The Passion of the Cities

The legislative hearing Wednesday night at the Maloof Auditorium had it all: passion, comedy, pleas, arguments, more passion and even some education. It was a valuable event for anyone in the county for many reasons and, for the most part, was surprisingly civil. The format was set up so state legislators from the county could hear from a wide variety of constituents, including county commissioners, cityhood aspirants, cityhood opponents, and anyone with an issue, concern, request or bone to pick.

Indeed, the most valuable part of the hearing is not necessarily hearing from the legislators but hearing from the public. Lots of interesting facts and discussions occur in between the harangues and tirades (which are always amusing in their own right). Cityhood was the big issue, and representatives from the proposed cities of Tucker and Briarcliff were in attendance. Senator Fran Millar spoke on behalf of Lakeside, who he said were meeting with residents of Toco Hills. As an aside, part of the fun of the meeting were the competing stories that came out, as with a woman who claimed the Lakeside folks were meeting not to bring Toco Hills into the city but as a defensive move against the other proposed cities.

None of the cityhood advocates said anything new, but it was a lot of fun to hear the competing viewpoints. For instance, one resident of Smoke Rise smoke passionately (I might use that word a lot) in favor of Tucker cityhood as best for her community, while another spoke just as adamantly against it. Surprisingly, the opponent also spoke in favor of having Smoke Rise annexed by Stone Mountain, which everyone I know in Smoke Rise opposes (and which has been a key reason for the Tucker cityhood initiative).

One of the Brookhaven city council members was at the meeting speaking in favor of more local control of schools. Some Brookhaven leaders have been very clear that they want to take the schools away from the county, which really scares other people in that community who believe the main reason is to keep certain races out of certain schools. In fact, while I have heard a number of people privately argue that keeping minorities out of certain schools is a key reason for the cityhood initiative, this was the first time I had heard the reintroducing segregation charge issued publicly against the new cities.

The general mood in the room seemed to oppose all the new cities. The largest applause of the night - by far - went to an older woman who lectured all the cityhood and annexation proponents for coveting their neighbors’ property. Commission head Lee May also got a round of applause when he asked for a year moratorium on any new cities and annexation while the county studied its effects. He said that the city of Duwoody cost the county $16 million/year in taxes and Brookhaven cost $25 million/year - all of which is apparently now going to fight the Pink Pony. He also noted that the new cities were making no contributions to the pension funds of the government employees who used to serve those areas.

Sen. Steve Henson made the important point that if any of the cityhood bills clear the legislature this year, the citizens will vote on them May 20 - probably two months after they pass. This will be an amazingly quick turnaround. Now its time for my harangue - the cityhood initiative really do impact everyone in the county, whether you live in the new cities or not, whether you are a property owner or not, and whether you have children or not. They will have major effects on taxes, quality of life, who lives where, and so on. If they are on the ballot, everyone in the county needs to learn everything they can about them and their impact.

After the cityhood issues go away, these legislative meetings may not be as passionate, but they are always worth attending. There were other issues of import - the sheriff is stepping down (could write numerous blogs on the role of the sheriff in the county and state), annexations are coming up, the county governance structure is up for change, etc. Even after cityhood is resolved, at these meetings you can do like me in this era of hotspots - I got a ton of work done during the few slow parts :-)

SIEGE: Leading by Example

The theme for SIEGE this year is, "Leading by Example," and this year's inaugural IGDA Leadership track is the perfect addition to the conference. The International Game Developer Association leadership forums and summits have been some of the most valuable events in the game industry, and the IGDA Leadership Track at SIEGE is the first of these events in the southern US.

Join leadership track keynote speaker Mike Acton, technical director at Insomniac Games; Keith Fuller of Fuller Game Productions; Daniel Greenberg, chairman of the IGDA's Anti-Censorship and Social Issues committee; PR expert Sue Bohle; Greg Meador, general manager of inMotion Software in Austin; Jamison Selby from Monkey King Games; and others for this in-depth look on all aspects of leadership.

With sessions on inspiring creativity, leading distributed teams, activism, heading up PR campaigns, effective leadership and more, this track is especially valuable for pros already working in the industry as well as those just entering game development. We have no doubt that the IGDA Leadership Track alone is worth the price of your SIEGE badge.

SIEGE Planning

I've had a number of people ask for more information about SIEGE, so I am going to start posting more of that here. This year we have added the IGDA Leadership track, which is shaping up to be an excellent new series under the direction of Keith Fuller from Fuller Game Productions ( As the South's leading gaming and interactive conference, SIEGE brings together professionals, academics, executives, government officials and more from across the region to celebrate the world of gaming. SIEGE's speakers include leading figures from a wide spectrum of the industry, including artists, programmers, designers, writers, teachers and business executives. Special events include keynote speeches, dynamic panels, a mini-incubator, parties, networking events, and a student fair for high school students and others looking for colleges. Highlights include:

Oct. 3: SIEGE College Fair

Oct. 4: SIEGE Investment Conference

Oct. 4: Games for Health Day

Oct. 4: SIEGE Conference Keynote speaker

Oct. 4: SIEGE Opening Night Reception, sponsored by Tripwire Interactive

Oct. 5: Networking Lunch, sponsored by Hi-Rez Studios

Oct. 5: SIEGE Conference Keynote speaker

Oct. 6: SIEGE/GGDA Townhall Meeting

In addition, discounted registration continues running until Sept. 14. Go here to register:

For more information, please contact:

A Close Shave: Gonna be an interesting Dragoncon

Yep, a straight razor demo. Here is my schedule. Hope to see you there:

Title: Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana, and State Legislatures
Time: Sat 08:30 pm Location: 201 - Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: We discuss the legal and tax implications of marijuana legalization in an era of increasing tolerance.

Title: Join the Video Game Industry!
Time: Sun 10:00 am Location: Grand Salon D - Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: Professionals from all disciplines teach the secrets of a great portfolio for those who want to get into the game.

Title: The Noble Razor Shaving Practicum
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Augusta 3 - Westin (Length: 1)

Title: 10 Rules for Dealing with Police Encounters
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: 201 - Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: A documentary about knowing and asserting rights along with common sense to improve the outcome of any police encounter.

Title: Join the Video Game Industry!
Time: Mon 04:00 pm Location: Grand Salon D - Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: Professionals from all disciplines teach the secrets of a great portfolio for those who want to get into the game.

Dragoncon 2013 Schedule

Got my schedule from Dragoncon today. In addition, I am planning to attend the Dcon parade - first time in years.

Title: Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana, and State Legislatures
Description: The times they are a-changin'. We discuss the legal and tax implications of marijuana legalization in an era of increasing tolerance.
Time: Sat 08:30 pm Location: 201 - Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Join the video game industry!
Description: Looking to enter the industry? Surely a high gamerscore is enough, right? Meet pros from all disciplines and learn the secrets of a great portfolio.
Time: Sun 10:00 am Location: Grand Salon D - Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: 10 Rules for Dealing With Police Encounters
Description: Knowing and asserting your rights along with common sense can greatly improve the outcome of any police encounter. Documentary by
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: 201 - Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Join the video game industry!
Description: Looking to enter the industry? Surely a high gamerscore is enough, right? Meet pros from all disciplines and learn the secrets of a great portfolio.
Time: Mon 04:00 pm Location: Grand Salon D - Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)

Week of July 15

There are a number of events going on this week. Let me know if I will see you at any of these:

Tues, 6 - 9 pm: GGDA meeting at Xaviant (
Wed, 7 - 11 pm: Georgia Music Partners Membership Celebration (
Thurs, 6 - 9 pm: App Developers Alliance Patent Summit (
Fri, 5 pm: Andocon (
Fri, 10 - ?: Black and White Ball at the Jungle

Really sorry I will be missing POC this weekend. Have much fun out there!

Tucker Cityhood: Parks and Wrecks

In order for any of the new cities in DeKalb county to become real, they have to take over at least three functions of government from the county. Thankfully, schools are not yet one of the areas these in utero cities can handle, so they have to look at others.

In Tucker, there have already been meetings regarding law enforcement (which many of my neighbors seem to dread Tucker taking over from the county) and zoning (which, based on Brookhaven’s experience, is not a good one for a new city to handle). Tonight’s meeting was on parks and recreation, which both Brookhaven and Dunwoody have taken over from the county. They got their parkland at a great price - $100/acre from the county, despite the fact that resources from all over the county had gone into buying and maintaining the parks. In some instances, the county is still paying off the bonds that allowed for buying that parkland.

The Parks and Rec panel included Susan Hood, administrator of DeKalb County Natural Resources Management; Marvin Phillips, deputy director of DeKalb County Parks and Recreation; and Greg White, Active Living director for Decatur. The discussion was pretty wide ranging, but a few major points came out:

Tucker has very little room to add more parks. The proposed new city would include the Tucker Rec Center, Henderson Park, Tucker Park, Cofer Park, John’s Homestead (which the county wants to use part of for a new no-kill animal shelter), Peters, Peaceland, Montreal, Smokerise 1 and 2, and Pleasantdale. Henderson Park is also sought by Lakeside. The general agreement was that the Tucker parks do not offer a complete package of amenities, with most of them having very specific uses.

According to Phillips, the DeKalb Parks and Rec budget has gone from $22 million in 2008 to $8.7 million in the most recent budget. This is partly due to have lost revenue from Dunwoody and Brookhaven, in addition to overall declining county revenues. The Tucker Rec Center costs $25,000 - $30,000 to maintain, plus salaries, insurance and so on.

I could not get a good sense of what it would cost for Tucker to run these services. No one at the meeting had any complaints about how the county is currently handling them. As part of its cost cutting, the county has come to rely more on outsourcing services and on alliances with groups like Park Pride. My sense was that Tucker would really have to rely on such.

There was a lot of attendee concern regarding Henderson Park, since it currently serves the Tucker athletic leagues and also acts as Tucker’s community gardens. Senator Steven Henson made an excellent point regarding Lakeside’s attempts to grab that park. He noted Brookhaven’s close cityhood vote, and suggested that those seeking to start a new city were trying to avoid initially annexing areas that oppose cityhood. He strongly suggested getting people who lived in those areas and have objections contact Fran Millar and other legislators proposing these, and that those who live outside those areas get their friends in them to do so.

Noble Armada, Mutants and Masterminds Style, Part 2

Continued from

With Inglemia returning to its normal level of insanity, we took our flying submarine, the Master of Humility (MOH), into the Plane Ethereal and raced to confront the traitorous air fleets. The acting doge called on the traitors to turn back. As they saw the riots quelled, one of the fleets read the writing on the wall (or a cloud), and turned back. The other, consisting of a dreadnought, two battleships, multiple cruisers, and a host of smaller ships, continued on its deadly course to the Vermillion Citadel.

We made contact with the one loyal fleet, to find it commanded by Admiral Blowhard the Useless (real name concealed to protect the guilty). Darcy's player spent a hero point to ensure that at least the fleet's first officer was competent. We monitored Blowhard's conversation with the traitorous commander, Admiral Murderous the Much-More Competent. As Admiral Murderous browbeat Admiral Blowhard into a quivering mass of walrus mustache, we contacted the competent first officer and urged him to steel Blowhard's resolve. Suddenly we saw a hand reach into the magical video of the admirals' conversation and smack Blowhard upside da head. Blowhard regained some of his composure, cut communications, and the two fleets closed for battle.

Seconds before they came into lightning gun range, the Master of Humility burst forth from the Plane Ethereal, right behind the traitorous fleet! In the surprise round, Lord Darcy used our anti-magic ray (which autocorrect changed to an “animatics” ray) to suppress the enemy dreadnought's rear shield. My Druid had taken the form of an octopus vulgaris to control most of our guns and fired a devastating lightning barrage at the dreadnought. The Narnian honey badger and our mindflayer teleported on board the dreadnought and began making their way to its bridge.

We succeeded in diverting the dreadnought and battleships from their planned attack on the loyal fleet. We diverted their attention onto us, and this is when we discovered that they truly were a more competent fleet. While the damage we inflicted prevented the dreadnought from responding effectively to our surprise attack, the battleships proved much better, and much worse for us. Their responding broadsides tore down MOH's shields and battered our forward guns. Another attack of that magnitude might turn the mighty MOH into a stooge.

Darcy sailed MOH right between the battleships, and my Druid turned into a fast-acting monkey. Right before the battleships unleashed their second attacks, my monkey maneuvered us back into the Plane Ethereal. Unused to this tactic, the battleships' guns tore into each other, leaving each damaged. Now safe from their guns, Darcy raced for MOH's teleporter while my Druid took command of the ship. I set our ship to magically repairing and maneuvered in front of the dreadnought for our return.

There, Sir Virgil the Narnian honey badger was leading a detachment of our PsiGhost marines through hordes of enemy troops. He finally broke through their lines and burst onto the bridge, only to find an enraged Admiral Murderous, clad in magical platemail and wielding a +2 Keen Greataxe of Murderous Slicing and Dicing. The duel commenced, with Virgil leaping around the bridge as Murderous flailed after him.

Our mindflayer, feeling a mite peckish, broke off from the main group to snack on an airman's brain. Fortuitously, that airman controlled the dreadnought's own forward anti-magic ray, which the mindflayer had him disable. He then took a stroll down to the engine room, where he "convinced" the crew to drop the ship's shields. Thus, when my Druid crossed the dreadnought's T and brought MOH back to the physical plane, the dreadnought's guns did little damage through our repaired shields, while mine tore up its rigging. Lord Darcy took advantage of the situation to teleport straight to the bridge. My Druid then took MOH back to the plane ethereal before it suffered more damage.

Virgil and Lord Darcy double teamed Admiral Murderous, the honey badger with his sword and Darcy with his walking stick. Together they drove Murderous to distraction, and Darcy parried a murderous cut from Murderous, using his reflection power to return the blow to the admiral. Darcy's player critted his roll, while Murderous rolled a two on his Toughness, resulting in Murderous cutting off his own head! Darcy then broadcast to the fleet that Admiral Murderous had taken his own life in remorse, and the battle ended.

Now to recover our missing demon ... maybe.

Noble Armada, Mutants and Masterminds Style, Part 1

Figured it was about time for another post from our uberpowered Mutants and Masterminds' campaign. Since I last posted (, our team of godbeaters returned to Inglemia, only to discover that a noble houses' feud over who got to control the dogeship (not the dogship) had spilled over into riots in the streets, and our butler blowing up our house. After dealing with the most pressing issues, rescuing our sponsor, and giving our butler the opportunity to spend a few years cleaning our demon's chamber pots, we decided to get to the heart of the matter.

One of our Holistic Design writers, TC Ricks, has been a writer on Red Anvil Production’s Inglemia game line. He recently suckered a group of the old HDI crew into a delightful little campaign, politicking, jumping between dimensions, humiliating gods, and so on. Inglemia is a high-powered multiverse campaign, linking numerous classic settings and themes.

Our party consists of:

• Hobbes the Demon (think Hellboy from da Bronx), played by Bernard Clark, the voice of “Mall Tycoon” (also known as Demon Not-Appearing-in-This-Adventure);

• The Honorable Lord Charles Darby Chetwynd-Polyshane, Esquire, an Inglemian noble, inventor of the magical iStone devices, and erstwhile leader of our little band, played by CCP senior game designer Andy Harmon;

• Glythbaad Sslurr, a Greyhawk ilithid (tentacled mindflayer), run by Bill Bridges, co-creator of the Fading Suns;

• Virgilius “Virgil” Marchbanks Chumley, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion from Narnia (who also happens to be a honey badger), played by John Bridges, HDI’s old art director and now concept artist at Xaviant; and

• My own constantly shapeshifting druid ambassador from Animalia, Goni Vihal, usually found in the form of Wreckles the dog (and only occasionally as a dire chihuahua). Together, we are known by friends and foe alike (many more of the latter than the former) as the Right Bastards.

We received a missive from Leopold (Leopold, Leopold!), the former doge's brother, asking for us to meet him in an abandoned warehouse. Our sponsor, The Honorable Lord Charles Darby Chetwynd-Polyshane, Esquire, had rejoined us, and in the warehouse we discovered Leopold sitting next to an ancient artifact called the Oath Stone (not to be confused with the Stone Table™ from Narnia). As Leopold began telling us of a great threat to Inglemia, a bullet burst through a warehouse window, killing both Leopold and a previously unseen urchin.

Our mindflayer and my Druid took off after the assassin (him in astral form and me as a hawk), while Lord Darcy and our Narnian honey badger secured the crime scene. The mindflayer's astral form could not pierce the assassins' sphere of invisibility, but when my hawk crossed its threshold, I discovered a sky frigate filled with militia members and an assassin poised to shoot good Lord Darcy! A quick shape change into a manticore ended that specific threat, and me in possession of a really cool sniper rifle, but left me facing an angered and armed frigate.

Before they turned me into Inglemian Swiss cheese, the mindflayer used our mental link to teleport Lord Darcy to the bridge. There, his stirring words and inspiring presence, aided by more than a little mind control, shamed the frigate into surrendering. We landed the frigate, summoned the gendarmes, and returned to investigating the scene of the crime.

Leopold's body was decomposing rapidly, and Darcy speedily prepared a "Speak with Rotting Corpse" ritual. Poor Leo was filled with contrition about something, and his ghost (GoGo Hamlet Power, activate!) begged us to swear loyalty on the Oath Stone. As our loyal readers may have gathered, good Lord Darcy is always willing to rush in where angels fear to tread. He promptly swore fealty to Inglemia on the artifact. Swearing thus immediately made him a member of the ultramysterious Clear Society. This was not, as my Druid supposed, a secret provider of Inglemia's wireless network. Instead it is an extremely select group dedicated to preserving Inglemia. As a member, Darcy got a mental bond to the other members - which seemed to consist only of our other party members who took the oath. The mindflayer and honey badger also so swore, but my Druid, as a Druid of Animalia, did not (plus we already had the mindflayer's psychic link working).

The urchin's corpse was not rotting, and we spoke with his ghost as well. He had been sent with a coded message from our demon Hobbes, who was now missing. We summoned our flying submarine, the Sarah Dark, and left the warehouse to deal with the gendarmes (and ignore Hobbes - heck, he IS a demon, after all). Virgil, our Narnian honey badger knight of the realm, was telling the gendarme leftentant all about the frigate's treachery, but apparently all she could think about was how cute he was and how much she wanted to scratch his belly (NOT a euphemism).

Finally we convinced the authorities of the threat at hand, showing them both the ship's orders and getting its captain to admit that two Inglemian fleets had been subverted. The fleets were two of the three recalled to the Capitol to help quell the riots, and were converging on the Vermilion Citadel, the Ingleminan equivalent of the Pentagon. We convinced the authorities to deputize us to deal with these threats. When the Sarah Dark arrived, we transferred a number of our singing sailors to the frigate, which we renamed the Penzance II (P2).

Lord Darcy also took the opportunity to rename the Sarah Dark as the Master of Humility (MOH), in honor of Inglemia's leading citizen - himself. On board the airsub, we contacted the Krill, an underwater kingdom full of espionage experts, and our allies ever since we rescued their ambassador's daughter. The Krill told us the two rogue fleets had been subverted by House Ohigattan (Bless You!), which had been on the losing end of the past doge election. They also suspected House Ohigattan of being behind the riots, which were driven by unfounded rumors of a food shortage and perhaps-founded rumors that the middle class was going to lose its suffrage. Lord Darcy was horrified at the thought that the middle class might stop suffering, so he again sprang into action.

He used his influence to arrange a meeting with the acting doge, Lady Amamda Lamplighter. Using MOH's experimental teleporter, we beamed right into her office, almost causing her to commit a major breach of Inglemian decorum and spill her tea. My Druid, in puppy form, leapt up to lick Lamplighter’s face, finally causing that most dreadful of faux paws (is that an awful pun or what?). At first the acting doge refused to believe that two of the fleets would turn against her, until Lord Darcy demanded to know what fool had called up the airships to defeat riots on the ground, browbeating the doge about the stupidity of such an order.

It quickly became apparent that no one knew whose idea it was, and we presented the assassin frigate orders as further proof. Acting-Doge Lamplighter finally agreed to order the traitor fleets to turn back, and the one loyal fleet to attack if they did not. Lord Darcy's dander was now raised by the sheer stupidity of it all, and he chastised the acting doge to the point where she challenged him to a duel, which he smoothly dismissed until after the crisis had passed.

Now we moved to stop the riots. As the air fleets converged on the city, my Druid (aided by Darcy and the Mindflayer, which is a great name for a TV detective show) tapped into a powerful nature node. He told the fruit-bearing plants of Inglemia that it was time for them to come to the aid of their countrymen, and we conducted a powerful ritual to get them bearing fruit out of season. I dare not tell you the secret rites involved in this massive vegetarian fertility right, but suffice it to say that the Jolly Green Giant could not walk for days.

Following the successful conclusion of the fruity ritual, Lord Darcy used his growing influence to commandeer Inglemia's communications systems. Broadcasting from his stuffed chair in front of his fireplace, with Dregoth's stuffed head behind him, my dog form at this feet and a pipe in hand, Lord Darcy reassured the city that the very plants of the land had heard their cries and were coming to their aid. Now, with the people rejoicing and the acting doge fuming helplessly, we turned to deal with the massive air fleets.

To be continued ...

Achievements in Game Design

So, I am behind on creating solar systems (read: Level Design) for Fading Suns: Noble Armada. I’ve only done about six of the fifty I want done. I have decided to reward myself with achievements for number and quality of the solar systems I finish. Currently I have:

Questing Knight: Create one system of Lost Worlds
Imperial Eye: Finish five of the Emperor War systems
Regent: Finish all the Emperor War systems
Vorox: Delete six systems for not being good enough
The Prophet: Save 10 systems before closing the program (as I have done too often already - remember to save early and often)
Devil Beliah: Create one good pirate scenario
Pancreator Lite: Complete 50 systems in a week. Heck, it only took the Pancreator seven revolutions of Holy Terra to create the entire cosmos.

Any other suggestions?