What Does it Mean to Do Math?

Gurps1.jpgThe GURPS Basic Set which contains rules for the paper and pencil roleplaying game designed by Steve Jackson describes an ability that you can bestow on a character you are creating.

Lightning Calculator – You have the ability to do math in your head, instantly. If you have this talent, then you (the player) may use a calculator at any time, to figure anything you want – even if your character is fleeing for his life at the time!

This description seems to imply that doing math and calculating are the same thing. Do you agree or disagree? Make your case.

R-Type

Videogame, Gameboy, 1991

In 1991, we didn’t have a Game Boy Player (2003) to install on our Gamecube (2001) with a WaveBird Wireless Controller (2002). These upgrades make the gameplay of some Game Boy titles, including R-Type, obscenely better.

R-Type is a port of a horizontal shooter coin-op. It’s a stripped down version that plays very well, making good use of a limited color palette. Your ship and enemies (that aren’t bosses) use red and environments use green/blue. The colors and shading pop on the white background. It’s a stark contrast built for the low light of an original Game Boy screen and I love the lack of busyness on screen. It’s challenging from the beginning but there’s a variety of cool power-ups to help you along the way. Plus, you can hold down the fire button to increase the power of your shot. Replaying levels is not so bad when you have multiple ways of dispatching your foes. Enemies are imaginatively drawn aliens or tech and the structure is a common one with stages ending with an outsized boss.

Fantastic shooter with a high replay value requiring critical thinking just as much as quick reflexes.

How Tall is a Giant?

imgresINTRODUCTION TO SCALING – Prerequisite for 5.NF.B.5a/b – This lesson addresses only one dimension when considering scale thus it may be used as a precursor to thinking about multiplication as scaling using a pair of factors.

CONTEXT – The height of a giant can vary greatly. The evidence of this comes from Giants, a tabletop RPG supplement written by Bruce Humphrey and published in 1987 by Mayfair Games Inc. According to this “reference for the society of giants,” there are many races of giants and though scholars have scoffed at their physical impossibility, their existence cannot be denied. Instead of delving into the biology of giants (see Giants pages 5 and 6 if you must), our focus today is on their height.

Fire Giants, 12 feet tall, impetuous and powerful warriors

Titans, 24 feet tall, first giants and progenitors of the other giants

Sea Giants, 18 feet tall, noble and personable giants from the depths

Frost Giants, 15 feet tall, resilient hermits from the icy realms

Hill Giants, 10 feet tall, aggressive and stubborn hunters

Investigate

Q1:  How many feet taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q2:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q3:  How many times shorter is each race of giants when compared to a 60 foot tall sauroposeidon?

Q4:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 inch tall tufted titmouse?

Activity:  Draw a picture of yourself and a representative of each giant race, all to scale in regards to height.

Create

Activity:  Make a new race of giants. What will they be called? What characteristics will they have? How tall will they be? How will the height of the new race compare to the heights of other giants and animals?

Retro Haul: Austin TX

Half Price Books – Anderson Mill

Visit #1 Clearance: GOOD selection – nice mix of sci-fi, graphic novels; Gamebooks: 7 CYOA at $2.99+ in Children’s and 2 Lone Wolf books in Science Fiction; RPGs: FAIR selection, mostly overpriced but found one gem (see below); Sci-Fi: GOOD selection; Videogames: FAIR selection, somewhat overpriced; PURCHASED: Search for the Sensei by Joseph W. Liotta, A Villians and Vigilantes Adventure, RPG Module for $4.21

Half Price Books – North Lamar

Visit #1 Clearance: FAIR selection; Gamebooks: One found in Science Fiction (see below), some CYOA in Young Adult section each $2.99+; RPGs: LAME; Sci-Fi: GREAT selection; Videogames: FAIR selection but overpriced; Boardgames: GOOD selection; PURCHASED: Conan and the Spider God by L. Sprague De Camp (novel) and Combat Command in the World of Piers Anthony by Dana Kramer (gamebook) for a total of $2.89

Half Price Books – Parmer Lane

Visit #1 Clearance: LAME; Gamebooks: None found; RPGs: LAME; Videogames: LAME; Boardgames: Finally a few cool items like the one I purchased; PURCHASED: DC Comics Bombshells Dice & Token Pack, Heroclix Game Accessories for $2.59

NEO Turf Masters

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I know. The name NEO Turf Masters sounds like a game about modern landscaping rather than golf. But don’t let that dissuade you. This 1996 NEO GEO videogame has a great balance between arcade fun and technical skills. However, it’s not turn-based. There is always a timer going that doesn’t allow you to put a lot of thought into club selection and shot type.

I’ve played NEO Turf Masters a few times but not in a long while so, Game 1 was not a masterpiece. The biggest issue was that I should have been hitting high shots when trees were in my way. It seems obvious now, of course. My second game, using the same golfer and course, was much improved and I had some birdies that kept my score manageable despite an 8 on one hole.

Game 1 – Golfer: Technician, Course: Baden, Place: 27th, Score: 78 +6

Game 2 – Golfer: Technician, Course: Baden, Place 11th, Score: 69 -3

[Note: I’m using SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 on the Wii to play this title.]

I Can’t Carry Anymore!

UnknownEncumbrance, in role playing games, means how much you can carry. This is usually determined by the total weight of the items you are carrying. A common definition of encumbrance is “a burden” and for most tabletop role playing game enthusiasts, it’s an apt definition in more ways than one. So, it’s often ignored. I mean, who wants to limit how much of the dragon’s treasure you will bring back to your own den? In role playing videogames, it often can’t be ignored because it’s an integral part of the game. Champions of Norrath (2004) attempts to give players the best of both worlds, a limiting factor for realism and an unrealistic way to horde your winnings.

Champions of Norrath is an action oriented role playing videogame. The action comes from hitting and shooting things while the role playing comes, in part, from collecting gear to improve your character’s performance. Often when I compel my warrior, Morg, to pick up something, he will bleat, “I can’t carry anymore!” In which case, I transport Morg to the store and lighten his load in exchange for gold coins. In this game although weapons, armor and other equipment have weight, gold coins do not. This is a treat since Morg is currently holding 1,114,064 gold coins. But it’s also a bit silly.

Grade 6 Content (6.NS.B.2)

Investigate

Q1:  If 1 gold coin weighs 1 ounce, what is the weight of the gold Morg is carrying in pounds?

Q2:  If a car weighs 3,000 pounds, about how many cars would it take to equal the weight of the gold Morg is carrying?

Key

If 1 gold coin weighs 1 ounce, then the weight of 1,114,064 gold coins is 1,114,064 ounces.  There are 16 ounces in a pound so,

1,114,064 ounces / 16 ounces per pound = 69,629 pounds, the number of pounds in gold coins that Morg is carrying.

If a car weighs 3,000 pounds then Morg is carrying,

69,629 pounds / 3,000 pounds per car = the weight of more than 23 cars in gold coins.

That’s one way to bury the local cutpurse.

The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushingo Dungeon

151105-Nightmare_of_Druaga,_The_-_Fushigino_Dungeon_(USA)-1Abductions happen. But this time it’s the woman you were about to marry. Descend into the dungeon alone. Find your way to the temple. And for the love of gods, save her! So begins The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushingo Dungeon, a turn-based 3D dungeon crawler on the Playstation 2.

Here’s what I learned after my first few sessions of play.

Inherently slow pace. Do you enjoy a deliberate slog from one monster to the next? I hope it results in regular progress in the story and/or character(s) abilities. It’s too early in my adventure to be sure.

Success requires customization. Leveling up is not the only way you ready yourself for new challenges. Analyzing and tweaking, on a regular basis, what you wear and carry will impact how far you get.

Encumbrance. Okay, I was on the seventh level of the first dungeon before I tried to pick something up and read one of the most annoying phrases in RPG history: “Too many items.”

I wonder if there is much of a story after the introduction. Other than a flaming sword I found, are there interesting ways to improve your avatar’s performance? Will there be enough pay off for all the time spent grinding and customizing?