Tuesday, September 11, 2018

*Nothing* is as exhilarating and exciting as making music.

Things have been pretty okay!  I think the past few weeks have been some steps in the right direction, which feels nice.

General Stuff

I saw Kiki in a dream the other day.  I really wonder, what they think of me, how they are doing, and if I really will ever see them again.  Haha, well, not like that's anything new, anyways.  Only time will tell.

It's better to prove yourself by following through, rather than offer promises.

I've been thinking a lot about regaining more of a sense of my old self, and I think I've really started to get in touch with some things and made some realizations.  Perhaps most importantly, I have remembered that feeling of calm and peace that I carried in myself.  Not all the time, for there were also many periods of uncertainty, but those times when I would be content to just be.  I think that feeling is perhaps a large part of what I have been missing in recent times.  That mode where you are conscientious about everything you do, carefully placing your movements and actions as if you were performing tea ceremony.  I tried on Friday to return back to a time of quiet in my dance as well, and I think it taught me a lot.  It amused me a bit because it went against quite a few things that I have been preaching generally when I work with others on their dancing, yet I understood so clearly that this was also an essential duality of my nature, not something to be left behind entirely.

Hoping to maybe mark the return of OHC and Monthlies next month =O

Tactics Ogre Stuff

Tactics Ogre (specifically, the One Vision mod) is proving to really be something that I have been sinking myself into...it's been pretty great.  Despite the fact that there are no sort of "cross-job skill combos" as there are in FFT (one of the funnest parts of FFT, IMHO), there is a LOT of opportunity for customization and flexibility in how you build out your squad and characters.  I've recently been exploring a bunch of these options to see what makes sense, and have learned quite a number of things along the way.

One of the main customization options is equipment.  First off, there different =types= of armor, and you can only pick two at a time to wear: Body armor which offers the best defense but is heavier, Helms which are a bit lighter but still offer good defense, Legguards which focus more on evasion, and Gauntlets/gloves which forego defense in favor of upgrading your offensive stats.  But past that, there are different classes of each, with some jobs being limited to what they can wear.  The Ninja class, for example, only has access to light armor and caster robes, so he can't go in wearing heavy tank armor.  You could focus instead on boosting evasion, but that would still probably leave you soft to magic damage.  Knights, on the other hand, can wear heavy armor, and they can't use 2-handed swords, so they also have a shield to help with their defense.

But wait -- there's more!  There are "sidegrades" (not upgrades) for both armor and weapons that let you make specific tradeoffs.  For example, you can craft gloves that sacrifice some of their strength bonus and give you a bonus to magic stats instead, for mage knights.  You can take a 2-handed sword and make it deal more damage, but at the expense of speed and accuracy.  You can take the avoidance bonus from legguards and replace it with a magic resistance bonus.  There's all sorts of flexibility!

It's pretty interesting because in general when thinking about equipment, you want to maximize the unit's strengths, but also want to cover its weaknesses.  Previously I was taking a bit too much of a min-maxing approach and as a result many of my units were a bit too frail.  I tried to forego defense in favor of speed (allowing my units to act faster) and all-out offense (everyone had gloves!), but I've since had to scale back on that to avoid my units dropping like flies.

Recently I've changed up a few of my builds significantly.  My two Valkyries/Spellblades (Rune Fencers), for example.  Valks are sort of a tricky unit to deal with since they can be front-line units but also can cast a limited selection of magic.  Previously I had them equipped with a one-handed sword or spear, and had them basically casting support buffs, as well as throwing items around -- basically full-on support units.  That worked out sort of ok, but the problem is that they were never super great at any of their roles -- if I wanted melee damage, my warriors and knights did better, and if I wanted healing, my priest can just sit in the back and heal from afar.  The support buffs were useful for a while, but nowadays the Sword dancer can actually apply them in a huge area (and I have him do that at the beginning of most battles to cover my team).  So right now I've changed things up so now my valks both have staves, as well as mage gloves and rings which boost their magic, so they are essentially mages, but a bit tankier so they don't have as many problems being in the front line.  This works pretty well because my lineup was actually fairly low on magic damage output, so this balances that out a bit.

My priest (actually called a monk) sits in the back and pretty much just does healing.  Healing doesn't really scale with stats (confusingly enough) which means I'm actually optimizing her for speed, so she has no weapon!  That said, sometimes she also casts a speed buff on herself or someone else (very nice), or casts sleep on an opposing unit (also very useful).

One unit I really haven't figured out how to work with is the Familiar, which is a faerie-exclusive unit.  This unit had problems in the original game as well, apparently.  It can cast healing magic, which lead me to basically use it as another cleric...though it can also cast a bit of offensive magic.  It also has a bunch of neat TP-requiring abilities, such as some nice debuffs and a large area heal...but the problem is that in order to gain TP you need to either deal or receive *physical* damage.  Unfortunately the Familiar is also really squishy and often dies if you put it in the front lines.  So it's sort of a weird conflict that I haven't figured out.  Right now I've tried giving it a dagger and shield, and an evasion cloak to boost its survivability.  It's still a bit awkward though, as if I need a heal, it's probably more important for it to heal.  And if it's attacking with its dagger, it's not doing a ton of damage or anything.  I could give it a one-handed bow, but again, that wouldn't really do a ton of damage.  It's a weird unit.
Update: I've actually had a short discussion with the creator of the mod regarding the Familiar!  He says he hasn't gotten around to a full proper rework of the class and so right now it's a support-type unit with some mediocre stats, but also neat abilities, haha, which is sort of in line with what I figured out already.  I also discovered that besides faeries, you can also have gremlins (didn't realize for some reason they are a different race altogether) and pumpkinheads (!) become familiars, so perhaps I just have the wrong stats for the unit to be effective.  I'll have to try and recruit some more faeries/gremlins to see.

I've changed up my winged human Canopus, which uses the "Vartan" class, as well.  Canopus has a pretty great mobility advantage in that he can fly, which makes a huge difference in many maps.  Previously I just gave him a two-handed axe and called it a day, but unfortunately as I got further on into the campaign, that led to him flying into the enemy, getting a great attack in, and then dropping dead soon after since he was super exposed and didn't have much protection -- Vartan can't equip heavy armor!  I also realized that it didn't make quite the most sense (?) to equip him with a melee weapon as he can't equip heavy gauntlets, so he can only wear the armguards that boost dex.  It's a bit confusing because dex DOES still increase melee damage as well, just not as much (well, it depends on the weapon, really).  It would be great if he could use a 2-handed bow or crossbow, but that option ended up being overpowered so it's actually not allowed in the mod (good reasoning).  Instead of a 1-handed bow I've actually just gone ahead and given him a throwing weapon -- so still a dex weapon, and still 1-handed so he can have a shield, but does more damage than a bow at the expense of having less range...which works out because he can easily fly behind enemy lines and get up close to the squishy units at the back anyways.

Anyhow, I'm actually near the end of chapter 4 (on the "neutral" route) at the moment, ready to go into the hanging gardens and deal with the dark knights.  Not sure how long until the end of the game, but that's where things really start to get crazy as you can essentially newgame+ back to the other storylines and finish other sidequests and such.  There is like infinity hours worth of postgame content so...yeah, we'll see!

Melee Stuff

I've realized that I need to be a little more dilligent in what I am focusing on when I am playing, lest I just keep on doing the same silly bad things over and over.  My current biggest thing is working in empty jump -> grab into my game for all characters, but here's some other notes for things that I need to work on.

All characters:
- Stay shielding on a platform when they are below you, angle shield down, WAIT, don't just drop through asap
(I really suck at this situation right now, every time I prep for a shield drop and either get shieldpoked or fall into a waiting uptilt because I did a braindead timing)

- Empty jump grab
- Backthrow on platform to shield->shield drop uair
- Look for fsmash out of uthrow
- Uthrow to reverse fair
- Fsmash on tech away when under a platform
- Upair strings out of upthrow on FD
- Some random edgeguarding things

- Empty jump grab
- Upthrow -> use up on control stick to fulljump ff upair
- Upthrow -> drill reset

- Shinegrab
- More uptilt in neutral, and in combos

- Dthrow at edge -> REACT, either turnaround sh ff knee if close, or run out dj uair if far
(we'll see if i can get the actual timing right on the dj uair, if it keeps on clanking and they're too far to hit before starting, then maybe sh out is better than run off)
- Fastfall timing for sh knee to cover missed tech
(I miss this like every time right now and it sucks)
- WAIT before back sh knee to cover tech roll in

- Mixup between sh nair and run off dj nair to edgeguard
- Empty jump grab

- Waveland on platforms to catch techrolls
- Upthrow -> dash attack instead of trying to regrab
- A lot of float stuff

Other Stuff

Been itching to play Space Alert again at some point, haha.

Tried Baldur's Gate 2 multiplayer a bit...the BG2 interface definitely takes a bit of getting used to and...I feel like this is definitely a game that needs to be played singleplayer, really.  I feel like it also requires a lot of knowledge going in already, like if you don't know what all of these gajillion spells do, good luck trying to figure out how to use them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Things are not the best, and they have not been for quite some time.  As far back as January (http://ddrkirbyisq.blogspot.com/2018/01/blog-post_27.html) (http://ddrkirbyisq.blogspot.com/2018/01/i-dont-know-what-mistakes-i-am-making.html) even, and perhaps before that too.  For a while now I have known that I have been drifting further from who I want to be.  Part of it is inevitable...some things even if I tried, they would probably never come back to me.  But other things I know that I can reach again if I try.  And even if I can't, I still must try.  I have no choice; because that's just who I am.

I know, though, that I can do better.  I think I am on my way back...it feels that way already.  Things may not be the same as before once I finally reach back to the place, my place, the forest of life.  But I am on my way.  And I know I will get there, because I won't ever stop until I have reached it.

Sometimes, I realize and feel that the only thing I can do is to be better, to try harder.  To keep walking, unrelentingly, towards what I want, and have always wanted.  And to make the difficult choices along the way, of what to cast aside so that I can continue.  So that I can continue to remain the person I would like to be.

It's perhaps the first time in my life I have felt strongly that I have drifted so far away from what is right, from who I am.  But I have faith.  Faith that is built on nothing but my own fortitude.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

JaSmix 2018, Ludum Dare 42, More Tactics Ogre stuff

JaSmix 2018 was this past weekend, and was a great success!  Big thanks to everyone who came to the event, as well as the people who helped me make it all possible.  It was really satisfying to see all the planning and prep work that went into it pay off...it really looked like everybody was having a great time.  My classes went pretty alright too, all things considered!  Every time I teach I learn a little more, I think, about how to hold a workshop, keeping things going, and how to really convey and drill information down.  In any case, as I've written about before, my overall understanding of dance and partnering mechanics is a lot better than it used to be, so at the very least it's easier for me to drill down into what works and what doesn't and what are the important things to keep in mind and fix.

We had quite a good variety of workshops this year and I think 6 was a really good number to have!  Happy that that worked out since I have been conservative for the past 2 years with only 3 workshops each time.  Something that really struck me over the course of the day is just how much more comfortable and confident I have become with my own movement over the course of time.  That of course is mainly from social dancing, but also from glowsticking, and also my growth as a person too, perhaps.  It's really cool that social dance has provided a structure within which to practice and develop these things, I think.

Ever since last year I think, JaSmix has really become my most anticipated dance event of the year, haha, not really even close.  Viennese Ball of course is always really fun to see everybody and mingle, and Big Dance is great as a long-lived tradition that pulls out a good crowd of people, but I feel like JaSmix really focuses on social dance itself -- both improving and learning about it, and also having a lot of fun dancing to a night of great music.  There is a sort of very different energy when you're the one running an event, but at the same time it was intensely rewarding to see everyone out on the dance floor with such good energy.  Anyways, I'll definitely look forward to hosting it again next year.

And with that all squared away and in the books, the next thing to look towards is Ludum Dare 42!  Yeah...it's sort of one thing after another for me recently, haha.  Ludum Dare runs from Friday through Monday (this time with a new starting/ending time of 3:00PM instead of 6:00PM, which should be interesting), but I'll also be taking Thursday and Tuesday off, to give myself some much-needed respite and to recover from the craziness of LD and all that.  I still have some prep work to do for LD over the next two days -- setting up the project, testing a few things, making a post on the site, and of course the most important part: grocery shopping for snacks and food!  I really have no idea what will come out of LD this time; I'm sure we will work very hard on something, but I think it feels quite chill going into it since we don't really have any particular aspirations or goals going into the event.

Tactics Ogre has continued to keep me thoroughly occupied during train rides and such, which has been really great.  I ended up on the neutral route first, and am in the middle of chapter 3 at the moment.  I definitely have a good handful of units / classes which I have been completely ignoring, like a reptile whom I recruited and turned into a hoplite and then promptly proceeded to leave at level 1 and never use.  It's getting to be super overwhelming with the sheer number of classes and units, haha!  I also started recruiting a bunch of beast and dragon classes, but I decided to just focus on my Gryphon for now.  I've got that Gryphon up to level 10 after some light grinding, so that's great.  (my "core" classes are at lvl 14, with a handful of newer ones at 10-11)  Denam is still really kicking butt as a Ninja, haha.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Ugh.  Starting yesterday, apps can no longer post to your FB profile, so automatic posting through services like IFTTT is a thing of the past now.  For me that means we're back to the dark ages where every time I make a blog post (like this one) I have to manually crosspost it to FB.  The silver lining is that now I'll just be making link posts, which means no more people just reading my posts on FB directly...you're gonna have to actually read it on this site itself, which is really what you ought to have been doing the whole time.  The automatic copy-paste onto FB broke all the formatting, linebreaks, and hyperlinks, so it was a wonder I even kept that enabled.

I was kind of overwhelmed and in the pits earlier this week, but I managed to hit bottom and am on my way up again, hooray.  We're getting all set for JaSmix on Saturday and the waltz workshop is coming along and coming together finally; I just have to make sure I can run through everything smoothly without wasting a bunch of time.

Tactics Ogre has been super fun and I've basically been spending all of my morning train rides playing it, whoops!  I just recruited 5 (!) more characters so I really don't know what I'm doing with so many people, haha...I have some new classes that are pretty low level (Dragoon, Warlock, Swordmaster, ...) so I might have to farm some EXP for them otherwise they'll forever be stuck underleveled.  I just got past a pretty tough rescue mission that took a number of tries (one where 3 units start dead and you need to use lifeline gem on them or win the whole battle before their timers expire), phew.

Denam (the main unit) right now is a ninja; he has good movement and speed and does really great double-attack damage against squishies like mages, and not bad damage against monsters either.
Then I've got a handful of frontline melee units -- warrior, knight, berserker, terror knight, which are all mostly interchangeable.  I have two archers, which have varying utility based on the targets (not very good at dealing damage to tanks).  A priest and a familiar, which have been pretty crucial in the harder missions for the healing they provide.  A wizard, who mainly just throws around dark magic damage, and then two spellblades (rune funcers) who can attack but also cast helpful supportive buffs.  That's essentially my main squad for now , but we'll see if I can get all the other classes up to snuff and see how they perform.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Decadance Final Show Rehearsals

Lots of writing from me recently, I guess!

Tomorrow will be the 3rd day this week that I need to work from home in order to get to Decadance rehearsal on time.  Our show is this Saturday -- only two days away!  (tickets still available) It's been a weird mix of relaxing and stressing, as working from home is nice but the rehearsals are mentally tiring.  On the plus side, since I'm only doing 4-5 pieces they aren't so much physically tiring for me (thank you, past me!).

The show is really coming together now (and not a minute too soon), and I think it will be a really fun performance, and a fitting end to the group that has really done so many things over the years.  As I drove back from rehearsal tonight it really struck me how much this all reminds me of the old days of yore when I was in marching band.  The stress, the performing, the camaraderie, all of it.  Even though it's really tiring mentally, at the same time I'm actually really glad that I have this opportunity to relive a little bit of that feeling one more time.  And hey, as a plus side: I'm not part of the leadership this time!  So, no super stressing out for me, haha.

Let's hope for the best in getting through these next two days!

Art is Nourishment for Living

I have been watching a few, mm....how would you say...."heartfelt" (?) things recently.  I finished watching Uchuu Yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further than the Universe), and also watched Caracol Cruzando, (which my friend was an assistant animator for!).

A Place Further than the Universe was very slice of life, very heartwarming.  I think to me, now having watched through the entire thing, it didn't really feel like a story that was about one thing necessarily, just a slice of life / coming of age / journey story, more in general.  I think as a whole the show felt a little...unfocused because of that.  There were a couple of issues and/or themes that were revisited a number of times, like of course Shirase-san's feelings about her mother, but I think in comparison Hibike (my favorite love and gold standard for slice of life now) really drilled down into specific things in more depth, like different plot points that spanned several episodes, combined with very overarching character development, especially with Kumiko.  Ahh, Kumiko's arc throughout the whole show is really so amazing.  I really can't....ok, hold on, going to stop myself from just fangirling here.

Anyways, I think I expected more of that from Uchuu Yori mo Tooi Basho, so I think I got something a little different than what I anticipated.  But I did like some of the things they went through, especially the interactions between Hinata and Shirase, I think that was pretty real for me, seeing these two characters try to work it out despite having really different approaches to how they handle life.  I think that's something that's really important to be gained from these types of friendships, and also just in general spending time together with someone during trying situations.  Megumi and Kimari's relationship too, I felt that was really interesting.

I quite appreciated Shirase-san's relationship with her mother, I think it didn't really resolve in one concrete way or another, and was not heavy-handed, which I think is very real.  There were those few moments when Shirase really came face to face with her feelings, and those felt very real, I think.  Like the part where Shirase says she felt really "futsuu", almost too ordinary, about being in Antartica -- how she realized she didn't particularly feel anything super special, and was wondering how she felt about that, even though this was something she really wanted to achieve for so long.  But in the end when coming face to face with her feelings all over this time, it really hit hard.

I think it's really common to make stories about loss and the past that I just don't approve of how they get resolved, so it's nice to see yet another one that treats it with both the respect and the honesty that it does.  Shirase-san really shares quite some traits with me, like her "I'm just going to prove everybody wrong by working even harder" attitude, her combination of skill and clumsiness, competitive nature, and especially her dilligence in the way that she thinks about her goals and her past.  Despite that, her story surprisingly didn't feel like it was something I super related to, somehow.  I'm not sure why, really...I think it's quite subtle differences.  I think Shirase's story is about her chasing after her past, and needing to come to some sort of understanding about it, wanting to change things from the way they are.  Ultimately she needs to realize her own feelings -- not only the feelings she has, but also what feelings she would like to have towards the past.  I think it is less about her letting go or not letting go, or how she comes to terms with it, and perhaps more about figuring out what she feels, and how she would like to go on from there.  I don't know if what I'm saying makes sense or not.

But really the show is not about Shirase after all -- and I think it would be a quite different show if it were.  It's about a shared journey of these four girls, and I think it does that quite well.

Anyways, especially right now during some slightly stressful times for me, watching these things really reminds me of important things in life, about what I should not be taking for granted, and about people that are really important to me.  I think when you are just trudging step by step through the daily struggles of life, it is really important to have these stories and feelings in your life to remind you of really what is meaningful and what is not.  Because sometimes we would get too focused on putting one foot in front of the other again and again, and forget to look up at all of the beautiful things that are passing by all around us.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Happy times, yet stressful times.

I have certain been stressed over the past few days...no denying it, really.  The plus side is that even though there is stress, there is light in my life as well.

Our Decadance finale show is coming up in less than a week!  (tickets still available at https://decadance.yapsody.com/)  At this point I'm pretty grateful to past me that I only signed up for a small handful of pieces; it's a good amount for me to be performing.  Some of the rehearsals have been quite hectic so I am glad that I didn't bite off more than I can chew!  Apparently I am still stressed out about it though, because I definitely dreamed about being in the show / dress rehearsal last night with all sorts of things going wrong, agh.  I guess it didn't help that I was thinking about it a bit before bed, haha. *sweat*

JaSmix logistics are all done with, finally, so I can kick back and just look forward to enjoying the event!  ...and by that I mean stress out about the workshops I'm helping to teach.  It will be OK!...but it's hard to not fret about it until I am confident about exactly how I am going to cover everything.  It is going to be super fun though, especially the glowsticking one...actually all of our workshops this year should be really fun -- please come out and stop by! :D

I still have a little more tweaking to do for the setlist for that night -- mostly finding room to fit all the good stuff, lol.  But not so worried about that part, really.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together!!!  I have started playing it in earnest, playing it on PSP.  Important note is that I am actually not playing the vanilla version of the game -- instead I'm playing it with the "One Vision" mod, which basically rebalances the entire game and comes pretty highly recommended from fans of the game.  For all zero of you who can actually understand it, a consolidated changelist can be found in the post at the top of this thread.  Note that I have never played Tactics Ogre before, so reading through the changelist meant pretty much nothing to me at the time, but it seemed to be a good idea and nobody really recommended NOT playing with the mod, so it was a no-brainer.  From what I can tell, it basically rebalances the classes in a major way -- archers used to be really overpowered in the original game, apparently, and some other classes like terror knights were close to useless.  There are a lot of skills and such that have been switched around, which is a bit confusing when trying to read up on strategy because many of the tips that apply to the original game may no longer apply.  But it's all new to me anyways, so it's pretty fun discovering what all the different classes are about and all.

Tactics Ogre: LUCT is...really complicated, lol.  I'm not sure how much more complicated it is because I'm playing with this new mod, but compared to FFT it has been a lot harder to wrap my head around just what I should be doing and how damage and stats and status effects work and all.  On the plus side, it has been really fun slowly learning about all of the workings of the game and getting my footing around everything.  The battles and unit management definitely have significantly different feel from FFT, and that was definitely disorienting at first.  Battles are much more large-scale and terrain and unit formation really matters quite a bit more -- which is pretty cool actually.  The battles do drag on for a bit longer in general but you do get the sense of a war of attrition which is kind of cool.  And yeah, building units is really quite different.  There's less of the whole FFT aspect of "build your own combos" which I think is a net loss, but it's still pretty interesting anyways and I'm sure I'm doing a ton of things wrong already haha.

Overall though I am really happy I started playing it; it seems like it will keep me engaged for quite a while since there is just so much stuff to explore.  Not only in terms of the mechanics, classes, equipment decisions (which are very nontrivial!), but also there are branching story paths which you can replay in a sort of newgame+ style sense, etc etc.  So, look forward to more updates as I learn my way around the game a bit more.

I'm finally starting to get the hang of Peach in Melee!  I'm still sloppy as all heck, but I can at least play neutral of some sort and I have been understanding some more key interactions and such.  She's really quite fun!  One thing that I realize I need to focus on is threatening more tricky grabs as different characters, so I think that should be my focus at the moment.  That includes just running up and raw dashgrabbing them as Peach, but also shinegrabs as spacies, and empty hop grabs as well as wavelanding onto platforms and grabbing.

This week will be perhaps a hectic week for me with all the stuff coming up.  But I am thankful for the light in my life.  Whether it is friends, or meowmies, or just some simple moments spent alone by myself.  These things will carry me through, I know.

Monday, July 16, 2018