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Kevin Brennan

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An Actual Post [Mar. 21st, 2010|12:18 am]
Yeah, I have no idea if anyone still reads this thing, but what the hell.

Today was a strange day. I drove Mum up to Brighton to see my Aunt Edith and cousin Robin (who came up with his wife Kris). For those of you who don't know, my Uncle Adrian (who died last week) was Edith's husband and my aunt Jeanne (who died a few weeks ago) is Edith's sister and Robin's mother. My mother and Edith are first cousins, but growing up Edith and Adrian were the only relatives I had living in Canada outside my immediate family. 

While it was good to see them all again, this last month has not been at all good from a family perspective. We're all hoping that three deaths in the family is all there's going to be. But even this much represents a major closing in a part of my life. With my grandmother and Jeanne gone, the odds of my ever visiting Southport in England seem pretty slim. I also find myself thinking about mortality more, which I suppose is inevitable. Which feels especially weird with this little rambunctious child rampaging around the house every day, full of life.  Right now I'm thinking about endings when hers is just beginning. 

I'm trying to make sense of where I wanted to go with this and I think I know what the problem is. I want to write something melancholy because I'm feeling down right now, and I think I'm justified in feeling that way--but I also know objectively that I shouldn't. How do you feel sorry for yourself when you know there are lots of people out there who would be incredibly grateful to have the opportunities and the life I have? OK, it's doable, no question, but sympathy is not expected. That's not what this is. I think it's more a sense that I can't go home again. In the last few years, my life has changed irrevocably and I'm still figuring out what the new one looks like. 
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Hell With It [Aug. 6th, 2009|12:12 am]
I'm not even going to try to pretend that LJ is a place I post at anymore. You can find me at Facebook and on Twitter, if you want to know about what's going on with me, or on the IIBA Community Network if you want to know about my professional life.

Ironically I actually do have something to post about here, now. That is GURPS 4e.

I was looking it over recently and came to the odd realization that it doesn't suck. Now, understand that I hated GURPS 3e as only a wounded fanboy can hate--which is to say that I had played the game so much that the serious balance issues it has in character creation had come to dominate the game experience for me. In particular, it was obvious how to game the system to create an excessively effective character on 100 points and so all characters ended up looking alike. On top of that, the modern combat rules had some serious quirks that made every gunfight seem exactly the same in any near future setting.

However, I'd been told that they had fixed those issues in 4e and it appears to be true. The boosting of cost for DX and IQ, elimination of half-point skills, and some other changes make me feel like the game could actually be playable again. They didn't go as far in that direction as I would have liked, to be sure--I think the skill list could still use trimming--but it looks like it could actually be playable for the kinds of things I would want to do with it.

I must be mellowing in my old age or something.



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Trek Reboot [Jul. 2nd, 2009|08:42 pm]
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So I've had Star Trek back on the brain a lot lately. The new film kicked it off, then I watched the entire run of Deep Space 9, and finally came across and ordered the Decipher version of the game (at $35 for the whole set, a bargain). The urge to run a Trek game is hard on me although I have no idea how such a thing might be accomplished. Originally I thought of doing something post-Nemesis, but then the idea of a reboot based more closely on TOS took hold. I just thought I might as well post my mental notes here in case I want to eventually come back to them.

Why a reboot? Well, there's over seven hundred hours of the old TV shows plus the various other media, and it's hard to get away from the knowledge that everything is a certain way. Plus, the other series have set a pretty well defined tone for Trek that loses some of the major qualities of the original. Having rewatched DS9, I sympathize with those who say it's not really Trek, even though it remains a show I really enjoyed. In the final analysis, I just think a game would be more fun if one could put new twists on old tropes. It's not keeping track of canon that bothers me so much as it is that it's too easy to say, for instance, "that's not how Klingons act".

So what would it look like? I'd use Gabe Koerner's version of the Enterprise for the Constitution-class, just because it looks different from any of the existing ships while still being very recognizable.


For a similar reason, I'd be inclined to use these uniform designs. The late TNG-era uniforms and their followups have way too much black in them for Starfleet (it's an aesthetic thing, but military or paramilitary groups that dress heavily in black always seem to be up to no good).

On the tech front, I'd combine the communicator, PADD and tricorder into an iPhone-like thing. No transporters. The flight deck would be a lot bigger inside the ship, because I like the idea of it taking on more of an aircraft carrier like role and having a bunch of small craft that can be sent away on missions (besides, with no transporters this is important). The interior would have a similar feel to an aircraft carrier as well--less so than a sub but more than the traditional Trek ships.

The Federation itself would be a lot more like TOS's, with a clear desire to build a Roddenberian utopia but definitely not there yet. I don't like what some of the later shows did, where the Federation turns out to be a utopia with evil fascists lurking about. I think a genuinely "good" society that is trying to become better is more interesting. It allows me to play with ideas like prison planets or rehabilitation centres, and look at ways in which good intentions can lead to bad results.

Aliens are a mix of forehead people and really alien creatures. The forehead people are all derived from human stock, spread around the galaxy by the Preservers (basically the Ancients from Traveller, although I know a lot of fans had this scenario in mind for Trek before Traveller existed). I haven't tried to flesh out how I would change all the traditional adversaries, but here's what I'm thinking so far:
  • Klingons: They would be the honorable enemy, with the proud warrior people/samurai vibe. I was initially tempted to go with the Klingons as the vicious clear badguy, but I wanted the Gorn to fill that role. Maybe they're descended from Neanderthals?
  • Romulans: A faction or ethnic group within the Vulcans who want them to abandon their pacifism and embrace their emotional side. The Romulans are also Vulcan supremacists or isolationists or both, and some are involved in terrorism against the Federation.
  • Gorn: The nasty, brutal badguys. Like intelligent velociraptors from Jurassic Park as opposed to real ones. The intention is that they're going to be very difficult for the Federation to co-exist with, at least not without significant change on their part (the idea that it's actually impossible to find a way to co-exist is unTrek, but they don't have a lot of redeeming features from our POV).
  • Tholians: the weird adversaries, where the biggest challenge is generally figuring out what they even want.
  • Borg: A transhumanist group operating within the Federation.
  • Ferengi: Less comedy, more mafia. They would take over some of the role the Orions are supposed to play. The Orions could be elevated into that role too but the Ferengi are more visually interesting.
That's pretty much all I got so far and I'm not sure I would take it much further than that even if this did go somewhere, as I would prefer to build on this in play.
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Star Trek [May. 9th, 2009|12:25 am]
It was a lot of fun. The new cast is great. Yes, there are nitpicks one could make and the plot may not make a lot of sense, but in the end I didn't really care.  
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Scary Conversations [Apr. 30th, 2009|04:45 pm]
So...I'm changing Áine (who's three-and-a-half months old) and talking to Leslie. From what we can tell Áine's at the high-end of almost all the baby development timelines we've seen, except for the part about sleeping thorough the night. One of the things she's started doing now is standing upright if we hold her hand (she's not yet got the balancing thing down yet) and even trying to walk while we do that.

Leslie's reading this to me and explaining that while babies this age sometimes do these things, it's not common. I look at Leslie and say, "So what you're saying is that we have a difficult and precocious child". And then Áine says "yeah".  



Little girl, you're starting to scare me.
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Deep Thoughts [Feb. 19th, 2009|06:00 am]
  • 09:59 @thebitterguy twurl.nl/cxjp7z should answer them, if your questions are what I think they are. #
  • 10:10 Physical later today. Thus no coffee. Am not happy. #
  • 15:14 I need to figure out how to yell at someone at LinkedIn--looks like they arbitrarily shut down the IIBA group. #
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Deep Thoughts [Feb. 18th, 2009|06:00 am]
  • 09:57 I can see myself turning into this person: twurl.nl/ax7re1 #
  • 16:42 Áine is not having a happy day today. #
  • 22:23 @adamjury "But dude, my art is *SO* much cooler than your stupid layout. Just change the layout!" #
  • 22:43 @adamjury It'll stand out more on the shelves that way! Win-win! #
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Deep Thoughts [Feb. 17th, 2009|06:00 am]
  • 12:58 "A role will perform specified work to defined standards." Technically, "read my mind and I'll tell you if it's good enough" qualifies. #
  • 14:39 @irishspy If only the comedy was, you know. accurate. ;-) I've never waited more than 15 minutes for a blood test... #
  • 23:21 I think I've actually finally finished revising the BABOK. I mean, except for the Introduction. Damn, I've been working on this since 2004. #
  • 00:35 Doing a usability study for Microsoft now. Yes, MS does usability studies. #
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Deep Thoughts [Feb. 14th, 2009|06:00 am]
  • 09:30 Now I'm having dreams about the BABOK. This has got to stop. #
  • 00:10 Why does nobody tell me about things like Monster Manual Comix (twurl.nl/iu0s71)? What do I pay you people for? #
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Deep Thoughts [Feb. 13th, 2009|11:32 am]
  • 13:19 @irishspy I learned long ago not to click when people say things like "This is terrible, whatever you do don't visit that link". #
  • 13:21 Set up Áine's RESP (to pay for university) today. Never too early, I guess. As for "what if she doesn't go" I don't think she has a choice. #
  • 09:30 Now I'm having dreams about the BABOK. This has got to stop. #
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