Oct 7, 2013
alchymy

Interview – Ooi Leng Hang

Today’s interview went off pretty well as I met up with Mr. Ooi Leng Hang who is the Election Bureau Executive Director of the Democratic Action Party. As for why I am meeting a member of the opposition party, it is because of the board-game adaptation of Monopoly that they made to highlight their objectives and create awareness of some of the current ruling government’s shortfalls. It was named Monopoli which wasn’t too creative but they are very willing to draw similarities to that other board-game which it drew inspiration from.

As I did not have my recording device with me, I’ll be paraphrasing;

What is your background?
A student of Fine Arts from the Kuala Lumpur Art Center, Mr. Ooi is the illustrator behind the DAP’s hornbill mascot ‘Ubah’. He currently handles a lot of their promotional material and media projects.

Are you a board-gamer?Not really, he plays or have played the usual (common) board-games such as Monopoly but has not gotten into the whole Euro-Boardgame trend.

Do you play Digital Games?
Not really as well, he plays games on his mobile device but not really on a PC. He quotes Candycrush as a game he has been playing for the past 6 months.

What is Monopoli’s objective?
To teach others about politics especially what is happening locally. The game highlights plenty of scandals and each player is given C4 to use in the game. The game was also used a a means of fund collecting but that was not its primary objective. Using games also makes it more accessible to today’s youth who might previously have not shown any interest in politics or the governance of their country.

How long did it take to make Monopoli?
About a year, from conceptualization. The actual production was faster but the idea remained an idea for quite some time until the general elections neared.

How did you do your testing?
They tested it out amongst their colleagues and friends. The final version of the game underwent rebalancing and does not resemble the earliest prototype.

What was the response?Very positive with them selling quite a number of units. Currently the game is no longer in production. (Number of units sold is withheld from this journal)

Price?
Ooi was unsure but other news articles priced the game at RM5. The game was not meant to generate income but as a more effective and fun brochure.

Future plans or possible commercialization?
There are no current plans for Monopoli but they’ve been approached by developers interested in converting the game to an application for the iOS. Interest in that project has died down somewhat but they are open to explore the possibility.

End of interview.

Oct 6, 2013
alchymy

Research Topic Redefinition

Before the redefinition class, my topic was “The Commercialization of Table-top Games in Malaysia” which was broad enough a topic to allow for much exploration yet I’ve scoped it down to focus on Malaysia which is basically where I have the most access and connections thus making it easier to realize.

After the class on redefining my research topic with Dr. Tan however, it might be prudent to revisit this and really think this through. According to my colleague Hilmy, my topic could actually be broken down further and a part of it was actually the content for a PhD research (if I ever get there).

The initial plan was to

  1. Study existing methods of commercialization employed by the many companies I know of, analyze their results and identify their problems or strengths.
  2. Look at their model through areas such as Conceptualization, Prototyping, Testing & Iteration, Funding, Manufacturing and Publishing.
  3. Study the current retail landscape  within Malaysia.
  4. Come up with a way to actually lay the groundwork for the commercialization of future tabletop games.
  5. Test the new model with my own board-game Dungeon Fodder.
  6. Report the findings and graduate.

It seems though that for a Master’s level of research, articles 1 through 3 would actually suffice. Article 4 & 5 could be a more focused and pretty large area to explore for a PhD instead. I’ve got to run this through my supervisor but in that case I think it would definitely make this easier to separate and execute.

According to Dr. Noraini Idris, quoted by Dr. Tan, a research title should be

  1. Specific in nature
  2. Reflect fundamental issues to be resolved
  3. Novelty
  4. Preferably 12 – 15 words long. (I can attest to this as I’ve seen some rather long gibberish)

More to come on redefinition

Oct 5, 2013
alchymy

Tomes of Academia

There are many resources available to researchers and its going to be a long and arduous journey sifting through to find relevant research papers. There is a large difference between citing academic journals and citing internet sources or books. Academic journals have been peer reviewed by others in academic while most of my current sources are from websites and other non-academic sources. This is going to be one of my largest weaknesses which is the lack of a formal proper academic background. I’ve never had to do a dissertation so far and a 25,000 word thesis is going to be a massive pain.

Well, one of the recommended academic journal databases recommended by my supervisor was Ethos, http://ethos.bl.uk.

Thankfully KDU library also subscribes to a large number of databases so my next step is to start collecting literature to better understand my topic and redefine it.

Also here is the finalized version of my logo. It should be less serious, while also impressing upon those that like Role-playing games and the fantasy genre that it is a light-hearted take on adventuring in a dungeon. I’ve also added the three ‘flee’ing characters above to represent the three playable classes in the game.

Sep 24, 2013
alchymy

Digging up Dungeons

Rejuvenating an old project for a research project brought back many memories. Time to start cracking at it.

I’ve got about 2 weeks to begin testing phases.

Sep 22, 2013
alchymy

Logo Design – Dungeon Fodder

The silhouette is an important part of what I think about when putting together logos and designs. Assuming the logo stands-alone, will be sufficient to communicate it’s message? For the Dungeon Fodder logo, I’ve decided to go with a traditional fantasy-typeface and play around with illustrated components instead. Skulls are a definite must-have for any respectable dungeon and the standard version (vanilla version) of Dungeon Fodder will feature three classes which are the iconic Warrior, Rogue and Wizard.

Sep 12, 2013
alchymy

Smug Pug

Old Dogs is a biker group that’s quite unlike what one might imagine. Wild days aside, they are now professionals with stellar careers but the passion for riding still burns in them. This patch is a commission to all those out there with a love for life on the wild side.

Aug 1, 2013
alchymy

A Journey Begins

‘The commercialization of table-top games in Malaysia.’ will be my title for my postgraduate masters degree at University Pengajian Sultan Idris (UPSI) Tanjung Malim, which is an hours drive away from where I live.

In the research proposal;

This research is aimed at exploring the existing methods employed and how an approach might be formulated to locally produce and commercialize a table-top game with international value.

In non-academic terms, figure out how to manufacture and produce a board-game that sells. This might seem pretty simple but I’ve come to realize that its ridiculously difficult and I’d like to explore this while also documenting this for future wannabe board-game designers and developers. Why the analog pathways? I enjoy it.

This journal is to document the path I will be exploring, the findings of my research and also to remind myself of what I’ve done and how much further I’ve got to go. My previous attempt at a research paper fizzled with my previous company so this time I’ve got to do this right.

Jul 18, 2013
alchymy

World Development – Vestigia

A student project needed an injection of detail for their story so utilizing sanskrit names and influence, here was a draft of the backdrop story for the puzzle game, Vestigia.

Revelations

Legends tell of the end days, when in their vanity, mankind loses all restraint and angers the gods with their endless wars of petty ambition. The fury of the Heavens was unleashed upon mankind and countless civilizations ceased to exist in mere moments, leaving the earth scorched, sickly and bereft of life.

The world was silenced.

The Divine Abhayankara, in his wisdom led those deemed worthy to a hidden world far beneath the surface to begin anew. Free from the evils of the old world and a wondrous new paradise was prepared for those worthy and the blessed.

Thus began the city of Bhumigata, the World beneath the World.

Bhumigata

Bhumigata is a massive metropolis located deep within a subterranean cavern which was built as a preservation fail-safe in event of a portended world-wide catastrophic event which took place in the year 2042. As nuclear fallout and bio-warfare wiped nations off the globe, an exodus of surface-dwellers made their way down to the massive complex known to those that live there as Mahatva Bhumigata or the Great Underworld.

Over the course of hundreds of years, much of the war is forgotten and the inhabitants of Bhumigata became segregated into distinct levels of citizenry. Each level of society lives in separate districts which named after elements that represent the district. Of the many districts of Bhumigata, the most notable ones are the Emerald District, the Golden District and the Iron Districts.

Bhumigata is built around a central elevator shaft known as the Hradaya that connects all the districts throughout the levels. Power, water and produce are manufactured in the lower levels and sent up the Hradaya to the higher levels making the Hradaya an integral part of Bhumigatan life. Like the human body, the Hradaya is referred to by some as the Spine of Bhumigata.

The Emerald District is elaborate, bright and beautiful and is also where the Divine Jade Palace is located. Only the direct descendants of the Divine Abhayankara may live in the Divine Jade Palace and they form the ruling elite of Bhumigata. The rest of the Emerald District is carefully structured and contains mansions belonging to the most influential and powerful families of Bhumigatan society. The only form of law-enforcement in Bhumigata are enforced by the Royal Guards. The Royal Guards defend Bhumigata from their fortress known as Kavaca and answer only to the King of Bhumigata. While Guard Stations are built in the lower districts, all Royal Guards are considered to belong to the Emerald Caste and members of the Guard are usually from the families of the elite of the Emerald District.

The Silver District is by far the largest district in Bhumigata. It is home to the scholars, thinkers, philosophers, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, musicians, craftsmen and artisans of Bhumigata. The largest building in the Silver District would be the University of Atma where the greatest minds of Bhumigata gather and attempt to recover the lost knowledge of the days before the exodus.

Much of technology involved in the creation of Bhumigata had been lost across the ages and many of Bhumigata’s mechanical systems could not be maintained and had to be replaced with more rudimentary forms of technology. This is why Bhumigatans prize education above all else and children of the Silver District undergo mandatory education programs in the many schools and education centers across the district.

Much of Bhumigatan trade and commerce is also conducted in this district in its many marketplaces and commercial centers. Much of the produce and food sold in the markets of the Silver District come from the lower levels of Bhumigata, namely the Iron District.

Life in the Iron District is difficult and majority of those living in the Iron Districts work and toil endlessly in the numerous processing plants, eco-domes, factories and power generators in this district.

The Iron District is the industrial district, where large sprawling factories manufacture all of Bhumigata’s necessities. Mining operations supply the factories with the required raw materials which are in turn processed into mechanical components, clothes, and building materials. Huge water turbines convert underground streams into sources of electricity and Power-plants continuously burn fossil fuels in order to supply Bhumigata with its much needed power supply.

Deep Pumping stations supply the other districts of Bhumigata with its source of water by means of huge pipes that travel up along the Hradaya. The pumps never stop to ensure that the privileged living above in the upper levels never do without.

Artificially lighted Eco-Domes are used to grow various types of subterranean crops which is then processed into food for the people of Bhumigata. Meat is a luxury but certain species of livestock have been genetically engineered to be able to live underground. The primary type of food  cultivated in the Eco-Domes are a species of highly dense fungi. Certain types of evolved vegetation have also adapted to growing in artificially lighted environments.

The People & Society

The people of Bhumigata are of Pan-Asian origin and retain much of the typical features associated with the race. Years of living below ground have altered them somewhat. The people of Bhumigata (or referred to as Bhumigatan) are very pale due to the lack of sunlight and required nutrition. Those living in the lower levels have evolved slightly to adapt to their surroundings. Those living in the Iron Districts tend to be shorter and hardier than their cousins above.

Bhumigatan society follows a very strict caste system in which the Royal Family, those of direct descent of the original King Abhayankara rule over the entirety of Bhumigata. The elite families of Bhumigata come from those that have amassed sufficient wealth and have been accepted into the inner circles which form Bhumigata’s Elite caste. Bhumigata’s Royal Guards also come from this caste and is regarded higher than menial workers living in the lower levels.

Mar 22, 2013
alchymy

Immortality

I’ve just found out something amazing about certain lifeforms on earth. In particular, about one of the most delicious, priciest crustaceans out there, the Lobster! Turns out, lobsters are seemingly immortal. Other such creatures according to wikipedia would be bacteria, hydras, tardigrades and jellyfish but the largest would still be lobsters.

This is apparently because researchers have found that lobsters do not slow down, weaken or suffer reduced fertility. Their cells are rejuvenated and can theoretically live forever thanks to their DNA. If not eaten, injured, or killed, a lobster might actually continue living and growing which makes you wonder if there exists a huge lobster species in the ocean deeps.

Imagine if geneticist were able to give humans the same ability to constantly reproduce cells, would immortality be within our reach?

Feb 11, 2013
alchymy

Post-Apocalyptic Currency

In the aftermath of a devastated world, a certain form of currency would definitely be necessary to define items of value. Most agree that a system of barter will definitely be the first form of trade that reemerges once the rebuilding begins but who is to say a carrot is worth ten potatoes? This is why I feel the need for a new form of consistent currency to be in the picture.

For a game world, an economic model that operated purely on bartering and trading goods would be extremely difficult to pull-off. There has to be at least a basic value system in place in order to base all the other items or services in the world. Imagine having to compare the value of a salvaged AK-47 assault rifle with the value of a healthy un-mutated cow? Also value varies between different people so a culture that lives near a stream would have a different value placed on clean water than a culture that lives on a dry rocky mountainside.

This is probably why for my post-apocalyptic world, I’d need at least a rudimentary form of new government or authority that have reestablished a working economy and a simple banking system to mint new coins that are unique to the citizens of this government. For the purpose of this idea, I’d imagine a large settlement or a city that produces ‘Ducats’ as their currency. These coins might be worthless to survivors that live beyond the influence of the city but if they wish to do trade within the city, these Ducats would come into play.

The Ducat has to be;

  • made from a material that is difficult to obtain.
  • Difficult to reproduce (counterfeit)
  • Durable (unlike paper currency)
  • Consistent in size and weight
  • Can be manufactured in a regulated manner

Other suggested forms of currency;

Bullets and ammunition as the processes for making bullets might be lost in the destruction of the old world. In a world where Might makes Right, this would inadvertently make any surviving military force the main economic force as well (especially since soldiers may retain the knowledge of manufacturing the bullets).

The Fallout universe utilizes Nuka-Cola bottlecaps as their main currency which is also a pretty good choice as it does fit the requirements for a form of currency. It is hard to counterfeit as making caps might have been lost, its durable and consistent in size and weight. Also in game-rationale, it is also light, small and durable.

Cigarettes, canned food stuff are also possible but ultimately, it is one currency without a sustainable source. A currency which only gets rarer and rarer as time progresses would not be suitable for any long-term economy.

Clean drinkable water is also a legitimate contender to become post-apocalyptic currency, especially in a dry wasteland type of world but it also suffers from the fact that it isn’t very sustainable. One could argue that the only existing water treatment facility is under the control of the ruling authority therefore they control the value of water and trade. The only major beef in using water as a proper currency for a game would be the logistics of carrying around sufficient water to trade unless of course water consumption is controlled by government issued water vouchers and then THAT could be the currency.

Everything else would be a trade of objects of value or services of value. Even the act of selling sexual favors wouldn’t be uncommon. Slavery will definitely come back onto the scene but all of these cannot really be considered as proper currency.

Over time of course, things would progress from bartering to currency with real value (such as my Ducats) to currency with an insured value, (such as money value that is pegged to the value of gold) to credit (non-existent money) and we’d be right back where we started before the apocalypse.

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