All RPGs and Storygames by Tod Foley are now available at DrivethruRPG and RPGnow. Bring these games to your table!
Over the past number of years, Drupal Camp Dublin was becoming more of a showcase/case study event where different speakers display work they had been doing on various websites. This year, we (the Drupal Ireland Association, of which I was chairperson) decided to "go back to our roots" and do two things: create a developer conference for developers, and engage more people from outside of Ireland.
There have been times when clients are not very satisfied with the default Drupal search as quite a few times it is unable to meet their requirement especially when you need specific search control beyond core e.g. facets and related content. In order to resolve this issue and make search fast for end customers, we can use Apache Solr - an open source enterprise search platform - and configure it with our Drupal site.
In one of our previous blog post, we have discussed “How To Create Custom SOLR Search With Autocomplete In Drupal 7”. Note, before creating custom Solr search,…
“Now I see, cold, it was them he loved.
Where is he now? Tonight my heart froze.”
-excerpt from “Crust on Fresh Snow” by Rolf Jacobsen
“Winter is coming”
-virtually every character in Game of Thrones
In the winter of 2015 I experienced two life-changing texts that sucked me into enjoying horror as a genre. The first was when I purchased my PlayStation 4 and got Until Dawn on sale with it. The second was when my friends and I saw Krampus in theaters. Until Dawn lured me in with steamy young melodrama and the tease of alpine horror. Krampus felt like a campy “are they serious?” popcorn flick. Over the course of both stories, I saw that easy fun twist and create anxiety that was thrilling to jump at. Both titles are now winter traditions, and I revel in playing & watching them multiple times a year, but never during spring or summer. In fact, it’s only during the colder months that I feel a pull towards horror at all. These things are true: the world is dark and we are alive.
These things are true: the world is dark and we are alive. These words start off every scene in Stephen Dewey’s horror game, Ten Candles. For those unfamiliar, Ten Candles is a game of tragic horror, with every character finding their end in the final scene, exploring a darkened world with no sun or stars, and facing off against a nebulous Them who are always coming. You play in a completely darkened room lit only by ten candles which you progressively extinguish through play, and with each light gone, They get stronger. As you play, you also burn aspects of your character, yes literally burn them to ash, lit by candle flame, while you sit at the table. It’s bleak, terrifying, and one of my favorite games ever written.
I’ve played Ten Candles in the spring and summer: once in Chicago visiting friends while our host serenaded us with cosmic metal and made spicy sausage stew, and once on the balcony of a sketchy high rise hotel in St. Louis, MO as a thunderstorm raged and the St. Louis Arch rose above us like a portal to hell. Both games were fun and heavy, but they pale in comparison to playing Ten Candles in winter.
Riverhouse Games is named after a real house on the bank of the Mississippi river just outside of Minneapolis, MN, where I would visit to spend time with close friends and run games. Minnesota winters can be harsh, with windchill hitting 40 degrees below zero and blizzards that take fleets of plows hours or, in some extreme cases, days to fully clear.
“These things are true: the world is dark, and we are alive.” I intoned last year, running Ten Candles for the first time as we sat inside a toasty room in the Riverhouse, with glass windows iced around the edges. The sun had gone down hours ago and the light of the full moon bounced off of the snow which blanketed everything in sight. More than eight inches had dropped over the evening and it was still coming down in muffling clumps. Other than the flow of the river outside, with the occasional creak as chunks of ice cracked into the stone banking, or off of each other, the world lay blanketed in a white silence. A friend’s family owns a small taxidermy business up north, so the room was adorned with odd skulls and bones, centered on a nexus where ten lit candles flickered in the stale warm air of the room. We made our own winter terror, surrounded by set decorations, and staged on the same snow in which our characters would soon die.
I don’t know what it is, but as soon as that first frost hits, I feel a need in my bones to run Ten Candles. Like all roleplaying games, it can have silly moments, the best horror always has a joke here or there to cut the anxiety like a knife and refresh the scene. And, like the other semi-silly titles I enjoy every year, it’s becoming another winter horror tradition and takes its place next to Until Dawn and Krampus. I’ve already played my first game of the season, a one-on-one game after hours at a volunteer bookstore, with the echoes of a reading room holding two people skittered over the flames as the chilled wind blew through the city around us and we made our winter terror tale. I can’t wait until the snow falls (which may be a while still as we hit an uncharacteristically balmy 75 degrees up here while I write this) and I can bust out my tea lights and cackle out “the world is dark, and we are alive.”
What do you think? I’m definitely interested in padding out my roster of frozen fear if you have further recommendations. Do you have any winter terror traditions?
A few weeks ago I published a call for feedback on a project I've begun to assess agile practices in our industry (Take the Amazee Agile Agency Survey 2017). I would like to share a preliminary overview of the results I have received for the Amazee Agile Agency survey so far. Twenty-five individuals have completed the survey to date, so I have decided to extend the deadline a few more days, to November 5th, in order to gather more responses. Thanks to everyone who has participated so far!Josef Dabernig Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:00 Initial Observations Popular Methodologies
Given the initial survey results, Scrum (or a Scrum hybrid or variant) is the most widespread development process used by agencies. Many teams consider it their top priority in order to deliver a successful project. Following Scrum as methods most use by agencies are Kanban or Waterfall.
ScrumBan (a hybrid of Scrum and Kanban) has not been widely adopted.
At Amazee, we began using Scrum to deliver projects a little over two years ago and have made great progress on it since then. In the last year, we also started a maintenance team which uses Kanban. Just recently, we began evaluating ScrumBan as a way of integrating our maintenance team with one of our project teams.Project Teams
Agencies ranging in sizes from 1-5 people to over 100 people have responded to the survey. Of those surveyed, the most common team size for project work are, in order from most common to least common:
- three people or fewer
- five people
- four people
- six people
In terms of co-located or working remotely, team location varied wildly, but skewed towards 'mostly co-located' with some degree of remote. More than 50% of agencies form a new team with the launch of a new project, followed by stable teams which deliver multiple projects at the same time. Following multiple-project delivery are stable teams which deliver one project at a time.
At Amazee, we started out spinning up a new team with each new project, but soon realized that the constant starting and stopping of mid-sized projects was too disruptive. These days, we use stable teams to deliver multiple projects.Sprints
Most teams surveyed deliver in two-week sprints. The remaining 33% of respondants deliver anywhere from single-day sprints to month-long sprints.Team Integration
Frontend and backend developers are usually specialized but mostly work together on one team.
DevOps, QA/Testing, as well as the Scrum Master role, are shown in all variations of integrated or totally separate teams.
UX & Design are split, with this role either in a separate team (or external resource) or as part of a stable team.
At Amazee, we try to hire T-shaped experts that can work across most disciplines on a team. For example, a Frontend developer may also have experience with backend tasks, which can help alleviate work silos and ticket bottlenecks.Staying Connected
Most agency teams rely on written communication to stay connected. This can take the form of tickets or via a chat tool such as Slack.
The majority of teams hold team meetings and 1-on-1 meetings, while fewer teams communicate mainly via blogs, wikis or even pull requests.
The majority of standups last fifteen minutes while some are only 5-10 minutes.
At Amazee, our hubs differ. Our Zurich office holds a company-wide standup that takes about ten minutes, followed by a team-specific standup that takes another ten minutes. Our Austin office holds a company-wide standup, which includes a client, which lasts about fifteen minutes.Splitting up the Work
Many agencies vary in their approach to defininig, writing, reviewing, and estimating tasks and tickets. For most agencies, the project team is involved in each step of the ticket creation process. In others, creating tickets falls to the client, project manager, or product owner. In most cases, a technical lead is involved in the high-level ticket creation and the team is brought in for estimations.
The most common approach to estimating ticket is time based (hours, days, weeks) followed by story points (t-shirt sizes, fibonacci sequence)Client Communication
When it comes to meetings between the team and the client, the top mentioned options where 'less frequently' followed by 'more or once per week' and 'every two weeks'.
At Amazee, depending on the project size, our teams meet weekly or bi-weekly with the client. Clients are encouraged to talk directly with the team via Slack. We'd like to offer a daily standup with some clients, but haven't figured out how to do this easily as usually a team works on multiple projects at the same time.Delivery Practices
Most teams surveyed deliver rolling deployments, pushing code whenever necessary.
While a number of agencies have pair programming somewhat in use, Mob programming is mostly unknown.
The majority of teams consider automated deployments / continuous integration very important.
When it comes to story mapping, most agencies are unfamiliar. Those which do implement this tool, however, consider it very important.
At Amazee, peer review for every ticket is a normal part of our development flow. Our developers implement pair programming whenever necessary. This is an excellent practice for sharing knowledge and increasing the team's technical confidence. We are actively exploring story mapping.Take our Survey
This initial post is just a taste of the information I have collected, there is a lot more to be shared. Besides the numerical data, I am especially excited about the free-form responses which give valuable insights into the tangible, real-world decisions that are being taken in agencies to define daily agency life.
Before sharing a deeper analysis and the full, anonymous, survey results, I wanted to share this preliminary data to give an idea of what’s coming in. I hope this information is helpful in determining industry alignment or to find inspiration for what to try next.
Our Agile Agency survey will remain open until Sunday, November 5th at midnight UTC -7. After the survey closes, I will tabulate the results and prepare Part 2 of this series where I look forward to sharing my findings.
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This month Twitch took a swing at hosting a Developer Day ahead of its annual TwitchCon event, and now the fruits of that labor are available online for curious devs to peruse at their leisure. ...
Keeping up with Drupal security updates is key to protecting your site, but assessing contrib module security before implementation is just as important. In a new guest post on the Pantheon blog, Mediacurrent Senior Drupal Developers David Younker and Joshua Boltz share a practical guide for sizing up the security of contrib modules.Try this 7-Step Security Inspection
To ensure a safe and solid foundation for your Drupal site, consider this 7-point assessment:
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