Monday, August 29, 2016

Miss Clue Updates

Two updates were made to Miss Clue this week.

#1. The game now has a "restart" feature. You can restart any chapter from the beginning again, which comes in handy if you run into a game-breaking glitch. I've found two such glitches so far, making me think that this game underwent no testing before release.

I'm glad to see they're at least trying to deal with the game's problems. Hopefully, they gave the same feature to the other games in the series. Haunted Garden glitches if you leave the game during the opening cutscene.

#2. They announced the next game in the series, "Trials of Salem". Coming this October, you have to help a woman who's been accused of witchcraft, and...wow. I know "Miss Clue" is a knock-off of the Nancy Drew series in general, but it's pretty gutsy for them to release a Salem witch game, around the same time that Her Interactive plans to release a Salem witch game. (We don't have an official release date yet.)

If anything, this is giving credence to the idea that Miss Clue is staffed by people who used to work for Her Interactive.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Final Scene



One problem I didn't discuss was the kidnapping timeline. The culprit plans to kidnap Brady Armstrong at a very specific time, going so far as to make an alibi and sync it with Simone's arrival at the theater. The problem? Brady isn't there. It seems ridiculous that the culprit puts that much effort into a kidnapping at a specific time, while leaving "time of the victim's arrival" completely up to chance.

You could say that the culprit timed the kidnapping, to coincide with Brady's interview with Maya. But if that's the case, why is the culprit 100% unprepared to deal with Maya's presence? Plus, the game indicates that Brady had no idea about the interview in advance. That's why, when he enters the room and sees Nancy, he has no idea why someone else is there.

In the book, there is no interview. It's just Bess, breaking into Brady Armstrong's dressing room, because he's hot. And by coincidence, she does it around the same time the kidnapper breaks into his dressing room.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Banders Pathway

Some people have requested a Banders pathway in Cat President. What would that look like? Here's one possibility. The storyline starts after the second debate, where Oreo and Thunderpaw have a huge catfight.

Chapter One: There is the fallout from the debate, which reveals that Thunderpaw and DJ Nibbles have ruined each other's campaigns. Frisky's campaign ended earlier in that pathway, so that only leaves three viable candidates, plus Banders. Thunderpaw is angry and fires the heroine, and Banders hires her immediately.

Chapter Two: Banders is asked to come up with some policies. He wants to sell the White House for kibble cash, and turn the Lincoln memorial pool into the world's largest litter box. Heroine is frustrated, trying to get him to come up with something coherent. Maybe he can confuse "taxes" with "Texas".

Chapter Three: Banders flubs his big TV interview and spends most of the time, talking about a movie he saw last night, which was actually a dream he had two weeks ago. His poll numbers go through the roof.

Chapter Four: Heroine is at a loss to explain why Banders' new poll numbers, until he is mobbed by a group of all-female reporters. Women find him irresistible, and they want him to be President! He's sooo cute!

Chapter Five: Banders is challenged to make a policy to end starvation. His solution? Take every women in America out on a dinner date. Heroine complains that he sounds just like Frisky, and she's at a loss to explain why she's so upset over the idea of him dating someone else.

Chapter Six: Thunderpaw shows up to protest one of Banders' speeches. It gets ugly, especially when Banders' fangirls (the FANders) get into the it. Banders ends up losing the second state to Rover.

Chapter Seven: It's crunch time! Only a candidate who won one of the three states can be selected, and there's only one state left! Banders is determined to win now and PROVE to his brother that he's a worthwhile cat. He decides to buckle down and study...but then he gets kidnapped by the Fanders.

Chapter Eight: Heroine does hostage negotiation with the Fanders, who refuse to release him until he names a state after them and makes "fangirl" a tax-exempt class. Banders makes this promise to them, and as soon as they let him go, he tells them he'll break his promise, because that's what politicians do. The Fanders are too impressed by his political prowess to be upset.

Chapter Nine: Banders thanks Heroine for saving him and says that she's much better than the crazy women he's used to dealing with. I will find some way to make this semi-romantic. Also, maybe I can include a ridiculous song parody in here. And maybe Thunderpaw and Banders can be reconciled to each other.

Chapter Ten: Final debate! Banders is reasonable and gives a grand speech, conceding the race to his opponent. Then he reveals that it's Opposite Day, and he doesn't mean what he says. After this, he pivots on every single issue. Nobody knows what he really believes now, but everyone thinks he's on their side. His poll numbers go up, and he wins the third state.

Is this a good storyline? Should we start making Banders DLC? I dunno! If I write it, I'm sure it'd end up being slightly different from what I wrote here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

EWW Final Scene Preview

I finished editing Everything Wrong With "Nancy Drew: The Final Scene". The video will go up Sunday, but here's a little sneak preview for you blog readers. I'll delete it, once the real video is public.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cat President

My new game, Cat President: A More Purrfect Union, is available for purchase! I hope you buy it and enjoy it! This is the game I spent all of November writing!

It's a parody of typical dating sims, specifically, the ones made by Voltage. I played several of their games, and it didn't take me long to realize that there are some personality types that are reused in every game. These include the pervert, the angry man who insults the heroine all the time, the nice guy, and the young guy. There are also storylines that get reused every game, like the tragic backstory, the romantic rival, the guy getting sick and revealing his innermost feelings, and the woman who gets super-close to your love interest, which causes you no end of romantic angst, until it's revealed that she is his relative, not his girlfriend.

I realized that there is a lot of crossover potential between these generic personalities and the people running for President. Like, you had the angry insulting candidate, the nice guy candidate, and the young guy candidate. So I put "Presidential candidates" together with "dating sim", and it worked amazingly well! You try to manage a Presidential campaign, while having romantic misadventures. It's not too unusual for the dating sim genre to dabble in politics, seeing as there are "date a prince" and "you're the prime minister's daughter" dating sims.

The game is also a vague parody of Internet humor, because it's got a lot of cat pictures, random song quotations, weird political conspiracies and puns. Mostly, if I found something weird/interesting on the Internet while writing the game, I tried to work it into the story. For example, there is a shady villain who controls the election from behind the scenes, the viral video of someone scaring cats with a cucumber, and others.

African Chicken

Recipe #2 was spicy braised African chicken. With this recipe, you use a tablespoon of olive oil. Put it in a skillet, along with salted chicken. You cook it for 5 minutes on each side, then put the chicken in a pot.

Then, you add two onions, which were sliced into rings. Cook them for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. The recipe tells you to add raisins, 1/2 tsp of curry, ginger, cardamom, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Very spicy stuff, and um...stuff I didn't have. Oops. I added what I could, and you get spicy onions.

You put the flavored onions on the chicken, then add a cup of chicken broth and a half-cup of white wine. I didn't add wine, myself. You cook on low heat for an hour, then you uncover and simmer for 15 more minutes. Serve over couscous.

In the end, it tasted like...slightly flavored chicken. Not a lot of payoff, for such a long recipe, but then again, I didn't have some ingredients. Still, I'm just about ready to give up on chicken recipes. No matter what I do, it always ends up tasting like chicken that I dropped spices on, two minutes before serving. Next time, I'll skip the whole complicated setup and just dump random spices on. It will probably end up tasking the same!

The onions were the interesting part of the recipe, because they become stringy, thanks to how you cut them and heat them. I might try making onions like that again! I'd make them plain, though. That's better than super spicy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Steak Rub

I finally found a new cookbook to try out! It used to belong to my aunt. She marked pages with good recipes, but did not mark out which recipes were the good ones. Oops.

First, I tried Peppery Smokehouse Steak Rub, which is fancy because it's steak. I almost never cook steak, because there are over ten kinds, and I can't tell the difference between them. With this meal, I got the steak which doesn't have bones, and which isn't super-expensive.

Oh, yeah, and this is a rub recipe. I didn't know what rubs were, until I started dating my wife, and we went to Buffalo Wild Wings, and I looked like an idiot for having no idea what the menu/waiter meant. Rubs are dry sauce, which you rub into the meat before cooking. Let it stand for 10 minutes or so, in order for the rub to settle into the meat.

So, with 6 steaks, the recommended rub ingredients are...3 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder. Also 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp rosemary and 1 tsp thyme.

It ended up tasting fine. I'd say it had too much paprika. Mary didn't like it because it was too spicy. I probably won't cook it again, but hey, now I have a better idea of what rubs are.

Monday, August 22, 2016

IRS Job

The IRS has some full-time seasonal jobs. Their busy season is January to April, which doesn't quite match up with the baby's birth in December, but it's close enough, by jingo.

I applied to the job and took their online job simulation test thing. The test is designed so you can complete it, even if you know absolutely nothing about taxes. Still, it's a good thing I got certified in advanced tax law! Knowing about the Earned Income Credit ahead of time was a big help! I was able to know that the one person doesn't qualify for EIC, even without checking the specific rules for that credit.

I think the only thing I got wrong was mixing up Stanford with Stamford. I guess I have a west coast bias, when it comes to city names.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baby's Name

We want to name the baby Roseann Gray, after my grandmother. She was named after her two grandmothers, Rose and Anne. And while it's a nice family name, the problem is that there was a popular TV show named "Roseanne". Everyone will think we're naming the baby after the show! Not to mention, baby Roseann will suffer from a lifetime of people misspelling her name, by adding an extra "e" on the end.

Is it possible to name the baby Rose Ann? Back in the 80's, it was a trend to have double first names. You see it in the Baby-Sitters Club series, with Mary Anne and Emily Michelle. Very rarely do those girls get referred to by only the first name. They're both part of the first name.

Do these girls have middle names? Like, Mary Anne Beth Spier. Is it possible for someone to have a double first name and a double middle name? Mary Anne Jo Beth Spier. That's a mouthful!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jobs

Katie and I have to change our job situation, in order to pay for our baby.

She works for the IRS, and the United States government doesn't offer paid parental leave. At most, it'll offer a woman twelve weeks of unpaid leave. She can use sick leave to spend more time at home, but that's not paid either. Vacation time is paid time off, but ha ha, vacation time is highly regulated and restricted, so using that isn't really an option.

[Insert angry rant about the government not updating its maternity leave policy since 1993.]

I kind of wish I was the one who was pregnant, not my wife. I mean, I'm the househusband who stays at home all day, kind of. It'd be easier on our finances if I was the one whose work was interrupted by the pregnancy.

Mostly, my jobs are YouTube and the pizza delivery gig. I do other stuff, like this blog and videogame development, but those don't make over $100 a year. And of course, taking care of the dog and 7-year-old doesn't pay at all.

So I need a new job! Maybe another part-time job, like writing videogame walkthroughs for Big Fish Games. I heard that pays pretty well, for a part-time job, but I have no idea how to apply for it. I'd also love ghostwriting Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys books, but they don't accept applications. Darn.

The baby is due in December, so maybe I can get a seasonal job. Are there full-time jobs in the November to February range? Because that way, Katie can take the full twelve weeks off for childbirth, and we'd still have a full-time paycheck coming in.

The worst-case scenario is for me to get a second fast food job, because two part-time fast food jobs, plus YouTube, kind of make enough money as a full-time job. Add the money that we've saved in the new baby fund, and we could make it work! Maybe! Obviously, a high-paying full-time job would be a lot comfier.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Baby-Sitters Club Ending

So, it looks like the Baby-Sitters Club series gets a little weird towards the end.

First, there's a character shuffle. Dawn is kicked out of the series, to make room for a new baby-sitter named Abby. Jessi and Mallory narrate books about half as often as usual, until they just sort of stop narrating altogether.

Then, there's a shift towards more mature storylines, like child abuse, Claudia being sent back a grade, Stacey's boyfriend getting depression and Kristy going "too far" with her boyfriend. The series ends with Mary Anne's house being burned to the ground.

They had a sequel series called "Friends Forever", where things seem to mostly calm down and get back to normal, except one with a kidnapping mystery. For whatever reason, Ann Martin still used ghostwriters the whole time (with two exceptions). I wonder why the attempts to get people interested in the series again did NOT involve having the original author write more books.

The weird part? The spin-off Baby-Sitters Club series seemed to be doing fine. Little Sister and California Diaries kept trucking along, well past the cancellation of the main series. The Baby-Sitters Club mystery series ended shortly before the main Baby-Sitters Club series, but I'm not sure if that's due to poor sales, or because the one ghostwriter (Ellen Miles) got sick of writing them.

In the end, it was decided that all Baby-Sitters Club related books would stop production, in 2000. That's around the same time Animorphs got cancelled. I remember people blaming Harry Potter for the cancellation of long-running children's series, because it was such a huge cash cow that Scholastic didn't need any other serials, especially serials that looked outdated. Other long-running children's series--Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High--got the boot around 2003-5.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pregnancy Cravings

People seem interested in my wife's pregnancy, so I figured I could talk about it some more. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event, after all!

At the childbirth class, the instructor made each couple say their favorite and least favorite thing about being pregnant. The two things that came up most were alcohol and food cravings. Some women miss being able to drink, while some men love having a non-drinking wife, who can always be the designated driver. This hasn't been an issue with us. I'm a sad drunk, so I generally avoid drinking to begin with. Plus, it's pretty mean for me to say, "Hey, Katie, you have to go out drinking with me. Just sit in the corner for an hour until I'm ready for you to take me home."

As for food cravings, it seems like the women go, "Hey, I'm craving a cheeseburger right now. Drop everything you're doing and go get me one." And the man has to get the food as soon as possible, just like in Lady and the Tramp. Some of the guys like the excuse to get cheeseburgers at weird hours. Some of the girls like the excuse to boss their men around. Katie hasn't had any food cravings, beyond an occasional coffee once a month, but she doesn't feel the need to make me into her personal chauffeur.

So, I dunno. It seems like the other pregnant couples in our class like to boss each other around. The guys force the girls to be their beer caddies, while the girls force the guys to be their food caddies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DS9: Bloodletter

I read Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #3: Bloodletter recently. This book has been badly received by the fans, for good reason. The author clearly hasn't seen the show. Maybe the author saw the pilot episode, but that's it. So everyone is out of character, and the storyline doesn't fit the show. On top of that, the story is incredibly slow, bogged down by plenty of sections with no dialogue or character interaction.

The general premise is a good idea, though. The Cardassians are building a space station on the gamma quadrant side of the wormhole. Uh oh, the bad guys are making Deep Space Nine 2.0! Commander Sisko is kind of mad because his boss cut his budget this year, so he purposely lets the Cardassians go ahead with their evil plot. That'll teach the Admiral not to underfund Sisko's projects!

...I told you everyone is out of character.

Our heroes have to do something to stop the Cardassians, so they decide to "claim" the area, by putting a mobile medical unit there. Apparently, interplanetary law works just like parking spaces at a crowded mall. Dr. Bashir and Major Kira are given the mission of flying the medical unit, which is bad news, because he keeps trying to seduce her. Meanwhile, she's suffering from PTSD and a spiritual crisis, over the time she slaughtered a group of monks in a hostage situation.

The religious stuff is kind of awkward, partially because the author was forced to invent a religion, and partially because the villains have the same name as a real-life group of monks. The Redemptorists are a bunch of gullible idiots, led by a madman named Horen. He kills one of his men, to prove how evil he is, and he gets the other men to smuggle him onto the mobile medical unit, so he can kill Kira.

Constable Odo solves the mystery, by performing psychological torture on the Redemptorists. He uncovers the murder plot against Kira, just in time to save her. Kind of. See, Part 2 of the book is when things get intolerably slow. Mostly, Horen sits around and waits for Kira to appear, while Kira cries and hides. Eventually, Bashir and Kira stop Horen by blowing things up. Oh, and Bashir spends about 100 pages talking to the wormhole aliens. That subplot didn't go anywhere, and it felt like a 100-page timewaster, an excuse for Bashir to be somewhere else, so he couldn't help Kira earlier.

So, that's the book. Like I said, it's not good. I give it a 2 out of 10, because it had two good ideas: the Cardassian plot to conquer the other end of the wormhole, and the wormhole aliens having an identity crisis. Other than that, it's an overly long book where everyone is out of character, and the story doesn't match the TV show at all. I would not recommend reading it.