Saturday, June 6, 2015

Interacting With Other Humans is Hard

The worst thing happened to me today. Well, obviously not the worst worst, since I'm writing about it on my blog and not the inside of the coffin I was buried alive in. But it was this awful thing where a boy came up to me and said "Hi, Mr. Mueller! Hi!" And I responded "Hi, buddy!" And he got this very cogitated look about him, and this sweet little boy looked at me and, not accusingly but also not inquiringly, said "Do you know my name."




I did not. I looked around desperately, because when you're a teacher to over seven hundred kids you have a plan for what to do when a child realizes that you've only ever used pronouns or generic waves to get their attention. You drilled for this, Ben. Come on. Frantically I looked around for another kid, because in my ordinary context there are several children around, and I can usually flip the conversation by jokingly calling a boy "Sophie" or "Lupe" until one of the other kids helpfully corrects me. I look around, and with a sinking feeling in the pit of my self-esteem realize there are no kids close enough for this ruse to work.

I cycle through my tricks. I can't ask him to spell his last name. Don't have my class roster. Do I really only have three tricks? This is why I'm not a magician.
What do you mean, it's not your card? I only have two of these.
Now, I'm a librarian and when my mind works it works a bit like a digital catalog. Each kid has a record--albeit a spottily-cataloged one--and I use what I can find to query the catalog for the kid. Now, normally I have a very strict set of parameters. Kind of like:
It's a speciis is definitely Ms. Genericname's Class. Okay then. "Query: Homeroom:Genericname AND Gender:Male AND Ethnicity:Latino OR Ethnicity:Hispanic NOT Name:Jose" 
Standing on the playground at 7:30 in the morning, rolling on five hours of sleep, I cave. I kneel down, I man up, and I admit that "No, buddy. I don't remember your name."

There's a triumphant smile--"I'm Luis!" and I feel completely wretched.  I think it's really important that kids feel that their teachers know them, make them feel singularly important. Teachers have training about it--strategies to make kids feel more secure that the adults in their lives care for them. And nothing undermines that more than not knowing a kid's name.

"Do you think it's fair that I don't remember your name?" I ask. Is that fair is a question I employ a lot. He looks at me with this absolutely canny look. He's not angry that I don't remember. Or confused. He completely gets it, and he empathizes. Which makes me feel even worse. This is cool kid! I offer my hand, he shakes it. "Well, now I know, Luis. Now I know." And he scampers away, leaving me to wonder what I just did to that kid's self-esteem. These kids, man.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Boom Beach Evolution of Buildings

While I was digging around in the archives of the old Boom Beach Wiki, I started comign across buildings. Now, the original buildings for Boom Beach feature some starkly different design choices than the current ones. Currently, buildings have three major color schemes: "team themed" buildings, such as the Gunboat, Landing Crafts, Residences, Outposts, Armories, Sculptors and Headquarters,  which feature either blue for allies or red for Blackguard. "Resource themed": orange for wood, purple for stone, teal for iron. Defensive buildings appear to be more or less random.

The old Quarry, seen below on the left, features the team color scheme instead of the now-familiar purple resource color scheme of Stone. It's also a much less mechanized operation. The September 2014 archive for the Quarry features two new quarries, one of which is recognizably our motorized sledge, which more accurately conveys the industrialized feel of Boom Beach and begins the tradition of color coding buildings by resource. The upper-level building can be seen below on the lower left, and you might even recognize it as the map symbol for a Quarry in current Boom Beach, albeit with a team-colored roof. I assume it was canned and the newer upper-level quarries brought in for the safe of consistency across levels.

The sculptor features the most stark changes, as a ton of character is injected into the new design. Again, the new design is much more iconic, featuring the stoic Warrior-Sculptor. The new design features my favorite piece of flavor text in the whole game--"Power Powder--the sculptor sweeps up power stone powder." It's evocative and creates context in a way that I absolutely adore in video games.

I'm kind of hoping that the window for crafting Sculptures changes under the upcoming update. Right now, we have a Sculptor but ordering new sculptures feels a bit dry, as you're interacting with a window. Put his picture up next to the window, imply we're having a conversation with him while we're ordering our new statue.

These are the old statues I uncovered. They're a bit stunted and bland, apparently lacking the elemental qualities of newer statues that give them pizzazz and color. I do like the cute little planter in the last one, though.

I had this idea about sculptures. It struck me as weird that sculptors would voluntarily make sculptures for the Blackguard, since the whole point of the Blackguard invasion is to enslave the people, force them to mine power stones, and experiment on them. So I thought it would be pretty cool if future versions of Blackguard bases feature Masterpieces that either reflect the Blackguard's desire to experiment on them (they've been technologically modified with satellite dishes, etc) or if they reflected the Blackguard's desire for control by being statues of Hammerman himself.
I don't have a lot to say about these buildings, but I wanted to archive them all the same, just because I think a lot of them are cute, if not quite as visually interesting as our current designs. I like the level 4 Sawmill with it's quaintly huge sawblade projecting right through the roof of the compound.

The Cannon is on the left, and the original level 1 Boom Cannon is on the right. They're not very diffferent, and the Boom Cannon is terribly dull, especially for a weapon which shares its name with the game it's from. I'm much more satisfied with the modern cannon, with it's heft, and bright colors, and bullet apron.