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:

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.


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...


...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'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.