Summer Garden: 2014

2014-04-06 16.49.24

cucumber seedling

It’s that time of year again! Time to turn the wet earth over. Time to plant seeds and seedlings. Time to hope the dogs don’t ruin it like the do every year. Time to garden!

The recruits

The recruits

We didn’t have a winter garden this year… Or, we did but soon after putting it in we gave up because our dogs, the slugs and snails, and all the local wildlife were treating it like a salad bar. This summer, this year it’s going to be different! Mostly, because I can scare Jake into not messing with the garden and Millie now spends her days inside a kennel when no one is home.



What are we planting? Same as last year: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and maybe some cucumbers and zucchini. Keeping it simple. Just in case Jake and the other fauna get out of hand. I’m an optimist though, and I’m looking forward to the harvest!





Winter survivors...

Winter survivors…




The Joy of Puppies

This is Millie. She is our 11 month old Australian Shepherd puppy

This is Millie. She is our 11 month old Australian Shepherd puppy

We’ve spent a lot of time the last two weeks thinking about Millie. Why? Well, two weeks ago D came home for lunch to find Millie splayed out on the floor wheezing. For the non dog owners out there that isn’t a good thing. D rushed Millie to the Veterinarian’s where after the poked and prodded her a bit, including sticking their hand down her throat they shrugged their shoulders and decided to take some x-rays. The x-rays showed that Millie’s tummy had quite a few rocks and pebbles in it. The Vet said he thought one of them was stuck in her throat but that it he might have pushed it back into her stomach during the poking and prodding. He let us take her home and hoped that Millie would be able to pass them (‘passing’ is the polite word that vets use when they are talking about poop and pooping.) We did that. I spent the evening and morning looking through Millie’s stool with a stick (stool is the polite word I use when I am talking about shit and shitting.) Sadly, I found nothing.

So, the next day I took Millie back and she spent the entire day at the vet’s. What was she doing there? Vomiting. A lot of vomiting. The Veterinarian induced vomiting (they had another polite word for it but I don’t remember what it was) What did Millie throw-up? Rocks, pebbles, sticks, leaves, and other miscellaneous plant and soil matter. Excellent, right? It would be except additional x-rays showed that Millie still had some rocks in her tummy, for all I know they are still there now. So, with Millie all cleaned out the vet sent us home with a bunch of medicine and told us that Millie would still sound a little bad but would be improving and that he’d call us again after the weekend to see how she was doing.

Millie was doing a little better. It’s hard to tell because the little tyrant pretty much spends half of the day running around being a menace and the other half trying to crawl in people’s lap for pet’s and puppy kisses. She still seemed to be having breathing trouble especially through her nose. We had asked the vet to check her nose after the vomiting, to do a throat and neck x-ray just to make sure. He told us he had probed the nose but not done any x-rays again, but that she was fine and mending. Except, the whole weekend passed and then Monday and Tuesday went by and Millie was still not breathing normal. D finally put her foot down and told the vet to x-ray Millie’s throat and neck, that there had to be something going on in that area or nose because Millie couldn’t breath. The veterinarian didn’t give her story much credence, they didn’t think anything was in her nose, but they did agree to x-ray her for free since they didn’t the last time we had asked. It was a good thing D was persistent.

That is Millie’s skull. That dense white mass behind her upper molars? That is a stone that was lodged in her nasal passage. As soon as the vet saw it they immediately prepped Millie for surgery. The surgery took over a hour and involved pushing a scope down Millie’s throat and then back up into her nasal passage so they could grab the stone and pull it out. But! The stone was too firmly lodged and so they had to shoot water under high pressure down her nose to help dislodge the stone. The vet hypothesized that the stone got up there during all the vomiting. That one of the pebbles went up the wrong tube in the process of being expelled from the stomach. We’re just glad that it’s now not IN Millie. It’s been three days since the surgery and Millie is doing much, much better, she seems to enjoy being able to breath through her nose again.  We’re happy she’s better and we’re not destitute!

Puppies, am I right?

Designer Diary: De-making King’s Quest: Starting Over

If you go through the posts here you’ll find a few where I was trying to de-make Sierra On-line’s King’s Quest game. They’re some of the most visited pages on the site (probably because people are looking for maps of the actual game not my demake…) I was attempting to translate the graphical text adventure game into just a text adventure. I had the game mapped out and had started placing objects into the game when two things happened that killed the project. The first was my limited knowledge of the engine I was using, Inform 7. The second was my computer dying. I thought I had backed up all my files before wiping the old computer but when it came time to copy everything over to the new one… and with that I dropped the project to move on to other things.

I’m ready to try again now! I’ve got some books that should help too. I picked up Aaron Reed’s Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7, a nice thick tome that I’m hoping should help me figure out the intricacies of Inform when I get stuck. And The Official Book of King’s Quest, a guide to the game’s that I’ll be using as a pseudo design document for my KQ1 de-make.

The help

The help

I’m going to take a little more time this go around understanding Inform’s language before I take on the entirety of KQ1. It was easy enough to create a giant map of Daventry in the Inform engine but populating it with objects and people to interact with proved quite a bit more difficult. I’ll easier make some smaller test games first or build up the game in small sections that I can just add to each other in the end…

I guess you can look forward to seeing these and perhaps playing them too?

Welcome to Duel! the Card Game

I’ve been listening to and reading the words of game designers recently. How they make their games, what in the process comes first, where ideas for game mechanics come from, etc. All those words must have been sinking in to my grey matter with out me noticing it because earlier this month ideas for game mechanics started surfacing into my conscious from no where. Most of them seemed far-fetched and unworkable but a few held my interest and I spent a couple hours on the train to and from work thinking over them before pulling out a standard deck of 52 playing cards and seeing if any of them worked.

What I came up was Duel! a simple card game for two people that can be played with a standard deck of cards in under thirty minutes. I haven’t had a lot of time to playtest the rules or do any tweaking so I don’t know how balanced or playable the game is beyond the few hands I’ve played with myself. Playtesting will continue on my end but any comments or criticism would be appreciated!



In Duel!, each player starts with a starting hand of five cards (a flurry) that they keep hidden, and a set of three more hands each with five cards face down in front of them.

The game takes place in four rounds or until a player has won three flurries. A round consists of each player playing a card from their hand onto the table and the other player playing a card in response, comparing the cards, scoring (drawing blood), and then repeating this process each player alternating who plays the first card until both hands are empty. Then the next hand is drawn and the process is repeated.

The goal of the game is to win three flurries.


In Duel! you’ll be trying to get to through your flurries as quickly as possible while dealing the most injuries to your opponent while avoiding being marked. In Duel! Each suit represents a strike: Spades HighClubs MediumDiamonds Low, and Hearts ParryHigh beats MediumMedium beats LowLow beats Parry, and Parry beats High. In the case of both players playing the same suit the card with the highest number wins (Aces beat Kings.)

Duel! is played with a standard 52 card deck. Shuffle the deck. Deal each player half of the deck. Each player now organizes their cards into five stacks of five without letting their opponent see what is in each stack. Players discard their remaining card. After each player finishes selecting their stacks they each select one of their opponents stacks those stacks are removed from the game. Players now place take one of their stacks to be their hand and arrange the remaining stacks, face down, in front of them..


The player who introduced the game goes first (I challenge you to a duel!) if both players have played assign going first randomly. The game consists of four flurries each played using the deck in hand and on the table.


The round begins when the first player picks on of the cards in their hand and places it on the table. The other player then plays one of their cards down on the table in response. Following the rules above see who scores. The person who scores takes the two cards off the table and places them in front of them. Now the order alternates with the player who responded to the first card on the table playing a card from their hand and the other player playing a card in response. Score the cards, continue the flurry until one of the players has scored three times. If there are any more cards left in the players’ hands they are discarded. Each player now picks up one of the flurries in front of them and continues play as described above.


The game ends when one of the players has won three flurries.

Optional Play

For quicker play follow the setup and play of the game but instead of alternating the play of cards each player plays their cards simultaneously.