QR codes for games

Following my last QR test, I got an email from Roger Smolski who runs the 2D Code web site. He had previously posted about the iPhone being an unsuitable device for QR codes due to the poor quality of the camera and this has resulted in several perfectly good QR decoding apps getting a poor rating on the AppStore due to the fuzzy quality of the camera. I’ve had good experiences mostly with QR codes on the iPhone as long as the URI is short but once the information gets much longer, the iPhone is unable to recognise a snapshot of it.

So, what’s the solution?

A clear still of a QR code will work – even a complex one so I reckon the alternative might be to find another way of getting them into the phone. Loading a URL or receiving them in email both work fine.

Why is this important?

Anyone who has read my earlier posts on Alternate Reality Games would realise that I think QR codes are an excellent way of distributing clues to a game where you want to hide it a little but not make it too hard for people to find. The poor quality of the camera in the iPhone just really means the QR code display has to be big enough or they have to get the information from another source.

Anyone who has seen Serenity would realise the relevance and importance of this (2d Code link).

•REC (spoilers! beware!)

Last night, due to the absence of Jim, we watched movies up at Graham’s rather than gaming. When I arrived (a little late due to teleconferences with NBC), they were just finishing off Dead Set. Michael’s opinion was that it didn’t add anything to the genre and although I think it was excellent, I am inclined to agree.

Afterwards we settled down to watch •REC. And there are spoilers ahead.

Continue reading “•REC (spoilers! beware!)”

Our First Glimpse of an Alien World

Discover Magazine writes about our first glimpse of an alien world.

Achieving a feat that seemed impossible not so long ago, a team of scientists working with the Hubble Space Telescope captured the first visible-light image of a planet orbiting another star.

This stuff inspires me. It makes me wonder about what’s out there – other worlds, other suns, other houses, other dinner plates. We’ll never know, of course, because Fomalhaut b is 25 light years away and that means flying for 25 years at light speed just to get there – and maybe to find nothing. Any transmission we make will take 50 years minimum to get a reply. And as we all know, long distance relationships never work.

But still. Somewhere out there….beneath the pale moonlight….

Oh. That’s a lyric. Sorry.

Last Night’s Game

I’ve been in a gaming group for nearly three years now and l ran my first game for them (or more properly two of the usual three). I’ve been echoing about it for a while and they know I was keen on Godlike, then Wildtalents, then Jorune and half a dozen other games.

So, last night we started.

After a brief handout explaining the political situation in 1949 (the game setting), the state of the world, the state of technology and the popular movies and music that year, the players received a letter that they were being co-opted into the Peacetime Draft. After a journey to Virginia, the players were introduced to the characters who would be in the game.

Jim was playing Charlie Roper. An enlisted African-American who never saw action in World War 2 (probably due to issues with authority). He lives in a dingy apartment in LA and has a job keeping the books for local shops. Charlie has the ability to induce siezures in living systems.

Graham was playing Drew Fraser. A college professor who also had a decorated career during World War 2. He has a fiancée, a tenure at the University of Chicago and a good life. He also has the ability to ‘play’ with vectors of invisible force (essentially similar to a telekinetic).

There were three other characters.

Sergeant Roger Stevens – a career Marine with an impressive build and a raft of military related skills. He also has the ability to vocally command others to perform tasks in a form of mental domination. It’s not dependent on language but does require that the target hear him.

Elijah Zaida is a young kid who encountered some sort of energy parasite that the Office of Special Projects believes is extraterrestrial. As a side effect, he’s apparently invulnerable.

Doctor Ian Parker, MD is an unwell man who insists on wearing a thick coat. We don’t know any more about him.

The Players were introduced to Senator Joe McCarthy who ranted for a couple of minutes on the dangers of letting down our guard. After he left, the briefing was continued by two CIA agents, Remsing and Dean. Remsing is relatively sympathetic to the PCs, Dean is from the southern states and refers to God in his speeches.

They were then told that Roper and Fraser would be accompanying Stevens to a small island off the coast of Alaska. Contested territory – to see what was going on there. Something large was moving around. This starter was inspired by Issue 2 of Warren Ellis’ Planetary comic book and I used a couple of scenes from the comic to illustrate some scenes.

They take a long flight to some godforsaken airfield in Alaska, then a helicopter onwards. The island is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide and consists of snow covered mountains, dense forests and permafrost. They set the helicopter down at the only flat plain, a short stretch of ground leading to the only beach.

After camouflaging the helicopter, they hike to the foot of one of the mountains and are faintly disturbed to find a footprint – a booted footprint. They set a watch and camp for the night – during the night Fraser is disturbed to hear the sound of giant leathery wings….

Next day, they hike to the top of the mountain and as they reach the top, the wind carries the stench of decay. Over the ridge of the hill, protected by dense trees and snowfall is a massive corpse.

What creeps them out more is that they find a Japanese soldier in the bowels of the beast, eating the flesh. The soldier is unable to speak english and the PCs are unable to speak Japanese but they managed to force him to draw in the dirt – how he got there…

He claims he was flying a plane and was attacked by a giant pteranodon-type creature which forced him to bail out. He had been surviving by eating the flesh of this giant lizard.

They took him as a prisoner and returned to the helicopter. As they took off, they noticed another giant object…

…which caused them to land and take more pictures. Finally able to leave, they take off…

…and return to Alaska, then take a military transport back to Langley for debriefing.

Dean and Remsing provide a short debrief – they’re pleased with the outcome, very pleased that the things out there are dead and explain that the pictures were blank, possibly due to high levels of radiation on the island…

More to come….next session.

The System I was using was a very cut down version of Humanydyne, which I’ve mentioned before. The PCs were pre-generated, there was no combat and there were only really a couple of power rolls and perception rolls. Next time we play this I’ll actually have translated the combat section from the French…

Artistic Proofs

Thing I appreciate: Self-deprecating humour
Thing I don’t: Humour that deprecates others.

Self-deprecating humour is related to Ethos, one of the “artistic proofs” in rhetoric. Ethos is an appeal to the honesty, authority or qualifications of the individual. In humour this would be an attempt to identify with the audience by describing what a terrible state the comedian is in.

The other artistic proofs are Pathos (an appeal to sympathy or emotion or a need for justice) and Logos (appealing to the audience through facts and figures).

A compelling argument should touch on all three. To argue the point, you have to be clear that you are being an honest broker and there is no ulterior motive or that you are uniquely qualified to make the point – this is your Ethos. This will the lend authority to your Logos – the facts and figures which will help the audience make a decision based entirely on rationality. Lastly – Pathos – especially if the audience can relate to a miscarriage of justice or how life has been unfair to someone – will drive the point home and silence anyone. Taken in any order they work fine – appealing to those who need authority, those who need facts and figures and those who are controlled by their emotions.

e.g.

  • I’ve been working with these people for five years and I think this should be done for them.
  • Based on the costs, it’s extremely affordable at only a pound a week. That’s less than 15p a day.
  • They need this to live, it’ll keep a roof over their heads. Isn’t that a basic human right?

The arguments above can obviously be recycled. These could be applied to starving families in drought-plagued Ethiopia or the recent government bailout of our banks and financial institutions.

Apologies for the odd segway into artistic proofs but I had something to say and it seemed a little whiny without a little more meat.