Talin, Recovering game programmer


Cool Tools Show 121: Talin

Our guest this week is Talin. Talin is a “recovering game programmer” whose career spans 25 years, stretching from the early years of personal computing to more recent games like Sim City 4 and The Sims 2. He’s also a writer, artist, cosplayer, musician and web developer.

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Show notes:

Inkscape SVG editor
“It’s a editor for SVG files, Scalable Vector Graphics, which is a web standard. You know most images are made out of pixels, little square blocks, but vector images are made out of lines and points and geometric shapes. That means they can be scaled up and scaled down without any loss of quality. All the major browsers support them, so SVG’s very efficient. Most websites use SVGs for their icons now, because SVG is a web standard, it can be embedded in the web page directly, without having to do a separate download, which you would have to do with an image. That makes for much fewer network connections, so it’s very efficient. … It’s one of the most polished and professional opensource apps out there. It’s better than GIMP in many ways, in terms of its overall level of quality of the user interface.”

ResMed AirSense CPAP machine
“I suffered from sleep apnea, like many people do, and I didn’t know this until about 20 years ago and somebody told me, “Hey, by the way, do you know that you choke when you’re sleeping?” Sleep apnea is essentially an extreme form of snoring, where your nasal passages get blocked up and you start to choke. …This has all kinds of negative effects. It means you’re tired all the time. You don’t get enough sleep, and also because you’re at a reduced oxygen level, it has other health impacts. So they recommended that I get a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. It’s kind of like a miniature iron lung. It’s basically a little mask that fits over your face and provides a gentle air pressure to inflate your nasal tissues, so that you get a clear airflow. It takes a little getting used to at first, but now that I’ve been using it for 10 years, I don’t think I could sleep without it. Well, I can but it’s actually more comfortable now, to be able to breathe freely when I’m lying down like that. … I’ve tried a couple ones, and the thing is, is that every one I get is better than the last, because the technology keeps improving. The machine I’ve got right now is about a year old. It’s a ResMed AirSense. It’s actually a BiPAP machine. Which means that it actually senses. It’s got a computer system that senses that you’re breathing, and that adjusts the pressure for your inhale and exhale, so that it’s actually easier. You don’t have to breathe against the pressure as you’re breathing out.”

Forbidden Desert Board Game
“First of all, I really like cooperative board games. I find winning is not that interesting. I like collaboration and cooperation. The thing I love about cooperative board games is that every turn becomes this kind of creative brainstorming session. … Forbidden Desert, it’s a very interesting cooperative game. It has an interesting play mechanic, where the board is changing its configuration as you’re playing. The desert consists of a bunch of tiles, and as you, each turn there’s a new storm card that comes up, and it moves the storm around. Every time the storm moves, it shifts the tiles, and so as you’re playing it’s like you’re playing on shifting sands. The goal of the game is you’re working together to find all of the hidden pieces of the lost airship, so that you can escape the desert before you run out of water, because every time a sun-beats-down card comes up, you all lose one unit worth of water, and if you run out of water the game ends.”

The Captain is Dead Board Game
“This is a great one. The Captain is Dead is kind of a parody of classic Star Trek. The basic premise is that you are all crewmen on a star-ship where the captain has died, and you’re being attacked by aliens, and all these things are going wrong. Each crewman has a different role. There’s a dozen different crewmen you can choose from, and usually have four or five players, each with a different role. It’s like, the doctor, and the hologram, and the alien. There’s even one that’s called crewman, which wears a red shirt, and every time he dies he respawns on the bridge as a new character. Every turn there’s a new disaster that you have to cope with, like the systems are going down, or you have a weird anomaly that’s changing the crew behavior. A lot of it is trading resources. It’s like, I’ll have three engineering skill cards, and I’ll use the communication system to give you three of my engineering skills so that next turn you can fix the warp core, and then you can use the teleporter to move me over to the armory so I can attack the aliens. It’s a very challenging game.”

Also mentioned:

Wil Wheaton’s TableTop

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