I Made a Game!

WHAT IS IT?

Jump Space: Event Planners! is a 3-6 player sci-fi RPG (role-playing game) set several decades in the future, in a universe connected by wormholes and populated with aliens, genetically modified humans, artificial intelligences, and more. The story follows a group of entertainers based on a small spaceship, a group that’s also something of a found family. There are several roles for players to choose from (as well as room to create new roles), such as master chef, horticulturist, musician, and engineer / pilot, all of which might be useful as you attempt to keep your little business afloat in a complicated universe (with war threatening in the background).

Based on my Jump Space universe, from _The Stars Change_ and accompanying short stories (https://maryannemohanraj.com/science-fiction-fantasy/).

HOW DO YOU PLAY?

• RPGs are collaborative storytelling, in this case, using a few pages of background material and structural suggestions to help get the conversation started. They work well in person, or over Zoom!

• This game will typically run 2-3 hours, though you can break that up into two to three 45-minute ‘episodes’ if you’d like (plus about 15 minutes at the beginning for reading the game and creating your characters)

• No previous RPG experience is needed to play, although if one person in the group has played an RPG before (or watched a video of one), it’ll probably help. One person may serve as game master, though experienced players may be able to manage without one entirely. No dice required!

• This game can be adapted for play with children, and in fact, you are encouraged to have child characters as part of your spaceship’s crew, as they can make running a business a bit more challenging (and fun!).

• You can also take the game in a more adult direction, and explore the possibilities of romance among crewmates…

HOW DO I GET IT?

There are many stories to tell, much to do, and much to create in Jump Space: Event Planners!

If any of the above interests you, head to my Patreon (www.patreon.com/mohanraj). Subscribe at the $3 / month tier (or higher) to get a digital copy of the game; every two months, I’m planning to drop a new adventure in this universe, set on another planet. (Eventually, we may run a Kickstarter to fund a print edition of the game, but for 2021, it’s digital only.)

There is much still to explore; the galaxy is vast!

Holi

Holi, a fun new game, holiday gift from Uncle Jed for the family. In the game, you ‘throw colors’ on the board, trying to strategically throw more than your opponents. You get bonus points for throwing color actually on your opponent’s piece (the pieces include a peacock, elephant, crocodile, and cat), and also for consuming the most mithai (Indian sweets). You get more points for throwing colors on higher levels, and the colors can ‘fall down’ to lower levels.

Fun, quick to play (20-30 minutes), recommended. 2-4 players.

Bad at Vacation

I’m really very bad at being on vacation — I’d allotted myself 7 days to do nothing productive, and I just can’t. In part, that’s because the house was a disaster with the run-up to the end of the year, so I really did need to put in a few hours a day on organizing and cleaning up, once the exhaustion had passed.

In the process, I’ve found a few items that need passing on — a bouncy chair thingie that I somehow bought even though it’s much too small for my kids and it’s past the return window, and a puzzle of The Kiss, which I honestly don’t remember where it came from, and I can’t guarantee it has all the pieces, but probably? Locals, if you’d like either / both of these and can come pick up on my porch in the next few days, please holler.

I started exercising again yesterday, which is good, but I also started working a little bit. Just a wee bit. A few book packages going out the door, a few messages answered. Mostly, though, I’m trying not to do anything sustained yet.

Entertainment does help — I’ve started watching Britain’s Best Home Cook (Hulu), which is quite nice if you’re looking for something similar in feel to Great British Baking Show. Of course, I can’t sit still and just watch TV, so I do tend to end up cleaning up / ironing / sewing, etc.

Better for MAKING me sit still is reading or playing video games. Well, not necessarily sit still — I can walk on the treadmill while reading at speed 3.0, and I can play at least some video games while walking at speed 2.0. Which is better than sitting on my butt all day, now that I’m not utterly exhausted anymore. I do sit sometimes, though. 🙂

I’ve finished all of Martha Wells’s novels (well, aside from her two tie-in books), so I’ve turned to the list of recommendations people gave me a few weeks ago and bought several. I tried Boyfriend Material first, and it is quite funny and enjoyable, a contemporary m/m romance set in Britain (Roshani, I think you’d like this).

It actually has one striking similarity with Wells’s Murderbot books which I want to talk about more in another post once I finish reading this (probably later today, I’m ripping through it). That will involve spoilers for characterization, though, esp. for Murderbot, so I recommend skipping that post if you haven’t read those books yet.

I’ve also tried a new video game. I’m thinking a lot, off and on, about what I want to be spending my time on in 2022. There will be long thinky posts about that coming, I’m sure. But I think gaming is likely to be part of it, specifically role-playing games of some kind.

So I downloaded Lords of Waterdeep, the iOS adaptation of the board game (which I don’t own and haven’t played), and I’m enjoying it. It’s D&D-based, put out by Wizards of the Coast, so if you like that kind of thing, take a look. I’m just playing against the computer on easy mode right now, but eventually, I might want to play with actual people. 🙂 (Jed?)

There is maybe something a little wrong with me, that I have to force myself to relax. I really have gotten very used to the satisfaction I get from creating / producing / completing — I found myself getting a little sad and mopey on Sunday night, I think because I hadn’t created anything in a few days. I felt better yesterday, even though I stayed up a little late, because I cooked a really good curry and sewed a scarf and a head wrap.

It’s all about the balance, I think, the ratio of work to rest and relaxation. Really not so easy, though, getting the balance right…

Code Names

Played Code Names online tonight with Alex, Jed, Dan, and Dan’s kids (aged 10 and 13), while also hanging out on Zoom. I’d say 10 was a little bit young for this game, but manageable; 13 was totally fine.

The game was notably slow and crash-y tonight, which I’ve never noticed before — we’re theorizing that they have esp. high usage for Thanksgiving weekend, and it’ll be back to normal next week.

Hope so, anyway, as I want to play it more, and introduce more friends to it — Alex and Dan (and kids) hadn’t played before, and they liked it, which is very satisfying. I love prosletyzing games effectively. 🙂

Alex was in Hawaii, Dan and Jed in California, me in Chicago. Many time zones apart, but for a few hours, we were together. 🙂

 

Mastering Dizziness

Tried a new VR game today (yes, I am all about the distraction right now), and I am here to report that Little Witch Academia is a very cute Japanese flying game of VR broom racing through glowing rings, but it is VERY vertiginous. I’m fairly prone to dizziness, and I don’t love the feeling, so this might not be the game for me.

We’ll see, though. Maybe I can use it to gain a little mastery over the dizziness? You do feel surprisingly as if you’re flying, which is pretty cool (though also the source of the problem).

A Little More Under Control?

I’m starting to feel like things are a little more under control? A little? Maybe? I have almost no time for writing still, because there’s SO MUCH teaching work remote, but I’m not as horribly behind as I was a few weeks ago, so that’s good.

I’d slacked off on exercising, which is always a sign that I’m a little overwhelmed; a few days ago, I started working out more regularly again, so that’s good. I do need to do it earlier in the day, though, because when I work out at 10 p.m., it messes with my sleep. If I do it by 6 or 7, I’m usually okay, and in fact, generally sleep like a log.

I’m a little tired this morning from restless sleep, and having a hard time settling down to work, but I did manage to divide some more irises. My exercise these days is a combination of gardening + walking (either on treadmill or Pokemon walks in the neighborhood) + VR.

Last night, I did ten minutes of Beat Saber, a 20 minute Supernatural medium intensity workout (which got sweat dripping off my nose, so pretty good), and 10 minutes of playing Until You fall. And then a tiny Pokemon walk because I had 100 steps left to make it to 10K for the day, so I just went up to the park and hit a couple Pokestops.

I know it’s an illusion, but when I’m doing Supernatural, popping balloons at speed with my baseball bats in intricate patterns that demand a lot of concentration, but are also kind of fun, in a beautiful vast landscape, with the fans going like a gentle breeze , I can *almost* forget I’m still in my basement.

Jed asked me yesterday if I was still using and enjoying Supernatural, and definitely yes. It’s a monthly charge, but a lot less than my gym membership was. (Of course, we’re actually still paying the gym membership at the moment, because we want to support our local Y, but putting that aside for the moment…)

So far today, though, all I’ve managed is a bit of gardening. It’s really tremendously satisfying — I’ve now given away something like $400 worth of irises in the past few days. I don’t have room for them in my garden, and it makes me really happy to think they’re going to spread around town.

When I finish with the iris divisions, I’m going to try giving away coleus cuttings, I think. I’ve never overwintered coleus before, but everyone says it’s easy. I figure I’ll take a few clippings for myself, to try to keep alive in the basement grow area, and give away the rest in rubber-banded ziplocks with water. That should work, right? It’s stunningly beautiful here right now (I’m working in a tank top on the porch, and Friday is supposed to have a high close to 80), but frost is also right around the corner, so I think that should happen sometime in the next few weeks.

Do you think I can do the same with sedum? I don’t need more for myself of the varieties I have, but I have some big bushy ones, like Autumn Joy, also some creeping sedums. If I clip them and put them in ziplocks with water, can I give them away for others to root?

Until You Fall

Tried a new VR game, Until You Fall. Just got a few levels in, about 20 minutes, and so far, I like it. Only complaint is that my wrists were a little sore after 20 minutes, but that’s probably because I was being a little too frantic in my movements. 🙂

You play a fantasy adventurer, fighting off bad guys, and it really isn’t much more complicated than that, but there’s nice graphics, it walks you step by step through practicing blocking, dashing, etc., and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by my lack of skill, which is sometimes a problem with fighting games. So far, recommended; we’ll see if I keep playing it.

Got a little sweaty, so it counts as exercise too, but interestingly, they also offer a sit-on-the-couch option, if you want a less energetic approach.

A Party in Minecraft

Here’s a recap about Anand’s Minecraft server + birthday party. First, an overview of the concept — getting a server of your own isn’t necessary to play Minecraft! But if you get one, it’s your own realm, and you can invite friends to play with you there.

It looks like costs and other details vary wildly, and you may be able to do this more cheaply. But I think we signed him up for one that hosts up to 10 people, for $15 / month.

Everyone who joins needs to have the right edition of Minecraft (the one we used can be played on tablet devices), plus a free Xbox live account. Generally people have a Discord server running at the same time, so they can easily do voice chat with each other while playing. We didn’t want to make the parents of the kids also learn Discord, and figured most people were already familiar with Zoom, so we hosted folks in a Zoom meeting instead.

So how did it go? Well, the party was supposed to be from 3-5 yesterday. Kavi and Anand spent the week beforehand building a bunch of stuff in Minecraft — they built an archery range, a maze, a fishing game, and chests with prizes.

Kevin warned them that once they opened up the world, other players wouldn’t necessarily do what they suggested, and that was pretty much how it went. I think we had about 4-6 kids joining at any one time, plus a few adults, and in particular, 2 kids mostly seemed interested in ‘griefing’ — seeing what they could destroy.

Anand had a horse, for example, and one kid not only took the horse, but apparently killed it and offered Anand back some leather? Anand and Kavi were not pleased by that.

And even for the kids who weren’t trying to be destructive, they whipped through the prepared games really fast (which I kind of expected, as that’s how art goes, isn’t it? You spend hours and hours making something, which then gets consumed in a minute), and then really wanted to be put into creative mode, where they would have a lot more power to do stuff.

There are some controls on all this — Kavi and Anand had godlike powers, and could do things like teleport people into a box if they weren’t behaving (and could also mute them on Zoom). But they didn’t really want to do that constantly, so they ended up putting the griefers into boxes and then letting them out again, and then putting them back in the box, etc.

And listen, I’m not saying the ones being destructive were bad kids. They’re just 11-year-olds! There are different styles of play, I’m guessing, and sure, I can see how it might be fun running around and blowing things up. But I do think it was often frustrating for most of them, having some kids trying to have a constructive game, and others intent on a destructive game.

So if you’re doing this kind of thing, maybe best to be sure everyone you invite is on the same page re: ground rules and play expectations. We didn’t really send out any instructions about that in advance, because we weren’t that organized — we barely managed to actually get everyone on the server & Zoom. (Minecraft also has issues with my account, so I still haven’t been able to play, sigh. Trying to sort that out.)

Kavi and Anand repeatedly asked:

“Is this what it’s like being a teacher???” and, “College students aren’t this bad, are they???”

That said, I do think overall it was a success. There was MUCH laughter and generally happy shrieking, and it felt like what a kid’s birthday party is supposed to feel like — more so than the socially distanced & masked 5-person porch get together we did the previous week. The two together sort of equals one semi-decent birthday party for pandemic times? If I were doing it again, I’d probably do it all on the same day, a few hours apart, with mostly the same kids.

I think both kids enjoyed it enough that they want to do it again, so tentatively planning to host the server again next Sunday, 3-6. Hopefully I can actually get my account sorted out and play with them by then. I’m a little unclear on whether people who have the server info can just go and play there whenever they feel like it? Maybe?

So there may be a little management to do there — I have to talk to Kevin about the tech and figure it out, because I’m not sure Anand and Kavi want all the kids from the party to have constant access. I’m guessing they can block them if they really want to, though.

But anyway, good experiment, we learned some stuff, and I think this will help get Anand in particular some much needed socializing, esp. as winter descends. If he’s shrieking with laughter as he’s video gaming for hours, that’s an improvement, I think.