Thursday, June 30, 2022

Forcing myself to write here since I haven't been doing good.  Expelling thoughts is a good practice for these times, though I considered retreating into my shell by hiding them a bit more.  That was until I remembered that one of the main reasons I continue to write here is because I believe in the importance of normalizing the not so happy parts of life as well as the pretty ones.

Today was a day mostly filled with errands -- including a grocery store run.  Those always seem to bring me some amount of joy; so many possibilities to work with and be excited about.  I left the stores somehow already with plans to return for additional ingredients for next time.  But I'll have to get through this first batch of stuff first.  With how much I've been enjoying food I guess it really isn't a surprise that this/these years would be the ones when I came out of being "very underweight" and got to "underweight".  I'm happy that I have found people in my life who appreciate my cooking as well, that is not something that I'd like to take for granted.

I've got another ALTTPR tourney race on Sunday which I'll need to practice a bit more for.  Will brush up on a few route timing questions I have down in my notes and then do some more seeds as well, probably including an expert mode seed to make sure I'm in the habit of being mindful of my health and tight with my execution.  I've lost my last 3 ladder races, which doesn't really feel great, but with each one I'm hopefully gaining more experience to try and avoid repeating the same mistakes when it comes to decision-making as well as execution.

Sometimes the pain comes unexpectedly, as it did today.  I did a good job, was in a safe space, and knew the path forward.  Yet, in that moment life felt so painful, in all respects.  The heat of the room coming at me from all sides through my shirt, the emotional barriers closing in on me as I realized that I was disassociating from myself as a poor man's anesthesia.  I'm reminded of how acutely Tobias's stories resonated with me as I reread his chapters in the Animorphs books -- Tobias, who physically disassociated from his emotions by returning to his hawk form.  Tobias, who would later morph into a human during a moment of breaking down, because "hawks don't cry".

The release date on Rhythm Quest gets pushed back one more time, this time to "Early 2023", purely as a practical measure to throw myself a bone in anticipation of the stuff that I'll have to deal with.  No sense in giving myself one more thing to worry about.

For now I'm just left with the spiral of inadequacy, of feeling "not good enough".  I know that my emotions are not unfounded, because on one hand, I really was not good enough, and never will be.  And on the other hand, I may very well not be good enough.  It's easy to try and wave away those fears as irrational, but it doesn't work because they are in fact very rational fears to have.  I worry that I have become irredeemable through my mistakes, because that may be the truth.  I may still be saved, might still care to accept myself, but that seems nothing but a pyrrhic victory in the end.

I already accepted once that my past will never return to me.  Please, don't make me do it again.  I can't take it anymore.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Everything can change, or be lost, that is why we see attachment leading to suffering.  Up followed by down, down followed by up.

I stopped by Dancebreak, to see how the social dance kids are doing, and met a new person or two.  It was nice; it made me think about a few things.  One is how social dance offers a rare and unique exception to the rule: that change itself is a form of consistency.  It is strange that continuing to meet different people would bring a sense of constancy when normally it would feel the opposite.  But I have seen enough people come and go to know that those who stick around are either devoted solely to the pursuit of dance itself, or manage to continue meeting new people.  Because people always come and go...you can never rely on the same group year after year.

Once upon a time my interest in dance was enough to sustain me through the years.  I can't deny how helpful that was during all those times when the social aspect of it was either tiring or just felt terrible.  There are of course many types of moments over the years that where I have learned to appreciate the company of other people in different ways, but in the past there were just as many (if not more) ways in which I felt uncomfortable with it, or at the very least drained by it.  Now things are a little different as I feel almost zero inclination to improve in my social dance (has been replaced entirely by a wish to improve more in my solo dance).  It is freeing, in a way, to do something with no desire to become better...it makes those self-criticisms carry so much less weight.

Perhaps you reap what you sow -- karma.  The next chapters of my life are starting to be outlined, and I have...some feelings about it that I won't care to elaborate on.  I know the path forward and I know who laid the various bricks, as well as the confluence of factors leading each one to be placed in its particular formation.  I feel like I have the experience to see these things, to understand what really happened, and even to understand what did not happen.  Exposing yourself is hard; that is why it is always safest to not ask a question.  Why would you ask something when you are afraid of what the answer might be?  Sometimes it's too hard, so we just don't ask in the first place.  This, I saw, too, and stumbled upon the path forward.

But it made me a bit sad.  Knowing why things are the way things are does not make me wonder any less "why" it can't be another way.  Why we must ask for everything that we need.  I know the answer, but I cannot deny the sadness in it.  That we might never be cared for simply for existing, for being our selves, and our past selves, and our future selves.  That our minds will never be read, that they will never be attempted to be read, and even when they are, that we will wish they hadn't.  Instead we must verbalize everything.

That, is one of the reasons why Sayuri has remained as an icon for me.  It was an envisioning of a solution for me -- the solution to the problem of expession.  Sayuri was tranquil, calm, and at peace.  If Sayuri was quiet, then surely there must be a way.  Along the way, Sayuri had, perhaps, one or two small caregivers.  But I don't she ever depended upon others to provide what she never said.  Perhaps Sayuri's presence is a lone one as well, yet she is also happy.  Is it a contradiction?  Or has Sayuri followed the precepts, and reached a place where she can survive on her lonesome whilst being truly content?  Surely, Sayuri carries deep attachments within herself, as I do too.  Has experienced pain and suffering, yet carries on quietly with a lightness that belies her troubled past.  Why?  What is the source of her strength?  Perhaps it is simply that tranquility is its own boon -- that the act of carrying oneself with calmness is inherently meditative.  And that practice can ground us.

Who is left, in this desolate inner temple?  Who will be the deity to return to me?  Perhaps I have not been as steadfast with my worship, but I have continued to pray, to hope, and to wait, haven't I?  Will I someday find salvation?  Or will I someday turn away from the statues forever, and walk away in the endless night?  Perhaps I will someday stop moving, and become a statue myself.  Frozen in place, finally free of time, that ceaseless harbinger of death and decay.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Life has been okay, but today was a little rough.  One of the ghosts from my past visited me in a dream and it reminded me of how some things never do come true.  We only grow more distant from them and wonder what else there is in life to keep us going.  Sometimes we find those things, other times we don't.  Either way, I lay in bed for a few minutes before doing anything else.

I've been continuing to spend a good chunk of time doing ALTTPR runs, while at the same time trying my best to maintain progress on Rhythm Quest,which is still going along relatively well; as well as I could ask for I guess.  All I can ever ask for is consistent forward progress for anything in my life, after all.

I'm 2-1 in the mentor tourney and now that I've taken that initial loss, my mental state may be a little bit different.  I've been doing a lot of races on the ladder (3-3) which I think has also been a good way to get into the mindset of racing and having something on the line.  If nothing else, I'm glad that I've been able to put myself out there and put myself in a situation where I'm just as likely to win as I am to lose.  The difficulty of doing that in the first place should not be underestimated.  Of course, my gameplay and decision-making has improved quite a lot as well.  It's always nice to practice something and put in the hours; really think about it and then have that effort pay off in proficiency.  It's just what I like to do, with everything.

Guess it's a shorter update today.  Maybe I'll return here sooner rather than later, though.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

ALTTPR GMP Tourney, Outer Wilds, etc

It feels as if I'm beginning to slip up on things that I do regularly.  Writing letters, blogging, and reaching out to friends as well.  I don't think any of it is through lack of discipline, though.  I think it's rather more that after so long, I, too, have begun to question the point of it all.  But in the end I am still me, and so it is easy to return to where I came from before too long.  That, at least, has not changed.

I've been sinking quite a bit of time into practicing for the ALTTPR tourney that is taking place over the next couple of months.  Having matches where something is at stake has provided me with a large impetus to significantly step up my game, and having mentors to discuss my play with has provided me with external knowledge and experience which to take into consideration as I try to improve.  While I'm happy that I'm improving at a faster rate than before, I'm reminded also of the fact that part of my motivation for entering this tournament was to practice taking losses and failures -- not just in ALTTPR, but in general.

I played through all of Outer Wilds, relatively quickly, actually.  I was quite worried when I first played the game that I would not really be able to progress through it due to motion sickness, but after some much-needed twiddling of the field of view as well as some help from a small dangling Cinnamoroll in front of my screen, I was able to play quite comfortably.  The game was quite enjoyable; maybe a bit tedious at certain points but I wouldn't really consider that to be a large failing of the experience at all.  This is the first time that I've played through a game that has you =exploring= in quite this way.  There are a couple of other games that I've played in the past that do a really good job of "exploration"...the example I always bring up is Yume Nikki, but I think Rain World does a good job of crafting an exploratory experience as well.  I'm suddenly reminded of Metroid Prime, actually, which...I can't say I appreciated the exploratory aspects nearly as much, but I think the feeling of exploration is one that Metroid Prime at least attempts to evoke in a big way.  Outer Wilds does stand apart from these other games though, and somehow manages to deliver an open world experience while still delivering a cohesive narrative, along with a distinct form of progression that is rarely seen in other games.

Thinking back on the game after finishing it, I think the most lasting impression I had about it was the rich manner in which it portrays exploration, the unknown, and various recurring themes.  It touches on these subjects in a way that is not heavy-handed nor prescriptive, but instead illustrative -- to me it created a tapestry from which you can derive meaning from if you wish, without feeling like you are some sort of snobby art critic searching for meaning where there is none.  When I watch something like Ping Pong: The Animation, I can tell that it's filled with metaphors and symbolism that are layered in a way that cannot be readily deciphered upon first watch, or even second watch.  What does "blood tastes like iron" really mean?  Why does Peco have a star on his shirt while Smile has a moon on his, whereas Koizumi has a butterfly?  When I played Outer Wilds, there were certainly many mysteries and questions I sought answers for, but those were all concrete in nature -- I never stopped to consider what themes and messages were potentially being portrayed in this game's world.  But after I stopped to consider the experience as a whole, I was really able to see meaning in why these environments and puzzles and mysteries are set up this way, beyond "it makes for a cool game".  This sort of (open to interpretation) symbolic meaning behind the game I think is what will make Outer Wilds memorable in my mind, in the same way that Rain World's story about suffering, attachment, and Buddishm is what sometimes keeps me awake at night.  That is not to say that Rain World wasn't a brilliant game for all of its environments, dangers, and incredibly fascinating ecosystems, and that is not to say that Outer Wilds was not a great game for solving mysteries, exploring planets, and figuring out puzzles, but those alone are not what make these games have a lasting impression.

I've had a busy and relatively stressful last week, but it seems like I made it through that just fine.  Rhythm Quest continues to progress like slow clockwork as I make incremental additions and improvements.

I took an opportunity tonight to go out and do a session outside with my sticks, no filming -- just me and my music.  I think I was motivated after watching some of my old videos and remembering back to how I used to do really, really long sessions out on campus or elsewhere, recording footage as I danced aimlessly -- honestly, without much structure or discipline at all.  But I'm surprised at how I managed to still develop relatively well, even lacking any sort of solid fundamentals.  Over time, you practice, and you improve...you just keep on working at it.  Or at least, I do.

I continue to expand my cooking and food repertoire, just bit by little bit.  I did some sous vide pork shoulder which came out quite nicely; usually I only use pork shoulder for carnitas-style pulled pork, but this time I went with a lower temp and sliced it more like a steak, which worked well!  I also did some slow-roasted lamb shank, which was actually quite easy despite taking a long time.  My go-to grocery story carries them all the time, so that will definitely be a repeat.  Discovering the joy of having cheeses on hand to snack on has been great, as a nice small single-serving cheeseboard with some cheese, crackers, fruit, and cured meat really fills a nice role when it's late at night and you want a nice snack before bed without having to actually cook anything.  I also have found myself a little less allergic to fruits than before (?) these days so I might be trying to eat more of them here and there.


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Alright, well.


Fanime 2022

The last Fanime report was here.  It's been 3 years since then (thanks covid) so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  Funnily enough badge pickup was extremely quick, but that's because...the main bottleneck was vaccination validation before that, which sprawled into a progressively longer and longer line throughout each day.  It wasn't =too= bad, fortunately.

Overall, things went great for me and I had fun.  It was more crowded than I had expected and I felt a bit uncomfortable at times especially with large numbers of people unmasked outside and other all-too-familiar such things happening, but I guess =that= is the new normal we're facing, truly (not looking forward to my next flight...).

I didn't expect to buy a single thing at the con but surprisingly walked out with some nice stationery sets and even some new Cinnamoroll license plate covers.  I did play some nice TGM3 sessions (alongside some fellow TGM players) but skipped out on anything else that I might have been interested in (3rd strike, melee, etc).  I honestly didn't feel a particular need to do much besides just spend time with my friends and have good company, which went very well.  Maybe if I was dead set on staying at con for more hours, I would have sat down and played more games, brought my laptop, wandered around more, etc, but quite the opposite was true and I was happy to cut back on hours there.

There's not much else to write about it, really.  Some things were definitely different (IPOH and a bunch of other restaurants are closed entirely), but things went well.


Go Mode Podcast: Mentor Tournament

I decided to dive in and enter this year's Mentor Tournament for ALTTPR!  I've never raced before so I figured this would be a good excuse to get my feet wet as well as improve my skills and decision-making with the help of some more experienced runners.  I've been spending a good deal of time trying to brush up on my execution as well as working with my week 1 mentor and it's been relatively rewarding so far; I feel like I'm in much better shape than I've ever been in terms of my play.  All that's left is to put it all on the table when my first race rolls around (in a few days!).

The only downside here is that the training has been eating up into my time for other stuff (Rhythm Quest development).  Hopefully that doesn't continue to be an issue; though I imagine I'll try to put a little bit less time into future weeks so it may be fine.

 

I guess I managed to keep this one rather short and sweet despite how much stuff happened.  Overall things are going well, though really it's more just busy than anything else having just come off of Fanime straight into Mentor Tourney practice.  Being this occupied with things makes me understand how people can go about their days while so rarely reaching out to others outside of immediate reach and...let's just say I have some feelings about that.  If the solution to the loneliness I used to feel throughout life is simply to "be occupied" then I don't know what to say.  When past me asks how to fix things for them I really think I still don't have an answer to that.  I probably shouldn't think about it too much because it's probably too depressing.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

100 Games I've Played, off the top of my head

Saw https://twitter.com/invelica/status/1532143448354336768 and decided to give it a whirl as an interesting exercise.

- Straight off the top of my head, no referencing any lists or anything like that
- I grouped together games of the same series that were similar enough
- I didn't count games that I feel like I left unfinished or didn't play enough (this ended up excluding many, many JRPGs, and honestly a lot of older games...)

I ended up grouping my list into three buckets based on obscurity:

The more well-known:

Celeste
Pokemon Unite
Descent: Freespace / Freespace 2
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors / Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
Rhythm Doctor
Journey
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Kirby's Adventure / Kirby Super Star / Kirby's Dream Land / etc.
Kirby's Canvas Curse
Kirby Tilt and Tumble
Earthbound
Super Punch-Out
Final Fantasy Tactics
Mega Man 1 - 11
Mega Man X / X2
Ragnarok Online
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Tetris 99
Monument Valley / Monument Valley 2
SSX / SSX Tricky / SSX 3
The Last of Us / The Last of Us Part 2
Little Nightmares / Little Nightmares II
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past / etc.
Soul Blazer / Illusion of Gaia
Stardew Valley
Don't Starve Together
Super Mario Kart
Dance Dance Revolution / Stepmania
Beatmania IIDX
Pop'n Music
Guitar Hero / 2 / 3 / Rock Band
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Gradius 3
Street Fighter: 3rd Strike
Trauma Center Under the Knife / UtK2 / Second Opinion / New Blood / Trauma Team
Neko Atsume
Tsum Tsum
Unreal Tournament
Omori
Yume Nikki
Contra III: The Alien Wars
Narcissu / Side 2nd
Tetris Attack / Panel de Pon
Harvest Moon
Strider
Hollow Knight
Super Metroid
Metroid Prime
Limbo / Inside
Risk of Rain / Risk of Rain 2
Crypt of the Necrodancer / Cadence of Hyrule
Sonic 2
Pokemon - Trading Card Game (GBC)
Picross
Secret of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 3
System Shock 2
Tower of Heaven
Diablo 2 / Lord of Destruction / Median XL

 

The more niche:

Brave Fencer Musashi
Lone Survivor
Abzu
Actraiser
The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
Wandersong
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest
SimEarth
Serious Sam / The Second Encounter
Ib
I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game
Tetris: The Grand Master 2: The Absolute PLUS / TGM3
Caesar 3 / Pharaoh / Cleopatra / Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
Metal Slug 2 / X
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Blaster Master
Element Tower Defense / Element Tower Defense 2
Robotron: 2084
Saya no Uta
Tsukihime / Fate: Stay Night
Kanon
Uniracers
Toejam & Earl
U.N. Squadron
Unavowed
Mad Father
Phoenix (TI calc)
A Year of Springs Trilogy



The really obscure:

Fortune-499
Solomon's Keep / Solomon's Boneyard
A Mortician's Tale
Astrologaster
Tyrian
Hero Hours Contract
Nightshade
Where is cat?
Ultimate Universe
Kannons and Katapults
Legend of the Red Dragon
Nair
Pico Park


Things I'm pretty surprised to see on here include Solomon's Keep/Boneyard, Saya no Uta, and Magical Quest starring Micky Mouse.

Things that I'm surprised to not see on here are mainly Hades, Rain World, Undertale / Deltarune, and maybe Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which somehow didn't come up despite being adjacent to Super Metroid.

The most obscure thing on here has got to be the BBS games: Ultimate Universe, Kannons and Katapults.  That, or "Where is cat?".


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

It's been a little rough lately, but that's something I'm attempting to work on together with my therapist.  We'll see if perhaps I'm on the come-up, or not.

Rhythm Quest

I managed to hit 500 wishlists, which of course is pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but still worth being happy over considering the relatively low amount of marketing power I have.

I've been able to continue chugging along with progress on levels despite not being in the greatest place in life, which has been comforting.  Yesterday I managed to put together the first level of world 4 and honestly, it's been surprising to me just how well I've been able to just sit down and try to make something, and have it actually work out well -- whether that be new music, mechanic experimentation, or backdrop artwork.

There are multiple theories as to why this could be the case, but regardless of the reason it's certainly been confidence-inspiring for me.  It could be because I've just already got such a good foundation to work off of...I've got rules in place for how to utilize color palettes throughout my levels, for example.  But even when I tried out a different style of music for world 4, it seemed to just go well without a hitch.

I honestly think a big part of it is just that I'm...simply more skilled at my craft.  More experience has made it easier for me to tackle new challenges.  You can imagine drawing an analogue to cooking -- if you're inexperienced, you might have a few specific recipes comfortably under your belt, but you might struggle more with something that you aren't familiar with.  But after so much accumulated expertise, it's much easier to just throw together something that's still good even if you're unfamiliar with a specific dish/combination, or if you're missing some ingredients.

I think I've been feeling the same thing with my other crafts -- probably to nobody's surprise since I've been at it for so long.  Experimenting during OHC every single week really helps with that, of course -- every week you do something different, and after a while I've started to sometimes really use that opportunity to push out into new and different directions.  This song, for example, is one in which I'm very very heavily leveraging Valhalla Supermassive (a unique and fun reverb plugin) to make otherwise simple sounds really wash over the soundscape and echo everywhere.

Similarly, I feel more confident when I'm trying to come up with new backdrops for Rhythm Quest levels.  Before I sit down it definitely still feels like it's going to be a crapshoot because I don't really have a solid idea of what I'm going to do, but somehow I've just been able to come up with various decent things and not have it be a disaster.

There's more stuff I should probably be polishing up to ensure that the playable demo is nice and presentable, but for now I'm taking this current momentum and just running along with making more levels while I can.

Pokemon Unite

They fixed the exp bug, and it actually does seem like games are a little less snowball-y now, so that's good.  Even if you in particular weren't hit by it, you could just have teammates who were just stuck as a charmander (it's always the charmander...) or wartortle or something because they got ganked early.  Perhaps now you still need to weight teamfighting and showing up for objectives a little more highly as opposed to prioritizing safe farm over everything else, but maybe it's a good middle ground now?

Stuff Coming Up

There actually seems to be quite a bit, actually.  A small gathering, and hair dying, and another meetup after that as well.  And then Fanime is already going to be in a little over a week.  Another friend is visiting from out of town, and then in July I'm going to see if I can finally do the GMTK game jam.  At some point later I have to start packing my stuff up as well.  Got a commissioned piece to do at some point in the next month, but it's just one.

Not really bad...it's not like everything is all happening at once, and not a lot of stress involved probably.  Honestly, it'll probably be a good pace for me overall.

I'll be trying to enter the ALTTPR Go Mode Podcast Mentor tournament as well, which should be fun / healthy for me as well.  At the moment it's just signup and you have to run two async aptitude seeds for them to judge/check your skill level.  I did one so far, which didn't go perfectly but honestly I can't ask for much better.  Will be doing the other one in the coming week or so and then we'll see just how things actually go...

That's about it for now I think...


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

But what if it =is= my fault?  That we can't go back to the way things were.

I made so many mistakes along the way.  Can they never be undone?


Monday, May 2, 2022

I wrote almost exactly a year ago that "I don't want this to become some massive thing that ends up sucking a year or more of my time from me (and it shouldn't, if I'm doing things right)."  I guess even I am not invulnerable to this sort of thing...


Things are okay.  There's been some good, and some bad, as of course is commonplace.  I didn't get enough sleep, for no good reason...I'll be trying to catch up a little bit.

Rhythm Quest

First things first, Rhythm Quest is now up on Steam for wishlisting!  I've been spamming the link for everyone to hopefully go check it out and wishlist it, and I'm up to a...decent (?) 100+ wishlists after day one.  I'm sure there's a lot more that I need to do in order to get that number up (gotta get those metrics up for store visibility...), but as with everything I do, that's something that I'll try and approach gradually, as it makes sense.

Here's the link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1635640/Rhythm_Quest/

Movies

I've watched a lot of stuff recently -- somewhat uncommon for me -- but it's been nice.  Turning Red and Everything Everywhere All at Once were highlights, but first season of Avatar was not bad either (a mix of "decent", "good", and "eh..." at various parts).  I watched Encanto as well; that one was more just "oh, it's a Disney movie", so more unremarkable in its actual storytelling.  I finished reading Crying in H Mart too...lots of stories about intergenerational relationships.

Pokemon Unite

A new season of Unite released, along with probably the biggest balance patch that they've had so far, nerfing two of the most-used held items, including a massive nerf to buddy barrier, meaning everyone is more squishy in teamfights.  By far the biggest change has been to the way that experience is gained, which has been......interesting.  I can't say I agree with the change, though part of the experience is definitely tarnished by the fact that there's a passive exp bug with evolution-based pokemon now, which somewhat conflates the issue.  But the long and short of it is that games seem much more snowball-heavy now since neutral farm seems to be less rewarding and KOs seem to be much more rewarding.  In theory you might imagine that this rewards more skill in terms of getting a lead and keeping a lead as opposed to having too much comeback potential, but the reality of it is that it just makes the game seem very volatile (especially in an environment where you can't control what happens with the rest of your team) and offers less play to combat an early deficit (or at least that's what it feels like).  This could be partly just due to people not understanding how to adapt to the new balance of things, but...I'm also not confident that the average person's play patterns will change much.  It's a bit of a sour taste that reminds me of the worse aspects of other MOBAs that I've played, so...we'll see.

Chickies

The two chickies are doing just fine still -- dumbchicky has gone through her (apparently regular) cycle of brooding and then molting and is now finally back to laying again (sigh).  They've been getting a lot of outside time these days when I'm around; I think they just prefer it that way anyways and I feel relatively safe keeping them in the run during the day while I'm around.  I'd better look into getting them a real coop and run combo next year, I think they'll probably be more happy if they can go and forage and nest as they please...