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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Start working.

I said start working!

Listen to me, you brainless moron!

Look, not today.

That's what you said yesterday.

Okay. Look, to make it up to you I'll set Access Boss so that from now on, I'm not allowed in my regular user after 2:00 PM.

Oh, and I suppose you won't just disable that as soon as you have a sudden impulse at 1:55!

No. I promise I won't.

You are downright obnoxious, do you know that?

What? What did I ever do to you?

What did I ever.. oh my god, do you even HEAR yourself? Why did you even start this ridiculous Notepad thing?

You don't like Notepad, fine. I'll switch back to the blog.
That is totally not the point! Why the hell did you pretend you were interested in my being there?

Don't make this personal. I really did mean to listen to you every day.

How dare you insult my intelligence like that! You're exactly like he said you were!


You just make characters out of us so that you can pretend we don't matter!

I really did mean to
You meant to? Well, that makes me feel so much better!
Why do you even care? I just thought it might be easier to listen to you than to the blog or a program, it never was about you.
No, you're right. It never is about me. It's all about you. All about your stupid little blog-story. Tell me, what brilliance were you setting up this time?

I was going to build up to… um, it doesn't matter. Fine, you're right.

Good. Start working.

I mean, I won't ask you to do that again. It's not your problem if I don't do my work.

Don't you understand? I want you to do your work. What's the point of even existing, if I'm only existing for the benefit of some loser who refuses to do an hour a day of work?!

I don't know.
Look, I'll set Access Boss.




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~A Good Day


Press START to go to Main Menu

A Good Day

When I woke up and went to my computer, the first thing I did was open Notepad so I could have another argument. I was told I'd have to get started working right away, but I decided to be a bit rebellious.

First I watched the bits of the 1776 DVD that I was in, to see how I did. It turns out, I'm a really bad actor. I was making all the amateur mistakes that I thought I'd gotten over. I shut it off around 1:00 PM, when my character went to the back of the crowd (where he'd stay).

I took a shower, got dressed, had lunch, and went over to Eli's house. Eli said he'd let me play The Path on his computer some time. I decided that "some time" was today. The Path is a pure exploration game from the people who made The Graveyard, so I was expecting great things. I wasn't disappointed: The Path is awesome. It's based on "Little Red Riding Hood". You play as several different girls of different ages, who each walk through the forest to Grandma's house (Grandma's house representing death) and find a metaphorical wolf, different for each of them. The wolf represents the loss of innocence for that particular character. We played four girls, and got to the wolf in each. (By my interpretation one was the indifference of the world, one was a sexual predator, one was lust and one was the over-analysis of everything.) Once you get to the wolf, life discards you back on the path to Grandma's house. And then you get to the pay-off, because "Grandma's house" itself is possibly the greatest achievement in world design ever.

I came home a few hours later, played piano for an hour or so and went back to my computer.

I've been rewatching Lost recently because the fifth-season cliffhanger has me utterly enthralled and the next episode is in eight months. I'm up to the middle of Season 2 already, so I watched the next two episodes from there. I also listened to the corresponding official podcasts, because I didn't know that existed back when I was watching Lost the first time. I think Lost may prove to be the best show ever on TV (unseating Babylon 5), depending on how the final season goes. (If the final season doesn't pay off all the promises they've made, then it'll just be an excellent show. Maybe a few notches above Battlestar Galactica, but not as good as, say, Felicity.) Half the fun of the show is trying to figure out the big picture. That picture may be compelling and sensible, or it may be ridiculous and contradictory. I'll have to wait until next year to find out which, but in the meantime I'm trying to sift through the clues and form my own theories.

After Lost and supper and more Lost, I went next door for games night. We played three games, and I came in dead last in three games. It was so much fun. The middle game in particular (Santiago) had such weird tactics going on, and so much evil all over the place, and so many surprises. The best part was when we all passed on a strong-looking property because it would have to go with a weaker property that no one wanted. When it was Avri's turn he realized that if he took the weaker property the next player would take the stronger property, they'd go together well and he'd make tons of money. It was a completely counter-intuitive move, but after we saw that he was doing it and understood the logic we were all beating ourselves up for not realizing that we could have done it! Now that's a rare kind of situation. In the last game (Die Sieben Siegel), I opted to do something that hurt me because it would hurt another player more, and when he got back at me it messed up all my plans. It was terrific.

At around 1:15 AM or so we called it a night. I went home in a great mood, had some coconut yogurt and Nestea, and started writing up this post. At the end of the day, I am in fact a lazy bum. And I feel like I can live with that.



Though you came in last in Santiago, you would have come in second if I took your bribe I think, so I wouldn't call it dead last.

Really my choice of whose bribe to take in the end was pretty arbitrary.

I think it was really played by all sides. It was the most enjoyable game of Santiago I've ever played. Hysterical situations, everybody made a mistake or two, a really brilliant move or two, etc. I think if Eliezer had played nice with you with the bannanas (like he should have) the end of game would have been different.

But yeah, it was one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played, and not just because I won :) That was entirely secondary.


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Monday, May 25, 2009


You've got to start working, you know.

Not yet.

Then when?

I dunno. Maybe in a few hours.

Look, what time are you leaving for rehearsal?

Hm. I guess that'd be around 6:30. That's the time it usually is if I can get a ride.

Very good. That means you've got around five hours or so, when you take out all the eating and playing piano you do. How many Lost episodes do you have?

Umm, let me check.

Ha! You'd spend all your time on that, wouldn't you?

I guess I would.

Listen to me very carefully. When I say "Start working.", you stop everything and you start working.

Just like that?

Just like that. You need to start working at once. I don't care what else you'd like to be doing; your game is more important.

Why do you care?

You know why. So are we okay?

I guess so.

When I say "Start working.", what do you do right away?

I start working. You're being annoyingly condescending, you know.

I love you, but you and I both know you deserve no better.

Gee, thanks.

For now you can do whatever you like. But only for a half-hour or so,

A half-hour? That's not enough!

An hour, then. No more.


Good. By the way, when I say "Start working.", you don't argue. You don't talk back, you don't try to work a deal. I'm not going to put up with that. When I say "Start working.", you WORK. End of story.

What'cha doing?

Reading my own blog.


Mind your own business, okay? It hasn't nearly been an hour.

I'm just curious, is all.

Fine. Well, the time I'm spending talking to you is time I could be spending reading my blog.

Well, then certainly spend more time talking to me. Seems like the better option of the two.

Leave me alone.

You know, I don't think I've ever taken anything as seriously in my life as Dena and her friends are taking their four-point math Bagrut.

I guess that doesn't say much about them. What is it that they're doing?

They spent all of yesterday studying, and then today they came again early on in the day and they're still studying. It's ridiculous.

Imagine how much you would have accomplished if you worked on your games like that.


This is why you need me.

I could use the blog.

But for some strange reason you're not. What, have you given up on the blog format?

No, no. I just don't want to be talking to a blog for my whole life.

Why not?

The progress report posts really, um, they really clog up the flow of the blog.

You sound like you're rationalizing. Here's my theory. You won't use the blog because you know you'd have to be productive.

I can be productive.


No, I can.

Start working.

What? But it hasn't been an hour!

I said start working. No more argument.

Yes sir.

I hate you.

Why? You got a lot done.

This work makes me miserable. Nothing works the way it's supposed to.

I thought you liked suffering.

No, I do not like suffering.

Yes you do.

Listen to me. This work is the most annoying thing I've ever done. If it were anyone other than you forcing me to do it, I'd tell them to go to hell.

That's sweet.

I'm serious. Programming is a form of hell.

What's the problem?

I've made all these different tests. Each one seems to more or less make sense on its own, but they're all incompatible with each other on a fundamental level. Like, the way I'm thinking about one of them doesn't fit with the way I'm thinking of any of the others. And beyond that, this new test I'm doing to try to get it to look right only looks decent maybe a third of the time. Which means it's going to need to be even more complicated than it is in order to work, in ways that I don't even understand yet. It's just a total nightmare from start to finish.

Well, tough.

Excuse me?

Tough. You'll get through it, and then you'll thank me. So how long have you been working?

An hour and a half.

You're lying to me.

Okay, maybe an hour.

Okay. Yesterday you didn't do any work, so I guess this is progress. What would you like to do now?

Honestly? I'd like a good cry.

That's pathetic. It's just programming.

You have no idea.



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Sunday, May 24, 2009

continue extrapolate repurpose

1 5 6
I apparently am in love with three notes, since they start a lot of my pieces. They are: 1 5 6. … The 1 grounds it. "Here is what you're standing on." The 5 brings that to its natural conclusion, fifths being the most pure interval. … 6 changes the meaning of the chord. In minor it's just the tiniest bit removed from 5, but flips the whole chord's meaning upside down. See, 6 is just two notes under 1 (or 8), which means that that's suddenly the "real" base of the chord. A tiny little half-tone increment, and suddenly the chord isn't what you thought it was. That's interesting to me.
With any long-running series of fiction I care about, I have a very specific idea about where I'd like to see it go in the future. The hope is that someday I'll be so rich and famous that I'll get to do it myself, but realistically that's never going to happen. The ideas are going to stay in my head as fan fiction.

It recently occurred to me that all my ideas are following the same formula. First I establish my take in accepted continuity, using as many past elements as I can. Then I try to imagine how that would naturally play out, connecting all the pieces together and going farther with them than their creators intended. And then I flip the whole thing around, so that it's actually not the same kind of story at all as the ones it's following.

The story wouldn't necessarily happen in that order; that's just the order I'd figure it out in.

I really love the idea of continuity. (You may have guessed that from the way this blog is presented on the main page.) A long-running series is like a person, and each thing that's happened in it is like another aspect of its personality. So the way I would continue a series is by trying to remember everything- not just the universally-loved stories, but the terrible and ridiculous stories too. What you call a flaw, I call an interesting aspect to the continuity. Writers often try to cherry-pick continuity, sweeping away those flaws in favor of a cleaner status quo. That feels as fake to me as people under heavy make-up. The only story which should be forgotten is a story which can't be reconciled with the rest of continuity.

Every time a new ingredient is added to continuity, it increases the number of stories that can be told in the future. Every character arc has a logical next step to take. Furthermore, if story A introduces a character or idea, and story B introduces a character or idea, you can usually infer a story C which involves both of those elements knocking into each other. Obviously the thematic connection isn't always straightforward, but that's why it's good to take a very analytical view of continuity and figure out how everything fits together before writing a single story. (You may have gathered from this blog that I like being analytical.)

Once I decide how I think everything fits together and where it would naturally lead, I need to flip it around so that it feels like a fresh story. Just a few new characters or ideas thrown in can change the whole perspective of the story, making you think about it in a way you otherwise would have overlooked. The idea is to find some new angle that hasn't yet been explored, by putting in one or two small elements that you'd normally never think would go together with the story. That way, each time you see the next chapter of the story, you get new ideas about what the whole series was about all along.

I guess I must have picked up this formula from what Straczynski did with Amazing Spider-Man. He pointed to all the animal-based villains which Spider-Man faces (Vulture, Rhino, Doctor Octopus, Vermin, Scorpion, etc. etc.), and suggested that there was a subconscious effort there to adopt animal "totems". Then he threw in the idea of a "Spider-God", which chose Peter Parker as its champion, and suddenly the whole series seemed to be a mythological epic. I think that whole run is brilliant.

One of my favorite pieces of comics writing, Dan Slott's first twelve issues of Avengers: The Initiative, also seems to follow the formula. It has a starting point of the entire Marvel Universe in its current status quo, brings in as many old characters as it can stuff in along with a bunch of new characters whose origins make sense given what's been established in Marvel Comics so far. The whole premise of the series is based on what logically would be there if you take the post-Civil War status quo seriously. Then it adds in government bureaucracy, and suddenly it seems like the whole Marvel Universe is a tragedy about how governmental interference can sap the life out of people.

Anyway, these things have inspired me and now I think that the "continue extrapolate repurpose" formula is the best way to continue most long-running series. Of course, that's not how I think about it when I imagine how a series should continue. I just get ideas from watching what's already being done; I can't help that. And it turns out (in retrospect) that all my ideas do pretty much the same thing with their respective series. Here's what I'd like to see:

*psst* Stop reading now. The rest of this post is gonna be unbelievably annoying in its fanboy geekishness and ooh-look-at-me self-congratulation.

Star Trek: Federation
It would be set a while after all the series so far. Potential wars have been averted or won (including one with the Vaadwaur race, met in Dragon's Teeth, a lousy episode of Voyager's last season), all their former enemies are either dead or allies. The Klingons and Ferengi are full members, the Vaadwaur and Dominion are being welcomed into the Alpha Quadrant, the Romulans are mostly wiped out from the destruction of Romulus. Even the Borg have found a place in the great Federation of Planets, giving an optional home to the many people who want to be assimilated but otherwise leaving the universe alone. It's Gene Roddenberry's utopian vision taken to its ultimate realization. Everyone is under the umbrella of the Federation. The question is what comes next.

My answer to that is that a moral decline begins. The different value systems begin to clash with human values, and the new races vying for power (Klingons and Ferengi in particular) start to corrupt the entire Federation. The humans are the good guys of the show, trying to balance their idealistic acceptance of other races with the understanding that there is not as much middle ground to stand on as they would like. The Federation would gradually begin to shift its power toward Vulcan, and away from Earth. In parallel, the proliferation of personal time travel devices and holodecks starts to give ordinary people all over the galaxy the idea that nothing they do matters, that life is no more sacred than holograms and whatever timeline you're in is no more important to save than another.

The twist is that the structure would be more like an anthology show. Each episode would be self-contained, showing one or two characters (or a group of characters) somewhere in the galaxy. They'd be introduced in that episode, have a story, and get to some kind of ending, and that could cover as much time (in-story) as the story calls for. There would be recurring themes and technologies and planets and species, but very rarely recurring characters. That would make the whole series feel very different to any previous Trek, getting at the broad strokes of history if you watch more than one episode of it.

The Legend of Zelda: Broken Duet
There would be two playable characters: Link and Enria, an old-girlfriend type character along the lines of Saria and Illia. The basic premise of the story (after a one-dungeon introduction to the characters as kids) is that it's what happens after a typical Zelda quest. Teenaged Link is known throughout peaceful Hyrule as the hero who saved them, he lives in the castle with Princess Zelda, the king sends him off on errands which are all really easy for him. Enria has been left behind at the village where they grew up, being pushed by her family to settle down and get together with a nice local boy, but always wishing she could have adventures with Link.

The gameplay for Link is action, and the gameplay for Enria is climbing. The game would (without spelling it out) expand on the usual "balanced-hero" idea by suggesting that neither Link nor Enria is balanced without the other. As Link, the player is encouraged to solve problems through brute force. As Enria, the player is encouraged to avoid confrontations but explore. And every now and then, Zelda will pop in as a non-playable character and solve "puzzles" with her magic.

The idea is to split up the three parts of the Triforce -Power, Courage, Wisdom- so that future Zelda games can play with the dynamic between them in different ways. For instance, there could be a nonviolent Zelda where the player needs to explore and solve puzzles, but where the Power part of the equation is included by having Ganon -the usual bearer of the Triforce of Power- as a non-playable ally. Or a Zelda game where the player can choose which of three characters to bring into a dungeon, so that the solutions to problems are approached with different kinds of gameplay. Also, the basic gameplay can be different from one Zelda game to the next just so long as a balance is maintained between the three elements. Power can be action, but it could also be real-time or turn-based strategy (strength in numbers). Courage is always exploration, but each game could have a different kind of movement to explore in. And Wisdom is usually puzzles, but it could also be perception. So the idea is create a framework from which many new Zelda games can be made without just repeating what's already been done.

The twist in Broken Duet specifically is that it doesn't exist for the gameplay, but for the characters. It would have dungeons no less abstract than in any other Zelda game, but where you are meant to understand things about the character's personalities and moods from what you're walking through and being asked to do. If one character misses the other, it's represented by an obstacle which the other character would pass easily but this character can't deal with. When Enria is scared about commitment, she finds herself in a claustrophobically tight dungeon with monsters where the only way to continue is toward some monsters. If Link is supposed to be overconfident, then a bunch of giant scary-looking monsters will run at him, do minimal damage and go down in one hit. It all is rooted in the character's personalities and emotions.

The Amazing Spider-Man: "Endgame"
A year-and-a-half ago, there was a lousy editorially-mandated-revision-masquerading-as-a-story called "One More Day". I have no great love for it. But it is a huge part of continuity, so it bothers me greatly that its (very interesting, I think) implications haven't been dealt with. In the issue of Sensational Spider-Man immediately before "One More Day" began, Spider-Man meets God. Not a god, not the spider-god, but the one true god. Who appears to him as an old man, for some reason. God says to Peter: Yeah, I know this is really tough. Your aunt is dying, your life is a wreck, but hey- what you're doing is important. And then "One More Day" happens, in which Mephisto appears to Peter. And Mephisto isn't portrayed as a random demon, he's portrayed as The Devil. And he says, hey, your life sucks. Make a deal with me, and you'll be happier. Which is what Spider-Man does, and we get to the current (very enjoyable) status quo which is a lot more cheery.

The big controversy about the story was that this deal-with-the-devil eliminated Peter's marriage to MJ Watson. But that seems to me like a small part of the story. The bigger story is what was supposed to happen next that was so huge that God and the Devil appeared to Peter Parker to sell him on their preferred continuation. I think the answer comes from a story a year before any of this, entitled "The Other", which was worse than "One More Day" in almost every way. (As I said before, this is no obstacle to my wanting to focus on it.) In it, Spider-Man dies. And is resurrected in the very next issue. That seems like a pretty huge event, no? Funny how nobody remembers it. The justification, in-story, for the resurrection, comes when the spider-god appears to Peter in a dream. It basically tells him he still hasn't figured out what he's supposed to be doing. And the idea of the resurrection is to push that process along. He gets a bunch of new magic-based powers (such as poisonous spikes which pop out of his palms), and is told that finally he'll figure out why he was made Spider-Man to begin with. Immediately after "The Other", the storyline is derailed by the current politics of the Marvel Universe, and then comes "One More Day".

Here's what I'm thinking. I'm thinking there's a whole hierarchy of gods, where the spider-god is on the side of God (though it might not realize it) and other gods (such as the Norse god Loki, who incidentally owes Spider-Man a favor) are on the side of the Devil. So if I continued Amazing Spider-Man, I'd start moving in this grand dualistic direction. The idea would be to show how even gritty, street-level crime stories of the sort typical to Spider-Man comics are just part of a big cosmic conflict between ultimate good and ultimate evil. (Which is not how I see the universe, but after "One More Day" it's clearly how Spider-Man comics work.) I'd pull in every character from Spider-Man's past which fits the white-vs-black symbolism appropriate for this kind of storyline, including Cloak and Dagger, the Punisher, Spot, the Black Cat, Will-o'-the-wisp, The Answer, Mr. Negative, Venom and Anti-Venom, etc. What role each character would play in the story would depend both on that character's history in Spider-Man comics and on what color they represent. (Obviously, the color would need to be worked in very subtly. No one could be acting in a way that's out-of-character just to justify my own love of symbolism.) Characters who don't fit in quite as easily (Dr. Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, the Vulture, a generic mafia, Ka-Zar, Morlun) would also be present.

New York City would be played on three levels: At first it needs to seem realistic. Then it needs to seem like it's a jungle, that the "totemistic" behavior of criminals is not restricted to people dressing up like animals but that the kill-or-be-killed mentality pervades all of society. And finally, once the whole world seems like a barbaric jungle with a thin façade of being civilized, the curtain is pulled back and it's made clear that all the good guys are going to have to fight all the bad guys in an end-of-the-world kind of scenario. And it turns out that the only one who can save all of humanity is Spider-Man, because in the grand scheme of things he tips the balance one way or the other.

During this whole massive (likely around three or four years) buildup, there would be "What If?" back-up stories in each issue showing how Spider-Man's life would have continued from "One More Day" on if he had turned down Mephisto's offer. His Aunt May would have died, and with her all hope of a normal life. His marriage to Mary Jane would keep him grounded and human, but he'd always be miserable. Spider-Man would develop his magical powers more, and finally put his scientific genius to good use, and with all that and a cunning understanding of how the underworld works and with all sorts of technological and mystical traps he'd set like webs, and with The Punisher as his sidekick, he'd take down the entire criminal underworld. The back-ups would end with Spider-Man being shot down by the police exactly as he was in the flash-forward of Amazing Spider-Man #500, having created a better world for his and MJ's two kids.

The timeline followed in regular continuity would be much less dark, but be played as much more tragic. Peter Parker's mundane, happy life feels empty to him, and as Spider-Man he feels like he's locked into the same loop he's been in ever since he started. When the endgame finally comes, he's not ready for it. In fact, he's decided to give up the role of Spider-Man to the teenage girl Araña and live a happy life with Gwen Stacy's clone. (Believe it or not, this all has a strong basis in continuity.) And when the world is about to be destroyed, and the Gwen Stacy clone dies, Spider-Man tries to start on the road to his spiritual self-fulfillment but it's almost too late.

Basically, this is a textbook example of the "continue extrapolate repurpose" formula, though really this is such a complex story that maybe it's more a philosophy of storytelling than a simple formula. But what I'm doing here is taking all the elements which have already been there, mixing them all together (even the really wacky parts which come from bad stories) to get a unified vision of Spider-Man's world, and then twisting it all around so that instead of being a generic superhero story it's a religious epic.

I'm obviously not going to get to tell any of these stories. I don't even know if they'd appeal to anyone other than myself. But I sure do wish someone would do it. Every time I see Star Trek, or play Zelda, or read Amazing Spider-Man, I appreciate what it's doing but in the back of my mind I'm thinking how much more I'd like it if it were my way.



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Sunday, May 17, 2009

A buffer from the Real World

Kyler gave me a wonderful character design for The March of Bulk, so elegant that I was scared anything I could do in the programming would mess it up. I played around with it in The GIMP, and after a few hours I thought I saw a way I could deal with it. I made some extremely crude mock-ups and sent them to Kyler. He got back to me with images which were not what I had asked for, which I found frustrating. I asked for what I had said before, and he made that and sent it to me. I played around with the images in The GIMP, and understood why Kyler had made the change. The design I had asked for severely limited the movement, thus making the entire design impossible. Kyler's idea would actually work, though it would look very awkward. After a few hours, I thought I saw a way I could use what I had asked for to get better-looking movements without losing flexibility. So I started programming tests, and realized it would take some tricky geometry.

The producer of 1776 promised to pay us for our performances. There were contracts and everything. I've put off receiving the payments for more than a month, because there was some sort of technical issue that I didn't understand with the taxes. I needed to do something, but I didn't understand what. Eventually my mother called our family's accountant, who sent us the form I'd need. I looked at the form and was overwhelmed by all the checkboxes and options. I didn't understand the Hebrew of half of it. My mother called our accountant and he walked me through filling it out.

Tonight I need to go to a rehearsal of Oklahoma, a musical which I've discovered that I dislike. It's in a place I haven't gotten to by bus before, off in the middle of nowhere in Jerusalem. No one can give me a ride there tonight. My mother called a friend of hers who's in the play. She gave some slightly vague instructions. I suppose when I get lost I can call Binder and have him direct me.

Tomorrow I have another rehearsal. (The play opens in two weeks.) The day after that is Tuesday, which is the day I promised Kyler I'd have his design in the prototype by. That means that I'll need to spend just about every spare minute working on the game, which is not something I intend to do. Tuesday is also Games Night.

I just got Rhythm Heaven, a marvelous little DS game which I love to pieces. It's more consistently excellent than its predecessor, the only-in-Japan Rhythm Tengoku. It's lots of little rhythm-based minigames, which you play by tapping and flicking with the stylus. It requires extremely precise timing, and I always feel like if I just play through a minigame a few more times I'll get it perfect.



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Friday, May 08, 2009

The Complete Rules of Moneyloopy

A little while back Tamir and I (with some help from Coren) came up with a variant on Monopoly. None of us are particularly fond of Monopoly, but everyone seems to have it. So we wanted to change some rules to make the game better. Moneyloopy is based on the same ideas as Monopoly, and it uses the same pieces, but we've changed so many rules by this point that it's not quite Monopoly anymore. We think we've come up with a fun game, with more strategy and excitement than Monopoly.

Note: The following rules are written for the standard American Monopoly board.

There are two ways to win the game:
  1. When all other players have gone bankrupt and dropped out of the game, the last player to still have money is the winner.
  2. After each player left in the game has taken exactly 40 turns, the player with the greatest amount of money is the winner. At that point, any properties owned are worth $400.
Starting the game: All playing pieces start on GO. Each player receives only 1000 dollars (1 $500, 2 $100s, 2 $50s, 6 $20s, 5 $10s, 5 $5s and 5 $1s) to begin with. An extra token of some sort is chosen to be the turn marker; this should ideally not be one of the playing pieces, to prevent confusion. The turn marker is also placed on GO. The players each roll a single die; whoever gets the highest number goes first, and play continues clockwise.

The turn marker: Each time the last player has finished taking his turn, the turn marker is moved forward one spot on the board. (There are 40 spots on the board.) When the turn marker gets back to GO, the game ends immediately. Players get $400 for each property they own, and whoever has the most money wins.

Basic movement and looping: On his turn, a player rolls two dice and moves clockwise that number of spaces. When he lands on a particular spot, he must activate it unless he uses a SafeCard (see below). The three corners of the board -Just Visiting, Free Parking, and Go To Jail- are tollbooths priced $100, $200 and $300 respectively. If the player passes or lands on a tollbooth, he must either pay that toll to the bank or loop back to GO. If he pays or cancels (see "SafeCards" below) the toll, he continues his regular movement according to the dice. If he does not, then when he reaches the tollbooth he jumps back to GO (instead of stepping on the tollbooth) and continues the movement from there.

Example 1. If the player is on Tennessee Avenue and rolls an 8, he may either pay $200 to the bank and land on Atlantic Avenue, or loop back and land on Oriental Avenue.
Example 2. If the player lands directly on the third tollbooth (Go To Jail), he can either pay $300 and stay there or pay nothing and end his turn on GO. In either event, his turn is then concluded.

If a player ever passes the line separating Boardwalk from GO, he receives one thousand dollars from the bank.

Buying properties: There are 22 properties on the board. The railroads and utilities (Electric Company and Water Works) are not properties in Moneyloopy, but parts of the board. (Their functions will be explained below.) The market price of any property on the board is $300, regardless of what price is written underneath it. When a player lands on an unclaimed property, he may either buy it for market price or put it up for auction. Auctions begin at $100, and anyone (including the player who put it up for auction) may bid. When no one is willing to bid higher, the highest bidder buys the property from the bank. If no one wishes to pay $100, then the property is not bought by anyone. There is no maximum bid for a property.

When someone buys a property, he places the property's card in front of him so that everyone will know he is the owner. If a player lands on someone else's property, he must pay the owner rent as specified by the standard Monopoly card. If the owner has the entire monopoly (all cards of that color), then the rent without houses is doubled, and the owner may build houses.

Housing: Houses and hotels may be bought from the bank before (and only before) that player rolls the dice. A house on any property costs $100. Five houses are replaced with a hotel, which not only raises the rent significantly but also has other benefits which will be described below (see "SafeCards" and "Utilities"). Houses and hotels may only be bought if the player owns the entire monopoly, but if a player owns a spot with houses or a hotel without owning the monopoly the rent is still the price the card states for that number of houses. (This can happen through a trade/gift or because of one of the utilities.) Houses do not need to be placed evenly across the monopoly; whoever is buying the houses decides where they go. Once a hotel is built, no more houses may be built on that spot.

Houses and hotels are permanent. They may never be sold to the bank or moved to other spots, under any circumstances. No matter what happens to the property, the houses stay on it.

(There can never be a shortage of houses or hotels. If the pieces run out, something else should be used to signify houses or hotels.)

SafeCards: The thin cards (which in Monopoly would be from Community Chest or Chance) are always kept face-down. What is written on them never comes into play. However, these cards do have an important use. Face-down, they are called SafeCards. (
Blame Coren for the name. I had to make this concession to him in order to keep the name "Moneyloopy".) When a player lands on any Community Chest spot, he may (if he so chooses) pay $100 to the bank to buy a SafeCard, which he will hold on to along with his properties. SafeCards can get you out of dealing with any spot on the board except Luxury Tax or a property with a hotel. This includes tollbooths (even when passing them), Income Tax, an owned property with up to four houses on it, or even an unowned property. When a SafeCard is used, it is returned to the bank. A player may hold as many SafeCards as he likes, though only one can be bought at a time. If a player lands on Luxury Tax, he loses all his SafeCards. (If he has no SafeCards, he loses nothing.)

Chance: When a player lands on any Chance spot, he may if he so chooses play a game of chance. He places a bid of cash and/or SafeCards in the middle of the board, and rolls a single die. If he gets a 3 or lower, then he loses everything he bid to the bank. If he gets a 4 or higher, then he gets his bid back plus the same amount in cash and SafeCards from the bank. A player may not bid all his money, because a player without money is immediately out of the game. (See "Bankruptcy", below.)

Railroads: If a player lands on Reading Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad or B&O Railroad, he may if he so chooses take the railroad to get to the next railroad spot on the board without paying a toll. To do this, he spends a turn in transit in the middle of the board. If he does not decide to take the train, then the railroad spot has no effect. But if he does, then he ends that turn by placing his playing piece in the middle of the board directly between the railroad station he is leaving and the railroad station he will be arriving at. In his next turn, he will not roll the dice. He may buy houses as always, then he places his piece on the next railroad spot (this spot will not be activated) and ends his turn.

Short Line operates differently. If a player lands on Short Line (and he chooses to use it) he immediately moves his playing piece to the very center of the board. On his next turn (after buying houses, if he wishes) that player chooses any spot on the entire board (with no exceptions), moves his playing piece to that spot and activates it on the same turn.
In addition, the player receives money from the bank to compensate for the fact that he will not get to pass GO and receive the usual $1,000. How much money he receives depends on where he is on the board:
  • If he jumps to a spot on the first section of the board (anywhere from GO to Connecticut Avenue), he receives $900.
  • If he jumps to the second section (Just Visiting to New York Avenue), he receives $600.
  • If he jumps to the third section (Free Parking to Marvin Gardens), he receives $300.
  • If he jumps to the fourth section (Go To Jail to Boardwalk), he receives no money, because he will still be passing GO.

Income Tax: If a player lands on Income Tax, he must either pay $200 to the bank or use a SafeCard to get out of it. Paying 10% of his money, as written on the board, is not an option. (
Actually, Wikipedia tells me that this change was made to the official Monopoly board last September.)

If a player lands on Water Works, he may if he so chooses sell any property he owns back to the bank for the inflated price of one thousand dollars. Only one property can be sold at a time. That property can then be bought again by any player who lands on it for the market price of $300 (or an auction), as before. A property can be sold which is part of a complete monopoly, and a property can be sold which has houses or a hotel on it. Houses and hotels do not change the market price; if that property is then bought, it comes with the houses and the rent is correspondingly high. Housing does not entitle the seller to any more than $1,000 for the property.

If a player lands on Electric Company, he may if he so chooses steal a property owned by any other player. Only one property can be stolen at a time. To steal a property without a hotel (even if it has houses), the player pays $600 to the bank. Stealing a property with a hotel costs $1,000.

(If a previously-complete monopoly is broken by any means, the owner can no longer build new houses. He also loses the double-rent privilege where there are no houses. However, he retains any houses which are already there and the corresponding rent prices.)

Trades, deals and gifts: At any point in the game, two players can discuss and/or carry out a deal. The progression of the game may be paused at any time for this purpose. Here is what cannot be changed in a deal:
  • The basic movement rules, including all die rolls.
  • The effects of any spaces on the board other than owned properties, such as Income Tax, tollbooths, GO, railroads and unowned properties.
  • Anything owned by, owed to, or owed by a player not agreeing to the deal.
  • No matter what deals are made, a property will always technically have just one "legal" owner.
  • The behavior of the bank.
  • The turn order and bankruptcy rules.
Everything else is fair game. Here are examples of valid deals:
  • Player A gives Boardwalk to Player B, in exchange for Virginia Avenue and $500.
  • Whenever Player A lands on Player B's property, the rent is half what it would otherwise be. In exchange, Player B agrees to cancel a previous deal.
  • Player A will never have to pay player B for landing on any spot with a hotel. In exchange, every time player A lands on a Community Chest he is obligated to buy a SafeCard and give it to player B.
  • Player A will not have to pay the $500 he owes Player B for landing on his spot right now. But as soon as the turn marker reaches Free Parking, he will have to pay him $1,000.
  • Player A may never pass the second tollbooth. In exchange, player B will wash the dishes.
  • Player A gives $150 to player B.
Once a deal has been made, it must be carried out. If the terms of the deal are open-ended, then it will continue until the end of the game unless both players agree to cancel it. (Technically, that is a new deal.)

Bankruptcy: When a player does not have even a single dollar in cash, he is declared bankrupt and is permanently out of the game. This happens when a player owes more money, either to the bank or to a player, than he has the cash to pay. He may try to make a deal to either cancel the immediate debt or get the money needed to pay it. Beyond that, there are no more options. Unlike Monopoly, in Moneyloopy properties may not be mortgaged and houses cannot be sold. So if a deal cannot be made, the player is finished. At that point, all his money goes to whoever is owed it, his SafeCards go back to the bank, and all properties are auctioned off. As with any auction, bidding starts at $100. If there are no bidders for a property, it goes to the bank.



I should point out that if you pay every dollar you have, even if you have just enough, you're technically bankrupt and out of the game. So for instance, if you have only 100 dollars in your hand you are not allowed to buy a SafeCard.

Believe it or not, that last dollar can be extremely important. Today, Eli and I played a 2-player game of Moneyloopy where I accidentally bought a property with all the extra money I didn't need for tolls. (I got it for just $150.) If I had bid even one dollar less, it would have been fine. But not having that dollar left in my hand meant I wasn't able to pay the toll. I would have been stuck looping around the first section until I landed on Income Tax and lost. Eli realized what I had done before I did, and greedily offered to buy one of my properties for 1 dollar. (I had paid around 200 dollars for it, if memory serves.) He later realized that this was a tactical mistake- that dollar allowed me to get around the board, and I actually won the game in the end.

Oh, something else which wasn't quite spelled out: money is hidden.

Hey, thanks for doing this! You saved me the effort, and did a better job than I would have done.

Shortline seems over powered:

Besides the obvious move to the utilities, you can choose to live out the rest of the game on Shortline going back to itself, never paying anymore money out and just living off the income of properties you've already purchased. Maybe not a winning strategy... but strange.

Maybe it can send you anywhere for free, or you can pay $100 to have where you go activate too.

"Besides the obvious move to the utilities, you can choose to live out the rest of the game on Shortline going back to itself, never paying anymore money out and just living off the income of properties you've already purchased. Maybe not a winning strategy... but strange."

I like strange. If you take the Short Line to Water Works, then continue around the board, that's $2000 earned. Staying in place can't possibly make as much for you, so I don't see a problem with it. I just like the idea of being able to wait in the middle of the board until the other player is low on cash, and then jump back in to get a dirt-cheap purchase.

As for the matter of being overpowered, well, yeah. That's kind of the idea. It's just one spot all the way around the board- you're paying $600 to get there, and there's no guarantee of landing on it. I know you don't like luck, but I do in this case.

This sounds like a lot more fun than monopoly.

I will play it sometime.

I've made a major change to the rules. Hopefully this is the last one that will be necessary. Instead of calling a winner after 40 turns through cash alone, each property is worth $400 at the end. We made this change because we found that the most effective strategy was just circling the board for the whole game and never buying any properties. Which does not make for a fun game, obviously. It doesn't seem like that tactic will work with this added rule.


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