Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 7

As I said yesterday, the first major part of "Secret of the Old Clock" is getting the mirrors and reaching the upstairs area of the carriage house. This area has two different notes. One is about Marcel's band, and the other is about the piece of quartz for the ham radio. Both of those are longer puzzles, and I'm fairly certain you HAVE to read the upstairs notes to trigger these puzzles.

Both puzzles involve talking to Topham, so that's nice. You can kill two birds with one stone that way.

With the quartz, you ask Topham for it. He makes you do his psychic puzzle. Then you take the quartz to Waddell to be cut. He charges you a lot of money for it, the greedy jerk.

With Marcel's band, you ask Topham what Marcel is. It's a hat that Emily has. You go to Emily and get the key from the hat. Then you go to Jim Archer's and use the key for the second half of the trivet. Obviously, I'll want to arrange things so I have both halves of the trivet at this point. So...I'll have the trip into town, where I get the quartz to Waddell, get half of the trivet from Archer, and solve the second half of the trivet puzzle, if necessary.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 6

The first major part of "Secret of the Old Clock" is finding all four mirrors. You use them inside the carriage house, so you can go upstairs and start with the next major part of the game. The mirrors are...

1. Inside the den. You can get it at any time.
2. Inside Topham's house. You have to solve Topham's word puzzle, before you can get it.
3. Inside Jim Archer's area. You have to get the key from Waddell before you can get it.
4. Inside the carriage house. You have to solve the golf flag challenge, in order to get it, I think. Maybe the game lets you enter the right solution, without having beaten the golf flag challenge.

As I said when I started the speedrun routing, I don't know what the trigger is for "hidden passageway in the den can be found now". Hopefully, the trigger is early on in the game, so I can get the mirror in the den and discover the hidden passageway on the same trip. If not, I'll have to take two trips to the den, one for the mirror and another for the passageway. I think you have to use the hidden passageway twice regardless, but I'm not sure.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 5

As part of the trivet challenge, you need five toys for the orphans. You can buy toys at the general store, which is near Twin Elms. You can also win the minigolf challenge multiple times for toys. Minigolf is cheaper than buying toys, although it takes longer.

It all comes down to money. Nancy makes money in this game, by delivering telegrams. That takes a long time, and it would be ideal for the speedrun if I could avoid it.

The only other time Nancy gets money is when she goes through the hidden passageway. I think there's a dollar or so, there. Nancy spends money to play minigolf, buy toys, use the phone, get the key from Waddell and get the jewel cut by Waddell. Buying gasoline also costs money.

I guess I have to do math here! Calculate how much money Nancy earns, versus how much money she has to spend. Hopefully the math will NOT work out to "play minigolf five times in a row for five toys", to save enough money to avoid delivering telegrams.

I will also have to time how long it takes to win mini-golf, compared to how long it takes to get toys at the general store.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 4

Josiah's notebook gives you the carriage lock puzzle AND the trivet puzzle. It's a long puzzle.

There's also a clue about the trivet, in Jim Archer's typewriter. I'll have to test that. Do you need the typewriter or the notebook to start the trivet puzzle. Do you need both? If I only need one of those clues, then I'll skip getting the other one.

The trivet puzzle is long. What you do is go to Twin Elms, then to Titusville Telco, then to the orphanage, then to the printer, then to the fishing hole, then to the printer, then to Titusville Telco, then to Twin Elms.

Maybe you could split the puzzle in half, as a timesaver. Titusville Telco is the spot that's closest to the Lilac Inn. So one of the trips there can turn into "visit Titusville Telco, go back to Lilac Inn and do stuff there, finish trivet puzzle the next time you go to town". That's not the worst idea ever, since you have to visit Jim Archer two more times, before you get the second half of the trivet, at which point, you DO have to finish the trivet puzzle.

So...I guess I can chart out routes, time them, and determine what's fastest.

What happens if you run out of gas? Does the game automatically send you to the gas station? If so, maybe you could plan things so you run out of gas at a certain location, then get warped to the gas station. That could save time! Obviously, it'd save time if you never have to get gas.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 3

You readers are fine with me plotting a Nancy Drew speedrun for a week, right? This is kind of a Nancy Drew blog.

Josiah's notebook gives you the carriage door puzzle. The carriage door puzzle has multiple parts.

1. Bard Bounce. Play this in the den.
2. Favorite poet. Look at the book on Emily's bed.
3. Mini-Golf. I hate this puzzle.
4. Gloria's middle name. I'm pretty sure you have to ask Emily for this.

While speed running, I'll have to test all the various combinations, here. Maybe it's like "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time", where the game SAYS you have to get all six medals, but really, the game only checks to see if you got the first and last medals. You can technically skip the others.

So I'll see if any of these four things can be skipped. Hopefully one or more can! I doubt that all four can be skipped. The route will have to adjust, accordingly. Like, if Bard Bounce can be skipped, I won't ever do that. If Gloria's middle name can't be skipped, I have to plan to go back to the Lilac Inn and do that. I have to go back to the Lilac Inn at SOME point, so maybe I can combine two trips?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 2

Continuing from yesterday, the next part of the game is either "go into town" or "go to Topham's area". I'm guessing we go to Topham's first, because that unlocks some things in town.

1. Call Nancy's dad and learn about telegrams. I'm pretty sure if you ignore this, he's going to automatically call you at one point. That would mean it's faster (and cheaper) to NOT call Dad at this point, but maybe I'm forgetting something that makes it advantageous to call now.
2. On the road to Topham's, get the piece of paper about the key at Waddell's. That way, when you go into town, you can get the key appraised and solve the clock puzzle at Jim Archer's.
3. Find the mouse for the cat.
4. Talk to Topham. Solve his puzzle. I'm pretty sure he won't let you explore his house without solving his puzzle.
5. Solve the clock puzzle on the mantel for a mirror.
6. Read Josiah's notebook of clues. I'm pretty sure you can't solve some of Josiah's puzzles, without having read the notebook. The big puzzles would be the trivet puzzle in town and opening the carriage house door.

I said "I'm pretty sure" multiple times. When routing the speedrun, I'd have to test it and make 100% sure. Because if it turns out I can solve the carriage door puzzle without getting Josiah's notebook? Pfft, I'm not doing steps 4-6. I'm skipping those.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 1

I played Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock and you know, that's one of the games that I don't have any speedrun strategies for. I guess it's a little difficult to route because it's non-linear.

Well, the first part of the game should be easy enough to route! You have to...

1. Go inside the Lilac inn
2. Talk to Jane
3. (Solve the bard bounce puzzle in the den, or save it for later?)
4. (Solve the clock puzzle in the den, or save it for later?)
5. Talk to Emily. This triggers the kitchen scene, which includes a conversation with Jane and a conversation with Emily.
6. Now you can go to other places and do things! All other locations are closed until the kitchen scene.

Lots of conversations, I see. So that means I'd have to replay this section over and over, in order to find the fastest conversation routes.

I don't know if I have to solve the two puzzles here at the start, or later. Later on, you have to visit the den and find a hidden passageway. It'd be a timesaver to solve the den puzzles while finding the hidden passageway, as opposed to making TWO trips to the den. I guess it all depends on what the trigger is for "hidden passageway in the den can be found now". I think the trigger is meeting Mr. Archer? Maybe?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How Language Is Learned

One of the things philosophers talk about is how language works. Are there limits to language? Does language affect understanding? How do people begin to understand the concept of "language"? Can we have a scientific-based approach to language?

I mentioned this to my wife, and she said it sounds like all of these so-called "great philosophers" are single men who never had kids. That is pretty much true. Socrates is basically the only great philosopher who had a wife.

Saint Augustine had a son, and he wrote some basic philosophy on "how language works". Babies and little kids learn words through repetition and example. If you point at a chair and say "chair" 100 times, the baby will eventually learn that the thing you're pointing at is called a chair. Our baby Rosie is coming up on four months now, and that's how she learned words. Granted, her vocabulary is super-limited. She knows "Mom", "Dad", "Rosie" and "play". She might know "hello"; Katie and I disagree if Rosie knows "hello" is distinct from "play", as she makes the same sound in response to both.

Kids grow a vocabulary as time goes on, and they speak in sentences which aren't sentences, like "Rosie bottle" for "give me the bottle". Once the concept of sentences clicks, their vocabulary explodes, as they can start deducing words from context, without having to be physically shown something to know what it is.

At least, I'm pretty sure that was Saint Augustine's theory of language. It's pretty much "this is how babies learn how to talk". I like philosophies that are grounded in reality, myself.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Teenager Taxes

I sometimes interact with people who say they're doing their kids' taxes. Whenever I ask, it turns out that they're NOT kids. They're adults, 18 or older, and in college. If you're old enough to vote, I say you're old enough to do your own taxes, without Mommy's help.

I can understand a parent trying to help out their kids, because the kids are busy. With me, it was different. Dad figured I was too stupid to do taxes on my own, so he took my tax forms and filled them out for me. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dad!

So, yeah, I was also the college kid who didn't know how to do taxes, because I wasn't allowed to. I'm mad about that, because it made me completely unprepared for real life. To make things worse, my teenager taxes were easy. Literally. I would have done Form 1040 EZ. "EZ" for "easy", because it's about a third as long and cuts out the tough stuff that doesn't apply, like stocks, dependents, etc. 15-year-old Michael should have been given that and told to do his taxes. He totally could have figured it out in under a half hour.

I can't use the 1040-EZ anymore, because I get YouTube money, and I'm partnered with a Canadian network, so it's foreign-filtered self-employment income. It's about as complicated as it sounds.

Well, I'm going to learn from my parents' mistakes. Rosie and Mary are doing their own taxes, as soon as they start making money. Which is now, actually. Mary's YouTube channel has made about ten cents. Not enough to meet a filing requirement, but it might be best to have her do the simple tax return now, just for practice.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Tax day is coming up. Normally, Tax Day is 4/15, but it was delayed this year because of the weekend and holiday. Make sure to file a tax return, either electronically or by mail!

I recommend saving a copy of your tax return. You don't know if identity thieves will attack you next year, and you'll need a copy of your prior year tax return to prove your identity. There are other situations where you might need a copy of last year's tax return, like for mortgages or college scholarships, but identity theft is the big one. Keep a copy of your prior year tax return, just in case.

Another tip: don't put the wrong address on your tax return. You should never do that, as a general rule, but you especially should avoid doing this, if you know you're a potential identity theft victim. Say, someone stole your wallet or hacked your office mainframe. As you can probably guess, "totally different address" is a huge red flag for identity theft. So keep your address current and correct!

The sad identity theft cases are ones which are obviously NOT identity theft. Say your bank rejects your refund, because the refund was in the name of "Donald Trump" and your bank account is in the name of "Don Trump". As you can probably guess, it's a huge red flag for identity theft if the bank rejects money due to name mismatch. So make sure your bank account is in your legal name, i.e. The name on your social security card. Don't use your YouTube username for this!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I saw someone playing the new Zelda game on the bus yesterday! I couldn't tell what was going on, but then again, I was busy trying to watch the game while pretending I'm NOT watching the game, because it's creepy to lean over someone's shoulder on the bus to watch their game screen.

From what I can tell, the game looks like it's filled with a lot of open-world exploration. And I don't want to sound mean, but that's one of the things I disliked about the GameCube Zelda games. Yes, it's neat to have a large open world with beautiful graphics and fancy stuff to look at. But I don't like looking at scenery! As I talked about last week with adventure game design, I'd rather have one screen with six things to do on it, as opposed to six screens with only one thing to do.

That was Wind Waker to a T. It has 49 islands, but the vast majority of them are oneshots, with only one thing to do, like a minigame or a puzzle for a piece of heart. I prefer something like Majora's Mask which tried to jam-pack a ton of stuff into one area, or something like Ocarina of Time which makes you redo areas twice or more. (Yeah, that was probably due to hardware/space limitations, but maximizing the use of a game location isn't a bad idea!)

I'm going to guess that the new Zelda game is like the others, and about halfway through, you unlock the ability to warp from one location to another, cutting down on all the "walking through large, empty fields" time. Because we were on the bus for over twenty minutes, and that is literally all the guy did. He was going through large fields, with occasional trees. At one point, he found a wooden structure and at one point, he found a lake with rocks. I wanted to see dungeons and puzzles and monster fighting!

I know I might sound negative in this blog, but I still want to get the game and play it myself. Just...I might skip over the exploration parts and get to the action/story/puzzle parts.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April Fools Suggestions

Oh, hey, I forgot to post my other April Fools Day jokes. I wanted to write something about the upcoming Nancy Drew game.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rosie Smiling

Here's a picture of Rosie smiling!

Rosie's facial muscles have improved, to the point where she can smile on purpose. It's not just her smiling, because she's copying the facial expression of someone who's looking at her. In this case, she was smiling because she recognized me. It sometimes can take a while for her to see a person, remember them, remember that she likes them, and then starts smiling.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Now that Rosie is over three months old, her face is changing. She used to look just like my clone, and now she looks like her own person. Kind of. She still looks a lot like me, to the point that you'd pick me as her father in a police lineup.

Note to Nancy Drew authors: Include baby daddy police lineup in the next book, okay?

I'm told it's normal for babies to completely change their appearances. She'll probably look different at six months, and different again when her permanent hair comes in. It's similar to how older children change. The way you look at 8 can be totally different from the way you look at 16.