Sunday, October 26, 2014

To the buoys & back

Archie's ~11-13 Kn (45min)
Lots of family down for the weekend, but it looked Ok to head out for a quick go and possibly try to get Scott & Carina or Grieg a go in the lighter winds. Dad helped launch it and I could go out from the middle of the rocks where the low tide had revealed a sandy spot.

Went out to the shark buoys and back a couple of times, but just wasn't enough to make upwind progress. Pulled out before I got to the swimmers and walked it back up to the sandy spot for a another go. Made a couple of small jumps off the waves going out, but wasn't keen on pushing it as I was losing so much downwind anyway.

Archie's ~13-18 Kn (1h)
Launched Scott for his first go with the kite but it dipped and pulled him along the beach for about 40m. We both got it under control before it got to people or trees, but Scott's without some skin. Once he'd got the hang of the kite we put it down and swapped over.

Went out from the same sandy spot and could immediately make upwind, although starting and turning still needed a couple of dives to really get going. When out at the shark buoys I couldn't really do my normal pivot & carve to maintain kite speed, preferring to drop back into the water and do a clean start. This was more for fear of losing the board that far out and having a long way to go to get back to shore. I did lose it once about 1/2 way out, but a body drag both ways of about 20m was enough to easily get ahead of the board. Pivot and carves were a lot easier in close to the beach and the shallow water practice at Elliot helped a lot.

Made a couple of wave jumps: one felt like a skateboard ramp where I launched off the first and landed on the back shoulder of the next, one long floater that ended up with the kite heading back the other way, a couple off the waves about 20m out from the break. Most had me leaving the front of the board up high (about 45 degrees) to make sure I landed on the tail. Felt ungainly, but I only had about 10% jump fails.

Fun session.        

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Windy Wednesday

Elliott Heads ~18-20Kn (1h)
Following a big weekend I'd intentionally taken a break on Monday even though it might have been just enough to get get going. Tuesday looked really good but almost forgot an after school meeting at that time. Ben got out for a decent session, but it was down more toward the 12Kn range.

Wednesday remained above 15Kn from lunch on and was closer to 20 when Ben and I finally got down there at 4pm. Really surprised that there wasn't anyone else down there as it was getting big for our 14m & 17m kites.

Another 20 or so load & pops and 1/2 jumps. I figured out that the kite is ending up high on the load & pops, so at some point I'm subconsciously dragging it up and then back down during the trick. Since it's not ripping upward it's not giving the the lift that it should for a proper jump, but I'm happy getting a little higher each time. Managed a 1m+ height jump with about 4m travel. There were other of similar length that I released the bar to land early as I hadn't got the positioning of my body right to land. It feels like I should be working on the kite next to go for jumps proper before coming back to look at load & pops in a different light.

Next task: go higher, land better.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Windy Weekend

Elliott Heads SE ~16-20Kn (4h)
The predictions all had this weekend being a windy one. Ben and I headed down after an early lunch on Saturday to get stuck into a big session out on the water. Top of the list for me was to try some hooked in load & pops, as well as getting confidence in going faster rather than working on upwind ability.

Tried the sand anchor again for launching with Ben and Mark keeping guard of the kite in case something went wrong. Much better having the caribina hooked onto the chicken loop ratther than the flag-out line. Relatively easy to get down to that level and I could even massage the kite with handlebar pressure if needed. 2nd launch went a lot smoother but I'm still not sure I've got more confidence using it over a beach launch.

Spent the first hour tacking and generally playing about. Found that the bar pressure was a little much so I sheeted it in completely and left it there for the rest of the afternoon.

After a bite to eat we decided to try a circuit of the island. I could quite easily cut upwind through the proper river mouth but Ben had difficulty cutting upwind as much. By the time I got to the point, the chop was getting annoying, and decided to bail when Ben crashed and lost more ground. We tried again later on in the day, but once again the chop just made the ride uncomfortable.

Went back to runs straight off the beach while the tide was up to give a lot of knee-high water to play around in. Attempted about a dozen load & pops with about 1/2 being successfully landed. The rest made sure I was going home with more water up my nose.

Parked the kites at 4pm for another break, but the wind picked up straight away substantially to bring the rest of the kiters in. We hung around for 1/2 hr and got a bite to eat, but it still kept up over 20Kn. I was pretty happy to call it a day on a happy note rather than going out for a blustery session that may not have allowed me to practice much more. More chats with the locals to learn more about the conditions and equipment choice. Everyone's still amazed we're out on larger kites, but it doesn't seem to be that big a deal to me. In truth I haven't been out on a smaller kite so I guess I don't know what I'm missing (if anything).

The predictions were for the Sunday to be even windier, but after church it was reading 16-20 at the aerodrome. We got down by about 1:30 and it looked about the same across the water. Enough people around to launch us both and get out quick.

Spent most of the time at the top of the old river mouth practicing load & pops, varying turns and going faster. Did a couple of runs right out over the breaking waves, but losing the board out there meant it got pushed in by the waves a long way, and was a lot more work in the body. Maybe for later when I'm bored of the flat stuff.

I landed almost all of the load & pops, but the amount of height I was getting didn't seem to be very controllable. It's very likely that there's a technique I'm not quite getting that's making a bigger impact than the setup and pop timing or that I'm timing it wrong and I'm going higher when I think I've executed incorrectly.

Came in at 4pm again and the wind picked up past 20Kn on queue. Couldn't see anyone on the beach to help land, so I dumped it in the sea from about 8 o'clock while punching out, then kept pulling one of the centre lines until I got to the kite.

Overall a great weekend. No injuries apart from a sunburnt scalp and lots of progression.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lonely Day

Archie's NE ~12-14Kn (45mins)
Both forecasts had today as a bit of a lull but it seems there's nothing like looking at the beach yourself. Seemed good enough. Kids were tied up with homework so I snuck down for a solo run. Launched by putting the kite out and attaching the lines to the back side, then then pulling the kite to an offset upwind position with tight back line (red), then hurrying back to hook in and launch. Flopped a little, but didn't go completely downwind like last week's failed launch.

Board-dragged out past some swimmers and was able to get up pretty easily. After 2 runs it felt like I had enough upwind to go almost directly parallel to the beach, and with no real reason to stay out from Archie's, I headed north to the swimming flags at Kelly's.  Next run was right out to the first shark buoy off Archie's, then another long run right up to the far end of Kelly's. Kept heading upwind until I made it out the front of the basin.

One thing I noticed was that aiming for a buoy when going south was pretty easy, but once I'd run out of buoys it was a bit hard to keep a tack with no sight marker.

Pretty tiring session, and most tacks toward the end were to just give my back leg and arms a little rest. Pulled the line adjustment in to 1/2 to see if it had less bar pressure, but still the same upwind. Yep, less pressure, but not the same upwind. In fact the kite was struggling to get me up on turns, but it could keep an even tack or slightly better once going.

Headed back to Archie's before the wind died and I was completely knackered. With no-one to help land and a pretty short beach, I decided to dump the kite into the ocean. Still not happy with flagging out the kite, but it took on enough water over the sail the that it was going nowhere. Kite was now drenched and made for a wet, sandy pack up.

There happened to be a photographer from Gladstone on the headland while I was out over Kelly's, and he'd come over while I was packing up to offer the shots.

First successful solo day. Feels good to just get out and have fun. Hope there's more to come. Big weekend on the way though, so it's most likely a return to Elliott heads.  

Kitesurfing - Start of Season 2015

I've been kitesurfing more and more after picking up a new 14 metre F.One Bandit 7 back in February.  It seems that most knew the windier season was mainly summer, but with the extra sail I was able to get out every 2-3 weeks or so. Hopefully I'll have time some day to write down the journey up 'til now, but here's at least a record of progress and thoughts to keep me stretching further ...

26/09 (3h) – Wind a pretty constant 18kn from the SE for the majority of the day. About 15 kiters down at Elliott for the first good day of the season. Holidays also brought 3 young guys from Noosa up to give the local spot a shake up. First time I’d seen anyone ride with boots, and light enough to be out on 7’s.

27/09 (15m) – Predicted to be a little stronger than yesterday, but turned out to be well up over 20Kn. First time the kite felt like it was going to lift me off the ground while directly overhead with full sheet out. Scary. Decided eventually to test it on the water and it actually performed easier than expected. Heading upwind was easy and the kit pull was less on the water, more like a normal run. Turning was hairy though, and gusts coming through caught me off-guard a couple of times. I possibly could have stayed out, but felt dangerous if something went wrong. Pulled the pin after 4 runs and helped Ben launch his 12m. First day when I’m the one on the beach watching Ben get out rather than Ben watching me on marginal days.

29/09 (45m) – Got down late to Archie’s and Ben had already got his 17m self-launched. He’d also done a couple of runs, but had lost ground in the ~12kn winds and had popped out before the south rocks. I was keen on testing the sand anchor, so got my kite pumped while Ben tested another run only to find himself exiting the water back down at the rocks again.

The sand anchor worked Ok to give a solid footing, but needs serious work to figure out how to effectively self-launch using it. I’d tied the flagout line to the anchor to give me enough time to attach the handlebar to the harness, but I couldn’t put the flagout line back onto the harness without taking the weight of the kite off the anchor. The kite also needed a lot of Ben’s attention to sit stable. I’m not sure whether it would have inverted or rolled, but the blustery winds didn’t give the kite any real time to just sit and wait for it to be launched. Also the sand anchor was a little too close to the sand to work effectively. I had to be on my knees most of the time while attaching the handlebar, and if there was a serious pull I’d be on my face.

Made a couple of runs, but couldn't make any upwind. Eventually pulled in a little too close to the rocks and got hand and knee scrapes while trying to exit. Hand signals don't seem to be very effective either.

08/10 (30m) - Another 20+ day at Elliott. Enough wind to push the kite even with the board holding it down. I'd set up the sand anchor to test it out again but eventually decided to watch Ben on his 12m before going out on his gear for ~1/2 hr to test the conditions. Almost pulled off the sand in the heavy gusts, but pretty controllable on the water. Mistakes mean you take the the air though ...

12/10 (15m) - Not enough wind to go, but it felt like there was enough to get the kite up and let Scott & Carina have a play. There were enough lulls to make it VERY touchy and decided to park it instead.

14/10 (5m) - Tried a self-launch off the beach in variable ~12Kn. The kite dragged back to almost downwind and couldn't catch enough to flip up the top edge. Was kinda stuck until Sandy arrived in time to help launch. Wind felt really dicey again and parked the kite without going out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gaming in Ed - TeacherCraft

Some notes from the Gaming in Education conference on Seann Dikker's presentation: TeacherCraft - Amazing teachers using Minecraft in the Classroom :

Games involve Play, which is a VOLUNTARY, explorative activity where the player has an internally compelling story or challenge. Once you make it a WHOLE classroom activity it's not a game anymore, but an assignment or task.

Minecraft is a blank slate - literally, it's like the old slates or nowadays paper. How does paper help in your classroom? Well, Minecraft can help in the same way.

Teachers see themselves as learning experience designers.

Good designers look for NEW WAYS TO ENGAGE rather than specifically best practice. Addressing a room of good designers you would expect them to all take the core concept, but express it in new and meaningful ways.

Teachers finding ideas in non-subject areas. Goes against the Highly Qualified teacher status.

Out of the 49 investigated teachers, 0% had gaming as a hobby or had a conference session that validated gaming as a teaching tool. The majority heard about it in various ways, but drew the validation from personal play (29%) or watching the kids play (42%). Leans toward PD with both teachers and students, or PD with actual use of the product.

Teachers need a place to test where failing is Ok. Relax, take it easy. Especially with students in a lunchtime or after school setting so that failure doesn't impact curriculum.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

GameLog 356-367

So much for starting a routine...

Need to add mobile games on here too as that's where more and more time is being spent.

March of War (50h) - F2P tactical strategy game that's quite polished for the F2P model. Dynamic world campaigns led by human faction leaders has made this more interesting than just the tactical strategy and rare units available on weekends work well on me too.

Marvel Heroes 2015 (48h) - F2P action MMO. Lots of little subsystems to get into, and enough loot explosion to mark it down for a LAN. Picked up the ultimate spidey costume for $30, but have found the free storm character to be more fun to play. Probably worth the investment overall but feels funny spending money on an aspect of the game that I don't play.

At the Gates (40h) - Closed alpha testing ..

Offworld Trading Company (25h)

Godus (20h)

Terraria (10h) - Still a fave for Cam, but getting into hard mode has made the early phase a little more boring.

Pixel Piracy (10h)

Hegemony gold (8h)

Invisible Inc. (7h)

Star Ruler 2 (5h) - Early access space RTS. Very different economy has me hooked at the moment trying to figure out a good build.

Blackguards (5h) - Picked up in a big sale and installed in a lull. Happy I picked up and played Banner Saga when this first came out as the static nature of the quest line is a little grating.

Mighty Quest for Epic Loot (5h) - Beta castle builder / raider in the same vein as notorious. Seemed to change the dungeon layout into a better model, but still feels like there's only 1 good solution.

Sunless Sea (4h)

Hack'n'slash (3h) - Arcadey Double-fine adventure game with the ability to change internal traits of the monsters you're fighting for a novel programming / puzzle / adventure.

Fallen Enchantress (3h) - Ben picked up the undead pack for some trade I'd long forgotten about. Plays a little differently but still too similar to what I remember FE to be like.

Firefall (2h)

Might & Magic: Duel of Champions (2h) - New Expansion.

Endless Legend (2h) Greig got interested in this one when he came down to visit. Got me back into it too. Waiting for it to be finally released though.

Dark Souls (2h) - Super frustrating attempting to play this on PC. 2nd go and same result

ToME (1h) - Another couple of chars to the RNG.

Racing Manager (1h)

The Bureau (.5h)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Meaningful Quests

About 5 years ago there was a new trend appearing with the rise of Free to Play and Facebook games; The Tutorial Quest. These quests were designed to merge the traditional tutorial into the start of the game by implementing interface learning through a simple quest structure. "Please accept a quest to click on this building". Wait, What? Who is asking this of me? Am I participating in the game world or interacting with the screen in front of me? Why are medieval societies asking me to click my mouse? Furthermore, why am I being rewarded handsomely for completing such a menial task? Are the citizens of this world so inept that they have to pay someone to let them know when to harvest their crops?

Ok, so I accept the quest. Who wouldn't? Such a simple task for a bag of gold. Awesome! But why am I doing this? Am I seeking adventure? Am I embarking on this though any volition of my own? No. It's purely about the reward. For tutorial replacements this is somewhat Ok because there really wasn't any intrinsic reward for completing the tutorial except the knowledge that you can play the game properly without getting frustrated, but a new trend is appearing (especially in Free to Plays) where these types of quests extend further and further into the game to the point where there is nothing BUT quests with no in-game meaning.

There was a debate recently on the Games Design Round Table regarding Intrinsic vs Extrinsic rewards. Throughout the podcast the scope of defining what is intrinsically fun kept changing, but to me it comes down to where you find the fun in each task. If the task is still fun when NO completion reward is offered, then the task is intrinsically fun. Ideally the game is made up of all intrinsically fun tasks bound together to make up an intrinsically fun game. The current quest designs of modern F2P games highlight that there is little to no intrinsic reward in the tasks themselves.

Rewards aside, there are also intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Why am I completing this task? What motivates me to even accept the task in the first place? Is it for the shiny bag of gold at the end, or are there tasks that I would do regardless of reward? Motivators become a little more grey because we often accept rewards for common real world boring tasks. Most people would class work as: Do something, get money, spend money for fun. The lucky few find work that they would gladly do for free, but manage to also find someone that would pay for the work to be done. Motivators are also different from person to person. Rushing out to risk your own character to save others may be taken differently by different people and their affinity to your character and to others in the game. The question of "Why?" can still reveal what is REALLY going on in quests.

Why do I need to level up my barracks? Hopefully I see the intrinsic usefulness of building up a larger army to achieve some other task, but some F2P games give such a reward for levelling up my building that the motivation becomes to .. spend the money levelling up my building even further? The motivation is to bounce from quest to quest, completing them for no other reason than the sake of completion. In the current batch of F2P games I'm catching myself doing this more and more.

So why do I do quests? Is "just because it's fun" enough? Why do I play games? Is "just beacuse it's fun" enough? 2 years ago I would have said Yes, but after the recent glut I'm thinking that maybe there was something else in older games that's missing now? I remember playing Railroad Tycoon and walking away with a deeper appreciation of the steepness of the Alps and where Innesbruck is. The fun certainly drew me to the game and kept me there for a long time, but I look back on that game more for its geography lessons than the endless hours I spent in front of the screen. The physics puzzles of Portal drew me to the game, but the end scene is my bigger takeaway. What will I look back on for the 50 hours put into Wartune? Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying Wartune at the moment, and it hasn't quite hit the F2P self-referential quest loop yet, but I can see it's coming.

Why do I play games? Mostly because I want to understand the underlying systems. It's a problem yet to be solved. I find intrinsic motivation by seeking out hints through the exposed quest structure as to how the game is put together. Hopefully it also highlights other aspects of understanding the world, but more recently I'm finding it is just a self-serving loop. I complete quests for the sake of completion, I play for the sake of playing. Is there more to games? I hope so. Give me more meaningful quests ...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

GameLog 325-355

30 weeks!

Every time I contemplated doing a post I felt that there was more pressing things to do. Now that I have a somewhat simpler job, it feels that I can start to get back into posting up the GameLogs. I still haven't done the 2013 recap, but I'm happy to at least get something started. My main fear was looking back in 2-3 years and lamenting that my experiences weren't logged.

As with the last post, there's going to be a lot of stuff missed. That said, it's going to be more accurate than I could do a year from now, and that's the main rationale for getting these done.

Mighty Quest for Epic Loot (100h) - Beta Castle builder / Raider in the same vein as notorious. Picked up a couple of good tips for my game, but also a couple of things to steer clear of. Overall solid, but it feels like it's already had it's big promotional spike and it's not even released yet.

At the Gates (60h) - Closed alpha testing ..

Terraria (50h) - A big session to restart from scratch and get into hard mode, and a constant call to play
from Cam when I get home meant that this one keeps racking up the hours. Now up to 330 in total, but a lot of that would be it running in the background as a server.

Might & Magic: Duel of Champions (50h) - Card game that got more interesting with a bit more dedication to PvP, but hit the paywall eventually.

Banner Saga (48h) - Great little story driven tactical combat game. Kinda wished it had a top score on it more than the way it finished, but happy with the overall experience. A game where you really need to go with the flow.

Might & Magic X: Legacy (42h) - Good return to the good old days of tough M&M. That said I appreciated less the amount of linearity there was in the open world caused by the tight gating of difficulty. Don't remember it being that tight back in 4-6.

Warlock 2: The Exiled (46h) - Really plays well and hones the 'Expanding difficulty' maps into a gated experience. Makes more sense than all the map being gradually harder the further away from home you go. My pick out of the current 4X crop.

Endless Legend (23h) 3rd game in a brace of 4X strategy games released in May. Even though it's early access and has obvious rough patches, it seems intriguing enough to keep my attention more than expected. It has that X factor already, so polish can only enhance what could be a

Age of Wonders III (20h) - 59h on steam, bet another that was left on while the PC was playing up. Seems a little snow-bally for my tastes, and even though others were recommending the random games instead of the campaign, it still left a little .. empty.

Tiny Dice Dungeon (20h) - Nice little time waster on both phones.

Football Manager 2014 (20h) - 39h on steam, but I'm sure I left it on a few nights when the PC was playing up. Tried starting a couple of low tier games in anticipation of the world cup, but it's lacking something that it used to have. Even though the systems are slowly changing, it seems a little more like there's less to really get invested in. I might be done with the "start from nothing" approach and look toward just taking a team I actually care about and see what story unfolds.

Game Dev Tycoon (15h) - Nice little game from 1st time developers themselves. 
Rise of Mythos (15h) - Kongregate game that I'd started before. New server and an Ok guild to get going. Lots of nooks & crannies to explore, but once the paywall loomed up without any real way of scaling it with time, I dropped it cold turkey.

Civilization V (15h) - New Venice civilization surprisingly engaging.

Starbound (9h) - Early access attempt at a grander Terraria. Lots of promise, but also lots of grind.

The Last Federation (8h) - From the creators of AI War and more importantly Skyward collapse, it takes the "Indirect grooming" approach to keep a chaotic system from imploding on itself. Works Ok, but the dev had made so many changes after release that it felt like a different game. Actually it felt more early access than most of the early access games I've played recently. That said, I really like the game for its Space Rangers feel.

Dungeon of the Endless (5h) - An interesting diversion from coming off the Endless Legend early access. I like the concept, but seems to be a crapshoot as to whether I make a level clear or not. Another one to fire up once completed.

Marvel Puzzle quest (5h) - Testing the limits of this Free to Pay game

Torchlight II (5h) - New co-op game with cam.

Starpoint Gemini 2 (2h) - Early access, but probably needed to be something to wait for. Hapy to load up again once released.

Path of Exile (2h) - Couple more games with Scott when he's over in Norway.

UnEpic (2h) - I know deep down it's trying to be roguelike, but I feel that all the minimalism misses out on the wanderlust.

Dark Souls (1h) - Press A the start?? No in-game menu to allow exit? Unable to tune the mouse? If I had an XBox I might be able to get into it, but I experienced a whole new level of frustration without even dying.

Magicka: Wizard Wars (1h) - Beta has been a little rough from an Aussie's perspective.

ToME (1h) - Couldn't get steam version to pick up my ToME account, even though it's been linked before. Played a game but quickly found that lack of perks provided by my account makes the game more grating than it needs to be. Shelved until another couple of updates.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Path of Exile for Notorious

Another mini review of Path of Exile with respect to Notorious.

Hardcore characters in Path of Exile have an interesting characteristic in that when you die you don't just vanish, your character then becomes a standard (multiple deaths allowed) character. This is also in use for the various competition levels available in that once the competition is over, the character then becomes hardcore (if it was a hardcore competition).

Specifically for hardcore, this still gives the sting of losing a character for those dedicated to hardcore, but also gives those who want to play on an avenue for doing so. With respect to the competitions, the narrowed time frame and scope brings added incentive to try out new characters or restart the game again. This gives much more longevity to the whole ramp up that is typical of a diablo clone.

I'd always considered having valleys surrounding a starting village be somewhat contained to allow people of similar starting times to compete together (or at least gauge yourself relative to others) in the same way that Grepolis gives an island somewhat of an independent feel until ships open the map up. Now I'm leaning more toward having the valleys open up as the main payment method. Each player would pay a nominal amount of the 2nd tier economy to enter a valley that has a specific achievement and entry conditions associated with it. Once the valley has enough entrants, it opens up that part of the map and players are shielded from other notorious activity until the achievement has been reached by one player. This then opens up the valley to be part of the main world.

Types of requirements would be:
 - New players
 - Power level (Eg min power level 200)
 - Previous achievement holders
 - Notoriety in region

Since the valleys are also based physically on the map, there would also be added incentive to compete in valleys close to your starting location so that you can build up region wide notoriety easier. There can also be tiered access so that lots of small starter villages need to be conquered before there are provincial cities or regional capitals that are exposed to the map.

This concept could also be applied to whole regions rather than just valleys, and allow different playstyles to be rewarded through the specific criteria and conditions placed on that enclosed region.