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Alan Side Quest 9: Bathroom night-out decoration

This is a relatively challenging task for me, since I am living on Claremont with pretty much only food and utilities and nothing fancy. I knew from hearing this project that I will not be able to use the traditional classy and fancy approach for my night out. When I looked into my room and fridge (I just got grocery delivery today), I figured showing my food and supplies can be a great idea for making this bathroom unique and fit this special time period. I have a lot of sanitation products and food to keep myself as safe as possible against the spread of coronavirus. In editing this video, I think an intro to my idea would be better than simply showing the video clip. It took me sometime to figure out how to record audio alone and add that before the video. Moving all the things into the bathroom is a lot of work, it took me around 20 minutes before it is ready for shooting. Overall, it is a fun experience and get me moving inside the house.


Side Quest 8: Throw a piece of paper into a bin

This is one of my favorite paper plane designs and I used to have a lot of them when I was a child. To make this paper throw more unique, the plane had an asymmetry design with smaller right wing and a hole in the middle, which makes the plane turn right after I release it. The angle to throw and speed was crucial and it took me a couple of trials before understand how this plane behaves. This assignment distracts me a bit from boring social-distancing and brings back my paper plane skills I used to have.

Side Quest 7: 3D printing

This is a 3D model of Batman Tumbler. This piece is special for me since I have been a great fan for the batman trilogy, and the scene of this tumbler jumping off rooftops and destroying anything in the way left a great impression for me about this special vehicle. I always love cars and having a car on my desk has been a tradition for me. Since I have not had the chance to bring my own model cars here to emory, this is a great chance for me to refill my car collection and have something I like on my table.

I found this model on thingiverse and I was very impressed with the level of details this car has. The only challenge I has was the size of the model was way larger than the printer’s capacity and we have to rescale it to around 0.1% of its original size to print this out. And also, cutting out the supporting pieces was hard to accomplish. I was so scared to cur pieces out that are necessary for this model. I really like this project.

Fiasco Reflection

I played the main street game set in Fiasco and was Keita’s father, gambler with Ruohan and professional/employer with Kathy. The game theme combined crime, murder with betrayals. Characters that had conflicts with other characters are willing to kill each other in exchange of monetary interest.

The story started with Kathy getting into jail for stealing after her thief friend Wenyi left her at the crime scene. The suitcase they stole turned out to be extreme valuable and everyone in town wanted to have it. Me and Ruohan decided to meet with someone who claimed to have the case at a secret gambling table behind a Mexican restaurant and won this case with our gambling skills. Next day, I went to visit Kathy in jail since she was my client and had no intention to bail her out until she threatened me to report hidden drugs in my gravel store. Hearing about the secret of suitcase from Kathy with more details and names, I called Ruohan that the suitcase was in someone else’s hand, my son’s former spouse Wenyi. I never liked her and the fact that she threatened to kill my son recently exacerbated my resentment. This became a great chance for me to make her disappear. Ruohan was willing to kill Wenyi for the case but only willing to give me 30% of the share for the suitcase. I wasn’t satisfied and contacted Wenyi in secret about Ruohan’s assassination plan in exchange for 50% of the share. Meanwhile, I also reminded Kathy about Wenyi’s betrayal and told her about Wenyi’s show-up location next day, promising her mother’s life insurance in exchange for the assassination. Next day, Ruohan was killed by Wenyi, who was killed by Kathy soon after. I took a photograph of Kathy at the crime scene to silence Kathy then took the suitcase by myself. Unexpectedly, Wenyi put a poisonous snake in the case and killed me as soon as I opened the case.

The story line is determined largely by the group decision about whether the ones having conversations would be able to achieve the object/goal he/she wanted to, which can be difficult for the story to unfold the way each player imagined. I planned the plot based on the conversations and background information established as the story unfolds and tried to use the conflict for the characters to turn them against each other and achieve my goal of getting the secret suitcase. The role playing in real person is definitely more immersive and interactive than video games and planning my next moves as I hear more about the other players brings more variabilities and uncertainties to this game. I enjoyed setting other players against each other without them knowing my real motive and became the villain in the game. The aftermath is something I cannot choose and my ending of dying when others brought the new challenge of fitting the plot into that ending. Overall, this is a really interesting and interactive experience.

One strategy I frequently used in this game is convincing people to do something that benefits themselves and me without giving out my true intention. That also makes the game more mysterious and adds more turning points as the story unfolds. I became much more aware of what the other players are saying and understood they wanted in return. This game encourages me to become a better listener and mind reader in order to be better. In true writing projects, especially novels that needs character creation and descriptions. This kind of skill is extremely important for the writer to create a vivid, complete, and human-like character in the book. Predicting what each character’s thought process and decision making is the first step towards making a unique and great character in books. By putting my mind in other character’s mindset and simulate their thinking and decision making, Fiasco gives me a glimpse of what I need to do in order to create a character in books.

Alan Li Side Quest 6: Reflection on Betrayal at the House on the hill, Being balanced is better than especially good only at some traits

I played the board game Betrayal at the House on the Hill with Keita, Ruohan, and Kathy. Although we watched the tutorial videos ahead of time, figuring out game rules took us roughly 2 hours. The game is complicated but well designed with many possible endings, and I am really interested to explore other possibilities after we successfully played the first round.

The probing and telescoping part of the game is largely exploring rooms, character strengths and weaknesses, and collectible items. Different rooms have different arrangements of doors and exit rules that sometimes relate to character traits. Doors have to be present on both rooms for a successful addition, and speed limit of the character limits how many rooms each character can move/add in a single hand. My character was Darrin “Flash” Williams, who has high speed but mediocre/low in might, sanity or knowledge. Darrin was great in the exploring part and was able to open almost as many rooms as I wanted and moved freely across the house, but my weaknesses started to show when the hunt started. Collectible items are used when the room tells the character to pick an event/item/omen card, which can either help or hurt the character capability. These cards are really helpful for characters during the hunt started. Some of the cards enhances some traits and can be very helpful for some characters low on that trait.  

Decision making is a central part of this game. Before the game started, I chose my character for his absolute advantage in speed, which enables me to escape or move to ideal location much faster than any other character. And in the game, many times I have to choose whether to open a new room or stop at the current room then pick the card indicated. And some cards require sacrificing one trait for another, whether or not to make that exchange was crucial for the character’s ability. After the hunt started, decisions are even more important. As we played hunt #43, it required explorers to light candles with speed roll more than 3 and move the candle to another room with knowledge roll more than 5 to place the candle. When the candle placed is equal to the number of explorers, the explorers win. Otherwise, the traitor wins. And the hardest part to win is to deal with the immortal monster. Collaboration became crucial for winning in the hunt. My character was great in speed but weak in knowledge, which led me to light the candles and move them to Kathy’s character, who was great in knowledge but weak in speed. Even though we tried to work together, the traitor with monster was hard to defeat. Monster could move freely to any room in the house and challenge me, even with my high might (enhanced with armor card), I could only reduce might from fighting with the monster and unable to kill it even if I won. My high speed became useless while facing the omnipresent monster. Also, the traitor kept challenging me on knowledge and sanity rolls, which I was weak and constantly in the brink of dying. My luck in rolling kept me alive many times. That is when I realized having balanced character traits is far better than just being great at one or two of them. It is more likely to die and lose when the traitor keeps challenging you with your weakest trait, and your strong traits will not even have the chance to take effects. Items like the armor that makes traits interchangeable allows more variability and skills to play the game well. More uncertainty with the many hunt rules also makes the game more complicated and fun to play with.

For the argument Steven Johnson made in Everything Bad is Good For You, I think the opposite holds true after playing with this board game. While video games have the rules programmed into the software and stop the users from making illegal moves, board games are a lot harder to play by the rules, which is why it took our group such a long time to figure it out. There was no one telling us what are moves we can do or cannot do. When confusion comes, a lot of reading and explaining is needed to have everyone understand and agree on the rules. This is much more time-consuming and harder than video games.

This game is far more complicated than any other game I played before. The progress of the game is nonlinear and have many alternative paths and possible endings for players to find out. The event/item/omen cards are crucial once the hunt starts and can change a character’s ability completely when facing with different goals. Luck, skills, and collaborations are very crucial in this game, which makes this game highly unpredictable and fun to play with.

Alan Side Quest 5: Trick or treat? (Stapler dolphin)

I started this Sunday sketch project by looking through objects in my room for inspirations. At first, I wanted to use my tea mug as a bee’s body and wing, but the color was too brown to resemble a bee, and I turned to my drawer. Stapler was my second and final inspiration for this, its blue color instantly reminds me of the ocean and the shape of a dolphin’s rostrum. Then I looked up photos online that fits the angle I wanted and get my color pencils ready. The project officially began production.

I outlined the dolphin and colored different shades to make it look more vibrant than the actual photo, due to the difficulty in creating a realistic dolphin eye, I used human eye drawing technique to make things more humanized. Different color transitions makes it look more lively and smooth. I especially put darker shades on shaded area to make the sketch as much 3 dimensional as I can. This final project turns out better than I expected. With some photo editing, the stapler dolphin is shown above. I picked the name “trick or treat?” to emphasize the more dangerous dolphin rostrum, and want people to start caring and fearing these dolphins. The dolphins and any other animal deserve their own survival right and they need to have the power to leverage the decisions made my humans.

Alan post 3: 911 and frog

Fresh frog may blow your mind

I created this image based on a common comment on Porsche cars: they look like frogs. The iconic design that hasn’t been changed carries within every model in the brand and they all resemble frogs from multiple views. I figured it would be a great idea to combine a green car and a green frog in an image. This image can be used as an appreciation for the timeless design of Porsche and how the curves and shape convey the beauty.

Credit to:

Alan Li Blog Post 3: Live blogging Gone Home

Start game: 4:00 PM

Link back to course website:

4:10: Some of the first clues I found are screenshots underneath. The audio quality in this game is excellent, my foot steps, sound of rain, thunder and relative positions in the house makes the game feel realistic. The sound of raining is much louder on the porch than inside. And each drawer, sliding door makes their unique sound during opening and closing. I am amazed by how detailed and realistic this game is.

4:22: I found a lot of notes from drawer, and reading them is becoming a little bit boring. I keep looking around the house for details and looked through every room, drawer and anything that can be picked up.

4:30: At 2nd floor, I found a clue about the secret room in parent’s bedroom, it was really cool to discover that door. I was a bit scared of the darkness inside, and the spiderweb after I turned on the light. The visual message is dark and intense, which is what I expected to find in this kind of puzzle game. The lighting and darkness are really helpful to convey that kind of emotion. I feel more involved in this game as first person. Still, I am trying to figure out

The hidden door

4:35: clues keep coming and I found 3 hidden cabinets in different rooms. Unlocking the lock was easier than I expected, I thought I have to figure out how to turn the lock, but I don’t need to. Time, background and setting are very much set up by the letters and as I read more, I started to understand more about the history of the family. I think this will lead to a murder case, and I hope I will not see blood or body in this game.

4:50: I really like the hand-writing style of the papers I pick up. The marking on my map makes it easier for me to track the spots. Also the ghost hunters makes it more dreadful. The tapes that I picked up can be used to play and give more clues as story progresses. Different media types for information input is useful to make this game more intriguing and involving.

5:08: I like this red color in complete darkness, I look forward to figure out what is behind that door.

What’s in Alan’s bag

Items in my bag:

  • Pens
  • Laptop
  • iPad
  • Headphone
  • Band-Aid
  • Wipes
  • Tissue
  • Powerade

I usually have two bags for different uses. The one shown here is the smaller one that is lighter and more fit for daily use. The main things I put in are my laptop and iPad for classes. Pens are used sometimes for paper notes in class. I like to keep wipes and tissue with me to clean surface or anything else I need to. Powerade is essential for my daily hydration. Band-Aids helped me a lot in the past and it is always useful to keep some in my bag so that I can cover up wounds whenever needed or help others.

Updated avatar and first post

I am a car lover and the first thing comes to mind when thinking about choosing my avatar would be a car picture. As I already have lots of them in my phone, choosing one was the main task. This picture of a Lamborghini Veneno came out last week and is my current favorite. And I downloaded a photo editing app on my laptop, cropped the photo and added caption. I have worked on similar task before and it was quite straightforward. Then I made the size a bit smaller to be not too far from 512 pixels.

Posting the avatar turned out harder than I expected. I found WordPress hard to navigate. It took me about half an hour to figure out where to upload my avatar and even longer to find out how to use the tag function. But overall, I believe this experience enhanced my skills in WordPress and is rewarding when I finally realized how to make it work. The only problem I have right now is the the oversized displayed avatar. I need to figure out how to remove it from my homepage or adjust its size.