morsla: (Default)
Do you like Science!™ ?

Do you think it would be useful if scientists had a better idea of how people sleep these days?

Do you like potentially winning nifty electronic gadgets?

There's a National Sleep Survey running at the moment, as part of the National Science Week activities. It's being run by ABC Science, and (like any research project...) needs as many people as possible.

There are three options on the site. The first is a survey about sleeping habits, and is the primary research instrument they're using. I like their running commentary about what each part of the survey is designed to look at, and the feedback they give at the end: "your survey is important to us because of your particular responses to X and Y" and (in my case) "you seem likely to suffer from the following sleep disorders." It's a nice way of handling things, and makes people feel like they've contributed something useful.

The second part is optional. It's a 7-day sleep diary, where you can track just how strange your sleeping habits are becoming... It takes a minute or two each day, and I've been filling in mine after getting to work each morning.

The third part isn't really part of the study at all, but it helps to get more people signed up :) It's a competition to win a $1000 voucher for an iPad or other electronic gadget, which you can leave next to the bed and use to cause further damage to your sleeping habits...
morsla: (Dawn1)
Some time in the last couple of days, I've forgotten how to sleep. I've tried just waiting for sleep to arrive (unsurprisingly, it didn't). I've tried getting out of bed and doing some exercise to get the blood flowing (still no luck - just ended up with weary and sore muscles). Now I've started writing (or typing) until I can't focus on what I'm doing any more. It's been marginally more successful, but I'm still sitting here at 2:30am...

Last night, [ profile] aeliel and I went to see Inception at the Nova. I really enjoyed it - it's a beautifully constructed film, and manages to successfully juggle four or more simultaneous stories taking place at different speeds. A relatively small group of concepts used in their dreamscapes (subconscious projections, acceptance of the dream, the 'jump' and a dream's collapse) are used in a consistent way to build some great stories.

A few hours after seeing the film, I headed out to the couch and grabbed my laptop. By about 4am I had written my first properly fleshed out roleplaying system. It takes some of the dreamscape concepts from Inception, and adds some other elements that I wanted to play with: a player-driven mechanic for increasing the challenge in each scenario (think Grand Theft Auto's threat ratings), a cooperative-play mechanism where the group always has tangible goals to work towards, and a way to manipulate the "luck" element of the game via player skill.

It's going through the hypothetical Jye-and-Lon tests at the moment :)

Test 1: the Gamist. When treated purely as a mechanical system and pushed to its limits in order to "win" the game, does the game still require active participation in the story by all the players? Are the mechanics robust enough to support the kind of story and gaming environment I want to achieve, without needing the GM to arbitrarily rule whether things can work?

Test 2: the Narrativist. Can players choose to make purely story-driven decisions in a way that's supported by the game mechanics? Are the underlying mechanics robust enough to keep things moving towards a shared story goal, regardless of what direction the players choose to take the story in?

I'm enjoying the mental challenge of thinking through the game design at the moment, and would like to try running a few games to try it out. I've drafted up a writing plan, and will keep chipping away at it while the muse (or the insomnia) take me. If I'm still happy with it in a few months, I'd like to take it through design and layout, and develop it into something I can sell through a site like IPR.
morsla: (Dawn1)
Last night I was in bed by 1am, asleep around 1:45, and awake again at 2:30.

Three hours later, I gave up trying to get back to sleep, headed out to sit on the couch, and eventually passed out some time before 6am. I managed to grab a couple more hours of sleep, and also lost any chance of getting through a normal day's work.

It's not a good thing to find yourself thinking, "sleep would be great, but I'd settle for unconsciousness right now. What if I just held my carotid arteries until I passed out... I'm sure I'd relax my grip before anything fatal happened."

Here's hoping that sleep is easier to find tonight. I've been to the gym, eaten lots of healthy food, and have been dragging around the kind of weary that needs months to accumulate. I also have to move offices tomorrow, and would like to make a non-zombie impression on the people in my new building.
morsla: (Default)
Today at Morsla Research Laboratories, I harnessed a new source of power - combining insomnia with structured procrastination (also written about here) to temporarily become a rampaging juggernaught of Getting Things Done.

I woke up around 3am, and finally gave up pretending that I could get back to sleep at 5am. This has been happening a lot lately, and usually I'm stubborn enough to try getting back to sleep right up until the alarm goes off. This time I got up and started painting... sort of. I only managed a few brushstrokes on the figure I first picked up, but then I found myself reaching for one of the older revenants - covered by dust, forgotten by the world.

My desk is covered in half-finished projects. By 'covered' I mean that it is no longer possible to tell where the desk starts under the pile of models. These accumulate like some kind of sediment for months or years, until geological forces in the household reach breaking point. Today is one of those days.

There's something refreshing about finding a few spare hours between sleep and 7am. It's a quiet, grey null-time, when the rest of the world doesn't exist yet. Freed from any sense of time, those niggling little jobs suddenly become less of an imposition. A job that takes an hour might be a chore at 3pm, but in null-time those minutes are essentially free... after all, I wasn't going to use them for anything important.

So I oscillated back and forth between discarded and forgotten projects, clearing out some of the backlog that has been building since the last great productaclysm. Models were finished, sections of desktop saw (artificial) sunlight for the first time in months. After the last jobs were done I still had time to eat breakfast (a rare occasion) before leaving for Tai Chi.

I may never be much of a morning person, but I can certainly appreciate my mornings when they let me get this much done before sunrise...

September 2014

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