Provosgiving

Since Zaque can’t leave the state of Utah until next September, we decided it would be best if we went down there to celebrate Thanksgiving. It helps that all of our kids are together in Provo, and that it’s only one day’s drive. We trucked down south and had a grand time.

There were many board games. Here’s a shot of Survive which we all agree is one of the best games ever. Zaque and I wanted to make it look like an old 80’s board game box, but Alex and Kyra didn’t get that memo.

Kyra and Alex were kind enough to test my new game, Hexteria: New World. Both of them said they liked it, but it’s always hard to tell because of course they’re going to say that. I need honest reviews, guys!

Kyra taught Ollie how to drive…

… And was kind enough to pull gunk out of Zaque’s ear. Hey, what are big sisters for?

We had some good food, as well as some not-good-for-you food.

All of it reminded me of how much I’m grateful for. Thanks, kiddos!

Sweeps

Yesterday I spent 15 hours of my Saturday at a speech and debate meet. It was my third of the season, and I learned a ton. At the end of the (long) day, we took home the “sweepstakes” award, which is for the top-ranked overall team.

We’re a B-class school, and we won that class. Most of the schools at the meet were A- or AA-class, meaning their teams were typically three to six times the size of ours. But hey, considering this is my first run at this coaching gig, I figure we’re doing well.

More to the point, the kids are having fun and gaining confidence as they work on their public speaking skills. The number of trophies we bring home isn’t as important to me as helping them learn and grow.

To begin, begin

Although I’m knee-deep working on a new board game, I had a thought about another one and put some rough parts together. As usual, I’m drawing from my game development kit while also spending time reading articles about board game design, mechanics, and balance. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and I just hope I can find combinations that make for engaging games.

This new venture doesn’t look like much…

… but I’m hoping the theme draws some attention. This is tentatively named Street Cred and in it, you’re a jewel thief who’s working toward certain goals which give you “cred” and hopefully a victory. I’m using wooden cubes from my GDK, but if this makes it to production, I’ll find some little translucent gemstones instead.

My problem, I think, is I keep coming up with ideas for games without finishing my last one. My current status:

Hexteria – finished, and ready for marketing and production
Hexteria: Renaissance – probably 90% finished, needing a few rule tweaks
Chronium – maybe 75% finished, definitely in need of some more playtesting
Hexteria: New World (formerly Terra Hexia) – fresh off the boat, in need of a ton of playtesting and tweaking
Street Cred – so new I don’t even know what to think of it yet

That’s five projects, only one of which is really finished. Leonardo da Vinci was famous for not finishing projects he’d started; he’s attributed as saying “Art is never finished, only abandoned”. While I’m no Leonardo, I do seem to have difficulty finishing hobby projects like this. As soon as one gets to a certain point, I’m already off thinking about another. That makes it tricky to actually get something “to market”, as they say, and I think it’s why Hexteria continues to languish. I just need to build a web site for it, put together some nice graphics and marketing stuff, and offer it for sale… but those aren’t things I’m good at, and I’d rather be designing my next project. Hmm.

Although it’s frustrating at times to recognize that I’m not good at finishing, I should probably consider that I am good at starting. As the ideas continue to come, and as I continue to learn about how to design games, it’s great fun to spend a couple hours building yet another game!

As William Wordsworth said, “To begin, begin”. I have a lot of beginnings, which is great. Now I need some endings.

Scanning history

A few years ago, at Pepper’s family reunion, someone brought out a pair of boxes they’d found stashed in an attic somewhere. The boxes contained the journals of her grandfather, John. For over two decades, he wrote almost daily in personal journals about things happening in his life. Everyone had a good time looking through them to find the dates when they were born, then laughing about Grandpa John’s comments, which were typically things like “Cecil and Donna had another baby. A boy today.”

Although everyone thought the journals were cool, no one knew quite what to do with them. Stashing them back in an attic to gather dust seemed pointless, but there weren’t any volunteers willing to take and house them. After the reunion, I suspect they just went back to the attic.

Fast forward to this year, when we hosted the family reunion at our place. Once again, the topic of the journals came up. I suggested that someone scan them… that way, everyone could access them if they were curious, and they wouldn’t take up space. Everyone agreed. Then someone asked who would do it. Silence. Long, awkward silence. So I volunteered, and inherited the boxes. The journals have been in my office for a few months now, and I finally decided I should get cracking on this project.

Because the scanner will require the pages to be loose, I’ll need to disassemble the journals themselves. It’s kind of a tragedy, but then again, the whole point is to get rid of the physical items! I took a few photos of them before I started ripping up bindings and (gently) tearing out pages.

Several of them had little locks on them, whose keys are long gone. This journal is from 1962, almost fifty years ago:

The oldest one– when Grandpa John first began to journal– was dated 1938!

Here’s an example of what he wrote:

On Tuesday, August 23, 1938, he “went to Idaho Falls to look things over in regard to finding a house to live in this winter”. A couple of days later, on Thursday, he was “fixing pig pasture… one pig was hurt yesterday with the electric fence”. And so on. It’s pretty cool to read about the mundane things happening in the life of an Idaho farmer eight decades ago.

Once I’ve finished this project, and have thousands of pages of journals online somewhere, will anyone read through them? Honestly, I doubt it. But I suspect now and then it’ll be fun to jump in there and look at a few entries and remember Grandpa John.

And so it begins…

Last bit of yellow

As fall advances inexorably onward, the larch trees around our house are starting to fade from their brilliant yellow to a more subdued gold. And today is probably the last sunny blue-sky day in a while, as our forecast calls for rain and snow for the next week. I figured I should hop outside and snap a few pictures of the last bit of yellow.

Several friends have commented– and I agree– that the fall colors this year have been spectacular. Last year was a little more muted, so it’s been great to see the gold on all the mountains around us. What a magical place to live.

Two cuties

Kyra watches Ollie quite a bit, and she often sends pictures of the two of them. Today’s was particularly good because, in her words, “This is the first time he’s smiling in the same picture as me!”

Last day on the water

Although it’s getting late in October, today’s weather was gorgeous. We accepted an invitation from our friends Gary and Susie to join them in a kayak expedition on Lindbergh Lake. The fall colors are in full swing, and the forest around the lake– and in fact in the entire area– is an incredible mix of evergreen and brilliant yellow larch.

The water was glassy smooth when we started, but the wind picked up and for the remaining three hours we were on the water, it was a bit choppy. But the sky was crystal blue without a cloud in sight, and all of us kept commenting on how beautiful the trees and lake were.

Lindbergh Lake is about four miles from end to end, so we went all the way down its length and then back again.

Afterward, we stopped for pizza at Rosa’s, making a great end to a great day.

GDK

I’m really enjoying this hobby of designing board games, and over the past few months I’ve been collecting a lot of bits ‘n pieces to use in new games. I bought a couple of “bead boxes” from Michael’s so I can use them to organize all of these little bits.

I’m now a fan of these four player colors, which are color-blind friendly:

I call this my Game Development Kit (GDK if you want to sound cool) and I’m excited to see what else I can do with it. I suppose it means a hobby is becoming more serious when you start having boxes full of things for it…

Fall colors on 35

We roll along highway 35 a lot, and now that we’re well into October, it’s becoming quite a pretty drive.

It’s not a great picture… I shot it by holding my phone out the window as Pepper sped along. Believe me when I say the fall colors are much more spectacular than what you see here.