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Caught My Attention: Experience, Bajjutsu, Work Chunks, Steve Jobs

Once every other week or so, I am going to do these Caught My Attention posts. These are where I talk about some stuff I’ve seen or read, and I’ll talk about why after this round-up. (Unlike link round-ups on some blogs, I’ll talk about my thoughts on these things.)

Rob Donoghue on Experience Rewards

Given my thoughts on Dungeon World lately, Rob’s post is up my alley. He talks about creating a game log to track the creation & interaction of fictional elements as a way to trigger character growth, rather than the typical focus on destruction or defeat of fictional elements.

While I think the idea is rough and I’m unsure about the level element (though, if it were more framed through the lens & construct of Primetime Adventures’ Screen Presence, which rotates around from session to session, there could be fruit), it’s a blog post. Those are for rough, unfinished ideas. Yet again, Rob hands us a football and says “hey, run with this.”

Bajjutsu Masters, a game by Daniel Solis & Josh Mannon

This new game looks a bit like a cross between Sagefight (in the physical activity & structured play sense) and Hit a Dude (in the physical artifact at conventions sense). It isn’t really, but that’s a way to look at what it’s doing. Daniel & Josh are doing some live development, which is always a neat process to watch.

And yes, I did a quick developmental editing pass on the text. Because even a small game needs those sorts of eyes. Perhaps especially such a small game, because you’re going to take in 100% of the game in one gaze.

Paul Tevis talks about making smaller chunks of work

Paul talks about this idea from a software development perspective, about how the methodology he uses at work, Agile, causes people to commit code more often and in smaller slices or chunks than other methods. While I have software experience here, I’m also thinking about it from a creative standpoint.

Committing code to a repository is analogous to sending documents to peers for review. I could write a whole comic script before handing it to my artist, or I could slice it into chunks: an outline for review, and then a couple pages for review, then ten, etc. Rapid cycling is one way we could get things done, because it helps keep honesty and transparency up.

It’s one thing if I’m not expecting to hear back from you in two months, and then find out you’re going to be too weeks late on your draft. It’s another if I expect to see little slices every week or two. And that translates back — if I’m having to evaluate 35000 words, that’s different from evaluating 5000 words. Obvious, but it means the time slices to deal with this are smaller. And smaller means more, well, agile. I’ve been eyeing the parallels more and more here, about how “eating an elephant one bite at a time” is something we need to keep in mind.

There are ways of doing that wrong. We at Evil Hat did for a bit, as we were learning how to do processes. But that’s a future post I need to write: on transferring responsibility on creative projects.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

I am a Mac user, and an iPhone user, though for most of my life I’ve been a PC user and looked down at Mac users.

Many people talk shit about Apple & Jobs, for various reasons. And I’ve been thinking about that sort of things for a couple years now, but it hit home thinking about Jobs yesterday. I’ve seen people talk shit about me and people I’ve worked with & for. I’ve talked shit about other people. It happens. But here’s the thing: when you talk shit about someone you don’t know except in a famous or nerd-famous or business context, they’re still touching your life. You’re talking shit because somehow there’s an impact on your life, however small or otherwise irrelevant.

When you talk shit about Wizards or Hasbro, you’re also saying “they’re big enough to have my attention” even if you wish that weren’t the case. When you talk shit about D&D players, you’re saying “that part of my hobby is too big or loud for me to ignore.” When you talk shit about folks like Vincent Baker or Ron Edwards[1], you’re saying “They did a thing that cannot be ignored.” When you talk shit about Fantasy Flight’s rulebooks, you’re saying “I cannot ignore these games.”

To talk shit is to claim something is unignorable. And the impact Steve Jobs had is the ultimate expression of that. Sure, you’re also saying whatever frustration you’re saying, about stupid-ass business decisions you see or microcultural differences or whatever. But the undercurrent is that you can’t ignore that impact. And that’s something worth thinking about.

Why I’m doing Caught My Attention

Did you ever do current events reports in school? The exercise there being part-stay in touch with your world and part-writing instruction. Lately, I’ve felt like I’m not staying in touch with my world enough, and so I’m doing this to keep me a bit honest about that. A link round-up wouldn’t be enough for that. By writing about my reactions and thoughts on something, I’m engaging. So this is me taking that exercise from school and applying it to my life today.

Which I find amusing, because I so fucking hated those assignments in school. :)

Maybe they’ll interest you. Maybe not. But this blog is one of my tools for making me a better writer and, I guess, person overall.

– Ryan

[1] Which is to say, “when I did”. I’ll cop to that.

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4 Responses to Caught My Attention: Experience, Bajjutsu, Work Chunks, Steve Jobs

  1. Tracy says:

    Re: Baijutsu Master. I’m bringing a card of this with me to DC Gameday, and am looking forward to playing it. It seems pretty cool, and a combination of the game you mentioned is apt.

    Re: Agile. This is similar to the way I am doing Sand & Steam. I try to write a little bit each day, doing discreet chunks at a time. I’m hitting my stride with it, and I think it’ a good way for me to work.

  2. I’ll definitely need to check out that article from Paul Tevis. I’m fascinated that someone saw a parallel between software development and game design. On a related note, I was in a Scrum sprint planning meeting (my first one ever) today, and I keep thinking the ScrumMaster was really a DM, and he was managing the table of players (the development team). I might need to blog about that, if I can get my thoughts to coalesce into something coherent.

    Nice catch, there, Ryan. Appreciate it, and I look forward to the next one of these.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Paul’s posts are pretty short; won’t take long to read. The parallels are mine — a result of being a professional in two worlds for this long.

      – Ryan

  3. I’d love to see some more blog posts on the parallels, as I’ve been a professional software developer for a while too. It’d really be interesting to see you walk through this on an actual project, although I know NDAs might make that difficult, as talking generically is more difficult than using specific examples.