Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beef and Mushroom Stew

Beef and mushroom stew was easy enough to make.

3 pounds stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 (small) cans of mushrooms
1/2 cup apple juice
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Whoever wrote this book sure loves dry onion soup mix with their roasts. Anyway, mix them all together and cook in a slow cooker on low for 10 hours.

My family thought it was okay. I burned my tongue on it, so I'm not adding it to my recipe book. Call me petty, if you want.

There was a lot of liquid left over. So if you make it, maybe turn that liquid into gravy. That's a thing people do, right? I would recommend adding the cans of mushrooms, shortly before serving, otherwise you won't be able to taste them, not really. Switching out the apple juice for water would probably have little effect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sunday Chicken

Here's the Sunday Chicken recipe!

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup sour cream

Put the chicken in a slow cooker. Mix the soup with the soup envelope, and pour it over the chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. One hour before serving, stir in the sour cream. (I'm told it curdles if you try to put it in earlier).

This recipe worked out really well, because Mary likes sour cream. The sour cream is strong enough that it overpowers the taste of the dry onions. Or at least, Mary had no idea there were onions in this meal. She thought it was just sour cream, so she liked it. It helps that I let her put the sour cream in; that made her feel like she made the meal.

I'm going to add this to my recipe book, but I want a different name for it. Any suggestions? If I don't get any, I'll probably do something generic, like "sour cream chicken with dry onion".

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Barbecue Meatballs, Chocolate Fondue

Barbecue Meatballs is a winner! Just put meatballs in a slow cooker and dump a bottle of barbecue sauce on them. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. It's simple, and it tasted good. I'm adding it to my list of meals now!

I don't want this to be a super short blog post, so here's another winner recipe: chocolate fondue. It's for one of those small slow cookers. It's two cups of milk chocolate chips and 2/3 a cup of half and half. Mix them in a slow cooker. Cook on low for a half hour. Stir. Cook on low for another half hour. Done!

I'm not adding this to the recipe book just yet. I want to try again, with 3/4 cup of half and half. The chocolate was thick and overpowering; it could have used more of the half-and-half to make it smoother.

It definitely tasted good, but we made a big mess on the tablecloth, eating it. We got several things to dip into the fondue, like brownies, strawberries, marshmallows, graham crackers. My wife said buying the extras made it cost three or four times as much. That must be how those fondue restaurants stay in business; they buy the extras in bulk. I want to try the other fondue recipes in the book (caramel fondue, cheese fondue), but my family isn't fond of the idea.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Slow Cooker - Craberry Pork Roast

The recipe says to cook a 2-3 pound pork loin in a slow cooker, on low, for 6 to 10 hours. Gotta love that wide range, huh?

For a topping, you have a can of whole berry cranberry sauce, with grated orange peel, honey, cloves, nutmeg, salt and pepper. I could list out how much you use of each one, but I'm not going to. I didn't like this recipe. I couldn't taste any of the extra ingredients. It honestly tasted like a normal pork loin, with cranberry sauce.

If I get the urge to make it again, I'm going to make a pork loin the normal way, in the over, then put cranberry sauce on top.

This recipe, along with the Coca Cola Roast recipe, is making me a little suspicious of this slow cooker recipe book. I've been good about the whole "trying 1-2 new recipes every week" thing, so I should have multiple recipes to talk about this week.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Everything Wrong with White Wolf

I'm working on "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: White Wolf of Icicle Creek" now! Please leave your suggestions as a comment below!

If you don't remember that game, here's my livestream for it:



I only got through the first twelve minutes of it, this week. I've been busy.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Layton's Mystery Journey

I just finished playing Layton's Mystery Journey! It's probably going to be a while before every video of the walkthrough is public, so here's a little mini-review.

I liked the game's setup. It's a series of smaller, self-contained 1-2 hour mysteries. Each of the seven millionaires gets a mystery, and our three main characters each get a mystery. Then there's the intro case and the finale case. A nice little setup. Some of the mysteries had interesting premises, and they usually played out well.

There's only one case I outright dislike, and that's the Madame Doublee case. The solution to that case left a bad taste in my mouth. Some of the mystery solutions are silly, and the game is silly in general. I liked the tone of the game, but that particular case was ugh.

The finale case tries to tie all the other cases together, but it does so in an unsatisfactory way. I think the main problem is that two of the game's plot threads are left hanging.

1. Professor Layton suddenly disappeared a few months ago, and no one knows where he is. This gets mentioned several times, like it's going to become important in the finale. But no. Turns out, it's just a cheap excuse for why Layton doesn't appear in this game. None of the main characters from his series appear, either.

2. Katrielle's sidekick in this game is a talking dog named Sherl. He's probably the funniest character in the game. The prologue introduces him as a human who was turned into a dog, only now he has amnesia, so we have no idea who he is or where he comes from. Again, this seems like something big that the ending would resolve, but no. Turns out, amnesia is just a cheap excuse for why the game doesn't go into his backstory.

I would like a sequel, provided that it addresses these two issues. It could try to bring in the Layton Brothers spinoff game, if it was particularly ambitious, but I don't think that's entirely necessary. The game does throw a reference to Layton Brothers in a bonus scene that's unlocked, if you solve every puzzle of the game. Hey, that's something!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Francy Droo and Friends

My newest videogame is available for purchase!

This one is a collection of FIVE games, although you can buy the games individually on itch.io, if you prefer. The games are the two Francy Droo games, Trapped in a Soap Opera, Who Am I?: The Let's Play Disaster and My Nigerian Prince.

As you probably know, I really like Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger. So I wanted to have a subplot in Francy Droo 2, where Francy goes to a soap opera. She meets characters who are send-offs of the Nancy Drew characters, like Dick Marlin the actor, Wayne Dowers the talent agent and Cynthia Matterhorn, the prop room lady. (My apologies to the other characters, for leaving them out!)

In Wayne's ending, he pretends they're characters in a soap opera. I had so much fun writing that bit, it inspired me to write "Trapped in a Soap Opera", where an actor gets stuck in his own soap opera. I wanted to show off some soap opera tropes in a humorous yet a realistic way, because most soap opera parodies I've seen are clearly written by people who have never watched a soap opera. For example, I included "senior cast member who has been on the show for decades" as a soap opera trope in the game. I used actors from "Days of our Lives" as models for most of the characters.

"Who Am I?: The Let's Play Disaster" is two interesting ideas, meshed into one. First, what if Arglefumph came to life? Sometimes, I feel like Arglefumph is a totally different person from me. Second, what if there was a let's player, who was playing through a game, and the various characters started interacting with him? I ended up playing all three characters. Like, I'm Michael, I'm Arglefumph, and I'm the surly Let's Player whose playing the Michael/Arglefumph game.

The other two games, "Francy Droo and the Missing Mother-in-Law" and "My Nigerian Prince" were previously available for purchase.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 5

Big Island Mike makes Joe go fishing for six Ulua fish. The first fish you catch is always an Ulua. The last fish you catch is always an Ulua, too. Other than that, "what fish you catch" appears to be random.

I figured this would be a good place to abuse save states. You know, make it so that Joe catches six Ulua and ten three-dollar fish. That way, Joe can trade in the fish for snorkeling equipment, without the need to make necklaces or go fishing a second time.

I tried it out, and guess what? The programmers thought of that. I made $28 in spare fish, and the game stopped letting me get more fish. Every fish I caught after that was an Ulua, which you don't get any money for. So it's impossible to make enough money for snorkeling, the first time you go fishing. That's probably because you have unlimited bait, the first time you go fishing.

The game glitches, if you go fishing without talking to Big Island Mike about Ulua. In order to do this, you have to make enough money in necklaces, to afford bait. The magical, unlimited bait appears if you do this, because you're fishing for the first time. You can probably get $30 from fishing, by using that glitch.

I also tested out the shells in the game. I can't figure out the pattern. It seems like they appear randomly, in real time. You can save the game, wait on the title screen for five minutes, then reload the game. You'll probably get at least a few shells like that. So in a speedrun, you could totally abuse save states to get all the shells you need. It takes a long time, in real time, but in terms of actual gameplay, it's not so long.

Which strategy is faster, though? Making necklaces or catching fish? Let's see. It took me 21.88 seconds to make an aloha necklace, which is $4. It took me 15-20 seconds to catch a fish, the most expensive (non-Ulua) fish being $3. So...yeah. Fishing wins, but it's almost the exact same amount of time. Like I said, you can't get the $30 you need, the first time you go fishing. Therefore, you'll have to fish and make one necklace. That's faster than fishing twice, because in order to fish a second time, you have to pay for bait, and you have to fish a few times to cover the cost of that bait.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 4

I know I said I wasn't doing a speedrun for Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun, but I saw a lot of the game while doing the Everything Wrong With video for it. I figured to work on it at least a little more.

When you make the necklace for Big Island Mike, there are a few variations on the conversation. She mentions extra shells, if she picked some up, and she mentions multiple necklaces, if she made more than one. The fastest conversation is no extra shells, just one necklace. That's .6 seconds faster than the alternative. In that same conversation, it's 1.5 seconds faster to ask about Kane Okala, as opposed to saying you already know about him. It's about .5 seconds faster to tell Mr. Mapu that you need the key.

At Quigley's camp, it turns out you need to listen to the fourth diary entry, before you can open the trunk. You don't need to listen to it for more than a second, but you do need to listen to it. I also discovered you have to get everything out of the trunk, and you need to press the power button on the radio, before looking at the solar cells.

Once you do all that, you go to Dr. Craven. You solve his puzzle for solar cells. You put the solar cells in, and you call Quigley. Switch to Joe. You ask Big Island Mike about his "try it and trade it system", then ask him if he ever leaves. He gives you Ulua bait and tells you to fish for 6 Ulua. Go fishing, then give Big Island Mike the fish, so he can leave.

Once he leaves, you go into his room and find the map. The game automatically switches to Nancy. Go to Quigley, and she tells you to get the clipboard. Do that, then go back to Quigley. This starts the frass puzzle.

Pretty much everything, up to this point of the game, is linear. And, actually, doing the frass puzzle is pretty linear, too. At least, I suspect it is. Probably the only variation is deciding whether to go to Kapu Cave before or after fixing the microscope. That doesn't make much of a difference, for a speedrun.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tax Stuff

Hey, Congress managed to pass the new tax plan! Sort of. It has to go through the reconciliation process first, but odds are looking good that it will pass. Here are some thoughts I have.

1. The Senate did the time-honored technique of "drop big news on Friday night, to avoid major news coverage". People use this technique because it works, but it seems super sketchy for them to drop huge legislation in the middle of the night. They were up until 2 AM, voting on the various last-minute amendments and such.

Some people complained that Senators were not given enough time to review the various last-minute amendments. I'm going to be sarcastic here and say that's not important to the process. Everyone voted along party lines on basically every vote. You don't need days of preparation, when all you're going to do is vote with your party.

2. There have been various news reports, on how the tax plan will affect the middle class. I think I figured out why these reports rub me the wrong way. It's because they have a totally different definition of "middle class" than I do. Like, a single person who gets $125,000 a year? That's not a middle class person in my mind. That's rich person.

3. I've seen several complaints that there's anti-abortion stuff in the tax law. That seems amazingly out of place. Let's take a look at what's going on!

The part of the law in question is the section about 529 plans, or as they're more commonly known, "college savings plan". It's possible to make tax-free donations to a college savings plan. The previous law said that a child has to be born, before you can donate to their college savings plan. The new law says that you can donate to a college savings plan, even if the child isn't born yet.

...That's all. It has nothing at all to do with abortion.

(EDIT 12/4: I've been told by a commenter that the 529 thing is an attempt to "to legally define a fetus as a person, (as a person can benefit from a 529 account) therefore in line with the life begins at conception argument. Regardless of where anyone stands on this topic, it does not belong in a tax bill." Here's the interesting thing about that. The tax law already defines fetuses as "non-persons". Fetuses, and specifically stillborn children, cannot be used as dependents or other tax benefits. From a tax standpoint, if it did not go through a live birth, it's not counted as a child. That also seems like an abortion argument, which was put into a tax bill. Personally, I'd let the parents of stillborns claim the child as a dependent, just to help cover the medical expenses of childbirth.)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Insults Aren't News

I may have mentioned this before, but I don't like news stories that boil down to "someone insulted someone else online". That's not news; that's the YouTube comments section. News stories like that feel more like clickbait or gossip magazine fodder than actual news.

I remember during the 2016 election, there was a news cycle about Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush insulting each other on Twitter. They went back and forth for a while, and it was all completely pointless, because neither Clinton nor Bush write their own tweets. They have marketing interns who do that for them. It was a fight between interns. Probably unpaid interns. But no, the news acted like the two politicians were personally taking time out of their Presidential campaigns to make insulting memes about each other.

I remember when Twitter first started to hit it big. One of the major draws was the fact that you could interact with celebrities for real! But now, pretty much every celebrity, company and politician has marketers do their tweets. (Oh, yeah. "Rival companies insult each other on Twitter" is also a news story that appears sometimes. Ugh.) I'm not blaming them, for letting other people handle their Twitter accounts, though. I know that if I ever hit the big time, I wouldn't have enough free time to respond to everyone on Twitter.

Even Pope Francis has some Tweets which I suspect were written by someone else. Namely, the Tweetstorms that get sent out, whenever he writes an important document. I'm pretty sure Pope Francis doesn't quote himself, dozens of times a day.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Game Making Update

Here's an update on the games I'm making! I sent Mermaid Mission Titanic off to testers. About two-thirds of them responded. (Come on, other two testers! Send in your feedback!) I'm going to revise the script based on the feedback I got, then I get the fun of figuring out artwork.

In the meantime, I've writing the Pride and Prejudice text game. I'm finishing up Chapter 10 of the game, which is Chapters 1-31 of the book. We didn't purposely set out to make the game a third as long as the book. It just sort of worked out that way. When Diana and I came up with the outline for the game, we just listed all the "big" scenes in the book, the ones that are most interesting or important to the story. The final count was 21.

It turns out that there are large gaps, between some of the important scenes. Like, "Collins proposes to Lizzy" and "Lizzy meets Lady Catherine". That's about nine chapters in the book, and uh...one chapter in the game. It's one of the shorter chapters, too. Pride and Prejudice is a good book, but it is not as fast-paced as modern novels.

Or maybe I'm just cutting out as much as possible, now that at the part of the game where there are multiple storylines. You can be locked into the Bingley or Collins storyline at this point, and soon, you can lock yourself in to the Colonel Fitzwilliam storyline. So each chapter has be rewritten three or four times. It's quite a lot of writing!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 3

The third major segment of The Creature of Kapu Cave is with Frank Hardy. I think the game automatically switches to him, when Nancy sees the teeth at Kapu Cave. If not, then I'll have to think of an ideal place in the route, for Nancy to call him.

As I recall, Frank finds a receipt with Johnny Kuto's name on it, and he convinces Pua that Mike might be involved in something shady. She tells Frank about the hidden tunnel that you can scuba dive to. She says you need the map first. When she says this, you can talk to Big Island Mike about the chest with the map. He makes you do the Hawaiian shave ice challenge, for the password to open it.

When you get the map, Frank automatically calls Nancy, and the game switches to her.

This should be a simple enough segment. I just need to figure out what triggers Pua's speech on the hidden tunnel.

You can do fishing for money at this point, or you can save it for the final segment with Frank. You need 30 Big Island Bucks in total, to get the scuba diving gear. There's no point in doing this earlier, because if you do, an eel appears in the water. The eel does not go away, until Nancy has entered Kapu Cave. Stupid eel, stopping players from triggering the endgame sequence early.

Everything else in the game is the extensive endgame sequence. Nancy uses the information from Frank's map to enter Kapu Cave, and she solves a number of puzzles there. Frank then uses the map to enter Kapu Cave underwater, and he solves a number of puzzles there. The end!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 2

The second segment of the game is straightforward. Joe asks Big Island Mike if he ever leaves. Big Island Mike forces Joe to go fishing for him, and then he DOES leave. Joe finds the coordinates for Dr. Quigley Kim, and the game switches back to Nancy.

Then, it's the main section of the game. Nancy meets Quigley, and she's forced to do the long frass puzzle. There are a lot of things to do for this puzzle.
  • Get all the frass samples by Quigley
  • Get all the frass samples from Kapu Cave
  • See the microscope is broken
  • Go to Hilihili and get a new microscope
  • Look at the frass samples under the microscope
  • Fill out the clipboard
  • Put the clipboard in Quigley's analyzer
I think that's all you need to do. I'll have to see if you can skip any of these steps, or if you can look at the microscope (and trigger the microscope puzzle) earlier. I think you can get away with only looking at ONE frass sample under the microscope. Still, testing this segment will be a pain. It's just redoing the same things, over and over again, in a slightly different order, to see if any of them can be skipped.

The rest of the segment is linear. You tell Quigley the results. She forces you to break into Hilihili and get their pineapple sample. You test it at Camp Quigley. Then, you tell Quigley the results. She gives you more things to test. Then, you tell Quigley the results. She is confused and gives you a nose ring. (It makes sense in context.)