Becoming a game designer

I wanted to take a little bit of time to chronicle my current project work, but, first I should explain how I got started with game design.

I have been working on my first game design project this last month. I am attempting to create a card game which I am calling “Healers & Tanks,” until I think of a better title anyway.

Deciding to take this stab into game design has been a long time coming. I work with a company (loose usage of the word “company”) of game designers who primarily focus on mobile games. mediaCrab. That’s what we call ourselves. Despite my interest I have been all but useless when it comes to helping design a game. For one thing, I haven’t had a ton of ideas for what a mobile game should be. Part of that problem is that mobile gaming hasn’t every really appealed to me. I will play a mobile game from time to time, in fact, I get in on reviewing a new one about once a month. So, as far as the company goes I have been sort of sitting on the sidelines. No game ideas, nothing to contribute at all. I don’t really want to come up with an idea for a mobile game, I probably wouldn’t want to even test my own game, I just… don’t care that much about mobile games. There, I said it. I don’t like sitting by myself playing a game on a tiny screen, I don’t find them fun or well designed very often.

I keep coming to the realization that beyond all other things, I am a social gamer. It shouldn’t surprise me, I am a social person, I always have been. When I am having fun I like to be in a group. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not the life of the party type, I am not even really the party type. I like small groups, I like 1 on 1 time with people up to maybe a group of 5 or 6. That said, when I started playing board games I noticed I was sitting at a table, eating, drinking and playing with people. Gaming socially and enjoying the hell out of it. Not to mention, board games have a wonderful simplicity to them. Forget about 1-tap touch screen mechanics, try placing tiles, moving wooden cubes, the simplicity is wonderful.

That enjoyment got me thinking. If I am going to be part of a group of game designers, why not design something I really enjoy playing. I have been working towards becoming proficient in the world of board and card games ever since. Yes, I realize I haven’t played that many games. So far my experience is pretty minimal. However, I am quickly attempting to expand all of my tabletop horizons by playing games, reviewing the games I play with consideration based on what makes them successful. I have been reaching out to other game designers to start understanding how the world of game design works. I have also been reading blogs and books on the subject just to get my head in the game as quickly as I can. It’s a big task to undertake and I realize there are people who have been doing this for a long time, or at least playing board games for a long time. So, who do I think I am for thinking I can be a game designer?

Game design where it relates to me as web designer

I am a web designer/developer in my usual day to day life. That requires me to take an amount of information and organize it into a website. I need to consider the user and how they might experience the content and how I can get them to the sites goals. I need to consider look and feel, keeping things feeling like the brand. I also need to consider where the site needs to be able to grow to contain new features and updates. A lot of this is User Experience Design, something I have studied heavily in relationship to the web. The other part is strict documentation and considering all parts that make the site work. In web design I tend to over organize the code, in game design I am taking those skills to over organizing the mechanics, features and card or piece types. I also am no stranger to doing math to make a site work and games are no different. The math is more related to probability, but, working math in is no surprise to me after years of building websites.

Game design where it related to me as a creative writer/film maker

I have spent a lot of my professional life trying to explain how a creative writing/film/art major from a liberal arts college in Minneapolis got into web design/development. I had been doing a little web design throughout most of my life. There are plenty of similarities for a creative person who wants to create experiences for people; be it through watching videos, exploring a website or reading a short story. Game design follows right along. Games are another creative medium meant to engage people. They require interaction and have rules and ultimately provide an experience — a feeling. I have been writing, making videos and websites from a pretty young age, and rather than feel daunted that game design is a completely new medium to me, I feel my experience in these other areas is only going to benefit what I can do working on a new medium — one I am coming to love very rapidly.

That’s all for now. I will give an update on my progress on Healers & Tanks. For the time being I will say this much. I have been inspired here by MMO’s I have played and based a lot of the mechanics I am imagining on a combination of things from D&D to Small World to Bang! It is going to be a very simple game to start and I am excited to start prototyping soon. Stay tuned for more updates.

Alhambra: Game Review

Players: 2-6
Ages: 8 and up
Play time: 60 minutes

AlhambraIt was a couple weeks ago when I spent the afternoon drinking beer samples with one of my good friends and fellow gamer at the Winter Beer Dabbler. After a long day of drinking in the cold and being in a good proximity to our FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Store) we decided to make a visit. I more or less knew I was going to get a game, but, my decision came down to Tsuro or Alhambra. I had seen both of these games on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop, both looked like fun, but, ultimately I went with Alhambra.

I have now played Alhambra ten or so times with my wife, my regular gaming group, my brother and some family friends. So far the games have been competitive, new players have been quick to pick it up with a little help, and the games have all been an hour or less of unsolicited fun and some mild name calling.

Premise

Alhambra drops you into ancient Granada, Spain where the  sultans and other royal Moorish people built lavish Palisades known there as an Alhambra. Players race each other on who can build the most lavish Alhambra with the most Towers, Arcades, Seraglios, and Gardens, Pavilions and Chambers  as well as the longest exterior walls. Tiles, such as gardens and towers are added to each players Alhambra by buying them from the market. The market sells one tile for each currency. There are four currencies represented by four different colored cards. Players can draw these cards from the available money off the top of the deck on money cards.  Players can then use their currencies to buy from the four different markets selling the different tiles. These tiles are then added to the players Alhambra’s and scored in one of three different scoring rounds.

Instead of getting points for each tile, players score points for who has the most of each type of building on the first round of scoring. The second round of scoring scores the top two players and the final round of scoring scores the top three players for each type of building. This sounds rather complex but, the score cards do a nice job of walking you through it and it turns out to be sort of fun to randomly have to stop the game to count the points.

If you want some more in depth info here are the official rules, and if you are so inclined here is the boardgamegeek page for more info.

Critical Review

Once again here is what I am looking at in each category. Scored out of 10.

  • Point of entry – The ability for new players to get involved. This also will take into account the rate at which a new and experienced player will become competitive.
  • Mechanics – The stuff that makes the game work. The way the game flows, the turns pass and how the board or structure is organized all factor in.
  • Replay-ability – The ability to play the game many times with enough variety of play and competition to ensure many more enjoyable plays.
  • What comes in the box – The tactile game pieces, the box organization and the way which they compliment the game.
  • Aesthetics – The design elements including colors fonts, white-space, etc.
  • Fun factor – Is this game fun to play? What makes it fun, who will most enjoy it and when it is best played.

Alhambra.Point of entry. Alhambra is not the hardest game to get started on, nor is it the easiest. Some of the rules are pretty straight forward while others can be hard to explain at best to a newcomer. Some of the nuances of how buildings are placed can be a little hard to explain. I personally enjoy the puzzle aspect of that game within a game that is actually building your Alhambra. However to new players, especially non-boardgamers, these tile placement rules can be difficult to understand on a first playthrough. The scoring and when it happens is also a little difficult to get used to for a new player and can leave the first couple rounds of scoring feeling a little stange at best. The plus side is, if you are will to play 2 games, by the second game everyone will understand the flow and have a blast with it. Score 6/10.

Mechanics. Alhambra offers quite a few nice mechanics in each part of the game. For instance scoring rounds are triggered when scoring cards, planted in the deck are drawn. This makes scoring come up at random and as a player you are always waiting for the score cards to come up, planning when you should place or buy tiles based on when you think scoring cards will be drawn. Buying tiles is pretty straight-forward but the game adds the stipulation that if you buy with exact change you get to go again. This makes tile buying very interesting, do you wait for exact change or do you overpay to get what you need now? Constructing an Alhambra would be an easy job if there weren’t rules around how walls can and can not be used together, sometimes there are tiles that you can buy that wont fit in your Alhambra. The game would be pretty bland if it weren’t for the mechanics that give players a lot of choices to make along the way. Score 9/10.

Replay-ability. I don’t think I have played enough games at this point to know from personal experience if I will be playing this game for years to come. I do know there is plenty of excitement and different scenarios in every game. The smart mechanics make the game interesting and there is enough strategy to keep things interesting. I believe this is one I will hang on to and teach the kids some day. Score 7/10.

What comes in the box. The tiles, like in Carcassonne, are solid, think compressed cardboard. The cards are thick and good quality. The storage the box offers, though not incredibly well organized, is plentiful and the tiles come with their own bag to be drawn from and stored in. The one place I am disappointed with the base game compared to the ‘big box‘ is the scoring board is not well setup. The score spaces are printed in a twisted back and forth pattern and I can’t say how many times I have accidentally moved a player piece the wrong way subtracting instead of adding points. The Alhambra Big Box, instead of having 2 boards, a board for the tiles and a board for the score, has the board all as one piece and the players are scored around the outside avoiding the problem. Score 6/10.

Aesthetics. Everything is visually similar and really gives the feel for time period and the type of climate/region that is represented. The one knock here is on color use. At times it can be confusing with green money and garden tiles which are also represented with the color green. It is hard to not see a green garden tile and want to pay for it with green money even if the tile currently sitting on the blue currency market space. Other than that little nick the game looks wonderful. Score 6/10.

Fun Factor. This game is fun there is no way around that. There is plenty of good strategy to be used thanks to the good mechanics. The slight confusion on first play-through quickly drops off and leaves you with a game where you are racing to build the best Alhambra and usually having a blast yelling at people who steal “the piece I needed” just when you have exact change. Everyone I have played with has enjoyed the game and I will continue to bring it along on game nights as an option for the foreseeable future.  Score 9/10.

Final Thoughts

It might not be heralded as one of the great gateway games of our time or anything, but I believe it is one any new gamer should add to their collection and share liberally with friends and family.
Average/Final Score: 7/10.

Odin’s Ravens Kickstarter

I just wanted to put a line out on a game I hope to be playing within the year. However, I wont be if the Kickstarter doesn’t get funded. The game is Odin’s Ravens 2nd Edition. Odin’s Ravens is a 2 player card/board game that has had earlier editions – last published in 2002.

Thorsten Gimmler, Odin's Ravens, Second Edition.

The game looks like a great way to spend time with a friend or significant other and previous editions have been very well received. There is also a great video on their Kickstarter page that explains the game and it’s mechanics.

What got me to contribute via Kickstarter was the simplicity of the game. I find the best strategy games open a player up to find strategy among simple mechanics. This is a simple, “know when to play the hand you’ve been dealt” type game that looks like an absolute blast. The goal is to fly your raven across the twisted random path before you all the while attempting to hinder your opponent from following the same path in reverse.

If the Kickstarter Campaing for Odin’s Ravens is successful I am sure I will be updating everyone when I get a chance to play through it. Check it out on Kickstarter, or read more about the game on Boardgamegeek.

 

Welcome back

It has been a long while since davidsiegfried.com was maintained regularly. A loooong while.

The good news is, I am back in business with some new topics and a new WordPress theme.

Just to give a little credit where credit is due; I started this theme with underscores for WordPress. These guys did a great job getting the basic styles and files all together so I didn’t have to. I got to jump right into organizing the styles they had, adding in LESSCSS and making the site Responsive. I then did my little bit of designing using Sublime Text 2 and Winless.

Thanks as always to WordPress and Dreamhost for the platform and the server respectively.

Looking forward to writing more here. There is also more work to do on the theme but, we will see when I get to that.

Carcassonne: Game Review

In the middle of a game of CarcassonneThis is my first review and I thought I would use one of my first gateway games to get my reviews started. It also happens to be the case that Carcassonne is an all around brilliantly designed game. I put a lot of stock in a game that is designed simply enough that it can be fun your first time, and a game that has enough complexity and strategy to be fun on your on you 25th, 50th or 100th time playing. Carcassonne is one of these games. To a first time player it is a creative puzzle, to a more seasoned veteran Carcassonne is a strategic game of knights, thieves and farmers; The player who controls the growing map will win the game.

The Premise

Carcassonne is played with one inch square tiles that feature pictures of cities, roads or fields. Different tiles are arranged differently so that the road, city or field is touching different edged of the tile. On your turn you draw a random tile and place it touching the edge of at least one other tile provided road touches road, city touches city and filed touches field. That way the game feels like building a giant puzzle where there are no rules concerning where each puzzle piece should go. The player is then able to play a “follower” represented by a small wooden person called a meeple. The meeple can only be played on the tile just played. Followers can be thieves if they are located on the road, knights if they are in the city and farmers if they are in the field. Followers score the player points either when the city or road are completed (city walls surround the entire city, roads end in stop points eg. villiage, city) or in the case of farmers, at the end of the game and depending on how many cities farms support. In this way players score points and the most points win the game. Note: there is actually one more type of tile called the cloister which has its own rules.

That’s really the gist of the game. At the very basic level, just building a big city or a long road with random tiles has a certain appeal to it. I still find myself getting a pleasure out of completing a map without any holes. As you get a little experience playing you will find ways to get your followers in the right positions to steal cities away from your opponents and find ways to play tiles that make finishing a city or connecting two farms impossible for your opponent.

My Experience with the Game

I was first introduced to the game by my regular gaming group when we were between D&D campaigns. The first game I played was a 4 player match where two of us had not ever seen the game before. The two new players actually tied for the win in that game. The ease of entry and the speed at which new players are able to be competitive makes the game really strong and I saw it in my first game. I almost immediately bought a copy of the game for myself and my wife. Now, my wife likes games, but had been hesitant to play D&D or Small World due to sort of a perceived level of nerdom from which she tries to keep her distance. I knew instantly that Carcassonne would be a game I could use as a gateway to get my wife playing games with me. I was right, the easy entry and rate at which she was able to become competitive made the game a perfect way to get her involved and get her to trust future games I brought home.

Since that first game I have played the game with my nephew’s, family, friends and coworkers. All have enjoyed the game, all have been able to see what fun a well designed board game can be. Frequently the biggest hurdle in introducing a new game is getting past the monopoly stigma where new or infrequent board game players fear a complicated or long-winded game that could ultimately end in a flipped table and a binge on comfort food. Carcassonne is perfect for this challenge.

Critical Review

Though I think it is important to share the basics of the game and my experiences with it, I think I do a disservice as a self-titled reviewer to not critically diagnose what makes the game successful or not. I decided the best way to review and ultimately rank games is on a set of criteria that could be used for any game. The areas I will rate games on and discuss are as follows:

  • Point of entry – The ability for new players to get involved. This also will take into account the rate at which a new and experienced player will become competitive.
  • Mechanics - The stuff that makes the game work. The way the game flows, the turns pass and how the board or structure is organized all factor in.
  • Replay-ability - The ability to play the game many times with enough variety of play and competition to ensure many more enjoyable plays.
  • What comes in the box – The tactile game pieces, the box organization, the art style and the way which they compliment the game.
  • Fun factor – Is this game fun to play? What makes it fun, who will most enjoy it and when it is best played.

Point of entry. As I mentioned before, the point of entry on Carcassonne felt very low to me. And as I have used the game on both my (at the time) skeptic wife and 12 year old nephew that any level of player can quickly get into a game and start preforming tactics in an attempt to win. Carcassonne excels here. The game is heralded as a “gateway” in the gaming community and the heralding is deserved  Almost anyone can understand this game quickly and begin having fun right away. Score 10/10.

Mechanics. Carcassonne has two basic mechanics and they are simple ones. Drawing random tiles to play on the community tile-base and playing a meeple on the tiles you just played. This concept, though simple is complimented by the variety of tiles that can be drawn, the sheer number of possibilities a player has when placing the tile and the options that the player has for placing his/her meeples. A simple concept mechanically is complimented by pieces that, by their square nature, are designed so it is easy to see what to do with the tile you drew — road connects to road, city to city, etc.The game also has a very obvious end point that no player need wonder when it will come. The game is finished when tiles are used up and the remaining meeples are scored to announce a winner. My one slight knock, and it is a small issue, is that the base game comes with a score board to 50 and there is no strong design element that allows you to keep track of circuits around the 50 square scoring board. In later expansions, 50 point chips are provided which helps a little but still feels a little awkward. The last point of contention that I don’t love about games is having some uncertainty about when a turn is over, at the end of a turn in Carcassonne there is an optional mechanic of playing a follower on city, road or farm. This can lead to slight confusion with faster play and newcomers, but, small detail ultimately. Score 9/10.

Replay-ability: A game that has a lot of replay value usually has a good mix between random happenings and player interaction which usually results in something along the lines of strategy. To note, I have played the game upwards of 25 to 30 times so far and I am still willing to play at about any point. I do think the level of random is a little higher than the level of interaction/strategy. Getting a random piece one at a time can sometimes feel a little limiting to strategy and depending on who you are playing with, you might find yourself playing most of your tiles on the clear opposite side of the map as the other player(s). More players make the game a bit more strategically interesting as there are fewer available places to place followers and more tendency to try to steal cities, roads and farms away from other players. I have also heard of playing the game with a hand of 3 tiles, which I believe would effectively up the strategy factor. Ultimately this is a great game you will want to play over and over again, especially when introducing new players to the world of ‘Euro Games’. And if you want something more from the game the sheer number of expansions should give you plenty of ways to make a good game better or keep players, who might be getting bored, happy. Eventually the more advanced players may drop the game for more complicated concepts in time, but, I still think for the most part it is fun for any occasion or audience for many, many plays. Score 8/10.

What comes in the box. I actually think the tiles are really solid, the meeples are wood and sturdy even when dropped on the floor. So far I haven’t seen much wear on our set in the form of dents or scratches on the tiles themselves. The box is compartmentalized well for the base game (gets a little more complicated when trying to store expansion tiles in the main box). The art is just the right amount of bright, colorful and enticing which is pretty common is some of the more popular Euro Game including Ticket to Ride and Small World. Score 8/10.

Fun Factor. I believe if the game isn’t fun the other details don’t matter that much. With that in mind, this game is endlessly fun. Partially this is because of solid mechanics and design. Partially this game is really fun because getting new people playing a game and having them see the fun they can have with some wood and cardboard pieces sitting around a table is a very rewarding feeling. As far as replay value, or, am I still having fun playing it much later, I still think it is strong even for more advanced players. Say you don’t want a hard strategy game one day and just want a relaxing game to end the night or to sip wine around — Carcassonne fits perfectly in so many situations. The one situation I might warn against: playing this game on a smaller surface. Running to the end of a table can be a bit maddening. For optimal fun, find a large playing surface and start right in the middle. Score 9/10.

Final Thoughts

All together this is a classic game everyone can enjoy for a long time. One of the heralded gateway games of the table top gaming community, and it is a true beauty. If you run out of fun with the original expansion are everywhere (I recommend Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders). Give it a go if you haven’t already, and it you have it and haven’t played for a while, get it back out and build another map of the city of Carcassonne.
Average/Final Score 8.

A gamer in transition

I have always been a gamer, I think looking back it is one of the few things that have defined me throughout my entire life. At maybe 8 I was playing super Nintendo on a mini trampoline in my basement. When I was 10 I got a computer and began my early life as a PC Gamer. By 12 or 13 I had rebuilt it into a formidable gaming machine and was playing original Starcraft, Counter-Strike, Half-Life and eventually World of Warcraft. PC Gaming is still my strongest passion when it comes to gaming, but it is slowly ebbing away.

I am entering a phase of my life where not only do I have an added amount of responsibility and family time (see posts about my daughter). I now have somewhat less time to sit on the PC for hours at a time. I have less time to play whatever new games there are and honestly somewhat less desire. I find my hands, or more importantly one hand occupied much of the time and my erratic sleep schedule leaves me going to bed early and not spending late hours of the night racking up wins in Starcraft2. I realize this may just be a temporary setback in my gaming time, but, even so, I am starting to expand my gaming palette.

Enter Tabletop

I really have to give a lot of credit to Wil Wheaton’s “Table Top” web show. I started watching these out of mild curiosity and quickly began discovering a whole new world of gaming possibilities. Around that time, I began playing D&D 4th Edition with some fiends who also turned me on to my first “Euro Style” board game (Carcassonne) and my first true indie game Pushfight!. I found myself thinking, “holy shit, there is a whole world of games out here I had no idea about.” I was honestly taken aback, I had no idea even what I was missing. As a kid we had played Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Apples to Apples and the like and I always sort of felt demeaned by inferior gameplay and childish themes. I had no idea there was this world of deep, strategic, fun board games out there.

How board games fit

Some of the advantages to board games feel a little obvious but, I think as someone who never fathomed enjoying them, they are worth pointing out.

  1. Board games have a certain deep subtlety about them that my “gamer” side really appreciates. Sometimes it is hard for me to look at cardboard cutouts, dice and cards and think, ‘hey, this is some advanced thinking going on here,’ when I was used to the insane complexity of an MMO or a good RTS game. However, sometimes complexity is not always the most fun. Complexity can also be crude and complex just to seem like there is a lot going on. The depth and subtlety of board game is apparent when simple mechanics such as tile laying, card playing and piece moving can have a complex strategy behind them. Suddenly moving a piece is as interesting as controlling and building an entire army.
  2. Board games are inherently social. And granted, many games are now played online. In fact I spend most of my life online, talking over chat and on the phone and that is where board games are very refreshing. I find myself craving interactions face to face. Sitting at a table with friends or family over a game is a wonderful way to talk and get all the humanness I can soak up in our increasingly digital world.
  3. Family playtime is something I’ll probably find ways to bring up all the time on this blog. But, as a dad and a husband, I find myself looking for ways to spend more time siting together, playing together, talking together. TV is both good and terrible for this. We sit but we don’t talk, we don’t use our brains, we don’t interact. Board games are something I enjoy playing with my wife (and thankfully, she enjoys them too) and one day I hope to share with my children. Again, I will write more on this at another time, but, I believe strongly, the family that plays together, stays together.

So now, I can proudly announce I have started; my collection has begun. I am now a collector, player and advocate of board games. I have a boardgamegeek collection page started and I play and share games whenever I can. Will there always be room for computer games, sure, but, somehow I don’t care as much about missing my time sitting alone playing Starcraft or Skyrim. I look forward just as much to playing board games and card games with friends and family when it comes to getting my gaming fix.

A collection of boardgames

A New Dad: 4 things I’ve learned in 4 weeks

Baby Hannah in her hatI haven’t written yet on this subject, but I will be writing about it much more going forward. I am now the proud father of my first child. Hannah Grace Siegfried was born on December 29th 2012 at 11:22pm. She was 3 weeks early and weighed in at a wopping 6 pounds 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

In the last 4 weeks, like any new parent, I have had to learn a lot. I think perhaps less than some and likely more than others. These four things are as much learned as confirmed guesses I had about fatherhood. These four things have worked well for me as a dad so far.

1. Be consistent.

My mother once told me (and yes this is one of the few phrases of wisdom I have actually remember from my mother) as a father you can’t always be there for your child, but you can always be consistent. This may not be universally true thanks to the emergence of stay at home dads, but, for the most part, most dads are around for the first week or so full time before having to go back to work and leave a very young baby and a possibly overtired, overwhelmed mom at home alone. This was the situation I had to deal with after two weeks with my wonderful wife and new daughter at home. The feeling is heart breaking. I love them both so much, and the trials they have faced together in her short life have been hard on both of them. As a dad, I can’t be there every minute, but what I can do is be there consistently. I come home in the evening, eat or help make dinner and then launch into the bedtime routine. I take the early morning feedings as often as I can in the time I have before work. I am always there to help, and I know my wife knows, and soon my daughter will know, that I will always come home to them and solve all the problems I can help them solve.

2. Be flexibly rigid.

I have known from the beginning that winning the first few months was all about getting a schedule down. Babies and everyone else do well on schedules; also to refer to the above, what could be more consistent than a schedule. The first thing that gets out of wack is your sleep schedule. We had Hannah at 11:22pm and there was no sleep to be had that night. I think I was up for at least 48 hours straight at one point. I didn’t get on it as well as I could have, but, as soon as we regained some of our wits, we enforced a pretty strict bedtime schedule. Keeping her awake for several hours before bed followed by a big feeding and sleep time gives us at least 6 hours of sleep in a row at night (and sometimes more for my wife as she can get to sleep while I do the bedtime routine). I can’t ask for much more than that right now and with that schedule in place we have done pretty well. There is a point though,  and it happened to me last night, that you do everything in your power and she wont stay up those few hours before bed or she refuses to eat on your schedule. Don’t stress out, know when she knows best and try again tomorrow.

3. Come ready to learn

As I mentioned above there will be times when she knows far better than you what the right thing to do it. Some of this comes by trial and error, and sometimes she will fix you with those beautiful eyes and just give you a squawk a grunt or a scream and you know whatever it is that you are doing isn’t working. Sometimes it is that you are just the wrong person, sometimes she just needs mom. The instincts we are born with are nothing short of amazing. Hannah’s instincts are the penultimate guide to how to take care of her and if you are ready to listen she will let you know just what to do. To note: Some screaming at you for doing it all wrong is pretty normal, they have short memories though and will usually snuggle with you once you figure it out.

4. The family that games together stays together

I intend a separate post on this subject as the phrase was handed down to me in the weirdest of ways, however, this is just how I have dealt with the issue of too much baby time for my wife. Everyone needs their alone time and their breaks from even the sweetest of babies. My wife and I have always been conscious of this and we spend good amounts of time away from each other and good amounts of time finding new things to do (to prevent fights and boredom). I say the family that games together stays together because a couple of times a week I take our little girl, either get her napping, or just hold her in my lap while my wife and I play a game. It cuts the stress, we get to talk and she gets to take a moment to stop spending her entire day thinking about our daughter. This might not be long, usually less than an hour, but, I think it is refreshing for both of us and it is one of the ways I plan to continue helping to maintain both  our sanity.

That’s it for now, I know I will have more theories to test and more things to learn on the way. Cheers to you Hannah, you’re already beginning to change my entire life and outlook.

David Siegfried, Warrior Poet

I guess you could say this title is a bit arrogant. But that is not really the point. It is interesting in our work lives we have to take on some sort of title and use it in our lives whether or not it really defines anything but your role in a business. Society as a whole wants to know what you are doing to contribute. My neighbor asked me 2 things when I met him, “What do you do?” and “You like dogs right?” I was obliged to tell him, “Web Developer,” in my best corporate robot voice and “uh… sure” but that was mainly because his dog looked a bit intimidating and I didn’t want to start a feud.

No one wanted to ask me what sort of title I would give myself for my life. I like being husband and uncle and soon, father. I have always felt that my life will be defined best by how I am there for my family, I have known this for years. And yet, I still feel like I could use a title for me, not for my job, not for my family members, just for me.

So, there you have it, a two paragraph explanation for the title of this post. I batted around a few ideas. I like to think and organize and learn. I feel I am at my best being creative, bringing people together and telling the truth. I am comfortable working though tough spots and overcoming obstacles and I think at the end of the day I do nothing better than I write (if you’re critical and dislike my writing you might have cause to laugh here, that’s fine, you look better smiling anyway).

I tried thinker-poet, life champion and philosopher  None of those suited me, not the way I liked. Something about the warrior word sounded right. I don’t make a habit of physically fighting but, I feel like in a lot of ways just having the will to make it in this world means you need a little bit of warrior in you. I don’t really think poet is a perfect work, but, in conjures up some nice images, the one I like best is creative. Poetry implies depth, wit, creativity, awareness and organization all are things I value in myself and find ways to perfect.

I don’t know, maybe just a funny idea, maybe something more, maybe something I can keep in my head when I step out of the house, I remind myself what I am, where I have strengths and what I want to be every day, just me, not my job and not anyone else. Just me, just something that I can keep for myself.

Make one for yourself perhaps, carry it with you, help it define how you go about your life.

A city with streets paved in gold

Well, not exactly gold, but, when I hopped off a street car and headed down on Bourbon Street in the world famous French Quarter of New Orleans, I found a street that was wet with soap suds and puddles of water. This has nothing to do with soap stores or rain, and has everything to do with the fact that Bourbon street is such a party zone that the street literally needs to be hosed down in the early hours of the morning for the sheer amount of spilled beverages, vomit, urine and who knows what else.

I had a hard time getting it through my head that this was real. A street where the partying is so intense that the street gets cleaned nightly? This is still unbelievable to me, and I’ve seen it. The street is in fact lined with bars, gentlemen’s clubs and other party related locations. 

The rest of the French Quarter was a lot of fun and the fact that the hordes of fans for the saints game in the evening and the BCS College Championship on Monday crowding the streets made it that much better. Who dat nation knows how to party and so do those LSU fans. Overall, if someone told me they are having a party in New Orleans, I’d be in, no question.

A visit to the Domain of the King

As you might or might not have heard I am currently traveling with my family in the southern united states. Today we woke up somewhere in southern Missouri and got on the road south into Memphis, TN. And when you have to pass right through Memphis you might as well stop by a little place know as Graceland and take a look at the house of one of the legends of Rock and Roll.

I’ve never been a big Elvis Presley fan, his music is all right I suppose but, really as I was anything but part of that era, I just don’t understand what it was like when his music came on the scene and therefore really can’t appreciate all the ground he broke as a musician.

He was a hell of a musician, and that is evident in the room that housed his golden and platinum records, his awards and the like, the man broke so many barriers with his music that I can see why even now flowers and cards adorn his grave-site. I’ve never seen a grave of someone who was that influential in the course of the history of anything, and seeing Elvis’ grave visited by hundreds of people to day alone was really a strange feeling I can hardly place. The man is no longer alive, and hardly even a man any longer, he is a legend and a myth and yet, there he lies, just as dead as you and I will be one day.

His house struck me for how modest it feels by today’s standards of riches and over-exaggerated houses and possessions of the rich and famous. For a man who did so much, his house seemed fairly plain, and a mere 16 acres hardly seems like enough space for someone who had to rent the grocery store at night so he could do his shopping in peace. How things have changed these past 40 years.

Well, that is about it. We are going to be spending tomorrow in downtown New Orleans, visiting the markets and hopefully finding some music and interesting food. Hopefully we round out the evening with a visit to a local bar to catch the Saints and the Lions and get in on some of the excitements the fans down here are lucky enough to experience.