Thursday, September 29, 2016

There's no time like the present to make a change...

Things have been not too great recently, to be honest, though hopefully on the mend.  I'm super behind on writing letters and not really happy with the amount of time that I've had to myself lately, though maybe it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be.  I did have some quality time to myself last night, which was super helpful.  During that time I finished up a late birthday letter, wrote up an email, got youtube streaming videos rendered for my new Celestial Melody album, and also downloaded and tried out the updated tools that are available for Melee character development and modding.  They're pretty cool, and much much much easier than the raw hex editing I used to do.  You can even modify animation speeds, which was previously impossible!

Speaking of Celestial Melody, it's going to be released very soon (probably tonight or tomorrow).  I got my shipment of 15 CDs and they look pretty nice!  Though, unfortunately, I worry that some of the plastic spindles might have gotten broken during transport, as there's a bit of rattling in some of them. =(  Regardless, I took some photos of the CDs this morning, so all that's left is to upload them, double-check everything, and spread the word before hitting the button.  I'm also hoping to sell physical copies (and maybe pass out cards) this weekend at some dance events that I'm going to, which should be fun as well!  This is a jam-packed album, with over a full hour of music, and I'm really excited to be releasing it.  Next up on my music project list is probably to sit down and write some sort of awesome song that I can use as an exclusive for starting my Patreon page...

I'm into chapter 4 (the final one) in FFT, and currently going around the map completing Errands/Propositions with my team of 9 generic squad members.  The random battles have gotten to be a little bit of trouble, not because they're usually hard or anything, but because for the past two ones that I went into, one was the rare battle against dragons / hydras / tiamats which I had no way of winning (with just Agrias, Mustadio, and 3 chocobos lol), and in another one I decided to just send only Agrias and Mustadio to make things faster, but realized that it wasn't winnable because one of the enemies was a blue dragon and both Agrias and Mustadio were equipped with Ice Brands and thus had no way of actually damaging it.  Whelp.

Aside from that, my squad is doing pretty well.  I've got:

Ramza, as an Ubersquire with Dual Wield.  He's a little light on HP but is great at just walking up to things and killing them dead real fast.
Anselm is my Dragoon with Attack Up.  He's currently taking a detour and going to become a Samurai so that I can give him Doublehand (I think that increases lance damage, actually still have to check whether it works on jump)
Gerald is a Ninja with Martial Arts.  Does a ton of damage and is basically a finished build.
Dawson is a Monk with Attack Up (to poost Punch Arts).  He's pretty versatile as he can heal a ton of HP/MP with Chakra provided there is some flat ground.
Maronne is my Black Mage/Summoner who has Quick Charge.  A lot of the time she actually just casts Golem since Golem is just an awesome ability, but she's also good at just dealing magic damage with summons too.  I actually wonder if it might be worth teaching someone else Golem, someone with a little more HP to serve as a better buffer.
Lora is my Thief/stealer, who is currently a Ninja for better speed and damage.  I haven't had to use her to steal much, but there are some battles coming up where I'll have to steal some important equipment.
Margry is eventually aiming to be a Black Mage with Draw Out/Iado, and is currently learning the Draw Out/Iado abilities as a Samurai.  Her physical damage sucks right now but Iado really seems awesome.
Ladd is going to be a bard real soon but currently he's a Mediator/Orator and needs one more level before he can transition.  I never played with bards or dancers during my first play of the game so it'll be cool to try them out!  Theoretically I should be using him and Ramza to boost everyone's Brave but it's hard to find good opportunities to do that when everyone's always doing errands all the time...
Alicia is my White Mage.  I don't actually use healing that often besides Chakra, though I think she does also have Throw Item so she could theoretically use items instead of White Magic instead.  She's currently going down the Black Mage path so that she can learn Quick Charge.
Lavian is my Dancer.  Her build is basically done and she's just filling out dance skills at the moment.
Agrias is currently a Monk with Equip Swords so that she can still do good damage with her Holy Knight skills.  She's going to make a stop at Geomancer to pick up Attack Up before returning to being a Holy Knight and basically owning everything.  Might be nice to pick up Move +2 at some point but not sure if that will end up happening.
Mustadio is currently a Knight who is picking up some random Battle Skill skills before returning to an engineer who will be able to just apply disables everywhere with his gun.  I plan to have him use Equip Shield for now but it might actually make more sense to have him get Concentrate.
Rafa and Marach (and Boco) are just plain unused right now, and Luso is super high level compared to my other guys so I haven't actually been using him at all.  He'd probably be a fine character but needs a lot of JP to learn some useful skills.

I'm definitely feeling significantly better off than during my first playthrough where I basically didn't know what I was doing.  I'm sure my characters now would stomp that older set of characters.  Even in terms of equipment, I actually know what I'm doing and am gearing for the correct stats.

Having friends is so's amazing how much difference it can make in your day when you have contact with good people.  I got a new penpal too!~

I played through The Beginner's Guide recently, and thought it was pretty cool!  Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I very much enjoyed it.

Lots of dance events coming up...I'm not even going to Starlite tonight because there's too much other stuff going on.  Richard is at FNW tomorrow and I'm going to be stopping by his 8PM class, and then Brett and Daniel are hosting a dance later in the weekend.  Then next weekend is both Jammix (in Roble!?) and Boogie by the Bay.

Missed the Kaladesh prerelease because I was busy that weekend with other stuff, including going to the Google Play Indie Games Festival in SF!  There was some cool stuff being exhibited there, including Bit Bit Blocks which we really liked.  Plays really well, has some good design decisions, and is just a blast to play.

Hopefully I can start bringing life back under control this weekend.  I think I just need to remember a little more clearly the drive and willpower that I always had before, and put it to good use.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I think it's really important to compliment people, and also to thank them and show them your appreciation or admiration.  Sometimes I will randomly message people to say they are awesome for no real reason, or thank them for something that happened ages ago.  Or even apologize for something that doesn't matter because it was all in the past.

We can all be really hard on ourselves sometimes.  Sometimes it can really help to hear a friendly reminder of why your life is worthwhile, and that you are appreciated by someone else.  And it also means a lot when someone "goes out of their way" to show you that they care.  I say "go out of their way", but it really isn't -- it really only takes a couple of seconds and you'll probably end up feeling positive about it too.


This week has been more up and down than the last...and by that I mean there were a couple of downswings.  I'm back to feeling pretty good about life, but I was feeling kind of frustrated and/or just tired of life earlier.  Sometimes it's not really anything catastrophic or systemic, but just little things that happened to stack up against you in the wrong way at the same time.  Or things that bother you more than you'd like it to.  I think everyone probably has days like that...

I've had a legitimate flurry of new album releases over the past week or two:

Watch for Falling Rocks Original Soundtrack on Sept 3
Mysterious Space Original Soundtrack - Volume 2 also on Sept 3
Take My Hand EP on Sept 7
and now Ivory on Sept 15

It feels great to get things out of the backlog!  The tracks for "Take My Hand EP" were started 5 =years= ago, and Ivory has been sitting around for a while too.

Even more exciting is the fact that I've been working on new album art for my social dance music album:

That's right!  It's finally coming around, which makes me super happy.  I'm not 100% sure this will be the actual album design, but I'm coming around on it (still need to design the rest of the physical CD case though).  You'll also notice that I'm no longer calling it "DanceBit" because I really wasn't happy with that title after thinking about it more.  "9-Bit Ballroom" was an idea I tossed around in my head, and I think that would be a good title too, but if I use this image for the album then "Celestial Melodies" definitely fits it.  I'll have to see how I feel about it after thinking it over again.

I made tomato soup for the first time this past week!  I made way too much...@_@, but it was a success!  I followed this recipe from Serious Eats, which is the lazy no-sautee version -- there is a slightly-more-effort version here.  I didn't go nuts with the blender though (it was already jam-packed to the limit so I didn't want it to explode or make a mess or anything), so I left it a little less smooth than it could have been, and had to heat it up using a pot on the stove.  Some of you may not know this but I'm actually super into cooking and try to cook my own meals pretty often.  Things that I want to try next are a cream of mushroom soup (I'm really inexperienced with soups in general, especially western soups, so I've decided to try making some), and I also wanted to have another go at this miso-glazed salmon recipe, which I've done once before.  I generally broil my salmon pretty plainly (and deliciously) but I wanted to change things up a bit for next time.  Salmon is sooooo good. >w<

I've been having a blast playing through Final Fantasy Tactics using my friend's PSP.  I'm currently knee-deep into Chapter 2 and am raising my faithful band of recruits into something fierce.  A lot of them are still just grinding JP to unlock more jobs and abilities before they actually become useful, but I've got a Monk with Attack Up that is pretty great at punching things dead AND healing a crapton of HP with Chakra.  Ramza is unfortunately currently useless as he's currently grinding JP as a Thief, which is a job class with terrible stats for dealing any sort of respectable damage.  But he's gotta get some jlvls before he can become a Ninja and get two swords.  My summoners and mages have actually been the majority of damage output in key battles.

Going to try heading to Starlite Ballroom in SJ tomorrow night with a friend.  How confusing that it's named the same as what used to be Starlite in MV (then Cheryl Burke, now who-knows-what)...regardless, I have no idea what that will be like but am looking forward to getting some dancing in and seeing my friend too!

What else has been going on?  In MtG-related news, I narrowly lost in the finals of the work sealed league that I was running, taking 2nd place as my generous consolation (to be honest I thought that I would be out much earlier than that).  I was extremely happy with how I played game 1 of the final match -- it was a rare scenario where I had all of the variables in my head, thought thoroughly through every important consideration, and was one step ahead of my opponent the whole time.  It was almost perfect ("almost" because I still may have made one or two suboptimal plays.  Magic is hard!!!).  In game 2 I kept a shaky hand with 2 mountains and white spells on the draw and needed to hit a plains in order to really play a fair game.  I bricked and despite casting a lightning axe and then a madnessed alchemist's greeting (discarding to hand size!) there was no way for me to do anything that game.  Going back to it I should have mulliganed that hand, but I think I was thrown off by the fact that I had the lightning axe to take out a threat if I missed on the land early, and if I got there the hand would have had a lot of power as having a lightning axe plus alchemist's greeting in hand is pretty good.  So I think I got trapped by seeing the lightning axe.  Game 3 he gets a faith unbroken on his selfless spirit and I didn't draw one of my 6 answers to it quite in time for it to make a difference.  I perhaps should have sided my other alchemist's greeting from the board given that I knew he had faith unbroken, but in any case, I think I'll certainly accept the loss and take 2nd.  We also did a conspiracy: take the crown draft where I drafted 10 conspiracy cards, lol.  After my first game everyone now just targets me from the onset which makes things impossible @_@.  But probably rightly so, as I have insane card advantage from Summoner's bond, which is pretty awesome.  In other news, Kaladesh spoilers have been popping out but I haven't really been following too closely.  Seems like it should be super exciting though!

So yeah, that's been life recently.  There are some good days and some not-so-good days.  It's a mix, really!