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Man, this is one of those projects I just look at and think "Did I really do all of this?" I've definitely got lost in this do...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Final Age

This morning I was at the chiropractor getting some therapy on my back (it's been stiff for a week or so, and on top of that I took a nasty trip the other day and made it worse), and as I sat there with my face coned in between the two pillows I got to thinking... The cool gel and warmth of the ultrasound machine were soothing to my back, and it's amazing to think that those technologies have come out this very generation, if not perhaps within the past two. No one a hundred years ago would have ever in their lives felt the sensations I was feeling at that moment.

And then I started thinking, gee... the United States has been a melting pot of culture, and just a couple hundred years ago people would go their entire lives without ever tasting what we take for granted today. We can eat, at the touch of phone buttons or for a few dollars and a drive, food from virtually anywhere in the world. Chinese food is here, Pizza is common, Mexican food is everywhere... I even have an authentic Thai restaurant in my hometown. Some blends of spices were unheard of back in the day. The flavors that roll around in our mouths nightly were never experienced by our ancestors.

And forget the past hundred years. Imagine a thousand years ago, or before Christ's time. I read once we intake more information in a week (or maybe it's a day) than the common Israeli peasant of 100 B.C. would learn in his entire lifetime. Think of our colleges, or the Internet. There is enough information for us to learn to do virtually anything, and do it well. We know how the majority of things work. Science is constantly changing, but things like continental drift, gravity, and molecules are now common knowledge. Imagine living in the age of mythology, when the best you could do if you had a question is blame it on the gods. Now we can go literally feet away in any building, go to Google or Wikipedia, and find out almost anything we want to know.

Even a few years ago, I don't know how my parents took us on road trips without Google Maps or GPS on their iPhones. How did I ever survive as a teenager with Dial-Up Internet? Or without cell phones. The other day my wife and I went to the checkout at the supermarket and realized we had forgotten peanut butter. I ran down the aisle and, realizing I didn't know what size she wanted, called her up and asked her.
It's no wonder our technology is developing exponentially faster. Each new invention saves us a little more time in our schedules, until it adds up and we have all the time in the world to think, create, and invent.
Sometimes I long for the simple days, but as I walked out of the chiropractor's office feeling much better, I realized how lucky I am to be living in these days. When I have a toothache, it can be gone in a week with treatment. Imagine the common Dark Ages serf not even having a toothbrush, making never-ending toothaches inevitable to look forward to. Why do we complain about gas prices? It's a miracle we can get in a big carved metal cart and travel a day's journey in an hour. Why do we complain about the cost of a doctor's bill, when the ancient Roman citizen would just have to go on in life with pain because the herbs or poultice didn't do their magic?

Whether you're religious or not, you have to admit that we are in the Final Age of the world. Millennia of history have culminated in the uniting of the world's communications, the ease of travel, the completion of geographical discovery, and the pinnacle of technological research. We are fortunate indeed to experience that which no other members of the human race have felt since the dawn of man's creation.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Epic Chess

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I've worked on Epic Chess earlier last month, and had a bit of fun with it, but like all "great" projects, I've gotten bored with its downsides. However, I still think it's a great concept and easy to get back into any time I want.
A selection of Epic Chess cards.

Below is a list of what each card does. If you want, you can make your own simple cards. They obviously don't need awesome pictures on them like mine do. They can just be little tabs of paper with the word of the attack on one side. I'm also thinking that it'd be nice to have tiny rubber bands or rings of some kind, to record which pieces have buffs that last more than one turn such as Slow, Petard, etc.

Each card has an ability, but it also needs to have a spectrum of which pieces you can target (K=King, R=Rook, etc) on which side (B=Enemy bishop, K=Any knight, P=Your own pawns only). Many if not all also need a determiner of when you can use the card. For example, can I play a card and then make my move? Or does my playing the card use up my turn? These are things I still need to figure out.

Basic Cards - 2 of each card
  • Slow - Choose an opponent's piece. The piece can only move 1 square in its respective pattern on its next move. (QBKR)
  • Teleport - Move a piece to any unoccupied square on the board. A pawn moved in this way may not infiltrate*. (KQBKRP)
  • Control - For your turn, move one of your opponent's pieces instead of yours. (KQBKRP)
  • Disarm - Choose an enemy piece. It cannot attack during its next move. (This can interrupt check) (KQBKRP)
  • Tactics - Use this turn to move 2 of your pieces instead of one; however, you may not attack with either. (KQBKRP)
  • Stealth - One piece may move through other pieces for this turn only. You may not attack this turn. (QBRP)
  • Doppelgänger - Switch an enemy piece with an equal piece of yours. (KQBKRP)
  • Petard - Choose a piece. When the piece engages in battle (either attacking or being attacked) both pieces are destroyed. Kings are unaffected. (QBKRP)
  • Strike - Destroy one enemy pawn, or one friendly pawn and one enemy adjacent to it. (PP+?)
  • Revive - Place one of your dead pieces from the graveyard into an unoccupied square on your first row. (QBKRP)
  • Loyalty - Choose a piece. If that piece is taken, place it on the square of the nearest pawn and kill the pawn instead. (QBKR)
  • Haste - Move one of your pieces twice this turn. It may only attack one enemy during its two moves. (KQBKRP)
* Infiltrate: To reach the other side of the board, thus releasing a piece from the Graveyard
 
Unique Cards - 1 of each card
  • Joust - Knight Card - On your Knight's move, destroy all pieces through which it moves. (KQBKRP) 
  • Wall - Rook Card - Walls extend either vertically or horizontally from the selected Rook. No pieces can pass through the walls. They extend as pieces move out of their way, and remain until the Rook moves or dies. (R)
  • Conversion - Bishop Card - Move your Bishop 1 space either horizontally or vertically, changing the color of square on which it moves diagonally. (B)
  • Oppugn - King Card - When an enemy piece puts your King into check, play this card to instantly kill the piece. (QBKRP)
  • Fervor - King Card - When played, allows the King to move as many spaces as there are friendly pieces in the graveyard. (K)
Those are the cards I've come up with, but that was the easy and fun part. The part I'm struggling with now, after several rounds of testing, is the most important rule: How do you obtain cards in the first place? I've come up with a tentative set-up rule, which is that each player draws five cards, but how do they obtain more? Or do they obtain more? Every attempt I've made to make this system work has failed.
Killing pieces to gain cards quickly sways the game in the favor of the player who kills more, thus making it easier to kill more and more, etc.
Drawing a card as an alternative to reviving a friendly piece when a pawn gets to the other side sounds like a good idea, but how often do you really get a pawn to the opposite side? And even then, you probably have only reached it after you've lost your queen, and reviving her is almost always a better choice than getting Haste or Stealth, which won't help you at all.

I think this game has lots of potential, but I need suggestions. If anyone wants to play a game of it with me, or have any ideas after trying it themselves, let me know. For now, enjoy this small bit of one of my rare projects!