Monday, December 22, 2014

Leader line replacement for F.One 2014 Bandit 7

Finally got the replacement leader lines for my 14m 2014 Bandit. I seemed to need a lot more pressure than expected to remove the float and get the assembly all apart so I thought I'd document the replacement process:

 - Removing the float: The float covers another knotted line for adjusting the back line length. Because it is doubled up under the float, I had to pull pretty hard to remove the float up along the line. One side was so tight that I had to pull the broken leader line down with a set of pliers while forcing the float up the line. The side with the bar was a little easier to hold onto, but it was still tight.

 - Removing the plastic tubing: There is also a piece of plastic tubing at the bottom of the float closest to the bar. This can come out before you pull the float up or will pop out once the float has been removed. It doesn't seem to be necessary to hold the internal knots in place as it is looser than expected. It looks like it stops the line tidy straps from digging into the float. They can easily slide off the bottom of the line once it has been removed from the bar.

 - Undo the back lines: Each back line is attached to the leader line with a larks head knot. Undo this and separate the leader line from the back line. The float can either stay up on the back line or come off completely now.

 - Undo the leader line from the bar: There should be easily enough slack now to remove the looped leader line from the aluminium eyelet on the bar.

Replacement process

Shown is the bar, the replacement leader line, the plastic tubing the float and the back line 

 - Add the plastic tubing: The replacement set came with an additional plastic tubing piece but was not the same size as the original. This might be for a different size float, so I removed it and preferred the original plastic tubing as I knew it would fit snug in the float once it was back together. This step is needed now because it is easier to attach the leader line to the bar without the float.

 - Slide the plastic tubing over both the end of the leader line and the line tidy elastic cord. It should sit between the elastic cord binding and the knotted adjustment line

 - Attach the leader line to the bar: Push the end  of the leader line through the eyelet of the bar, open up the loop and thread the rest of the leader line through to make a lark's head knot.

The direction you thread through shouldn't matter too much in the end, but I tried to keep both lines threaded in from underneath so that I can check the knot while on the water. I have a suspicion my line broke due to sand getting in under the knot as the aluminium was scoured quite heavily.

 - Add the float to the back line: Thread the back line through the middle of the float. You may need to straighten out the back line's larks head to get it to smoothly fit through. On
e side I needed to poke it a touch, to get through the middle bend. This is done now so that it makes pulling through the top of the leader line easier.

 - Move the float to the top leader line: Recreate the larks head in the back line and loop it over the top of the leader line to pull it through. I found that attaching the larks head down on the single strand of silver cord made it easier to pull through. Once through, reset the larks head back to the monkey fist at the end of the leader line.

 - Move the float over the adjustment knots: All that is left is to now place the float down over the adjustment knots. This step may require some force. Make sure that the float is facing the right way (curving in). Push the float all the way down to about 5cm from the bar. Keep moving the plastic tubing out of the way.

Since the end of the knotted top leader line will be pushed back up the float I decided to bind it to itself with cotton. I'm expecting the cotton to break or be easily removable later on and is NOT to hold strain, it just has to hold the end in place until I can get the float into position. The other side seemed to have enough room in the float to not warrant the cotton.

 - Push tubing into place: As the float descends over the adjustment knots, it will eventually push the plastic tubing down toward the bar. Once the float is in its final position push the tubing back into the float so that it sits flush with the bottom of the float. My larger tubing fitted snugly so that it wouldn't move easily.  

All done! Check the lines thoroughly with strain to make sure all the larks heads are holding.

17m boosts

Archie's NNW ~13-17Kn (45min)

Lots of wind during the week, but only could get out on Wednesday. Not strong enough for Ben's 12m, and with my 14 still out of action I tried out the 17m Zephyr. Even harder for Sandy to launch than my 14m, but luckily the sand bank was sloped enough that it could be simply held against it to get enough curl for a clean launch.

Enough to easily get going, but the direction made it spoil over the land giving gusty pockets to keep you on your toes. Tacked upwind to Money's creek, then stayed around there to try some boosts. With the slower turns it was even harder to predict a wave, but managed a couple of decent floaters.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Around the Island

Went down on Friday after work to see if my leader lines had arrived. I had also packed Ben's 12 but it was too windy for that. Met up with Wardy, but no lines :/. Spent the afternoon watching and launching / landing othrs with smaller kit. 3rd day when there was too much wind. Still happy about the multitude of days that I have been able to get out in because of the larger kite though.

Saturday was blowing even more, possibly 25+Knots. Everyone was in after a big session when I got there, but most were windsurfers. There's a distinct lack of regulars out or floating about on such a primed windy weekend. Another front came in to take the wind up near 35Knots:

Elliott Heads ESE 15-18Kn (45mins)

Headed down to Elliott again on Sunday morning as I had expected to have the rest of the day filled. I had contemplated taking out the 17m as it was possibly only 12Kn at the start, but I'd left it in the shed. The breeze picked up though so I was in the water by 7:50 on a clean 15+ wind with Ben's 12m.

I tried a couple of boosts down in the lee channel. Pretty fun to get back into super flat water but the channel felt a little cramped. Tried riding toe-side but could only managed a broad reach. Will have to seriously work on how to twist my back foot all the way around to get anything like upwind. Wardy was popping from toeside on the Friday so there's a LOT more I need to find.

Tacked easily up to the river mouth to work on more boosts. I'm boosting higher and cleaner in the first couple I do, but then am either rotating or not timing it right when I'm trying to improve later in the session. Accidentally landed a 360, and I'd expect that adding rotaiton is going to be pretty simple. Controlling it will be another matter though.

Headed back after a really nice session and caught a fin on the shallows with my last turn for home and dumped the kite into the water. Really annoyed that I'd have to pack up a wet kite after such a good session.

Elliott Heads ESE 13-18Kn (2hrs)

Turned out not going up the farm Sunday afternoon so I headed down to Elliott again for a big session (this time with the 17m definitely in the car). Looked a solid 18+ so I took out the 12m again. Managed a couple of boossts before Ian got up and going so I headed with him over to Coonarr. Ian didn't manage to get out the front, so I thought I may as well try going around the island. I was tacking well upwind and the open sea was fairly sedate, so it turned out to be pretty easy getting above the rocky point and heading downwind along the eastern island beach.

I'm struggling to do anything meaningful going downwind. I lose a heap of kite power doing anything less than a broad reach, and sometimes have to work to even keep the kite flying. I have heard of people doing long downwinders but to me they are worse than tacking hard upwind. I'd much rather spend the time going directly cross wind or slightly upwind while working waves or jump points than endure a long downwinder.

Finished up the first session with a couple more boosts in the river mouth. Once again I found the first ones to be the most successful so I'm overthinking the send or the launch.

The wind was building in front of a large dark cloud, so I came in pretty happy with the whole session and stoked I got around the island. Chatted for 20 minutes and the wind didn't escalate and the front looked like it was sliding inland, so I headed out a gain for a quick burst. Others were out too, but once a lighter leading cloud shot over the river we all headed back in. I was on my last run in when the wind dropped completely before picking up slightly from the SW. I had to safety back to shore and pack up in the rain. Pretty annoyed at reading the weather wrong, but it was a fun little session.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Borrowed Kite

Archie's NW 15-19Kn (15m)
Was hoping for the leader lines to be in by Thursday, but Ben came down anyway to go for a final run before his trip South. Managed to get out on his 12m for a little bit before he packed up. Still blustery coming over the land before coming almost directly down the beach at Archie's. Kinda boosted, but had far more success in the Elliott a couple of weekends ago with consistent wind.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Walk with the wise

Year 7 Graduation for St John's has just ended. A different graduation service with both 6's and 7's departing for high school next year. One of the bible verses chosen by an exiting kid caught my eye:
Proverbs 13:20  Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
It immediately reminded me of  following smart people, something that I've only kept up with my podcasting list. I really should go through an intentional review of my life again to re-establish this learning goal.

On the flip side, there have been parts of my life where I'm now looking back as being a companion of fools. Was there harm? There are certainly ways that my thinking has changed for the worse due to my companionship and attitude expected to participate with those companions. Might need a little more conviction to remove myself from these situations too...

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Broken strings

Archie's N 16-19Kn (1.5h)

Storms over and lots of wind about. Scott had gone out Wakeboarding with the twintip so I couldn't get going until ~4pm, but strong enough to be comfortable 1/2 sheeted in and stayed there all session. Spent a lot of time trying to sync a boost with a wave. 2-3 that I was happy with. Landed a lot early on but didn't quite get the timing right. Started to send the kite a little earlier toward the end of the session and possibly worked out worse as I was floating a lot more but leaving the kite too far overhead by the end. Now that I'm boosting it felt weird coming out from the shoreline to hit the wave ramps. Was happier going further out and using the swell lines for boost targets. Lots of stacks but a fun session.

Took a couple of waves to the face when I'd mistimed the exit run from the beach smack into a breaking wave. The last one I hit broke the left steering line at the bar and had to get the kite rescued as it was floating near swimmers. Looks like the line snapped through wearing onto the aluminium eyelets. They are scoured a lot more than I'd expected so maybe there's been some sand in there or something. The other side is Ok but definitely has wear, so I've ordered another set of leader lines for the summer.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Guy Leech Gear

Archie's & Lelly's  ENE 14-17Kn (1.25h)

Went shopping for some gloves on Tuesday after losing a lot of skin layers over the big weekend. Picked up a pair from BCF, but the construction looked shoddy. Limited options though. Went around to BigW to look for another rashie and found some Guy Leech cycling cloves for 1/2 the price! Picked up some more Guy Leech apparel while I was there including a set of 2-in-1 shorts with an elastic (spandex?) insert. Thought they might work well to stop the chafing.

Enough on Wednesday to get out at Archie's. Wind felt more NE but was almost flush onto the beach by the time I was done. Looong reaches parallel to the beach to get down to Kellie's again in 3 tacks. Toyed with a couple of boosts but the wind just wasn't up to it. Didn't get in too shallow as I wanted to keep clean air. With the wind dropping slightly I broad reached back to Archie's for a little more play. Fully sheeted out by then but couldn't get near the wave zone due to surfers / swimmers. 
Still undecided on the gloves. I think they helped but my forearms were now getting tired on the long stretches more than my legs. Fingers were still sore at the end, but it feels like they may have been saved a layer or 2. Bit cumbersome getting them off and carrying yet another piece of soggy equipment home, but at least they didn't get in the way when out on the water.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Elliot Heads ESE 16-18 Kn (1.5h)
Friday was looking like the start of a big weekend. Scott & Carina were at home by the time I knocked off work so they jumped in the car for a trip to Elliott. Ben had Pr Greg and Joseph along for the ride too. Fair few kites out with some spectacular jumps going on.

Ben and I headed out to the mouth and got stuck into it. I'd been watching boosting vids so I was keen to try a straight up boost rather than load & pops. Took a little bit to get the timing right but seemed easier and much more height immediately.

Scott had a small go on Ben's before he headed off and managed to get up at a slow pace. After Ben had packed up Scott had a go on mine and managed to do a couple of turns to compliment a solid set of runs. He's progressing well! Might have some snowboarding experience coming to bear on the turns as they took me a lot longer to nail.

Archie's ESE 15-18 Kn (30min)
Woke up early Saturday and hoped for wind. Yep! Headed down and was in the water by 5:30am while Scott took out the surfboard. Was weird tacking upwind and going South and took a little getting used to hitting all the waves on the opposite stance. Tested a couple of push-offs but need a LOT of work going right. The swell was huge, and turning to catch the swell lines paid off with a couple of nice faces to carve up.

Elliott Heads SE 18-22 Kn  (1h)
Got down to Elliott at about 2:30pm but it looked to big for my kite. Lots of sand being blown and no-one out on anything bigger than a 10. Played around with the trainer kite for a bit and it felt good enough to try the board. First run felt so very close. I could pull myself up but just couldn't get onto the plane. A keen kid helped me get the board back for another go and this time I got up and going for about 40m. Couldn't track upwind but mighty happy that it's possible to kitesurf with a 3 metre trainer kite. Lot of work on the arms though without any harness. Tried another run but the wind had died just a little and couldn't repeat the performance.

Ben had arrived at the same time as Scott and set about launching his 12. He seemed Ok with it and Andrew reckoned his 10m wasn't giving him all that much. Encouraged I grabbed my 14 and went out. Lots more boost practice and some of the best for the weekend. It feels a lot higher than off the waves and I'd be happy to call it 2.5m+. Scott reckons I was higher than a bodylength up so that's good enough for me.    

Elliott Heads ENE 12-16Kn (1h)
Quick trip down on Sunday too, but it looked pretty placid and blowing more Northerly to close out the main launching spots. First run ended up a fair way downwind and had to walk up the island to get going again. The wind came in surges to be good going for ~2 runs before dying down to ~12Kn and struggling to stay up. After a couple more island walks we called it a day to get ready for the LAN. Ben grabbed his phone for a quick vid after he landed.

I hit a good gust and thought I could boost, but drove it too hard upwind and started to rotate when I launched. Tried to go with it and nearly made it (although I'm quite certain that even if I got the rotation right I'd have still ended up on my back). Somehow I ended up on top of the board, so after saving the kite it scooted me along for a while until I could gather it in. After watching the vid it looked like a botched send too. There's no way the kite should have peeked into shot as I was launching. Rather fun anyway. Would do it again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

North Easters

Archie's & Kelly's NE 14-18 Kn (2 Hours)
Saturday was looking good. Went out for a quick go before Scott had a session in the water. Went out again with the wind building but packed up after 45 mins as Scott was heading back and I was happy with the session. Ben showed up as we were packing up so I pumped up and headed out again. With both of us out in 16+ winds we tacked right up to Kelly's and stayed out for another hour tacking and using the waves. A fair bit more blustery and I didn't get as much air into the kite that exacerbated the surging. Not really much extra learned but the first time in a while that we were both out in the open ocean. Ben stayed out further on his 12m while I worked into the beach and back to the shark buoys. Came back happy but sunburnt across my lower back where the rash shirt rode up underneath the harness.

Archie's NE ~13-15 Kn  (45min)
Quick go after work on Tuesday. Consistent North Easters have moved a lot of the sand southward and have kept me focused on Archie's as a kiting destination. Another Solo run.

Archie's NNE ~12-13Kn (15m)
Felt Ok, but not really enough to get going on Thursday. Bit of a disappointing session.

Archie's NNE ~13-15Kn (30m)
More wind for me, but Ben struggled to get going as Deo looked on.Scott ended the session with a couple of good upwind body drags as I headed off for the St John's Christmas party.  

Archie's NE ~14-16Kn (1.5h)
Everything looked almost perfect for a day out on the water. Turned out to be a great session with Ben and Scott joining in too. Sandy managed to video parts of the session and I was a little diisappointed in the height I was getting off the waves in the video. I know I had done larger jumps than the recorded section but it feels bigger out on the water. I may have to revise my 2m+ jump ideas.

Scott went out for a body drag with the board. Although the last session he made some upwind progress, we ended up way downwind after a couple of uncontrolled boosts. A little more kite control needed when using one hand. More time in the water though, and a lot harder learning in the waves.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pumping the Board

Archie's NNE ~12-14Kn (20m)
Enough wind to get out for a quick solo session. First couple of tacks felt like there was enough there to go upwind, but eventually pulled out at the bottom of Archie's. Walked right up to the middle beach between the rock that was almost exposed on the outgoing tide to get a bit more of a run at it as well as clearing some kids out in the surf. I knew that there would be sand out there, so even though there were a few more rocks than normal on entry, it turned out Ok. Couple of good tacks with more pace out the back (surprising since I was expecting the NNE to make the air cleaner even on the beach), but I didn't really make too much headway. The wind dropped off 1-2 knots to make it a task even getting up on the board, so I brought it in to the beach just as Ben had arrived to set up. Ben's not having too much luck at Archie's.

I was trying to explain a technique to Ben that I'd been using in light winds to generate pace on start. I was releasing the edge and pushing out on the board to carve into a new line with more speed. It was hard to explain, but I knew I'd used the technique somewhere else. Skating? Tried to equate it to tic-tacking, but the forces applied weren't right. Surfing? Pumping a wave for speed? YES! Unfortunately Ben hadn't surfed either, but the parallels are really close.

On a wave you push down with the board while extending out your body, then compress as the board floats back up to the top of the wave before pushing hard again driving the board down. The extending and compressing keeps your head height (and body weight) about the same on the wave, but generates speed by applying more power on the down stroke to "raise" your weight (in relative terms compared to the board), then using that stored potential by dropping the weight (in relative terms compared to the board by crouching) to allow the board to float back up to the top of the wave without much power used.

In kitesurfing, the kite pulls at an angle that, when combined with gravity, makes the flat water surface act like the angled part of a wave. Pumping then works in the same way, but you don't need to keep positioning yourself back to the top of the wave as any part of the water surface will be "angled" as long as there is enough kite pull. Hmm. I wonder if this means that pumping is better with the kite lower?

It seems as I was too hasty to ditch the skate reference as it's more or less the same when pumping a halfpipe or when pumping over long distances (rather than just tic-tacking).

Archie's & Kelly's  NE ~13-16Kn (1h)
All fired up about pumping, I went out on Thursday to check out what I'd learnt. It seems that the initial pump when combined with a relatively backward kite position leads to a lot of acceleration, but continued pumps didn't feel worthwhile. I tried a couple of other techniques but didn't really achieve much past the first pump off a turn. It interesting that going over waves also forced me into a pump, but there were only a couple of times when it also resulted in acceleration.

I gave up on pumps for a bit and tacked hard upwind to up above the Kelly's flags for a little bit more practice on wave jumping. The mid-tide and moon rock positioning meant I kept out from the real shallow water, but there were still enough ramps on offer to boost off. No floaters this time, but one 2m+ jump again that I landed with speed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Wind Shadows

Archie's ENE ~9-11 Kn (5mins)
Sweltery Saturday and I was keen to get in the water after mowing the lawn. Called Ben down after looking at it from the beach as marginal but building. Turned out it didn't build and the kite could barely launch. I had thought that I was getting better at picking the wind strength by feel on my face, but the lack of ANY white caps and only light palm tree movement should have been a firmer giveaway.

Archie's ENE ~11-14 Kn (40 mins)
Sunday looked to be a little better and I was keen enough with Scott around to go down even if it was going to be just a beach session. I went out first, but could barely make headway through the surf with the wind only barely cross-shore. Board-dragged out about 50m off the beach and could get up and going a lot easier, enough to do a couple of long reaches back and forth while slowly going upwind away from the shore. The wind definitely felt stronger that far off the beach, possibly 1-2 knots more.

Came in to let Scott have a go as Ben was hitting the water. He struggled too on his 17m and even board-dragged further out than I had to get a good run at it. The wind might have dropped another knot or 2 and Ben barely got up on the plane. I had a go on the 17m for comparison and, convinced that the wind was going to be stronger further out, took it out about 50m to try. I failed 3 times to get up on the plane due to the kite not reacting quick enough to give a 2nd dive while going forward and not changing my technique to the larger kite. Pretty sure the wind had dropped off too, but wasn't really in the mood to take mine out again as a final comparison.

Last night I'd watched this video about wind shadows. Applying the "3 times height" rule in front of the trees at Archie's it should be clean by the time I'm in the water at low tide. Added to this that the kite should be higher than the trees so it shouldn't really be affected too much even closer in. I think there's something else going on about it being more windy out further. It's not the first time I've noticed it, but it was really noticeable today. I'd like to find a little more official wind shadow video if possible.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Solo session to the Basin

Elliott Heads ENE ~9-11Kn (15m)
Planned to go down to Elliott after work on Wednesday regardless of conditions as Ben's dad was in town and he was keen to see the kite fly. The 17m felt marginal, and Ben's first few runs didn't get onto the plane. I had a go in the middle but could barely get going, certainly no upwind. Missed the turn back and hit a lull that kept me floating downstream on the incoming tide. Eventually bodydragged to shore once I was well behind the point, but the kite still fell out of the sky just as I was getting to land. Walk of shame back out to the front for Ben to have another go. Only another 1 Knot would have made the difference I think. So close to being able to go out with no white caps.

Archie's NE ~14-16Kn (1h)
Thursday afternoon had enough going for it to head down to the front by myself. 1/2 tide made setup a little easier on the exposed flat, but I kept all my gear up high for the return trip. Wind felt almost ENE on start and could easily make upwind on the first few tacks. Enough wind to sheet in 1/2 to make it a little more pleasant on my lower back, which is starting to ache after all the kiting. Kept heading upwind and it took about 20 tacks to get right up to the basin again. Looking back down the beach to Archie's felt good. Lots of progress.

Up the top end of Kelly's there's a lull spot behind the rocks near the basin. It looked like it should have been getting clean wind, but I hit it 3 times in a row. Maybe it's got a ball of air tucked in behind the headland that pushes out onto the water? Didn't bring the kite down, but a little scary. Headed downwind to about mid-Kelly's to play around in the surf. Getting confident in going almost all the way to the shore, carving upwind before transitioning to a backhand carve to get going. When I get it right I'm hitting the first wave with power, but usually absorbing it and looking for a more useful ramp. Almost every run out had a good looking ramp somewhere, sometimes another 20m out past the break though.

Ramps. Ramps are fun. I'm starting to like the open surf more and more. Certainly pleased I learned on the flat stuff, but hitting a ramp at full speed just LAUNCHES you. I managed to do a 2m+ jump on one wave. Up long enough for the kite to kick in and keep me up there a bit longer. Very sketchy landings off the larger jumps though, and I'm not getting the kite in motion to keep going after the landing.

Solo landing the kite still has its issues. Kept the kite low and immediately hauled in on the main line to pull it over. However, the kite stayed semi-propped on the ground while I worked my way up the lines to the junction. Pulling a single line to the bottom side made it flop a little, but as I headed more upwind to give it more angle to drop the kite, it caught a gust and flipped over. Much easier to reel in once it was on its back, but it felt ungainly and not completely under control. I think heading upwind was a mistake. Thinking about it now, I should have followed the top line rather than the bottom line too.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Scott is Sand Skating

Archie's Northerly ~12-18Kn (30mins)
Went out on Monday back to the same sand launching spot with Ben. He helped get mine up in the air but then had lots of difficulty launching his own. Turned out to be REALLY blustery and the kite probably needed a little more air to keep its shape. Wasn't particularly pleasant and didn't do much past get out on the water.

Ben finally got his kite up, but dropped out of the sky when getting ready to go near the rocks. The kite fell onto the rocks before catching a gust and shooting off. No damage to the kite, but scary for later solo efforts at low tide. After one run he then lost his board in the surf and had to park the kite to find the board swept all the way down to the south of the beach. Not a great day.

Archies NNE ~13-16Kn (1h)
Early Saturday and I was a bit surprised to find the wind up enough for a session even though WillyWeather and PredictWind had it pegged below 12 and coming NW. Airport reading of 13-15 felt about right though. Scott had a much smoother launch with lots of beach to work with. He eventually got up enough courage to start diving the kite and going for a sand skate. Not sure if it was on purpose but the technique he was trying was very similar to a water start so I encouraged him to keep at it. The beach was furrowed with about 20 heel carves by the end of the session. Carina had her first go too, and with Scott holding the kite I could help Carina get the launch under control. Went much smoother. I could also hold her on the ground using the back rope on the harness when it got a bit big on her.

Went out for another 45 min session with a fair bit of headway upwind to start off, then a couple more jumps on the way out when the kite had the power. Got slowly worse and had to really work the kite to get going. Eventually had lost all the upwind gains and dropped the kite for Scott to have another go. More furrows for 15 mins before I was was keen to go out for another quick session.

Felt very refreshing to have an extended break and watch someone else working the kite to get some ideas to test. Thought it might be a little odd to have to give up the board for Scott & Carina to practice, but it's probably going to be more interesting overall and make me want to go out hard.

Archie's NE ~13-15Kn (45min)
Even though the tide was in late Sunday afternoon, Scott was prepared to help launch and watch from the beach. Had to go into the water to get it up, but the wind felt constant enough to not be too much of an issue. Made some initial headway, but struggled again with lowering winds. Felt a little odd to be heading skew to the beach. Got to work on feeling my way for upwind potential regardless of heading.

Managed a couple of wave jumps. Landed all of them, but I'm not getting enough speed to continue. Might be partly due to the wind, but I'm also possibly thinking too much about the oncoming ramp and getting a good pop that the kite position isn't even really registering. I know sometimes I'm diving it as I'm approaching the wave to give more power to pull against, but it's not really a load & pop, more like power up and launch. For the moment I'm happy that I'm staying upright even after more air.

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 rather 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 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. Called 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).

Elliott Heads SE ~18-20Kn (2.5h)
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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

First the Worst play mat v2

Turned out the card sizes were too small, so I redesigned the "My card / Your card" space into a single round space (as it makes not difference who plays the card). This gave a little room up the top to add rules and a scoring pad. I like the idea of an aggregate score to be seen in one place by everyone, but I'll see how this goes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Craft the World review for Notorious

A lot of Craft the World is based on Dwarf Fortress, which is also part of the design of Notorious, so this
review will be more of a reflection on how CTW adapts DF to a tighter, more zoomed-in play experience.
For one thing the dwarves don’t seem to generate as much character and affinity from the player. The dwarves each have individual names, look slightly different and have skill sets to make them unique, but they all just seem to mill around like ants doing their own chores. Even when selecting a dwarf when taking control, it’s easiest to just grab the closest dwarf for the task you want to do rather than specifically looking for somebody. Even swapping through the dwarves, it’s hard to see where they are on the screen. I find myself looking at the stats at the bottom and the activity they are doing rather than their location.

TAKEAWAY: Position is important for building affinity with the individual dwarves. If a minion card is selected in notorious, highlight (and center?) the minion on the screen.

Although you can give dwarves specific equipment, it feels somehow divorced from the task that they are doing. If I set out 8 squares to be dug out, I can potentially have 5 of the 7 dwarves appear to complete the task. In DF you can specifically assign a role to each dwarf and, due to possibly long term play & familiarity with the game, those roles can be very tight indeed. 1 dwarf is the miner, 1 dwarf is the carpenter and possibly the lumberjack. These are chosen before you embark and plays a significant role in success of your fortress for the first season. This raises the barrier to entry significantly because you need to know how to play the game before you start, but it raises your affinity with individual dwarves as you have crafted them personally and know what they should be doing. Continuing on from this, narrowing down the roles for new dwarves during the rest of the game raises the barrier to entry, but also increases affinity.

TAKEAWAY: When the number of minions is limited, assigning them specific roles adds to affinity. When the minion count increases, this can lead to a bogging down into micromanagement. In Notorious, the player can change a minion’s desire to dig and then designate generic digging locations, or they can increase the desire to dig at a specific location. With defence, a general raising of desire for defence will make the minion defend their home territory, whereas a targeted defence will make them defend a specific point. Multiple targets will give a patrol.

There doesn't seem to be any discernible difference in skilled dwarves performing any better than unskilled. This leads to a feeling of nonchalance about who is performing what task. There needs to be feedback on why the skills are important to make the player care about who has what skill. In DF, legendary miners are possibly 4 times faster and produce more spoil. This adds to the desire for sending the right dwarf to the task and gives incentive to investigate and learn the traits of each dwarf. In DF the dwarves also level up by performing the skill rather than skills being assigned by the player. This also adds to the incentive to keep specific dwarves on task.

TAKEAWAY: There needs to be a discernible difference when elevating an action.

Another way to increase the player’s affinity with minions is to gift them items from the treasure. This can be done in a number of ways:
Gift – have a way for a specific treasure to be selected then gifted to the minion. This gives a 1 time happiness bonus & increases minion’s knowledge & affection of the player’s name. Note this can have a negative effect as the minion’s memory now has an imprint of the player’s name that can be discovered by other players.
Desire for reward – have a way for the player to transfer ownership of a treasure item to the minion but also associate it with activities they have completed. It may or may not be associated with your name. This gives a bonus to the activity that is being rewarded.
Raise the desire to take an item – there is a natural tendency for minions to have selfish desire for items that they see. Raising one of these desires for the selected treasure has no association with the player’s name or with an action. Note that assignment of ownership is controlled by each minion so an item can have multiple owners (leading to potential fights).
Give item back – have a way to drop the desire for an item so that they abandon it or possibly gift it to another minion. Can also gift back to treasury by raising benevolence of the player’s name.

Gifting items with gems attached and then imprinting the minion again will be one of the main ways to permanently lock in items and improve the minion.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

First the Worst play mat

Woke up yesterday with an idea to make the play mat for First the Worst . Still needs a little work (like adjusting the print to proper card size) but should help in playtesting.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Christ be our Light

New year’s eve
Lighting up the sky, lighting up the beach, Lighting up people’s faces.

Odd waiting on the beach, in the dark, sitting and, well, waiting.

We don’t really live much in the dark nowadays do we? At home the lights are on almost all the time. I remember a time when there used to be blackouts fairly regularly, and we’d have a stash of candles and torches to light up the critical areas of the house. We had a blackout recently and it took us a while to even find where the torches were. We’re so used to the light just being there.

If you lived in a major city it’s even worse.
Hills International school.
Japanese students going camping and being scared.

Light taken for granted?

In Jesus’s time light wasn’t taken for granted. Light was precious and having light allowed a huge advantage for extending the useful hours of a day. Candles were not invented until about 400AD, but Jews had oil lamps. These were covered clay bowls to hold the oil, a hole to fill the oil and a hole for the wick to protrude out to sustain a long burn. Lamps were quite common and most houses would have at least one, but oil is moderately expensive especially clean burning olive oil. The lamps also needed to be continually topped up, so you couldn’t ignore them.

The Jews also saw light from a lamp as a symbol for “lighting” the path of righteousness, giving clear guidance to the wise. It was an important item in Jewish ceremony too, so Jews of the time would see references to the light quite seriously.

Into this mix, John writes his opening sentences that we heard in our bible readings:
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

Even with the importance of physical light in their lives, these words would have leapt out of the page as a spiritual light, keeping out spiritual darkness. We may have abundant physical light ourselves, but we, too, have the same yearning for a spiritual light.

Sometimes our lives are spiritually dark. We can become spiritually dark either by being pulled away from the light by external pressures, or us covering ourselves up.
External darkness is anything which wants to pull you away from the Light.

That voice which says that life is short so you might as well get for yourself what you can while you can at anyone else’s expense - that’s darkness.

That pressure that comes on you because of what everyone else is doing, how everyone else is living. When you set your standards by what others say and do, regardless of what that is - that’s a darkness wanting to envelope you.

When there’s a downgrading of the importance of God or things associated with God – that’s darkness.

When your lines of distinction between what is good and helpful and character building and what is bad and useless and degrading – when those lines become blurred, then there’s a darkness taking hold.

And it can be subtle. It can be a subtle shift in the way you think, a broadening of your tolerance of what previously you disdained. It can be subtle in the way that slowly, bit by bit, God becomes replaced in your life: replaced with success, replaced with the need to be accepted, replaced with busyness, with material things, replaced with relationships.

And there’s an inner darkness and often that comes as a result of the external kind..

That growing emptiness inside, that loss of purpose, that sense of unfulfillment, when each day becomes just a grind.

It can come to us in the form of loneliness which we try to suppress, but it keeps on raising its ugly head.
It can be frustration: it grows in us and leads us to fly off the handle unreasonably and hurt others in the process.
It can be an anger in us: something unresolved, unforgiven, and it eats away at us, bit by bit, and as each day passes a little bit more light is extinguished and the darkness thickens.

I think that that kind of darkness most of us can identify with to some degree or another. Most of us have felt that sometime. Some of us may feel that right now. It’s not a pleasant thing. Once we recognise it we long for something to lighten the picture.

It’s for this that Jesus is being called the light of the world. A spiritual beacon to light up the way ahead. That’s what lights do best, show the way ahead.

Most nights I’m the last one to bed, and I go through a physically dark experience. I turn off the light on one side of the room and have to navigate, usually with my arms outstretched, through the living room to my bed. There’s some twists and turns and sometimes toys to stand on and it’s all a little unnerving. Sometimes I remember my phone and use it as a light and the difference is huge. I can walk quickly, not hunched over, no longer in fear of what might be in front of me next. It gives clarity to all those half shapes and blobs I think I see.

Jesus is saying “Let me be your spiritual light”. Let me guide you out of the darkness.

When we’re out in the blackness seeking things of this world, or tied up in busyness, Jesus comes to provide light to the pitfalls ahead. Please! Turn around! Look out ahead! These are distractions!

When we’re faced with more and more godlessness, Jesus comes to shine light on the issues. Follow my examples! Live like me! Heed my words!

When we’re down on ourselves, when we become aware of our failures, when we are frustrated with our mistakes, we don’t have to dwell on them, We don’t have to keep being turned in on ourselves. Jesus says come to me! Lay your burdens at MY feet and stand in light, unashamed and unafraid for you are forgiven.

When we do live in the light, When we turn our faces toward Jesus, something wonderful also happens. We light up. We can be a beacon to others! But it’s not our light, we’re just reflecting the light provided by Christ. Like the fireworks, we can see the faces of people if we look around, but they are merely reflecting the light and direction of the real source of light. Jesus says that through us, we can reflect his light out so that others may find their way out of the darkness, and also know the direction of the True Light.

We are to be like John in our readings:
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John.7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 
I hope and pray that Jesus is also like a firework to you. A light bringing exploding joy and happiness.