My Experience with “The Void – Beta”

#virtualreality #vr

Last night, I had the opportunity try out the beta for The Void. Before reporting on my experience, here’s a bit of background for those who don’t know what The Void is. It will be a facility with virtual reality experiences mapped to physical environments with effects, launching in 2016, first in Utah, then across the country. Below is a video of the concept:

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s their website:

Now for my report on the experience with the beta. First off, it sold out quite fast, so I was fortunate to get my foot in the door, especially with the bugs needing to be worked out in online ordering system, which was part of what they were testing with the beta. There were 2 options for the beta, an alien research facility and ancient temple ruins. I chose the research facility. When the beta becomes available again, I’ll plan on choosing the other. Also, I realized after I ordered that I could have had more than my self scheduled to go in a group, so I’ll keep that in mind next time.

It was only $10 for the 10 minute demo. The final version will be expected to be more, for a 30 minute experience. Part the survey they had me fill, at the end, was for pinning down what the price should be.

When I went to my scheduled appointment, I found it to be in an obscure location off of Geneva Road in Lindon, north of the bishops storehouse. I jokingly thought, maybe The Void is just a plow to get me out here to get mugged. Of course, the final experience will be built in a more prominent location off the freeway in Pleasant Grove. The groundbreaking for it has yet to happen, but hopefully soon.

Anyway, I pulled up to the building, located the office for The Void. When I entered, the place was quite nicer on the inside. I greeted by some youngsters, late teens to early 20’s loving their job, who took me back to get suited up, legs trembling. The gear involved a pack, a helmet, and a prop gun. But again, there’s suppose to be more to the gear in release version, gloves that track fingers and that sort of thing. I’ve even heard of possibly recoil on the gun as one of the things they were talking about.

For the beta, the graphics were a bit rough, about up to par with my brothers Samsung Gear VR, but that’s another thing expected to be better with release version. It starts in this abstract sort of blue box room where they have me shoot at three targets, then a portal opens in the wall, which was a weird sensation to walk through. I was then shooting at spiders in a corridor.

The part where the experience really got awesome is when I stepped outside a door on this walkway without a ramp and see through holes. Despite the graphic quality, I did feel a bit of vertigo. The feeling of wind and the ground rumbling made the experience feel more real. I shot down flying drones. Then there was the alien breaking from the tube, that I shot at. It hopped on walls and that, until I stunned it to the ground.

I then heard the voice of one of the young workers taking me through the experience, saying I can poke it if I want. So I jabbed the alien with my gun and saw it flop around. I think I went through one last door and it was over. 10 minutes is definitely way too short, making me like, “What, that’s it?” But it was worth it.

I’ll definitely be back as soon as the opportunity opens up again and take others with me next time around, now that I realize that was an option on the order form.

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How to Cook Braaaains!!

#zombie #humor #fun #cooking #kitchen #amwriting

I have a special treat for all you zombie folk out there. You can be the life of the party through this delectable method of cooking braaaains!!! Believe me, your friends will be drooooling over this.

So first things first, you need to set the oven for 1230.8 degrees Fahrenheit (or for you sensible Non-America folk, 666 degrees in Celsius) and grease up a cookie sheet. I always like to using olive oil for this. Use either spray on stuff for a nice even layer or my cheep bachelor method of mopping it on with a paper towel.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that the better cut of brain, the better the result. Fans of Justin Bieber or Kanye West are most definitely not advisable for your cut. If you want an easy catch with a decent brain, go for a college student from anywhere but BYU. After all, the BYU ones are nearly impossible to get drunk.

Though if you truly want a quality cut, a professor is the way to go, especially those in the engineering or science fields. If going for one in psychology, be sure they don’t believe in Sigmund Freud.

As for the question of male verses female, female is a nice and delicate way to go, so long as they aren’t cheerleaders. With females, in general, some have found the flavor to be on complex side. If going for male, for a more clear cut taste, make sure its not a football player who’s had one too many concussions.

Alrighty, enough about finding the right cut. Let’s move on to preparation. Dig in with your fingers to give your brain a nice massage. This is how you make it nice and tender. Then give it a slap!

After this, it’s time to put it on the cookie sheet and prepare the glaze to go on top. In a sauce pan, mix 1/2 cup of lemon juice, a tablespoon of worcestershire, a dash of rosemary, a dash of thyme or perhaps more (after all, you can never have enough, am I right?), a quarter cup of honey, and my favorite ingredient, tabasco sauce (Some use a little, some use a lot. I use a lot!). Bring the sauce to a boil as you stir, stir, stir, stir. Then stir, whip, stir, whip, whip, whip, stir. Repeat.

After the sauce is done, poor it liberally across the brain, along with an un-drained can of diced pineapples. Put it in the oven for 13 minutes. After all, with a temperature of 1230.8 degrees, it’s done in a jiffy. Enjoy the fragrance as you take it out. Before serving, let it sit for 5 minutes.

Tune in next time for why livers are to die for!

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2015 – Crack the Code

bin copy#newyear #goals #resolutions #puzzles

I believe I’ve always had a thing for puzzles. As a kid, I’d solve jig saw puzzles upside down, hiding the image on the pieces for extra challenge.

Currently, I have a variety of different types of Rubik’s Cubes next to my desk. I have a bunch more in the mail for Christmas. Not too long ago, I developed a Rubik’s Cube game. The Portal video games are among some of my favorites. Also, this mobile game called Cogs which takes the slider puzzle concept to the next level on 3D structures with gears and pipes to hook up–good stuff! In fact, enjoyment of puzzles is part of what I connected with in studying computer science at BYU.

What my point in all this? Well, my approach to the New Year is to treat it like a puzzle. I need to crack the code that is 2015. Time to dig in, pull it apart, get it all to make sense.

The nature of the puzzle is thus, “Happy is the man who finds his wife, religion, and work, and loves all three.” I don’t know if that the exact quote, but that’s the idea. I’m not sure of the origin either. Whatever the case, that’s the code I’m trying to crack. Now, of course, I do know what my religion is and that’s not going to change. Perhaps, the biggest trick in cracking the code is the “loves all three” part of it. But I absolutely need this to happen and that’s not just midlife crisis speaking (Some may argue, aren’t you still a bit young for one of those. Perhaps.)

By treating the problem of 2015 as a puzzle, since I have a thing for puzzles, it will make the ride into it that much more exciting for me. Let’s do this!

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WereDragon Melee – Bittersweetness of Good Feedback

#weredragon #dragon #gamedev #boardgame #tabletop
KS Cover copyAs I’ve mentioned, I’ve been developing a tabletop game called WereDragon Melee which I will plan to relaunch on kickstarter. I recently joined the Gameboard Developers Guild in Salt Lake City. Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to have them test it. The feedback was immensely valuable, which of course means having my work cut out for me, but that’s a good problem.

I went ahead and did a blind test with them, where they had figure out the game on their own, using the rules. I, of course, clarified things they obviously wouldn’t know, such as what the prototype pieces in the bag correspond to what components referred to by the rules. I’m glad I did the blind test. I overhauled the rulebook due to what I discovered.

However, my game benefited in other ways from this session. My testers suggested that I have the board composed of 6 wedges, like you can see below, with reversible sides, instead of 60 individual tiles, tedious to setup. Doing the math on the wedge approach gives 11,197,440 possible board configurations, more than plenty.

T1_A copy T2_A copy T3_A copy




Another suggestion was to switch from a slider approach on the stat cards to a dial approach, spinning numbers inside card with current value appearing through a window. One of the things I like about the dial approach is how significantly it declutters the cards, as seen below:

Old Version

Old Version

New Version

New Version







So, after these changes, the next steps will be to get the new prototype put together, and then test to see if it’s ready. When it’s ready along with the sculptures for the human/dragon tokens, I can send the finish prototype to review sites and things like that. Then finally, kick it on the kickstarter!

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WereDragon Novel Progress

#weredragon #dragon #amwriting #fantasy #scifi

This last Tuesday, I received feedback back after having WereDragon looked at for editing. I’m now going through the suggestions and making improvements to the manuscript. Things are getting that much closer for prime time.

Due to some of the feedback I received and came to agree with, some of the content will be moved from WereDragon into what will be the new Book 2 of the series. This I’m considering the title, The Peacebringer’s Commission. So book 1 is about Stag accepting his Peacebringer calling and book 2 is about his quest to fulfill it. With this book 1 will have better conformity to a “Save the Cat” three act structure. Google “Save the Cat” if you don’t know what I’m talking about there.

The editor is female, so I appreciate the woman’s touch to my story. I received helpful suggestions in improving the romantic aspects, making it pop. She also suggested cuts to some battle scenes and what not outside the POV of the main character and his love interest, making me say, “Hold on, let’s not turn this into WereDragon Twilight, shall we?”

I will cut some of what she suggests cutting, especially toward the front where it’ll help things flow better and also others have commented on. A good rule of thumb in deciding what to do about feedback is if you hear the same thing from more than one person, it’s more likely to be right.

Now back to the work I have cut out for me, no pun intended.

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