Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wheel of Time Character Mapping

So I've been thinking about doing an experiment by listing the characters that appear in each chapter of Wheel of Time as I read it (starting mid book 7 because that's where I am now). Partially this comes from the fact that now there are so freaking many noble and Aes Sedai secondary characters, many with very similar names, that even I can't keep them straight!

Also this is because I generally try to avoid spoilers, because I know of at least one person that reads this blog sometimes that hasn't read all of the books. In my opinion listing the characters as they appear won't be any kind of real spoiler, but still I'll keep things as spoiler free as I can. Here's a bit of what it would look like, but in practice I'm not sure it gives much without spoilers and would be a lot of work.

Book 7 - A Crown of Swords

Chapter 11 - An Oath
  • Egwene Al'Vere
  • Meri - mean servant of Egwene's
  • Romanda - Aes Sedai, rival of Lelaine
  • Lelaine - Aes Sedai, rival of Romanda
  • Sheriam - Aes Sedai, on Egwene's side
  • Lord Gareth Bryne
  • Theodrin Dabei & Faolain Orande - Aes Sedai
  • Halima / Aran'gar
  • Tiana - Aes Sedai?
  • Siuan Sanche
  • etc.
I'm thinking that having my own wiki for Wheel of Time might be easier and better in every way. I'd build it as I go through the books and hopefully because of that it would be much more comprehensive than the other wikis that are out there. I would contribute to them, but I can't at the moment because they are riddled with spoilers so I just avoid the existing wikis as a practice. However, Becky tells me there isn't any one wiki that is as informative or comprehensive as they should be.

Reading Update: I am 41% through book 7 and now very happy to be almost 50% of the way through the series (minus the final book which isn't out yet). Towers of Midnight coming out set me back about 3% in total but I caught that up and more over the last two books.

Is it technically Winter yet? I'm pretty sure it is but for some reason it still feels very much like Fall to me even though it is super cold outside. Also, it doesn't feel like the week of Christmas at all, but it still feels MUCH better than last year for obvious reasons! :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My Disturbing Affair with Graphs, Numbers, and Critical Hits

Sure I talk about Critical Hits here sometimes, and probably even more so I talk about how I am way too in love with random math, numbers, and graphs. So why should today be any different???

I hesitate to say that I "joined" Critical Hits in August of 2005 because that's around when Dave sent out the e-mail to a bunch of us asking if we wanted to help out with the website, and also asking what we should name the site. I believe "For Great Justice" was the working title at the time, and I'm pretty happy with the name that we settled on considering the numerous other RPG, D&D, and especially 4E themed blogs that have popped up in the last year or two.

We started using Google Analytics back in October of 2006, just a year or so after we had been seriously blogging at the site. Here I'm going to look at some minor traffic stats over the history of CH so far.
  • Late 2006: 30-50 avg. daily visitors
  • First Half 2007: 200-350 daily visitors
  • July 2007 - Fallout 3 Press Event: 1,625 highest daily visitors at the time
  • Second Half 2007*: 100-200 daily visitors
  • Feb 2008 - D&D XP for 4E: 4,575 highest daily visitors at the time
  • First Half 2008: 300-400 daily visitors
  • Second Half 2008: 400-800 daily visitors (with a lot more spikes up to around 1,600)
  • First Half 2009: still in the 400-800 daily visitors range
  • Second Half 2009: 800-1,200 daily visitors (GenCon brought large traffic spikes)
  • First Half 2010 - ChattyDM joins CH: 1,600-2,000 daily visitors (Chatty brings the rain)
  • August 2010 - GenCon: 7,300 highest daily visitors at the time
  • Second Half 2010: 2,000-2,500 daily visitors (with spikes up to 4,500)
Now what does this really show? Not a ton, but it does tell me that from 2007 to 2010 over the course of those 4 years our average daily traffic has grown 50x and that is a pretty crazy thing to think about for me. It also surprises me, and I'm very happy about it, that our current regular traffic spikes up to the numbers that used to be our highest ever daily traffic back in early 2008 when we first covered D&D XP. Realistically I don't expect our numbers to grow at the same rate as we continue, because there are only so many RPG players out there that are reading blogs, but still I'm very happy with how things have progressed and I hope to be happy with it in the foreseeable future.

* Right around July of 2007 Google changed something with their search algorithms, and this resulted in us losing quite a bit of traffic that was probably just people glancing and bouncing from the site anyway, so we dropped from a high of 350 in a day back down to around 200 in a day.

Reading Update: I finished Wheel of Time book 6, Lord of Chaos, and am already 12% through book 7, A Crown of Swords. I'm hoping to be done with ACoS by the end of December and then into book 8 for January. It is still incredibly surprising, and satisfying, to be reading a book in a month that would have taken me up to 6 months to get through just a year or two ago.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Merging Profession and Hobby = Fun!

This week I started a series within a series (because I'm just like that) where I'm going to be talking about World Building for a tabletop RPG in my Architect DM series of posts for Critical Hits. So far I've been incredibly surprised by the series not just from people giving almost entirely positive feedback on it but also because writing posts for it has been some of the easiest writing I've ever done for a blog and especially for CH. If you want to check out the whole series, you can view the "Architect DM" tag by using this url:


So far in the series I've covered things like building story foundations for the locations in your games so that they are more believable, including if you are using ruined locations to think about what they looked like beforehand and what uses they had and then have fun destroying and knocking parts of them down to create even more interesting terrain. I've also talked about how to design a dungeon by thinking about a modern office building and taking the inverse of it and going into the ground instead of into the air. Many of the posts have been based on reader questions and suggestions and that's one thing that makes it even more fun for me to write the posts.

I'm not 100% sure but I wouldn't be surprised if all of the " DM" titles owe themselves back to Phil and his Chatty DM moniker, but for the last 5 years or so I have strongly considered myself a "Professional / Nerd" and finally decided to take that a step further and combine my experiences and expertise with Architecture and apply it to my hobby of running and playing D&D and other RPGs. This series also probably owes itself largely to the DM Guys Podcast which I participated in with our friend Quinn one day about improvising as a DM and Dave and Quinn quipped that I may be better at improvising locations/dungeons because I have spent a lot of my life designing locations (not dungeons, but really modern offices and dungeons aren't that far apart, which is probably why I compared them in one of my Architect DM posts). I thought about it and decided they were right, and that I should share to help others be able to do the same.

As far as reading goes, thanks to a day trip down to Jacksonville, FL I made significant progress through book 6, Lord of Chaos, and am now definitively into the final part of the book where I almost always speed up to get to the end. I'm 84% through the book now, and am almost caught up with where I should have been if I hadn't taken a couple days off from reading in the beginning of November.

Reading a series like Wheel of Time is teaching me quite a bit about writing, fantasy novels / storylines, storytelling in general, and pacing when it comes to novels. I'm excited to be approaching the half way point through the entire series, something that I honestly thought I'd either never do or I would be much older by the time I did it. You have to keep in mind that previously it would take me 3-6 months or even up to a year to finish a single book in the series, and now I'm clearing a book in roughly a month without THAT much more effort put into it. Again, I'm hoping in the near future to apply the same philosophies that have helped my reading to the other parts of my life such as writing and drawing.