Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Greatest Show 149: Hugs With Blood

DJ and Tricia are joined by Metal Jesus and Mel for a reunion that has been almost 6 months in the making!

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 006: Designing Old into New

There can certainly be a loss of focus in any project and BuJourneyRPG is no exception. While you might have rolled your eyes at that statement and thought “great, he’s off the rails,” you shouldn’t be worried because I’m talking about paying too close attention to one thing and not the other.

I’ve been so busy staring at the “story” that I’ve sort of let the “self improvement” aspect sit on the shelf and collecting dust.

Using the skill tree theory I’ve previously mentioned, I was focused on the actual things in the tree without necessarily allowing for how to achieve those things. While a passing “collect some sort of points to unlock the nodes” has been the focus, how do you acquire those points?

Self improvement.

Why just play through a story but to collect some Tree Points (TP, so I can shorthand this article a bit) when you can go from walking 5,000 steps a day to 7,500? Why just play through a story when you can learn the basics of a foreign language (like how to say “hello”)? While stories should certainly award TP, they shouldn’t be THE focus of leveling up on the skill tree.

Sometimes a slight course correction is needed to keep the goal directly ahead and that is what I’m talking about.

I’m still moving forward.

Emerald Specter 119: Vince McMahon Could Do MMA Better

He’s dabbled with the idea in the past, but don’t shut me down quite yet. Vince McMahon may have experience in exactly two large scale enterprises, but he’s got all the solid basics for a Mixed Martial Arts organization.

Vinnie Mac could literally be making better MMA.

The first, and most important part of this little exercise, would be to look at what the WWE does well. That’s putting on a hell of a live show. You may not like the product, personally, but they get thousands of people on a weekly basis together to scream at the top of their lungs at a pre-determined storyline and sell a ton of their products.

They even have four legit MMA fighters in their ranks: Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, Ronda Rousey, and Shana Baszler. Are there ones I haven’t mentioned? Yes, but let’s move along.

Aside from just putting on a great show, they know how to promote things in a somewhat last minute fashion.

How is pre-determined storylines considered “last minute?” Don’t you think that injuries happen? Yeah, they do, and sometimes the online rumor mill causes the WWE to swerve to a different outcome… last minute.

All Vince needs to do is build up things the way he did with the WWE when he took over. Was the WWE #1 when he took over? No, it wasn’t… but he had a vision for where he wanted to be and a plan on how to accomplish that vision.

Slight history lesson.

The WWE was one of many regional wrestling federations under Vince’s dad… when Vince took over, he started buying regions and placing them under the banner of the WWE (then WWF) to build the first non-regionally limited wrestling company. He even went so far as to stop calling it wrestling and use the term sports entertainment, more accurately reflecting what the company actually does. While the simulated violence is a foundation, there is so much more going on in the sports entertainment world than just wrestling.

Let’s start simple, by thinking about what an MMA organization would need in order to launch itself into the competitive market and thrive.

First, you need a PPV platform, which WWE has built in. You also could use a network to back up some programming for development or marketing of events. WWE has that built in. Rather than start with nothing, you could buy one of the established organizations and have talent already on contract to fight. WWE has the money to do that, too.

If Vince went the route he did with WWE, he could either buy a smaller company or build a basic one and start buying up other competition. I’m not talking about Vince attempting to take the UFC down, or ONE Championship for that matter, but I think that if Vince bought up some of the “farm leagues” and maybe a bigger piece of a pie (like Bellator), then I think they would have a solid foundation to build up from there.

Hell, UFC fighters either love the organization or hate it, and for those that hate it you could scoop them up with a better deal.

They already know how to run PPV events. They already know how to hype events and talent. They have a build in distribution network. They are set up for selling merchandise. Those WWE superstars who want to dip into MMA can do so without leaving the WWE umbrella… and they can even give them “light” competition so that they’re not going in against the #1 fighter in the world right away.

I’d love to see it, especially with the UFC/ESPN deal killing the ability of folks to watch as much UFC as they had been without paying.

Vince McMahon was looking into this at one time and I don’t think anything came from it. With the MMA stars on their roster and others interested in testing the waters, they could have huge crossover potential without shelling out wads more cash for bringing that talent in.

I don’t like the way he operates, but Vince knows what he’s doing.

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 005: The Power of Why

I am about to start thinking of BuJoRPG development as a three year old. What I mean is that I’m going to ask “why” a lot.

For example, why go with hexagons as the tree design? It’s aesthetically pleasing and forces me to branch out more often. Why do I want to branch out more often? The more branches there are, the more interaction you’ll have to work on the story and your self improvement.

That’s just a short example.

The inclusion of certain aspects I was considering, once met with the “why” barrage, failed to hold up. If something doesn’t last through at least two questions, then why should it be included? I want some level of sophistication in this game but I don’t want it so difficult as to force casual users to hit me up constantly asking for clarification.

One thing I do want is to make it simple enough to understand solely by reading the instructions. Something I noticed with BuJoRPG v1 is that because I left so many things “up to judgment,” I end up getting a lot of questions about those open ended things. BuJourneyRPG will be more task oriented (like for walking, running, learning, etc) and should, by design, be easier to just throw into your own journal.

Bullet journaling IS supposed to make organization simpler, why wouldn’t I want BuJoRPG to do that as well?

So, let’s use an example of something I’ve decided to include and go from there.

Why are there four attributes (PHY, MEN, SOC, and EMO)? The foundation of any character is built on a solid foundation and I’ve boiled down basic attributes into just four. Why four and not two, three, five, or more? While being easily measurable, PHY and MEN (or PHY, MEN, and SOC) are a little too basic. On the flip side, more than just adding EMO to that list overly complicated things. Each attribute has sub-attributes to fulfill offense, defense, and recovery roles for each main attribute. Anything more complicated than that will make things overly complex.

I’ve so far eliminated a couple of things using this method that didn’t really have a purpose “at present.” I need to also keep in mind that I can add things in when I develop that aspect. A developer friend once said “development of a [system] is something that happens in layers, like an onion.” He was talking about apps but the same can be applied here.

Build the battle system to work independently of anything else. When that is done, build the gear system to modify your stats for the battle system. When that is done, build the “farming” mechanism to get the gear for that… it continues like that.

BuJourneyRPG is being built almost exactly like that. I built the stats before the battle system (which is still under development). Otherwise, onion.

I’m not entirely sure when the first viewable set up will be available but I’ll do videos as soon as something is worth showing.

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 004: Physical vs Digital

Something I’m having a hard time deciding is if I want to stay digital only or do both digital and physical media for releasing BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG. I know some folks out there use the physical only because that’s really what bullet journaling was designed for, but there are those of us (me included) that think digital is better because of the problem of storing “physical product.”

I’ve made some inquiries into wholesaling or custom printing a bullet journal with BuJoRPG loaded into it already. My inquiries have been met with silence, which I find odd considering I’m asking about purchasing something from a company that sells things. Their loss, though. When I find a company willing to print journals with BuJoRPG pre-loaded in them, I’ll put them up for sale.

There will always be digital, though. It’s the easiest thing to do, logistically, and as long as I’m designing the system digitally anyway, sending out the digital product isn’t a big deal.

Videos are still forthcoming, I’ve got some free time coming to dink around after March ends.

Emerald Specter 118: The Great Chess Experiments Are Over

What, you say? How can this be, you ask?

I’m fooling myself if I believe anyone out there really had a hard investment in what I was trying to accomplish… but it’s time to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and why I’m ending the “Great Chess Experiments” on this website.

Just over a year ago, I launched the Emerald Specter Chess Club with the hopes of expanding the Chess Basho system I developed into something that people would be interested in playing in. There were no rating limits, “titles” for those who earned them, and only a minimal commitment to make to the system in order for that to succeed.

Well, it was a big, fat failure.

At first, there was interest in competing in the tournaments. I had the first two tournaments fill up faster than I could possibly have hoped and was very happy with the results. I have talked about this before, so I won’t go back over it. There was hope early on but the longer the series runs, the less hope there is that exists.

When I launched Chess Basho VII, I made the trophies customized (and very pretty, if I do say so myself), gave everyone enough time to jump in, and ended up starting the tournament almost a full month after the designed start time because there was no one joining. Since this is something that has happened more than once, I’m calling this basho the last basho…

I had a simple goal: engage lower rated people in tournaments and competition to award them titles in a fun little amalgam of chess and sumo. Hell, the only sumo tie at the moment is the naming system and the means of awarding the titles. Results? Dead on the vine.

The other thing I’ve recently attempted to create was SpecterChess. The “TL;DR” version is that I wanted to amalgamate chess and the UFC, awarding championships to players who wanted to be featured in events. If you visit that link, I even created a championship belt for the whole thing.

What happened to SpecterChess? Well, I had a podcast set up and the intention to review my games in my specific “rate class” (which is Straw Rate) to eventually work towards winning a championship. I recorded my first event and have had nothing but problems since that recording was made. I’ve recovered some of the audio, some of the video, but overall, I’m giving up on trying to do what I was going to do and am looking at alternatives.

Currently, as I write this, there is a 32 man StrawRate tournament to crown the first SpecterChess StrawRate Champion of the World. It’s a KO style tournament and it’s being run on Chess.com (where else would I run it?), and whoever wins the championship (if it be someone other than myself, which is likely), I’ll challenge them to a match for the belt. The idea being that if I can get some activity for a championship going, there might be some hope of salvaging a little bit of the SpecterChess experiment.

Let me explain, in a perfect world, what the plan for SpecterChess would be if money were no object…

There are 10 Rate Classes (Heavy, Cruiser, Light Heavy, Middle, Welter, Light, Feather, Bantam, Fly, and Straw) to compete in, each having a rating (Elo) limit. I’ve come up with a lower number of Rate Classes with more of a “digital” feel to them (ExaRate limited to 2200, PetaRate limited to 2000, TeraRate limited to 1800, GigaRate limited to 1600, MegaRate limited to 1400, and KiloRate limited to 1200) to refine what I was hoping to accomplish. Since the experiment is essentially over, I’ll explain using the new Rate Classes.

A tournament in each Rate Class would be held (KO style) between 16 players to determine an initial Rate Class Champion. The 15 players in each Division who failed to become champion would be ranked 1 through 15 as the top contenders for the championship. Each month after the initial tournament would allow for the introduction of new players playing the established ranked players for a chance to play the champion.

This is basically a speed set up to establish a UFC-like ranking system. Since there would be six Rate Classes, there would be six champions. If the interest above a 2200 rating would be sufficient to create a stronger Rate Class, an expansion could be held to establish Divisions higher than ExaRate… but I digress.

Instead of relying on tournament play, like is almost exclusively what “real world” chess uses, SpecterChess is all about match play. The basic idea was that two players agree to play a four game match at a 15 minute per side time control to determine a winner and loser. The only time there would be a tournament would be if a championship becomes vacant and needs to be refilled (which would be used if there weren’t two clear contenders who deserved a shot).

This is all well and good, but why would anyone want to compete in this manner? Money. Again, I am setting this up as if money were no object, so bear with me.

Each signed SpecterChess player would receive a base annual salary of $2,000. Players would be matched by a Competition Board overseeing SpecterChess. A minimum of six match offers would be made per year, with players being required to compete a minimum of twice (or be fined $1,000 per match declined… meaning if you don’t play at all, you lose your basic annual salary).

Winning a game provides $500 (per game) to the player, as well as a possible “best game,” or “most exciting game” style bonus of $1,000 for exceptional play possible to earn (one bonus of each type per event). Losing a game would be worth $200 per game, meaning that if you either win or lose, you earn money. There is no bonus for a draw, period.

All championship related bonuses are doubled. Champions earn a pro-rated $4,000 annually (if they serve a full year, they get the full amount), $1,000 bonus per win, and $400 bonus for each loss… special bonuses are also doubled. This also applies to the challenger, since they are also competing in a championship match.

With a minimum of 16 players per Division, and six initial Divisions, the base annual salary of the entire SpecterChess organization would be $204,000. That’s only for the basic annual salaries of the champions and 15 ranked contenders. Just like the UFC, SpecterChess would have more players than ranked spots in each division to keep things interesting.

The incentive of money is where things would create an interesting scenario. Players who will never be vying for the World Chess Championship have a place to play (SpecterChess) under contract (lengths varying from 1 to 5 years) to create monthly (and eventually weekly) events just like the UFC to promote chess to players who aren’t top rated.

Who better to learn from than players within your own reach? (Strong teachers will tell you to review GM games, but if you aren’t able to understand some basic concepts of the “weaker” game, then how the hell are you supposed to grasp GM concepts?)

Salaries would increase with sponsorships, there would be physical locations for the events (so there would be attendance possibilities… more on this in a paragraph or two), and vendors could jump in to make it more of a convention rather than just a “sit and watch to two players play four games” at a time.

That’s if money were no object. I had hoped to get some sort of footing to use as a “proof of concept” to sell the idea to sponsors.

The physical locations bit might have scared you a bit… fear not, the idea could be to have multiple venues for a single event world wide, not necessarily all players in one spot. I’d like to have all players in one spot for the early events but the Internet is the only means of building this proof of concept, so I have considered many options. The fact that being paid, guaranteed, is involved should at least make this idea as popular as the PRO Chess League.

With the exception of trying to do what I planned on doing with the podcast feed, I think that both of these experiments are officially over. If the SpecterChess StrawRate Championship works out, maybe I let that one hang on a little longer, but the whole idea is on its last leg as I write these words.

I won’t be completing the SpecterChess events as I’ve numbered them out, but I will be reviewing games… I need to go back to what I’m good at: audio production rather than video. Video may come, but I need to start where I know I can do positive things.

Thanks for reading.