Note: Waiting For An Earthquake is now available on all the major music platforms.
Waiting For An Earthquake is my 3rd, and final, chiptune album. It’s been a couple years in the making and has literally been quarantined for the past 8 months. I’m so glad to finally share it with y’all!Waiting For An Earthquake by Doctor Popular
The album is available on Bandcamp for just $6. It also happens to be #BandcampFriday too, which means Bandcamp is waiving their fees and giving 100% of album sales directly to the artists.
SF Weekly ran a great article on Bandcamp Friday and included some quotes from me. You can read that here.
I recently bought a circuit bent HP Photosmart 435 camera from 2003 that was modified by BPMC. They call it the BPMC Paup Eye and you can read more about it here.
More Beautiful is a song off of my new album, Waiting For An Earthquake. The music video was animated by mystery John Higby using paper-animation and a smartphone. The song was performed entirely on a Gameboy using a Nanoloop cartridge.
The post A Song Politely Asking Trump to Launch Himself Into Space appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.
My first cardgame, KnifeTank: The Shüffling, is here! I launched the game on Kickstarter earlier this year and now that the pre-orders have all shipped, the game is now for sale on my brand new website.
Check it out on KnifeTank.com!
Also, if you have any feedback about the website, please let me know.
After a few crazy weeks of smoke and staying inside, it was great to have a fun day like today. We kicked it off with brunch at Front Porch, around the corner from our house. It was our first time eating there since the pandemic started, and it’s one of the few places we’ve eaten in the past six months. It was really mellow, the tables were outdoors and separated with cool looking dividers.
Afterwords, we rode bikes, got some sun, and picked up chips from La Palma.
I also got some time to play a few games of Deep Space D6, with some new metal dice that were custom made for the game.
This week we had very strange weather. Massive fires in California and Oregon filled the air with so much smoke that the skies turned orange for a few days. It was very disorienting.
Christine was ready for it
After a year of work, KnifeTank finally started reaching the hands of my Kickstarter backers. Watching this play out on Twitter has been fantastic. Like seriously, all that work lead up to this exact moment:
It’s amazing seeing these photos start to come in, but what I really appreciate are the stories and photos of people who have already started playing the game.
Thanks so much to everyone who has been sharing their KnifeTank stories and photos with me. It really is amazing to see these games out in the real world.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of KnifeTank, you can buy them on my site here.
San Francisco lost another amazing artists today. Mikl Em passed away this morning after a year long battle with brain cancer.
Mikl was a doer. I have many talented friends, but what set Mikl apart was his ability to follow through and make things. He’d always tell you about some crazy idea, then a month later you’d get a call from him asking if you could help run the door or fill in some specific role that he needed.
Seriously, of all the qualities I admire in an artist, the ability to follow through and make things happen is at the top of my list. He was an organizer, a writer, a people person, a visionary, a performer, a planner, and a marketer all wrapped up in one package. He was also prolific as hell.
I helped perform at a few of his projects over the years, mainly as a visual artist. He was really into exquisite corpses, a surrealist writing challenge where writers start a story, then pass it on to other writers to work on. Each writer can only see the last sentence of what the author before them had written, so the stories can often get quite silly. Mikl had heard that some friends and I had developed an exquisite corpse-style portraiture process, where an artist folds a sheet a paper into thirds and then draws 1/3rd of a person’s portrait, before passing the paper on to two other artists to complete. Mikl loved this idea and had us come to quite a few of his exquisite corpse plays to draw “corpstraits” during the intermission.
All of our visual artists loved these events and would frequently ask when we could do our next one.
We hung out a lot throughout the years and he was one of the most supportive artists I know. My only regret was that we never got to work on a whole project together. Start to finish. Not that Mikl didn’t try to make that happen. He tried several times, but I always felt too busy to take on another project. Especially something as ambitious as what Mikl would often dream up.
I could barely manage one project at a time, but Mikl could be in the middle of 4 other big projects (plays, events, immersive installations, public art performance) and still find time to be plan something new.
We did manage to make one thing together though. Something small, but I love listening back to it throughout the years. Really it was Mikl doing the hard work. I just hit record and played guitar while he improvised this strange story about the sounds giraffes make when being juggled.
Despite being the most prolific artist I knew, he somehow managed to come out and support so many other folks in SF. When you spotted Mikl at an event, you knew you picked the right place to be. He will be missed so much by all of us that were lucky enough to know him.
I mentioned that we had recently moved, right? Well I was stoked to discover we had a grill in our new backyard. Having a backyard was already an exciting feature. The grill just pushed it over the top.
I had never grilled before. It’s really fun.
After 15 years of living in San Francisco’s Mission District, we have moved to a new apartment on San Jose at Guerrero (across the street from Mitchell’s Ice Cream). The new neighborhood, often called La Lengua or the Outer Mission, is only ten blocks from our old space, but filled with dozens of new restaurants to explore. Once bars open again, we’ll be hanging out at Royal Cuckoo, El Rio, Virgils, and The Rock Bar.
We had been on the hunt for a long time, but it took a pandemic for the market to come back to normal prices again. We really loved our 500 sqft studio, but are happy to finally have a 1000 sqft space… especially since we are both working from home.
We finally have a table big enough to play board games on! We can’t wait to be able to invite friends over sometime.
Many people I’ve met professionally are ambitious and crave feedback to accelerate their growth. Unfortunately, these people are often frustrated by expecting and not getting feedback from their manager.
Several years ago, it clicked for me that getting meaningful performance feedback is my responsibility, not my manager’s. It’s true that many managers aren’t very good at assessing performance or delivering feedback, and I’ve had my share of those. But often, managers just don’t have the time to observe everything their reports are doing, especially as those reports are handling complex responsibilities themselves.
Realizing that getting good feedback was my own problem to solve was incredibly empowering; my career growth became entirely my own to drive where previously, I was partially a victim of circumstance.
Here are a few techniques I’ve learned for getting better feedback:
Bandcamp is waiving all of their artist fees on the first Friday of each month, which means more money for the artists. To celebrate, I’m releasing new music on each #bandcampfriday through the end of 2020.
This month’s track is called “Thrift Store Scores” and is all about trying to fit in as a teen in the eighties while only shopping for off-name brands at K-Mart.Thrift Store Scores by Doctor Popular
I’m also super lucky to have been included in this fantastic write up in SF Weekly about local artists on Bandcamp.
AI Dungeon is an experimental text adventure game which is powered by artificial intelligence. When you dive into a game of AI Dungeon you never know what you’ll get, the fun part is just going along for the ride.95% of this text was written by artificial intelligence. I just wrote the parts with the “>” next to them.
I think AI Dungeon is designed to work best in single player mode, but if you are paying the monthly subscription fee, you’ll get access to the multiplayer mode (plus access to the new “Dragon” update that is powered by GPT-3 technology). This multiplayer mode is very clunky out of the box, but I’ve found with a few tweaks, it can be a ton of fun.
The two big issues with multiplayer are:
Three! I meant to say there were three big issues.
The first issue can be can fixed by using a VOIP or group voice chat. I like to use Jit.si, since it’s free and has no time limitation. When all the players are logged on to Jitsi they can announce that they are about to type an action into the the game.
The rest of the issues can mostly be fixed by a “Game Master”. When I GM a game of AI Dungeon I try to let the computer do most of the work, but occasionally I’ll push the story along further if it feels like it stopped at a weird place (you can force the story to advance on it’s on by clicking your cursor in the text entry box and hitting the enter button without typing any additional text).
The GM can also help clarify who is speaking or who has an action happen to them when the computer is unclear. The game provides the main player with a “story” button as well as editing tools and the ability to re-roll a paragraph if it just doesn’t make any sense.Undo, Redo, Edit, Notes, Re-create
On the above image you can see the text input field and editing tools (most of which are only visible to the main player). If you click on the purple button you can switch between “Story”, “Player name”, and “Player name says”. My suggestion is for the GM to stay in Story mode and everyone else to stay in Player-Name mode. When users want to do something with their character, they can type their action and hit enter. If they want to say something, just type that thing in quotes. Group actions are best done in story mode.
For example, if a player wants to attack a goblin they should type “attack goblin” and hit enter. If the group wants to attack the goblin, the GM should type “the group attacks the goblin”. This will give better results. If the text then says an action that isn’t clear, the GM can clarify that text by hitting the edit button and altering the text. For example if the text says “The goblin attacks you.”, the GM might change that text to clearly state “The goblin attacks Ruby.”.
As the game unfolds, the GM can help clarify objectives and keep the group on track. The GM shouldn’t hesitate to be add scenarios or voice some of the characters that get added to the story, but the GM should make it clear when they are typing, so they don’t type over other players actions.
So if you are looking to run an AI Dungeon campaign, here are the steps you need to take in advance.
Below is a recent game we ran using these steps, it worked out great with a few exceptions:
“Hello adventurers, please hold for your party to arrive.”
You are greeted by a humanoid creature that has large black eyes and three arms. He wears leather armor and is very muscular.
“Hello and welcome to The Adventurer’s Guild of Arrorn! Are you a member or a visitor?
Sarpedon admires the well-muscled humanoid and asks, “wow what do they feed you here? And how do we become members?”
“Hello sir, we are looking for a group to adventure with. Myself and the rest of the adventurers who are looking today are in the Craxil’s Mirth inn. Could you tell us how we can join their quest?” said the creature to Sarpedon.
Sarpedon says, “If you want to join our quest, first you must pass a test!”
“Wow, we’re looking for a group to join and you’re already trying to tell us how things are going to be? It doesn’t work that way, little one.”
“What do you mean? Are you not in charge here?” asks Sarpedon.
“I’m afraid not. If you want to join one of the many adventuring groups here in the guild, you need to speak with them directly. Come on, I’ll take you over.”
Nico Lightbringer follows the himbo.
“Yeah, sure thing buddy. So I heard that you guys have a whole magic university here. Is that true?”
The two walk over to the Craxil’s Mirth inn.
“No, we study it, but there is no actual university.” said the creature.
The whole group follows Nico.
“Wow, so this is the Craxil’s Mirth. I heard that it’s named after some old hero from the past.” said Sarpedon.
“You could say that, but his name just gets used to name this inn.” said the guide.
Nico leads you inside.
“Hey everyone, we have new people who are looking for groups to join.”
Ruby Rock Star starts talking with folks at the bar to find a group to join.
“So how do you folks do this? Do I just pick a group and that’s it?” asked Ruby.
The tavern is filled with many people wearing many different types of clothing. There are even some people in full plate armor drinking right next to some drunk wearing torn rags.
Sarpedon says “I want to join the drunk wearing torn rags! I got a feeling about this!”
Nico looks very confused.
“Why the hell would you want to join THAT group?” asks Nico.
Ruby walks up to the man in rags and kneels down to speak with him at his level.
Ruby Rock Star says “May we buy you a drink?”
“I’d rather have some ale.”
Ruby orders the man a drink and buys him another one, then the next one, and so on. Before you know it, the man is as drunk as can be.
Nico begins to get very annoyed.
Nico Lightbringer says “I don’t want to be the adult here but…”
“You’re not, you’re a jerk. Now let’s all get drunk!” yells Ruby.
Nico gives in.
Ruby continues to drink with the man while the rest of you talk to some of the other people there.
Sarpedon says “Yeah!”
You spend a few hours there drinking and generally having a good time. You wake up the next day with a massive headache.
“Ugh, why do I feel like this?” says Sarpedon.
“That’s because last night you drank more than twice your weight in alcohol!” says Nico.
“What are you, a cop?”
“Yeah, a Drunken Clues Detective.”
“Ugh, I hate you.”
Nico stands up and walks outside.
Sarpedon walks out behind you.
“Look, we need to get going soon or we won’t be able to complete our quest today.”
Ruby Rock Star says “All the drinking was all to find out more information about our quest. What have you all learned?”
“That’s a good point. What have you learned?” says Sarpedon.
“Um, I learned that it doesn’t matter what we do, we’ll still be attacked by bar patrons.”
Everyone goes quiet for a moment.
“Well that’s not very helpful.” says Sarpedon.
Nico Lightbringer says “I think the rag guy was the lost king.”
“Really? Why is that?” says Ruby.
“Because he was the only one who didn’t want to talk to us, and everyone knows that lost kings are usually bastards.”
Nico begins to laugh.
Ruby decides not to argue.
Ruby Rock Star says “Well shit, you’re right!”
“Alright, alright let’s get going,” says Sarpedon.
“Hold on, I gotta go to the bathroom.” says Ruby.
Ruby walks out of the room and goes to the bathroom. You hear a scream seconds later.
“What was that?” asks Nico.
Sarpedon runs to the bathroom to check on Ruby.
In the bathroom Sarpedon sees that Ruby is nowhere to be found. He runs outside and sees that she has been taken by a group of thugs armed with crossbows.
“We have your friend. If you ever want to see her again, come to the old mill by yourself.”
Ruby Rock Star says “Wait, no, I still need to pee!”
You hear a loud whistle and everyone but you stops to listen.
Sarpedon says “Nico, you should come with me as backup, but stay hidden, so the thugs don’t see you!”
Nico Lightbringer casts buffs on Sarpedon.
Nico gives you a thumbs up and hides behind the corner. Sarpedon begins walking towards the old mill as the thugs keep their line of sight on him the whole time. Sarpedon gets closer to them and closer. As soon as he’s in range, he takes out his dagger.
Sarpedon says “Hey thugs! Here I am, now where is Ruby?”
“Shut up! Who the hell are you?”
Sarpedon stabs a thug and as soon as he drops he feels a sharp pain in his back. He begins coughing blood and sees the faces of the thugs stare in shock. Sarpedon drops to his knees, he doesn’t have much time left…
Sarpedon says “Nico! Now!”
Nico jumps out and throws a throwing knife at a thug. He then runs over to Sarpedon and hands him his sword.
“Let’s do this.”
Sarpedon begin swinging his sword wildly at the thugs.
Nico Lightbringer casts major heal on Sarpedon.
The major heal scroll heals all his wounds. He’s fully healed!
Nico turns around and stabs the last thug. He falls to the ground dead.
“Thanks, that was a life saver.” Sarpendon says.
“No problem, now we need to go find Ruby.”
Sarpedon says “Let’s check in inside the mill. Careful, it might be a trap!”
Ruby Rock Star says “Help me, I’m blindfolded and I don’t know where I am!”
You both cautiously walk inside the mill. It looks like it has been abandoned for years, there’s cobwebs everywhere and you step over rat traps as you look around.
“Ruby!” you yell.
“Hello?” you hear a voice say.
“Ruby?” You walk inside the mill and look around. You see a group of thugs, blindfolded Ruby, and a massive orc.
“Ah, our orc friend has arrived!” the thug says.
“Let her go or I’ll kill you.” Sarpedon replies.
Ruby Rock Star says “Don’t kill me! I still need to pee!”
“Silence!” the orc yells.
Sarpedon says “Look, let’s be reasonable, we can tell you where the lost king is in exchange for Ruby!”
“Well now, that’s a pretty tempting offer. I’m sure my master would love to have the lost king as a captive. But how do we know you aren’t lying?”
You both stay silent…
Sarpedon looks at Nico, winks, and eyes the chain of an amulet hidden under his breastplate.
“Fine,” Sarpedon says, “We’ll show you.”
You slowly turn around, and start walking back to the Craxil’s room…
The orc grunts, and you both raise your hands up.
“Alright, drop ’em,” says the Orc as the adventurers drop their weapons.
Sarpedon keeps his hands where the orc can see them, and makes no sudden movements.
You drop your weapons, and turn around. You slowly start to raise your hands up… Then you grab the chain of the amulet and yank it as hard as you can!
A massive bolt of lightning hits the Orc in the chest, and it falls backwards.
Ruby Rock Star pees her pants a little.
Sarpedon runs over and grabs Ruby. The rest of the thugs seem to be coming to.
“Kill the snake!” you hear one of them yell.
“Ruby, we need to get out of here.”
“I’m blindfolded, I can’t see!”
Sarpedon removes the blindfold from Ruby’s face and gives her a dagger.
Nico and Ruby follow Sarpedon as he leads them to the exit. The thugs are still groggy, but a few of them manage to shoot bolts at you. You dodge out of the way, and keep moving towards the door.
The three run to the river to lose the thugs, crossing by hopping on the large slippery stones. The thugs cannot follow without turning into Oalkwardners themselves, so they remain behind.
You reach the other side of the river and climb out.
“We’re free!” Ruby says.
Ruby Rock Star says “Sarpedon, this feels just like Johannesburg! Do you remember?”
Sarpedon looks back at the way you came.
“I do. I remember a lot of things.”
You three sit on the bank of the river, resting.
“We should keep moving,” Sarpedon says.
Nico looks over the river.
Nico Lightbringer says “Who tipped off the thugs?”
“I don’t know. Maybe they just found the trail themselves.” says Sarpedon.
“But they couldn’t have! I was so careful!” says Nico.
“How would you know? You’ve never done this before.” says Sarpedon.
Nico takes a deep breath, trying to calm down.
Ruby Rock Star says “Remember, the lion is the most handsome when looking for food.”
You all begin to cross the river. The water is freezing cold, and you nearly lose your footing a few times. After several minutes you make it to the other side.
“Ah, that was refreshing!” Ruby says.
“We need to keep moving,” Sarpedon says.
Ruby Rock Star says “I peed in the river, and it washed my clothes. Killed two birds with one stone!”
Sarpedon says “I think that man in rags was a plant! He set us up! We need to get back to the inn!”
You keep moving, and after an hour you notice the trees becoming more scarce. The ground beneath you becomes more muddy, and you step carefully to avoid ruining your shoes. After a few more minutes, the trees disappear completely.
The three of you stand at the edge of a large forest. Sarpedon picks up the pace, and you follow.
You walk for several miles. The road is deserted, and there are no inns or taverns in sight. You begin to wonder if you’ve somehow gotten yourself lost.
“We should rest,” says Sarpedon.
Sarpedon takes out his bedroll and begins breaking camp. You and the others do likewise. You are just finishing up when a cloaked figure appears on the road behind you.
“What is this?” says Sarpedon, “Ruby, take the kid behind those rocks and hide.”
Ruby Rock Star says “Nico, come with me so we can hide.”
“I think it’s too late for that,” says the cloaked figure, “Hello Sarpedon, we meet at last.”
You see a bald man in a black cloak, holding a staff with a snake coiled atop it.
“Mendicks,” says Sarpedon, recognizing the figure.
Ruby hears Mendick’s name and snickers a little.
“You find this funny?” he says, “I’m here with several dozen mercenaries, and you think it’s funny?”
Mendicks waves his hand, and the sound of galloping horses is heard. Several dozen knights on horseback come into view, surrounding the three of you.
Sarpedon says “Easy now, Mendicks. This is between you and me. It’s been a long time since Johannesburg.”
Mendicks shakes his head.
“That’s Mr. Mendicks to you, blaggard.”
He turns to address all of you and says “This man is an escaped Convict. He killed three men in Johannesburg, and robbed a bank!”
Ruby Rock Star says “You have that wrong Mr. Mendicks! Those three men he ‘killed’ were me, Nico, and the kids! And the money from the bank went to the kid’s orphanage.”
Mr.Mendicks face twists into a grimace, then he laughs.
“A likely story, and one I’m afraid I don’t believe.”
Mendicks turns back to address you all.
“The three of you will be coming with me to stand trial in the town of Tulan.”
“Oh, we are now, are we?” says Ruby.
Mr. Mendicks’ knights surround the party. There is nowhere to escape.
Sarpedon says “So, Mendicks, you’re hiring thugs to kidnap people out of bathrooms now? How low you’ve fallen.”
“They’re not just any thugs,” says Mr. Mendicks, “They’re knights, highly trained and lethal.”
Sensing an opportunity, Sarpedon charges the knight nearest to him, putting all his weight into his shoulder and plowing into him. The knight falls off his horse.
Sarpedon says “Go for it Ruby!”
Ruby turns to run, but one of the knights knocks her down with the flat of his sword.
Nico steps forward, and the knight who knocked Ruby down turns to him with a sneer.
Nico Lightbringer prays to his goody two-shoes god for swift justice and relief.
Nico’s eyes roll into the back of his head and a white light appears above him.
“Beam of holy justice,” says the knight, “What an unexpected surprise.”
The beam of light hits the knight, burning a hole through his chest.
Ruby Rock Star throws out a series of ninja smoke grenades to mask the group’s escape.
As the smoke grenades fill the air, she charges forward. The knight in front of her reaches for his sword, but she tackles him before he can unsheathe it. She puts her elbow into his neck and knocks him unconscious.
There are 10 knights still surrounding Nico, Ruby, and Sarpedon. The knights all come in for an attack as Mr. Mendicks watches.
“Hey!” he cries, “You’re supposed to be taking them prisoner!”
The knights ignore him, continuing their attack.
Ruby Rock Star says “Mr. Mendicks, please save us from the knights!”
Mr. Mendicks takes a swig from his flask and ignores the pleas for help.
Nico Lightbringer, Sarpedon, and Ruby Rock Star are cut down by the knights’ swords.
The knights carry Nico’s friends away. Nico is left alone, blood dripping from his elbows, in the middle of the road.
Nico Lightbringer follows Ruby in secret disguise.
Nico follows the knights who took Ruby and her friend away, keeping a safe distance. He passes through the town of Arrorn and into the woods beyond it. The knights travel at a fast pace, and you find it difficult to keep up without being seen.
As Nico trails after the knights, he hears a voice from behind him. “You suck at hiding” the figure says before tossing off his dusty robes and revealing himself to be The Lost King. He is taller and older.
The king leaps onto the back of a horse, his muscles bulging as he does so.
“We have to follow the knights!” you say, “Ruby, Sarpedon, and your other are in trouble.”
“I’m not worried,” says the king. “They can take care of themselves.”
“I’m not talking about them,” you say, “I’m talking about the ancient magic that created you. If the Knights get their hands on it-“
“Let them have it,” says the king.
Nico Lightbringer says “Is that the truth behind the amulet I wear”
“The amulet is part of the ancient magic. I was originally supposed to wear it, but I refused. As you can see, my choice has worked out pretty well for me.”
You stare at The Lost King.
Nico Lightbringer says “What does the king want?”
“The king wants a partner, and someone to pass on all the cool things he knows when he dies. I’ve been training you for years, so that you can fulfill this role.”
You try to say something, but find yourself unable.
“Don’t thank me yet, it’s not like I’m doing this out of the goodness of my heart. You’ve cost me a lot of sleep, and you’re going to help me get it back.”
The Lost King leaps onto the back of his horse.
Nico Lightbringer says “I will fulfill your desires but we need to rescue my friends Ruby and Sarpedon “AI Dungeon
“Ruby and Sarpedon can take care of themselves. Now, I want you to-“
A sharp pain stabs through your stomach. You look down to see a knife sticking out of it.
“What the-” you say.
The Lost King pulls the knife out of your stomach, and sticks it into your heart.
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