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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Paul Tevis

Entries in things that happened to me (12)


Friday At GenCon

I'm starting to wonder what morning at the convention center looks like, as this is the second day in a row I've been asleep for most of it. After yesterday's post, I ran into a group of people I knew (including Peter Rogers, whom I haven't seen since college, lo these many years ago) and convinced them to play a game of Fiasco. I had an amazing time with it at GenCon, and this session was just as good. Everyone involved had improv experience, and you could the story powers brought to bear. After that I got swept up in a bit of a pub crawl and didn't make it to bed until 4 AM, which is why it was noon before I got out of my room today.

Two very cool things happened today. First, A Penny For My Thoughts won the Indie RPG Award for Most Innovative Game. I figured that I had a chance, but I was floored (and humbled) that I actually won. As I said in my brief acceptance remarks, apparently to win an award for innovative game design, all you have to do is steal from games no one else has stolen from yet. I want to thank the designers of all of games that inspired the game, particularly Meg Baker for 1001 Nights, James Wallis for The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Fred Hicks for Don't Rest Your Head, and Jared Sorensen for Lacuna Part I: The Creation of the Mystery and the Girl from Blue City. Thanks again to Fred Hicks and to Jeremy Tidwell for making the game look awesome, and thank you to Ryan Macklin, my editor and developer, for making sure that the game actually made it into the book.1

And on the subject of thanks, the second very cool thing happened at the ENnie Awards. While accepting the Gold ENnie for Best Podcast, Ed Healy from the Atomic Array thanked Chris Perrin for doing the very first podcast he listened to, and "Paul Tevis, for helping me get through my first tour in Iraq." If my podcasting never had any impact other than that, it was a success. Congratulations on a well deserved win, Ed, and thank you.

Now, off to find more troublemakers and decrease the likelihood of seeing morning tomorrow.



1 And congratulations to my fellow Indie RPG Award winners: Danielle, Ken, John, Jason, and Steve. You rule, and I'm honored to be included in your ranks.


L'Espirit De L'Escalier

Two weeks ago, several people from our office in Lausanne, Switzerland, were visting to help jump-start a joint project. While talking with Hervé (who is actually French, rather than Swiss), I related several incidents from our trip to France and Switzerland in 2006, the linguistic difficulties I faced, and the self-deprecating manner in which I overcame them. He had a good laugh and then told me, "Your accent is very good."

I realized too late I should have replied, "Yes, but my vocabulary is merde."


Humorous Tales of OrcCon, Part 1

It's Friday. I'm trying to wrap up a few things at work before I head down to LA for OrcCon when I see that my friend Judd has IM'd me a link. I click on it and see this on Twitter:

wilw: @ptevis are you running Penny For My Thoughts at OrcCon tomorrow? Can I play if you are? Please please please pretty please?

Now, a bit of history: Wil and I were both Guests of Honor at RinCon last fall, and we ended up spending a reasonable amount of time together1. Wil was interested in Penny because there was a game of it going on2 during a D&D game he was running, and "it sounded like they were having a lot of fun." Sadly, our schedules didn't mesh that weekend, so he wasn't able to play in the game I ran3. He did buy a copy, however, and asked me to sign it for him4.

Back to Friday. I see the Tweet in question and reply in the affirmative. I had planned on stopping at home before I headed down to the con, which was a good thing, as I didn't have my demo kit with me. I finally got out of work late, made a quick stop to pick it up, and drove to Los Angeles. Saturday morning, however, I wasn't quite sure when Wil would be there or how we would meet up. Fortunately, I ran into Andrew Linstrom, who had seen the exchange on Twitter and came to the convention to meet me and for a chance to play Penny5. I ended up demoing a game design I'm working on for him, and when I was done, who should appear but Wil and his friend Cal. We made arrangements to meet after lunch and play.

So, we sit down in the lobby, and Wil says (roughly): "I emailed Andrew Hackard to figure out how to get in touch with you, and he suggested I just post something on my Twitter feed. So I did. Then I pulled up your feed in a tab and kept hitting reload to see if you'd reply. It was weird; I felt like some sort of Internet stalker."

We all just let that hang in air for a moment, and then we played6.



1 This was aided by the fact that I was rooming with Andrew Hackard, Wil's friend and editor, whom I had met through my past association with Steve Jackson Games.

2 Run by the incomparable JD Corley

3 Which actually turned out to be three separate games but I digress.

4 Cue the cognitive dissonance.

5 Yes, my ego is going just fine at this point.

6 The game turned out to be insane, full of hunchbacks, and a lot of fun.


It's Nice When It All Clicks

My grandboss1 walks into my office today and says. "Our customer doesn't understand the spec we sent them for the work they want us to do. We've got to find a better way to explain it to them."

I'd just spent an hour explaining to my boss and some others what I learned in the Scrum Product Owner training I did in LA last week. A big chunk of that is this:

The developers care about what they need to do. The customer cares about what the system will do. Someone needs to see both sides and bridge that gap.

The problem, of course, was that we'd written the spec as list of things we would do. Tomorrow I get to sit down and put together something that describes what the customer will do with when we're done. But at least now I see what the problem is.


1 Grandboss: Your boss's boss.


Listen To The Cookie

I have a weakness for mediocre Chinese buffets. While there are downsides to this failing, the advantage is that I get to enjoy fortune cookie fortunes often. I suspect I'm not alone in being unable to read a fortune without mentally adding the words "...in bed." (For any Green Hills Software engineers, current or alums, who happen to be reading, I also occasionally amuse myself by adding "...while using the Service Router.") With this in mind, the fortunes that have accumulated on my bedside table recently range from the slightly funny ("Don't worry about the stock market. Invest in family.") to the fairly amusing  ("You will receive an unexpected gift from an acquaintance.") to the absurd ("You would prosper in the field of wacky inventions.").

Sometimes, though, the cookies are on to something. On Thursday, I was in the middle of pushing forward on some of my plans for the project I'm managing at work. I was meeting with some resistance, so I decided to get out of the office for a bit and grab an early lunch by myself. I was worked up and nervous, and I had hard time concentrating. I spent most of lunch working through my reasons and questioning whether or not this was the right thing do. At the end of the meal, just as I was getting ready to head back to work, I opened up my cookie and read the fortune inside.

"Assert yourself, your ideas are worthwhile at this time."