Browsing articles from "April, 2012"

One year already? Yup

Apr 30, 2012

A few days ago, Mithril & Mages passed by its one year anniversary. The last year was pretty amazing. I had a great time tinkering with gaming materials and writing a fair bit of code. Judging from the response, far more people are interested in the products of my coding talents than are interested in the ramblings of my mind.

As with most things, the site has taken time to build and even longer to find an audience. I’m quite happy with the results of the last year although I have been slacking for the last few months. Over 12 months, nearly 26,000 unique visitors came to the site resulting in 225,000 page views (69000 unique). Statistics are notoriously biased but I took the information from Google analytics with my own visits removed.

Visits over 12 Months

Page Views over 12 Months

Both curves are moving up and to the right. If the site were a stock, I’d be retiring on the returns. Who could complain about that? I appreciate all the visitors who have found my efforts useful in the last year. It is humbling to know I’ve aided so many different people in such a short span. I hope you found what you needed or the inspiration to create something based on chaotic results.

Here’s to next year, we’re going to surpass a 100K page views in a month. I can feel it.. Thanks again to all the visitors and individuals who have made it possible thus far.

Time Flies when you’re…

Apr 27, 2012
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April has pretty much flew by this year. Free time has been slim to come by and when it was available, I spent the majority of it gaming rather than writing. Not to mention three different projects I’m currently trying to complete. Swapping from one to the next and then back again isn’t a path to completion. Two are close but the third keeps twisting and changing. The brain keeps coming up with more ideas than my I have time to design and code. What appears to be a final design shifts into something larger and more complex. It appears close for the moment.

Yesterday, the local telco decided I didn’t really need an active line. Somewhere amid other repairs, my phone line got disconnected and out went the internet connection. Trivial to fix but it took 15 hours before they got to the repair. A fair amount of muttering occurred yesterday. Hard to finish coding anything when half the files are inaccessible. Note to self: keep even prototypes committed to the code repository.

Given the time wasted awaiting the DSL repair, I’m just going to spend the afternoon working code and watching a bit of barbecue. One the menu for this evening is stuffed pork loin smoked with freshly cut crab apple. The store had ripe mango available so I’ll glaze it up with mango-jalapeno sauce at the end.

Mark’s Stuffed Pork Loin

1 Pork Loin (as big as you want)
1 Apple
1/2 Onion
3 Celery Stalks
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Dice apple, onion and celery and put into a bowl. Increase or decrease the amount depending on the size of the pork loin. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Add the brown sugar and mix well.

Split the pork loin three quarters of the way along the long side. Fold open. You may want to leave the ends of the pork loin uncut to aid in keeping the stuffing from falling out. Fill the pork loin with the apple/onion/celery mixture. Fold closed. Using cotton cooking string, tie the loin back together. Place strings every couple of inches.

Apply dry rub to tied loin. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. [I just prepped it and then went to get the smoker going.] Place loin on the smoker and baste every 45 minutes. Cook at 250 degrees for 5-6 hours. Apply glaze for the last 20 minutes of cooking. I’m using apple juice for basting with a jigger of brandy.

Just over an Hour

I better invite some friends for grub tonight. If I don’t, I’ll be eating pork loin for a couple of days.

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Experimenting: Free for Free — Product Publicity

Apr 17, 2012
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A few days ago, I launched a product experiment by releasing the Medieval Names books for sale on DriveThruRPG. Once I’d figured out the process, I bundled both books for $0.98 and priced the individual titles at $0.59. Similar products provide far fewer names for more money. The response was quite positive. I’m not going to get rich but I’ll have a few extra bucks to spend on gaming materials.

Yesterday, I published the Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book on Demand as a free product. Based on feedback from the original consumers and posts on other sites, the TBoD is useful to many people. The book is neither pretty or ground breaking. Simply put, it contains treasure lists for the time challenged game master.

So why release it as a free product on a commercial site?

Two reasons – 1) I suck at marketing and 2) links from others confirm my ineptitude. The latter comments have included such gems as “great stuff but the guy doesn’t post anywhere – we need to get the word out”. I cannot disagree. I feel completely uncomfortable visiting sites only to promote what I’ve done. The entire idea of starting an account for the sole purpose of self promotion makes me shudder. I have the same feelings on social media sites. Those I use to connect with other like minded individuals — not spam them with my latest and greatest thought.

Tossing a free product onto a commercial site full of cool titles is likely to get lost in the noise, right? Not to mention its from a completely unknown “publisher” of gaming products. I trusted DriveThru to provide marketing. My trust was not misplaced. In fact, I had to start filtering sales notifications.

Bat Guano Crazy

Granted, these are free product notifications. My best day of hits on the same generation system is far less than the sales in a single day. I’ve long known Mithril & Mages was not known by the majority of the Labyrinth Lord community. The magnitude of the difference is shocking.

Oh yeah, those free books? They are marked page by page with the web address. I might still suck at the marketing front but a few more folks know about me.

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Another Gamer Down: My Zombie Wrath Continues

Apr 17, 2012
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Yes, yes…another victim. Tasty morsels of living flesh. I (apparently) cannot be denied. Wheels is the latest and last to fall.

“Wheels” was listening to the radio as he raced down the street heading for +Mark Hassman’s house. The zombie apocalypse was happening, just like they always joked about, but this was no joke. People were dying and coming back to kill others, spreading the infection. He tried to call his buddies but the cell phone service was down, he only hoped they were both safe.

He drove over a zombie as he approached Marks house, taking an extra moment to back over its head, and then pulled in to his drive way, parking beside Garretts car. Good, they were both here.

He grabbed his bag and went to the door, knocking as loudly as he dared, not wanting to draw any extra attention to himself. After a few tense moments without answer from within, he tried the door knob. It turned with a click, and with one last scan of the area, he started to enter.

Immediately he was grabbed by +Mark Hassman and Garrett who dragged in to the house screaming, his flailing legs kicked the door shut behind him.

Nice 'do.

Want to be zombified? Visit Byron or his 1000 Zombies page on Google+ for all the details.

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Zombie Friends are not Friends

Apr 17, 2012
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Byron added this bit on how Garrett met his demise… Apologies in advance, Garrett.

Garrett had driven half way across the country to get to +Mark Hassman’s house. The sooner he got there the better too. Traffic is getting crazy, people are driving to fast and dangerously, and he’s only been in the city for 10 minutes and has already seen nearly a dozen fights, and some crazy hobo had jumped on the hood of his car and pounded on the wind sheild.
Garrett nearly shit him self when that happened, and barely avoided crashing in to another car.

5 minutes later he was at Mark`s place, so he grabbed his bags and ran to his door, ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door. When Mark finally answered, Garrett was shocked. Mark looked terrible, like he had a flu or something. Why wouldn`t he have called if he was sick, Garrett thought. This could have easily been rescheduled.
“Come in” Mark said in a voice that was rough and coarse.
Garrett closed the door behind him and asked what happened, asking if Mark was sick.
“I don’t know what happened” replied Mark in a dry whisper of a voice. “Some kid came up and bit me an hour ago. Now I don’t feel very good.”

It was at that point that Mark got violently sick, causing Garrett to jump up and rush to the phone, dialing 911. All he got was a busy signal. He tried again, and again, and again. Nothing.

Garrett went back to help Mark, but he wasn’t there. He called out his name, and went in to a different room but he couldn’t find him. Hearing a noise coming from the bathroom he went to check, thinking he just moved to there to get sick again.

He opened the door and saw Mark on the floor, not moving. He checked for a pulse, placing his hand on his throat, nothing. Garrett raced back to the phone to try 911 again, and again and again and again. Nothing but busy signals. He started to go back to check on Mark, perform CPR perhaps, when Mark burst through the doorway crashing over furniture and charging straight for Garrett.

The last thought that went through Garretts head was that Mark looked just like the hobo that jumped on his car.

Want to be zombified? Visit Byron or his 1000 Zombies page on Google+ for all the details.

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Attacked by a Little Girl – How I became one of the undead

Apr 17, 2012
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Here I am, in all my zombie glory, courtesy of the amazingly talented Byron Rempel.

Fine Day to be a Zombie

Mark was at his local supermarket getting supplies for the weekend. His gaming buddies were coming to town to hang out, have a few drinks, tell a few stories and perhaps even play a couple games again. It’s been nearly a year since they last got together and he was really looking forward to it.

It was while walking through the parking lot he started noticing things were a little … off. There was yelling and screaming coming from across the street, cars seemed to be driving erratically, and he thought he heard gun shots in the distance.

The city is going crazy he thought, as he put his groceries in his car, and then screamed in pain as he felt something bite his upper leg. Instinctively he struck out and knocked the attack away. It was a little girl, but not really. Her face was all snarled and distorted, big gashes in her cheeks and missing half of her hair. She looked up at him and started roaring, rising up fast and lunging at Mark. He quickly took a step back and kicked her as hard as he could. He heard a snap and she fell down hard, unmoving.

Mark looked around to see if anyone saw the attack, decided he didn’t much care, and got in his car and left. His leg was really sore, but he’d check it once he was home … and safe. In a few hours Mark’s friends would be there, and then everything will be awesome.

It’s going to be a great weekend.

Want to be zombified? Visit Byron on G+ or his 1000 Zombies page for all the details.

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Old West Name Generator

Apr 16, 2012
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The Old West is cool genre. The rich history is something I enjoy in games and reading material. So I decided to whip up a quick Old West Name Generator. The process was not quick or easy. Unlike name data from modern times, only a few databases exist for names during the latter half of the 1800’s. Most of those databases only allow minimal interaction due to the prodigious amount of work spent assembling the data from hand written census, military, and other records.

Strangely, the United States National Park Service has a searchable database of six million individuals from the Civil War. The NPS is a government funded organization but apparently has no released the database to the public. I settled on using a number of public rosters of Civil War veterans along with data on popular given names from the Social Security Agency. What started as around 40,000 records resulted in just under 14,000 unique names [10K surnames, 2.3K male names, and 1.3 female names]. The data set is significantly smaller than I envisioned initially. Tip of the hat to the individuals who have endeavored to transcribe the oft illegible records from that era.

Much like the data for the Medieval Name Generator, this database will take additional effort and research to flesh out fully.

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