Saturday, November 18, 2017

Danger by Design Speedrun Planning

I'm not working on a speedrun for Nancy Drew: Danger by Design, but I know how I would go about it. It seems to me that the halfway point of the game is the scene where Dieter is at the park. He drops Noisette Tornade's obituary, which allows Nancy to solve the numerous Noisette puzzles. If you try to solve the puzzles any earlier, the game won't let you.

So my question is "What triggers the scene of Dieter at the park?".

I suspect the trigger is "Nancy gets ordered to buy a parrot at the park", but that begs the question of "what triggers Nancy being ordered to buy a parrot?". Here are all the things I did before getting the "Dieter in the park" scene, the last time I played the game:
  • Do all the chores on the chore list (on Nancy's computer)
    • Fix the plotter
    • Solve Dieter's photo challenge
    • Give the photos to Jean Mi
    • Get the envelope from JJ
  • Make tea for Minette (a chore that's not listed on the computer)
  • Buy things for Minette at the park (a chore that's not listed on the computer)
  • Make cookies for J.J.
  • Solve Prudence Rutherford's challenge.
  • Get a high score on Model Match, so you can talk to Minette.
  • Solve the dodo box challenge.
  • Solve the cockroach challenge.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Puzzle Segment Programming (2 of 2)

Programming an adventure game segment in a visual novel was difficult, due to the interface. You're more or less forced to do the entire thing through menus. My menu looked like this:

  • Search this area
  • Search a different area
  • Interact with Item 1 if (you searched and found it already) and if (you haven't solved its puzzle)
  • Interact with Item 2 if (you searched and found it already) and if (you haven't solved its puzzle)
  • Check your inventory
  • Ask a friend for help

That's a simplified version of the menu. The real thing uses variables. There's a separate variable for "found an item", "item is in inventory" and "puzzle is solved".

As I said yesterday, each area has four items to find, two of which are inventory items. You search an area repeatedly, until you find all the items there. I can't think of a better way for the main character to find items. I'm told I could try a "click on the screen to add items to the inventory" interface, but one look at the programming for that confused me.

"Check your inventory" just goes down the list of inventory items. Easy.

"Ask a friend for help" was also easy to do. It checks to see if you found everything in area 1. If not, it tells you to search there again. Same thing for the other areas. Then, it checks which items are in your inventory and gives you a specific clue for each one. I programmed it, so you only get one clue at a time, though. If it gave ALL of the clues at once, that'd almost be TOO helpful.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Puzzle Segment Programming (1 of 2)

I wasn't sure how to write one segment of Mermaid Mission Titanic. My wife suggested adding a puzzle, where the mermaid has to escape a locked room. That sounded great to me, so I started writing one.

I figured I would make it simple. The room has three areas you can look at. Each area has two inventory items. Each inventory item gets used on one thing.

Three areas with two items each adds up six puzzles. I decided to add a second round to the challenge. So, each of the six puzzles gives you an item. Half of the items are used on the other half. So overall, that's nine puzzles.

...Programming this challenged ended up being a nightmare. There are nine possible inventory items, and nine possible things to use inventory items on. I had to program every single possible combination. It looked something like this:

If (Character has inventory_item_1) and (Character uses inventory_item_1 on crate):
show inventory_item_1 onscreen
Character "I'm going to use this on the crate."
Character "Oh, bummer! It didn't work!"
Character "I am ashamed of myself for being a failure."
hide inventory_item_1
Choice:
Character can go back to "pick an inventory item to use" screen
OR
Character can go back to "what do you want to do" screen

Imagine that, eighty-one times. It took dozens of pages. In retrospect, I didn't have to make it so hard on myself. Instead of writing a unique response for each item interaction, I could have programmed a generic response like "no, that's not right" to cover all seventy-two incorrect decisions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken Echilada

This recipe was okay, although it's clearly an oven recipe, transferred to a slow cooker. It calls for...
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle green taco sauce
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 4 oz can of diced green chilies
  • 2 cups grated cheese
You put them in the slow cooker, in that order. It's a recipe with two layers, so you do half the food for the first layer and half the food for the second layer. You cook it on high for 30 minutes, then cook it on low for 3 hours.

I stirred everything up at the end, before adding cheese. I'd also recommend only using six tortillas, for the first layer. Using 12 tortillas as a base is overdoing it, for a slow cooker. The bottom of the meal ended up being nothing but tortillas, mixed with absolutely nothing. That's why I think it was originally an oven recipe. Also, it took about thirty minutes to prepare everything. That's definitely an oven thing, not a slow cooker thing.

The enchiladas ended up being very good, although maybe I'm just saying that, because I liked the taco sauce and chilies. That was different and delicious. The kids don't let us cook food with chilies, sauce, anything spicy, or anything that looks spicy. I can kind of get away with putting salsa in food, as long as it's not visible.

So good recipe, but it's good I made it when the kids weren't around, because they'd probably never put up with it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coca Cola Roast

It's been a while since I talked about cooking on this blog, huh? That's because I finished my second recipe book, and I never actually bothered to move on to another book. My wife recently said she wants to have slow cooker meals, now that it's fall. So I pulled out a book of slow cooker recipes, and hey, now I've got a new cookbook to go through.

This time, I was smart and marked down the recipes I want to try ahead of time, that way I won't lose my place and forget.

The first recipe I tried was Coca Cola Roast, although you can use a different kind of soda. You put a 3 pound beef roast into the slow cooker, sprinkle it with an envelope of dry onion soup mix, then drown the whole thing with 24 ounces of Coca Cola. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.



The roast ended up being bland. You can't really taste the soda or the soup mix. It tastes like it was a normal roast, cooked in water. Nothing fancy, and needs gravy. I would not make it again.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Everything Wrong With Creature of Kapu Cave Suggestions

Please, leave your suggestions for Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Creature of Kapu Cave!

Here's the livestream I just did for the game, if you need help thinking of anything:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Patreon

My Patreon page is new and improved! I lowered some of the rewards tiers and added new ones. I figured someone would bite at the "pick a book for Arglefumph to review" or "pick a game for Arglefumph to play", but I guess not!

As of my writing this, I'm currently at 54,470,564 views and 37,384 subscribers. Those are good numbers, right?

I mean...The YouTube Wiki doesn't have a category for anything less than a million subscribers. They still have a page for me, though. And it's still got that out-of-character picture of me, pretending to be a tough wrestler dude. Ugh. Can't they update that picture?!

Anyway, big thanks to everyone who's supporting me on Patreon! I don't expect to get rich off this, by any stretch of the imagination, but if it covers the baby's monthly diaper expenses, I'm all for it. Or maybe I'll use it to pay an artist, so I can have fancy art for "Mermaid Mission Titanic"!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Return Free Filing

I saw a thing about return free filing the other day. That's the income tax system they use in Japan and other countries, where the government does your tax return for you. The way it works is that businesses and banks report your finance information to the government. The government runs that information through a computer, to figure out how much you owe in taxes. They send you a copy of the results, as a bill.

You can contact them and have the taxes adjusted, if there's a discrepancy. Like, the numbers are wrong because you had a secret wedding which they didn't account for, or your legal name doesn't match the name on your bank account.

The IRS has similar method called "substitute for return". They don't use it much, because it's not cost-effective. The IRS isn't going to spend $5,000 to get $20 in taxes. That's ridiculous. There are easier, cheaper ways to get money from someone who didn't file a return.

Call me selfish, but I don't really care if our country switches to return free filing. I have to file a manual tax return no matter what, because I'm classified as a contract worker. YouTube isn't required to send my finance information to the government, so they, uh, don't. I get the fun of doing it all myself, and filling out additional forms (Schedule C, Schedule SE (self-employment)).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm told that some kids in college today don't even try to pay attention in class. They just play on their phones the whole time. I have no doubt that this is true. I'm just lucky that the phone I had in college wasn't capable of playing games. I probably wouldn't have been able to get through class without being distracted by dumb stuff.

2. It seems that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders had a big debate on the tax reform plan, with Cruz for and Sanders against. I didn't see the debate, but based on the recaps of the debate, they spent the whole time talking about business tax reform, not individual tax reform. That's almost the opposite of what I did here on my blog!

Sadly, it seems like the debate was an exercise in futility, as they disagree on basic economic facts. Without any common ground to work off of, there was little for them to do, besides disagree with each other. But Sanders' fans think he did well, and Cruz's fans think he did well, too, so even if the debate was a failure in terms of one person convincing the other, it was a success in that they both got to score points with their respective bases.

3. I'm working on "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Danger by Design". I decided to move all the problems with the tutorial/intro to the END of the video. Otherwise, I'll paint myself into a corner and be forced to repeat those problems with every single game for the next ten games. Or however many games it is, before they change the intro.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Haircut

I'm not an extrovert. I just play one on YouTube. Sometimes in real life, I have introvert moments. Like, a waiter will talk to me at a restaurant when I'm not expecting it. I'll flinch, and my mind will go completely blank, rendering me incapable of responding to the waiter without sounding like an idiot. Or, at least, I think I sound stupid.

I think being an introvert is why I don't like getting my hair cut. The barbers always want to chat with you, have a conversation. I don't feel comfortable talking about the details of my life to a complete stranger, who I'm not looking at. Most hair cutting places have TVs now, and I never know when it's appropriate to ignore the barber and watch the TV.

I went to get a hair cut recently. The barber said last time I got a zero with a fade, do I want the same thing this time? And my mind went totally blank. I had no idea what she meant. She switched to asking if I want finger-wide hair. You'd think that would be pretty easy to understand, right? It's as wide as a finger? I also held up a finger to show how long I wanted it cut to. She didn't understand, and now all of a sudden, the trip has turned into a confusing guessing game of "what does the barber mean?".

I suddenly remembered, I have pictures of myself for The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved The World. So I pulled out my phone and showed her the pictures. I didn't realize until later that, duh, I have other pictures of myself on my phone, not just ones from the photoshoot of me with a shaved head.

Anyway, that's why I got another shaved buzzcut: I'm horrible at interacting with people at barbershops.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sick Baby

The baby got sick for the first time. Apparently, it's a bug that spread throughout the entire school. All the kids and their parents are getting it.

The baby had a temperature of 100.6 in one ear and 100.8 in the other. So I guess that's 100.7 overall, which is about two degrees higher than normal. The temperature only lasted a day or so, but she had a cough for the entire week. Also, her nose is more or less leaking snot. It's gross. Yes, we have plenty of burp cloths to clean up her face, but it's still gross.

I posted about the baby's sickness online. Big mistake! My relatives freaked out, and I had multiple people contact me with the message, "Get her to the hospital immediately!". She's not that sick! Maybe they misread the post as 106, not 100.6. Anyway, it wasn't fun, getting desperate phone calls from people who mistakenly think my child is dying.

Of course, now I've got the sickness, and it's just yuck.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Game Making Update

It's been about a week since I sent Mermaid Mission Titanic to a group of testers, so they can review the script and let me know their thoughts. Only one of them has finished the questionnaire I gave them. Should I ask the others to hurry up, or give it another week?

I am both excited and terrified to see the results of the questionnaire. Let's hope they all agree on whatever changes need to be made, so I don't have the "half the testers want A, half the testers want B" dilemma.

The game that I sent out is the placeholder art version. My wife sent it to one of her friends who does art, along with an offer to do the art for the final game, for a specific percentage. I'm also terrified to hear the results of that job offer. If it doesn't go through, I'll most likely have to do the art myself. I mean, it'd be nice if I could get real-life photographs for the game, but that would involve contacting mermaid cosplayers and 1910's cosplayers. I know those groups exist, but it seems like it'd be a weird message to send. "Hey, I need several pictures of you dressed like a mermaid AND a passenger on the Titanic!"

While I wait for the results to come in, I'm gonna get started on writing a book-based game for Choice of Games. I did a Twitter poll, and Pride and Prejudice won! That's just as well, I suppose, as I already have an outline for that game. Now I just have to...uh...remember what happens in the book.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Married Priests

There has been clickbait news this week about Pope Francis allowing married priests, in the near future. Let me cut through the clickbait and give you all the real story.

The Amazon area in South America has a severe priest shortage. Pope Francis asked for the Bishops there to come up with "courageous solutions" to the problem. Suggested solutions include "allowing married priests" and "allowing female deacons", both of which existed in the early church, but don't exist today.

Pope Francis recently met with Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Amazonian Bishops. Afterwards, he announced a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon area, to take place in October 2019. It will only cover the Amazon area. That's nine different countries, but most reporters are using "Brazil" as shorthand to refer to all of them. All the Bishops in the area will be flown out to Rome to meet with the Pope and come up with a solution to the problem.

The announcement was made October 15, three weeks ago. I don't know why the news people didn't notice the story, until this week.

Well, that's the story! Pope Francis and the Amazonian Bishops are having a special meeting, about the priest shortage there. Almost assuredly, "let married men become priests" will be discussed as a possible solution at the meeting. This isn't happening for another two years, though.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tax Reform (Part 2)

The tax reform has a lot of stuff in it, most of which will mean nothing to non-tax people. Here are some of the bigger things which I haven't heard about in mainstream media coverage:
  • The lifelong learning and hope credits will be eliminated. Now there's only one education credit: the American Opportunity Credit
  • Alimony is no longer allowed as an adjustment to income
  • Moving expenses are no longer allowed as an adjustment to income
  • S-Corp flow through income is subject to SE tax
I've seen people talk about the state and local tax deduction, which is something you can get if you itemize on Schedule A. The basic idea behind it is that your income shouldn't include any money spent on state taxes, local taxes or property taxes. That is, you shouldn't have to pay taxes on the money which was used to pay taxes. That's dangerously close to double taxation! (Although, obviously, you can pay multiple taxes on the same thing.)

Predictably I suppose, the state and local tax deduction has led to a fight between states and federal. This especially happens in rich states with high taxes, such as California, New York, and New Jersey. Those are also the states where most news reporters live. Oh. Is that why the news people are reporting on this angle, to the exclusion of all others?

Obviously, New York would like it if people paid all their taxes to them, and then wrote off that money as a federal tax deduction (which, in turn, frees up more money which could be taxed). Obviously, the US government would like it if people did not write off state taxes as a deduction, because that means they pay less in federal taxes. Some people have accused the states have of deliberately gouging rich taxpayers, treating the state and local tax deduction as a federal subsidy.

(These are probably not regular taxpayers making that complaint. Regular taxpayers rarely complain about not paying taxes, unless, of course, the complaint is about other people cheating on taxes.)

The new tax plan gets rid of the state and local tax deduction. Property taxes are still deductible, but only up to $10,000. As per usual with tax law, the people who normally take the deduction are angry to see it go. The people who don't normally take the deduction like the idea of rich people paying more in taxes. ("Rich" in this case means "someone who pays over $6500 in state and local taxes", because that's about as much as a person would have to pay in those taxes to make the state and local tax deduction worthwhile)