Posts Tagged theme

Theming

“All things serve theme.” This is the basis of one of the 50 lenses in Jesse Schell’s amazing book Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses (I highly recommend reading it if you have any inclination toward designing for the enjoyment of others). It’s stuck with me, because I think it’s easy to lose sight of the vision when you are down in the weeds, trying to solve problems rather than trying to design the best experience (or game, or whatever).

So, when I set out to do blog-a-day in 2010, I quickly found I was somewhat adrift without a theme. So I ended up doing one theme a month and basing my posts around them. Some worked, some didn’t, but it sure made the work and the decisions about what to write easier. :)

I’d like to do themes again, starting with next month. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them! Three I am definitely planning on doing are My Favorite Things (each is something I love and why), Memories with Friends (each is a random friend and a memory I shared with them), and What If? (each is an alternate reality, similar to ours, that I’d love to explore and why). Please comment here or on FB if you have an idea!

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Long December (Ahead)

I’ve been pondering a little bit what to do with my blog, and also how to finish off the year.  I have decided the following, including next month’s theme!

  • December will be a Month of Resolutions.  Now, as Mike rightly pointed out earlier this year, I have been pretty bad at sticking to the other 9 non-blog resolutions for the year.  So I don’t intend to make 31 new resolutions… instead, I plan to use the space to think about how I might effect change in my life, and then at the end of the month, I’ll pick a few (3-5) and make those my resolutions for 2011.
  • I’m going to make an effort to post next year whenever I feel I have something relevant to say.  That might end up being more than once a day on occasion, but likely it will end up being a few times a week.  If I end up not having much to say about what’s going on in my head, my goal is to post twice a week anyway (once on Sunday [wrapping up the weekend] and once on Friday [wrapping up the week]).
  • I think I want to make the blog more of a conversation between me and anyone who wants to contribute.  To that end, I want to figure out (over the break) how to simul-post comments between FB and my WP blog comments.  Splitting the conversation means it’s (1) impossible to follow unless you are a friend of mine and (2) very difficult to follow even if you are!

One of my major goals for December is to have a year-plan by the end of it, so that I attack 2011 a bit more organized.

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No Rent, Will Travel

I was hunting for theme today when out of the blue, Keridwyn provided one: a little site called NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a riff off of the incredible (and incredibly difficult) National Novel Writing Month that occurs in November.  I guess a bunch of bloggers like me are too busy/lazy to write a novel in November, and so this site is a way for people to connect and write off of a prompt each day.  That’s what I’ll be doing, unless inspired topic strikes!  (I thought about a month of clicking random on Wikipedia and chatting about whatever comes up, but I guess I’ll keep that one in the back pocket!)

Monday, November 1, 2010
How would your life change if you didn’t have rent or a mortgage to pay, i.e., if your housing was free?

I don’t like thinking much about money, but I do know what I would do with this sort of financial windfall:  I would travel.  A ton!  I’m sure there are better ways for me to spend the money – for example, tackling more of my residual student debt! – but I wouldn’t be me if I cared too much about that kind of stuff.  I would take trips to places I have wanted to go for a while, but haven’t been able to find the time or finances to do so (Russia, Australia, South America), and as long as we are full of wishful thinking, I would hope that I’d be able to cut back on total work hours to do so.  After all, I wouldn’t be needing the additional income!  Ideally, I’d undertake a series of trips to see my friends, flung far and wide across the U.S. and internationally.

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Review: Way of Kings

To kick off review month, I’ll talk about a book I read during the course of last month and really loved, but couldn’t talk about (because I was too busy praising my wonderful friends!) –Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.  Funny story: I was on the plane on my way to Amsterdam, delayed, when I decided to browse for books on my iPad to read on the flight.  It turned out that very day Way of Kings was released, and since I really enjoy Sanderson’s fantasy novels, I picked it up.

Way of Kings is a fantasy epic, first in a series – you are probably familiar with this style of book from Wheel of Time, Song of Ice and Fire or even Harry Potter (kind of).  Sanderson is an amazing world builder; Kelly, Laura, Nik, Rebecca and I joke that he actually is just creating role playing game systems and the novel(s) are secondary.  There were three major things from Way of Kings that I found sweet, that tie together well and are the reasons I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy: the development of the world across the novel, the “magic” in the world and the descent into fantasy.

Sanderson does a really good job of pacing the reader’s view into his world as the story progresses.  Some of this is flashback, some is alternate character perspective, but primarily it is his excellent show-don’t-tell style that increases your understanding of the nature of his fantasy world as you learn more about what’s going on with the characters and plot.  As he is doing this, it shifts slowly but surely from what you might consider “swords and sorcery” fantasy into something more more complex and deep: a kind of magic rooted in how the world’s history evolved, and kind of a “hide in plain sight” model where the obvious magic obscures the rarer and more secret “actual magic.”

Add to this a really neat way in which Sanderson moves you from the stuff is identifiable fantasy tropes (soldiers, knights on horses, magic swords) into stuff that is wholely his own (regular mystical storms, crablike beasts of burden, visible spirits that represent emotion) and you have a recipe for an excellent book – and hopefully an excellent series!  Really my only complaint is that I can’t afford to be waiting for another series to come out with its next book! 😛

Overall: A
Engrossment Level with World, Story, Characters: B+
Sanderson Factor for “Roleplayingsystemability”: A+

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Some Silver, Others Gold

I’m stuck on a plane waiting to fly to Amsterdam, and I realized I hadn’t written a blog today! So, here’s my plan for the month: I used the Facebook developers console to get a list of my friends out, which I threw into random.org. Then, I am going to take the first thirty and each day, talk about the friend for that day.

It’s been a while for some friends, and some I already see and talk to every day, but I definitely want to say what’s awesome about my friends and why it is great that we have (or had) our friendship.

I definitely feel – not blessed, not lucky, but amazed at all the wonderful people I know and call friends. So, I’m dedicating a month on my blog to saying so!

(I thought about making the list of people and when I was going to talk about them public, but then I thought it would be more fun not to!)

(Also my Internet access in Amsterdam might be spotty, so these posts might get pushed post-trip. I will still write them on time, though!)

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Connecting the Dots

Mike asked me whether my blog theme was intended to be the one topic I *wouldn’t* write about that month, which, although funny, brought up a good point about my choice in themes.  I need to stick to a theme that is:

  1. has enough depth of topics that I will be able to quickly find one when I am out of other stuff to write about that day,
  2. is interesting enough that I want to write about it, and
  3. doesn’t require a ton of prep time to make a blog post about (since when I am going to theme for help, it’s because I don’t have much time to do anything else)

That being said, I think I have a great theme for the upcoming month: game design.  Since gaining more experience with what game design is and how to do it, and since attaining a position at Wizards where I am definitely doing game design constantly, I have a better perspective on why it’s important to me.  Before , I was worried that the scope of a game designer wasn’t “grand” enough, but experience design (which is really the heart of game design) has a lot to do with making a more ideal world.

I am also traveling a ton in August, so hopefully that’ll give me some meat to write about as well. :)

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Physics-o-phile

I really enjoy pondering deep truths about the Universe.  It’s one of the two reasons I got into a Physics education (the other being my vision of an ideal world – see my first blog post of the year).  So, I decided I would dedicate a month (or so, when I am writing on theme) to interesting concepts in Physics.  I also enjoy explaining things, since it helps me learn, so this’ll hopefully be a good avenue for that too.

One of the secret benefits of my Physics class in high school, which was really closer to Projects than Physics, is that I was not really that well educated in Physics before I jumped headfirst into the courses at Caltech.  That meant that (1) I was challenged right away, and therefore was more interested in retaining the new information, and (2) I was in a constant state of discovery since I hadn’t seen tons of it before.  Later on in college, when I started doing labs and realized how much more fun with high school projects I had than labs with notebooks, I got my first hints that a Physics experiment career might not be for me.  But still, in those early years of discovery, I was all about the breadth of information I was taking in.

I’m going to try to also try to get a book on Physics that’s more technically oriented so that I can browse through and have specific things to talk about, but also so that I can retrain myself the correct way (as opposed to, say, reading wiki pages and assuming that’s all good).

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Change Gears

I decided the emotional exploration could wait, because (1) returning from a trip puts me into an ennui-ish mood anyway, and it would be better if I focus on something active rather than passive (like writing up my emotional state) and (2) I want to explore a plan-of-action with my blog soon before I lose nerve!

So, new theme.  This month is going to be Project Dave – I’m going to search for a project to do that’ll enrich me as a person.  Right now I’m considering volunteer work, and I’m going to go a’searching tonight and tomorrow and write about that.  It could also end up being a jumpstart for research into a business idea I had, and/or maybe a “change self” project (like a self-makeover, I guess?).  On that last one, the self-makeover, I think I’d need to sit down and really lay out my goal for such an endeavor, because off the top of my head, I know what I’d like to CHANGE (too analytical, don’t have much personal style, out of shape) but not completely sure what I’d want to BECOME.  Ooh, and another possibility is starting to learn to dance!  Also, build something, which I can never seem to pull through on.

If you have ideas for a project I could do (start) over the course of this month, let me know!

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Feeling Fine…?

I decided for June’s blog theme I would return to “traditional” blog roots and give a little spiel about my emotional state each day.  I hope this will do two things – (1) it will let me work on blending my logic and emotion a bit better, since I’ll be striving to capture my emotions in the blog in addition to my normal logical thoughts, and (2) it will let me get an emotional barometer on myself over many days, identifying problems that I might not always identify via logic!

Today I woke up and felt oddly adrift.  Part of it might be the openness of a new month.  I feel somewhat disconnected, having just returned from a big trip (the Pro Tour in Puerto Rico).  Work doesn’t seem particularly pressing – maybe because I have too many things to do and no one of them is clearly winning the fight for my top attention.   I have residual guilt from not spending enough time with friends, and not separating my party-with-friends time from my work time sufficiently.  I feel wrapped up in my own thoughts a little more today than usual.

Also, an aside and a sneak preview for next month: I want to take hold of a project for my free time and write an entire month’s worth of blogs (or at least, most of a month’s) on that project and my work on it.  Maybe volunteer work?  Maybe some sort of personal programming project?  I’d like it to differ significantly from what I normally do – that way, I can also track the ways in which I change because of the project.

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First Memory

So the theme I came up with for my first themed month is: Yesterdave!  This essentially means I’ll spend most of the month writing about my important / memorable / interesting memories.  Sometimes there will even be some meaty stuff to think about with regard to how they shaped me as a person!

Probably not much insightful to be gained about today’s, though – my first memory.  The earliest I can remember is being about 4 and standing outside during some sort of recess-like activity at a Montessori school in Austin, TX.  It was muddy, and it was raining.  I remember bright colors in the umbrellas and the ponchos, but can’t remember what those colors were.

One insightful thing: as I was describing my theme to Mike in the coffee line this morning, I brought up how in terms of influencing me today, what actually happened isn’t as important as what I remember.  He then remarked that I should just remember only happy stuff.  It is interesting to think about how much I would even want to modify my own memories, given the opportunity.  My guess is not much – my sense of identity is too important to me, flawed though it might be, to willfully rewrite its foundations in that way.

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