Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons in the Presence of the Public

As I've mentioned before, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons a few months ago and have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game. I have no problem talking about D&D in circles of like-minded individuals or even blogging about it if there is a story amidst the saving throws, but I've been handling my table-top gaming a lot like my masturbatory habits in that I'll admit to them, but I don't want anyone to see me in action.

Well, that all changed this past week. A member of our Friday night gaming sessions decided to start up his own campaign that met on Wednesday nights which I had wanted to attend for weeks but was unable due to Boulder Faith rehearsals. Well, with the show's run in the past, I was finally able to roll up a half-orc barbarian and join in the fun.

Before I continue I should probably fill you in on the composition of my D&D group: I'm 22 years old with an English degree from my local state university, and the entire Friday night group is made up of students from said university, the DM being an old friend of mine from high school. I don't mind being the lone alum in that group as the game is played on an artificially long table in the DM's apartment which isn't even on campus.

Well, it turns out that the Wednesday night group is comprised of mostly underclassmen (making me feel even older) with only two members of the Friday night group in attendance. So, I was the token old man in a group of people I didn't even know, but even beyond that, the group met in the middle of the university's student union.

As I walked into the union with the player's handbook and monster manual under my arm, I popped the collar of my leather jacket to cover my face and looked around to make sure no one recognized me. I tried to find the group with hopes that they'd be set up at a table in the corner so I could sit with my back to the student body and hope that I wasn't easily identified from behind.

My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw the V table formation sitting atop a well lit stage that was smack-dab in the center of dining tables and walkways. I looked about in hopes of spotting a quick escape route only to see the throng of young adult humanity on all sides. I did my best to calm my nerves and step up onto the stage. From my new found lofty perch tables stretched as far as the eye could see with students cramming down the products of their various meal plans, none of whom paid the stage any mind.

Having come so far, I decided I might as well pop a squat and introduce myself to the group of seemingly fresh faces.

The moment the game is underway, all my previous inhibitions flew out the window. In fact, after I landed two confirmed critical hits on a hill giant and nearly earning the D&D equivalent of Left 4 Dead's "Man vs. Tank" achievement (at level 2) I actually stood up and whooped for all the union to see. My previous fear replaced with a kind of voyeuristic thrill.

I now realize just how foolish it is to be worried to let people see you for who you really are. Play your games for all to see. Just try not to suck.

-That Guy

Monday, March 23, 2009

That Thespian Guy

I would like to apologize to my two loyal followers for not updating my blog in the past two weeks, but I've been really busy with an endeavor that doesn't really fall under my online persona of "That Guy." You see, I was acting in a community theater play and tech week and performance weekend have a nasty way of draining time and energy. But after the curtain closed and the set was struck, I just felt too moved by the whole experience not to write about it. And since this blog is my one corner of the internet I get all to myself I decided to make the most of it.

About a year ago, two ministers from my area decided to pen a musical about the life of the apostle Simon Peter ("The Rock"). They already had the music from a previous project and thought it would fit into a musical. After a few readings and iterations, the play Boulder Faith was born (click the link for the detailed origin story).

I had participated in a staged reading in which I played the apostle James and was told a number of times that I should come out and audition for the show when it was put on for real. At the time I dismissed most of these comments as idle lip service and smiled and thanked the people giving them.

But about two months ago, auditions rolled around and I couldn't keep myself away. After a few jokes with the directors, a little ditty I sang along to with my guitar, and an abridged dramatic performance of Raphael Casal's First Week of a Breakup I got a callback and ended up playing the roll of Simon Peter's younger brother Andrew.

Rehearsals were absolutely no fun at first. As we all struggled with lines and harmonies, patience wore thin and I, for one, wondered what I had gotten myself into. Especially because the scenes with all the apostles involved a lot of fast paced lines overlapping themselves so the tempo of a scene was SUPER dependent on no one missing even a single cue.

Well, we never got to a point where we never missed any cues, but we did get to a point where we were all comfortable enough with the various scenes so if(when) we did flub a line we could just keep moving. We all became artisans of the stage mistake and it served us very, very well.

In the end, we hit most of our cues, found our light and nailed our harmonies. The show had a one weekend run and all three nights we received standing ovations. And at one point I was even accosted by the local choir director for not singing in high school.

But even beyond the glorious reception, I am grateful for the experience to share a stage and grow close to so many brilliantly talented people. The cast feels like a second family, and I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

Thank God.

-That Guy

PS: Yep, That Guy believes in God. Deal with it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Perfect Game

No, I’m not talking about bowling, although scoring a 300 is a remarkable feat that should be remembered in the annals of alley walls-of-fame forever. No, I’m talking about the game that is completely without flaw. Now, it’s completely impossible to craft a game that everyone likes seeing as personal opinion and preferences are so drastically varied from one individual to the next, so my definition of perfect is a game that has no visible, universally agreed-upon flaws. And yes, such a game does exist.

In fact, there are a couple of games out there that are arguably perfect. For instance, Tetris is often considered the perfect video game. Its simplicity is a great vehicle for a game that is well balanced and accessible to both hardcore arcade junkies and casual anti-gamers. Beyond that, the game starts off easily and ramps up at a curve that ensures that almost no one is left with a poor session of Tetris, depending on their expectations. Add in the fact that the most releases of Tetris don’t have any graphical glitches or annoying performance quirks and you’ve got the perfect video game.

But there is one game that has an even greater impact and is even (impossibly) more perfect than Tetris:


Chess was originally designed as a 6th century game in India and even in its earliest forms involved multiple types of pieces each with varying abilities, just like the chess we know today. While a couple of alterations have been made in the game since its first inception, such as changing the names of the pieces as the game was translated into new languages, modern chess is very similar to the original game.

The fact that it has survived 1,500 years is a marvel in itself, but the arguments for perfection go even deeper.

For instance, chess is entirely multiplayer so the difficulty is dependant on your opponent and since each piece has its own movement style, there are a near infinite number of possible ways a game could pan out. Which can’t be said about other simple tabletop games like checkers or tic-tac-toe.

This allows each game to be its own unique experience and facilitates quick thinking and variable play styles to reach success.

While plenty of people don’t care for chess, it is simply a matter of personal preference. A flaw that one person might see in the game could be another’s strength, while imperfect games have problems that offend everyone universally, like long load times or texture pop.

If you think my assertion is incorrect in any way, feel free to verbally assault me in the comments below. It’s okay, I’m used to it.

-That Guy

PS: The one reason I actually like Vista over XP is Chess Titans.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Halo 3 is Possibly the Greatest Time-Sink in History reported that this past Saturday, Halo 3 has facilitated one billion online matches. In our current times of trillion-dollar budgets, it's easy to get desensitized to how big numbers ending in 'illion' are so here's a fun little stat:

A human being won't live to see a billion seconds until after their 31st birthday.

And yet, a game that came out in late 2007 has already accrued one billion matches. That's not even counting play time.

Thankfully, the good folks at Bungie figured we'd want to see that too, so they dove into their archives to fish out that stat too. This stat might be a little misleading because it's a mass stat of each individual's play time rather than a total time that matchmaking has been active. Keep that in mind; if a match had five participants then the match's time will be multiplied by five before being added to this total.

As of the Bungie report, Halo 3 players have spent 2,023,153,340,764 seconds in matchmaking.

Yep, 2 TRILLION seconds. Now let's look at that in terms of crazy stats:

Human beings as we know them didn't even exist a trillion seconds ago. Neanderthals were still the most evolved species on Earth and even the concept of civilization was in its infancy.

We all love games, but 2 trillion seconds on just a single game in a year and a half? Holy shit! Imagine what we could do if it was physically possible to devote this kind of time to focused scientific research. We'd probably have cancer cured by now.

And on that note, I'm going to go play some Halo 3,
-That Guy