Friday, January 28, 2011

Teaching week 1

At the end of Week 1 into the journey of high school teaching I'm a little stressed, a little excited at the opportunities, and tired, very tired. I knew toward the end of last year that I'd be revamping the 11/12 work program, but arriving at the school for the first time as a teacher it seems that the 7-10 work program is also inline for an upgrade.

I knew last year that I'd be wanting to use Moodle for most of my courses. The content is largely self-paced already, so having the course work in Moodle allows easier submission / marking than before. Homework wasn't a strong point in the old work program, so moving to moodle will also allow students to continue their work from home, or catch up lessons if missed. The main reason though, is the hope that moodle community hubs have a very big opportunity to bring the diverse leaning environments I would want in a VLE of the future, and I want to be there either as a course creator, a community hub manager, or simply as a teacher with many more options.

Maths has been a dream compared to ICT/IPT. So structured, so precise. The content is still a little steep to get through, but at least you know exactly where you're going and that there's no real wiggle room. I like wiggle room, but I have that in spades through the ICT/IPT shakeup, so having a couple of courses that are largely taken care of has been an unexpected blessing.

Of the 4 classes that have participated in the "Introduction to Moodle" course that I put together, most have had difficulties with technology at some point through the process. New accounts and password resetting eats up a more time than it should, emails are finally being set up properly, but there are still teething issues with that process, and the login process onto moodle itself is not straight forward and needs direct instruction at critical points along the way. One class was completely derailed by student not having access to their documents directory. I know it's teething issues, and I know from being over on the other side of the phoneline that there are legitimate reasons for the hiccup, but it still wiped out all the progress the students could have made during that lesson to establish their moodle access. When technology fails, it tends to fail specacularly, and that 1-2 minute window you have for attempting to fix the issue before the kids lose patience is too narrow to do anything substantial about it while standing up the front.

Thinkin' on your feet? Yep, need that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

GameLog 181 & 182

Teaching starting to take its toll on games played.

ToME 4 (35h) - Lots of different characters, but more importantly more inspiration for Notorious.

Football Manager 2011 Demo (12h) - Revisited the 2011 demo and it's a more complete game than what I recalled. More dynamic and alive players, with more personal feel to it. Steam still has it at $90 which is completely unacceptable for a 4 month old game in post-steam-sale times. Found it for $30 in a

Dwarf Fortress (4h) - Few more dwarves. Almost time to dig down.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (3h)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Green Artery

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My new desktop ...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Notorious Scenarios

Here's 2 different scenarios of the way people might play Notorious :
A casual gamer starts off and designates a large cavern to be dug initially. 1/2 way through digging it all out they decide to pick up some gobbos to protect the front door and choose a regenerative contract/agreement. They leave the game for a day, and come back to a completely dug out cavern, in which the gobbos are currently wiping out a level 2 warrior. They tinker with 'Gobfast', the elite leader to help gain a win in the battle. They then review the summary reports and find out that they have managed to kill a level 3 mage at some point (named Dorf the Magnificent) so they are now rated at level 3, and they have had 5 'wipes' by seeing 5 other elite gobbo names in the death register. They go about designating another 3 caves to be dug out, and also upgrades the contract to get more out of the open space that's available.

Next day they have gone through another 7 wipes, but the improved contract means they managed to squeeze the life out of a level 4 druid named Fenris. 1 of the 3 caverns have been dug out, so they go about setting up another regenrative contract in the new area. After viewing a couple of their friend's dungeons, they decide to change the layout a little to set up a trap room first up, as well as a space for tresure toward the back. They also manage to pinch some villiagers to get the digging going. Logging back in the next day they see another 2 rooms have been opened up, but it looks like there's just been a wipe. Instead of waiting for the place to repopulate through the contract, they cancel it and set up a few new ones to try out skeletons instead. The trap room needs a bit of investment, so they raid the villiage for money, then spend it on buying traps. They tinker with exploring a couple of other dungeons before logging off.

An active gamer starts the game and designates a large room. After a couple of minutes poking around they realise that they can get in villiagers to help dig. With virtually no cash, they sign up an ogre with 80% salvage rights in the new space dug out. The ogre is sent off to the villiage to grab some farmers. The ogre arrives back with 5 farmers and they are immediately pressganged into digging. While they dig, the player looks into the rumours and sees that the ogre has attracted attention. He successfully plants a rumour that the ogre headed east instead of south. Most other rumours from the east seem to be also talking about an ogre, so he elects to pay 5 gold to share sight with Rofl, a human invoker heading east. Rofl successfully navigates a trap field (through a map from previous heroes that have wiped the dungeon), but gets nailed by a boss ogre that rushes out of a hidden door. With new information about a neighbour and dungeon layouts, the player then looks into picking up some hidden doors and decides to immediately start building a vault room with secret door instead of finishing the main room.

More rumours surface that the ransom for the missing farmers is now 10 gold each, and Flippit the thief managed to find the dungeon and excape before being pasted by the ogre. Fearing a big attack, the player ransoms the farmers to drop his notoriety and gain some cash. He puts in some low level bandits into the 1/2 built vault, and puts them to work digging. The bandits impression of the player drops pretty quickly and before long they are revolting. they go out into the main hall to protest, but fall victim to an ogre club through the brain. Oh well, at least the ogre is a little more experienced. The player sends out the ogre again to pinch some peasants, while installing a skeleton into the 1/2 built vault. The ogre dies in the attempt, so the player sets up another contract for a goblin elite to stay in the 1/2 dug main hall with up to 5 goblin minions, then logs off. They log on in a couple of hours and the report shows that the goblins managed to kill 5 heroes (Highest lvl 3) before they fell, but the skeletons haven't been touched. The player then goes about recruiting more goblins for the space freed and replacing the skeletons with a paid outright ogre (since the vault has survived and is now large enough to house an ogre).

After the first day, the active player has a little more space due to the farmers in use early, and has been able to react to new information more quickly to advance his dungeon layout. He has also had more fun interacting with the world and other players. The causal player sees greater increases in play between sessions because things set in motion (digging out rooms, etc) have come to pass by the time they log in. If played well (eg; a restarting player), the casual player could be very close to the level of an active player as ultimately dungeon design and size is what opens up higher and higher levels.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Notorious ideas

I've been playing ToME a fair bit recently (mainly due to the automatic uploads ) and have been mulling over whether it's a good platform for Notorious. ToME is module oriented already, and has a demo real time mod already available! It doesn't seem to work on my machine, but the idea that a real time mod is at least known and (supposedly) working at some point is a great start. I'd miss out on the whole facebook gaming and socialisation side of things, but would have a much bigger head start and have a number of roguelike qualities for 'free' that I wasn't intending on using. This is some thoughts on how Notorious would change if developed as a ToME module.

I had an idea initially that the majority of contracts would be with some colony of orc/gobbos/etc to supply minions at a certain rate and up to a certain limit, but also to be able to set up individual contracts with monsters that 'level up' to champion status. In ToME you already have an elite and boss status for certain monster types, and they are usually able to summon in or be in command of other minions themselves. What if all contracts are to elites or bosses, but given the space allocated and their level, they can automatically control a set number of minions?

Example: An orc elite wants an area of size 20, 50% of all money dropped, and first pick of weapons. For that he'll command up to 5 orcs, and take limited instructions. If any orcs die, he'll call for replacements that appear at the front door and walk to him.

This should make the interface a lot cleaner in that you will only have a small number of elites / bosses that you have limited control over, and your ever-faithful servant. These could be represented as icons with the elite/boss image along the top to quickly jump to them or communicate with them. it shouls also give more scope for personality within the game as you will be dealing with individuals on a regular basis.

Infinite monsters / items
One great thing about going the ToME route is that there would be many MANY monsters and items pre-existing within the game's structure that are at the game's disposal. I'd imagined having random loot drops, but having a whole swathe of monsters to potentially deal with changes the game quite considerably from the somewhat boardgamey feel I was initially thinking of. Now it's getting firmly into the simulator territory ala Dwarf Fortresss mixed with Majesty

Established hero classes
ToME already has a multitude of hero classes / abilities for the hero raiders to draw upon. The background when logging on is an AI playing the game as the hero, so the code for that section is also in place (or at least possible). This was certainly on the drawing board, and I probably don't need heroes built using a skill system such as ToME, but if they are already there and available, it will add an extra layer of realism to the game.

One of the areas I've been mulling over is how do you (the player) communicate directly to your elites / bosses? Once the agreements are in place you could assume that you have some method of communicating directly to them, but it may be more meaningful / realistic if there was some sort of focus like an amulet/ring of control that you use. This would mean that you can talk directly to them through this device, as well as have the device exert a certain amount of control
over their actions. The more powerful the amulet, the more options you have available without ruining your relationship with them. It also gives a tangible thing for the elites to take off / break if they are rebelling.

If communication happens through a device, then it would make it easier to give the device to a hero for the visibility / communication of exploring other people's dungeons, and also leave a trail of your spying if they were to be captured/killed. It would also give evidence that the dungeon you own is actually yours if you lose an elite and the hero makes it back to town.

A problem with the communication device method is that it lends itself to be a purchasable item, and thus not a sustainable resource that survives a dungeon wipe. I was hoping to use the dungeon size and decor to be the main determining factor of how big an elite you can get as that will not change (much) if the dungeon has been completely raided. If you return to the game and you have nothing left, I want it to be easy to re-establish a couple of elites into the regions that are empty (with the possibility of a totally different cohort of monsters) and get up an going again. Since your notoriety would be largely reset, the first couple of heroes entering your dungeon should be a cakewalk, and there's going to be many, many ways of raising notoriety quickly if you wanted to (town raiding/pillaging, etc). How do amulets of control survive a wipe?

Maybe the amulets are actually quite cheap for the base model (purely communication), but more expensive if you want to add additional control? But if they were cheap, why wouldn't you give one to every single minion? Maybe the amulets are generated only by your loyal servant and have a limit? this seems artificial.

Another way to look at communication is that even if you could speak to anyone, it's your reputation with them that allows you to exert any sort of control over their actions. Establishing an agreement with an elite/boss gives you a certain amount of goodwill that you can then expend through demanding actions. This would fit with my ideas of coaxing an action, not outright control. Additional goodwill can be 'bought' through the additional items / gold on top of your agreement with them, as well as increasing naturally with their general happiness inside the place.

Another way of approaching it is that a certain level of control is built into the agreements with the elites/bosses upon setup. This would give more certainty to the actions you can do, but may involve more staccato agreement re-negotiations rather than a more fluid coaxing.

Wild creatures
I was thinking this morning how you can communicate with base creatures like jellies and worms. Maybe you don't have to? Maybe you have a WildThing-in-a-box vendor that will sell you outright a critter that you can release into an area. This may also be a way for indirect leveling up if you place one inside an elite's are of control?

More ideas bubbling ...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Highscore table = win!

As an old arcade fanboy and with a house of 4 boys and 1 computer, the highscore table has become somewhat of an icon for me. Being at the top is great, and being not at the top compels me into 'just one more go'. At christmas time we'd gather around someone ELSE's machine and make sure a game somewhere (usually minesweeper) has your name up the top waving down at their attempts.

When we were designing games back in the Uni days, the finishing remark was usually "Slap a highscore table on it and we're done!". Recently though games have been shying away from them, apart from notable exceptions like Bejewelled Blitz, whose highscore table is as compelling as ever.

I'm not sure I've mentioned it, but I've certainly been thinking that roguelikes really need a worldwide highscore table. Yes, there is oook as an upload spot, but in today's day and age I can't see why that couldn't be integrated into the game so that the uploads happen automatically. As it turns out ToME 4 has done just that. An automatic character progress and highscore table, with the promise of more stats to come. It's only been announced so I don't think it impacted on the Roguelike of the year votes, but it certainly will have me playing it more, and donating too.

I still think there's more to go too. World of Goo and Tower Bloxx have integrated highscores to keep you going, whereas Facebook games have a constant reminder of your position relative to friends. Maybe there's opportunity for in-game acknowledgement of a previous owner of an item, or the first person past a certain point?

There's another angle I've been mulling over too. Instead of just a highscore, have the player's story as an output. Some roguelike dumps have all the components required to tell the player's story, but leave them as cold facts sitting in their respective fields. I'm not expecting a quality AAR, but something you could read back on in a couple of months and go, yeah, that was me. I remember that.

More wishful thinking ...

GameLog 179 & 180

Fantasy Wars (52h) - Hooked by the infantry upgrade system and the tactical combat optimisation. Not sure why I kkept playying this one rather than going back to elven legacy, but it was fun!

Civ V (27h) - New patch was supposed to improve the AI. Played through an interesting campaign on 7 difficulty with England. Their shipping bonus didn't seem to make tooo much difference, but 3 rang archers are AWESOME. Started sharing an island with Alexander (Greeks), and he decided it was war time just as my longbowmen arrived. Apart from a little maneuvering, I couldn't have asked for a better time. He challenged 1 city until I had the archers in place, thenn I rolled him back and took his capital before he sued for peace. 10 turns later we were at it again anf pushed him right off the island without loss.

Dwarf Fortress (20h) - Fleshymines met a sudden end when I was set upon by 3 raiding parties at once. The game seems way more agressive now and that's the firt time I've been forcibly removed rather than bailing over heavy losses. They didn't stand a chance .. and it made me sooo want to play again. New place is up to 75 strong again and has a massive drawbridge to lock us up tight in case there's a massive raid again. My 2nd level archer compound seems ineffective though as they just want to rush out instead of plugging away from their tower. Preparing for a new entryway across the river as it already looks like a fortress.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (10h) - Vargoose (50 hunter) - I'd been thinking of giving this one up before the next month's paydate as the ability for it to put me to sleep is disheartening, but the flooded thousand needles questline got me interested again. Just about finished Felwood.

Grotesque Tactics (5h) - Another steam sale. Storyline was pretty funny, but the tactics seemed off. There doesn't seem to be a rationale why you could start the turn by moving all the way to the back of your movement zone, wait, then after the AI have advanced come in and move as far forwards as if you were at the same positon as at the start of the turn (effectively doubling movement)

Minecraft (5h) - Sam started up a server on his netbook, which lasted less than a day before major lag issues kicked it into the void. Another 1-tree challenge too.

ToME 4 (5h) - As the winner of Roguelike of the Year, I picked up ToME again to see what had changed. Hmm a signin? why? Could it be? .. YES! A roguelike that finally does an autosubmit! I last played ToME back in 2008(7?) when the rebuild of 4 was being aired for the first time. It looked like it was going to be a long way off and it seems like it was. A number of good things have happened though and with a real-time module I'm very tempted to dump the HTML5 code and build Notorious as a realtime ToME mod. As I've been playing there has been more and more opportunities to leverage existing roguelike characteristics much more than I was planning. Even if it's a proof of concept it would seem easier to get up and running.

Academagia (5h) - Interesting life simulator that reads like a Harry Potter book. Nice feel to it, and you need to read through all the stuff to get the most out of it. Might be worth a rerun, but there's so many games waiting to be played ...

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Today's message was about the predicting the messiah:

Isaiah 42:1-9
The Servant of the LORD
1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the LORD says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”

Acts 10:34-43
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Matthew 3:13-17
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

- Survived the floods?
- Safe in Bargara
- Mum & Dad not being able to get back to the farm
- Wallaville cut. Splitters creek over.
- No Mackay trip
- Dam releasing water.
- Why? It's causing minor flooding already, why add to that?
- Prediction. There's more on the way.
- Watching the flood levels on the BoM site.
- pattern repeating itself down the river. Amount going over the dam was the same as the amount going over the weir, then the amount going under the bridge.
- There was more coming. Worse without releasing the water early?
- Weather prediction getting better?
- 9.4 metres predicted at Rockhampton
- Predicted same type of weather up to May?

What about predicting events 500 years in advance, or 1000 years or 2000 years?

Predicting the Messiah
In today's Old testament reading, Isiah lays down a glimpse of what is to come. Over 500 years before Jesus is baptised, God, through Isiah, speaks these words:
Isiah 42:1
1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
Then in Matthew we read the baptism of Jesus:
Matthew 3:16
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
500 years. That's a big prediction. And it doesn't stop there. Matthew, of all the Gospels, points to the fulfillment of prophecy through the life of Jesus.
The book of Matthew starts by listing the Geneology of Jesus. An interesting tactic, but probably not a best seller:
Matthew 1:1
Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah, ...
Lots of begotting. Lots of names. The reason Matthew starts this way is also to do with prophecy. The messiah had been promised to Abraham in (Genesis 3:15), then through the line of Isaac instead of Esau (Gen 22:18), then to Jacob, Isaac's son (Numbers 24:17), Then through Judah from the 12 other sons of Jacob (Gen 49:10), all the way through to Jesse, father of David (Isiah 11:1), then to King David's line (Jeremiah 23:5). The israelites were waiting for a descendant of David to be the messiah.

Matthew continues with events surround Jesus' birth, with Mary falling pregnant as a virgin, and Joseph, a descendant of David, told to accept her as a wife and name the child Jesus by an angel. All this for another one of Isiah's prophesies. Matthew writes:
Matthew 1:22-23
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).
Next, men from the east appear proclaiming the stars have foretold a King of the Jews has just been born. More predictions, but this time ancient astrology pointing toward a momentous event.

Herod checks into it and finds that Bethlehem (King David's birthplace) is predicted by Micah (Micah 5:2) to be the birthplace of the messiah. He sends the Magi on their way to worship the new king, but then lays plans on wiping out all the kids under 2 for fear that the new king might take away his throne. A rather selfish thing to do, but it, too, fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah:
Matthew 2:17-18
Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
Mary and Joseph had been warned by an angel, and had fled to Egypt to escape the slaughter. Once herod had died they returned home back to Nazereth, which fulfilled another prophecy of Hosea:
Matthew 2:15
And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
So how many are we up to? 12? Is that enough? Not for Matthew. Even before we hear of Jesus approaching to be baptised we hear of John the Baptist's life in the desert, telling people to repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. This, too, fulfills Isiah:
Matthew 3:3
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
You can almost hear Matthew pleading with our rational senses, and our faith in the Old Testament. How could all these things come to pass and you not acknowledge the messiah before you? And Jesus has only begun his ministry here on earth!

Apparently there are over 60 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus himself, and over 270 other phophesies and ramifications that came to pass during his time. That's a LOT of coincidences.

How much coincidence? 8 of the more notable prophesies of the messiah were examined mathematically in the 1950's. Nothing extravagent like being born of a virgin, but things like being born in Bethlehem, betrayed by a friend, for 30 pieces of silver, that they bought a field with. Things that could potentially happen to anyone.

Through conservative probability estimates they deduced the chance that this could happen to anyone that has EVER lived is 1 in 100 million, billion. Sounds big? Unimaginably big. Here's an example of how big that might be:

Imagine trying to pick the same book as me, from any book ever written, then turning to the same page, then finding the same letter on the page. 1 letter out of all the books ever written.
That's impossible? Sounds impossible. And that's 8 of the more definable prophesies out of the 60. No wonder Matthew directed us to the fulfillment of prophecy.

Jesus, too, discussed the prophesies throughout his ministry. Pointing to them as he fulfilled each one. Sometimes the disciples or the crowds gathered understood, but most times they did not. As Jesus approached Jerusalem for the last time, he became more insisent that the main prophecy was about to occur, that the "son of man was to die". He told them over and over again, but still they ran when the time came.

Alone, Jesus hung on the cross. The prophesies of Isiah from 500 years before ringing true:
Isaiah 53:3-9
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Jesus, broken and battered. Hanging there. The first part of the prophecy coming to pass. The reason for all that suffering and hurt is also made clear in Isaiah as we read on:
Isaiah 53
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life.
For he bore the sins of many and made intercession for the sinners.

This is the story we all know, predicted 500 years before it happened. THAT's amazing. That's the work of an all powerful, all-knowing God. Through the prophets God revealed his way of bringing us back to the fold. To send his one and only son to take the blame for our sin and its punishment. Death. Then to rise again triumphantly.

Jesus, after living with the disciples and opening their eyes to the prophesies, lays out a final promise for them, and for us as christians as he ascends:
Matthew 28:18
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
A promise to us. I am with you always. Through rain and floods. Always.


This was a message delivered a while back that I hadn't been able to level and upload:

Luke 15: 1-10
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin
8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Something Lost
- 2 parables today about losing things
- Expert in losing things
- Keys
- Wallets
- Bum bag fixed that
- Earliest memory of losing teddy when he was right there under my arm.
- Losing things

Are we lost?
- When I first read the 2 parables, I wondered about the coin itself. Does it know it's lost?
- Parable of the lost sheep. Does the sheep know it's lost?
- Mustering cattle. Calling the cattle with a horn. Going to new pastures. Starts a chain of moos echoing through the paddock.
- Finding the lost ones in the good places. Up in the ridges, too far away to hear the horn.
- Some even run away. Enjoying the current situation more than seeing what else is on offer.
- Are we like cattle? Too mixed up in the good things of the world to realise we're lost? Do we realise when we're sinning? Sometimes we hear Jesus' call when he comes looking for us and we turn and follow him, through the gate to the promised land. Sometimes we run.

"I cannot come to the banquet, don't trouble me now
I have married a wife, I have bought me a cow
I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum
Pray hold me excused, I cannot come"

We all have excuses to ignore the call of Jesus. It makes sense, totally justifiable! I have things that just can't wait! Just give me a little bit more time. One more go.
And we're the ones that know his voice. What of the people that don't know Jesus? How are they to know they are lost?

- Todays reading starts with Jesus in the presence of "runners".
1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Jesus goes out, makes himself available and welcomes those that are lost. Jesus goes.
As Jesus relates the 2 parables of one lost from many, he makes clear the reasons why; the joy of finding one and bringing them back to the fold.
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more REJOICING in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The parables aren't really about losing things, it's the joy of finding.

That joy is open to us too. We, the wayward cattle that hear the call and follow to the new pastures can call out ourselves to tell others. We can echo out Jesus' words to those close to us. "Do you know him? Do you know what our lord has in store for us?".

Like a peanut planted to yield a hundredfold, and those peanuts planted to yield 10,000 fold, our faith, planted by knowing Jesus is a faith that's meant to spread.

So fill up, fill up from Jesus' cup. Drink it to the end. Then reach out, reach out with open arms!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2010 Game Time

Continuing on from the 2008 Game Time and 2009 Game Time summaries, this year I placed up the 2010 Game Time onto google docs for further analysis of the GameLogs. The spreadsheet can be organised by total hours to see the winners, or by order enetered to get a more historical feel.

Top 5 Game Time 2010
Civilization 5214
League of Legends171
Football Manager 2010111

I was expecting League of legends to dominate somewhat, but was a little surprised to see Civ5 eclipse it with some solid hours out of the gate. Grepolis also surprised to take the top spot, although reminiscing back to the clan play it was a pretty intense, special time. Football manager put in another good show, and adding on to last year's score, it would have been up in the 270 hour range (although so would have Civ 4).

Grepolis: I played a LOT of web based MMOs this year, but Grepolis still remains the standout in play as well as the only one I actually put money toward ($15 for 300 hours is still a pretty good deal though). The placement of ~20 people on the same starting island gives an immediate competitive perspective, even though you can't atttack each other. Later you can indirectly attack or work together through use/abuse of the NPC villiages, then opens up to inactive player farming once the protection comes off, then builds to a competitive game with others in your region. There are certainly other elements that might need improving, but it seemed to be a new generation of web-based MMOs. I recently looked at wild west on Facebook by the same developers, but they, too, seemed to fall into the recruit-a-friend trap of facebook games. The last shining light for a decent facebook game might be Sid Meier himself and Civilization, but there's been so many disappointments this year with attempts to make a proper game work on facebook I'm more hopeful than confident.

My game habit is back up to around 40 hours a week after a couple of years down at ~30 hrs while the Teaching Degree took its piece of the time pie. The LANs have been consistent, but we are really need a solid LAN game. If the LoL server restarts weren't on Tuesday I'm sure it would have fit the bill perfectly.