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Once upon a time, I had a brilliant idea. Given the percentage of games that fail due to player or GM flakeout (I will not comment on how many of these flakeouts are my fault), I had the idea to create a game that would procedurally generate a zombie apocalypse scenario, right down to the buildings, item drops, and zombie spawns. The idea was to create a game that could be run with literally zero prep time, so that a GMless group with nothing to do could sit down, roll some dice, and end up with a map and a bunch of zombies to kill. In theory, this was a goddamn brilliant idea. I called it "Autozombie" and was certain I was going to take the tabletop subculture by storm. Then I sat down and tried to write the rules for it, and learned why Dwarf Fortress is such a gigantic processor-eating lag explosion. Procedurally generating things is stupidly crunchy.

So, that was the end of that. I still have the rules, and some of the concepts from it are still valid, I think (the building generation worked pretty well, even if it took way too long), but the overall project is kind of dead and has been for a while.

Then, while sorting some books at work, my brain returned to the idea of a zombie apocalypse game. This time, though, the idea was less to fully model the entire scenario down the tiniest detail, but to model the human reaction to the scenario itself, which is the entire point of zombie movies anyway (or at least, it used to be). Eventually I realized that, given the nature of zombie apocalypses, the primary mechanic would inevitably be the adrenaline rush, or combat high.

And so, while I was shelving in the 600s, my brain was frantically turning over the possibilities for how to do this, and I wound up with the seeds for what I think could be a pretty interesting game.

There would be five basic attributes - Physical, covering feats of strength and overall durability and endurance; Reaction, which would be both reflexes and the ability to think quickly under pressure; Critical Thinking, which would cover problem solving as well as general intelligence and similar things; Interaction, the all-purpose social stat; and Focus, which would represent both self-control and the ability to push through difficulties. These would be ranked 1-10, with 5 being average.

Skills would probably come into play as dice pools of d10s, the basic mechanic being a simple rollunder with the relevant attribute as the target. I haven't given this part of the system as much thought yet, because I wanted the dice pools to be reliant on how much adrenaline the character has built up. On the other hand, I'd also had the idea that while a high adrenaline level would benefit Physical and Reaction tasks, it would penalize Critical Thinking and Interaction tasks.

In addition, I wanted to somehow model the adrenaline rush as a two-edged sword in general, so more dice should give a higher chance of overwhelming success but also a higher chance of extreme disaster. There would be two playstyles, really; staying safe and avoiding confrontation, or charging in Frank West style to cover some wars, you know. One is much more likely to survive than the other, but one is much more likely to look like a total badass before he gets eaten by zombies. People want different things out of a zombie game, after all. ;)

I think that this could be a much better system than poor old Autozombie. I'll probably post about it some more here in the future, especially if people show interest in the idea.
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Right now, I'm downloading Left 4 Dead 2 over Steam (yay, Mac people get love from Valve) and considering playing some more Dead Rising 2. This, of course, after a little bit of Unhallowed Metropolis, which I've been rereading bit by bit lately. I think at this point it is fair to say that I have something of an obsession with zombies.

I find this especially interesting because I am an enormous hypochondriac. I actually avoided the anime Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni for two years because someone described it to me as a biological disaster involving airborne super-rabies (surprise surprise, I finally watched it and it didn't freak me out nearly as much as I thought it would). The same thing happened, or near enough, in Quarantine (and, of course,REC - no true zombie aficionado could resist seeing the original), but I ran straight for the theater when Quarantine came out because it included the magic word: zombie.

It has historically been the case that if something involves zombies I am basically guaranteed to buy and/or see it at some point. As a result I have seen some pretty horrible movies and read some pretty horrible books. Gangs of the Dead springs to mind. It's unfortunate, but the zombie movie genre has pretty much degenerated into "Well, fuck, I dunno, let's have some people lurch around and try to eat other people." This is especially disappointing for me because I really enjoy the subtext of early Romero; specifically, that zombies were more a force of nature than an antagonist, and that other humans and human nature in general were the real enemy. Now, it's just "well hey dead cannibals sure why not."

It is getting to the point where I voluntarily pass on some zombie-driven media. And that's a little sad. I actually didn't see the latest Romero movie because basically everyone I talked to said it was a complete mess, and after seeing Diary of the Dead I could believe it. This from someone who seriously made plans with a co-worker about how to best defend our workplace in the event of a zombie outbreak.

I guess fans and fandoms change over time. But I still really like zombies.
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Starting a new blog is always a little weird. Especially if you've left a string of abandoned blogs behind you for a variety of reasons. I suppose you could think of them like relationships, and that I broke up with my last blog and now I'm getting to know a new blog. At least that's better than thinking of them as children I've abandoned. I don't feel like as much of an asshole that way.

(One thing you'll find out, assuming you keep reading --and I keep updating-- is that I like to use bizarre metaphors.)

I have a lot of hats I wear. It's kind of hard to know where to start talking about myself as a result, but I suppose I have to start somewhere. I'm an avid bibliophile. I collect books. Most of them, I read. Some of them… not so much. But I have so many books they've effectively taken over my living space. I have serious packrat genes on both sides of my family, and as a result I can think of maybe 30 books total I've ever actually parted with willingly, and most of those were Pern and Anita Blake books that I really couldn't even look at anymore.

A significant portion of my book collection is taken up by roleplaying game books. I love tabletop gaming, and unfortunately I don't get to do it nearly enough, not least because I don't have a local group to do it with, so I have to get my pretendy funtimes on over the internet. Anyone who has attempted this will know how trying it is to get internet pretendy funtimes organized at all, let alone played on a regular basis. The lion's share of my RPG books come courtesy of White Wolf Game Studios, and I am a fan of the World of Darkness (preference: new > old) and Exalted. I also carry a torch in my heart for the late, lamented Aeonverse. However I've started branching out lately, and my most recent interest is Eclipse Phase, a transhumanist horror game.

Ah yes, there's something else I can talk about. I'm a transhumanist. That's kind of important. In Eclipse Phase jargon for some of the causes I support: +Morphological Freedom, +Immortality, +Open Source, -Capitalism. I eagerly await the Nerd Rapture and the opportunity to move to the nearest convenient Lagrange point, where I can spin up a temporary hab while I work on constructing the good ship Second Star to the Right and Straight On Till Morning, the starship I shall ride out into the great beyond in search of What Is Out There. The previous sentence was only slightly tongue-in-cheek. Slightly.

The astute will glean a few things from the list of causes in the above paragraph. It follows, thus, that I am indeed a socialist, or at least, a socialist-by-default, since transhumanism is sadly not a terribly popular political philosophy. I will surely expound on the details later, especially in light of the upcoming election and the sheer ignorance on public display in this nation.

The +Morphological Freedom entry might pose a somewhat more difficult challenge, so I'll address that next: I'm transgendered. Biologically male, identify female, and yet to undergo any hormone therapy. One side effect of this is that I have a somewhat nonstandard view of gender and biology in general. Being bisexual throws additional spin on the issue. This isn't something I talk about a lot, but I'm hoping to change that. Part of the reason for restarting my blog is that I want to document my transition, since I recently made an appointment for a gender therapist, which is pretty much the first step towards medical intervention (in this case, the aforementioned hormone therapy), assuming said therapist is convinced it's right for me. And if I'm convinced of the same - it's part of why I actually made the appointment, figuring out what the hell is going on myself. I would love to be able to alter my body without it being a gigantic medical clusterfuck of hormones and surgeries. Sadly, technology hasn't quite caught up to that standard. Hence my trepidation.

Now to antagonize a whole variety of internet people: I like anime and manga. I can already hear the calls of 'weeaboo!' And you know, maybe they're right, considering that I cosplay. But fuck them, I like cosplaying, and I like themes that anime and manga explore that American media largely won't touch. Of course, there are things I absolutely despite about some anime and manga and the subculture that follows them. But I can rant about that some other time. After I've marathoned Glass Mask or Rose of Versailles again. (Yes, again.)

This is getting long, and I'm getting hungry (that's something else I can get into, cooking), so I'll cut this off here and keep poking around with this journal's settings.


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July 2011


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