What are the goals for 2017?

Time for the typical post about the 2017 goals! I'll keep this post short and sweet without too much reflection on the previous year. In case you want to read how I approach goals, I wrote about it in 2014. Without further ado, let's jump into the plan for 2017.

Mental HEALTH

One of the big changes I did in 2016 was to go back to seek out help for my anxiety and depression. It has been a slow and gradual process, but improvements have been happening with each passing day. Do I slip? Sure. Do I endure past panic attacks? Absolutely! Is it the end of the world? Not even close. One of the most important goals this year for me is to continue down my current path towards being mentally healthy. Each month there is a set of goals to achieve and new hurdles to overcome. Some of them include professional workbooks while others are actions such as jump start board game nights at my house again. Another way I plan to help tackle some of my issues is writing about them either in my own personal journal or on the blog. As I keep telling myself concerning these goals, it is just one foot in front of the other.

Creativity

One of the muscles I did not stretch last year was my creative muscles. To be honest, I was extremely hard on myself last year to an unhealthy point. The behavior lead to constant start, over analyzing of a project, self-deprecation, and finally stopping the project. It is time to quit that behavior cold turkey. I was slowly easing myself back into the creative groove near the end of last year with the intention of this year being where I find it. If people come to read what I have to say, design, and play, I will be grateful. The most important part is doing it for me. Some of my goals in this category are  as follows:

  • Writing which will focus on blog posts, character templates, random backgrounds, or short stories
  • Picking up the piano again in earnest and learn to play some of my favorite video game, movie, and TV show theme songs (I'm looking at you Star Wars and Zelda).
  • Designing board/card games. I won't talk much about this one...yet.
  • Potentially wrapping up two costumes I've started on and never finished. The good news is I'll be starting from scratch, so I know what did not work last time. 

Reading

My passion for reading has never truly died, but it took a back seat for a long time in favor of video games, work, and just general laziness. I set a reading challenge on Goodreads last year for twelve books which I blew through rather quickly without even realizing it. There was some minor flexing when I crossed the finish line in June. The difference this year is setting the goal higher with a plan to alternate between a fiction and non-fiction book. I want to expand my horizons in literature, so I'll focus on picking different genres and subject matters. Plus, I may slip some graphic novels into my queue since a new trade for Saga is coming out later this year.

Phsycial Health

This is not a goal is where I want the perfect body by beach season. The goal however is to start looking at what I'm eating and drinking each day. I'm no longer in my twenties and want to ensure good health going into my thirties. There is not much to this goal than start to be wiser in my decisions concerning what I'm doing to my body. The rest can come later when I master not eating tons of junk food every day.

No time like the present to get started on my goals. I wish you all a wonderful 2017 and hope you will accomplish anything you set out to do. 

It has been a while...

It has been a long time since I’ve opened one of my text editors to write anything substantial let alone a piece for my website. There were moments where I would double click Byword or Sublime Text, and then promptly close them after a few moments staring at the screen. My mind would go through the familiar emotional cycle of excitement, bewilderment, and fear. The same fear of something being wrong with my brain physically plague me. My mother had a brain tumor when I was in high school, and it has taken a long time for me to realize the irrational fear I have of my own mind being healthy. The same irrational thoughts only combined with my on-going battle with anxiety for an undisclosed amount of time in my life. If you want to know more about it, I wrote about my time dealing with depression previously at the beginning of 2015. My goal with this entry in my blog was to do a fast catchup on life and what has been happening since my last post in 2015. Time to queue up the montage music.

The biggest change from 2015 was my move to Irvine with my promotion to the Director of Web for Curse. My boss called me on my way to PAX Prime 2015 to offer me a chance to head up the web side of the app division. In my mind’s eye, I pictured myself on the west coast to final put down roots and the opportunity to do so was within my grasp. I accepted the offer and prepared for my move to sunny California. Overall the move was painless since the company used Graebel Van Lines to move me out there. I settled in fast and soon after being here, we began work on what would become the new Curse App. If you have not tried out our new version of the Curse App, check it out at https://www.curse.com.  A handful of months later, we would launch the app to the public. My team would shift focus and get CurseForge ready to move from its legacy stack to a more modern stack. We wrapped the initiative up a few days ago; my head is still spinning on getting two major projects completed this year. In between both initiatives, we would be acquired by Twitch. To say it has been a crazy ride in my career this year would be an understatement.

My approaching thirtieth trip around the sun is soon, so a decision was made to see to my mental health. I stopped seeing my doctor a little bit before heading to California. If I am being honest with myself, I was not seeing the results I expected from them. Sadly, I left under the pre-tense of time being an issue with the pending move. After crunch was finished on the app, I began to shop around for different doctors. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding the right professional. Each doctor gave me a different theory, suggested pills, or felt disingenuous toward the plight I was facing each day. I finally settled on Dr. Patrick Aleknavicius from Inner Fokus; it was his data driven decision making which sealed the deal for me. Four months have passed now, and things have gradually been improving each week. One of the biggest takeaways from going back to see a professional is making sure my mental health is a top priority.

One of my friends recommended a book to me called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Act of Decluttering and Organizing by Mari Kondo. During the first couple of chapters, my initial thoughts were skeptical of the techniques being taught in the book. The teachings seem to contradict all the motherly wisdom I received as child for straightening up a room/car/house. However, I began the process last week and can attest to the effectiveness of the teachings. I’ve donated over six bags of clothes, books, and games while throwing about the same in terms of garbage/useless stuff. One of the best side effects of the whole process is the re-discovery of my passions. Discarding the items that did not bring me joy was essentially eliminating white noise. I was left with only items that brought me true joy and passion.

With an urge to change my narrative and finding my passions again, I want to put more efforts into my creative urges. What will this mean for the blog? I am uncertain at this moment, but I know it is probably going to be a huge hodgepodge of my passions, life, and miscellaneous stuff. One thing I know for certain is I won’t make it an obligation to post something each week, but I know I’ll put forth effort each week toward it.

Note: Links on this page do not have referral links for Amazon.

Discovering a New Zen

In a world of information overload and chaotic multitasking, one should find a way to block out the rest of world in order to find internal harmony. My attempts at discovering new zen moments have resulted in failure, frustration, or fruitless endeavors. However, tonight brought about a period of relaxation that soothed the anarchy raging in my skull. My peacemaker is called cooking.

Last year, I received a couple Japanese cookbooks from friends for the holidays. The books sat on my Amazon Wishlist for a couple months while I battled with some internal demons. Aside from the book, my brother gifted me my first rice cooker. Here is the point where I lavish the reader with all the fun recipes I learned over the course of year. NOPE! That is not the story this time around for me. I spent the year looking over more cookbooks and eating out for dinner. 

I began browsing through Simply Japanese  this past week until I found a recipe that did not seem too hard, yet not too simple. I settled on a garlic steak rice bowl. Scribbling down the recipe, my mind jumped for joy at the thought of starting a new hobby. I  quickly ordered some of the missing supplies online. When the day finally arrived to cook the dish, I ran to the store to buy the final ingredients to ensure they were fresh. 

I cracked open a bottle of Sapporo and dived right into cooking the dish. The vortex of voices in my head subsided as I began to slice the cloves of garlic. Anxiety and uncertainty dropped away as the olive oil filled the frying pan. As I toasted the garlic cloves to a golden brown, I did not have a single thought cross my mind. There was only the sound sizzling garlic. Time flew by while I prepared the steak, seared it in the left over olive oil, and cut it into stripes. Before I knew it, I was  stir frying some cooked rice. At the moment of writing this blog post, I can not recall a single thought that entered my mind throughout the time of adding the steak to the  rice mixture. The time came for plating the dinner which brought the exit from my Zen-like state.

There are no pictures of the finished product since I tend to eat my food over photographing it. However, there is calmer mind for me which is worth its weight in gold.  My hope and goal is to keep up with my new hobby and expand my horizons into more cuisine. 

The February Goal Update

Back in January, I set up some S.M.A.R.T. goals for the upcoming year. One of the key pieces to achieving goals is to review them and identified what worked (and did not work) out. Keep in mind that each goal should be measurable and achievable. 

Let's get the good stuff out of the way and look at what goals were achieved for the month of January:

  • Code each day to start my 365 Github challenge starting on 1/2
    • 1 day was missed due to a family emergency where it could not be helped at all due to no internet.
  • Lose 5 lbs in the month to help get into better shape.
    • Technically it was 4.98 pounds according to my Fitbit and scale. I'm calling it a victory/goal achieved.
  • Play more with the puppy to help bond more and ensure outside activity for both of us.
    • Despite the freezing cold temperature, I made sure to spend extra time with the puppy playing in my hallway. It was much needed exercise for both us. 

Now comes the moment of the dread where I look at the goals that were not achieved. Instead of making excuses, I will state why I did not accomplish them.

  • Read a book and learn a couple new words from it. I'm currently thinking of The Peripheral by William Gibson.
    • I decided to read more of the Walking Dead Compendium  Volume 1 and watch anime at night rather than spend time reading any novel. 
  • Write 4 blog posts in the month excluding this one.
    • I found zero urge to write and put forth no effort to do it during each week.
    • I did however write one blog post about my battle with depression
  • Put away more cash than last year to help save up for my 30th Birthday trip to Japan.
    • Unforeseen circumstances had me dip into that savings, but it was for the best cause which is family. 

For the moment, I want to run away and hide under my desk when I see everything I did not accomplish for the month of January. Being scared of my shadow serves me no purpose, so instead it is time to put a plan of attack forward based on analyze of the month. The following will be my goals for February:

  • Write 4 blog posts including this one.
    • I always got tripped up trying to find something to write for my blog. This is my world with my words. I always got caught up into what people would want to read instead of what I wanted to write here. Plus, I spent time writing this post, so it should count for the month!
  • Lose an additional 5 pounds to put me under the BS BMI overweight line.
    • I know the BMI is a complete piece of garbage. However, it helps me focus on my goal. After I drop past the imaginary red line on my app, I tend to stop worrying about the amount loss and focus on how things fit and look.
  • Finish reading Code Complete.
    • By focusing my efforts on improving my career, I feel I'll be able to hit the goal of read one book a month. Plus, I'll learn new words and lingo by reading technical material just as much as a novel.
  • Continue my 365 Github challenge.
    • I'm getting near a point of wanting to work on more projects at home, so I hope this will push me to that point. 
  • Start learning a new programming language by working on one of my board game helper ideas.
    • I did this last year with my dive into C#, but did not keep up with it. This year is going to be different as I invest in myself.

Here is to the month of February! Cheers everyone!

 

 

The Continual battle

The moon hangs high above battlefield illuminating the torment below. Troops from one side push into their enemy's line while their reserves flank from behind. With each skirmish, the moon grew dimmer until the last bit of light was over taken by darkness. Roars went up from the conquerors in celebration for another successful campaign. 

I open my eyes to a world where five minutes had passed in it. My gaze turns toward the window, yet I do not see the beauty of the landscape beyond it. My mind retreats back in itself while I stand in front of the sliding glass door. I imagine a movie scene where the viewer sees the figure standing on a balcony before turning toward the audience for some kind of epic reveal. Sadly, there is no turn, no reveal, or a Hans Zimmer track lead in for the moment. Instead, there was only me letting my mind retreat back in itself. The place was an all too familiar spot for the past couple years.

Art by: Kristian Nygård.

Depression comes in many flavors for different people. The image above closely resembles mine. The constant turmoil in my head, a feeling of failure and doom loomed over me. I would arise each day because that is the responsibility of being an adult. I would adorn my mask for either the office, convention, or friends before heading out in the world. Behind the smiles, the jokes/trolls, and the stories, there was anxiety, panic attacks, and fear. 

It was always hard to articulate why I felt this way especially with people informing that I should not be depressed or questioning the validity of it. The period it took to find professional help was a long journey with different paths of anxiety and uncertainty. To avoid the tales of personal anguish trying to cure myself, I favor the tale where I got the courage to find someone to help me.

During my trip to PHP[tek] back in May 2014, I went to the Evening Summit which happened to have a topic on mental health. Each speaker took the stage discussing their trials and tribulations with mental illness. As each person spoke about their situation, an easiness washed over me. The internal torment from the past couple years did not seem like a difficult piece to overcome. I listened to every word from the speakers despite the nagging negativity nestled in the back of my brain. When the summit was complete for the night, I went to find a fellow named Davey Shafik from Engine Yard.

Engine Yard heads up Prompt, the group that put on the Mental Health Summit. Prompt opens up the discussion on the topic of mental health by sending speakers to tech conferences and meetups. Davey was the individual who I found to discuss what was talked about during the summit. To sum up our conversation, I was not alone in the world when it came to any of my issues nor was I going to be lost on finding help. At that moment, there was hope I could find peace for the battles in my mind. 

After coming home from tek, I performed some quick searches within my insurance provider for a psychiatrist/counselor/psychologist. I sorted through all the names looking for some kind of sign that they would be able to help me on my quest for a cure. Notes were scribbled on paper with numbers to call on Monday morning. I wish the current point of story ended in a fairy tale closing of "I called a doctor and everything was happily ever after..", however, the sad truth is quite different. I never called anyone.

Art by ? - Via Reddit.com

A couple more months went by where I stared at my notes wondering when I would be able to call even one number on the list. The nights of panic attacks and random anxiety was getting old. I felt my mind was going to tear at the seams. I sat down and punched in a search in Google to help me find a therapist. My search led me to Psychology Today's directory of Huntsville counselors. I scrolled through the list and selected Dr. Stacy Ikard at random. My heart thumped loudly in my chest as I typed in my information. The two hundred character limit of the "message" field seemed like writing a novel.  I read over my response to the "message" part of the form over and over. As I felt the onset of a panic attack, I clicked the "Send Email" button before walking away from my computer to stare outside.

After a couple days of correspondence, I had an appointment booked at Corner Stone Counseling to see Dr. Ikard. My anxiety was through the roof to say the least about the time leading up to the appointment. The drive over did not help either, but luckily for me, the location was a short drive from my office. I pulled into a parking spot only to sit for a good bit of time debating whether to walk inside or drive back to the office. Knowing that I would regret the latter decision, I stepped out of the car and went inside CCC. The one thing I dreaded was going into a crowded waiting room to finish filling out my paperwork. I did not want to have people look at me even though I knew they were there for their own counseling reasons. I was scared.

The waiting room was empty.

I sighed in relief. After introductions and payment, I began the infamous filling of the paperwork routine. The ten minutes before my scheduled appointment time disappeared before I knew it. Dr. Ikard came out to introduce herself and escorted me back to her office. In my mind, I expected to see a leather chaise chair and a ton of books on the walls. However, I was greeted with a couch and a couple arm chairs. I was invited to tour Dr. Ikard's office before finding a comfortable chair to sit down on for the session. I kicked off my shoes (asked before I did it) and sat down on the couch.

I did not find one of these in the doctor's office.

I did not find one of these in the doctor's office.

When I look back at that first appointment, I laugh a little to myself. All the anxiety that was building up to it seems like wasted energy. It was a simple e-mail that I do every day when I'm working, yet it felt like the hardest thing in the world. Actually, it was the hardest thing in the world for me. I'm elated to be on a path for recovery, but I know it is one with continual battles to avoid slipping back into a depressive state. 

The TL;DR of this whole blog post is simple - The first phone call may be hard, but it will be the greatest defining moment in the battle for your mental health. If you ever find yourself in an unstable state, do not wait to call someone reach out to counselor, a friend, or a random stranger.

Top Ten Board Games From 2014.

With the close of 2014, I tend to setup a budget for the next year of game purchases especially around GenCon time. I decided to look back at last year's budget and noticed I went a tad over my initial estimates. This was mostly due to an amazing year of games and not just board games. I picked up more RPG and board games than I had in previous years. As I looked at the list of purchases, my mind started to sort them into a list. Here is the following list of my top board games from 2014: 

10. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building GameI've been a huge fan of the Legendary system from Upper Deck Entertainment. The latest game with the Legendary tag centers around the Alien universe. Upper Deck captures the horror aspect quite well, for instance, scanning cards as they move down the corridors that could expose any sort of danger is intense for the players. People can play mix all the cards, but I prefer the method of playing through each film (Alien, Aliens, Aliens 3, Alien: Resurrection). I stood in line for this game at GenCon and do not regret that decision in the slightest. 

9. King of New YorkIf one has played King of Tokyo, it should be no surprise that King of New York made anyone's "Top Ten List of 2014". Iello took Tokyo with the Power Up expansion and put everything in New York. The only downside to the new game is the Super Star bonus card which I feel tends to break the game due to the amount of VP someone can rack up quickly on their rolls. 

8. Lost Legacy: The StarshipAlderac Entertainment Group released a handful of small sized games this year. Lost Legacy: The Starship was one of those great titles. It is a draw one, play one in the same vein of Love Letter. The difference between the two games is an additional "Investigation Phase" where any remaining players try to find The Starship. The extra phase adds another layer of deduction without it feeling forced onto the players. There have been additional Lost Legacy sets released that can be combined into The Starship in order to bring the player count to six. It is one of the few games I keep on hand when I travel to conventions like PAX.

7. Sheriff of NottinghamHave you ever played Liar's Dice or Bullshit? Do you enjoy games were bluffing is encouraged? Are you okay with backstabbing your neighbors? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this game is right up your alley. Sheriff of Nottingham from Arcane Wonders is a game about bluffing (or not) goods past the Sheriff in order to make a profit at the market. Each player will have two turns to play the Sheriff while others try to get all their goods past her/him. The amount of social interaction in Sheriff has made this one of our go to titles when we're all in the mood for a thematic game with a chance of roleplaying a character. 

6. Tiny Epic Kingdoms - One of the best 4x games in a tiny little box from Gamelyn Games arrived to masses of Kickstarter backers around October of 2014.  The pocket sized game packs a ton of strategy due to all races and maps. It is crazy to think about the amount of depth packed into the game. Over the past couple months of playing the game with various numbers of players, I've not been able to formulate a standard strategy. If you like 4x games, this is a must own for the collection. If you want a fantastic travel game, this is one to add to the collection. Gamelyn Games is looking toward a great future and it is only going to get better with Tiny Epic Defenders and Tiny Epic Galaxies

5. IstanbulWhen I went to GenCon 2014, Istanbul was on my "MUST HAVE" list from Alderac Entertainment Group. Istanbul is a pick-up-deliver game set in the bazaars of..well...Istanbul to collect rubies. The combination of worker drop off plus a slice of resource management with a dash of strategic movement makes this one game for the collection. The three different difficulties of tile placement make the game easy to teach new players, yet difficult for experienced players. Sadly, I've only been able to get a couple games in since GenCon.

4. Sons of AnarchyGale Force 9 has done it again with capturing the essence of an IP in a board game with Sons of Anarchy. The player is running one of the many MCs (Motorcycle Clubs) trying to amass the most cash by the end of the game from running guns and selling drugs (Guuci bags for those that played the demo with me at Gencon). One has to do all this amidst the rival MCs trying to take out your club at various locations. Just like Spartacus, it one of the few games where I've seen players get sucked into and behind the theme of the game without being fans of the show. 

3. Star RealmsEveryone who has played games with me knows that I adore any game that is primarily a card game (mostly because I grew up playing MTG and Decipher Star Wars). As an avid deck builder fan, I picked up Star Realms while at Gencon 2014. The rules are simple and straight forward without too much complexity. Instead of amassing honor/victory points, the player's goal is to eliminate the other opponent/s. Each of the four factions has an ability like life gain or discarding cards from opponents that can lead to great combos. The games can be quite competitive which shows promise for an organized play scene.

2. Doomtown: ReloadedWith the recent boom in the LCG/ECG/WTFCG, Alderac Entertainment Group comes into the scene strong with Doomtown: Reloaded. Doomtown is the updated version of Deadlands: Doomtown from the 90s CCG Boom.  The uniqueness of the Downtown game was not lost in its modern update. Players will still need to position their gang members, build up their town, and have a decent hand for the poker mechanic. One of the key reasons the game is high on my list is multiplayer aspect of the game. Doomtown scales remarkably well and provides for great moments. Do not let the learning curve scare you away, pick it up and get ready for some shootouts. 

1. Splendor I could spend hours gushing about this great title from Space Cowboy, however, I'll try to sum it up in a paragraph. GO BUY THIS GAME! There, simple, right? Splendor is a resource management game that has a ton of depth and strategy. It has become a staple for board game night since it is a great warm up or closing night game. Honestly, we've had a couple nights of just Splendor because of the replayability of it. Did I mention you should just go buy this game?

Games that did not make the list because I did not get to play them:

  • Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game - I continue to hear people rave about this game from Plaid Hat Games. The event-card mechanic has intrigued me since I've noticed it has motivated people to role-play a bit more than an average thematic board game. Plus, I always enjoy a good game where you have to debate the moral decision of your action. Do you save the group or go rogue by sacrificing them to an oncoming hoard of flesh eating creatures.
  • Five TribesI keep getting told to buy this game from Days of Wonder without being told too much about it. I've heard it has a new spin on worker placement genre. It will be on my list for games to pick up in Q1 of 2015 since everyone will not stop raving about it. 
  • Star Wars: Imperial AssaultI initially did not play attention to this game when I walked past it at GenCon 2014. I thought it was going to be Star Wars the Descent flavor. However, the more content released for the game has caused an increased interest in the game since it does not look like a copy of Descent. Fantasy Flight Games released it later this year, so I'll probably pick up a copy early Q1 of 2015 to try it out. 

Let me know your thoughts on your top games of 2014. Leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter!

A New Year With New Goals

To any passerby visiting the site, it appears my little space of the internet has been abandoned due to either disinterest or laziness. Sadly, I can not put up an argument to defend it. The year has been rocky for me mostly on an emotional level than physical; however, I am aiming to improve pieces of myself this year. In order to accomplish this feat, I will need to setup some personal goals. 

In a blog post I wrote last year, I discussed the pointlessness of New Year Resolutions compared to proper goal setting. The brief synopsis of the article is that countless resolutions are not met each year due to unrealistic, non-measurable goals. Goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-locked in order for people to achieve them. As my Mom would always say, "Baby steps, Son, baby steps are needed to accomplish anything". 

Here is my current January list of S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Read a book and learn a couple new words from it. I'm currently thinking of The Periphreal by William Gibson.
  • Write 4 blog posts in the month excluding this one.
  • Code each day to start my 365 Github challenge starting on 1/2
  • Lose 5 lbs in the month to help get into better shape.
  • Play more with the puppy to help bond more and ensure outside activity for both of us.
  • Put away more cash than last year to help save up for my 30th Birthday trip to Japan.

At the start of each month, my plan is to provide an update of last month's goals plus provide the next month goals. You may want to skip those posts if you do not find them interesting.

Being S.M.A.R.T for the New Year...

 At the start of every year, I compile a list of resolutions much like most people. The list contains the usual proposals of self improvement such as weight loss or learning an instrument. Feeling a sense of purpose, the path to fix myself is put on the fridge as a constant reminder. Time passes around us, life throws a couple curve balls, and maybe one item is crossed off the list before the Ball drops to signal a new year. The list gets ripped off the fridge, and another one is started that day. Rinse/repeat each year and that leads to a ton of resolutions not completed. The self improvement train never seems to get traction. 

While I was on vacation, I began investigating new ways to approach personal and career goals. One of searches lead to an article written by George T. Dolan called There's a S.M.A.R.T way to write management's goals and objectives. The idea behind S.M.A.R.T is a way to set the importance and difficulty of goals. People have used different words for the letters of the acronym over the years. For my example, my breakdown will use some of the most common shared words for the acronym. Without further ado, I present S.M.A.R.T goal building:

Specific - The goal should be narrowed down from a broad statement like "I want to learn Lua". A good example would be "I want to make a World of Warcraft addon that helps roleplayers use dice".

Measurable - After the goal is narrowed down, one can establish steps in order to achieve it. With the clear outline, one can monitor the progress on the road to success. 

Achievable - The goal should be reasonable within your realm of possibility. If a goal is set that is way above one's skill set, it will just be a exercise in frustration. Breaking keyboard frustration. 

Relevant - The goal needs to be important to you. If it not important to you or what you want to do, why do it? To me, this is the most important part of the S.M.A.R.T way of goal building. 

Time-blocked - The idea of a deadline causes high blood pressure for some people. However, one needs to set a hard deadline for goals in order

Reading over S.M.A.R.T is all fine and dandy, but it does not help with out some examples. Here are a couple of my goals for the year:

  • I want to write a <secret> program for work in C# by the end of Q1 to help get a better understanding of C#.
  • I want to lose twenty pounds by php[tek] 2014 ( http://tek.phparch.com/ ) from going to gym five days a week. 

By using S.M.A.R.T to set my goals, I have established a clear plan toward success. In a couple months, I'll have to follow up on this article to let everyone know including myself how it worked out. 

 

Game Master Series - Be the Player

During my early developmental years, my mother bought me a copy of Dungeon and Dragons Advanced 2nd edition. She was leaving on a trip and thought one of the books would be an entertaining endeavor for me. The Dungeon Master guide would open a whole new world of gaming that I did not know existed. On her next trip a couple months later, I was gifted the Players Guide and Monster Manual to complete the initial set. The path to being a Game Master had started for me.

Each person who has ever game mastered has their own tips and tricks in order to survive any issue, from story pacing to disruptive players. That will be the goal of each of the Game Master Series posts. Tips that have helped me level up in my game master class will be presented with examples. Without further ado, we'll hop into the first tip of the series.

A good Game Master will ensure that he/she experiences the role of player from time to time. Any Game Master who has not sat in the chair of a player will miss some critical aspect to telling a story for everyone. New Game Masters tend to focus on their story while neglecting their players' development, or they emphasize the individual character stories without having an arcing plot. The focus on individual players takes away from the overall group experience. Never being a player at any point means you're going to have a bad time. 

When I started out playing Dungeon and Dragons (skip ahead about two years after my first books were given to me), I spent all of my time being the Dungeon Master. My goal as my group's DM was trying to weave epic stories similar to the tales spun by authors such as Greenwood, Feist, and Martin. Each session revolved around more plat setup than time given to the players for developing their characters. After a bit, I noticed players would get bored and do their best to railroad my campaigns. The reasons behind their actions baffled me. My answers would come in the form of the Lakeland Roleplaying Guild; it would be the first time I sat down as player in another person's game. After a couple sessions, my thoughts began to focus on how to improve the story for the players instead of focusing solely on my story.

Once a Game Master has sat on the other side of the screen, they gain new insight into the world of a player. From that point on, the focus of one's game involves the players alongside their story. Until next time, let the dice continue to roll critical for you!

A journey must begin with the first step...

Time has gone by and money thrown into a blog with no content. Some people would cancel their hosting package or subscription to their CMS; however, this person continues to contemplate what to do with all the free space. Ideas buzz around the vortex of my consciousness screaming for dedicated time. In order to make sense of everything, the topics of the blog will be mind dumped below for the first post.

Gaming: At my core, I am a gamer in both digital and analog formats. It is the first and foremost passion in my life. I'm an avid board game, card game, and role-playing player to a point where a good portion of each month's spending money is reserved for new games. Aside from the copious amount of dice being rolled in my life, I do not forget to experience the digital side of the hobby. The games that hold my attention tend to be strategic in nature or require a rather lengthy amount of time invested in them (RPG/MMORPG). With an intense passion for gaming, my blog will center around reviews, opinions, and random articles about both industries. 

Code: My professional world revolves around the writing of code. Like any programmer, my free time is sometimes filled with writing more 1s and 0s. My primary focus will to post on my philosophy to the art of code crafting alongside snippets of items that I design in my free time. The primary languages presented with be draw from either Objective C/C, PHP, and Python.

Life: Events occur in life where one tends to project their celebrations or frustration with the events. Times will arise when a blog post will be outlet for my own feelings. My plan is to keep these posts to a minimum or even non-existent.

Now that my mind dump is complete, I hope that everyone will stay around for my ramblings and discussions while enjoying the journey.