Monday, January 20, 2020

It's time for yet another update...

Couple of upcoming events:

This Friday (1/24) - I DJ at Friday Night Waltz.  This conflicts with a "mini unjammix" night, but alas, that's how it is.  I've just finished the final changes to the setlist and will be posting that at some point in the coming few days.  As usual, I've hand-edited over 50% of the songs...

February 1st - Viennese Ball.  The usual, I guess.

February 21st - I'll be hosting an event at the GCC.  Exact details TBD, but I might host some private lessons beforehand.  It's been a while since I did any, and I don't know if I care to prepare a full workshop for this.

April 11th (?) - JaSmix.  Get hyped?

Dance has been..."interesting" in the recent months, but I actually had quite a lot of fun at Bon Bon Ball this past Friday, which was very nice.  I can't say that that was really because of any of the things I've been thinking about with regards to dance, but rather I think I just happened to be in a better mood that night and was not feeling very overwhelmed.  I was also really excited that it was the weekend, so I'm sure that helped.

I haven't practiced a ton, but have practiced a bit!  I've gotten down a tuck turn sequence that feels really cool and satisfying, so that has been great!  Not really sure what I'll be working on next, though.

I still haven't gotten into doing actual legit runs, but I did a session where I just ran through Super Metroid Randomizer and save/loaded state a bunch to practice various things.  I've gotten a lot better handle on some various rooms now, or at least have a better idea of how to execute them in theory.  My Phantoon fight is still really bleh, but on the plus side, I can actually do the 2-tap/3-tap shinespark charges in Draygon's room now, so that's awesome.  I also spent a while learning how to do Baby Metroid Skip, which is still quite hard for me to get consistently, but I =have= been able to do it a few times, and I basically "get it", which feels great.  I spent some more time working on Zebetite Skip too, which I always found really hard to do.

Next I'd like to do basically the same thing but for a LttP rando seed.

I actually whipped out the old arcade stick and played some games of TAP (Tetris, for those of you who don't speak obscure acronyms) and it felt great.  Even after playing SRS Tetris games a whole bunch, I've found that my ARS instincts and learned intuition really haven't dulled that much at all.  Handling Death 300 speeds is a bit out of comfortable reach for now though -- I think I'll have to really really grind if I want to get my shot at Death GM again.  Ah, well, there's always the "Carnival of Death" to look forward to at the end of March...

Puyo Puyo
I think I've gotten to the point where I need to start watching some videos and such to get new ideas.  I think I've practiced enough that I know of certain situations that I have a pretty hard time of, so it's time to figure out what to really do with them by watching other players and learning from their ideas and experience.

Space Alert
We had a surprisingly--no, =amazingly= successful session, with me captaining (as usual) with two fellow crew members -- one a veteran who I've often taken into the Deep, and a rookie that I trained myself what seems like not too long ago.  After getting not one but two perfect missions (minus some harmless-yet-concerning tripping), we decided to take a higher pay grade mission into one of the slightly more dangerous areas of the Deep.  It was still nothing compared to the stories I've heard of the Red sectors, but halfway between our usual area and the "Yellow" zone, so we encountered some phasing threats, as well as the dreaded "Ninja" that boarded our ships and made our lives difficult.  Luckily, our crew was calm and I was able to take control of the situation relatively well.  Our various expertise was really starting to show its utility in these missions -- my experience as mechanic often provided us with just the right amount of extra punch in the laser cannons to take out a ship, and Kotz at one point seemed to be able to simply meditate for all of 20 seconds before calmly punching some frequencies into the laser console, bypassing the failsafes to squeeze just the right amount of extra joules out of the reactor.  It was...thrilling.

Life (let's face it, probably the only section that you care about)
Hmm, it's difficult to really sum things up.  Let's give some various points:

- Last week was a really long week for me.  I felt a feeling of stress and anxiety towards the end of the week.  Fortunately that went away with the weekend, which went off to quite a great start.
- I dug up some negative emotional weight that I've been carrying around with me for quite a long time, and started to bring it out into the open.  This was something that I guess was a lot more important than I gave it credit for, because I started crying after thinking about it a lot more.  That's really good though, it means that I am at a point where I feel like I actually have the strength to confront it and face it.  I'm very glad.
- The feeling of anxiety seems to have resurfaced a bit, which concerns me.  I will try to get a good night's sleep tonight, and be honest with myself about anything that feels "scary".  I have some guesses right off the bat, namely both work and dance organization -- not that either of them is bad, but rather that they involve stressors.
- This doesn't really "need" to be said, it should be a given, but I have been feeling very grateful for my close relationships.  I guess what I actually mean to say is that they have been going very well and I feel like despite whatever hardship I am going through, I am able to draw a lot of strength from them.

Until next time...

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Surrounded by darkness
I will find my own path in the sky

Yet, I remain bound to you
As you are bound to your cage of thorns

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

It's the new year!  So far, 2020 seems to be a year full of learning new things for me.

Kitchen organization continued and I'm pretty happy with how it's all turned out!  My new hinoki cypress wooden cutting board has been one of the best xmas gifts -- it's lightweight, great to use, and the perfect size for me.

Recipe that I'm aiming to try in the near future -- nasu dengaku (miso glaze eggplant).  I've also started freezing a portion of the ramen broth whenever I get ramen at Nijiya.  I've never been one to bother home-making stock since I just don't cook a lot of dishes that use it (though I guess that's sort of a catch-22), but now that I have a bunch of random cubes of frozen broth I may start exploring ways to use them.  I might try making a tan tan ramen again...which reminds me, I keep on meaning to make some homemade chili oil but never get around to's the time...

I've been surprisingly drawn into practicing poi spinning lately, and spent a good portion of last night getting pulled into practicing random moves.  I've finally been able to clean up the planes a bit on my low windmills, and yesterday I actually managed to look up and learn two new moves -- a 4-beat thread the needle, as well as 3-beat archer weaves (though I still need to work on both).  I've also been drilling my stalls a bit, trying to work on those elusive up stalls and top stalls...

Puyo Puyo
Not sure what to say except that I need a lot more practice.  On the one hand, I'm way more comfortable with a lot of things than I used to be.  On the other hand, there are a lot of situations that I can tell I'm handling very poorly when it comes to just building a transition and tailing effectively.  I'm just going to have to sit down with it some more and think through some of these situations more carefully to come up with solutions.  At some point I'll also start watching more videos carefully to analyze other people's solutions, but for now I think I can just sort of grind through things on my own for a bit longer.

Super Metroid Randomizer
I played through a seed last night and my total time was something like 1 hr 20 minutes, though I had a few deaths and such in the middle of that, as well as some time spent looking up a few tricks.  This seed had me doing a hi-jump-less gravity jump to get into lower norfair, which I hadn't done before, and I had to refresh my memory on how to do Zebetite skip as well.  It was actually a pretty easy seed, with go mode coming pretty early on -- varia suit was at Norfair hijump location and Gravity suit I believe was at Croc, which opened up the way to do Lower Norfair and then Maridia (having picked up Speed Booster and high jump somewhere along the way) before finally doing wrecked ship and then Tourian.

I also learned how to moonfall!  Moonwalk still definitely trips me up at times, need to get used to that, but I guess might as well learn how to deal with it...

There's a couple of things that I'd like to actually go and practice (maybe using a practice ROM), specifically things like the Phantoon fight and Kraid quick kill, after that I can maybe start just recording (and streaming) real runs!

aLttP Randomizer
I haven't done a full seed lately but I've been doing a ton of routing simulation on Z3RSim (great website btw).  My execution and on-the-fly decision making probably sucks ass but at this point I'm happy if I can at least make sane routing decisions and not forget about something super obvious like forgetting an easy location with 5 items in it, as well as at least having a general sense of routing for all of the dungeons.

Suspiciously I keep on doing Z3rsim seeds where I get early cape or something like early hammer/hookshot which makes me really suspicious that it'll be a seed where Aga1 is required.  Some of them have indeed worked out that way -- there was a seed where the key progression item was on pyramid -- but others weren't.  But again, that's another decision that I'm at least getting a little more familiar with.

I dunno if I'm supposed to talk about this one, but getting into this too.

In general, has been good.  There are definitely times when I feel an anxiety in my chest, but I'm living through them just fine, thanks to a lot of things.  Sleeping better and making sure that I'm taking great care of myself as well as achieving the things I need to, is all I can really wish for and try to do.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I'm addicted to trying to get things done...

This holiday season has been a pretty decent one.  Let's see if I can run through all of the different things that have been going on...

Wattam came out -- this is the crazy game I worked on for 2 years at Funomena.  I finally got around to grabbing a copy of it myself and it's been great (and silly) getting to actually play with it, and more importantly, seeing friends interact with it and play through it as well.  I'm reminded of a lot of the struggles that went on in development...

I released two new volumes (volume 4 and volume 5) of my custom ringtones series.  I don't know if anybody besides myself really uses these, but they're there anyways.  Along with the cover for Monthlies 2019.12, that makes 3 separate 100x100 pixel art drawings that I've done this month.  Feels nice to be able to churn these out with such regularity now.

I've finished my System Shock 2: UNN Nightwalker playthrough.  This one actually provided a good amount of challenge -- I went for a Standard weapons build and unfortunately did not manage to get to Standard 6 to use the assault rifle, so I was using the pistol and shotgun for the entire game, and barely managed to scrape by using the ammo and health that I was able to find along the way.  I wonder if my old Energy build would have actually fared a bit better since in that case you don't have to worry about ammo.  Heavy weapons 1 probably would have actually been a pretty sensible investment since it would allow you to make use of the grenade launcher.  If I had to give some tips to anybody else playing through this fan mission, I'd say that the french-epstein devices are actually relatively plentiful, so it might not be worth spending cyber modules on Modify.  I ended up with a fair number of ice picks too (I guess I always do), so maybe taking Hack all the way to 3 might not even be necessary either.

I tried out my first aLttP Randomizer seed!  I wasn't using the beginner mode, just did a normal open mode seed.  It actually ended up being a somewhat annoying seed, as I think it forced you to go to Turtle Rock twice, but regardless, it was a good experience trying to get more familiar with all of the different item locations and dungeons and all.  I'll look forward to trying more of this in the future...

I've finally gotten around to getting some spice organizers and racks for the kitchen!  Spices have previously just all been thrown in a cabinet in some non-organized fashion which makes them hard to access at times -- I've now got some countertop / fridge mounted racks to put stuff in, which not only makes the spices more accessible but also frees up the cabinet space, which will allow me to organize some of that stuff better.  Yay!

We are hoping for a Feb 22 Spring JaSmix date -- fingers crossed that everything works out there.  I'll also be DJing at FNW on Jan 24th -- been working out the setlist for that recently.

Xmas present and gifting is officially mission complete -- everything got delivered and mailed out as far as I know.  Excellent and let's go again next year!  I'll be enjoying the brief respite from letter writing in the beginning of the year.

Practiced some partner dance stuff.  Although my main struggles with dance have been socially and emotionally, I felt the need to work on stuff, and ended up working out a couple of various things, which was quite nice.

Thanks to a nice set of contact poi that was gifted to me for xmas, I'm now getting back into spinning!  It's actually been really satisfying getting a better handle on the momentum and control of the poi, especially now that I've got a set that has a bit more weight to it as compared with glowstringing.  I've still got much to learn, of course, but with the advent of super-helpful poi videos online and other learning resources, it no longer feels as much like hitting a brick wall when trying to learn various moves.

A bit hard to believe that I'll be back at work in just a couple of days, but it's an easier pill to swallow knowing that I don't actually have to go anywhere (not to mention it'll be a short week).  I'm beginning to realize the importance of having something, anything to look forward to when it comes to work, even if it's something really silly.

Overall I've gotten a good bunch of things done, including the aforementioned xmas gifts, some music releases (ringtones), and a bit of cleaning and such too.  I got a new external HD as well as a new SSD, and have migrated over to the new SSD (pretty seamlessly), as well as set up backups of external #1 to external #2, so none of my data has a single failure point anymore, yay!  I'll finish up the FNW playlist and try to get one or two more things done (album art for Remixes - Volume 2?)'d be nice if I could get around to a few other things too, like the 4-wide trainer or even an Unlock Everything update, but we'll have to see, some of those might still be left on the table.  Maybe at the very least I can play through the final chapter of Celeste...?

Monday, December 23, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Link to the Past

I make a wish, send a star, and pray,
I listen, share, and feel,
But can we ever truly understand each other's suffering?

I've finished A Link to the Past!

I was looking forward to this one for quite some time -- it's a bit of a crime, really, that I don't remember having fully gone through this game, though I do certainly remember all of it.  It's one of those numerous games that I played during the golden ages -- during my elementary school times, when we literally had three or four boxes full of NES and SNES cartridges for us to pick from.  You could call me spoiled, but having access to all of those titles really had a big impact on me.  Unfortunately I was also younger at the time, and as such was less mature both in terms of my gaming prowess as well as my diligence, so a great deal of these games I may not have actually played through all of the way.  Even the ones that I didn't, though, I usually had watched my brother play through.

It's refreshing to finally go back to these beloved classics, though it's debatable whether I should really call it "going back", as you really could argue that I've never left this era at all.

Anyways, Link to the Past was really fun!  I think there's an obvious comparison to be drawn between Link to the Past and Link's Awakening and I think in this regard everyone has their own preferences.  Link's Awakening probably sticks out as a favorite to a multitude of people (though it's completely overshadowed by people's love of Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker), but it's really hard for me to enjoy anything more than a proper SNES game.

Zelda games have an interesting challenge of trying to toe the line between complexity and momentum -- dungeon and world designs need to be interesting enough to actually make you think and explore, yet if they're too complex it leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed and losing your inertia.  It's been a while since I last played Link's Awakening, but I think this is one of the main points that I think ought to be compared between the two games.

I found the dungeons in LttP to be...quite refreshing, actually!  It actually hit a pretty sweet spot for me where I needed to spend some time revisiting/scouring some areas in search of something that I missed, but in the end was always able to get through things after enough effort and diligence.  There definitely weren't as many unique puzzly mechanics compared to the dungeons in Link's Awakening (remember carrying around the ball all around Eagle's Tower???), but I think the dungeon layouts themselves were a little more "satisfying".  I think a big part of this is actually just due to the simple fact that because there's more screen real-estate, you get these bigger rooms and longer corridors with a lot more visual and spatial differences compared to each other, whereas in Link's Awakening ALL of the rooms are the same size and shape.

You also get these large "hub" rooms, as well as rooms that have both a foreground and a background, which provide a lot more interest in terms of parsing them.  I quite enjoyed this aspect.

The overworld, as well, feels a lot more open and bigger (which it is), and I'd echo much the same sentiment about the freedom of navigating the space -- again due to the fact that you don't just have a fixed camera, but rather have screens that pan around.  Everything feels a lot more open, a lot more cinematic, which of course all makes sense.  It's a landscape rather than a small jigsaw puzzle.

The dark world / light world aspect of the game was actually pretty cool, and I found myself picking up on a lot more of the environmental clues hidden around in various places of the overworld than my 10-year-old self.

In the end I think a lot of it is going to come down to preference.  I watched a pretty good video comparing Oracle of Ages vs Oracle of Seasons and it seems like despite these two being "sister" games there is a ton of difference between the focus of each one -- with Ages being puzzle-focused, and Seasons being action-focused.  The dungeons in Link's Awakening I think (?) require you to keep track of a lot more things at once -- in general I found them to be much more mentally taxing.  In LttP the dungeons are more interesting to =explore=, but they're also simpler to actually get through and navigate for the most part.  Again, I think a big part of this is simply due to the room design -- what would be a single room in LttP could get split into 4, or even 6 rooms in Link's Awakening.  There's all of these different rooms everywhere so traversing the entire dungeon just takes longer and you need to remember many more areas in your mental map.  I think this is why in LttP I found myself rarely ever bringing up the actual dungeon map, but in Link's Awakening I remember using it all the time!  So the pacing is a lot different here.

In the end I think I can say what we all knew already -- LttP is probably still #1 in my heart.

Now that I've finished the game proper, this also opens up the whole door of.....Lttp randomizer!!!  We'll see if I start diving into that world....

I got myself some ballet slippers!  I'm not sure how often I will actually end up using them, but I'd like to give them a try, as they just...have a different aesthetic that I enjoy.

That's all for now really, this post was mainly a celebration of LttP :)  It really wasn't any less enjoyable despite the fact that I'm already somewhat familiar with all of it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It's pretty amazing...that some people can become strong, by following in the footsteps of others.

It might seem easier, to know the path to walk.  But I feel that it takes more courage.

It's ok to not have that courage.  As long as you find a way.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Xmas letters 2019:

I've got all of my mailing done!  Super on top of things this year.  I've got a couple of family presents left to find but other than that just have to coordinate with a few people to do in-person deliveries.  I don't even have to really make any big Santa runs this year.  Woo!

It helps a lot when your gifts can just fit inside envelopes, makes things super convenient

Monday, December 9, 2019

It's difficult to properly explain the concept of Meowmie.  It's not just cute things, nor is it just awkward things, nor is it just silly things.  Not all meowmie things are cats, though most cats are meowmie.  Meowmie is something pure and innocent, but meowmie is not childhood either.  Meowmie is different than kawaii.  Neither Hello Kitty, nor Pusheen, are very meowmie.  Perhaps the best example that exists of meowmie, is Michiri Neko March.  But there are different facets to meowmie as well.

Regardless of all of that, meowmie is very important to me.  It is one thing that I can believe in when confronted with the darkness that exists in this world.

12/9 -- Rest in peace Meowmie.  You were really fat and awkward.  And really fat.  Above all, you were very meowmie.  You have not been with us for quite some time, but Meowmie lives on as a way of life.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

I've been around people a LOT these past few days...there are only like 2 people in the world that I can be around and actually still recharge my social energy and I was definitely with many many more people than that.

Today, I'm going to spend the entire day ALONE woooooooooooooooooooo