Thursday, September 29, 2011

Public Domain and Copyright "Thicket"

Quick Review, a copyright lasts for the Life of the Creator + 50 years, which was extended by the Sunny bono copyright extension act to 70 years.

So a work made by someone who died 70 years ago, 2011-70 = 1941 has a chance of going to public domain...
Conan is an example of matter where he can be considered public domain but there is long ongoing litigation that he's not because of the writers who made more stories about conan well after Howards death.

The practice is similar to when Xerox patented every little innovation in the Photocopier tech so that no one could ever compete, it was called a patent thicket and was considered an abuse of the patent law.

I'm not sure of the merits of allowing for these Copyright thickets encouraging copyright owners to continue to enjoy the franchise well past the conventional limit.
The Other Side blog: OSRIC Player's Guide - RETRACTION:

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[Threads of Note] Man Without Disadvantages

The baseline Character in GURPS opens up a can of worms as it can be interpreted as a psychopath. This moral or psychological discussion is an interesting look at what gamers think makes up being human.

Spoiler: The discussion was open ended (well, it was to me). It happen to get more interesting when we look at dehumanization, but then it seemed to be left hanging.

Future Post. Just got back from a 12 hour shift at work. Clocked 7 hours of economics studies this week, and I'm itching to apply modern methodology of measure on to medieval and ancient civs.

I feel like you can just stat out a kingdoms with the formula for GDP, measure trade deficits or surplus, and tell a story through economic growth.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[Interesting discussion at the forums] GURPSify yourself Thread

I think any attempt at creating yourself in GURPS winds up becoming a battle between ego and self-loathing that is not pretty to watchOriginally Posted by cosmicfish View Post

GURPSify yourself - Steve Jackson Games Forums:'via Blog this'

Started an RPG shared material folder with Google Docs

Just started to open up a folder in my Google Docs for sharing. I have to find the time to look for and dump worthwhile docs and material I've made over the years in this folder. Also plan to place nice treasures of game material found around the web, with sources and permissions properly referenced and asked, that way I can keep it someplace easy to access and go through. 

You can find it in my lower right side after all the unmoving blogs in my blog list (i should get rid of some), after my blog archive, beside the "stuff I made".   

The GURPS skill of Leadership, and thoughts about Roleplaying Leadership in Gaming.

As promised my thoughts on leadership... if you would care to hear them. 

Leadership Definition (read at your peril).
Disclaimer. Leadership is pretty complicated, and everyone has their own view of how it works or what it is. Ok, I can only give mine (Inspired by Voice of San Diego: New Reporter Guidelines thanks to Chemikazi for the source).

Leadership is part of the concept of reciprocity, where one party takens on the greater burden of responsibility in return is given authority by those who follow. So a leader has the ability to command as long as those who follow feel that their own concers and interests are aligned with the leader.

Ideally leaders cut throught situations where the group faces a prisoners and volunteers dillemma, these are occassions where rational self interest can burden a group instead of benefit it. Leaders are needed when coordination and discipline are needed to achieve goals that cannot be otherwise achieved individually.

As to how leaders achieve the goals thrust upon her by her followers depends on her tools and approach. Still there is a skill to being a leader, apart from understanding her role and responsibility, there are techniques that take practice and situations to she learns to see and react to appropriately.

Lets go to the Game Use.
Leadership is handling those who follow you. Leadership does not act like an Aura effect, its not something that works purely through the “projection” of a stature or a management perception. Its more of a mechanism for the maintenance of credibility and perservation of loyalty.

As said before, Leadership is not an aura effect. The leaders doesn't just posture and radiate some kind of infectious affliction that causes people to act irrationally contrary to their self interest (for that use some other skill). Because it is a mechanism of maintaining one's credibility and authority, it can only process a finite amount of individuals.

A leader, can maintain her credibility to a number of individuals equal to her leadership score. Normally, a person without a leadership skill can maintain IQ-5 or an average person can hold the confidence of 5 people at default. Default level of individuals, assume the character has not spent any point in the skill, are not chosen by the player but are those individuals who would most likely listen to this character. These typically be family and friends, and in odd situations not family and friends but only one's own professional colegues or peers. The GM gets to choose, and sometimes it may not be obvious to the player or the character who'se loyalty they begin the game with.

When a character spends cp, then she can command the loyalty (by making herself more credible) to inviduals she is choosing. This assumes the character tries to exercise her leadership among these people. With one cp, a character gains 4 people more loyal to her (from default of IQ-5 to IQ-1 at 1cp) . Every additional level means the character can work to maintain one other person.

Leadership is like building a rapport, there is some capital to be spent (time, effort, compassion, empathy, and sometimes material resouces) when cultivating an individual. A character is free to realocate who she cultivates. As a character gets better as a leader, she can cultivate more people at any one time.

A character with Leadership IQ+2 [8cp] can cultivate 6 people with the same amount of time an IQ-1 [1] cultivates 4 people.
A character can choose to stop maintaining the loyaty of an individual. Where this relationship goes depends on circumstance. If the character wants to maintain this, then she will have to allocate some time and resources to maintain these.

The time the leader uses to maintain the loyalty of indivuals in game terms does not count in the time allocation. Consider the time used by the leader to cultivate her followers a “free” number of hours, this does not affect her task sheet. Of course. Ideally the leader is frequently exposed to these individuals, at least a few hours in a week.

Effects of Loyalty (or relationships).
To keep things simple, the GM can keep a loyalty score based on B518 loyalty of hirelings (which uses the reaction table in B560). Players can give their own Loyalty score to the GM as part of roleplaying and to hint at the party dynamics. The GM can impose, the way she imposes a player to role-play a situation, that the player role-play the effects of the other PC's leadership.

Every session the GM can ask the players how events of the session affect their Loyalty Score sheet (a list of the other players and how they feel about them).

Among Players, Loyalty and Leadership is very interesting thing to role-play and watch. Its where a lot of drama can be found and a lot of intersting decisions make for a very engaging story.

Among NPCs, Leadership is a handy tool to survive or to thrive in a situation by allowing the player to have sentient assets help her in overcoming the challenge. Of course these are not merely material assets to be discarded, these are sentient assets.

Leaders aren't always Awesome.
A character can be loyal to a leader out of respect (the most basic requirement). Other characters can admire, be enamored, trust, faith in the leader. Leaders aren't always necessarily awesome in the eyes of those who follow her commands. 

Sacrificing Credibility or Political Capital.
Leaders who damage their credibility can incur a lasting penalty to their leadership score. Credibility is hard to recover, because once trust is broken it sets a precedent that cannot be easily ignored or overlooked.

Betreyals are very damaging to the character, despite how skilled she is as a leader. Such an act can make such huge investments of social/political capital worthless in a blink of an eye. The more a leader has invested in people, the more he or she stands to gain (or to lose) if this betreyal is discovered. 

Other ways of getting people to do what you want them to do.
Battered Person Syndrome is basically commanding through fear. I'm not sure if I can recommend Intimidation to be used like Leadership, but instead of cultivating respect or credibility it cultivates fear. Although I don't see any problem of using it for such.
Note that now and then, in order to maintain the effect, let us call the leader as the "Tyrant", has to beat up the person or persons randomly to put them in a perpetual state of confusion and paranoia. Unlike leadership, there is a long drawn out contest of wills in this situation.
One cannot be a Tyrant and maintain her credibility as a leader without segregating the two spheres of people.

Other than fear, Lies and Confusion is a ways of creating and maintaining loyalty. I would imagine Fast Talk would be used for this tool. Again like Intimdation, the spheres cannot mix (if done so credibility is put to question). Similar to intimidation there is a long drawn out contest of wits, instead of wills, in this situation. If we were to follow the study of the book The wisdom of crowds for every other additional individual, (since skill just increases the amount of people to be tricked without increasing the amount of time to maintain status quo), there is a +1 bonus for everyone to their IQ roll to see through the deceptions/or the fudginess of the argument.

Some note the Game Definition and the Real World Definition
Game definition can be twisted and has loop holes to begging to exploited. If taken as dogma, then it can be argued either way because it is after all an simple and imperfect definition created for the purposes of a pushing her

Monday, September 26, 2011

Google Maps of Ancient Rome

Thanks to Douglas Cole in the sjforums, where I found it.

I should be able to trace and run the Reconquest of Italy by Belisarius with this map.

OmnesViae: Tabula Peutingeriana - Itinerarium Romanum:

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GURPS Skills Administration and Leadership

If you look at the GURPS description of Administration and Leadership, it is the description that barely scratches the surface of the concepts they represent in the real world.

Administration is a summed up as Paper work. Sadly this is very cosmetic understanding of the value of "paper work" or what falls under paper work. I would push the meaning farther, particularly taking stuff that I've learned in management. Between Leadership and Administration, Administration is Organization while Leadership is cohesion.

There is something about these two skill that must be taken of note, they are passive. What I mean passive is that, these skills are automatically in play and always acted upon by the Characters. A character with a high administration is organized, he or she will be easy to understand, will have the documents and data needed when the circumstance requires it, and has very good habits when it comes to keeping things organized in work.

In GURPS, you roll Administration to get the right "paper work" and sort your way out of the "Bureaucracy". Administration is also a social skill, allowing you to deal with bureaucrats.  Although there is nothing in these two uses, the logic kinda twists a bit. Why does paper work mastery allow you to be chummy with a bureaucrat? Its really about procedure and using the right channels, if this is really what Administration is about then there is some conflicts, particularly the previous iteration of the skill in 3e, where it was bureaucracy.

In my experience, the skill of using the right channels and forms, and following protocol is found in Profession (specify), NOT in general Administration. These maters are very different per industry, profession, and group and Administration is a general skill that carries over different industries. (Although I would emphasize as a GM that admin has a familiarity penalty equal if you don't have a Professional skills of 12 or higher).

In  my opinion as a Passive Skill, Administration measures the workload you can take on.  In a 40 hour work week, it is how efficiently you can cram stuff to do for work. The only time its not a passive skill is when it is used as a Monthly professional roll for a Management Character.

A character with high Administration has the habits and professional ability to handle a variety of different topics without being distracted or having to turn his head around too much when the new problem or tasks is so different from the last. Or, the character with a High Administration can identify all the key tasks and allocate enough hours to succeed in them sufficiently.

Basically in a 40 hour (depends in the character's work week, some character can have 50 to 60 hours work week because of their own trade offs.), when you have very differing projects or tasks you can give these a 50% time penalty. In a given week, every different project from the one the character has the greatest familiarity takes on a 50% time penalty. Admin-5 is the number of tasks the character can bring down the penalty to 25%.

Edit: changing the formula so that every point counts, instead of every 2 points. to show an investment of 2 or 4cp equal to 800hours to 1600hours of practice has an impact. Basically Admin is the skill that allows you to discount the time it takes to prepare for a new task, a no. of times a week equal to Admin-5. Time to prepare is at the default 50% the time it takes to perform the action, following the rule of thumb it takes 1/3 of one's time to prepare and plan given the entire budget of an action. With Admin, you discount that by 50%. 

So you have 6 key tasks in a week that would normally take up 4 hours. since you have to break your momentum to do a different task, call a new set of people, read a new set of data and research output, deal with a new set of benchmarks etc... every task from the first is going to take 50% more time. without administration or at default, a character with IQ 12, which is Admin-7, can only reduce the time for 2 tasks. So 2 tasks will only take 5 vs 6 hours (10 hours, 30 hours left), then the character will spend 6 hours on the other tasks, which basicaly makes for a total of 7 tasks in the 40 hour week no time to spare. If the character fails in one of the task, this task might eat up more time or has to be done again from scratch.

A character with Admin-12 can have 7 tasks eat up 5 hours instead of 6 hours. Thats 35 hours for 7 tasks, and 5 hours left of free time. If there was a 7 task expectation per week, then the character has 5 hours to spare. Consider it a buffer for failing in some of the week's tasks.

if you want to detail the character's actions and duties, check out the words per minute for writing, reading/researching, and composing of complex subject mater. Meetings and team discussions fit the 4 hour rule because thats the typical mental endurance average for individuals, after that amount of time information input becomes less efficient (admin determines the number of participants in such a discussion equal to Admin-5 that do not suffer any penalty). two-to-one discussions half the amount of time, 2 hours is enough to cover all the topics pertinent in most working conditions.

Admin is the skill set you can use to describe real world management skills. Although in the real world, people that organized are rare, even amongst the high positions. Usually Secretaries or Personal Assistants have Admin at 12 and above. The secretary who basically "manages" your work load to get you to be as efficient as possible is more common than a leader having the skill in high marks. In my experience most of everyone who has enough skill to be organize to get by in their work has only spent 1cp (enough to negate the 4 points penalty of default). The reason why No-one kills/has awesome stats, in Admin is that there are trade-offs and its cheaper to higher a secretary/PA to be the one organizing things. I could be increasing my merchant skill or professional skill (which more directly affects income in some cases).

In TV Donna, Harvey's Secretary in Suits, is one of those characters that have a High Admin. Since the settings is a bit cinematic reality, she is at the 13-14 level. Characters in Burn Notice has high admin, by the amount of paper work and work they fit in the few days of an episode. In the Good Wife, Carey Agos has a very high admin, allowing him to produce the most billable hours for the company. Harvey, of suits, also has a high admin if the 36 cases a day average of his work experience in the DA's office is any indication of high work output. I can't say Mike of Suits has a high admin, his Photographic memory and 100% comprehension speed reading* just makes him a monster in getting work done.

*reason why i find it very cinematic, plus the misunderstanding of how real photographic memory works.

... whoah i rambled on about Admin. I'll try to cover Leadership in another post.

Critiques are for Blog Posts, not for forums

I realize the best forum for game system critiques are not in the forums. The product is already made and done, there is no going back and most of the time the changes only matter to the individual playing style (regardless of realism or standards of simulations- those things don't count against fun). Blogs are less In-your-face, so its easier to ignore stuff you down want to read in such a medium.

Although Forums should be, theoretically, an open discussion sometimes the nuances of the medium has some drawbacks in creating a more productive/constructive byproduct.

Although I have a critique regarding a skill, and thats Ship handling. By the description and from my own studies on management and leadership shiphandling is wierd, its the "magical" ability to keep a ship organize and running. I say magical because it fails to describe itself well or realistically. Anyone who'se lead a team and studied management knows many of the key concepts carries over to other kinds of work, industries and professions.

Most of the key skills of management, which is found in organizing (Administration) and leadership, seasoned with the experience and intuitive grasp of how things work in this industry with Profession: (specify). The profession skill is like Area Knowledge, you know how to navigate the pitfalls and the problems that comes in your profession. If you want to increase your pay, it is a mastery of the "game" or the industry's little quirks, and this is a task for your professional skill.

I realize that it shouldn't be shiphandling that is very high in a captain or an officer, its Profession: Shipman/Mariner/Spacer etc. The More senior someone is, and got a pay increase because of goon performance thats has something to do with his Professional Skill. Heck it makes more sense to junk shiphandling and spend those points in Profession.

Profession as a Social skill. Other than savoir-faire (mariner/spacer/shipman etc.), Profession is the skill one uses to do a Professional Courtesy. As ones intuition regarding their job gets better, they can empathize more with others who are in the same circumstance/job.

My Business Philo.
I do not like Antagonizing anyone at work, even if there is observation that supports my view that someone is not pulling their weight. Once you start conflict, it has a life of its own and eats up a significant part of your time and effort.  I'm not advocating being a "pussy" at work but in gamer terms I use: Savoir-Faire Business, Diplomacy, Carousing, when dealing with problems with people.

When I have the time, and busy people don't, I launch my own investigation guided by some tools and people to keep things objective and above board. Although i keep the investigation discrete, I make sure I work within the limits of my authority and take careful note.

What has this got to do with gaming? Well its a personal protocol. once you start a fight, you lose. Its like that Dick rating regarding internet arguments. There is no buts about it, it doesn't even matter if its the other party that started it. As soon as you act on it, you lose, because the medium of discourse has shifted and you are at an arena.

Fighting is exciting, there is that suspense and risk. But in real life, we learn we settle things out of court and in calm and civil discussions where we make the most success. The funny thing about "settling" things and going to personal meetings and hashing things out like this is that this is where the real work and success making comes from. This is where the game really happens.   

Basically, when it comes to the challenges of a Free Merchant, just like BPO biz with its high risks and rewards, as well as high paying and potentially nasty customers, it helps to be armed with the knowledge: the fight, the sale, or the ship is not the game. Maneuvering, the way cunning entrepreneur should, is the game and the stuff that would keep one by the seat of their pants.

Self Control in the Real World as opposed to the Game world.
Having personally dealt with criminals (rapists, arsons, swindlers, and white collar criminals) because of the incredibly lucrative opportunity the BPO business creates I have to say that a humanist sense of morals or ethics does not help one to stomach the tactics and modus operandi of such scum.

When you are being played, anyone with a sense of honor or reciprocal courtesy may keep himself under control but will definitely lose 1FP to anxiety (Or I'd like to call a Reserve Point). Heck, stress regarding the circumstance affects us all in the different grades of fear. Some fear being subtle and eat on one's psyche by making them unable to rest well, strain their relationships, or eat up a lot of effort trying to get the disgust and aversion under control. If possible some quirks manifest when these fears arrise, or low point mental disadvantages (procrastination, contrariness, confusion, compulsions, etc. )

Self Control is a funny thing, some parts of us are easy to control when we have a full mental reserve. Some parts of us also work better when given free reign, and thus work better when there is insufficient mental reserve. The way alchohol can help one have fun, bringing down inhibitions can get right down to what cathartic discussion or act is needed by the individual.

Making such Stress or Anxiety known or part of the circumstance enriches the game experience. It allows us to experiment with methods to deal with it, in the safety and positive attitude of the gaming experience. A system of rewarding player contribution, would help make things appear more common place the way it does so in the real world. But what reward can you give a player for being scared?

well, first off acknowledging the risks and the debilitating affects of fear is basic role-playing. The GM's sense of realism doesn't have to be the one to point out, an average person would be tearing their hair out in frustration in this circumstance (or going to their quick fix habit). If the GM were to give a reward, it would be to allow dealing with these matters allow the PC bring up their Will, IQ, Empathy etc. Coping abilities/skills that shouldn't be left to Point rewards to be raised.

Too bad Self-Control is so tricky, game systems really can't deal with it adequately without bogging everything down.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

GT:ISW spreadsheet update: formats

Spreadsheets have a problem with formatting. The way it looks in my LibreOffice set up, may not be how it will look like when someone else checks it out with their MS office excel or Open Office Calc. I'm not aware of the "best practice" in terms of formatting tool-kit for RPGs or interactive "worksheets". Right now, I'm very open to suggestions.

For the sake of practicality and ease of understanding, I'll probably adopt a professional open standard for layout or format to these things when I can find it.

If you know of any please let me know.

Other than the format, the spreadsheet is getting there. I'm at Step 5: Drives, the first part: Maneuver Drives. Originally there is a lot of guesswork and there are no guidelines. Before playing around with different configurations ate up a lot of time. I had to go through all the existing ship designs in the book (which had some internal consistency problems) and make up my mind how many M-Drives without a clue what the final Accel is going to be (and it needs to greater than 1G after being fully loaded).

To make things easier, like what I did in the very start of the worksheet, I gave benchmarks and it was based on something substantial. So I gave a theoretical final mass based on how most ship masses turned out depending on their type: civilian, armed civilian, heavily armed civilian, light Warship, heavy warship, and capital ship. Again, there are very sparse trends which gives very little to go on, and the warships build favor "beam vs beam" instead of missile combat.

This should make the decision pretty straight forward, about the time to scan the options and reflect on the concept behind the decision.

Oh yeah, I gave armor some benchmarks also. I looked at all the ships and their armor. I also made some tables regarding average damage per weapon (and as there is more dice, the mode gets closer to the median) so I used these values against expectations of how the ship should fare given their roles. This also should speed up the decision making process.

I remember the original 3e visual basic(?) Gurps Traveller starship creation made had no benchmarks, nor notes what should be there and how much of it. So ships I made varied widely and failed to consider alot of practicalities. the "doctrine" the way things are done should always be accessible, IMO, even the best of us forget. If the Doctrine Changes, add those notes as well and to why.

I mean I see why the habit is a big deal at work, but being a bit more obsessive compulsive in GMing, it should be a natural thing to do when improving a process.

I guess I failed to Toot my own horn, when I was fixing the spreadsheet. one of the obsessions that derail me is improving on stuff constantly. The benchmarks and notes is important in making any decision.

Burying the Hatchet with Missiles.
I can't seem to let go of this damn bone of the missiles. I'm swinging pro and con like a pendulum. I really want to fix the damn missile system cause its been bugging me so badly.

My preliminary notes are overwhelming. I'm just correcting the internal inconsistencies with regards to missiles:
1st - There really should be a Mil-grade and Civ-grade set of missiles.  
2nd - Detail the difference in performance of TL8 to TL11 missiles
3rd - Allow for sub-series within a TL to have improvements. Even if these bonuses are just 5% to 10% improvement or worth +1 in some dice roll, if not the attack roll. As long it does not violate the consistency of TL leaps of improvement.
4th - Detail the dedicated computer systems and the powerful las-comm system that guide each missile through the edges of sensor range (14 hexes and beyond). This is important when determining what has changed since the TL improved.
5th - Special Warheads: Sensor or EW Drones, Jammers, EMP, or EW-Penetrator and how they affect the game rules.
6th - how ISW Vilani missile Doctrine works and why it is very formidable. The Vilani Missile Doctrine was very good, it was just so good there was no point to improving things. How Terran doctrine shook things up for a while and why, and how missiles came back to fashion at TL11* (this part is for me).
7th - Automated systems and Naval Combat. this has to be addressed IMO.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gaming, A Constructive Hobby

Work has stopped me from doing my usual projects, and I miss doing them. Although I can play Urban Terror or lose my self in a computer game, I would rather be world building or GM tool building. 

Last year, I could lose 6-10 hours a week playing either Civ 5, or dividing those hours to multiple days of the week playing CounterStrike. Now, that I learned to spreadsheets (because of work) and I can make better GM tools, I happen to be too busy to make something more worthwhile. 

Productivity is a nagging compulsion, that is more about who I think I am than the economic reasons behind them. I feel guilty wasting my time with an action with nothing to show for, or something that doesn't built into something greater. 

Gaming, to me is the root of a lot of my key Life skills. Particularly problem solving and research skills. Not to mention being a GM makes me a bit more particular than the people around me about layout, presentation and details. So most of the things I do related to gaming, is the whetstone by which I hone valuable work skills. 

But, there is a difference between work and gaming. I would rather be making more stuff for gaming than work, if I had a little time to spare. If I wanted to do work, in such little free time there would be something seriously wrong with me. (assuming that I had all my other responsibilities and obligations in check, and I am able to balance all the other parts of my life). 

Although I do notice that my game writing gets pretty too work-TMI sometimes. I guess you can chalk it up to Escalation. My game obsession has to, somewhat, escalate as my work complexity escalates as well. Challenges has to get harder, as ones appreciation gets broader or more nuanced. I guess its part of getting older, in a way I want to take the game with me up to those complicated reaches life and work gets to. 

Cant wait for the next time I have enough free time to finish my damn personal gaming projects. When work accomplishment is to hard to come by (with all the frustrating real world problems), Gaming gives that sense of accomplishment. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

GURPS: Teaching-12

You have 2 professionals who are both highly skilled. They can command a wage of Php100,000 a month. Both are very hard working, and will pull off 40 hours plus 15 additional hours worth of his own time for projects for the company.

Now take one of these 2 professionals, and say that he has the ability to train and teach others his attitude and his skill set. What is his worth?

In the real world, a skilled professional asset that can efficiently self-replicate is worth more than just his or her core competence skill.

in gaming, like in GURPS, a skill-12 in teaching for a Ship Board Traveller Naval or Merchant officer has no impact. Nor is an amicable or easy to work with attitude. Especially an infectious and positive attitude that naturally raises morale and approaches challenges optimistically.

Dillema of the Skilled Professional. Any professional that meets your skill criteria for your opening perfectly will cost 50-200% more than a professional you cultivated within your own ranks. You can ignore this in a medieval game, but I don't think you can ignore this is a modern or sci-fi game with modern-like standards of employment and competence.

the Open Source Attitude. Professionals that have a shared sense of community, those who also are ready to share their skills grant their group the ability to quickly meet the manpower and skill set requirements despite the many challenging tasks they have to juggle.

Its an environment that seeks to be near homogeneity in capability, allowing people to constantly improve (if there is any opportunity to self improve). Interestingly, in a well managed group, they are very open to both skilled and unskilled new members.

Those who can contribute new and different skill sets are worth while for the diversity and versatility they inject, while the unskilled new recruits bolster their number giving upward mobility as the group seeks to organize and fully utilize and create redundancies for their responsibilities.
For a game. the new skill maintenance rules will be coming up in one of the new gurps products. Although, if you are aware of the shifting and training in your own work experience, then making up your own rules and skill maintenance spreadsheet should be no problem, not to mention you are basing it from your own observation and best practice of an empirical method (if your company is into that sort of thing). 
Such skill maintenance is an accounting of all the hours and tasks in a day in the life of the character. The skill to do this is valuable at work, because technically it is the understanding of how to create a job loading accounting sheet. 
These meticulous accounting of character's time and efforts is one of those key underlying details that have strategic importance to the game. It is where you are at what point of time. given the rules of concentrated action, you can only spread yourself so thinly and Murphy gets to pick and choose the worse time to show up. 

Fire Fighting vs Planned Action. Now these Ideals don't measure up to the urgency of a situation that is called Fire Fighting. Some GM may think causing the PCs to Fire fighting is part of the fun. This advice is not for the GMs that never let the PCs to work through situations with deliberation and planning. On the otherhand, and the other extreme Players or GMs that don't have Murphy play an active role in their game stretches the believably and diminishes the level of challenge in the game.

My Boss asks me to be professional, always confronting and verifying a situation that would disrupt a working relationship. I realize that from that advice springs a wealth of Role-playing opportunities. The drama and interesting aspect of internal conflict between characters is the little stuff that can make the gaming experience more engaging.

Growth, economies of action, and variable of so many situations can be an interesting seed for kick-ass adventure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Excuses. Why my ISW spreadsheet is delayed

My Excuses. Why my ISW spreadsheet is delayed
I feel guilty of not finishing my ISW spreadsheet around this week. I do have a lot of real wold escuses why, but the few hours of free time I had was lost doing the missile volume and stat calculations you see posts back.

The reason why the missiles really bothered me is that Its just really weird that there is just one missile for civilian and military applications. That was driving me bonkers everytime I think of it.

Will I let this go by, only to have to fix my spreadsheet again when someone comes around to fixing it? I know missile doctrine is TL10 in ISW universe, but the Honorverse has that strong impression on me that sees direct energy weapon combat as relic of scifi doctrine past and guided missiles as the present we should adopt.

Even now as I write this I'm getting that powerful urge to spend X more hours fixing the missile system. Uggg! Fark that, I'll make that flawed but automated ISW ship design system because I want to accomplish that then move on to World Building. In World Building I have grand designs and more universal niche to fill. A tool for every medieval GM to detail their World economics and population.

The hope that I can detail Entire Region of about 2,000sqkm in about 6 hours (will try to include a project process recommendation and time and motion study). The ability to generate the entire roster and population of a village, with all its problems, needs, wants and conflicts. With every person detailed and easily found in the document. the tools to quickly details and make real all the persons found in the characters surroundings.

The last part should be my mantra for getting the ISW spreadsheet done. Anyway, will estimate be done by the end of Sept. a lot of Mega Reports due this week and IT processes and policies overhaul, documentation and detailing this week and the next. I should say end of sept is an Ideal.

Sent from my iPad


A more open game system. The problem of automation.

A more open system.
There are many game systems and toolkits I can automate with just a spreadsheet, of course it doesn't mean I should automate them all. Even if I automate them, there is that problem of copyright. I can't just share it completely, because that would lead to some legal problems and give the copyright owners a hard time.
Reflecting, it's not that hard making toolset based on business tool and skills I learned from work. The BPO industry is one of the metric obsessed industries out there, with a life sucking ability DnD3.x vampires would envy
After I finish with my traveller ship building spreadsheet (which I resolved with: to hell with system flaws get this over with so that you can have a another notch on your belt), I will make a different world building system from gurps and harn with my notes open via google docs. I'll also get a creative commons appendix included in the document. the system will be more based on my economic and managing process notes and learning.
As for character creation, which is another tools set when I go from macro to micro, I plan to use man-hours as a character building block. Although I will have to find ways to scale it in 5s, 10s, 100s, and 1000s. Average human will be the baseline, and I'll cite my sources so people are free to substitute assumptions. I will also use more scientific and thus cannot-be-copyrighted terms. It might describe the character with a lot of mood-kill terms but people can just substitute the terms in their own game.
There is just so much to automate to make gaming life easier but one cannot just go around breaking copyrights. So a creative commons system should be around, one that is empirical that way anyone can use while adding flavor to taste.
Sent from my iPad

Friday, September 9, 2011

Synergy: A world economic relationship generation matrix and a game programer

My friend is what they call a "hybrid" a network and a programmer. He's self taught in graphics programming and a strong open source advocate. Tools we have in common is a working knowledge of Blender.

Since this is a blog I get to post my daydreams and my hopes, without having to put so many of the realistic and pessimistic qualifiers I'd have to in "the real world". So...

Currently we are doing some work together as our company has finally begun moving towards open source and GPL toolset. Economic considerations is a very good motivator to go Open Source, because most of the market selling Licenses here sell it at outrageous prices and the growing trend of Open Source Self sufficiency is growing.

So we were always in talks together of helping each other making a game. He's got the graphics and game engine working mostly already. The problem is mostly the lack of people as skilled as he is in doing the programming.

Where we make a good synergy is that I'm crazy about world building and an economically interwoven world. The obsession with the economics is with making a world where ever single part generated in not out of a vacuum. There are many interlinking and layered sets of relationships: in the economic, social, and political levels. Thats why I'm trying to figure out how to generate towns with detailed income statements and, if possible: balance sheets, that show economic relationship.

A world where you can't just kill a lot of people, steal a lot of stuff, or move things around without messing up the equilibrium and starting over again.

The cool thing I find about how realistic this system can be is because, in itself there is a story. There is no Deus-Ex-Machina or no GM conspiring to make things work against your or work for you. there is that indifference that makes what the PC's achieve their own and to no one else's credit.

A game where the player gets to choose who he can be but lets the roll of the die place him in a circumstance without conspiracy of a "greater" meta power or being. he/she will have either fortune or misery and can play the game making the best of what they have, with the possibility of exceeding expectations given the station they begin with.

The awesome thing of a World building matrix is that you can keep building a world that makes sense, or be suddenly come to posses a Character randomly with a new set of goals motives and dreams and try to figure out how best to achieve these.
Weird, this sounds like an extreme exercise in empathy... phftt!
 Anyway, I'm surprised that there is a usefulness to the economic engine I want to create, that is not only for myself. that someday there may be a game out there which can create detailed worlds with people which feel more real because of how its bound to the different kinds of relationships and that there is a world that interacts with the player, not just physically but socially.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

[World Building] Getting ADD with too many options

So I learned a bunch of new and useful skills when it comes to spreadsheets, now more seems possible and I'm getting more distracted because work is getting harder.

Another Dream World Building Tool. 
Ok I got Harn Manor and it is really tempting to make the World Builders Ultimate Spreadsheet. I know how to do it now, in fact I'm tempted to spend 4 hours in the a trance building a program outline. Most of Everything needed to build a Manorial Estate/Fief can be made with Harn Manor. Worse/Best, (worse cause its distracting, but its actually good news that's distracting) it has the necessary foundation to build Cities.

Harn Manor makes villages and their manors. ISW has trade and trade relationship rules that can be scaled and tweeked to fit a TL1 to TL4 Economics. These create Trade flow stats, allows me to convert high Trade nexi into a Town. A very high Trade Nexus into a City or a Capital.

Another Distraction is Google Sketch up and Low Tech Companion.
I had a little project at work where we needed AutoCad count the furniture in a given floor plan for pricing. I helped generate the solution, because of my improving Spreadsheet skills. Basically, there is a plug in for AutoCad that allows for all its assets be listed down. It is a relatively simple script to generate a txt file output, and a script to update that output file (saving over the last one). It is also a simple matter to generate a macro, to import that txt file and another macro to organize the data, then another macro to create costing report based on our price list and all the modifiers. (a product that does this is being sold for $700 each seat)

Then there is the possibility that sketchup can do something similar. Sketchup can probably generate some reports, depending if you name the objects and group it properly. Then it is a simple but laborious matter of allowing the spreadsheet to organize than calculate the results using Low Tech Companion 1 to 3 rules.

Then just use Google Docs to store all these different files and structures to share... Distracting.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Learning More Spreadsheet Functions

Spreadsheets are a wonderful GM's tool. Its weird that only late in life that I have begun trying to learn all I can about it. I guess its because the technical aspect of the game, the details, are one of the main things that help me in my way of playing stay in character and fully visualize the world/setting.

I finally learned to use Data Validation (Data>Validity, choose Cell Ranges). I also learned how to use the Name box, and understand how it works to simplify writing data ranges.

Data Validations > Cell Ranges, is an easier way to make a cell create a drop down list. You just make a table (like the MANY tables in RPG games), select the table and rename it in Name Box so that you won't be having to type in cells and that it will be static (with the $ signs needed to keep it that way) when you cut and paste.

Thanks to DC and Ken, I learned to use Index and Match functions to create Drop Down lists that can affect the other. Although I had help figuring it all out from The Document Foundation users mail archive regulars Adreas and Tom*

The difference between using data validation and Forms>List box is that Forms can be made to activate macros. I learned to make some basic macros through recording my actions and steps. I would rather learn to script, but I don't have any time for that given the state of business and my obligations and responsibilities.

Collaborative GM tools
With Zoho, Google Docs, Live Documents and many other free collaborative document tools, I haven't heard of any GM enclave that shares and collaborates with these tools to make more of them or make them better. If there is a group, I'd be glad to meet and join them.

In a GURPS forum thread about such, replies are about the need for combat tracking and calculations. Which is contrary to my experience, I need the calculators in making preparations and ad-hoc vistas and opponents if the players become too unpredictable.

I hope you can perform data validation in the cloud documentation programs. I have yet to check it out and my internet is quite buggy right now**. With google docs you can keep many versions of the same spreadsheet in a collaborative folder, then copy paste the best in a mutually agreed on generic or allow anyone to cut and paste one, since you can describe the spreadsheet and allow other gms to pick and choose then customize when needed.

Why spreadsheets?
The nice thing of learning more of spreadsheets, It is easily excused for work purposes... which truly it also is. We are making several automated processes through automating the documentation. Our business model is so flexible: a mix of products, services, sales, managing vendors, Biz continuity programs, and so many combinations and iterations it gets dizzying and hell for our Finance department. If there were as a "spreadsheet to rule them all" or some minor spreadsheet forms to help, it would save valuable time, possibly work days in a project. We are a BPO and IT operator, builder, trainer, incubator, leassor, and soon to be network (cisco and juniper) outsourced training and certification for various universities, and Telcom partner its hard to get it all straight.

Already showing one of our departments how to use macro recording did wonders (our cabling, electrical and security systems engineers, they have proactive methods that love organization). Next is if give training for our technical secretaries to use Data validation and Cell Ranges to make our pricing more modular and flexible, allowing us to bringing detailed proposals to the clients door in a days before the competition.

Using forms allow us to make only Parts of a Contract Editable, and speeds up negotiation. even with record changes, sometimes they intentionally cut and paste entire sections of the document and Change Tracking just gets screwed up.

My favorite use is giving some of our more difficult clients, those forced on us, a whole lot of math so they can't be too much of an @$$ at a negotiating table. Ever negotiate with someone who THINKS they know your business and super low-balls and promises BS. The BS this one client was dishing was giving us projects into unstable dictatorships of central africa where UN and International agencies rate as a risk to life of Filipino visitors (a country with no political clout). Hanging central africal like a carrot, dangling that possibility... disgusting lie and a potential for human tragedy. 

*hope they eventually move to a forum format, I get 10-40 emails a day from them and Digest won't let me interact very well with the discussions.  

**calling the admin of our bldg to get it fixed with our Internet provider later.