantational yet ultimately agreeable. He’s a sane man in an insane world, and he’s fighting back… fighting *dirty*!

OVERCOMPENSATING: Where Diesel Sweeties is joy disguised as cynicism, Overcompensating is the exact opposite, cynicism disguised as joy. Jeff Rowland’s journal comic defies the definition of journal comic, living in a fantasy world populated by addicts, Star Wars gadgets, friends with weird nicknames, politicians, the God of the Internet (among other deities), American proles, machine elves, undead pets, and one very liberal Oklahoman. Like reading George Carlin, one has to filter the genius from the drivel, but the overlying theme is one of desperation, wanting very badly to fix a broken world but lacking the power to do so. Hope turns to hoarse ranting. The simpler description of OC is a paranoid stoner Simpsons. (Tallahassee Econolodge is the anti-Paris Hilton, OC’s lone Voice of Reason… "I don’t want the Internet to come to life.")

QUESTIONABLE CONTENT: A misnomer of a title indeed. Easy to digest, QC is the Web’s incarnation of Friends, if Friends were set in Providence, Rhode Island, with a cast that included at least two robots. QC’s characters live a constantly running plotline (since the webcomic’s birth in 2003) exploring snark, relationships, and drama, always with a clever punchline in panel four. Hannelore is a great character!

SINFEST: Sinfest is in it’s seventh year of ‘keepin’ webcomics real, representin’ tha streets’ now, and with the exception of the color Sunday comics, hasn’t deviated from the original in artistic style nor character development. While it creates stable readership, this in the webcomics world is known as "pulling a Sluggy Freelance", the stalemate of leaning on the crutch of the familiar. Like Goats, I know Ishida is capable of greater works, but has yet to take the leap into new territory.

THREE PANEL SOUL: Aside from the constant video-game humor, TPS’s claim to fame is a constantly evolving aesthetic, a visual feast. The creators of MacHall are still looking for their creative voice, even after years of experimentation and success. Never content to settle for second best, they eternally seek perfection of their craft, while condensing Penny Arcade into a Zen koan triptych.

WONDERMARK: David Malki asked himself one day, "Gee, I wish I were a webcartoonist, but I have no latent ability to draw." Well, why bother with drawing when there’s a whole century of public-domain material to ‘repurpose’ into a good joke. Wondermark has few if any recurring characters or plotlines, just Victorian lithographs exchanging 21st century banter. If it looks like a lazy cop-out to you, that could explain why Malki’s had the time to dabble in the realms of publishing and film lately.

XKCD: What is XKCD? What does it mean? How can faceless stick figures emote so well? XKCD is the Far Side for the technogeek generation, the cultural touchstone of IT lackeys and Wired subscribers. Very consistently clever, but the disclaimer is apt, "Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)". If you don’t find it brilliantly funny in a week, then it’s not for you.

Nifty Wikipedia Thing: Richard Stockton

Movies I’ve Seen:

Cheaper By the Dozen (1950)

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Baby’s Day Out (1994)

Deja Vu (2006) ~ One of the better time travel movies in recent years

What I’m Reading:

"Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919" by Frank Puleo

"Kaleidoscope" by Harry Turtledove