An even dozen

This week the company I’ve worked for for 12 years and I have parted ways. A year ago I also stepped away but was called back with reservations. This time however the parting is more absolute.

Prior to MRS I’d never worked at one company or operation for more than a year. I’d held jobs for longer but often the company would changed hands or I would get a dramatically different assignment. I’ve been working at the company longer than I’ve been married or lived in my home or quite a number of other things I measure my life by so leaving is a big change.

While I was very much enthusiastic about the companies ambitions and stated priorities, often the reality of how they were carried out left me confused, disappointed, sometimes angry, and in the final days, betrayed. I’ve always been one to hold onto things longer than they are of value for me and this was no exception.

And now now I am free of the obligation to fight for something that I didn’t believe in and seek a new objective, hopefully one more in keeping with my own spirit. My mind still frequently ponders what went wrong, and what could be done. I have a few loose ends to tie off but for the most part I’m moving on free and clear. Still, whatever my regrets, I did great things for MRS and MRS let me build a stable and prosperous life for which I’m grateful.

Finding a place where you can fit in well can be scary and challenging, but I have been there before and always found a way. So I am uncertain but optimistic.

Curmudgeon time: Death to the Third Dimension!

Just a short rant here about my dislike of the recent trend to make and show movies in 3D.

More and more the movies I want to go watch in the theater are coming out and being shown almost exclusively in the 3D format. At lest half the time I end up not watching the film due to the format.  Why?

1. It bugs out my eyes. My eyes naturally try to focus on background images and can’t. The illusion plays havoc with my brain and the result is a constant mild irritation.

2. It looks fake. While at times the illusion works, I am very aware its an illusion and a trick which fights agaisnt rather than aids my immersion. The only films where I don’t get this experience are animated ones because as animation it is already artificial and so it feels like technique rather than artifice.

3. The glasses are annoying. I don’t like wearing them and they often darken the screen so the image is not as attractive and the colors muted.

4. They charge more to see a film I enjoy less.

The only 3D film I have purely enjoyed was Coraline and I can’t say the 3D added a lot to the experience but I feel it did enhance it enough to overcome the annoyance factors. I sincerely hope this means of presenting films does not become the standard for “entertainment” films as it seems to be. My brain is perfectly able to imagine the third dimension without any technical assistance, thank you very much.

What’s New Pussycat?

Just thought I’d throw out a quick update of:  What am I doing?

1. Continuing to work on my Advanced Feats series of Pathfinder products. (Going well but getting harder.)

2. One week and counting of pretty hard core Atkins dieting. (Feeling healthier as a result.)

3. Playing lots of games downloaded with steam. The Void, Duel of the Planeswalkers, Bioshock 2 being initial stand outs. (Steam holiday sales meant I paid tiny moneys for many games.)

4. Entered a writing contest on a whim at Paizo.com. (Didn’t work too hard on it so winning chance is slim.)

5. About to release a product at work including a casino launch party. (Not sure if I’m excited about it.)

6. I am now house-mate free for the first time in many many years as my 8+ year border moves out. (Time for a naked midnight fridge raid!)

7. Small break from new podcast for the holidays, need to plan for big Show #200 event. (Need to streamline how much work it is.)

8. Movies, podcasts, anime and goggling galore as usual, plus various RPG adventures with my two more regular groups, and visiting friends and family…  (Woa!  its already 2011, holy smokes!)

Cavalier rolls a critical hit!

Open Design just put out my latest Advanced Feats book, The Cavalier’s Creed.

It took a little longer than some of the others but the extra work seems to have paid off with some killer reviews. Folks like the feats and all of the reviewers so far praised their balance which is the gold standard I’m reaching for but don’t always hit on.

Anne also knocked the layout out of the park and our cover artist delivered a great piece of work. All and all I’m much pleased and engaged in the next in the series.

It’s Summoning Time!

My third installment in the Advanced Feats Series has been unleashed on an unsuspecting world!

Advanced Feats: The Summoner’s Circle is its name and cool feats and builds is its game. This is the most ambitions entry in the series because summoner is a wild and crazy class that really pushes the boundaries of the game rules in many different directions. It is also easily my favorite class of the six in the Advanced Players Guide for Pathfinder.

If you play Pathfinder, then pick up a copy tonight. :)  If not, send me happy thoughts.  I’d love to see this one climb up the pathfinder charts like Alchemist and Witch.

What do you get for only $3.95?

  1. A class breakdown
  2. 30 new feats with commentary
  3. 3 full summoner and eidolon builds
  4. An eidolon character sheet
  5. Anne’s cool critters and laser sharp layout

That’s 18 pages of gaming goodness!

Advanced Feats is selling nicely

I was excited to see that this week my two Advanced Feats books: Secrets of the Alchemist and Witch’s  Brew were selling nicely and got the top third-party spots on Paizo.com this week and overall were only behind the Pathfinder Advanced Players Guide, Core Rules, and Bestiary. I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but to see my work in the upper half of the top 10 there is pretty darn cool.

Our next release, Summoners Circle is just about done and I hope it can keep things rolling for us. It was by far the hardest of the three to make and is probably the longest PDF and most complicated class in the series.

Glorious Middle Age

This week on two occasions people were kind enough to say they were surprised when they learned my age (39) and remarked I didn’t look that old. I think I’m a bit proud of that although one of the things I looked forward to (and still do) about growing older is getting that look of seasoned authority that in my mind gives one an edge in certain social situations.

Personally, I wouldn’t be able to guess my own age well, and I’ve always been terrible at guessing other peoples ages. Certainly I don’t look like a kid, but I also don’t have the telltale outward signs of male middle age. I imagine most of that is genetics, my Mom was kind enough to pass along a thick head of hair that shows no signs of male pattern baldness (thanks Mom!). A few grey hairs have been discovered by my loving wife, but my hair color is a weird shiny brown and gold that makes them really hard to see. I suspect my silver mane will be a long time coming. The beard has a few more stand out white hairs, so that may be the first place I show some age on my face.

I also think that not having kids and still having a lot of childhood like hobbies and attitudes helps keep me a bit on the youthful side. A lack of intense stress can do wonders for you. Also my geekish ways protect me from the rays of the sun and ravages of wind and rain. I live what most would call a life of leisure letting my brain do most of the heavy lifting.

Overall though, I like middle age. I miss a bit of the zip I had as a teen perhaps, but it is nice being somewhat wise and worldly. We’ll see how long that altitude can hold against the inevitable decline of my health over time but I hope for the best. I always enjoy being surprising so I think that is more why I like seeming younger than I am more so than seeing youth as an ideal of attractiveness. Still, I’m practicing my old guy isms like “back in my day” and “those darn kids today.”  Middle age lets me be old or young and I’ve always liked playing two strategies at the same time, kind of like multi-classing.

Here’s hoping you all feel exactly as old as you want to feel!

Sad story of 3, why moderates are losers in America

Here is a mental exercise for you: It’s something I came up with in a debate about the two party system and my line was that such a system is the logical outcome of our system of government and that to change the party system you must change the political structure.

We have a group of 5 people deciding the proper fee for land use. To enact a law they must get at least 3 to agree to the price.

Person a insists it must be $1
Person b insists $2
Person c says $3
Person d says $4
Person e says $5

Each is unaligned or affiliated with the others. How do you set the policy?

—— Think on it… and here is the answer. —–

Three parties need to reach compromise in order to hold sway. The parties at the extremes $1 and $5 know they cannot hold sway because only one other member is closer or as close to their desired price as any other. They must compromise their price and their closest preferred price is $2 and $4 respectively so they quickly align themselves with that person.

Now we have two nearly aligned camps, a $2 camp with two players and a $4 camp with two players. Leaving the lone $3 member. This is then resolved one of two ways. If $3 sort of prefers a high or low price he will naturally fall into a given camp, otherwise the two camps will woo mr $3 by adjusting their price a little up or down, just a tad more than the other team is willing, or they will trade him some unrelated future favor for this vote.

And then you have two coalitions, one holding a slight majority, and one holding a slight minority. And this example applies pretty well to nearly any political question you care to name and even more so to the aggregate of American politics. Because our system is one of majority vote rules, we have a system that evenly divides the electorate into two broad camps who’s consensus position is somewhere in the middle of the overall camp and decidedly not in the exact middle compromise position.

—– But wait there’s more —–

Suppose that Mr $3 saw the writing on the wall and is a “moderate” wanting above all to have the most moderate position possible. He knows how this game plays out and he quickly grabs $4 and $5 and makes a pitch to them. “Don’t let those extremists get their way, come join me in the bipartisan middle!”

There are two problems for captain moderation.

Firstly: Under the High low split 4 and 2 have a shot at getting exactly what they want, as where in the middle neither of them has any chance of that. This means unless mr Mod is willing to state openly he favors high or low, they have no reason to believe they can’t win out and so it makes sense that they hold out.

Secondly: 1 and 5 are crafty and know they both can loose to the middle so they play on 4 and 2’s general bias for high and low respectively. “You can either side with us High minded folk, or form a coalition with one of those low minded types, who would you rather be on board with? Follow your feelings 4, choose the High minded path!  We could lose if 3 is a dirty lowbie at heart, but we will remain true to our convictions!”

3 remains rational, reasonable and a big loser in the majority game.

Early Civ V thoughts

The mighty Civilization V was released into the wild today and I’ve got the week off to partake of it.

The Good: Its pretty, its addictive, its got nice music, and its got smart mechanics

The Bad: Its crashing a lot on my computer, about once an hour or every other hour.  Being a turn based game with auto-save this is not a huge problem but its annoying.

The Ugly (not really good or bad): Civ V is in some ways stripped down from Civ IV so its a simpler game in most respects, not simple mind you, but simpler.  Its also a beast on system requirements.  I was getting serious chop until I realized my SLI wasn’t turned on.  It does have a very cool “iconic” style display, eschewing all the graphics for old school war-game symbols.  A very cool touch that helps if your system chugs on all the pretty stuff.

See you in the history books!