Would you like The Force with that?

Several management types sat at tables in the McDonald’s dining room, holding a breakfast meeting while I munched on a burrito.

The senior manager leading the meeting made a comment: “You’ll find that in your R2D2 report.”

No one around the table giggled.

No one made humming lightsaber noises.

Everyone kept a straight face.

I barely suppressed an outburst of “Bloop-beep-beep-bah-loooop.”

He kept referring to the R2D2 report, over and over again. It got to be like Bill Lumberg in “Office Space,” telling Peter to file his TPS report. Except this was worse. So much worse.

The TPS report was just some silly, made-up bureaucratic bit of satire. Apparently, McDonald’s appropriated a cherished piece of my childhood and turned it into some kind of corporate anti-theft tool.

I checked. R2D2 is a technical support system that provides summaries of key events in a restaurant – every reduction before sale, card swipes, unauthorized drawer openings, clearing of the drive-through queues.

I thought my memories took a beating when George Lucas gave my favorite trashcan droid a couple of booster rockets and turned Darth Vader into a weepy Frankenstein’s monster.

But Lucas could at least argue that he owned the rights to those characters and could do whatever he wanted with them. His toys; his playground.

“Again, you’ll find that information in your R2D2 report,” the senior manager said.

I felt a wave of nerdrage building, especially since R2D2 wasn’t the hall monitor in the Star Wars movies. He was a fixer. He repaired things. He wouldn’t snitch if he caught an Ewok pilfering an extra Wookiee cookie from the snack jar.

C3P0, on the other hand, was a huge whiner and an unrepentant tattletale. If you’re looking for someone to rat on employees sneaking cash from the till, he’s your droid.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Maybe I’ve said too much. If I’m not careful, people may realize I’m just a mullet and a brown bathrobe away from cosplaying a pudgy Jedi.

But, surely, if you’re going to “pay homage” to Star Wars with a store security program, it ought to be called Threep or Goldenrod.

Or were those already taken by the software that controls the fry cooker?

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun. 

The motto for 2014: “Tell a story”

It’s been a hectic, amazing year.

For me, on the personal front, I remarried in March and in May became father to an adopted infant boy.

At work, I went from education reporter to news editor in the spring and by the end of summer became a hybrid news editor/crime reporter.

On the OtherSpace front, I started a new “isolated” style of story arc with Colchek, taking a handful of players aboard Comorro Station to an alien universe where they could be caught in the crossfire of a war for freedom.

For a few months, though, that storyline faltered because of the intense increase in the demands on my time by both fatherhood and journalism. It’s just been impossible to find reliable blocks of three or four hours a pop to run events on a consistent basis.

I’m sorry about that.

Luckily, most (if not all) the players involved in the Comorro arc have multiple characters who can stay active back in the home universe. So, when things are in a lull aboard Comorro, there’s still someone to play with back in the Ancient Expanse.

But I want (need) the arc to plunge onward and, thanks to some encouragement from the players involved, we’re managing the adventure using posts in the game forums. It’s like an experiment we tried on a broader scale in the past, employing play-by-post techniques, but it may prove a better fit for us when it comes to small-group adventures.

I can make time – a few minutes here and there – between feedings and reporting on gang violence to post about what the True Children are doing to make life interesting for our heroes.

I miss the immediate gratification of real-time literary riffing in scenes, but the forum posts are a better alternative than inert silence.

And while we explore what’s next in the evolving narrative, we’re also thinking about what’s next with the game itself. Continue reading The motto for 2014: “Tell a story”

RoE #8

To Infinity… and Beyond!

The shuttle system has been installed thanks to the staff! All planets are now connected! With that, the first major milestone in the develop of Star Wars: Reach of the Empire has been reached – the main infrastructure has been set. The game is playable in its current condition.

What’s next?

Wookiees, and Bothans and Hutts.. Oh my!

We need to develop the list of playable races. In the recent Otherspace OOC Town Hall, it was discussed that races would fall under ‘umbrellas’, or racial categories such as ‘Reptiles’, etc… While I will leave the final decision to the staff of which race belongs to what category, we need to decide which races will be playable. This is a very quick ‘first draft’ of playable races:

Bith

Bothan

Duros

Neimoidian (this will be the only pre-Episode 4 race)

Human (this will encompass all Humans… Corellian, Hapan, Coruscanti, etc.. )

Nikto

Rodian

Hutt

Trandoshan

Wookiee

Gamorrean

Ithorian

Mon Calamari

Falleen

Quarren

Verpine

Barabel

Chiss

Droid

This is a pretty good starting list. Obviously, some races such as Hutt and Chiss will be judged more harshly than your run of the mill Mon Calamari or Human.

Expectation for Droid Applications will be outlined later. Not all droids are the same.. Your standard Astromech versus your Assassin Droids or Battle Droids, for example. There will be some standard required in the application process. In reality, I would restrict the number of droids to non-droid population.. Don’t need 10 droid players running around after all.

Feel free to suggest a race you would like to play if it is not on this list.

Jedi.. again..

I outlined the Jedi/Sith situation early on. Do not expect to play a force user in the beginning. They will be used for plot develop only. They will be powerful good/bad guys in plots, etc… They may be handed out for play to experience players who step up to the plate and take on a role to develop RP on the RoE side.

Force applications will be summarily rejected. Fair warning. 🙂 I do not want to sound like a dictator, but Force users, especially open-ended application of these sorts of characters, are asking for problems to happen.

That’s it for now.. Happy Holidays, and the next update will be later this week or sometime after January 1, 2014. 🙂

Overthinking baby’s first Christmas

This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in December 2013:

Just five years ago, I’d have laughed in the face of anyone who told me that I’d someday find myself standing in the back aisle of a Durham Toys R Us, weighing the benefits of Baby’s First Blocks, the Soothe & Glow Seahorse and the Rhyme & Discover Book.

It’s John Michael’s first Christmas.

For the first time in my life, I’m shopping for my own child.

I’m worried I might go overboard.

The various shaped plastic cubes and the bucket with a shape-sorting lid included in Baby’s First Blocks are promoted as an excellent method of honing eye-hand coordination. He can also learn about sorting, stacking, picking out shapes and matching them.

The plush seahorse with the push-activated glowing belly that plays music and ocean sounds is supposed to enhance the child’s auditory skills, promote relaxation and help them fall asleep on their own.

The rhyming book plays melodies, features light-up characters and offers open-ended questions that encourage thinking and learning.

And none of them matches the allure of his babysitter’s glasses.

They can’t come close to the glee he seems to draw from rolling and bouncing. Can they possibly distract him from the unadulterated satisfaction that he takes from tugging what’s left of my hair? Or grappling to get his tiny hands on my iPhone, because drool always looks cooler with a ghostly white glow beneath it?

Can they substitute for the pleasure of chewing on a rubber spoon with new teeth?

For heaven’s sake, I’ve seen this child bliss out trying to crumple advertising circulars from The Herald-Sun – the gourmet newspaper of choice for the most discerning infants.

He’ll happily chew on a sugar packet before those eager, searching fingers go probing through a plate of pasta just to experience the fun of splattering marinara.

If he could choose a gift, I’m almost certain it would be the pull on the blinds next to his changing table in the master bedroom. John Michael never stops wanting that and constantly flops over and grabs for it when I’m beseeching him to hold still long enough to clean him and change his diaper.

So, yes, maybe I’m overthinking these gifts for the baby’s first Christmas; my first Christmas as a dad. He’s not likely to remember what he receives this year any more than I remember what my parents got me at his age.

I’m still laughing, though, even if this wholly unexpected scenario played out the way it did. It’s just that I’m sharing that laughter with an infant who thinks it’s hilarious when I make elephant trumpeting noises.

That’s a great gift for both of us.

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.