Two months have passed since the last time I wrote anything on this blog.
What has happened?
Well, there are various reasons.
I had a long list of boring stuff that I wanted to get done before the end of the year. It included things like getting medical reimbursement, sending a W8BEN form to my bank, and other various things that involve paperwork and under the general threat of “if you messed this form up, you will be punished!”
For some reason, this kind of threat really paralyses me. I hate making mistakes that could cost me a fortune or my ability to enter the US. As a programmer I know that “making mistake” is part of human nature, and so much research on engineering has been done to prevent or mitigate human error. It’s simply amazing that most paperworks don’t work the same way. They seem to be designed in a way as error-prone as possible.
Another big issue was that my interest in tinkering this very website was hampered by the advent of WordPress 5. The accidental pun is, of course, it happened during Advent.
While upgrading is easy, there are still details like how to back up data and make sure the Gutenberg editor doesn’t ruin everything I currently have. There are also topics like figuring out how the newly updated Kahuna theme works with Gutenberg. The new thing is, in my tests so far, lacking, and while a graphical editor certainly helps, it is not something I would die for.
Anyway, there are a few boring things that are not urgent anyway, blocking the fun things that had been my focus in October. If this is my job I would call this procrastination. But, alas, procrastination for hobbies is probably fine.
You might have already noticed that the last article before this long silent period was about a D&D 4E game I joined. However, D&D 4E had the virtue of generally not requiring too much time in building characters. Pathfinder, however, was a crazy time sink if you jump start to high level characters.
To make things worse, I attempted to join a heavily houseruled and gestalt game at level 14. It sucked me lots of time and energy to get a character sheet vaguely coherent and with a power level that I simply have no idea without testing it in a session or two. It’s simply too complex. I love complex things, but monster race and gestalt and high level is a crazy combination that I will stay away for some time.
And, all these efforts went in vain as the application was ultimately refused. Another lesson learned: I should join low level games so that being refused hurt less.
Pokémon Tabletop United & Voxica
Among the various time sinks, at least this seems to work out well.
Pokémon Tabletop United is a fan-made TRPG system that seems to show huge influence from D&D 4E and Pathfinder. Or maybe Mutants and Masterminds, which is said to be the source of inspiration of D&D 4E, but I haven’t looked at yet.
What really surprised me when I downloaded the rule book is the very high quality of its graphic design. It looks very professional. And considering that it’s free, it is an exceptional job.
Back to the game itself, it vaguely supports everything one finds in the Pokémon games and animes. You can be the stereotypical Ace Trainer that trains good pokémon, or you can be, say, a trainer specialized in water-type pokémons or special defense. Something that really bothered me about the main game is that there is strong thematic reason and story reason (see all the gyms) for mono type teams, but no real mechanical reason for that. This game gives an adequate answer to that question: everyone has a different team because they have a different skill set, and some people’s skill set involves a certain type. It explains things well, and allows many different character concepts.
The quest of finding a Pokémon Tabletop United game ended in finding Voxica, a live server for PTU. The good part about it is that it is alive, fun, has a good story line, and has many variant pokémons left for the players to discover — which might be the best way to replicate the original feeling back when we were kids playing our first pokémon game on a GameBoy. The downside to it, is that it requires a certain time investment. Probably not a bad thing after all, since as long as it fulfills the “fun” goal, all time invested are worth it.
My current thought about resolving this is expectation management. I had fun in spending ten hours before producing a blog article. But maybe I can also write something that does not take much time. I definitely should have just written a short post about discovering PTU, for example.
Speaking of PTU, another thought is whether the current tagline, “Yi Yang’s hobbies and puns”, is having a negative effect. I should write about things because they are interesting, and interesting things are often new, and new things are often not hobby yet. Anyway, i won’t go deeper along this topic, it will go to another post if I ever decide to bring it up again.