Parsely games at KansasFest 2015

June 22nd, 2015 9:29 AM
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Filed under Game trail, Happenings;
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At KansasFest 2010, I ran a session of a live text adventure. These Parsely games are inspired by interactive fiction but substitute a human for the computer. Think of it as a cross between IF and Dungeons & Dragons: I became the dungeon master (DM) who described rooms, solicited direction from the players, and reported results — but all input had to be provided as if I were a two-word text parser. So go ahead and tell me to "GET AXE", but if you ask me "Can I pick up the axe?", I'll respond, "I'm sorry, but I don't know how to 'Can I pick up the axe?'". It was a lot of fun to watch players with their graph papers map the connections between rooms, take notes, consult their IF cheat sheets, and try to coordinate their activities across alternating turns — it was a bit like watching Twitch Plays Pokémon. Here's a demonstration of Action Castle, the game I ran at KansasFest 2010, as moderated by its creator, Jared Sorensen:

Parsely returned to KansasFest 2014 with an all-new adventure and was a hit! We even had to adjourn to another room when the players' exploration of Jungle Adventure ran over the allotted session time.

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Comparing maps in Jungle Adventure, the live interactive fiction game I ran

Rather than wait the four years that divided KansasFest's last two rounds of Parsely, I'll be bringing another text adventure to KansasFest 2015. I have several scripts to choose from but will not begin memorizing one until en route to Kansas City. That gives you, the potential players, time to suggest the nature of the game. Should we explore a haunted house; a space station; a medieval castle; a Halloween graveyard; or a zombie-infested hospital? Choose your own adventure in the below survey!

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Refocusing energies

April 23rd, 2012 12:00 AM
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Filed under Musings;
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Last month, I expressed concern about my ability to maintain my level of output in the Apple II community. As Brian Picchi commented to me on Open Apple: "Wow, Ken — you have basically no work/life balance!"

I sought advice from the readers of Apple II Bits, asking them to rank eleven activities in terms of their value to the community. The rest of this lengthy post offers the results of that poll, which received 28 votes before the one-week deadline (and one vote after, due to a security hole on my part). I could offer a more granular breakdown of how many votes each item received at each rank, complete with pie charts and line graphs — but more practical is the final ranking of each item from most to least valuable. I'll present them in that order, with a brief analysis of each.

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Staving off burnout

March 26th, 2012 1:36 PM
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Filed under Musings;
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I lead a fairly healthy life: I exercise in the summer by bicycling and in the winter by dancing; I follow a vegetarian diet; I'm not a couch potato save for the occasional DVD; I read a few dozen books a year; and I maintain an active social network. All things in moderation.

Lately, I've had difficulty keeping that balance. The past few months have warranted that I spend more time on some aspects of my personal life than previously budgeted for. I've tried to do this while remaining committed to all my previous activities and obligations, but it isn't working. I don't have as much time for cooking new dishes, walking to work, or getting a good night's sleep; instead, I get home from the office and focus on my next deadline, my next podcast, my next blog post. It's not that watching the next season of Red vs. Blue or going for a horseback ride are priorities, but play is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, and I'm not giving my mind enough of it. It's gotten to the point where I'm instead looking forward to intersections with red lights, because it's the only time I'm not moving.

Over the years, I've learned to say "no" to new opportunities. Not as easy is stepping away from existing ones. Right now, I find that's what I have to do — and, in the name of balance, the area that I need to cut from is the Apple II, where I'm currently dedicating a disproportionate amount of time and energy.

In case someone misunderstands that statement or fears the worse, let me state in no uncertain terms:

I LOVE THE APPLE II AND ITS COMMUNITY, AND I AM HERE TO STAY.

But for me to better fulfill each role I've gladly adopted over the years, there need to be fewer of them. That's where you come in. I'd like readers of Apple II Bits to vote on what are the most and least important projects I focus on. To that end, I have identified ten unique Apple II projects I work on and am asking you to rank them from most to least important. No two items can have the same value. Each of them usually results on a product or goal, and I need to know which ones you find valuable and which ones don't amount to much to many.

It's impossible for you to know what projects I enjoy, or the ripple effect each task has on the others (for example, the synergy between this blog, Juiced.GS, and Open Apple is impressive, even though they're theoretically independent operations). That's why this poll will not directly determine what to abandon, reduce commitment to, or delegate. The ultimate decision is mine, and this poll is one more piece of data I will use to inform that decision.

(Just for fun, I threw in one non-Apple II commitment, as I suspect its ultimate ranking, whatever it may be, will prove highly amusing.)

The poll runs through noon EDT on Monday, April 2, 2012. Thanks to all who will help determine the course of my life! (Just kidding.)