Friday, April 27, 2007

Van Eck

When we win the lottery (twice) and run our obligatory game in Monaco, this will be required to solve a clue. That is all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It's kinda sad, but sleeping after a game is just about as rewarding as the game itself some days. I'd been going on ~4 hours of sleep per night for the past week or two preparing for our playtest. And between 8am Saturday and 5:30pm Sunday, I got no more than 15 minutes of sleep at a time while running the playtest.

It turns out, it's just not like it was in college. I can't chug soda and listen to loud techno in lieu of sleep anymore. Caffeine has really started making me feel jittery and hyper in ways that it didn't used to. Maybe I'm becoming an old man. I don't drink soda because it's unhealthy and makes me fat, I don't listen to loud music because I worry that I'll wreck my ear drums, and when I'm not dealing with a game, I actually try to get enough sleep on a regular basis.

The playtest really paid off, though. I got 16 hours of sleep Sunday night, and because we had such a big push to get ready for the playtest, I'm able to sleep normal hours again. Sorry I can't say much more about it, but I don't want to spoil anything for the teams who are going to play in May.

Just watch out for the cyborg dragons.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Allergies or Pot?

That was the question posed to me today by a coworker upon seeing my bloodshot eyes. I didn't have the heart to say, "Well, you see, I'm planning this big puzzle hunt, and I stay up late working on clues and writing puzzles and programming and... this one time... at band camp..."

I'm such a dork. I've tried to explain The Game to coworkers and non-puzzley friends, and they're generally supportive, but when it comes down to it, I really don't think they understand how I can possibly pour so much of my life into this. When they ask what I do with my weekends, I have to tell them things like, "Well I drove around all Sunday looking for places to put clues."

I've done some back of the envelope calculations, regarding our game and our level of commitment to it. We have 20 teams with roughly 6 people per team, and we're charging $75 per person for this game to offset the cost of materials for building and printing clues, renting out space, running a playtest, doing secret stuff that we can't talk about or it would ruin the surprise, etc.

If this were all some sort of elaborate con where we took the money and didn't run a game, it would be the worst con ever, because by my estimates, we'd be getting paid less than minimum wage ($7.50 in CA) for all of the time we've put in! If you're bored, assume there are 5-6 of us putting in the majority of the hours on this, and see how many hours we would have had to put in for this statement to hold... it's enlightening because I really think we have put in that much time.

This is really a labor of love (or insanity) on our parts, but now you know why I'm awake to post this at 4 in the morning. Now if you'll excuse me, this clue isn't going to build itself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Rock

As tempting as it was, I did not get Linnsey The Rock. Instead, we went online looking for a good engagement ring. She wasn't all that into diamonds and wound up choosing a ring made with lab created alexandrite. I had never heard of alexandrite before, but when the ring came, I looked at it, and it was duller than it had appeared on the website. I hesitantly gave it to Linnsey, but when she put it on, it was a nice deep purple.

Turns out alexandrite changes color based upon the lighting. Indoors, it's purplish, but with even the fading evening sunlight, it's a bright green. This caused a fun game of move-Linnsey's-hand-all-around-the-house. "Ok, now put it by the window. Ok, now a fluorescent light. Ok, now incandescent. Ok, now in front of the computer monitor." It's like I got her some sort of classy mood ring for our engagement!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

No More Secrets, No More Projects, No More Flakiness

So as you might guess, I've been rather busy working on No More Secrets. Running a game is not the sort of undertaking one should get into idly, but then again, I'm the same guy who decided to co-teach a course at Stanford with all that "free time" I had. Unfortunately, all this busyness means I've been a total flake--I don't return emails and phone calls, I stop playing WoW, I don't go rock climbing, I basically just drop off the radar.

That's why, after May 19th, I plan to abstain from taking on any side projects for a minimum of 2 months. That means no planning of any sort of puzzle hunt or game. That means no hacking on my webcomic script. No joining an open source project. No open sourcing my puzzle solving python utilities. No working on my pet programming language. No 20% project at work. No nothing but video games, movies, rock climbing, and board games.

Well, that and planning the wedding... So I guess I can't escape side projects after all. =)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Why I Love Google

I don't really plan to post much about work here, but I should add the following disclaimer anyway: this post (and everything else on my blog) is representative of my own personal opinions, not those of my employer.

It's well known that Google gives us free food, and that it's pretty darned good. So for April Fool's day, someone snuck in and installed a full vending machine in one of the micro kitchens. Some of us even put in money to make sure it worked. I don't think I've ever had a need for money at work before--such a novelty! Sadly, I have no pictures but will point to some if I find them.

Also, randomly, there was an awesome mechanical puzzle just sitting there in the lobby. Sort of like the pool ball machine at the San Jose Tech Museum, but on a much smaller scale. There were knobs on the side that let you control the route of the balls, and you had time some of them just right to solve the puzzle and get the balls to end in a certain place. Found some pictures here, but they don't really do it justice. Really, though, this is the sort of thing that would make for an awesomely memorable clue if there were a way to work it into a game!