Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 10 – Dr. Peter Whalen & Dr. Tzachi Zach

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Peter Whalen, Senior Game Designer

This week’s MEGA Hearthstone episode celebrates the annoucement of the next expansion, Journey to Un’Goro. First, Peter Whalen, Senior Game Designer for Hearthstone, joins me to discuss his experiences working for Blizzard since 2015 and his role as Lead Designer for the Journey to Un’Goro expansion. He provides additional details about the Adapt and Quest mechanics, including strategy for how to effectively use the choices given to the player each time Adapt is offered. Dr. Whalen also discusses the realities of designing content for a passionate fanbase that has access to data analytics to attack Ranked play. He describes how the meta game in Hearthstone has sped up as a result of community resources, and what it means for players and the design team moving forward. Finally, he shares his thoughts on design concepts that have yet to clear the cutting room floor and specific cards that might shine during the upcoming Year of the Mammoth rotation.

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Dr. Tzachi Zach, Data Analyst

Then around the 30-minute mark, Dr. Tzachi Zach joins me to talk about the his role as Co-Owner and Data Analyst for Vicious Syndicate. He explains how the weekly Data Reaper Reports are created, and comments on how players and the Hearthstone designers can benefit from the analytics provided by Vicious Syndicate. He speaks about searching for the “truth” in data analysis, and how he is confident the Vicious Syndicate team is honing in on a reliable and valid estimate of how specific decks are performing in Ranked play. He offers a glimpse of the future for Vicious Syndicate, including how they might venture into data reports on the Wild format.

Enjoy the 10th 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 March 21st, 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 9 – Shanna Germain

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Shanna Germain

My guest for Episode 9 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Shanna Germain, co-founder of Monte Cook Games, and an acclaimed writer and game designer. She covered many topics during our discussion, including her work as an activist and advocate in and out of the gaming industry. She speaks about her work with Monte Cook Games and how she balances the demands of writing novels and designing games. We spent an extended amount of time on the concept of grief in gaming, and this led into a discussion of politics and the recent statement by Monte Cook Games titled, Our Core Values. We conclude by talking about her roleplaying game for young children, No Thank You, Evil.

Enjoy the ninth 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 March 7th, 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 8 – Allison Rossi

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Allison Rossi

My guest for Episode 8 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Allison Rossi, Dungeon Master for Adventurer’s League and Social Media Manager for a Competitive Overwatch League. She discusses her entrance into tabletop roleplaying games several years ago and her experiences playing Dungeons & Dragons as a new player. She offers suggestions for helping new players feel comfortable playing D&D, and speaks about the trials of being a young woman running games for organized play. During the second half of the interview, she talks about her involvement in competitive Overwatch and provides useful strategies for find more success in that game. You can watch her play games on Twitch as well.

Enjoy the eighth 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 February 21st, 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 7 – Hawke Robinson

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Hawke Robinson

My guest for Episode 7 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Hawke Robinson, founder of the RPG Research Project. Hawke discusses his early history in gaming, which dates back to the 1970s, and talks about choosing a career in recreation therapy, which allows him to use role-playing games in therapeutic settings. He details his work with the RPG Trailer, a mobile gaming unit that he drives to facilities to bring the gaming experience to those who would otherwise not be able to participate in RPGs. We discuss the challenges of collecting useful data on role-playing games, and explore opportunities for advancing knowlege and practice into the future.

Enjoy the seventh 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 February 7th, 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 6 – Susan J. Morris

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Susan J. Morris

My guest for Episode 6 of Ego Check with The Id DM is Susan J. Morris, a fantasy author and editor that is best known for her work editing Forgotten Realms novels for Wizards of the Coast and novels for Monte Cook Games. She has published multiple books herself and designed Dungeons & Dragons for Kids. She also wrote a writing advice column for Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog. In the interview, she spoke about how she started running roleplaying games and transferred that experience into her professional life. She speaks about growing up as a homebrewer of campaign worlds rather than relying on published content. She speaks about her experiences working with Wizards of the Coast and Monte Cook Games, and the unique challenges of working with new content in the Forgotten Realms. She details her work as an editor, and offers advice for those interested in publishing their work.

Near the end of our talk, Susan shared some words that I want to highlight below. She spoke about the challenge of being a writer because it is a task that does not often result in positive feedback. I think her words are vital for all of us involved in producing creative content:

If you’re not writing for yourself, you’re going to be very disappointed long-term. I think you need to write things you love and that you enjoy — and then you can share them with other people, but the enjoyment should come from the writing and from doing it for yourself. Everything else should be kind of secondary or you’re very dependent on other people’s opinions for your happiness and fulfillment, which I think is never a good way to go. Writing as it is has very few moments in which you get reinforcement.

Create the content you want to consume! Personally, some of the most fun I’ve had as a writer have been spending time on articles that do not get much attention. I mean, who else is going to write over 4,000 words to determine the best track list for a hypothetical 12-track Use Your Illusion album by Guns N’ Roses?

Well, this guy too!

Enjoy the sixth 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 January 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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A New Hope In the Post-Rogue One Galaxy

Rogue One is wonderful addition to the Star Wars film library, which is now eight films spanning five decades. My enjoyment of all things Star Wars is well-documented, and I was happy to see Rogue One twice over the past week. If you can find a theater with the 70mm IMAX print, then go out of your way to see that; it’s an amazing experience! While I loved the new addition to Star Wars lore, there are several things about the ending of Rogue One that continue to itch my brain days later. And I feel the need to externalize those thoughts!

The rest of the article contains details about the plot and conclusion of Rogue One. If you have already seen the movie and wish to indulge in my nerd-brain madness, then please continue!

Rogue One Rocked

Before dissecting continuity concerns, I want to clearly state the things I enjoyed about Rogue One. The characters – and the actors portraying those characters – were excellent. There is not a weak link among the ensemble cast, and I appreciated the performances more on the second viewing. Riz Ahmed especially does great work infusing Bodhi with tortured nuance, and Diego Luna presents Cassian as a conflicted soldier who has been involved in too many traumatic situations. It seems clear the character of Jyn went through some revisions between the trailers and release of the film, and Felicity Jones puts herself up their with Carrie Fischer and Daisey Ridley as strong women in the Star Wars universe. K-2SO is voiced by the “fonging” wonderful Alan Tudyk, and channeled one of the greatest droids in Star Wars history, HK-47. The crew members of Rogue One all serve a purpose, and it reminded me of the unique personalities in the strike team in Predator.

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They’ve gone rogue!

The visual and sound effects were stunning, and this includes the computer-generated performance of Grand Moff Tarkin. When Tarkin first appeared in the movie, I assumed it was a brief cameo. I was incorrect because Tarkin is a major character in the film. The scenes with him certainly passed the uncanny valley for me though his complexion seemed too dark and sickly. The computer-generated Leia at the conclusion of the film felt more unnatural to me, though it was still a cool moment. I am guessing the brightness of the room and the whiteness of her clothing made that a tremendously difficult shot to execute well. The sound in the IMAX version of the film was a delight, and the soundtrack felt like Star Wars.

Continue reading

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Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 5 – Adam Johns & Adam Davis

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Adam Johns, MA, LMFT & Adam Davis, MEd

My guests for Episode 5 of Ego Check with The Id DM are Adam Johns and Adam Davis from Wheelhouse Workshop, a two-man operation whose mission is to help youths in the greater Seattle area build social skills through the intentional and targeted use of tabletop role-playing games. Both Mr. Johns and Mr. Davis have advanced degrees and use tabletop roleplaying games to teach social skills to children with a variety of mental health concerns. During our conversation, they discuss their professional background and how they use games like Dungeons & Dragons to teach children perspective taking, frustration tolerance, creative problem solving, and cooperation. They demonstrate a method to increase collaborative storytelling during a RPG session, which leads to us all wearing carved-out pumpkins on our heads! They explain the business model for Wheelhouse Workshop, and their plans for expansion in the future.

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

Enjoy the fifth 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. My plan is to release new episodes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next episode will post next year on January 3rd, 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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