Friday, November 27, 2020

People do all sorts of things for their future selves.  Why is it, then, that nobody seems to do anything for their past selves?


Mugen no Hikari (夢幻ノ光) and a brief discussion of DDR charts

Mugen no Hikari (夢幻ノ光), featured in DDR SuperNova, has what is probably my favorite expert chart for BOTH singles and doubles play overall so far.  This is a song that was originally featured in Pop'n Music and was then ported over to DDR.

Video of the expert singles chart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlc8NhiBhWo

Video of the expert doubles chart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2t_OGbdx3o

If you are a DDR player and have not checked out this song, I'd highly recommend it.  This is not the most difficult song: it's rated at an 8 on the "old" scale and an 11 on the "new" scale.  If you are comfortable with most expert songs you should have no problems with this one.  It does feature crossover patterns, but the tempo is slow enough that you can get away with doublestepping them as well.

The relatively "moderate" difficulty (which of course is completely relative) is probably the only "downside" I really have with this chart.  But it speaks volumes that even though this is quite an easy song for me to pass and doesn't have much for me in the "challenge" department, it's still extremely enjoyable to play.

This chart nails it for me on several different axes:

1) The song itself is tasteful and enjoyable to listen to, and features several different sections.  The fusion of traditional Japanese instrumentation riffs with guitars and vocals is done very well here and even the keychange for the last section of the song feels very natural and not forced at all.  There is actually a lot to listen to in this track -- on first listen you'll probably gravitate towards the vocals, but on a second listen, you'll notice that there is a lot of other stuff to absorb with the traditional wind and plucked instruments in the background.  The fact that the song has several distinct "sections" really helps with the step variety.  Speaking of which...

2) The stepchart features a variety of different enjoyable rhythms and "sections".  There's some sections with a lot of syncopations, there's some sections with more jumps, there's some sections with freeze arrows, and even some triplet fills, not to mention the crossover patterns sprinkled about here and there.  While I'm OK with a mindless stream-based chart from time to time, the most enjoyable charts tend to be those that really change it up in terms of what they offer from section to section.  DDR charts are usually pretty ok with this, but this chart I feel like is a step above the rest.  It's always fresh, since it keeps on changing the pace.  Guitar Hero and Rock Band charts on the other hand are probably the antithesis of this and is part of the reason why those charts can get so goddamn boring to play even the first or second time around.

3) The stepchart also features some interesting footwork and crossover patterns.  The footwork is intricate enough to provide a point of interest, without forcing you to do anything that is awkward or complex.  This is difficult to describe to anyone who is not familiar with DDR and I admit that even I am probably not the best person to talk about it due to my lack of experience (especially with doubles).  The best example I can give of "interesting crossover patterns" is in AA where you go directly from a crossover pattern pivoting on one foot to a different crossover pattern where you pivot on the opposite foot.  Mugen no Hikari doesn't have a ton of difficult crossovers or anything, but it has enough to make things interesting, the simple act of doing a crossover and then uncrossing has a satisfying feel in terms of body mechanics.  There are no awkward double-steps here in the entire chart UNLESS you misread the crossover patterns, and even then, it's not particularly punishing because of the tempo.  The freeze notes here are very enjoyable too, even though they are not very difficult to read.

4) The stepchart rhythms fit together with the song in a satisfying way.  This is maybe the most subjective point here but I feel like it is actually one of the most important.  DDR is an interesting beast when compared to something like IIDX and Pop'n music because generally speaking, the steps are not charted to directly match the notes in the music.  There are several reasons for this:

A: Trying to place a step on every significant hit on the music results in too many steps.  IIDX and Pop'n music can get away with this because your fingers and hands can hit many more notes than your feet.  In DDR the steps must be simplified compared to the rhythms of the songs.

B: Even if you =could= place a step on every significant hit on the music, often that results in a very awkward and unsatisfying chart.  You see this all the time in fan-made stepcharts where ev-ery sin-gle vo-cal syll-a-ble is a step.  It's actually less satisfying to play charts of this type because they feature very unnatural rhythms.  It's simply awkward to step in very irregular ways, which is why the vast majority of stepcharts (and good stepcharts) don't feature lots of 16th notes everywhere.  They rely on simple red and blue notes -- 8th note streams, and syncopations, with occassionally some 16th note-based rhythms or triplets here and there to fill things out.

The best stepchart rhythms are the ones that synchronize with the music in a meaningful way, but do not correlate =directly= to the notes of the music.  This is because the rhythm of your feet then BECOMES ANOTHER INSTRUMENT in the arrangement of the song.  It feels as if you are "drumming with your feet" and thus are actually playing along with the song as if you were a member of the "band".  Mugen no Hikari does this very well, in my opinion.  The syncopation of the rhythms is very distinct and matches the song well, but the accents of the steps don't match up directly with any particular instrument.

Ironically, songs like The Legend of Max and Maxx Unlimited are also very good at this sort of "using your feet as another rhythmic layer" feeling.  I think this is because these songs are getting into the territory where your feet are actually stepping fast enough to actually make something that feels like percussive drum rhythms, but despite that, these songs throw in enough syncopations and rhythmic variations that you aren't just streaming 8th notes all the time.

Anyways, yeah, this has to be my favorite DDR song right now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Every time I browse social media it reminds me that it's important (personally) for me to post and interact in the ways that I believe in.  You know how people will do things like take breaks from using their phones or using social media or whatever?  So I don't really do that because I personally don't believe technology, phones, or social media are really problems, it's the things that they are used for, and the things that "we" use them for.  So instead of that I will just remind myself of what are the terms which =I= would like to interact online on.  How would I like to carry myself and if other people were to follow my example, would that be an online space which I would like to engage with?


I've noticed a definite increase in self-consciousness in my language over the years.  I don't think it's a bad thing.  I think it used to be an assumption as plain as day that whatever I said didn't need to be qualified as being "in my opinion" or "personally for me".  I would just say it how it is, and call it as I see it.  "This is stupid."  "Things should be this way."  While I think there is something to be said about tendencies to preemptively overcorrect one's self in a self-deprecating way, I think for me this has been more about understanding that there is in fact more than one valid way to view things.  That's not something that I was able to learn earlier in life simply because I never really connected with anyone else on a level in which I was able to learn from their (different) point of view.  That's not necessarily a fault of my own or anyone else's, just simply the way things turned out.

I've been packaging up all of my xmas stuff and getting it ready to deliver and send out.  I still need to work out a few more presents and such, but we're very much on pace for where I need to be, so that's great.
I concretely identified Hide and Seek as a source of stress, along with a bunch of other things that are on the ever-present to-do list.  As always, awareness is the first step to learning to process something a little more healthily.

Although this month overall has been quite relaxing compared to last month, there have definitely still been days here and there where I have not felt so good.  Some of those were simply circumstantial, but I think the others were simply thinking about things that I "need" to get done.  But I mean, what else is new, right?

I've been playing through Virtue's Last Reward, which has been enjoyable so far!  I've gone down maybe 2/3rds of the branching paths so far, though a majority of them are "locked" for now.  I've only gotten one non "bad" end.

Got a second pressure cooker, so making ramen broth (of the creamy opaque pork variety) has doubled in efficiency now as I can just split 7-8 lbs of pork bones across the two and get double the yield as before for roughly the same amount of time investment.  So I've got quite a lot of rich pork broth in my fridge now!  In addition to the spicy miso tare that I made last time, I also have some simple shoyu tare that I'm prepping.  And then I'll be making a bunch more chashu.  Hey, I said I was gonna really try to get into ramen this winter, and I am definitely following through on it!

Speaking of cooking, made smashburgers again which was yummy of course.  Tomorrow and maybe again on Thursday I'm gonna make a stab at sichuan shui zhu style spicy beef, with pork blood (!) and tripe.  It's been a while since I've attempted one of these soups but I think I've studied enough that it should come out pretty decent, I hope!

Smash Summit 10 (online) was this past weekend so there have been a lot of high-level melee matches to idly watch through, especially as I eat meals or whatever.  It's nice having something to watch and I think even if we are not at the peak era of "excitement" when it comes to top 8s in tournaments, you can't argue that good melee isn't still happening.

There's a debacle of sorts going on with the Smash scene (#freemelee), the tl;dr of which is that Nintendo doesn't give a rat's @$$ about the smash (particularly the melee) scene and chooses to avoid supporting despite the fact that not only are they in bad "moral" faith but it also simply doesn't make sense for them as a capitalistic money-making decision.  But I mean, I guess they aren't really the only company/industry that are still entirely backwards in their dogmatic decisions.  Case in point, the music industry hitting Twitch with the whole DMCA fiasco about music used in twitch streams/clips, which seems to be done out of a misguided understanding that "control = profit" when it comes to music.

Anyways, both of those two issues are too complicated for me to explain here, so go look it up if you must.  But it really surprises me at how many people I see backlashing =against= the #freemelee movement.  I think it's because as someone who is well-informed about both the history of the scene as well as the people in it and the actual problem at hand, it is very clear to me who is in the "right" here.  But you have to realize that as some Joe Schmoe nobody who doesn't know any of the facts nor any of the context around the issue, they are more likely to misconstrue everything and come away with a knee-jerk judgement simply because "why the hell is this such a big deal, just get over it".  Which of course is akin to a sort of victim-blaming...but you know, that's the sort of thing that runs rampant on these online spaces.  What would Hiiragi-sensei think? :(

Since I've been doing a lot of both housework, cooking, and packaging stuff lately, I've been having a lot of HealthyGamerGG playing in the background as something to listen to as I do these tasks.  Since I first discovered these videos thanks to Scar (from the Melee scene! #freemelee) I really have to say they have made a positive impact on my mental health practices and understanding of how to cope with mental health issues in my daily life -- which is not only important to life in the covid era but also just important to life in general.  There is a really weird effect in that watching someone explain and understand another human being also helps you in turn understand your own self.  Really useful stuff, especially since mental health and mindfulness practices aren't really "taught" commonplace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

There's a longer post to be made, I'm sure, but for now, suffice to say that I had a mixed bag of a day.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Things went alright today.  I woke up with a headache at 8:30 in the morning, way earlier than I was supposed to, after some delirious dreams.  Ate some leftovers, took an advil, and then went back to sleep for....another 5 hours or so.  The ibuprofen and extra sleep together must have done the trick as I finally actually woke up refreshed and feeling alive.  Of course, it was already past 2PM by that point, but twas definitely worth it...

Got the commission piece done, and the album art too.  Played some more Virtue's Last Reward in the meantime.  Today was a pretty good success.  I mean, any day where I can check off an art project is usually a good day, let alone two different ones.

Got some stuff to take care of for work tomorrow, but that....can wait until I wake in the morning.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

I should just make it a goal to post daily, especially when I'm not feeling too great.

Today was an OK day.  We worked a bit on Hide and Seek, and I had some nice sitdown time.  It helps since I have not been feeling very great lately; just have a feeling of anxiety which I'm sure is due to the "unsettled" things that I have on my mind to try and take care of.

Nothing I can do except try my best to break it down one brick at a time.  Tomorrow is another day...unfortunately, it is also a day where productivity is bound to be lost due to having a family engagement of all things.  But I can try to get the commission piece squared away, and the album art.  If nothing else...

Friday, November 13, 2020

Right, of course.  I got a second DDR pad so I've finally been going down the road of learning to play Doubles.  I've always heard that Doubles is more enjoyable and really unlocks a lot of diversity in patterns and play and I have to say that it does not disappoint.  Crossing between pads is whole new skill and besides just learning to internalize proper placement (even harder than before) you have to figure out how to read crossovers like never before.  The punishment for getting off is wayyyy steeper than before because doing a bad double-step can not only leave you on the wrong foot but also just simply in the wrong place on the wrong pad, so mistakes are harder to just recover from without missing a beat.  Accuracy and timing seems to go out the window at first as well; you really just need to recalibrate everything...


Aside from all that, you're simply moving around a lot more so you're just getting more exercise.  It's been fun!  Right now I'm still doing 8s, 9s, and 10s on standard to get into the swing of things and get some practice, but bit by bit I'll have to step it up into heavy/expert mode and get used to more complicated patterns.  I've been reading at 1x since helps to have more time to prepare for oncoming patterns and attempt to read the crossovers.  It's definitely a brand new skill trying to figure out which way to orient and whether to cross in front or behind based on the patterns.  Something that will just take a bunch of practice, I'm sure.

I ended up downloading Zero Escape: The Nonary Games, so I've got plenty of reading material ahead for myself...the rest of the Animorphs series of course, then Virtue's Last Reward, and even Read Only Memoies.

Speaking of Animorphs, dang, even after the David trilogy went down, book #23 is really good/intense too...the depiction of near-suicidal depression that Tobias goes through in a couple moments in this book really hit home for me.  Unfortunately, as longtime readers already know, Tobias's struggles are far from over =( =( =(  But the Tobias/Rachel romance really shows itself in bloom in this book too.  What a great pairing...

Can't tell whether I have been slacking or not.  On the plus side, commission work has been so far so good, and I even got the Chinese translation of Goodnight Meowmie up.  I have been having the itch to start another custom MtG set design again, but nothing will come of that until I get some good ideas, really.

Things to do:
- Reformat and finish the Ikenfell critique
- Organize articles/reviews section on website
- Flash swf downloads and instructions on website
- Brainstorm for Hide and Seek
- Monthlies album art
- Start wrapping/sending out xmas stuff (rip Nob Hill USPS =(...it's going to be that much more of a hassle to ship things now)
- Some more letters/handmade gift stuff?

Maybe I ought to do the weekly ALTTPR seed as well...

Prisoner Correspondence Project keeps staring at me from my todo list as well, though I keep on wondering whether now is a good time to sign up.  Perhaps it is, seeing as how I have been AWOL from the social studies world ever since October kicked my butt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

November has been a breath of fresh air compared to October.  There's the obvious "outside world" stuff that I am not going to write about because everyone else is already writing about it, but =besides= that, we've gotten hit by a wave of cold weather here which has kickstarted us straight into winter vibes in the best way.  I'm no longer fighting to stay abreast of all my todo items -- instead I seem to have fallen into a weird state where I keep on worrying about what the next thing to do is, even though the next thing for me to do is probably "chill the ^%$# out".  Such is the life of a productivity addict, especially in this particular age and corner of the world.


I finished up Ikenfell!  A very good game, and though I can offer critiques, I can't offer any complaints.  A highlight of 2020, I'd say -- despite not being mindblowing it just does enough things right to simply be a =fun game=.  I had actually started writing up my review of it here but I'm actually probably going to try and start moving critiques and reviews over to my website proper so that they can just stand as more permanent articles.  I would not say that I am the best person at writing critiques of this sort, or even talking about games and art in general, but that is all the more reason for me to practice writing such pieces.

Someone on twitter a while back was posting something about Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, the sequel to 999/Zero Escape, an NDS visual novel you might know of.  I played through 999, though I never managed to get the true endings or whatever.  I'm pretty sure I looked up the plot summary and endings once upon a time but totally forgot, so I just now watched a YouTube plot summary.  This is a pretty complicated story that you can barely follow along with, but it's pretty cool in the way it ties everything together, and there are some random small details about it that are absolutely killer like how June ends up getting feverish at some points in the game but not others, etc.  They literally released every single game in the series on a date on which the digital root is 9 -- now THAT is attention to detail.

Anyways someone on twitter was lauding Virtue's Last Reward and I've seen it agreed by others that that one is very very good, so I'm thinking maybe I oughtta try it out at some point.  We'll see though...there are a couple of different games/projects I could take on at this point and I don't even know if I will take on any of them to be honest.

I've been continuing with my Animorphs re-read -- finally at the point where I actually hade access to my physical copies of the books, so no more having to read them on a digital screen anymore.  Yay for reading physical books!  I've just finished reading the David trilogy (#21-23) which is a high point for the books, certainly the most memorable arc and the one where the stakes feel the highest.  Some serious stuff had happened in some of the previous books up until this point, and you can tell that each of the group has definitely changed, but I feel like after reading this book you can tell that there's just no more going back.  There's a sort of "loss of innocence" feeling here and I don't think that really hits very hard when you're in middle/high school reading these books, but it definitely hits now, especially since I already know that things really aren't going to get any easier for these poor kids as time goes on.  Such a good series!

We are closing out our first wave of MtG remote play -- we did some casual sealed deck with Theros: Beyond Death.  I ended up with a UG constellation deck featuring Setessan Champion, a 2G 1/3 that gets a +1/+1 counter and draws you a card every time you play an enchantment.  Combine that with a bunch of enchantments/auras/cantrips and it's a real engine.  The rest of the deck was solid too.  I actually also ended up with a WB build that didn't having any haymakers but just had some decent/solid cards and removal, along with the 1WB menace lifelink vigilance cerberus hound thing.  The pool was actually kind of tricky to build at first since I had the WG gold uncommon and the WG planeswalker that cared about auras, but WG just didn't cut it as a build.

We're onto Zendikar: Rising now (the current "live" set) and I've got a UB deck that isn't actually a rogues deck and doesn't really have mill payoffs, but rather is just trying to be a bit control-oriented with a great black removal suite backed up by blue card advantage and some light wizard/instant/sorcery themes.  There are a bunch of great commons that are unfortunately totally missing from my pool (no bubble snare, no into the roil...) but overall the plan is basically to just play some guys, stick a flier or big threat, and cast oodles of removal.  We'll see if that ends up good enough.  I got a pretty bomby double-faced land in my red pile but red was just way too shallow and I'm pretty confident that UB is the right build.

Did some digging into the great Flash apocalypse coming up in a month or two and it doesn't seem like it'll be a TON of trouble for me to deal with, just need to point people to a standalone flash player download and/or Flashpoint and provide my swf file downloads as nice links.

Finally did another ALTTPR run the other day, for the first time in over a month...I did OK, got a bit unlucky on some of my calls, though one of them could have been a bit smarter.  Still, I've been consistently sub2 which feels nice.

Kicked off another music commission project this month, which I hope to finish after another 4 weeks or so of work.

I have started xmas shopping in earnest!  Been ordering batches of stuff online, it's been going well so far.

Thanksgiving vacation is coming...I think we could all use some holidays and time off...seriously.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Where do thoughts and feelings go, if there is no one to receive them?  Does there really exist a place where there are no longer any ungranted wishes?  Will anyone ever return to the place, the time from whence they came?  All of those memories shimmering behind us in the sea.  I wish I could dive in and embrace them forever...but I must stay here.  For I am no longer alone.

No longer am I trembling with quickly beating heart, waiting for someone to wrap her wings gently around me.  But it was neither an angel nor a bird that lifted me from the steam, but a cat that found me and showed me that the water was not so deep, that if I turned around the sun would still be shining for me after I finished crying, and that there was a place we could return to.  Together.


Today:

- Wrote Christmas letter #24 out of 31
- Started and finished my ballot for voting
- Put out another minor update for our Ludum Dare game
- Rated 5 more Ludum Dare games for a total of 40
- Put ~2 more hours into my song for the Carole & Tuesday project (very nearly finished)
- Did the laundry...

Tomorrow:

- Christmas letter #25
- More Ludum Dare rating
- Final version of the song
- October "Monthlies" pixel art album cover...(?)
- Take apart second DDR pad...