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GDC & San Francisco Part I

GDC & San Francisco Part I

Sometime early yesterday (seems like much longer ago now), I was dropped off at the airport to make the 6+ hour flight trek west. I think the last time I was in San Francisco was when Dani and I came out six or seven years ago. So I was pretty excited to get back out here.  I'm staying at the Cartwright hotel in Union Square. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the hotel is.  The building is old, but the rooms are nicely updated.  They are small, but that works fine for my solo trip this week.

I decided to walk down to Fisherman's Wharf and pier 39. Because of the time difference, I was already super hungry at 3pm, so I battled the crowd for my In-N-Out burger fix. I'm so sad that we don't have that chain on the east coast, but I suppose that's good for my self control. Right after I finished eating, it rained for a short while.  I was a little bummed to be caught in it, but seeing this rainbow really made it alright.

Since I'm still on east coast time, I crashed about 8:30 pm - which means I was then up at 4am. Fun!

Monday at GDC

Registration opened at 7:30 am, so I grabbed a coffee and headed over.  From what I understand, registration was a bit of a pain in years past.  It could not have been more simple this year. I grabbed my badge and "swag bag", then headed over to the west hall.  Since panels didn't start until 10am I just hung out at the tables and did a bit of work on my game.

With a couple exceptions, I spent the entirety of my day taking in the panels from this years "Mobile Summit". Since I'm working on my own mobile game, it was super educational.  More than anything it gave me a bit more of a peak into the industry that I lack, having never worked for a studio.  The other two panels were a "Simple AI Tricks" panel and a postmortem on a really neat Project Tango based augmented reality game called "Woorld". 

I was very impressed by how well things ran today.  And how diverse and inclusive the entire conference is.  There were people from all over the world, men, women, trans peeps.  Given how bad the player community can be to people who are cis-white hetero males, It's nice to see that the dev community is so much more inclusive.  

Anyways, here's photos I took today.



I run a Slack group that a handful of friends and I converse in daily about many things nerdy.  Today started out innocently enough with a post in our Boardgames channel. Joel posted a board game based pickup line.  It quickly devolved from there.  For your reading pleasure, here is the NSFW list of line.

I Built a Gaming Table!

I Built a Gaming Table!

Ever since I first saw the Geek Chic products at C2E2 a few years back, I've been slightly obsessed with having my own convertible game table. The only problem is that they are expensive as hell.  Convincing Dani that we needed to invest in one just wasn't going to work.

So then I thought, I'm pretty good at making things... maybe I could make my own table.  Oh poor naive Tori, this was going to be a serious project. First things first, I started to research! I scoured the web for resources.  It turns out more than a few other people had this same idea. So like the good crafty person that I am, I started a Pinterest board! In the end, I decided to take the general approach in the nicely laid out plans here: Game Table Project with Step By Step.

First Try:

With my first attempt at a table, I started with a modified size. I felt like the original size was too large.  This first frame was largely an exercise in how things could not go the way I wanted. It was also a good lesson in how inaccurate pre-dressed lumber and hand power tools can be.

Take Two

I was pretty unhappy with the way the first frame came together. the sides were bowed in and in general it just wasn't how I wanted it.  So I took it apart and started over.  This time following the plan dimensions a bit more closely. Since I don't have a table saw, planer, or various other shop tools I had to make a few substitutions.

  1. My arm rails are an inch wider.
  2. I used pre-made table legs chopped down for height in lieu of the tapered legs.
  3. I used pre-made crown molding under the arm rests

Messing up the Top Insert

The insert is, and has been one of the toughest part of this build. Which is why my table currently sits without one. A couple problems came into play building this piece.  The pre-dressed wood from Home Depot (as previously mentioned) is not precisely cut, and is often slightly bowed. So getting the top measured and cut correctly to fit the opening, which is also ever so slightly off from square, turned out to be a large issue.  

I would up with an insert that fit super tight. There was not enough clearance to allow for the wood to swell in the summer correctly.  In attempting to remedy this I managed to really fuck up the insert by cutting it too short on one end.  I then had the bright idea of cutting it in half and doing adding a piece down the center perpendicular to the other boards.  But again, I ran into issues making this happen with imprecise tools and uneven boards. So currently that part is on hold.  I think I may eventually try to build leafs instead of one large piece.

Finishing it Up

Please excuse the pun, I couldn't help myself.  This was also my first attempt at applying finish to a piece of furniture.  And it taught me a few very valuable lessons.  The first being always try to do your sanding before final assembly. The second lesson was in how messy staining is.  I choose a dark stain to match our other furniture.  I then followed that up with a couple coats of a hybrid oil/water based polyurethane for the arm rests and the inside vault walls.  You can see the finished project below.  Well, I'll say it's finished until I get a table saw and can build the insert leaves.

Always looking to break out some dice. Let me know if you want to come over and play some games!

First time at PAX East

This past weekend was my first foray into the phenomenon that is PAX East. I was, thankfully, able to snag a Saturday ticket right after they went on sale. And got to attend with a few friends and coworkers.  We had fun, played a lot of board games, and I walked the insanely crowded show floor.  I picked up a new board game (Krosmaster Quest) and a couple of ships for X-Wing, which I finally learned how to play.

I was coming down with a cold, so my day was unfortunately a bit subdued. And I failed hard at taking pictures of all the awesome stuff. I think next year I'll try to get a three day pass so I can experience more of the panels and other things going on.  In the mean time, here are the few pics of the fun insanity I took.

Geek & Sundry's Table Top Day - Nerd Block Unboxing

Warning - Spoilers below if you haven't received your block and want to be surprised - turn back now!

Being a huge fan of both Geek & Sundry and table top gaming, I was pretty excited when the themed box finally arrived at my door. Note: This was also my first box from Nerd Block.

So lets take a look at what was inside:

  1. International Tabletop Day T-Shirt
  2. Funko Legacy Magic the Gathering Action Figure (I received Liliana Vess)
  3. No Survivors Note Pad
  4. Felicia Day "Embrace Your Weird" Pencils
  5. Geek and Sundry Bumper Sticker
  6. Dungeons and Dragons Comic Book
  7. Wil Wheaton's D6
  8. Geek & Sundry Tabletop Day themed playing cards
  9. Geek & Sundry RPG Player tokens w/ Bag

Verdict? I'm actually pretty disappointed with this box. The cost on this box was 39.95 plus shipping, which brought the total investment to almost $50.  I have a hard time finding anywhere near that value from this box.  

The t-shirt isn't a high quality shirt. It's just your standard, heavy weight, cotton.  I would have much preferred a Funko POP to the legacy figure.  This particular figure barely sell for $5 on eBay.  Didn't really need another set of playing cards. The tokens, comic, and notepad are ok, and rest of the items are just meh. 

Being as this was a tabletop day box, I was expecting more game type stuff.  Most of this is just game adjacent swag. They could have included a card game like Flux for the cost of the figure. Or even some of the items they include in the tabletop day kit they shipped to retailers last year.

Well, lesson learned here.  I won't be picking up any other Nerd Blocks anytime soon.  Hopefully you will find more value in your box than I did.

Pathfinder - A New Journey

I was not one of the "cool" kids that played D&D when I was younger.  Not that I wouldn't have, I was just never friends with anyone who played.  I tried to get a campaign going a few years ago with some friends, but it never really took off.  Flash forward to nearly 36 years old. I found a group of friends/coworkers who want to get something going, including an exceptionally creative person who graciously agreed to be our DM.

I've been working up a character for a while for this game we should be starting soon.  I've gone so far as to write up a back story and design a custom miniature using And I wanted to share those here.

My character's name is Sylrora Wysamaer - a Half-Elf Ranger.  And this is her story:

Sylrora’s story starts with her father Beneger, a wealthy Ealdorman, calling for an healer when the Countess of Sterleigh, his wife, fell mysteriously ill. In a Elven village a couple days journey away Jhanandra Wysamaer, a beautiful, naieve, young elven healer, heard word of the humans need. Being of little means, she saw this as an opportunity to strike out on her own and and make a name for herself. Beneger, incredibly grateful that anyone had responded to his pleas, welcomed her into their home.

Over the weeks that followed the Countess showed little improvement.  Beneger spent many nights along side Jhanandra caring for his wife. It looked bleak for the Countess and all the while Beneger fell more and more infatuated with the young elven healer. Thinking his wife was not long for this world, he allowed himself to act on these feelings. Jhanandra was reluctant at first, but Beneger’s charm and compassion won her over. It wasn’t long before the two of them would start sneaking off to spend time alone together.

The fates had other ideas for this trio though, as one day the Countess finally started to respond to the treatments. Within days she was vastly improved. Beneger was panic stricken with the position he was in. Thinking he could loose everything, he quickly sent Jhanandra away before his wife could learn about his indiscretion. Jhandandra left to return to her people, heartbroken and unbeknownst to Beneger, pregnant.

Being half-elf, Sylrora was never accepted into the elven world. Raised mainly on the outskirts she spent nearly all of her time in the woods. She preferred nature to people, particularly her best friend - a young forest fox she calls Arrow. Because of her half breed status, she was often a object of torment by the other young, full breed, elves.  By necessity she learned to fight to survive and to hunt to provide for her family.

Growing restless as a young adult she started to press her mother to find out more about who her father was. Reluctant at first, Jhanandra eventually gave in and told her the story of her time with Beneger and the Countess.  Youthfully excited and blind with dreams of a father she never had, Sylrora set out to find Beneger.  Thinking he would be happy to find he had a long lost daughter, she naively ignored the potential danger of showing up unexpectedly.

The meeting with her father did not go as expected. He immediately denied her as a daughter and rejected her story. Beneger grew paranoid that this young girl would destroy his marriage, his title and everything he had worked to build. So when Sylrora left dejected, he sent an assassin to follow the young girl and kill both her and her mother.

A few nights later, the assassin quietly slipped into the unlocked door their home. Finding Jhanandra asleep in her cot, he slit her throat without a sound. Moving silently he located Sylrora in another part of the home. Raising his blade he moved to kill her as well. Just before he could finish the job though, Arrow awoke and alerted his companion of the threat. Groggy with sleep Sylrora managed to just dodge the assassin's killing blow. She reached behind her cot pulling a small knife from it’s hiding pace and plunged it into her attacker’s side, just below the arm pit.  They struggled for a brief moment, but the attack had hit it’s deadly mark and the dark figure crumpled to the ground.

Finding her mother dead, Sylrora realized that her father was behind the attack and the horrible mistake she made when she set out to find him. Racked with guilt and sorrow for the loss of her mother, she and Arrow fled their home.  She knew that Beneger would eventually realize that the assassin hadn't returned and would send more.  Sylrora and Arrow set off to find a new home elsewhere, knowing that one day she would return and kill the father she never knew for what he had done.