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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

For those of you who do not already know, Princess Kaguya is the film that has affected me more than any other, and has a special place in my heart for the meaning it has.  It is in a sense, a difficult movie to explain, how it affects me so deeply, and how it really feels like it reaches you to the core.  It also seems to be rather hit-or-miss with people; some really get it, others may not.  It's certainly been responsible for a lion's share of crying, in any case.


Somehow despite always saying that Princess Kaguya is not a movie I can watch lightly, I found myself watching it for the =fourth= time the other day.  I am really glad that I did, though.  This movie, more than perhaps anything else, really reminds me of what is important in life.  On this particular viewing, especially, not only did I feel sad in this indescribable, soul-crushing way, but I actually felt compelled to really take responsibility for those things that are important to me, and to do a better job, lest I keep running away from them forever.

There have been other works, of course, that make me feel similar things.  As cliche as it might be to some, Undertale really did make me think about....well, maybe not so much "being a better person", but rather, relations with others, developing friendships in different ways, and forgiveness.  And of course Brave really forced me to confront family issues -- issues that before then I was convinced had no nice solution...so I shoved them into the corner best I could, since I could not see how else to deal with them.

But Princess Kaguya really affected me over the past few days, it feels like.  That it put even daily life things into perspective, and I realized just how silly it was to worry about certain things, when there are so much more important things for me to think about.

Recently I think the things I have been thinking about the most are regaining my "former self" -- "being Timm[ie]" -- as well as the way I interact with others.

Regaining my self is something that is long overdue, I think.  But I think I'm really ready to try living up to it.  It is not something that can be flipped on and off like a switch, but rather an ethos to live my daily life by.  But I hope that I can think about what I have done with these fleeting days of my life, and think to myself, "yes, this is me, as I should be."

It is easy to think of yourself as the best, and to pretend, to act, that you are invincible.  But it is just as easy to think of yourself as the worst, and to act as though you have nothing to lose.  But neither is true.  Both are lies, and in the end they would still hurt you, just in different ways.  Not just through self-deprecation, but the denial of honesty and vulnerability, in the name of a false sense of humility.

The first step towards improvement is acknowledging that you need to improve, yes.  But the second step towards improvement is allowing yourself the grace to fail and learn.  To want to improve, not because you are tired and afraid of failing, but because you would like to learn.

It's something that I am only now really beginning to confront.  I'm really not sure why it suddenly became more important to me.  I think, after all is said and done, regaining my former sense of self is more important to me, of course.  But I really think it would be nice, to be able to truly communicate with others, honestly, and to help each other in this shared human condition.  Whether it be West Coast Swing, Melee, teaching, socializing, planning...just anything.  I hope that someday I might have the courage to put myself forward and say "This is me; all of me.  And I accept you, as I hope you will accept me."

A third Meowmie -- Butternut -- has been added to the family, though she has not properly "joined the pride", as we say, haha.  Together with the fat baby quails, it has become quite a lively place.  These Meowmies have really taught me immensely about life; it's really amazing.  Lavi, Kaya, Mocha, and Goodnight Meowmie...I really have started to think about and value things differently because of these cuties.  I used to always maintain a safe distance.  But I think finally I am ready to face the world without this shell of mine.

I'll always keep it safe with me, though.  Always.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Mm, yes, it's time for another update.

After being "interesting", work is actually going fairly well for me at the moment, which is really nice, actually.  I'm grateful.

I've put FFTA to rest, haha.  I went through and finished off the main storyline missions (while doing random other missions here and there), and there's no real reason for me to go and complete any of the other content in the game, as I already outlined in my previous post.  A bit of a shame, really, but that means that it's time to move onto something like Tactics Ogre, or even Baldur's Gate 2 (lol!).  Or, I could always be good and actually just continue dev work on Rhythm Quest, too...

Finished up another song!  So that's good.  Always good to get things done...it is nourishment for my life, I think.

Speaking of trying to get things done, JaSmix planning continues!  I think we've got our workshop lineup set, and yesterday I basically finished putting together the set list.  Since last year I've forgotten just how exciting it is to play music at an event...I guess I just have strong feelings about what makes good dance music.  As for my own workshop planning, it's coming along...I hope I can do justice to what I am trying to cover.

I've finished watching Houseki no Kuni, which was pretty cool, though not overwhelmingly so.  That means it's time to get back to Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, which I sort of left hanging midway through (whoops).  I'm excited!

Life is...in an ok place.  I think the day-to-day grind is getting better, potentially even enough to not be called a "grind" anymore.  I definitely feel a sort of spiritual and emotional discontent, but that is not quite so uncommon after all.  There are still some deep issues that I still carry with me...and I don't mean the ones that I never want to let go of, either.  Being the person you really want to be is a slow process that takes time, failure, and the willingness to embrace that failure.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

FFTA vs FFT

Can't sleep...I guess I might as well try to be productive for once.  Maybe I can reclaim a little bit of those late night feelings from before, when I was more...myself.


Work is..."interesting".  (again lol)

Our date for JaSmix finally got confirmed, phew!  Now all I have to stress out about is the workshops.  orz...it never ends.  But I really do want the event to go well; it has really come to mean a lot to me I think.  Let's hope it all comes together.



An update is in order about Final Fantasy Tactics Advance!  I have been sinking quite a lot of time into this game (less than the save file shows though, because I've been making VERY liberal use of fast-forwarding)...

Probably the funnest part of these types of games for me is planning for the future and doing all this thinking about how I want my progression to go.  It's for that same reason that I love the character creation and stat distribution challenges in System Shock 2 so much.  So naturally, the first thing I did when it came to FFTA was to plan out how I wanted my core squad of 6 to go.

I'll get into my core squad in a second, but before that, I should talk about how I struggled for quite some time on just how I wanted to play FFTA -- namely, how much of a perfectionist I wanted to be.  I started off the game truly playing for perfection: I did some early game shenanigans and grinding clan levels without actually getting character levels (via abuse of the recruitment quests) to get the cinquedea for Steal: Ability purposes, and did save-state abuse to make sure I got core squad members with really good Speed stats (the most important stat in the game is speed).

Ideally if you're super playing for perfection you actually want most of your other non-core members to stay as low level as possible (e.g. having a whole clan of lvl 2 chars other than your main 6).  That's because new recruited characters join your party with your party's average char level, and if you want great stats, you want to level people up in the right jobs.  You can't get a lot of the secret characters until way later in the game, at which point your core squad will have a bunch of experience through battles.  So ideally you want to have a low average clan level despite that (via all these lvl 2 dumb characters) so that the secret characters will join your party at a low level.

So I filled out my squad with low-leveled characters.  But I think the most ridiculous thing is that I started trying to really maximize my core squad's stats by changing people's jobs to the best stat-growth jobs every time before they leveled up.  I kept that up for quite some time, and it gets even more complicated because you don't even have access to the best stat growth jobs at first, because you need to learn abilities from basic jobs to unlock them.  So you need to pick from the jobs that you have available to you that still have good stat growth.  Actually, if you wanted to REALLY be perfectionistic, for all the human characters you'd use Steal: Ability to learn the prereqs, and for the other classes you'd send them on repeatable dispatch missions to grind AP.

Ugh!  So that was getting to be a ton of effort, and the main problem was that I wasn't finding it worth it.  I think if I was replaying FFT again, then things would be a different story, because FFT is simply awesome, bar-none.  But through this second go at FFTA, I now realize just what makes FFTA lackluster in comparison:

1) This may seem trivial, but it's not: The interface for managing and purchasing equipment is way more awkward than in FFT.  There is no "automatically equip with best recommended equipment", and even the mechanism for comparing stat boosts is awkward (you have to hold the start button?).  Worst of all when you go to the store, there's no "fitting room" feature like in FFT where you can shop for and equip new items all in the same flow.  Instead you go to the buy page and if you are buying weapons, you scroll through this GINORMOUS list of all the purchasable weapons for EVERY class.  And if you want to know which class can use a particular weapon, you have to go through the weapon's description, and then press select to open yet another separate screen!  Ugh!
2) Laws are not a fun mechanic and don't add anything to the game, really (besides plot and story relevance).  There's basically no reason to ever break them and they are so narrow that it doesn't really affect combat in a significant way except punishing you when you forgot to check what laws are in effect.
3) Having ability learning tied to equipment is an interesting idea, but in practice it means choosing abilities to learn and go for is less interesting (because you often don't have access to the really good skills in the first place, so you have much fewer choices), and it also means you more or less choose equipment based on the abilities you want to learn, so the actual equipment stats and boosts don't matter as much anymore.
4) The job system honestly feels much weaker and the job abilities in general are not nearly as exciting.  There are definitely some interesting combos for sure, like a paladin (able to use good swords) with the hunt ability, which includes "sonic boom" which is an AoE ranged attack that uses your weapon damage.  But in general not a ton of synergy, and not even a ton of good tradeoffs in terms of the best support and reaction abilities.  There are no movement skills to learn either -- instead replaced by combo abilities, which are not really important at all.
5) The battles are generally a walk in the park -- completely opposite to FFT, where even with good character builds was challenging.  Which I guess is good because...
6) The mission system really is quite tedious at times.  Dispatch missions were really not an interesting segment of FFT and it feels like over half this game is dealing with those.  I guess it is nice that you can now walk around the map while avoiding random encounters...but the encounters in FFT =were= what made the game so enjoyable to play in the first place!  All of these different missions also means it's incredibly hard to keep track of what you need to be stealing in order to not miss anything (I already missed a weapon you need to steal).  To make things worse, you really DO need to make sure you are stealing the right gear, because having the right gear ALSO means being able to learn the right abilities!
7) Lack of cool special classes is also something that is being missed -- I know some in FFT were basically duds (looking at you, Rafa and Malak!), but it was super fun getting to play with Agrias, right?  And deciding how to build her as well.
8) The whole race system SEEMS like a cool idea, and it is...but in actuality, it means =less= versatility and way less possibilities for combining abilities between different classes.  In FFT some of the coolest characters were the ones that combined job traits from entirely different job trees -- for example a character that learned all of the Samurai abilities, but then turned into a Black Mage -- Samurai are down the fighter-type job tree, but their abilities use your MAtk stat.  Those abilities are normally pretty lackluster but all of a sudden if you're a black mage with tons of magic attack power, they become super amazing!  Then you also combine that with the Samurai's reaction ability to evade all physical attacks, and it's an awesome class, though it requires a bunch of effort.  And then there's other crazy things, like making Agrias into a Geomancer so that you can learn Attack Boost, which she can then use to great effect because it applies to her Holy Sword abilities.  With the race system in FFTA there are way less job choices for any given character, which just serves to reduce the possibilities of these kinds of crazy things.  Besides things like doublecast + summon, there really isn't that much that's super exciting.
9) Abilities in general are just not that interesting.  It feels like each class has only a few abilities that are any use at all, and a bunch of the abilities are the same but just with different elements.  In FFT we had things like the Monk kit, which had healing (chakra), revive, ranged damage (wave fist), and super ranged damage (earth fist).  Very cool, very versatile.  In FFTA all of the fighter classes for Human, Bangaa, AND Moogle are basically carbon copies, sometimes with literally the same effect (one ability that does extra damage at low accuracy and another that does small damage with high accuracy).  And then you get gunner, gladiator, etc etc that have "bolt sword, ice sword, fire sword" which all do the same thing.  Those would be super useful if elemental weaknesses were super prevalent, but they're not!  In FFT you used fire magic against undead skeletons, for example, because it was really effective against them.  But in FFTA there aren't as many situations where it's useful.

Anyways...DESPITE all that rambling, I'm actually having an ok time so far, now that I've given up on being a super perfectionist (now I'm just being "reasonable").  Basically, it doesn't make sense for me to try to be perfect if in the end I'm not going to care about the game a ton anyways...

So with that all said, here's my core squad:

Marche
Paladin
Ability: Hunt
Support: Concentrate
Reaction: Counter
As I mentioned, Paladin + Hunt is a pretty good combo as Sonic Boom is pretty great with the better swords.  Concentrate is (uninterestingly) probably the best support ability for physical classes (+50% accuracy boost), and counter is much the same.  See how uninteresting things are already?  It's worth noting that because you can't stat-manipulate Marche (the main character), he actually is the slowest of the core group and ends up having the worst stats...lol.

Human
Ninja
Ability: Blue Magic
Support: Concentrate
Reaction: Counter
Another human, another concentrate + counter combo.  Whoop de doo.  Blue magic is pretty versatile though, so that's cool.  Ninja actually doesn't give you any good A-skills at all (some very weak utility abilities), but this guy is a ninja because that's the best class to level in as a human.  He equips steal when need be (marche and the moogle do as well).

Viera
Assassin
Ability: Summon
Support: Concentrate
Reaction: Reflex
Assassins are supposed to be really good, so I wanted to have my Viera be an assassin (though I'm having second thoughts now, since doublecast + summon seems really tempting).  So far summon hasn't actually been super useful, although casting regen on everyone has been nice.  The problem is that none of the A-ability sets work very well with assassin.  Maybe doublecast is worth going for after all...

Bangaa
Templar
Ability: Spellblade Tech
Support: Weapon Atk+
Reaction: Counter
Again, this is pretty boring.  This guy is mainly a Templar so he can equip good weapons...Templar does get access to haste and some other nice abilities, but let's be honest, you really just want to run up to people and whack them.  Spellblade tech gives you some nice attacking abilities (fire sword, ice sword, etc), but again, it's really just an alternative attack.

Nu Mou
Sage
Ability: White Magic
Support: Turbo MP
Reaction: Reflex
Sage offers the best damage-dealing spells, which means black magic is kind of redundant, so I'm switching this guy to white magic instead maybe?

Moogle
Gunner
Ability: Charge
Support: Concentrate
Reaction: Counter
This is so you can have ultima charge with a long-ranged gun, which should be a fun combo....once his MP gets high enough so that he can actually cast it!

So yeah, in conclusion...FFT is amazing!  And we all understand now why FFTA isn't.

After this I may actually try out Tactics Ogre...it has a PSP port so I might whip out the very same PSP that I used to play FFT...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

On the plus side, my rash is healing...

On the other hand, I'm super sick.  Also allergies =(

myemie

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Future We Wanted

Ok, last time posting about this.  I just have a bookmark to it on my notes document because I feel like I wanted to say =something= about it, but honestly, what can I say that would mean more than simply reading it properly?

This is a piece by Leigh Alexander called "The Future We Wanted".  I've been following Leigh for quite some time, even back from when she was doing a lot of games journalism.  This is by far my favorite thing she's ever written.  It speaks to...ok, well, half of you have already guessed it by now, but yes, it speaks about the past.

"I’m in, I whispered. But I knew she would never be there again."

Things are alright, I guess.  I have a rash of some sort though, will get it checked out tomorrow morning. -_-  bleh.

Over the past few days I played through ESC, an interactive novel by Lena Raine (composer for Celeste).  It was pretty enjoyable and interesting!  Definitely a story with many layers, and I quite liked it.  Always nice to see interactive novels done right, since as you may know there are a ton of them with...shall we say, less-than-stellar writing quality.

Other than that, been doing more work on music this week/weekend...I have a commission project that I'm finally making headway on, and some other stuff that I'm trying to make progress on as well.

Work work has been pretty alright recently, actually, which is good.  Feels like I have been getting into a pretty regular routine of making my standard saute of rice, mushrooms, onion/shallot, and sausage for lunch every other day, but maybe this week I should change it up a bit; have not used the toaster oven at work much, so maybe I ought to be cooking some more fish fillets or even just sandwiches.  I did try a different type of instant noodle (tofu + bean thread noodles?) on friday with some frozen dumplings added in, which turned out alright.

Dance was interesting on Friday, I think somehow perhaps both fun and not fun at the same time.  Hard to explain, really.  It's like that sometimes, as I've written countless times before.  But in the midst of the darkness, there was a light that was shared.

Been contemplating starting up my playthrough of FFTA...haha...we'll see if I really pull the trigger on that one, or if I decide to do something else instead like Mother 3.

I got asked to DJ at FNW, lol, so I guess that is a thing.  Shouldn't be too hard as I already have to put together music for JaSmix and a different event too.  Speaking of which, we still haven't nailed down the date for JaSmix, but hoping that happens soon.  Bleh.

Have been focusing a lot of Falcon in melee these days, trying to get used to all of the canonical ways to read techrolls and edgeguard and such.  The thing that stands out to me most at the moment is covering missed tech / tech in place with knee; I still get the weak knee a lot of the time which is disappointing.  Well, I'll get it eventually.

I dunno...stuff.

Friday, June 15, 2018

I wish the rain would fall and fall, and block out everything in this world outside of my safe space.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Personality Types (2018)

It's been a while, so I thought I'd go and retake some personality tests and see how my results are doing.


MBTI

From https://www.16personalities.com:
24% Extraverted - 76% Introverted
28% Intuition - 72% Sensing
19% Thinking - 81% Feeling
100% Judging - 0% Prospecting (lol!)
(40% Assertive - 60% Turbulent)

From http://similarminds.com:
My last recorded results that I can find are from way back in Dec 2011.  The results from back then:
Introverted (I) 75.76% Extroverted (E) 24.24%
Sensing (S) 64.1% Intuitive (N) 35.9%
Feeling (F) 66.67% Thinking (T) 33.33%
Judging (J) 75% Perceiving (P) 25%

Apparently the questions on this test are really bad for me now because:
Extroverted (E) 50% Introverted (I) 47%
Sensing (S) 72% Intuitive (N) 28%
Thinking (T) 62% Feeling (F) 42%
Judging (J) 93% Perceiving (P) 20%
Which types me as an ESTJ, which is completely off-base, lol.

Let's try one more, for fun:
From http://www3.psychcentral.com:
25% Extraverted - 75% Introverted
34% Intuition - 66% Sensing
46% Thinking - 54% Feeling
19% Perceiving - 71% Judging

My MBTI type as an ISFJ is rock solid though; that's really not ever going anywhere.  I think the exception is that for a lot of these tests I can imagine showing as more Extraverted since I am a lot more comfortable with social situations now.  They are definitely not energizing to me though; when I am stressed or in a bad place the last thing I want to do is interact with other people in a social setting.

Enneagram

From https://www.eclecticenergies.com:
Type 4 - 12
Type 1 - 10.7
Type 2 - 8.7
Type 6 - 6.7
Type 3 - 6.4
Type 5 - 5

I guess my Enneagram is sort of all over the place nowadays.  The last results I have are from Feb 2011, and look like this:
Type 6 - 8
Type 2 - 6
Type 4 - 5
Type 9 - 5
Type 5 - 4
Type 1 - 3
Type 7 - 2
Type 3 - 2
Type 8 - 1

Before that I identified super strongly as a Type 2 (Helper / Giver), and really was that type of person actually, to a fault.  Actually, Type 4's direction of integration/growth is supposed to be 4, which curiously is my highest score currently.  Seems too good to be true...maybe?  I do feel like I am more self-nurturing/aware than I used to be...

Reading over the type descriptions, I honestly still feel like Type 2 is the only one that really fits (???), but I think it is worth taking a moment to see what has changed that makes it a bit less obvious than it used to be.

I think before, when I was waiting for "those wings to lift me gently from the stream", as Kiki said, I was always felt with an intense desire to be loved, and to generously give to others in an effort to establish my self-value and in hopes of fulfilling that desire.  One of the biggest differences between me now and the me of 7 years ago is that I no longer feel an overwhelming fear of being and abandoned and unloved.  Of course, I still fear change/loss, and also failure, and I think the core fear of worthlessness (your failure makes you worthless and unloved) still speaks to me.  But I think

Still, type 6 being called the "Loyalist" makes me drawn to it by title alone, haha.  Consistency above all else...yes, I love consistency.  Maybe I could be a type 6 after all.  Who knows?  I don't...I could be a type 4?  Blah.

Ocean / Big 5

From http://www.outofservice.com:
My last recorded results for this are from way back in Dec 2011.  Here are the changes:
Openness          30 -> 24
Conscientiousness 97 -> 100
Extraversion       1 -> 1
Agreeableness     74 -> 82
Neuroticism       14 -> 95 (!)

That 100% Conscientiousness and 1% Extraversion, lol!  I love it.  I didn't actually expect to get 1% for extraversion because I honestly feel like I've become =significantly= more outgoing and sociable in the past 7 years, but hey, I'll take it.  The real shocker here is how the heck I managed to go from 14% Neuroticism to 95% when in reality it feels like it should have been the other way around!

I guess what this really is pointing to is the fact that in the past even though I was having a lot of hard times, I would generally keep it under wraps and stay "calm".  I feel like back in those years, I was very much this presence that was very quiet and reserved, yet also had a lot of issues bubbling up within.  Kiki described it very well when she said that "While you were quiet and sometimes a very calming presence, I remember you were quite loud inside that fragile body, with a wildly beating heart, wondering when someone else's wings would fold around your shoulders and lift you gently from the stream."  I am definitely less calm in that particular manner nowadays (e.g. I am way more laid-back instead of being very reserved)...perhaps I am just more aware of my own lapses of judgment and failures of character...before I probably was not even ready to confront them, but now I am pretty aware of the fact that I still really have problems dealing with failure, etc. etc.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Things have more or less just been continuing on as usual...for better or for worse.

Bathroom remodeling is finally starting to wrap up -- my bathroom and shower are functional again now, woo!

We posted about and shared our final version of Goodnight Meowmie, and are very thankful to everyone who took the time to play it.  I am still finishing up the post-mortem (I had a lot to say), but that should be up soon as well.

I had to deal with annoying issues at work for most of the week this past week, so that was myemie.  Maybe next week will be a bit better.

Made Okonomiyaki on Thursday, which turned out pretty successful!  Seems like that one will be a useful recipe to try out again.

Planning for JaSmix continues to crawl forward at a slow pace.  Hopefully we can nail down all the logistics and then I can start to stress out about what the hell to teach.  ugh.

I'm back at it with doing commission work!  Trying to knock a commission out of the way over the next month or so, so that is pretty exciting I guess.

Overall things are...ok, I guess.  I don't know, really. =/

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fanime 2018

Ugh, life.  Ok, let's get to it...

Fanime 2018

Fanime was this past weekend and it was a pretty fun one!  Fanime seems to have a different storyline for me each year -- last year, for example, was characterized by a lack of plans and a lot of just hanging out, but also by going to see aivisura perform and staying through B&W ball for the whole time with the rest of the Stanford crew.  This year it seems that the narrative was just taking it super easy and not really doing that much at all.  It was quite a different Fanime experience than I'm traditionally used to, but not bad by any means; in fact I was quite happy with how it went.

Wore the Journey cosplay to Fanime for what seems like the umpteenth time -- since VBall I've been a fully embroidered red cloak!  Next year I'll be adding more to the sleeves, I think...anyhow, I actually never bothered to put on the hood + mask once throughout the entire weekend -- next time I'll probably not even bother bringing it, unless by some small miracle I find it in myself to make another (not so scrappy) one.  I did meet one fellow Journeyer at con and ran into them once or twice throughout the weekend, so that was nice!  Other than that, people liked the costume a lot; someone even just came up and wanted to give me a hug, haha.  Oh, also!  For the first time I had a complete stranger recognize who I was and they told me they were a fan of my music.  So that was pretty awesome.  I've often had people from different slices of my life know the other parts of me, like people whom I meet through dance who happened to know of my music or whatever, but this was the first time a fan of mine just out of the blue recognized who I was.

Went to the Joe Hisaishi concert on Friday and aivisura's performance on Saturday!  Honestly I was way more pumped for aivisura's set, but I guess that's not surprising since I really love their music.  The Hisaishi concert did have some quite nice moments though.  aivisura played a few SU songs, they did their Yuri on Ice cover again which was really great (I still remember getting chills the first time they performed it), and then they also played Diamond Dove, Lonely Rolling Star, and ended with an encore performance of Here's How, which I totally called from a mile away, hahaha.  It was great getting to hear Lonely Rolling Star again and Here's How is such a great live piece, it's always fun.  Also, either it was just me, or Surasshu really leveled up his game!  He sounded so much more confident compared to the first time...good stuff!  Also, I've always been a fan of the aivisura sound in general but this concert gave me another chance to re-appreciate surasshu's drum sequencing -- it's something that I'll probably try and take a few notes from in the future.

No TGM in the gaming hall this year!  Which probably contributed a lot to the fact that I didn't have a ton of stuff to do, haha.  There were a bunch of Melee setups though, and I pulled out my laptop and ran faster melee for a while.  Played a bunch of friendlies with a random Marth main who was there, which was pretty fun, and got to play with some friends too.  No Bishi Bashi or 3rd Strike or anything like that either, but the most random thing they had there was a machine of...KeyboardMania!  Wow!  That's definitely something I didn't expect.  The machine was completely inaudible and neither me nor my friend had headphones so the only way I could hear any of the music was to put my head awkwardly right next to the speaker, but it was still sort of fun anyways, especially when we decided to try a really hard song and both try to "help" each other on the same side -- after 3 tries, we passed in the end!  They had the staples there too -- IIDX and PopN and everything, but it was free play and long lines, so bleh.  It was actually a shame they didn't have some random shmups or metal slug or whatever for me and my friend to goof off on, but whatever.

Let's see...what else...the Roti Canai at IPOH Garden was pretty yummy and there was this running joke about going back there and just continually eating more Roti Canai but in the end we actually never did.  Good to remember that option for future years, though!  The weather was actually pretty nice for the whole weekend -- was cloudy for the first half which was quite nice, until Sunday when the sun came out, but I didn't spend all that much time outside so it was just fine.

Perhaps the thing that struck me most about this time at Fanime was just how many different people and friends I ran into at con that I knew from various places.  I had friends from social dance, friends I knew from music production, and in general just lots of different sets of people; I was impressed by how many people I knew that were all at the same event; I didn't even run into quite all of them either.

Most disappointing thing was definitely the Stardew Valley cosplay "gathering", which aside from a nice Harvey, was unfortunately basically empty.  Whelp...

My loot haul was small yet good!  I got 3 different letter sets -- a Little Twin Stars one from Swap Meet (just $3!!!), and two others (Little Prince!) from Artist's Alley.  I also bought a nice microfiber cloth, also from Artist's Alley, which I'll probably use as a gift since I already have my Little Twin Stars microfiber cloths (thanks BZ!).  I saw some big Cinnamoroll plushies for sale in the Dealer's Hall which made me happy -- of course I had no need for them as I already have my very own big Cinnamon at home, but still nice to see Cinnamoroll getting more love.

As far as other people's cosplays go, probably the most notable ones were:

- A really awesome genderbent Moana (as a guy) + Maui (as a girl)
- Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo!  Wow, did not expect to see her cosplayed!
- A whole gang of chefs from OverCooked
- Apparently there were a few other Gakkou Gurashi cosplayers too, whom I unfortunately did not run into, but that is super awesome!  Gakkou Gurashi <3
- A really giant Totoro

and there was also this guy in the Gaming Hall that looked uncannily like my brother. O_o  Seriously though, he totally looks like it...

Anyhow, that about wraps it up.  Pretty fun times and getting to top it off with the GCC dance on Sunday was pretty fun as well (that meant no B&W Ball for me this year).  Despite not staying at con super long each day, everything must have added up because Sunday night I slept for like 12-13 hours lol.  It was glorious.

Other Life Stuff

Unfortunately my respite was a bit short-lived as I went right back into the grind with more on my plate than I'd like...Monday I finally got around to doing a clean reinstall of windows (server 2016) on my desktop to fix some issues that popped up ever since the upgrade from ws2012.  I ran into a couple hiccups but things are more or less running smoothly again now, though I haven't brought =everything= back online yet.  I'm still trying to get the bottom of this strange issue where SSD access seems to slow down after extended usage, but it's not consistent and disappears after a clean reboot so it's difficult to track.  Hopefully I'll be able to track it down or it'll go away on its own...

We are finally more or less done with Goodnight Meowmie (v2.02), though I still need to finish writing the post-mortem report and make some gifs for promotion and all that.  Hopefully I can make that one less thing to worry about soon -- already got too much to sort out with all the other stuff I need to do.

As an aside, I'm actually feeling strangely unconfident about my music production recently, as I feel like it's been a while since I've properly felt really "in the flow" of things on that side.  I think part of it is I've done some more intellectual projects and need to get back into the swing of just going with my first instinct and not second-guessing myself or trying to plan for anything.  Well, nothing I can really do about that at the moment, though.



Monday, May 21, 2018

On Ludum Dare

While we're on the subject of Ludum Dare, I should take a moment to give an update on my general feelings toward the jam as a whole, and its (arguably) inarguable blend of awesomeness and mediocrity.

Ludum Dare has always been one of the biggest and most popular game jams, behind Global Game Jam with just over 3,000 entries being submitted for the latest round (GGJ meanwhile has had over 8,000).  LD is quite a different beast than GGJ though -- while Global Game Jam is very structured and involves going to an actual official in-person jam "site" with an organizer running the whole thing, Ludum Dare is this big asynchronous reddit-style mismash that just happens online.  It's coordinated and run by one person (!) and you can do it from anywhere you want -- usually from the peace and comfort of your own home.

The decentralized and lax nature of Ludum Dare has always simultaneously been one of its greatest strengths as well as its largest flaw.  Ludum Dare is super lax and basically anybody can do it.  Yes, there are rules and restrictions (don't steal content, etc.), but there are no prizes and there's no real hard enforcement of the rules.  In fact, since the #1 priority of the entire jam is around people just having fun making games ("your game IS your prize"), there are explicit exceptions made to the rules!  Need to update your game after the deadline to patch up some silly bugs?  Sure!  (Legally) using third-party assets in your game?  Go ahead -- just make sure you opt-out so you aren't included in the respective categories.  And it's for this exact reason that Ludum Dare is great for me -- making a game in a weekend is hard enough by itself, so I really don't want to have to worry about anything else at the same time.  I'm sure GGJ is a great experience, but don't want to go and meet new people and worry about moving my setup to a site and blahblahblah...I really just want to jam on games, by myself or with my best friend.

Ludum Dare is =far= from the only game jam of its kind, but it's the biggest and most well-known.  And really, the whole point of a game jam (versus just choosing a weekend to go off and make a game by your lonesome) is to have a community of people coming together, sharing games, playing each others' games, and giving feedback.  And Ludum Dare really does do that.

That said, Ludum Dare has had quite its fair share of......"issues" in recent years.  From changing to a new website (which many will probably agree is still really mediocre), numerous complaints about organization and administration (remember, LD is run by ONE person!), and more recently, rule violations and allegations of voting abuse, Ludum Dare...honestly could be better.  Ratings feel like a flip of the coin sometimes and this year we had *category winners* that were being ranked #1 in audio, graphics, mood, when they didn't actually create their own content.  ("Wow this music is better than anything else I've heard in all of LD!" ... well, it's also a professional studio album ripped off of SoundCloud that wasn't made during the jam...)

Now, I understand that things will definitely slip through the cracks sometimes -- heck, I've even had to make some small exceptions for myself too.  I think it'd be a mistake to hold people to the letter of the law instead of worrying more about the spirit of the jam itself.  But clearly things could be a bit better.  When people don't even realize they are breaking the rules, that's a bit sad.  When voters also don't realize those people are breaking the rules, it's also sad.  I've done my part as a proper LD citizen and called several people out on their third-party assets -- usually these people actually credit the original source in their game descriptions.  That's always been met with sincere apologies, and the team or individual in question opts out of the appropriate category after I point them to the rules.  Why does this continue to be a thing?  The website has very poor usability; adding multiple people to a team and submitting a jam game together is terribly unintuitive.  There's no search function!!!  If I want to find a game's page on LD by title I literally have to use Google.  The results page is way more confusing than it used to be.  Basically almost everything was better on the old site -- though I understand that the old site was also running on super outdated technology (wordpress???) and simply needed to be replaced at some point.  Still, it's sad that we just have so many issues, after more than a year on the new site.

But it's important to remember again, that LD has sprawled out into a big mess and despite the good citizens of LD's best intents (shoutout to all you good LD citizens; you guys are great), there really isn't anything that the community as a whole can do to fix it.  It's just in the very nature, structure, and foundation of LD to be that way.  It's not run by some organization, it doesn't have funding -- it's literally just one guy's hobby.  Random people from the community can make all the posts they want about how they want to help, or could do a way better job, or whatever...but there's no way a huge decentralized community is going to effect any meaningful change -- it'd be like Reddit trying to get together to write a novel (or think Twitch Plays Pokemon).  In the end, there's no way to call the shots and really effect change without a core person or group.  Could I imagine a stronger core running LD?  Absolutely.  But that's just not the world we live in.

Despite all its shortcomings, though, LD still really does serve my needs as a game jam.  It gives me an excellent excuse to craft my art, and it provides a community of people who will actually go and try your game and provide feedback.  Sure, the site...kinda sucks a bit...and really the whole thing ought to be run better...but I can deal with that.  Probably the most relevant downside of LD for me is that the ratings are really a crapshoot, and that can feel invalidating at times, but even that's really not so bad now that I've sort of "been there, done that", so to speak.  It's also a shame that LD suffered in popularity due to its more mediocre aspects.  But LD is still a great time for me.  I've made *22 games* for Ludum Dare, and each time it's been a blast, and super fulfilling.  For that I'm thankful, and hope that it will continue to be a great experience (while also hoping that it can get its stuff together someday, haha).



"...but if there's a time when everything can go back to the way it was, that'll be great.
I hope things don't change anymore.
Because the most important is the memories.
I don't want a future.
So even though I'm here right now, there's no meaning to it.
If everything goes back to the way it was,
then maybe I'll disappear.
There's no meaning to my current existence.  As I could disappear at any time."
--Ritsuka, Loveless 2



Thursday, May 17, 2018

LD41 results, Goodnight Meowmie, Big Dance 2018, OHC500, etc.

I am fearful of everything
thorns pushing in from all directions
With an outstretched hand, you
reach out to me and remind me
what it feels like to be home

Ludum Dare results and Goodnight Meowmie

Before we knew it, Ludum Dare 41 results were out, and though I did not get as much of a chance to play and rate other games as I would have liked, we at least got a good number of people who played our game (~57 ratings).

I'll be writing up a full post-mortem reflecting on the process and result of the game, but these were our results from the voting:

Overall:    14th  (4.352 average from 56 ratings)
Fun:        276th (3.645 average from 57 ratings)
Innovation: 217th (3.773 average from 57 ratings)
Theme:      115th (4.236 average from 57 ratings)
Graphics:   42nd  (4.500 average from 57 ratings)
Audio:      4th   (4.509 average from 55 ratings)
Mood:       2nd   (4.574 average from 56 ratings - highest ever!)

Average Score: 4.23

We have still not promoted or linked to Goodnight Meowmie as we are still at work revising some key parts of the game.  The current version as it stands is fine, and was well received; however there are actually some important things that it does not really do justice to.  I'm not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the road, Goodnight Meowmie actually became an intensely personal project for me and I think it has taken on a significant emotional meaning.  It is really not often at all that I will be on the train thinking about how to structure a certain part of a game and start crying, haha.

This is what people mean when they talk about making works your own, and making works that only you can make.  As an artist there is a certain something that you can only bring to something if you are truly speaking from and bringing your own strong feelings and perspective about it.  And that is why it is so hard to write a compelling story about a subject that you don't really understand, or draw from a reference photo without really working with the real thing.  Not that there isn't value in trying to just "fake it" and great things can still come out of it, but it's really not the same experience artistically.

Anyways, as an artist this game is really starting to mean a lot to me.  Just like our failed project, "Bird" (which would go on to become "Rain"), taught me a lot, too.  "Bird" was a story about my struggle about loss, the past, and moving on -- the one story that I keep coming back to over and over again.  And I struggled a lot to figure out what the ending of "Bird" was supposed to be, because I was struggling to figure out the same answer in my own life, too.  The happy end was a fairy-tale ending that I knew would never happen.  But I couldn't accept the "we learn to move on" ending either.  I just could not.  And this story along with a lot of other soul-searching and life experiences taught me in the end that there was a way, my way, to continue on without reaching each other, yet without letting go too.  To accept the pain that comes with knowing that you will never see someone again, while still choosing to treasure them and yearn for them.  Because you would never forgive yourself otherwise.

We struggled quite a lot with the ending of "Rain" too.  In the end it ended up telling quite a different narrative than "Bird", but ended up being very meaningful to me as it was the first time we were able to create such a rich and meditative experience through the medium.  Like with "Bird", Goodnight Meowmie also deals with things that are very personal and important to us, and as we think about the experience and the narrative there are things that are very obviously wrong or right to us and we know it just because we feel so strongly about these feelings in our real lives too.  As an artist I think that is how you know that something is rich and "real", that it really has something behind it -- when decisions are made because of real experiences and feelings, not just "because I thought it would be cool".  And as we think about these narratives it informs our life stories as well.

I can never give up being an artist.

So yeah, I have been hard at work on Goodnight Meowmie -- not to mention, Samurai Shaver still needs that calibration screen put in too...ugh.  I was thinking about it the other day and realized that I am too much of a workaholic in my personal and artistic ambitions to ever be a workaholic in my career.  I know I'm quite fortunate to be able to say this, but when you pit my artistic dreams against job and career, there's just no question which one I need to prioritize...

Big Dance 2018

Well, that's one for the books!  This was a fun one for sure, definitely more so than I remember from last year, actually.  This year was sort of ridiculous in that me and Gem both had Deca rehearsal the morning after from 10AM-1PM (with Gem helping to teach, no less).  Big Dance runs from 9PM to 6AM, so...yeah.  I ended up coming before 9PM too, so I really did it all.  I ended up catching roughly 2 hours of sleep between Big Dance and Deca rehearsal, and successfully made it through before crashing until dinner, haha.  Apparently Gem had had enough caffeine that she didn't even sleep in between...

Let's see...performances were actually pretty great this year; I liked DL's choreos, and oh, Swingtime's new choreo was quite fun too!  "Wopening" was pretty epic and Bob's performance in Ceili was top-notch, hahaha.  Speaking of Bob, I got to partner with him for Dawn Mazurka again this year -- we had a solid set, and as I once did years ago, I got to sprint around half of Roble during the "chase" until he finally was able to cut me off.  Oh yeah, and we also did a lift after the genuflection.  Good times.

I also brought home 1st place in the Intergenerational dance contest with Elise (whom I had never danced with before), which was super duper fun omg!  With a Lindy Hop, no less??  I talk about this again and again, but there is always something exhilirating about dancing with someone you don't know and trying to play off of each other in a way where neither of you really knows what will happen.  It's something that makes me wonder if we can have more Luck of the Draw (ok, fine, "Jack & Jill") events (hint hint) in our community.

Other than that, good dances, good seeing everybody, and I even got to spend some time sitting out by the fountain, which was super nice and relaxing >w<.  My foot cramped up again but only way into the night...will have to use better insoles next time.

System Shock 2

I started up my Impossible playthrough of System Shock 2.  I hope to be continuing that soon (whoops), but in other news we also finished up the game in our co-op playthrough.  Getting through the Body of the Many fight was quite exhilirating, feeling more like a traditional FPS than anything as we tried to just rambo our way through all the rumblers and psi reavers (which seemed quite buggy in multiplayer).  The Shodan fight, on the other hand, was a walk in the park as I just blasted her away with a few shots of my EMP rifle, lol!  That's that...

OHC500

That's right, OHC round 500 happened last week!  It's been forever and a day (basically 100 OHCs) since I last compoed, so it was nice to do it again.  I definitely felt rusty, and whenever I do OHC again these days it always feels like I'm suuuuper slow and clumsy compared to how I remember myself being, but part of it I know is also that I have higher standards for quality and I like to put more attention into detail into things now.  But anyways, that was quite fun and it was nice seeing everyone in chat again and seeing old and new faces alike.  We had some pretty epic entries too...twas a good compo.

Life

In general, things are....rough.  I realized today especially that I need to find a better balance instead of my current pattern of alternatively working my butt off and then giving myself a break when I can't really handle it anymore.  It is really difficult with so many things bouncing around and when I don't have the proper balance and peace in my life, I get really cranky and it just feels like everyone is asking me to do more things and I hate having all of these responsibilities and expectations and UGH!  Gimme a break, guys.  It almost feels like I went back to being in high school again =/  Not really a good look.  In any case, time spent to my own devices is at a premium now and I think the best thing I can do for myself is just to say no, and remember that Drowsiness Is Red Alert.

In my near future coming up, I have...more work on Goodnight Meowmie, more other work on...Samurai Shaver, music, etc...System Shock 2, maybe Super Metroid Randomizer (I'm a bit more familiar with the SM map now)...FNW, Deca rehearsal, and good lord, Fanime is already next weekend (plus GCC dance, wow).  Gotta just hang in there...



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Song Spotlight

Continued from http://ddrkirbyisq.blogspot.com/2017/06/overratedunderrated-songs.html, but I'll repeat some of those here too because they still deserve more attention...


This time with YouTube streaming embeds!



Raven Delivery Service
A song I wrote for Ludum Dare!  The B section of this song is EPIC.  This song has been coming up quite a few times on my playlists lately and every time it is awesome.  It's a keeper for sure, that progression is just wonderful.



Take to the Skies
Another Ludum Dare song and a solid one that made it into my "Best of DDRKirby(ISQ) - Volume 1" collection.  It's actually got a similar progression to Raven Delivery Service...the whole VI-VII-I thing is one that I fall back to a lot because I love the feeling of it.



Pixel Warriors
This one isn't actually released yet, but dang, this is definitely the best 2A03 (NES chiptune) work I've ever done.  Short but sweet.  Look out for my upcoming all-8bit album someday.



Legend
Still really proud of this one.  Probably my favorite waltz song that I've written.



Memoirs of a Whale
Remains my most involved and proudest work to date.



Devotion
Although "Fortitude" is more interesting, this one is a perfect example of my root style -- upbeat, intense chiptunes.  The halftime drums breakdown at 2:38 is pretty epic.



Frozen Here
From the YouTube comments:
"A quiet town covered with snow, and a hooded girl walking down a dimly lit street at night." -- Mi

Thursday, May 3, 2018

We struggle to stay afloat
when everything precious lies far beneath the surface

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

In this place where our story began, 
even if there are nothing but our promises, 
I will always be alive in your memories.


In this place where our story began, 
no matter how much time should pass, 
I will always be alive in your memories.

I'm on my way to the place of our beginning. 
I have nothing but our promises, 
but in order to meet you, I'll continue my journey.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Just how much of myself have I lost?

Ludum Dare 41, Birthday, Life, more System Shock 2

Ludum Dare

I participated in Ludum Dare 41 this past weekend with my best friend, and we made it out alive, with a game!  I'll get around to writing a full post-mortem at some point later, but a brief summary of how it all went down:

- The theme was "Combine 2 incompatible genres", which seemed to lend itself to some pretty interesting/wacky ideas.
- Our first idea was "farming game + horror game" which we were pretty interested about.
- We struggled a LOT after getting some initial things down.  This has happened quite a few times before but this is the slowest start we've ever had.
- Eventually we scrapped the entire plot and decided to do "virtual pet + horror game" instead, with an entirely different narrative.
- We still had a lot of uncertainty and stress even after figuring out the new idea.
- It felt like we threw the entire game together in 24 hours really.
- We ran 4 hours over the submission deadline putting in the ending of the game (it's ok, we wasted way more than 4 hours of time at the early stages).
- "Dinner" was in-n-out at 11PM, lol.
- Despite all that I'm really happy with what we ended up with and I'm glad we went down the path that we did.  This project actually meant a lot to me, somehow.

There are a ton of features and ideas that of course needed to be cut from the game during the process of development, even major plot points that just couldn't be executed at all.  I don't think we'll be getting all of them in, but we will probably at least make some minor changes and add some small things that would make it feel more complete.

Anyhow, if you don't want to wait until we patch things up and start sharing the game full-heartedly, the current version of the game is hosted here:
http://cocoamoss.com/goodnight-meowmie/goodnight-meowmie.html

Let us know what you think if you try it!

Though it was very stressful, Ludum Dare was a spot of brightness and hope in this life.

Birthday

I turned 29 on Friday (the day that Ludum Dare started).  It actually sort of snuck up on me and I almost completely forgot to disable FB timeline posting this year, whoops!  But I remembered in time, haha.  Thank you to those of you who sent me well-wishes and/or gifts, and apologies that I responded pretty hastily to all of them (since I was busy with Ludum Dare).

I honestly...don't have too much to write about my birthday, mostly because it was such a non-event.  I could write about life in general, but that's literally the next section here, so...

Life

...right then.  Life in general right now is.......not good.  I mean, there's not really too much point in hiding it so I'll just be honest, things are not too happy right now.  Work-related stress has been a large part of it, but I'm also recovering from Ludum Dare so I'm running low on sleep, which always affects these sorts of things more than you might realize.  In general though, I am just really sick and tired of having to do all these things.  It's not physically exhausting, but it is tiring to have to think of what is happening in my future and only be stuck with things that I'm not particularly looking forward to.  There are small things...Ludum Dare was a breath of fresh air, insomuch as a stressful game jam can be at least, melee is fun, and I'm still pretty enamored with System Shock 2 for some reason, haha.  I general I am just sick and tired.  I think it feels like I don't have things that I do look forward to, but it's really more that I am tired of the things I don't look forward to.  I guess I just need to rest.

System Shock 2

I don't know why I'm so into this game right now despite not even playing it very often, lol.  I think the character building aspect just really intrigues me and I even want to just try doing a run on Impossible difficulty, probably with a psi + energy weapon build.  Speaking of psi + energy, in our co-op game we've gotten up to deck 5 now (recreation) and my power level has really shot through the roof!  Whereas before I was mostly support, taking out cameras and eggs with cryokinesis (weak but really cheap psi attack power), I finally spent the modules getting my Energy weapon skill to 6 (I also have the sharpshooter OS upgrade now), and I'm now carrying no less than 3 fully-modified laser pistols.  With all of those upgrades, the laser pistol does a pretty good amount of damage to normal hybrids and monkeys (basically anything that isn't a spider), as well as being really effective against all manner of turrets, security bots, and even the cyborg assassins, but the fact that I have 3 also means I can keep them all on overcharge mode and cycle between them while they're cooling down, so I actually have quite a bit of firepower.  Not to mention, I've also been using the EMP rifle which can 2-shot the huge robots, so that's a great feeling.  I also finally got my Maintenance skill up to 6 (so I can maintain the emp rifle) so our weapons are set for maintenance.  As we get further on we're going to start meeting the more powerful annelid enemies at which point I'm going to need some sort of plan B since the energy weapons aren't really going to be effective there.  I've got two main options: either invest in PSI 6 (7 with a psiboost implant) which will mean pyrokinesis does 13 incendiary damage (that's 26 to an annelid) -- comparable to a sharpshooter modified assault rifle shot (around 28?).

Soma transference would actually do only 20 damage at psi 7 since there's no double damage bonus, and costs almost twice as many psi points.  I probably have the option of getting it, but it doesn't really seem to be worth it.

Rumblers and psi reavers have a LOT of health though (220 and 120).  Even against arachnids (60) I still wouldn't be able to kill them in 2 hits unless I wear annelid armor to put my psi at 8 (maybe an option if I get replicator expert and just buy tons of psi hypos?).  Maybe that's just how it should be though; it's been a long time since I fought either of those two enemies so I guess they are just supposed to be super tanky.  I mean 10 anti-personnel shots with an assault rifle (for a rumbler) takes some time to shoot as well.

The other option would be to go and get exotic weapons (along with molecular duplication) and use the viral proliferator and worm launcher, which would dispatch these in a heartbeat.  That might actually be a better idea (and potentially more fun), so I might go for that.  Theoretically I should have enough cyber modules to go for both of these routes eventually, but maybe going for exotic weapons first.  That will also inform me of how fun the exotic weapons are for if I do end up doing that impossible playthrough.

Other stuff

- I must be some sort of masochist but I'm thinking I might try my hand at playing through x-com again, lol!  No...not the newer x-com game...I mean the original (ufo defense), haha...we'll see.
- I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but I received PICO-8 as a gift a while back and haven't tried using it for anything yet.  I fired it up the other week just to explore the demo projects and get acquainted with the program and it seems
- No recent progress on Rhythm Quest =(



Friday, April 13, 2018

Finding Paradise (and Gakkou Gurashi), other stuff

Frumple Sad Camper Times
I don't want to really write about it nor should I anyways, but last week was so *frumple*.  The *silly cows* were *squeezing the juice*.  It does not even helping!  This week *silly cows* are more like *happy campers*, so we are again doing the *GO! GO*.  I am tired of *spitting* the meaning.

Finding Paradise (and Gakkou Gurashi)
I started and finished playing through Finding Paradise! (the sequel to To the Moon)  I was quite looking forward to it (while trying to temper my expectations) and it certainly did not disappoint.  On a high level it's really more of the same, so you kind of know what you're getting into if you've already played To the Moon.  I was actually surprised that the walk speed was so slow; maybe I just don't remember To the Moon as well, but I didn't really find it too tedious or anything, just a little slower than I expected (surely a deliberate choice?).  All in all though I did enjoy Finding Paradise more.  In both cases I think the plot development is quite interesting and Rieves/Kan Gao tends to really be good at the whole weaving a mystery together thing, stringing you along and pacing things well.  But I found Finding Paradise to present an ultimately more interesting and less kitsch story.  Kan Gao commented on that himself and I think I see what he means.  Anyways, I really appreciated that, especially because I think if there was something about To the Moon that I would criticize it's that the ultimate story was a bit generic in the end; a story about hope, dreams, and love, with a happy ending, yadda yadda.  When I see stories that present a different narrative and a different spin on things, it's always refreshing.

Which isn't of course to say that all those stories about "let's go on an adventure, come back with something learned, and change our lives for the better, also LOVE" are terrible, because that's not true either.  Gakkou Gurashi was ultimately a story about letting go and moving on, so by that metric you'd think I'd really disagree with it, but on the contrary, the way that it presented the struggle to let go of the past was something that really resonated with me; I think it truly made me feel that it was respecting the past and that even though we know that in the end we must move onwards from it, it's not vilified at all.  It's really amazing how it can tell a story where the main "antagonist" who represents the past is not a villain at all.  Compare that to Inception where the person who represents the past is literally named "bad" in french ("Mal").  So yeah, while I think there always needs to be more stories that explore different outcomes other than just "Let's move forward and onward with life, look forward to the future, become a shonen hero, and FIND LOVE", on the other hand there is also room for stories to still tell about moving onward but in a way that is more respectful and resonant of these ideas.  In summary...I love Gakkou Gurashi.

Ludum Dare
Round 41 of Ludum Dare is coming up next weekend!  Team Cocoa Moss will be entering; we're looking forward to working on it with just the two of us again (for the first time since 2016!).  I was worried last week that things would be super hectic around this time so I wouldn't be able to focus on Ludum Dare like I really want to, but maybe that won't actually be an issue, which is good.

System Shock 2
We're well on our way through the Von Braun in our multiplayer playthrough!  With me as the OSA psionics guy with energy weapons, and my partner as the Navy guy who hacks all the crates and wields all of the standard and heavy weapons.  In other words, he is the one who actually does all the useful stuff since the pistol and shotgun are way more efficient at putting out damage (provided the right ammo types) than my psionics or dinky laser pistol.  My laser pistol is *ok* though!  Plus, infinite ammo is nice.  I took the adrenaline psi ability pretty early on and that plus the laser rapier have not actually been terribly useful so far, so I fear that might have been a bit of a waste.  Melee is always tricky, heheh.  We'll see about it I guess, but my guess is that for now I'll be using a lot of pyrokinesis (man that guzzles up a lot of psi points!) along with my energy pistol, which will later be replaced by the EMP rifle, at which point I will at least have a good role because that will hose down any robotic enemies super well.  We're about to stumble on the crystal shard soon, which might be a nice weapon to pick up, but honestly melee is a liability once the Navy guy starts gunning everything down.  Maybe it's best to just skip that and try to shoot for tier 5 psi so I can pick up soma transference.  With soma transference plus emp rifle I actually will be packing quite a bit of power, though of course it'll be expensive to get there.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

COGIATI (2018), Gender Sux

There is this question from the COGIATI (haven't looked at that in ages) which goes like this:

"Suddenly the entire world is magically changed. Now you exist in a world utterly devoid of gender. All bodies are hermaphroditic, utterly androgynous in appearance, both male and female at the same time. The culture reflects this, as does all human interaction. You, however, are still yourself inside, with all of your memories of living in our world as it is now. Your feelings are intact, only your flesh has been changed. In this new world, everyone dresses, acts, and lives however they feel at the time, and there is no such thing as being male or being female. You alone remember the world of gender. In such a world, would you still need to dress like a woman?"

A) Without question. I really love being feminine. It would be a very disturbing world, too.
B) Yes. I really enjoy expressing femininity. I would miss it a lot.
C) I don't know. It would be easier to live how I wish though.
D) how I dress is not really the issue for me. I would just dress how I felt.
E) I guess it just would not matter anymore, would it? This is my dream world.


The question is a little different from how I was remembering it just now, I thought it was asking about "how do you like this world" rather than specifically feelings toward your own desires (which of course makes more sense for this test), but anyways...

I was just thinking about this, and I realized...before I pretty much thought that although gender caused quite some unfortunate things, including but not limited to sexism, feeling out of place or constrained in terms of gendered roles, assumptions, blahblahblah, even despite all of that, I =also= thought that it was a pretty nice thing too, the idea of expressing oneself as masculine or feminine or whatever.  That even though it is terrible to pigeonhole people into these boxes, the boxes themselves are actually pretty cool.

I think nowadays I'm quite a bit more jaded about it.  I think the more and more I think about gender and all of these problems the more I feel like it would just be better if it were to just not exist.  If all of these stupid terrible things could just go away.  Then I wouldn't really care about those boxes; even if they are not inherently bad, they are just causing way too many problems.  It would be better gender just didn't exist.  Or...maybe humans would just end up finding some other way to @%&* it up anyways.

Anyways, just for kicks, let's actually try taking this thing again!

I took it and got exactly 0, lol (pure neutral??).  That makes sense though, given how apathetic I am about it nowadays.  Apparently I took it in 2011 and got a -5, then again in 2015 and got a 20.  That really doesn't tell you anything about the whole story though, as the perspective I have on these sorts of things is quite different than what it used to be.

Houston visit, being out of it, finished Celeste, System Shock 2, etc.

Okay...let's catch up on everything.

Visiting Houston
Last weekend I visited a good friend in Houston!  It was a really nice trip in many ways for me and I'm really glad that I decided to go.  Just being able to see someone again that I care about really meant a lot to me and I was so happy being able to spend that time with them.  I got really sad at the end and didn't want to leave...I feel like I would definitely go again someday.

It was also really nice getting a a 4-day weekend (I took Friday and Monday off), especially since I had been working a bit hard leading up to this time.  Sometimes I get a bit more stressed than I realize and it actually felt nice to not have to worry about so many things anymore.  During the first night of my trip my back actually ended up being pretty sore but I couldn't figure out whether it was because I sat wrong on the plane or something or whether it was just stress manifesting as psychosomatic pain...but either way it was gone after that and I felt really refreshed as a whole.

In terms of the trip itself, I feel like no matter what we did it would have been a lot of fun, but I got to see the NASA space center, see the huge rest stop (more like a department store) called Buc-ee's, and of course eat some yummy food while I was there!  I had BBQ, TexMex, this bun thing called a Kolache, good ice cream, and a Cajun crawfish boil, mmm~  And my friend introduced me to an anime that just finished airing called A Place Farther than the Universe (Sora yori mo tooi basho) which I quite liked so far!  I'll probably watch more of that on the train at some point.  But yeah, all the food was really yummy...

On a side note, I spent a good amount of time during my plane rides...actually working on music!  But not in the usual sense -- I was working with FamiTracker (a music tracker used for writing NES-style chiptunes) to make a Mega Man-styled track.  It actually works quite well since, well, you don't really need a lot to do chiptune tracking, so it's super portable.  I mean, I already don't use much of anything for my normal music production, but with FamiTracker I don't even need a mouse!  I ended up being able to mostly finish the track with the time I spent during that trip, which was pretty nice.

Being out of it
This past week I've generally not been on top of my game...I don't really know why, maybe I'm just off, but in multiple aspects of my life I've just been forgetting loads of things or not concentrating or just not making good decisions.  Not really anything to be super concerned about, but more just....it's unfortunate.  Hopefully I will have better luck this next week, but I guess it's also important to remember that in the grand scheme of things these mistakes (mostly) don't matter too much so although it can be good to express my dismay, it's not something I really need to beat myself up over.

Finishing Celeste
Well, just yesterday I finished the final C-Side level of Celeste.  It's been quite an amazing journey through this game and it really is true what they say about the design leaving no stone unturned.  It really makes me get the feeling like nobody can ever make a game with this same mechanic anymore.  Well, not really, because I know it's already been done, but more like it's really hard to believe that any more could be brought to the table.  I know that's not 100% true, and I'm sure if they really wanted to the developers could come up with another twist or mechanic that they could build another level out of.  But it just =feels= that way, because of how complete everything is.  I guess if there was one thing that felt a bit missing, it was that the C-Sides were fairly short -- mostly it was two or three "warm-up" rooms and then one specific long challenge room that was the brunt of the level.  I think that works too, but I wonder if it would have been more satisfying to have a longer setup, like in the B-Side levels.

Anyhow, I'm not going to bother 100%ing Celeste (leave that to all of the super dedicated people), as the things I have left are the golden strawberries (finish each stage without dying...A, B, and C-side...), and the secret 200th strawberry, which I started trying but gave up once I learned that the jump tricks you need to do to get it are really painstaking to nail.  I think that's super cool...but for me, I'm onto other things!  The absence of Celeste will surely leave a gaping hole in my life ("what do I dooo noowwww??!?") but I think next up is supposed to be Finding Paradise!  So we'll finally get to see how that is...

System Shock 2
Actually I lied!  Next up wasn't Finding Paradise, but surprise surprise!  I've been building up this itch to play System Shock 2 again and I finally installed it along with all the community mods and patches.  I hope to play co-op with a friend soon, but for now I actually just ended up starting a game on Hard difficulty (OSA character), and I've actually made it quite far -- to the end of hydroponics, actually!  I'm certainly much better at navigating the corridors and objectives in SS2 than I was X years ago when I last played it; that's for sure (to be fair, it was probably well over 10 years ago).

I started getting a little bit of the 3D game motion sickness that I tend to get for some games, but it seemed to help when I turned the FOV up slightly and disabled any view or weapon bobbing, so that's quite cool.

Stardew Valley
We just reached Winter!  As I mentioned earlier, I've been having brain farts left and right so I made some really silly mistakes this last session -_-;  But anyhow, we've reached winter!  We have 2 sheep and a pig now (we just installed heaters in the coop and barn), and we've got a bunch of crops happily growing in the greenhouse.  I think my goal for the start of winter is to ensure that we can still have a steady cashflow coming in...expanding the amount of crops in the greenhouse (I finally got enough iridium ore to make one or two iridium sprinklers), and then maybe starting to plant wild seeds for winter.

Other Stuff
Spring has definitely made its presence known this past week -- it felt like the seasons changed during my trip to Houston.  My respiratory system is....not pleased, so far. *achoo!*

Decadance rehearsals continue...I've finished rehearsals for my first piece and I'll be starting the second one up next week...

I skipped dance last weekend since I was in Houston, and skipped this week as well...should be good to go back again next week.