Monday, January 15, 2018

Everything Wrong With Phantom of Venice

I'm now taking suggestions for "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Phantom of Venice"! Please leave them as comments below!

Here's the livestream I did of the game, to help jog your memory:



I'm not sure if I should continue doing livestreams of these games, for the Everything Wrong With videos. I'd get the videos done slightly faster, without a livestream. Also, if I keep doing livestreams for every game this year, that would detract from the effect of me doing a 2019 Mega Marathon.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I got a Nintendo Switch for my birthday! I was totally surprised by this gift; I did not see it coming at all. I also got a copy of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The game has a really weird beginning, which is to say, there isn't one. Link just wakes up in a cave and wanders outside. The map in the lower/right directs you to go to an abandoned building, and then to an abandoned tower. Only this tower pops up out of the ground when you go on it.

At this point, an old man appears and says, hey, you activated a bunch of towers and buildings all over the world. And gee, there are horrible monsters attacking the castle. They've been in control of the castle for 100 years now. You should probably do something about them, yeah? You can't reach the castle without a paraglider, though. The old man says he'll give you his paraglider, if you go through four shrines.

The first shrine is marked on your map. The other three aren't. Old Man assures you that you can easily see them from the tower, but I couldn't see them. I couldn't see anything that looked like a shrine. And so I got stuck. The first hour and a half was me wandering around randomly, looking for the shrines. Finding the shrines is awful, but going through them is fun. Each shrine is 2-3 room puzzle area. You're given a power, like "magnet power" or "ability to freeze time", and forced to solve puzzles with the new power. It was cool.

I'm 90% sure I did the shrine hunt wrong. I figured one shrine had to be up in the snowy mountains, only that area is freezing. You lose 1/6 of your health every thirty seconds or so. When you die, you restart at the last save point. I found one of the areas where the game autosaves, and I timed it so I reached that area, a few seconds before I died. That way, I went as far as I possible could, and dying put me right back in the same spot. I eventually found the shrine there by dumb luck.

(Apparently, the "real" strategy is to reach the highest peak on the mountain. If you do that, Old Man gives you a jacket, which stops you from freezing.)

I eventually broke down and used the Internet to find the last two shrines. After that, Old Man tells you to meet him on top of the abandoned building. At this point, you get the story of the game. A team of six heroes worked together to save the world, when the bad guys appeared 100 years ago. Four of them are dead; their machines were turned into monsters that I'm guessing you'll have to destroy in order to beat the game. The other hero is you, who took a 100 year nap. The other hero is Princess Zelda who is, uh, somewhere.

Old Man points you in the direction you have to go, and that's as far as I've gotten so far. The game is somewhat interesting, although I'm still a little sour that I couldn't find the shrines at all. Also, I wonder if I'm going to get a sword or weapons at any point, because I'm pretty much defenseless against all the monsters who are roaming free.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pride and Prejudice Update

Here's an update on the Pride and Prejudice text game: It's done! Or at least, I finished writing all five pathways. Let me tell you, it took FOREVER! The final document is 503 pages, with 198,157 words. So close to 200,000!

After writing the game, I spent about an hour debugging it / proofreading it. The main programming error was putting the incorrect number of spaces before a line. The other main error was incorrectly labeling sections. So, for example, I tried to send the player to "scene d23" ("Darcy Scene 23"), only later on in the script, it's labeled as "scene 23", not "scene d23". It was simple enough to find and correct the errors.

My plan is to publish the game with Hosted Games. They require beta testing before any game is published. So I announced beta testing on Twitter and the Choice of Games website. I was surprised at how many people volunteered! I had, like, four volunteers for Mermaid Mission Titanic, but this game got over twenty! I messaged so many people on Choice of Games about this, it flagged the "potential spambot" filter on their email system, and they gave me a mandatory one-day cooling period.

So that's the update! Right now, the game is being beta tested by various people! I'm thinking three people can do each pathway, and when that's done, I'll make the necessary changes and submit the game for publishing! (I'm sure filling out their submission forms will be a lot of work.)

In addition to the changes the beta testers recommend, there are two other things I have to do. First, I need to make a decision about including artwork in the game or not. Second, the game needs an official title. Here's what Twitter decided:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 7

The first conversation with Quigley is about two minutes long, and there are over eight variations. No matter what happens, Quigley goes on two digressions, one about her father and one about wasps. You can control which digression happens first, and it's faster to have her digress about her father. That's because her transition from "bug rant" to "dad rant" is "Yeah, something's wrong! I no longer have any idea what I'm talking about! And please.", whereas her transition from "dad rant" to "bug rant" is "Good. Now."

After the dad rant, she tells Nancy to stop her from digressing. That means, you have to stop her bug rant digression. This is a pretty simple choice here. If you order her to stop right now, she does. If you tell her that she's talking about an interesting topic, she agrees with you and warns you not to let it happen again.

The fastest way through the conversation is to pick the second option, then the first option, then the second option. It's about 1:44 in length, and the majority of the conversations are around 1:58, so that's about fourteen seconds faster. Yes! It took way too long to figure out the fastest way through the convo. Silly long conversations!

After that, Quigley sends you back to camp for her clipboard. It turns out you cannot look at the clipboard at this point, and you can't look at the microscope, either. So much for being able to do some of the frass puzzle early! You have to go all the way back to Quigley and talk to her, but I spent more than enough time listen to her ramble today, so I'm putting off that conversation (and its ensuing puzzle) for another day.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 6

Here's a picture of the solution to the shave ice puzzle. I figured a picture would be easier for me to follow than "middle first row", "middle second row", "right back row".



The chest is opened with a password. The starting position of every letter is always the same, so it was easy to figure out the fastest way to get to the correct password.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Birthday

It's my birthday today! I turn 32.

I feel a little awkward, writing about my birthday like this. It makes me look like an attention hog, who is just fishing for compliments. But the one year I didn't mention my birthday online, I got called out on it. Also, I felt awful during my freshman year of college, when our floor threw surprise birthday parties for everyone except me. They all ignored my birthday, after I went through the trouble of making Christmas cards for everyone, and dang it, college was awful.

As I posted on Twitter, I kind of wish I could build a time machine and redo high school/college, now that I have the social skills to survive without major embarrassment (I think). At the very least, now that "can talk to girls without stressing out" is on my resume, I demand a do-over!

In some ways, it feels like my life didn't get started until five years ago, when I stopped going to seminary, I moved out of state by myself, and YouTube started paying me. Since then, I've gotten married, had a kid, and made several videogames!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Paying People

I mentioned yesterday that I have artists working on Mermaid Mission Titanic. There are three of them. One is doing backgrounds, one is doing characters, and one is a graphic design person, who's doing a lot of the extra stuff, like the main screen, the text box, etc.

I want to pay them all, but my budget is not the greatest. I told them all upfront that my budget for the game is around $80. So...$25 each? I would also like to pay my friend who's been answering my programming questions. So...$20 each?

They've all been doing such great work, I'd really like to bump up their pay to $50 each, or more. $200 each would be great, but since it costs $100 to put a game on Steam, that means the game would have to make $900 just to break even. I have no idea if that's a realistic goal. The way I see it, here are my options:

Option 1: Pay everyone using the money I get from Patreon. Patreon says I get $64 a month. So...it might take a while, but I'd eventually get enough money to pay them a satisfactory about.

Option 2: Pay everyone using the game's profits. Like, all four people get 1/8 of the game's profits, until they get $200 each. Again, it might take a while.

Option 3: Some combination of the above two options. If the game's sales are lagging, I'd switch to using Patreon to pay people.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Games Update

Here's an update on the games I'm making. Like I said yesterday, I'm going to try to finish Pride and Prejudice first.

Mermaid Mission Titanic is surprisingly close to completion! I've programmed about as much as I can, at this point. I'm waiting on my art people to finish the artwork, so I can put it all into the game. There will, of course, be lots of additional programming to do, once the art is done. I think the difficulty selection screen will be easy to program, but the save/load screens have proven to be tricky.

As for Pride and Prejudice, at the time of my writing this, I'm on Page 341 of 400. I'm rewriting the third chapter of the Lydia subplot. I've finished the Charles Bingley and George Wickham storylines completely. All that's left are the Mr. Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Collins storylines. In theory, it's easier to write these ones, because they more or less follow the book. If you've read the book, you know that this is a five-chapter block where none of the gentlemen appear at all. So I get to reuse the same basic chapter, for all three routes.

My only fear at this point is proofreading. I have found more typos than I would have ever expected. I mean, I know how to spell basic English words. Why am I not spelling them correctly? Proofreading a script that is several hundred pages long is sure to be difficult...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Time Management

Okay, my blog is back for the new year! Having a two week break was great for my schedule.

I think I mentioned time management a month or so ago? I've been very busy, with Mermaid Mission Titanic and Pride and Prejudice, on top of everything else I do. After trying a few different time management techniques, I've come to the conclusion that it's too much. I can't work on two videogames full time, at the same time, without neglecting something. I'm stretched too thin.

So I'm going to finish the Pride and Prejudice text game completely. Then I'll finish Mermaid Mission Titanic. Doing both at the same time doesn't work; I'll just have to do them one at a time.

My time is going to be stretched extra-thin this year, because I'm volunteering with VITA. That's a group which does tax returns for free, for the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged. So I'll be spending a lot of time with them, maybe every Sunday from February to April. I was inspired to join the group and help others, after reading some Catholic material about the new tax laws.

I imagine everyone will be super-confused by taxes this year, because of all the new tax laws. Don't be confused! Congress writes laws a year in advance, and people pay taxes a year behind. So when you pay taxes this year, you're going to follow the old, 1986 laws. The new 2018 laws take effect when you pay taxes next year.

(It's kind of silly to say "Congress writes laws a year in advance", when the tax reform was signed in late December. In this case, "a year" is more like "a few weeks". I bet there will be attempts to fiddle with the tax laws some more this year.)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Hiatus

I'm going to put this blog on hiatus until January 7th, as a Christmas present to me! A two week break sounds nice. See you all in 2018!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull

I'm now accepting suggestions for "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull"! Please leave them as a comment below!

My video for "White Wolf of Icicle Creek" should go up on Christmas, barring any surprises.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Vlog

I did a vlog about the release date for the new Nancy Drew game!



This is, no joke, probably my most popular video all year. 3,000 views in one day! I am never that popular! Not even with my cute baby videos, which should be YouTube clickbait.

Well, YouTube quickly flagged my video as "inappropriate content", so now I don't get any ad revenue on the video, or at least, not as much. I've requested a manual review. They claim that they review a video if it gets 1,000 views in a week, but they haven't reviewed it yet.

That "1000 views in a week" hurdle is a lie. They manually reviewed my book review of Nancy Drew: The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery when it had 400 views. They didn't review Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew Game #9, when it got 700 views in a week. So it's more like "we'll review it if we feel like it", with an edge of "if it passes 1000, we'll try to get to it, but no promises". Bah, humbug.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem - Release Date

Christmas came early, everyone! Her Interactive announced a release date for Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem! It's Spring 2019.

Here is the official announcement from their website.

When the news broke yesterday, Nancy Drew fans flooded the website and broke it for a while, just like we did when they tried out a new download system for the release of Tomb of the Lost Queen. (I still remember being 1/3 of the way through the download, then having it stop cold. Not a fun surprise!)

I'm excited about the release date. How can I not be? Of course, "Spring 2019" is a general date rather than a specific date, but that's an industry standard. Or at least, Nintendo usually announces games with a year and a three-month period attached. It looks like they're designing the game to be multi-platform from day one, as opposed to having a separate company port the games to non-PC platforms.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Aladdin

I got to see the Aladdin play in San Francisco, the week of Thanksgiving. It was fancy, especially the costumes.

Me, I'm kind of a rube when it comes to plays. I'm just as happy seeing the Broadway version as I am seeing the theme park version. (Do they still do the Aladdin play in California Adventure?) This one clearly has higher production values, and it's longer, but I found both to be humorous and enjoyable.

My favorite character was Aladdin, but the Genie was the crowd favorite. I think they played up the roles of Genie and Jasmine, because those characters are so popular. After all, thanks to the Disney Princess line, you still see Jasmine merchandise in stores today! I remember the first time Mary saw my DVD collection; she called it "the Princess Jasmine movie".

The play gives Aladdin three thief buddies, and it gives Jasmine three maids-in-waiting. So they tried to build up the characters, that way. Aladdin's buddies had three musical numbers, while Jasmine's friends had one. I liked "Somebody's Got Your Back" best of the new musical numbers. "Proud of Your Boy" fit the best with the other songs, probably because it was originally written for the movie.

I did not particularly like "High Adventure", which would have been more palatable if it was half the length. I think also think they stretched out "Friend Like Me" a bit too long, well over five minutes, with two different bridges. Once it hit the second bridge, it felt like they were interrupting the dance number with another dance number! But hey, it's just a Broadway standard to have the "right before intermission" song be super wild.

In general, all the songs are increased in length, by at least a third. They do this by adding dance breaks and new lyrics. One of the new lyrics was something like "it was quid pro quo / now it's quo pro quid". As someone who knows Latin, I had to facepalm at that line. The opposite of quid pro quo is quid pro quo. It means "something for something". It's the exact same word, both times! So lyrics literally translate to "it was something for something / now it's something for something". Switching the two "somethings" doesn't really change the meaning of the words, and it just comes across as silly.

Overall, it was a fun play, and I enjoyed seeing it.