Sunday, December 28, 2008

This should exist: Video-sharing chat rooms

Right, so while I was helping Charlie host her occasional Ustream (where she does all the Photoshop work on the next Templar, Arizona page), I suddenly hit on the idea that it would be awesome to have a chat-room-and-streaming-video thing that could stream from video files on your hard drive instead of just from a webcam.

Now, this might already be possible with Ustream and other webcam sites: Charlie has a bit of software that streams video of her desktop while she works, and Ustream doesn't know the difference between that and a cam stream. So maybe all I need is a piece of software that can play an AVI or whatever and turn it into a stream. But, really, I'd much prefer a site that's based around the whole idea of sharing video clips. It'd be especially cool if a room moderator could let other users play their own clips, instead of everything coming from just one person.

Maybe everybody who wants to show something just cues up their file, and the server buffers a little bit of video and creates some little thumbnail screenshots from various points in the file. Then the room moderator sees a little "I've got a video to share" icon next to everybody in the chatroom who wants to contribute, and can mouseover each of them to see the video's filename and thumbnails. Then he or she can click something to add the video to the queue or tell it to play immediately (or something to stay "Video rejected; pick something else", of course).

I know this kind of thing would be a magnet for porn spam and worse shit, but keeping your room unlisted from any public directory would probably prevent that (or password locking it would definitely work, if that fails). I'm kind of torn about whether I'd want the site to allow totally anonymous contribution or not.

So does this exist, already? Anybody know? Because I ain't gonna make it. And I've got a whole pile of animated shorts and other crap I'd love to show off to my Internet friends.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Post-holiday blog post of thanks

God damn, I have much better friends and family than I deserve. Seriously, we had a really great Christmas over here, and we got so many gifts in the mail that I actually kind of feel bad. We received way more than we gave. And it was all such great, well-thought-out stuff, a lot of it made just for us by awesome and talented people.

Books from my parents! I'm really digging this 4e Monster Manual, but now I've gotta finally break down and buy the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide...

Clothes from my parents! All in my usual preferred spectrum of black-gray-blue. This is good, because I almost never buy clothes. Get a load of the Pandemonium Books t-shirt by Rich Burlew! Really great SF/RPG book shop in the Boston area. Love that joint.

My brother Keith got me these DS games, and they've been pretty much occupying all my attention since I opened them. Puzzle Quest is like Bejewelled as an RPG, but that is actually awesome. Megaman ZX Advent has these really embarrassing anime cutscenes, but it's looking like a solid game so far. It's blowing me away how complicated Megaman games have gotten, but that's cool. I like complicated.

God, I love these. They were for both my wife and me, made by our incredibly talented friend Brenna Zedan. On the left are "The Twins", the mascots for our little Internet forum. In the middle, a reverse griffin (lion head, bird butt and feet, no wings) with a mane of fluffy string. And, on the right, a mummified rat. That one's because we mummified our rat. Anyway, Brenna makes loads of cool stuff like this and sell 'em on Etsy.

...And another incredibly talented friend of ours, Roxxy Goetz knitted little dolls of us as superheroes. Oh, man, there's a whole bunch of backstory to where these characters came from--I mean forum discussion backstory, not character backstory--and I ain't getting into it now. Also, she made a sweater for our dog. We actually got a bunch of dog clothes this year, and I should probably take some photos of the poor creature all dressed up. (Roxxy, I should also mention, designed the forum mascots shown above. She's really great.)

I think this one is technically more of a belated birthday gift for my wife, but it's awesome, so I'm posting it anyway. This is a painting of the protagonist from her comic, done by our buddy Nina (who is once again overhauling her whole website, apparently).

Anyway, Nina also sent us fancy Brazilian chocolate-covered biscuit things. They are huge and extremely delicious.

My mom has started taking pottery classes, and she sent us the very first bowls she made. They're simple, of course, but they're really beautiful. My poorly-lit photos don't really show off how cool their colors are, but I really dig these things.

Speaking of candy, my parents sent us marshmallow Santa things with some rather interesting packaging. Santa looks like he's just started transitioning, here. Or maybe it's just Santa Claus crossplay?

Man. There's actually a load of other stuff I ought to post, but this is already kind of a huge post. Let me just end by saying HOLY GOD THANK YOU EVERYBODY. You're all great folks, and I wish I deserved you. Happy holidays, all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

[IaWA] Clutch Oracle

Clutch logoI don't know if I've mentioned the band here before, but I'm a really huge fan of Clutch. They're pretty much my favorite band. (And Charlie's, too. We go to basically every show they play in the Chicago area, and she's give the band some art a few times. Last show, we actually got to go backstage and hang out with them a bit. Extremely nice guys.)

Anyway, in addition to rocking hard and huge, just about every song they've ever recorded has extremely interesting and evocative lyrics. There are some weird ideas and stories, there, and--inevitably--they tend to make the think about roleplaying games. So I've been playing around on Abulafia again, building a Clutch Oracle for In a Wicked Age.

Who could fail to come up with game ideas given a set of story elements like this?

The robot revolution is coming.

A homeless hoodoo practitioner sells temporary cures in return for service after death.

A young folk healer in Latin America, rejected by her community for offering mercy to a defeated demon.

An order of assassins who wield wooden blades, raised from infancy under an oath of silence.
Or this?

A society of swamp women, drunk and deadly as maenads, armed with shotguns and consorting with boars.

A woman storms castles while riding a pterodactyl.

A dead cosmonaut contacts Earth to discuss the gluttony of the starving stars.

The dread capital ship of Hell's forces, crewed by dog-like demons and bringing its own black ocean with it.
To be honest, I'm not sure when or if I'll actually get to use this oracle, as I still haven't even managed to get get people to play regular IaWA. But I dig the idea, so I'm going to keep working on the oracle and adding elements.