Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 17 – Ohad Zach

Ohad Zach bio pic

Ohad Zach, General Manager of Vicious Syndicate

I’m joined by Ohad Zach (ZachO), General Manager of Vicious Syndicate and writer of the weekly Data Reaper Report, which provides comprehensive statistical analysis for Hearthstone. He spoke about his fandom of Blizzard games and joining forces with Vicious Syndicate to create a new type of meta report for Hearthstone. He discusses the initial concept for the Data Reaper Report, and how the report has improved since it launched in May 2016. He speaks to how the accurate data analysis in the reports have altered the Hearthstone landscape – from how tournament matches are called by casters to how the meta adapts and settles after a new expansion release. At various times throughout the interview, Ohad responds to my anecdotal perceptions of current Hearthstone gameplay with analysis based on tens of thousands of game results.

For example, he details how the current Hearthstone meta is perhaps the healthiest it has ever been, why the Warlock class is in such a bad state at the moment, why Pirate Warrior in Wild is not as strong as people may think, and how Crystal Rogue shapes the Standard experience.  He talks about the latest addition to Vicious Syndicate, the Wild Data Reaper Report, which provides a similar type of statistical analysis to the Wild format. And we explore the casual and competitive allure of Hearthstone in addition to how Vicious Syndicate overlaps at times with Blizzard staff, streamers, professional players, and a thriving online community.

Enjoy the 17th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on July 4th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 16 – Katrina Ostrander

Katrina Ostrander bio pic

Katrina Ostrander

I’m joined this week by Katrina Ostrander, Fiction Editor for Fantasy Flight Games Fiction and Story Team Member for Fantasy Flight Games. She talks about her early experiences in gaming, which were mostly comprised of play-by-post games. She speaks about the benefits of her play-by-post games, and how she started to play in tabletop sessions. Katrina describes her experiences playing in gaming groups comprised of all-men and all-women, and how those groups tend to approach RPGs in different ways. She discusses her method for running quality games that engage player emotions, and offers advice for how to deal with the anxiety that comes with the duties of gamemastering. She details her roles over the years with Fantasy Flight Games, including her work on highly-scrutinized intellectual properties such as Star Wars and Legend of the Five Rings. She closes the interview by discussing potential future projects, including designing a game that would connect with the younger version of herself.

Enjoy the 16th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on June 20th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 15 – Wayne June

Wayne June bio

Wayne June

This week I am joined by Wayne June, voiceover artist and narrator with extensive experience in the audiobook industry. He is perhaps best known recently for his work as the voice of the Darkest Dungeon; he performs the lines of The Ancestor, who serves as the narrator throughout the game. Wayne first discusses his years as a musician and touring with the guitar icon, Johnny Winter. He pivots to detail how he became interested in the voice recording business, and how he found he niche in “creepy” literature such as volumes of H.P. Lovecraft works. Wayne talks about the shift from collaborating in a band to the isolation of voice work, and how the request from the Darkest Dungeon team thrust him into the gaming community. He shares the process for finding the voice of The Ancestor, and what it’s been like to gain attention for his work in the game. He closes by talking about current audiobook and gaming projects.

Enjoy the 15th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

 

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on June 6th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 14 – Chris Benefield

Chris Benefield bio3

Chris Benefield

This week I’m joined by Chris Benefield, a longtime friend I first met during our days in graduate school way back in 1998. Chris has a masters degree in Educational Psychology, and is now working toward an advanced degree to become a school counselor.  In the episode, we discuss our history of arguing, “Who is the bigger nerd?” and explore how social comparison theory affects geekdom, “Sure, I’m a nerd – but I’m not THAT nerdy.” I ask Chris why he cannot get into tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and he asks me why I’m unwilling to dive into Magic: The Gathering (MtG). He discusses the merits of MtG, and we explore how games like Hearthstone, SolForge, and Eternal scratch a similar itch. We delve into our approaches to mindfully engage in our hobbies and time management, which leads into our use of social media – for better and sometimes worse. Along the way, we review our trip to GenCon 2012, and talk about trying to remain a nerd while parenting young children.

Enjoy the episode, and please provide feedback if you would like Chris and I to continue recording similar discussions as we are considering spinning this off into a separate podcast.

Enjoy the 14th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on May 16th, 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 13 – Carina Kom

Carina Kom bio pic

Carina Kom

This week I’m joined by Carina Kom,  Co-founder and CEO of Crash Wave Games, which successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign for their next game, Iron Tides. Ms. Kom discusses her years of experience wearing various hats in the gaming industry, which led her to forming her own company. She talks about her interest in understanding player behaviors in videogames, including how players respond to in-game reward systems and overall difficulty settings. She elaborates on her experience working on free-to-play and pay-to-win games. The second half of the interview is devoted to Iron Tides, which is a Viking themed strategy-survival game that is inspired by games such as Darkest Dungeon. She speaks about the benefits and challenges of playtesting with the diverse casual and “hardcore” gaming audiences. She described the systems in Iron Tides, and how some of them grew from a tabletop philosophy.

Enjoy the (lucky) 13th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

 

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on May 2nd , 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 12 – Brian Patterson

Brian Patterson

Brian Patterson, Santa Enthusiast

I’m joined by Brian Patterson, Co-Owner of Exploding Rogue Studios, and Creator of the webcomic, d20monkey. He completed a successful Kickstarter to fund his efforts to create Karthun, a campaign guide. I previously interviewed Brian in 2011 and 2014 for my blog, and he talks about his work in the gaming industry in recent years, including his role as Art Tsar for Evil Hat Productions. He spends the first portion of the interview talking about his experiences meeting with a therapist for assistance with mental health issues, which have been partially influenced by the lifestyle connected to freelance work. We discuss how therapy works, and dispel some common myths about the interactions that take place between a counselor and a client. Brian later discusses his struggles to produce Karthun, and the emotions related to completing the project. Near the end of the interview, he briefly covers upcoming projects for d20monkey and Exploding Rogue Studios, and educates listeners on how best to incorporate Karthun into any roleplaying game system.

Enjoy the 12th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

You can also listen to the show right here:

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. New episodes are released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post on April 18th , 2017.

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

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Iddy Approved: Monsters & Heroes of the Realms: A Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Book

Monster Coloring Book

“Color Me Badd!”

Many moons ago, I was given a free copy of both Dungeonology and the Monsters & Heroes of the Realms: A Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Book. (Thank you, Wizards of the Coast and Greg Tito!) Since there are already a bounty of useful reviews about Dungeonolgy, which is a nifty book to be sure, I decided to write an article about the later while incorporating some psychological concepts.

It’s what I do.

The adult coloring book industry has mushroomed in recent years and many book stores have entire sections devoted to this activity. Coloring is often marketed as a relaxation device to adults, which seems intuitively accurate. Engaging in a hobby that requires attention – anything form woodworking to knitting to painting miniatures – forces us to tune out extraneous variables and lock in to one thing.

Save Versus Multitasking

Multitasking is a bane of my existence. Earlier in life, I thought I was truly proficient in multitasking. I doodled in notebooks in high school while taking notes and listening to the teacher during classes. I achieved good grades (except for that one Biology class), and figured this was evidence that I could juggle multiple cognitive tasks well. As recently as this week, I get up before work to walk on the treadmill while watching a hockey game on the television AND playing Hearthstone on my cell phone. The good news is this never ended in an injury. The bad news is I probably do all of those things poorly.

I miss a lot of details from the hockey game.

I make countless misplays in Hearthstone.

And my posture is likely terrible because I look down at my phone for the better part of 30-45 minutes while walking.

One could say that I was multitasking well because I combined exercise with my enjoyment of professional ice hockey and video games. Another point of view is that I’m doing a disservice to all three activities because I’m not focused on any of them.

Now that I have a newborn in the house, multitasking is even less effective. I’ve tried to balance feeding him while doing other things.

It doesn’t go well!

Coloring as Stress Management?

Coloring is an activity that is difficult to combine with something else. Perhaps one can listen to music or have a show or movie on in the background, but coloring requires you to stay in one place and focus on filling in spaces with different pens or pencils. Many of the coloring pages have intricate shapes and tiny details that encourage the artist to concentrate on his or her coloring efforts. This level of strict concentration on one activity can be soothing.

Continue reading

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