Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Save the Orangutans!

In this blog, which has been long delayed by an unusually busy month, I intended to talk about a lot of things but ended up going to a gig or prepping a project or a host of other endeavors.

Some things I've been working on are pretty cool. The first I'll describe here is the game I developed as a project for my day job. It was inspired by a class exercise I tried in a high school physics class. Our Teacher Mr. White gave us the opportunity to simulate the distribution of energy amongst a variety of utilities in a fictional model of a civilization. I remembered the lesson of the game if not the exact structure: resources are finite and need to be used responsibly if we want to protect what is important to us. So I set about designing a game that would help convey the same lesson about conserving endangered animals (we are studying Indonesia this month) and hopefully plant that idea in their little impressionable heads.

The game works like this:

After color coding the species and the corresponding bonus cards the game can begin

First you pick one of each animal without seeing its' survival points.

Once you have those point totals you opt to by bonus cards- which my or may not have extra points to add to your total survival point tally. The four different types correspond to the four different animals and the first round each card costs 10 points with a maximum purchase amount of 10 cards for all species. The next round you can but 12 cards but the cost is now 20 points and so on adding 2 to the purchase limit and 10 to the cost each successive round.

I had to set a cap on purchase totals because the second time we played it two kids bought as much as possible using all of their points and ended up being able to purchase more bonus cards the next round than I had made-which instilled the idea that doing work early to preserve life was the best way to ensure success but it cripples the actual game.

Some of these quirks could be adjusted by playing around with the point totals on the cards.

Anyhow. Once you subtract the cost of the cards and calculate your new totals you get a series of 'hazard' cards that directly affect your animals. They are color coded just like the bonus cards and match up with certain species. In the first round players are confronted with 3 hazards. each consecutive round it goes up in odd numbers.

The game is meant to last three rounds. If an animal dies (brought to zero or to negative points-which also is considered zero) you can share points from the other animals to keep it alive. This is true until the final round when, after receiving your final hazard cards, you discover which player kept his or her species alive and had the best survival point records. In order to win all four must survive and you need the highest overall point total.

In a variation you could add bonus rounds or danger zones rounds for each creature where the risk would be heightened or rewards sweetened.

Now much of this is chance but there is some 'risk vs reward' and a small measure of strategy wherein players interpret the facts of their situation and plan accordingly with the knowledge of future events (plus or minus the randomness of said events.)

It was a huge success! the kids loved it and have asked me to play it subsequently many times. I am calling it "Survival... It's a jungle out there." If you think that is corny or tasteless consider that my original title was "Bloodstorm!... An animal apocalypse" and be happy it wasn't that.

He's Happy. Look at him and tell me you don't want to save him from wildfires for fun and educational purposes.

Also this past few weeks I've been re-inking 2 Avengers pages of mine that I lost after a gig. It is a silly story that ends up with Lindsey and I searching in the dumpsters of Portland's industrial underbelly but suffice to say I had digital scans of those pencils and I have since completed new versions of the missing work.My original inks of page 1 are gone but I have a digital copy in the computers at Periscope Studio-thanks to them for supporting me and saving my ass.

As of today 5-21-09 I finished my 4th page of that same Avengers sample, which I'm being continually humbled by, and I will post my pencils next time.

A big Shout out to my friend and co-worker Keith Rosson who gave me a copy of his recently printed zine compilation "The Best Of Intentions- The AVOW Anthology." It collects issues 1 through 16 of a project that he started in 1995 and continues presently. Keith is a great guy and I'm glad to know him. He's a fine illustrator in addition to being a punk-rock guitar player and bassist. I wish the kids at school would give him a break. Thanks to Keith once more.

Everyone (all 10 of you that read this) go support Keith by first checking out his website www.KeithRosson.com then buying what he sells and attending one or more of his shows. I'm going to try my hardest to get out to one of them at some point.-I'm alternately either a terrible hermit or a frenzied workaholic. There doesn't seem to be much in between. Thus I need others to go in my stead. Help me help Keith!

Also thanks to David Hahn for getting me a burrito. I think it is a reflection of his genuinely kind heart and not just to show Dylan that he can buy someone a meal and not have it be "a thing." He is great and I look to his work for inspiration frequently when he isn't around- as he is then working and I don't like to hang out behind someone watching them draw unless I'm invited to (thanks Colleen.)

I went to my first Drink and Draw but did little drawing and no drinking as I do not drink. I would have had a glass of water or juice but I couldn't stay long and had no money on me. It was cool. I talked mostly with the newest intern Ben Bates. He and I have much to offer each other in that we come from very different perspectives and aesthetic preferences. When I find out what his website is I'll promote it here.

My pick of the post was introduced to me via a co-worker who utilized it for a project with the kids. I re-gift you CubeeCraft in all its' glory. It is a fun little site for making simple paper toys.

Look around the pop culture portion of the site and you might bump into some old friends.