December 15, 2008

a gentle persuasion

I always see people at GNC stores at the BMI scale getting 'scored' on their physique only to be disappointed one way or another. Wouldn't it be great if there was some sort of interface where you could input some basic info (height, weight (it weighs you), age, lifestyle, etc.) and it would tell you exactly what you need to get in shape or stay in shape?

Rather than reducing you to a number and lumping you into a large category, this interface gives you an age (similar to Wii Fit's system) based on your health. Then, it recommends certain vitamin supplements and a work out regiment to suit your needs in order to reach your actual age and ideal health.

The interface would be very visual and friendly but never borderline-offensive like the BMI scales. I want it to be very sleek and modern and to resemble the Wii's system in many ways to capitalize on its popularity. I think GNC, gyms, and other health-oriented locations would gobble these thing up.

November 20, 2008

welcome to the pond

The Pond is an idea for a children's story that takes place in and around pond. The story would not be linear, each book would feature one character prominently and revolve around character interactions. Naturally, each book would feature a moral. Teresa (my wife-to-be) and I would collaborate on the stories with the help of my mom (the world's best kindergarten teacher). Teresa would provide storybook sketches and I would animate them into cheery cartoons. The Pond would have short web cartoons and simple games while the book would be similar to a Bernstein Bears book.

I'm sure Stephen King's On Writing had something to do with this yearn to publish. Pick it up if you've ever considered writing fiction--it's great!

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

November 03, 2008

bored game?

Busted! is a hybrid boardgame that combines Guesstures (charades), Blackjack, and a small element from Scattergories (category word puzzles). The goal of the game is to accumulate 21 points without busting as a team by acting out and correctly guessing silent clues.

number of people needed

A minimum of 4 people are needed to play. Theoretically, an unlimited number of people could play at once. However many decide to play, they must divide into 2 equal (or near equal) groups. Note: large groups may require the bust limit to be raised so everyone gets a chance to act.

the quick and dirty

1. Divide into two teams and name your teams
2. Someone from the first team draws four Action cards
3. S/he puts the cards into the slate and slaps it shut
4. S/he acts out the clues silently while everyone guesses
5. S/he gives each card to the team that guessed the clue
6. Each team decides to play the cards as positive or     negative
7. S/he rolls the die and the scores are calculated
8. Someone from the second team draws four cards
9. Repeat steps 3-7

The first team to score 21 points after the die roll wins!

how to play: the long version

Divide into groups and decide which group and person should go first (let's pretend it's David).

David draws 4 action cards (without anyone seeing) and decides whether he wants to play the cards as high or low (high values are more difficult).

Next, David places the action cards into the slate with the first (leftmost) card being the easiest to act out and the last card (rightmost) the most difficult.

Then, David slaps the slate closed and begins acting out silent clues. At this point, everyone else begins guessing at the clue. If David's group member(s) correctly guess the clue, he must quickly remove the card and move on to the next card. David has to physically remove the card before it falls into the slate in order to gain the card's points. David's goal is to have his team guess each card correctly before it falls into the slate.

However, if another team guesses the clue correctly, the card becomes Stolen. In this instance, David shouts stolen and does not remove the card from the slate. At this point, David moves on the next card. If his team is able to correctly guess the next card before the Stolen card falls into the slate, the card becomes Reclaimed and David can grab both cards (he must grad the Reclaimed card second). Once a Stolen card falls into the slate, the card becomes permanently Stolen.

David's turn ends once the slate become empty either by cards falling into it or being removed. Once this occurs, David collects the correctly guessed and Reclaimed cards and gives the Stolen cards to the opposing team. Then, both teams decide if they want to play their cards as either positive or negative. This is decided for each card individually.

Next, the the die is rolled. Whatever letter the die rests on becomes the Modifier. At this point, any instance of the Modifier letter adds 1 point to the value of every card.

If the Modifier causes a team to go over 21, they Bust back to zero. The first team rest on 21 points after the Modifier wins!

additional rules

If either team correctly guesses the entire slate (called a Clean Sweep), the opposite team automatically busts, forcing their score to zero (Reclaimed cards do not count as correct guesses)!

If both teams tie with a correct answer the tie goes to the acting team.

A person cannot act again until everyone on her/his team has acted.

If a card's clue isn't guessed and it falls into the slate, that cards points become permanently lost.

Anytime a card becomes Reclaimed, the actor can remove-and thus reclaim-all Stolen cards from the slate if they haven't fallen into the slate.

A score can go above the bust limit before the die roll with hopes that the modifier will bring it back down.

Props cannot be used.

October 18, 2008

just in time for halloween

That's right folks, I'm letting my special recipe go public. Just click on the photo above for the delicious to begin!

Image Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

October 12, 2008


Go green—that’s easier said than done. I often find myself wondering if I’m really making a difference. Sure I’ve changed my bulbs, adjusted the thermostat, an shortened my showers but there must be more green methods I can utilize. Naturally, I can pour over the internet looking for tips but I want something that goes beyond a simple 10-step improvement. I want something deep, but I also want it to be easy and fun to learn.

Until the release of Spore, this issue bothered me for quite sometime. As a gamer, Spore fascinated me and allowed me to reminisce back to the days of The Sims. While enveloped in my admiration, it dawned on me: what if I utilized core elements from The Sims to solve my green issue? Then the ideas flowed like Niagara.


To make your (carbon) Footprint as small as possible while maintaining your busy life


Exactly like The Sims with the following additions/exceptions:

   -Players setup their game to begin their life as it     currently is (apartment, married, kids, SUV, etc.)

   -There is no focus on talents/skills or relationships

   -Achieve small goals to reduce your footprint

Game Setup

The game uses an ICI (interactive conversational interface) to figure out who you are and what type of life you live and builds your starting point.


Your footprint is graphically represented on the right-hand side of the screen and looks similar to a thermometer. It's calculated by measuring your kilowatt hours, fuel consumed, products consumed/recycled, etc. The number can go as high as 10000 units (or higher) but the green meter only displays your current starting unit and goal unit so progress seems quick and less daunting.


The game evaluates where you are and makes suggestions on how to reduce your footprint beginning with the most significant and cost-effective solution. The reality is that going green is difficult and often involves initial investment. Not everyone can ride a bike to work, afford an $1100 washing machine, or buy a hybrid. Hopefully by setting small goals and achieving them virtually, good habits will permeate into the real word.

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

October 06, 2008

fall of mann

A movie is supposedly coming out based on a true biographical story called Mann's House about a fellow named Dylan Mann. The only plot that the trailer reveals is that Mann was raised in a poor household and despite all odds, ends up a billionaire. The twist lies in the fact the there is no Dylan Mann nor does his company Mann Enterprises actually exist. However, Mann Enterprises does have a Wiki, a webpage, a searchable address, etc. Basically, in the digital realm, everything checks out.

The game lies in finding and becoming part of the online counter culture to Mann Enterprises. As it turns out, Mann Ent. seems to have a dark past revolving around dangerous pollution, which may have caused thousands of illness and deaths in the small town Mann Ent. resides. As interest builds, Dylan Mann is discovered to be behind Mann Enterprises' dark dealings.

The game turns into a puzzle figuring out how and what was done in the small town. Clues are constantly fed through the movie's advertisements and into the online counter culture directly by moderators. The person or group that solves the puzzle is given login information to the Mann Enterprises' online database (still part of the game). After logging in, the person has access to all the incriminating evidence she needs to cripple Mann Ent. Shortly after, Dylan Mann himself contacts the winner with a very large bribe for her silence. If she accepts, she wins the money and the game quietly ends. If she refuses, less money is won, the game ends, and everything is explained to all who played.

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

September 29, 2008

a revival?

I would like to make a flash-based, comedic cartoon (animated) that uses inside jokes, off-the-wall jokes, references to generation-spanning pop culture, and a simplistic art style as humor. I've built upon this idea before and created Moleculation Cartoons (MC) years ago:

The idea was birthed from my admiration of Homestar Runner (HR) cartoons:

MC emulates many of the things that makes HR successful but is less family friendly. Overall, the site seemed to be going well but I was unable to maintain it because the production became too involving for one person. I enlisted the help of my friend to aid with music and voice acting but it wasn't enough. As a result, I had to take the project offline but I've always wanted to revive it. If I brought MC back I'd want a few things to make it better than ever:

1. A new interface that turns aways from modernity and
     embraces a retro style (videogame influenced if possible)
2. A new cartoon (or two) on startup
3. A PR person that can push the site on popular social
     networking sites
4. A programmer that can utilize Actionscript to create an
     interactive interface
5. Possibly another animator

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

September 18, 2008

iu memories interface

How about an adaptation of Google Maps (not the satellite view) where prime locations are represented with icons? Because this is a map of memories and not locations, the icon size represents the number of memories at a given location. The larger the icon, the more the memories. On the surface, users will instantly be able to discern which locations are the most memorable. If some memories become buried due to the surrounding icons, perhaps it would be best to make all icons a standard size on the X and Y axis and represent memory amount on the Z axis. Here, users can choose to view the map from a birds-eye-view where all locations are equal. Alternatively, users can switch to an angled perspective to discover which locations contain the most memories.

To hear/read/view a memory, users first click on an icon. Then the icon fills the screen and becomes an outline (possibly an interior layout) filled with nodes, which are location specific. Each node contains a memory. Only the most recently created memories are displayed as nodes so there is always fresh content. The user can visit past memories by grabbing and sliding a bead along a timeline (bottom of the screen) that cycles through memories based on the date they were posted (default setting). Alternatively, the timeline's functionality can be switched to display memories chronologically. Moreover, nodes can be sorted by popularity as well.

Nodes themselves are not uniform in style. Proprietary emoticons are available to compliment any memory.

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

September 15, 2008

pool anyone?

From a full deck of cards, any number of people receive 5 cards each. Exactly like poker, a round of betting occurs here (including the ability to fold). Card values and hand values follow poker rules. After the betting is concluded, four cards are placed in the center of the table face down. Here, all players can swap undesirable cards for Pool Cards. Players can only swap one card at a time. Except during the brief swap period, each player must have 5 cards at all times and the Pool must have 4 cards at all times. Once the players are content with their hands, the Pool cards are discarded and another round of betting ensues. After an additional swap and betting period the players reveal their cards and the winner takes the Pot.

Basically, Pool boils down to Poker with a small set of communal cards that are not fixed but swapped (always face down similar to Kemps). Here's the breakdown:

1. Deal 5 cards to each player
2. Bet
3. Deal 4 cards face down in the center (the Pool)
5. Swap
6. Bet
7. Deal a new Pool (the old Pool is discarded)
8. Swap
9. Final Bet and card reveal

Pool has the potential to create high bets and very powerful hands. For a less intense version, players can remove the first betting round and only swap cards once.

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

September 10, 2008

virtual engineering

Most people are scared to death of their computers. They're afraid that accidentally triple-clicking on the wrong icon will render their machine useless. Clearly this isn't true (unless you're running ME or Vista). I'd love to see the day when people treat tweaking a computer as nonchalantly as activating a television's sleep timer. Unfortunately, that day may never arise; however, I think that by creating a program--let's call it Boxx--that simulates and benchmarks hardware builds, my geeked out vision could gain a powerful step toward reality.

Personally, I have many reservations about cracking open my case and swapping parts for the hell of it.

What if the part turns out to be not worth the money?
What if the component isn't even compatible with my build?
I wish there was a way to test everything out before making the investment of time and money.

It's here that Boxx would be very helpful. Admittedly, the main use for Boxx would be for commercial vendors of custom built computers. I envision that vendors would offer a "Test Your Build link" before you add the computer to your cart. Boxx downloads the schematics and provides a wealth of benchmark information. Suppose then the results didn't impress you. You enter into Boxx a target benchmark and it in turn provides hardware suggestions to reach that mark. Now content, you tell Boxx to reconfigure your system and send you back to the vendor's site.

Other Features:

- Ability to scan your current PC's configuration
- Each part would have sponsored links for purchase options
- Sleek, simple interface

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008