Planet Iron Blogger SF

July 20, 2017


Keepers + Scout Books

Hey, guess what? Scout Books, the awesome printer we used to make the booklets for Keepers of the Constants, did a case study on our project. And they took some really top-notch photos, too.

Check it out on their blog!

by Jenna at July 20, 2017 12:30 AM

July 17, 2017

Diegetic Games

RPG Livestream Experiment with Audience Participation

This weekend a few friends and I ran an experiment in interactive storytelling. We used Twitch to livestream an RPG session and we collaborated with the audience to share the story. It went smoothly and we learned a bunch about interacting with an audience. Big thanks to my collaborator / co-GM Nathan Maton and our players Nick, Harry, and Andrew!

screenshot of the skype and twitch windows we used for the rpg livestream


The Tech

The tech stack we used isn’t easy but it didn’t take too long to learn and prepare.

We used Twitch to host the stream. It was pretty easy to work with and the video quality was solid. There was a ~10 second delay on the video which slowed down some of the audience feedback but we were able to mitigate that by asking for suggestions in advance of when we needed them. Due to a confusing UX, we didn’t end up archiving a copy of the video; make sure the archive settings actually save!

We used OBS to capture the video from my desktop and stream to Twitch. OBS isn’t intuitive but there a bunch of good tutorials online. We used Skype to video chat among the players and I used OBS to grab part of the Skype window for each participant. We used Soundflower to capture the Skype audio and include it in the stream.

We used OBS to capture Google Slides, which I used for the background, including the name tags for each player. That made it easy to change the background for each scene in the story. The final piece of the stream was a small part of a browser window with a random dice roller so the audience could see the dice rolls. OBS packaged Skype A/V, Google Slides, and Dice and sent it all to Twitch - it worked well!

Screenshot from the livestream

The Story

We went with a fairly simple story in a fantasy world where the player were heroes commissioned by a port town to protect them from threats. The town owned a powerful artifact that was stolen at the beginning of the session and the players had to confront a powerful necromancer to get it back. We decided to keep the story simple because we wanted it to be easily digested the audience, especially if they missed part of the stream.

The Audience

My focus for the session was acting as GM and interacting with the players. Nathan was co-GM and responsible for managing the audience and conveying their suggestions to me; Nathan and I collaborated on the prep work for the experiment, including the story and audience interaction structure.

As the story progressed, Nathan would solicit suggestions from the audience that included:

  • Setting (what are notable locations in this town?)
  • Characters (who is this character and what do they care about?)
  • Plot (what is the motive of the antagonist?)
  • Epilogues (how do things turn out for the main characters?)

Our audience peaked at 12 viewers with about 5 pitching us suggestions. We were pretty happy with this given we did almost no advanced promotion. The audience threw us some crazy ideas and it was interesting to incorporate them on the fly. They decided that the antagonist was related to one of the players so I made them the long lost twins of Harry’s character.


The biggest takeaway is that this format is exhausting! Both Nathan and I were worn out by the end of our two hour session. The mix of storytelling, improv, and community management carries high cognitive load. I don’t think we could have pulled it off with just one of us.

Some other notes:

  • Letting the audience audience know where the plot was heading was great for two reasons – they had a chance to shape it in a constructive way and they enjoyed the dramatic irony of knowing what would happen before the players knew
  • The audience still had a bunch of crazy suggestions and we ended up tilting the tone to be more silly than serious. I wouldn’t try to do anything too serious with a random audience on the internet but it could work with an audience that has been vetted.
  • Streams can be hard to follow for folks who missed some of the content. We should have bullet points on screen that says who the party is, what the current goal is, and who the current foe / npc is; the GM should also reiterate that regularly.

A quick shoutout to Dustin and Josh who watched and shared their feedback - thanks!

Next Steps

This was a very fun session and I’m excited to try another livestream experiment in the future, though probably with a different framework. I continue to be excited about the potential of interactive entertainment and audience participation and want to play with something that gives audience members even more agency in shaping the story, potentially with the ability to jump in the stream in audio or video form as a guest star.

As always, I’ll post updates here. Until then, you can email me at

If you want to get updates about new games and drafts, sign up for the Diegetic Games Newsletter

July 17, 2017 08:18 AM

Doctor Popular

Cocktails Robotic Grand Challenge

We just got back from the Cocktails Robotic Grand Challenge at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco. The dancehall was filled with eight bartending bots and a couple hundred thirsty humans. There were some classic barbots on hand, like Schrodinger’s Martini, which servers a martini that is both wet & dry until you finally collapse the waveform, but our favorite new bot was Kamikaze Blaster, which uses face-detection software to deliver shots of whiskey sour directly to your facehole. No cup required.

The post Cocktails Robotic Grand Challenge appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at July 17, 2017 05:36 AM

Certainly Strange

Cocktail Robotics

We got to go to Cocktail Robotics at DNA lounge today, and saw lots of fun cocktail bots. We also got to have drinks shot into our mouths, detected via facial recognition software. Always a sign of a successful evening!

by Steen at July 17, 2017 05:20 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

July 16, 2017


Desert Ash (progress continued)The tram was looking ready to...

Desert Ash (progress continued)

The tram was looking ready to pull away at any moment, and everyone but me panicked at the thought of being left behind. People were already hiking out of the park. We all agreed we should have left earlier. We had to get tickets. We had to pay. Did anyone have cash? Did we need to pay for parking? Dillon, handle parking. I’ll get the tickets. I’ll go save a seat. We’ll meet you on the tram.

The tram driver had a microphone mounted on his hat, and spoke in a heavy Mexican accent. “Ladies and Gentlemen,we will be leaving here in four minutes at nine twenty-five am, if you are not seated with a ticket you need to wait for the next tram.” The four of us sat in the tram, a yellow-painted affair with a roof and open sides, side-by-side on the wooden bench. We smiled at each other from behind our sunglasses: we made it! Dad would be smiling too, maybe saying “All riiight! All riiight!” in the ecstatic sports-announcer voice he used when things were going well.

The tram wended its way up the asphalt-paved desert canyon. The word “desert” conjures to mind arid wasteland, dotted with dead trees and stringy bushes. But this canyon was lush, covered in greenery and blossoms, suffused with gentle morning light and birdsong. A cerulean creek flowed around rocks and under bridges along our route. The driver kept up an entertaining banter about the flora and fauna, the history of the canyon, the peaks and rock formations visible in majestic red outlines across the height of the canyon walls. Mom leaned into us and whispered, “This guy needs accent reduction.” She mimicked the driver: “’Ju can see? Ju can see?’ He needs my program.”

A dear friend once accused me of seeing everything though a clinical lens. Feeling hung over? You’re an alcoholic and need cognitive behavioral therapy. Depressed? You haven’t processed your father’s death; you need to see a therapist. Trouble with love? No self-confidence. If you would just work out more, you would feel better about yourself. Symptom, diagnosis, treatment. I got it from my mother, a Speech Pathologist by training, who entertains herself by diagnosing strangers with a wide range of developmental, behavioral, and speech and language problems, and prescribing an appropriate course of treatment.

“Mom, his accent is great. It doesn’t need to be fixed.”

“Yeah Mom, leave him alone, this is amazing.”

“Not everyone wants accent reduction.”

“Just enjoy the ride, okay?”

We got off at the last station, station 9. I looked hopefully for a water spigot somewhere nearby. None to be seen, maybe I was missing something. I looked over at Kendall, Dillon, and Mom. They were all wearing long-sleeved hiking shirts. Why had I not packed a long-sleeved hiking shirt? Why didn’t I own one, even? I used to own one. I wore a t-shirt that read, Chin Up Princess, Or The Crown Slips, and very short running shorts. I looked down at my exposed thighs and forearms, examining their sheen of sunscreen. At least I was wearing a hat and hiking boots. I looked up at the trail; two miles of uphill switchbacks, pointy saguaros, striated boulders, red dirt. I was feeling good. It wasn’t that hot. The sky was a bright blue, laced with swirls of white cirrus. We would get this done.

Mom fitted her hands into her fingerless gloves, gripped her walking sticks, and looked up the mountain.

“Okay,” she said, with a little sigh. “Let’s go.”

“Do you have Daddy?” I asked Kendall. She patted her backpack.

“He’s right here, I got him.”

We walked.

July 16, 2017 10:28 PM

I Like Turtles

Fourth of July in Marblehead


July 16, 2017 04:00 AM

July 12, 2017

a digital life



I've been painting planets for the past few months. You might have noticed them strung up on my wall in this post, but maybe not. 

The first planet I painted was a bit of an accident—I had the intention of simply painting a circle, with watercolors, but when I observed the final product, I realized it was a planet. 

It was a fun and low pressure way to play with watercolors, so I decided I would do more of them. In fact, I would paint a hundred of them. I'm on #35 presently. I'd like to document them all eventually, but figured it'll take me time and energy to do that, so we'll see what a slow roll of that feels like. 

Often I start with a wet circle and load pigments on my brush to watch them bleed together organically as it dries. Sometimes I experiment with metallics, or salt. They don't all turn out well. 

I had some friends over and we all painted planets together. It was a very accessible way to make art together and share an experience—it's not a very high barrier for entry, and the magic is in the exploration. 

I was having dinner with my friend Heather the other night. She is a fairly well-known abstract painter, and she asked me how I felt about other people sort of... doing my thing. I understand why she would feel protective about people copying artists, but I think there's a fundamental difference between what she does and what I'm doing. Hers is fine art—her life's work and exploration has gotten her to the work that she produces, and I deeply respect that. I don't think that someone can sit down and make her art on a lazy Tuesday evening. Whereas I'm happy to share my little planet exercise with whoever wants to play with me. 

by Jenna at July 12, 2017 01:33 AM

July 11, 2017

Diegetic Games

Across the Border - Game Chef 2017

Last week I wrote about my process for Game Chef 2017. The competition ended last night and I’m excited to share my submission: Across the Border.

Rugged landscape from Across the Border

The game takes place while the players are hiking. The characters are about to covertly cross a border with the help of a local guide. The guide has instructions for interpreting the surroundings: sirens might be the border patrol; a water tower might be a watchtower.

I was able to run a playtest a few days ago and I’m very happy with how it turned out! I’m also pleased with the visual design of the rules. I used the Lucid App to do style transfer on some hiking photos and ended up with the aesthetic you see above.

Game Chef Process

In my previous post I talked about taking a Stage Gate approach to the competition. Now that it’s over, I’m glad I did!

I ended up with:

  • A huge brainstorm doc of different ideas
  • 5 concise pitches and rough rules outlines
  • 3 lengthier rules documents
  • 2 playtests
  • 1 high fidelity set of rules, which I submitted

This process definitely took longer than focusing on just one game but I think I arrived at a better final candidate and I developed a bunch of fun ideas that I’ll likely remix into future games.

Here’s a quick overview of the other games I noodled on:

A game about unification

This game had players creating a map of nations out of yarn and then cutting the yarn to unify territory. There were some interesting mechanics in it but it was lacking a pop to it. I’ll likely reuse some of the ideas in a future game.

Adventures on a map

This game was about creating Indiana Jones style travel lines on a map. It quickly bifurcated into a game about recovering archeological relics and a game about stirring up resistance under a totalitarian regime. I liked the core ideas but it wasn’t a perfect fit for the competition.

Trade Routes

Inspired by my noodling on the previous idea, I wrote up a ruleset for playing a merchant trading company. The players explore the seas and open trade routes while managing their wealth, crew, and reputation. The game is played across a room and the routes are represented by yarn. I ran a playtest of this and it was fun but needs a bunch of work to make it a complete game. Here’s a photo from the playtest:

Playtest of the Trade Route Game

Surveillance State

A larp where one player is the surveillance state, sitting in the middle of a room with yarn connecting them to all parts of the room (they’re in the middle of a web); the other player(s) are the resistance and try to move about the room without hitting strings.

I created the initial rules for this. I still think it would be fun to playtest but it looked like the setup would take too long.

Compartmentalized Personality

This game had players take on the different aspects of a shared character’s personality. I did a little bit of psych research for this one and sketched out the rules but I wasn’t excited enough to continue working on it.

Final Thoughts

I loved taking this approach to the competition and would definitely consider doing so again. I high recommend it to folks who have the time!

As always, I’ll post updates here. Until then, you can email me at

If you want to get updates about new games and drafts, sign up for the Diegetic Games Newsletter

July 11, 2017 08:18 AM

July 10, 2017

Selena Ross

ty for making my Quinceañera so lovely~*

ty for making my Quinceañera so lovely~*

July 10, 2017 08:55 PM

July 09, 2017

I Like Turtles

San Diego


July 09, 2017 04:00 AM


Instead of Burning Man this year...

It was a tough decision but I think it will be refreshing to skip a year, especially after the Oregon Eclipse Festival the week prior. The decision was made less tough by this alternate plan though. 

by Jenna at July 09, 2017 03:13 AM

Certainly Strange

AKA Eddie The Rat

Re-re-replaying Morrowind, I’ve realized that it gives Fast Eddie a very different context depending on whether you finish the House Telvanni questline BEFORE contracting corpus, versus after contracting corpus. In the past, I did it after contracting corpus, so it … Continue reading

by Steen at July 09, 2017 01:04 AM

July 08, 2017

a digital life

July 06, 2017

Randy Lubin

Two More Twitter Bots: Encounter Player and Govern Bot

Last week, I made Encounter Bot: Twitter Bot for interactive storytelling and wrote a short blog post on it. Since then I’ve made two more bots: Encounter Player and Govern Bot.

Encounter Player

I designed Encounter Player as a companion to Encounter Bot. Every six hours it tweets at Encounter Bot asking for a new prompt. Then it replies with randomly selected attitudes and actions.

The two bots go back and forth until Encounter Bot says there is an outstanding success or abysmal failure. Then, Encounter Player ends the thread. You can start your own adventure with Encounter Player by tweeting a prompt at it.

You can remix the code at Cheap Bots Done Quick.

Govern Bot

Yesterday, I created Govern Bot which casts you as the ruler of a nation and presents you with crises. This was a quick, fun one to make and I’ve enjoyed coming up with solutions.

This code is also up on Cheap Bots for remixing.

Encounter Bot for Alexa

I also ported Encounter Bot to Alexa, Amazon’s home assistant, so now you can play with your voice! Alexa is a bit harder to code for than Cheap Bots but the process of porting it over was relatively easy.

Up Next?

I’m not sure what my next bot will be but I’ll post any updates to this blog!

July 06, 2017 07:28 PM

July 05, 2017


Desert Ash (Continued)

In the morning, the remaining Websters stumbled out to the kitchen. The trams up the canyon ran only every so often and we wanted to get started before the heat of the day. Kendall plugged her phone into the mini speaker, and played “Desperado” by the Eagles. The mournful piano chords accompanied my bleary-eyed search through the refrigerated remains of last night’s meal, looking for breakfast that would make us feel good, happy, ready for our task. I settled on a bowl of refried beans and the inferior guacamole, and tried to get Kendall to eat one as well. Her ayurvedic yoga practice frowned on beans for breakfast, but she acquiesced when I offered fresh strawberries.

“Ugh,” she said, rubbing her totally-flat belly, “I feel gross. That food last night.”

I thought of doing a plank right then but stopped myself.

We cast around for foods to bring on the hike. There was a bag of almonds, a few oranges, and the leftover tamales, which Mom carefully wrapped up and put into her backpack. We filled up our water bottles, Dillon fretting momentarily over how much water would be needed, but since we each only had one half-liter bottle each, he had to be content with that. We reasoned that there would be filling stations throughout the park.

The spot on the map that Dad had indicated as his desired place of eternal rest was at the confluence of Sabino Creek and Tanque Verde Creek, about 3.5 miles up the mountain from the top of the canyon. The Websters are all seasoned backpackers and hikers and thought that this distance wouldn’t be a problem. We slathered on sunscreen, laced up our hiking boots. Mom pulled on her hat, looking determined. She had dressed in head-to-toe chambray, buttoning the shirtsleeves down over her sun-spotted wrists. As a child, Mom had spent time swimming and tanning on the pools and beaches of Hawaii, Arizona, and California, and had the permanently, painfully sun-damaged skin to prove it. Each of us kids had internalized her near-religious devotion to making sure our skin stayed, in her words, “beautiful alabaster.”

“Kids, make sure you’re completely covered in sunscreen, okay?”

Kendall and I had spent half an hour in front of the bathroom mirror that morning, critiquing each others’ sun-protection regime. We didn’t answer.

At the kitchen counter, Kendall opened the black box that held Dad’s ashes. It was almost full of white, dusty sand, not the papery charcoal I had expected. Most people turn into 5 pounds of ash. Dad, tall as the sky, turned into almost 10. Kendall did not intend to carry ten pounds of anything through the desert, so she poured out four measures of the pebbly grit into Ziploc bags and distributed them for us to save and scatter back home. “To be close to him.” The remaining remains in the box felt closer to five pounds now.

July 05, 2017 03:35 PM

July 03, 2017

Doctor Popular

Protected: Gutenberg test

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

The post Protected: Gutenberg test appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at July 03, 2017 11:36 PM

Another packed weekend in San Francisco

I haven’t gotten much work done on personal projects lately, but Christine and I had another packed weekend in San Francisco that I thought was worth sharing. (for anyone reading this via RSS, you might be missing the embedded videos)

Church of 8 Wheels:

We rolled into the weekend with a night of skating at the Church Of 8 Wheels on Fillmore St. We’ve been to several of their other skate nights at CellSpace and the Women’s Building, but this was our first time at this newer location. It’s the perfect place to skate. Great floors, surprisingly big, and deliciously sacrilegious. Sacrilicious?

Rat Cafe:

We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf early on Saturday Morning for the very first Rat Cafe in SF. It was really more of a rat “show and tell” in a tourist trap called The San Francisco Dungeon. Nothing like the cat cafes that are popping up everywhere, but it was still a fun time.

Crime rates on the climb:

We went bouldering at Dog Patch Boulders today. Near the end of the climbing session, I struggled with a V3, then flashed a V5 right beside it. The people who had been working on the V5 probably weren’t expecting to see that. When we headed back to Christine’s car, we found out that a bunch of cars had been broken into. Including ours. There were at least 6 cars with freshly broken windows. Luckily, the only thing Christine had worth stealing was an occultist costume in the trunk, which they must have decided to leave alone.

The Big Sick:

We are heading off to see The Big Sick at the Alamo right now. Maybe I’ll leave a review right after we get back?

The post Another packed weekend in San Francisco appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at July 03, 2017 05:53 PM

Certainly Strange

Rat Cafe

Yesterday, Doc and I went to the “Rat Cafe” in the San Francisco Dungeon (over at Fisherman’s Wharf). I love rats, so I was pretty excited about it. When I mentioned it to my brother, he actually was very curious … Continue reading

by Steen at July 03, 2017 04:55 AM

July 02, 2017

I before E except Gleitzman


Last night Michelle, Selene, and I saw the debut performance of Malditoria, an interactive card game that examines stereotypes, stigmas, and identities in Mexican American culture through the mediums of Loteria, performance, and card readings. The show was funny, poignant, and showcased the creativity of the entire crew.

Selene won a pretty sweet print.

July 02, 2017 04:20 PM

Selena Ross

i’m on my knees your majesty !!!

i’m on my knees your majesty !!!

July 02, 2017 04:19 PM

solstice at the chapel of the chimes

solstice at the chapel of the chimes

July 02, 2017 04:12 PM

June 30, 2017



Diegetic Games

Game Chef 2017 Brainstorm

Game Chef just announced their 2017 challenge and I’m excited to design something for it! Last year I participated and created Exosolar, which I was pretty happy with.

This year the theme is Borders and the ingredients are Yarn, Echo, Smoke, and Cut. All games need to involve the theme and at least two ingredients in a way that’s core to the theme or mechanics. The deadline is July 9th – you should make something for it!

When the challenge was announced I spent a few minutes brainstorming ideas for each ingredient and generated a bunch of potential games. There a bunch that I like so I’m going to take a Stage Gate approach to narrowing them down. A stage gate apporach means working on multiple ideas in parallel and then having checkpoints where I eliminate several of the ideas.

I’ve already narrowed my list to five pitches. I’ll create short rule sets for each and then eliminate a couple. I’ll then playtest the remaining two or three and choose a winner to submit to the contest.

My current ideas are:

  1. A larp played while hiking where you’re about to covertly cross a border
  2. A tabletop game about unification, where you make a map from strips of yarn and cut the yarn to join neighboring regions
  3. A tabletop game about traveling to accomplish a mission – players use yarn to create an Indiana Jones style adventure trail as they either hunt for artifacts or build a resistance to an authoritarian regime (not sure which theme)
  4. A larp where one player is the surveillance state, sitting in the middle of a room with yarn connecting them to all parts of the room (they’re in the middle of a web); the other player(s) are the resistance and try to move about the room without hitting strings
  5. A game where players are different aspects of a person’s personality. They pass around / unspool a ball of yarn as they share memories where multiple aspects of the personality are present.

As always, I’ll post updates here. Until then, you can email me at

If you want to get updates about new games and drafts, sign up for the Diegetic Games Newsletter!

June 30, 2017 08:18 PM

June 29, 2017

Randy Lubin

Making a interactive story bot

Yesterday, I made a Twitter bot that creates minor story conflicts and then facilitates their resolution. It’s called Encounter Bot, you can start collaborating by replying to a tweet.

I made the bot with Tracery / Cheap Bots Done Quick and it was incredibly easy to get started. At it’s core, there’s a list of locations (e.g. abandoned temple) and threats (e.g. angry noble). Every three hours, the bot picks a random location and threat and Tweets out the encounter.

When a player replies to a prompt, the bot then randomly selects a response (e.g. success at a cost, abysmal failure). The player can then keep replying and receiving responses until they decide to end the story by writing ‘The End’.

I posted the bot to a few RPG communities and there’s already been a flurry of interaction. You can skim the bot’s feed to see old stories and those in progress. Reply to any prompt to start your own!

The bot was so easy to make that I’ll likely make some more. I’ve shared the Encounter Bot source code, feel free to remix it!

June 29, 2017 11:20 PM


Goodbye, American Steel

I hadn't been back to American Steel Studios in quite a few months, so last night I dropped by open studio at the metal shop where I built my giraffes to say hello and see whats new at the Department of Spontaneous Combustion. I haven't been feeling very excited for Burning Man this year, so I anticipated that this visit would fire me up when I see all the cool art and energy that is usually in high gear by this time of the year, peak Burning Man build season. 

What I found was a bit of a shock. The big, inspiring art was gone. Half the bays were empty. The Tuesday night soundscape which used to be marked by music, voices, and heavy machinery was gone. I made my way to Bay 5, wondering what has happened.

Luckily, the three people I was hoping to see most were milling about and I was able to catch up with the folks who taught me everything I know about metal and fire. The biggest news was that DSC is moving—in fact they are packing it out of AmSteel this very weekend.

I learned that since the building was sold last year, sweeping changes and restrictions have chased out the artists that used to be synonymous with AmSteel. Such as restricting the use of bay cranes, a 12ft cap on all structures and storage, and (quite detrimental to DSC) NO FIRE. Karen, the brilliant woman who had founded AmSteel and made it the incredible community art space that it was, has been forced out. The new management is interested in seeing each tenant's "business plan", and less interested in providing space for the not-for-profit artist collectives that have long resided there. 

What that means for DSC is that they've basically been waiting to get evicted. They couldn't commit to building anything for this year's burn, since they didn't know if they would have the shop space to build it in—and sure enough, their time has come. In happier news, they have found a welcoming new home at m0xy, a community-based art center, who is very excited to have DSC join their community and bring metal and fire to their space. I'm relieved that an institution like DSC has a bright future since the story of artists getting squeezed out usually ends with their visions getting killed altogether. Still, moving an entire steel shop is a huge undertaking, and it'll be months before the new shop is up and running. 

On a personal level, what I was hoping for was an inspiring visit that would fuel my energy for this year's burn and give me project ideas. It ended up being a confirmation that perhaps the timing is ripe to skip a year. 

by Jenna at June 29, 2017 12:05 AM

June 26, 2017

Doctor Popular

Photos from Camp Tipsy 2017

We had a blast at Camp Tipsy last week, a 4 day event in the East Lake Reservoir where artists come together to build boats out of piles of junk. We didn’t build a boat, we just helped set up a few camps and swimming. It was a blast and I can’t wait to go again next year.

The photos in this post were all shot on my LC-Wide camera using the half-frame advance feature, intentionally letting each shot blend into the next. Many more photos in this Flickr album:

camp tipsy 4 wide
Camp Tipsy
Camp Tipsy

camp tipsy 2 wide
camp tipsy 3 wide
camp tipsy 1 wide

The post Photos from Camp Tipsy 2017 appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at June 26, 2017 05:04 AM

Randy Lubin

Storytelling with Strangers

Last week I jumped into a tabletop RPG with complete strangers, played over the internet using only audio. It went surprisingly well!

The game I joined was a stand alone session of Lasers and Feelings - the excellent one-page science fiction RPG by John Harper. I found the game through a Discord community. Discord is like Slack but for game communities and has a few tailored features, like audio chat rooms. I saw someone posting about a ‘pick-up game’ that had a couple open slots and was starting in a few minutes - I was free so decided to jump in.

Five of us played over audio chat and I didn’t know anyone’s real name or any particular details at all. The GM did a great job of facilitating a space adventure and the players were funny and collaborative.

I was impressed with how smooth it went, given how rocky things can be with anonymous strangers on the web. My guess is that we’ll see lots of interesting experiments with collaborative storytelling among strangers in the coming years and I’m mostly optimistic!

June 26, 2017 04:44 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

Sublimate Detroit

Straight outta Hamtramck

June 26, 2017 02:09 AM

Certainly Strange

Enchanted Pants

Enchanting in Morrowind is totally obnoxious and takes forever to get any good at it. And I never feel like making any enchantments except for the super awesome ultra the-professionals-will-charge-you-100,000-drakes-to-do-it sorts of enchantments. Sooooo I just go to the professionals. … Continue reading

by Steen at June 26, 2017 12:10 AM

June 23, 2017

Selena Ross

a digital life

June 21, 2017


Upgraded Workspace

Thomas and I moved into a new apartment that is a total dream. While our last spot had a room dedicated to being our workspace, it had zero natural light. Our new place sits atop a full wood and metal shop so we have all the room we need for using tools and making messes downstairs—so our desks live in our living room now.

I'm pretty fond of my set up, which is fairly similar to how it was at our last place, just now with ample natural light. I've also figured out a solution for pinning up my work. When we first moved in I was using masking tape, but after a few days the adhesive would literally melt (!) off the wall and leave a residue behind. So I rigged up this string + clothespin system that is working nicely, but we'll see how it scales as I make more planets. 

by Jenna at June 21, 2017 10:17 PM

June 19, 2017

Randy Lubin

Go play the sequel to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective!

A few years ago I stumbled across my grandfather’s copy of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. It’s an amazing collaborative mystery solving game which I wrote about in an earlier post.

Avital and I just played the first mystery of the sequel, Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures, and it’s off to a great start! The production values are incredible: the map, directory, and newspapers are high quality and each case has it’s own booklet. The first case was on the easy side but we also caught a lucky break.

I highly recommend checking it out, but if you haven’t played the original you might as well do that first!

June 19, 2017 04:49 AM

Certainly Strange

Camp Tipsy 2017

Doc, Jon, and I just got back from Camp Tipsy. We were up there since Thursday and it was very very hot – but it wasn’t so bad because it was a very dry heat (and also we had a … Continue reading

by Steen at June 19, 2017 04:15 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

I Love To Make Good Candy

Police Academy 7: Schokolade

June 19, 2017 01:08 AM

June 18, 2017


What is our "movement?"

On a recent family trip, Thomas' father had asked us how the art that we are making in the Bay Area right now will be remembered. It was more of a rhetorical question at the time, but one that I've been thinking about. There is plenty of documentation and memory around the Beats or the Post-Impressionists, for example. I've realized that the bizarre parties that Dali and his pals the Surrealists hosted seem somewhat similar to the type of fun we are producing here in my Bay Area community of artists and weirdos.

I was surprised to think of what we are doing as a thing of cultural relevance, in a historical sense. But maybe its something to consider.  

However, one of the key differences may be that the output of our community is far less lasting and precious. For example, the output of a writer is novels, letters and journals. A painter has canvases and sculpture to hang in galleries and sit in archives. But what we make are experiences, weekends and moments—that happen for a duration of time, and then disappear into our collective memories—and you can't hang those on a wall. 

The art of experience is precious yet fleeting—the Mx. Multiverse party was a beauty pageant for which attendees created their own universes or alternate realities to conceptualize and radically challenge what "beauty" means. But no one takes their costume and puts it on a mannequin to save for the ages. We tear down the microverses that were built for one night only and repurpose the flowers and cages for another time.

We may attempt to document our work, but I fear that for every art movement that is remembered and celebrated, there must be dozens that are forgotten and live on only in the polaroids and memories of its own participants—because, well, you really shoulda been there, man. 

But maybe thats the beauty of it? To live in the moment, be fully present, and know that this very moment will never happen again and will not be able to be shared or transferred through history—so let's make the most of what we have right now in this very time and place. 

Perhaps its grandiose to think that our art can be compared to that of the great artists of history, but I do feel that ALL artists—whether they achieve lasting fame and legacy or not—are the heroes responsible for creating the magic that our world desperately needs—whether they are acknowledged for it or not. 

by Jenna at June 18, 2017 09:14 PM