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Some fractured thoughts on the NPL con. This is preliminary, and not everything will make sense to you if you don't know much about the NPL, but I'll try do be more thorough and introductory in a later post.

First, y'all posted too much this weekend. Way too much. Where were you on the weekends when I was desparate to read new content? Apparently you were too busy making plans to post a whole lot during the weekend when I was in Colorado without a computer. Skip=600.

Remote Control was a lot of fun. I ran it five times and received a lot of compliments. The scores were generally pretty uneven, but people enjoyed the work and attitude of the thing. I learned a lot about the game I'd written through playing it, and I don't think that things really got started until the third run. I'm going to put together a nice something that has all of the questions, including changes made during the con. In the meantime, everyone who'd been filtered out of my Con Game updates can look back at the declassified posts on : Part 1 & Part 2.

The official program was really fantastic this year. I know that a lot of people were a bit apprehensive about most of it. The World Series of Wordplay in particular seemed ripe for problems, with only twelve people actually solving. But [livejournal.com profile] qaqaq knew what he was doing, and the tension and excitement carried over amazingly well. The most upsetting thing was how little of it we ultimately got to see.

When I wasn't running Remote Control, I did a lot of other trivia games. I didn't do particularly well in most of them. When playing Jeopardy boards by [livejournal.com profile] cramerica and Noam, I found myself perpetually a half-second behind on questions. I only managed to salvage my place in Cram's by pulling out a true Daily Double. [livejournal.com profile] sproutcm's pub trivia was lots of fun, but my team had a hard time of it, though we managed to work together well on the "identify the TV show based on the names of children" bonus. And in Ember's Trash Trivia packet, I mostly came out ahead by being on the team with [livejournal.com profile] zundevil (who is generally not someone you want to be pitted against in a game of trivia), but I did manage to do our team proud by identifying Seatlle Grace Hopsital during a tossup question.

The Diorama Flats was another official event that seemed like an iffy proposition, but I had a blast putting mine together with [livejournal.com profile] cazique. When it came to solving, I had a feeling that [livejournal.com profile] cramerica, who had been my flat-competition cosolver from Indiana to San Antonio, would have formed a new partnership during the con I couldn't attend, and I was correct. Instead, I paired up with local NPLer Jigsaw. This was a good move, as we were only one answer off from complete (my fault entirely). He'll say that I did 75% of the work, which is true, in a sense. I was really good at identifying chestnuts and simple bases. When it came to the rough stuff, we worked together really well.

The cryptic crosswords were really fun. Wombat's official puzzle, Color Ado, was definitely my favorite. Coming in at a close second was [livejournal.com profile] thedan's Immovable Objects, which was simple and straightforward, but had a wonderful theme (which took me stupidly long to identify). Embarrassingly, some of the puzzles that I still have yet to complete are [livejournal.com profile] tinhorn2's and Jigsaw's, both of which I had a chance to testsolve before the con.

It felt a little weird coming back after missing a year. There were definitely a lot of faces I didn't know who'd been at the Michigan Con. It also felt weird arriving on Thursday, which meant I had less time to hang out with people. I mean, I love the games and puzzles, but one thing I really love about con is just being able to talk to people, and I felt like I didn't get enough of that.

Finally, some of the best pictures of the con available right now are at Mum's Flickr page.
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Having a great time.
  • Have run Remote Control thrice, with increasing success. Am hoping to run thrice again before tomorrow.
  • Had an absolutlely fabulous lunch at Domo.
  • Played in three other trivia games, by [livejournal.com profile] sproutcm, [livejournal.com profile] cramerica, and Ember.
  • Met some fabulous people who I missed last year, and who are attending their first con this year.
  • Got a decent amount of sleep.
  • Have not missed an official meal.
  • Run around the hotel a lot.
  • Almost made myself late for pencil puzzles because of typing up an LJ entry.
Talk to you soon.
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So, I'm now seven questions away from a full game. Right now, I have 22 categories (though one is still one question short), so when I fill in two more, I'll have channels 2-13 for two rounds.

I've decided that the rounds are going to progress like this.
  • Round 1: Normal
  • Snack Break: Dump candy on players.
  • Round 2: Double points. One "Off the Air" channel will be hidden among the categories (probably under "Reruns"). Picking it will eliminate the lowest-scoring player.
  • Off the Air: At the end of round 2, the lowest player gets bumped.
  • Think Real Fast: The expanded version of "Bob Denver, John Denver, or City of Denver." 10 pts per question.
  • Off the Air: The two players with the lowest scores get bumped.
  • Beat the Bishop: I put on a bishop's hat and do a lap around the hotel while the remaining contestants answer the TGIF question with as many shows as they can write. 15 pts per answer.
  • Finale: Winner is the player with the highest score.
I've decided I'm going to use index cards with numbers on one side and channel names on the other. I'll turn them over when the category is chosen, and remove them when the channel is exhausted.

Tonight, I finish recording skits, which leaves me free to make sure everything's on my iPod tomorrow morning.

Below the cut are the new categories: Tales of the Extraordinary, The 900 Club, The Japan Channel, Brady Economics, and The Slash Channel.

These are the sexy questions. )
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Things have been rough the last few weeks, and I had to postpone a lot of trivia writing until this weekend. But when I looked at things this morning, I realized I had almost enough for a basic game, which means that if I pad out a few categories, things will be just fine. I still need to record a bunch of the skits, but I've got a start on that, and I'm going to write some more before bed.

Things to be recorded (and, yes, I'm going to e-mail you today before I go to bed, [livejournal.com profile] thefreak): The Narcoleptic Talk Show Host (script below). A Ranger Bob standin (wacky character says wacky things for a bit and the contestant loses ten points for no real reason; to be improvised wholly by whomever records it), The Slash Channel (identify shows based on very short snippets of slash fanfic), and anything else suggested in the next day or so.

Below the cut, there's a list of the categories I have. As you can see, I focused on '80s and '90s trivia, just as the MTV version of twenty years ago focused on the '60s and '70s. I'm considering expanding The Denver Channel into a lightning round, but I need to know how the buzzers work before I do. Answers aren't listed, so feel free to use this link to post your guesses before reading the comments.

What's in the Bob Eubanks PEZ dispenser? )
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The NPL is a puzzle organization, so outside of the main program of games and puzzles, there's a lot of unofficial game-playing and puzzle solving. Trivia games are pretty popular; [livejournal.com profile] tmcay has written several fantastic and original ones. But for most of the rest of the peons, the standard is to prepare a set of Jeopardy questions.

I'd been thinking about doing something along these lines for a while, then two years ago, during the convention in San Antonio, two members did a Jeopardy variant called Texas Jeopardy. Because everything is bigger in Texas, each category had an extra question, and each round had an extra category. There were also bonus Daily Doubles and I think there were multiple rounds of Final Jeopardy. It was very wacky and a lot of fun.

And it got me thinking about the game show I really wanted to play at Con. An old one that people haven't talked about in a while. Last year, I didn't go to the convention, so this year, I need to make it happen:

Remote Control

Remote Control was a game show that ran on MTV for three years at the end of the '80s. It was focused on pop culture and TV trivia from the '60s and '70s. It had a bizarre sense of humor and a high degree of zaniness. YouTube is pretty light on episodes, but there's a mostly full one in two parts



It also launched the careers of Denis Leary, Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, and Kari Wuhrer, who would present trivia questions phrased as skits. You can see many, many of these skits at this site.

It seems like it'll be a lot of fun to run and write, and it'll force me to do more wacky fun, which is a mode I've lost touch with.

Things I need to decide:
  • What's the time range? The original show focused on the sixties and seventies, with a heavy emphasis on shows that got a lot of reruns. Twenty years later, I need to decide whether to keep it aimed at the same TV timeframe, update to a similar retro period (i.e., nothing from the new millenium) or leave the whole thing open to current TV. I'm leaning toward the middle option (before 2000), except that it'll cut off most of the reality TV explosion.
  • How many categories? The original show had nine "channels." I'm going to want to expand that, but I don't know by how much yet.
  • How many skits? When I know how many categories I have, how many of them can/should be skits? This'll depend a lot on how much help you guys can give me.
  • How do I do eliminations? Getting yanked "off the air" was a key portion of the original show. But in a con game, it's more problematic. For one thing, there'll probably be six players, instead of three. For another, they're all going to want to play,
  • How do I end the game? Different incarnations of the game featured two different lightning rounds and a bonus round. I'll need to figure out what combination to use.
  • Should I throw food at the players?
Things I need help on:
  • Remembering categories. I'll put up the list of what I remember and have researched soon, but if you have your own memories of the game, it'll be helpful.
  • Recording skits. I'm going to be running a bunch of stuff off of my iPod with a nice set of speakers. (It'd be great to do with a laptop, but sadly I don't have one.) So I'm looking for people who can record skit-like trivia questions into MP3s so that I can play them. New characters are particularly welcome.

I'll probably start seriously working on questions tonight. As I come up with things, I'll post them here.
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As promised, I set up a filter for planning my NPL con game. To see if you're on it, click this link:People who were left off were generally people who I thought might see the game at the con. This generally means that if I know you through some puzzling context (including the Mystery Hunt and other things), you're not on the filter. If you won't be going to the NPL con, then let me know and I can add you in.

Also, since I just offered to run this at the Nerd SoCal Game Day, the RPGers I expect may be there are also off the filter.

ThuNYTX: 6:30; ThuLATX: 11:30.
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Okay, so here's the filter for my NPL Con gameshow. If you're on this list, it's because I'd like your help and opinions, but I don't expect I'll be able to run the game for you.

A lot of non-NPL local people (like [livejournal.com profile] isako, [livejournal.com profile] twilightsyren, and [livejournal.com profile] greenapple2004) are on this list. There's actually a reason for that, but I don't want to reveal it just yet. However, if you were thinking about making me run the game for you at some point, let me know, and I'll take you off this filter.

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