Sunday, June 25, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 29

Getting sick of the speedrun yet? After I get the mirror from Jim Archer, I do part of the trivet puzzle. That's not a tough puzzle; it's just long. Then I open up the carriage house. I do the clock, mirrors and dominoes puzzles. All of those puzzles have the pieces in the same starting positions every time, making it slightly easier.

Should you put the mirrors in place before doing the domino puzzle? If you put the mirrors in place first, Nancy says a line about letting light in. If you put the mirrors in place second, she doesn't say that line, but there is a short scene of light being let in, and not reflecting on anything. As it turns out, the scene is about one second longer than Nancy's line of dialogue, so you'll want to put the mirrors in place first.

Going back through the start of the game, it appears the matching puzzle in Topham's is randomized. If you save and reload, all the pieces switch places.

Also, it helps to zoom in on the cat, before giving the cat the mouse. This is opposed to taking out the mouse, zooming in on the cat, then giving it to the cat. That's because the cat's head moves, and it needs to be in the "up" position for the mouse to appear at its feet. This doesn't save a lot of time, but every bit helps!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 28

The first time you go to Topham's house, you have to read Josiah's notebook all the way. This triggers the trivet puzzle, and it lets you ask Emily about her mother's middle name. Getting the middle name is simple. Go to Emily and ask her, then finish the conversation immediately afterwards. It kind of stinks that you have to make a separate trip to Lilac Inn just for that, but there's no way around it.

To get the mirror from Topham's house, you have to do a simple matching puzzle. I don't think there's a way to speed it up, besides "have the answer memorized / written out ahead of time". Same thing with the slider puzzle, guarding the mirror piece in the den at Lilac Inn. Both of those puzzles are different on Junior and Senior Detective modes, although it's not like one mode is significantly longer than the other for this puzzle.

Is the clock gear puzzle at Jim Archer's the same on both modes? I think it is. The pieces always start in the same spots, so that makes the puzzle a little easier.

The first Jim Archer conversation is easy to navigate. On the first choice, ask if he's Jim Archer, which is about .4 seconds faster than the other option. On the second choice, avoid talking about Emily, as that leads to an aside about Emily before Jim turns the conversation to the economy. On the third choice, don't mention the depression, or Jim will give an aside about how that talk is pointless, before he gets a phone call, and you can end the conversation.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 27

Now that I've (hopefully) figured out the route for the trips into town, let's go back to where I was in my speedrun planning. I just finished figuring out the fastest way through the Emily/Jane conversations at the start of the game.

After talking to the women, you can go into town or go to Topham's. There is a piece of paper on the way to Topham's, about the jeweler. Also, there is a book that mentions the trivet, at Topham's. Since Topham's area has two triggers for things in town, and town has no triggers for things in Topham's, it makes sense to visit Topham's first.

The first thing you do in Topham's is find the toy mouse. It is either by the carousel, under the table or under the chair. For me, it's always under the table.

The first conversation with Topham is a little long to get through. As in, there can be five places, where you pick different options. There are some consistencies, like "if you ask about making objects move, he starts a new conversation about his students". The fastest way is to select the second option each time.

The first conversation with Topham always ends the same way. He offers to give Nancy a lesson, she turns him down, and he gives her a logic puzzle. There are three places in the conversation where you can make choices, and his response is the same, no matter which option you pick. With all three, the first option is shorter, so it's faster to pick.

So, the Topham conversation is second option three times, then first option three times.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 26

I've finished my speedrun at this point, but I still have about a week's worth of speedrunning planning posts. So I'm going to post them, even if they're outdated! Maybe someone will notice something I missed.


I tested out the route I talked about yesterday, and darn. "Nancy goes to the Lilac Inn" is the trigger for Waddell finishing the blank. So you'll have to drop off the blank at Waddell's, go to Lilac Inn, then go back to Waddell's.

Unless there is another way to get money! I asked on Facebook and Twitter, and people say Nancy will sometimes get a boot while fishing. The boot has a nickel inside, and it costs a nickel to call Nancy's dad. If there is a way to guarantee Nancy will get a boot nickel, that would be perfect. I could call her dad early on in the game, triggering the ability to deliver telegrams earlier.

I tried to get a boot while fishing. I used a worm on the reeds, which are on the right. That worked twice in a row for me! Hopefully, that's a guaranteed boot catch, and not just me getting lucky.

...Wait. Something occurred to me as I was writing this blog post. Waddell charges you for the quartz when you pick it up, not when you drop it off. You don't need to get money for him earlier. Gosh, I'm stupid. All this testing and planning for nothing.

Is it still worthwhile to get a boot nickel? Not really. It takes about 27 seconds to catch a boot nickel. Calling Nancy's dad early costs a nickel. Calling him is a timesaver, as opposed to him calling you, but that only saves about five seconds. Spending 27 seconds to save 5 seconds isn't efficient. If someone can think of a faster way for Nancy to earn an extra bit of money, then maybe calling him early would be worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


E3 2017 was last week! A lot of videogame companies showed off the games they're making. I'm sure it was cool, although it doesn't really affect me all that much, since I only have a 3DS myself. I'll probably get the new Metroid 3DS game, and that's it.

To be honest, I got sick of E3 after the first day. Normal people have reactions like, "Oh, it's a new Mario game! Cool!". But all I saw was, "Oh, it's a new Mario game! Cool, I can use it to insult my political opponents!". Guys! Please don't bring politics into a videogame show! There's no need to make jokes about Mario's feelings on healthcare, or why Sonic the Hedgehog is better than President Trump. No need! Just show us the games!

The worst was the new Wolfstein game. I am unfamiliar with the series, but apparently, it's about shooting Nazis. This led to about a gajillion memes, with both Republicans and Democrats calling each other Nazis. So they both ended up coming across as angry and spiteful jerks, and I stopped paying attention to E3.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Potatoes Anna

In River Heights #11, Karen makes a dish called potatoes anna. I've never heard of that before, so I looked it up. It's a layered potato platter which looks fancy. I tried making it myself, and it ended up being potato chips drowned in butter. Delicious, but not what it's supposed to be!

The recipe calls for six potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices. In reality, it was three potatoes. The slices are supposed to be a quarter inch at most.

You coat a ten inch skillet with butter. Then you put the potato slices in the skillet. Start in the center and make an overlapping circle design until you've got the pan covered. Add salt/pepper as seasoning, if you want. Coat the layer with butter.

Repeat this twice, so you've got three layers of potato slices, with butter. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons butter for each layer, which is a LOT of butter.

The recipe says to heat the dish on a stove until the butter sizzles, at this point. I couldn't do that, because I don't have a skillet. Also, I don't have a butter brush. So I cooked the butter in a microwave bowl and poured it on the potatoes. Maybe that's why the recipe came out wrong for me.

You cook it in the over at 450 for an hour or so. The potatoes should fuse together. Take a spatula and flip it upside down, onto a plate. You cut it into wedges, like a pie. When I tried this, the potato slices all fell apart. Like I said, it ended up being potato chips, drowned in butter. Oh well.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Preparing for Confession

I got a comment on this blog, asking how to prepare for the sacrament of Confession. People normally make an examination of conscience, to help prepare for confession.

I like to take some time, by myself in silence, just to think over my life, see where I'm at, figure out what I'm doing wrong, what I need to improve on, what I'm doing right, where I'm going, that sort of thing. I also like doing this, during Eucharistic adoration, because I can concentrate and focus better.

The marriage group that Katie and I are in, Teams of Our Lady, recommends a similar practice. Each month, we sit down and discuss our marriage, our lives, our family, and so on. It's very good, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's married, even if they aren't in a religious marriage.

Some people prefer reading a reflection to prepare for Confession, or to go through a list of probing questions. The US Bishop's website has some samples, as an idea of what you can do. I've seen multiple guides, based on the ten commandments. I imagine there's probably one based on the seven deadly sins.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Copyright Strike

I got a copyright strike against my channel, one of the full-blown "video is immediately removed" copyright claims. The video was part of the Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None walkthrough, and it comes from the book owners, not the videogame owners.

I have deleted all of my Agatha Christie videos, which is a bummer because there were over 100 of them. Here's a vlog I did about the event:

Normally, I'd be a lot angrier about this, but it's out of my control at this point, and I've got the baby to take up all my attention. The good news is that this strike is only three months long, as opposed to the strike I got against the Japanese bodyguard dating sim, which lasted a year or so.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Idle Heroes

Another videogame I've been playing lately is Idle Heroes, which is an RPG for the phone. The basic premise is that your heroes auto-battle every second of the day. So you can close the app, open it ten hours later, and your characters will have earned a ton of EXP and gold. It's great!

My main beef with the game is that you can't pick and choose which characters you have. Characters are assigned randomly. I've had bad luck, and I've been stuck with a group of forest-based heroes. I need a fighter-type hero who can serve as a tank, but nope.

There is a "replace the hero" function which you can use, but all that does is replace one hero with another randomly-assigned hero. And to use this function, you need a premium currency. There's also a premium currency for leveling up characters, for summoning a specific hero, for equipment stones, and for summoning monsters.

So, yeah, it's a modern phone game with lots of micro-transactions and paywalls. I'm at the point where you basically can't proceed, unless all your characters are five star heroes, at max level 100, with max equipment. That's why I can't replace any of my forest heroes; getting a single five star hero is so difficult, you're basically stuck with the ones you get.

The weird thing is that I'm not even a third of the way through the game. How can there be so many levels left, when you basically need maximum everything to win a level? I'm told--and I can't confirm--that you can combine two five-star heroes of the same type into a six-star hero. That's probably the only way to proceed, but jeez. Getting a single five star hero is hard enough. Getting two of the same type, especially when the type is randomly determined? That's a rough paywall.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Terminator Genysis: Future War

I've recently been playing Terminator Genysis: Future War. It's made by the same people who made Vikings: War of Clans, and not to be mean, but it's basically the same as that game, but with different graphics.

I was hoping for a story of some sort, something to continue where the movie left off. The movie was intended to be the first in a trilogy, with the second movie coming out this month. Clearly, that didn't happen. I'm okay with the story being continued via videogames! But sadly, there's no story to the game. You're a commander in charge of a base, in the futuristic "humans vs robots" war.

There are a few dozen buildings at your base, which do different things. One increases experience, one increases the base's defense, one trains soldiers, and the majority of them produce materials. There are five types of materials, and you need materials to upgrade buildings. I'm at the point where I log onto the game each morning, select a building to upgrade, and get told it will be 6 hours to finish. I say, "Cool." Then I log in the next day and do the same thing.

There's also a fighting component, where you can build up and army and fight other players. You can join clans and get into battles at resource locations. I basically ignore all that, except when I pick what building to upgrade, I also send my commander off to fight the nearest robot, for some easy EXP.

I plan to keep playing the game, to the point where either it takes too long to upgrade without spending money, or people fight me (and steal my resources) so often, I can't upgrade.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Procedural Mystery

Yesterday, I mentioned that the Boxcar Children are pretty generic mysteries that abide by a series formula. Some Nancy Drew books also abide by a strict formula. You could even turn it into procedural game! Just make a program that randomly selects from these options.

  • Sabotage
  • Theft
  • Murder
Suspect personalities
  • Angry
  • Comedy relief
  • Best friend
  • Incredibly good-looking
  • Intense
  • Innocuous
  • Sneaky
Suspicious Incidents
  • Threatening note
  • Nancy almost gets killed
  • Nancy chases after the culprit
The baby interrupted halfway through this blog post, and I forgot what I was going to write. I was probably going to add a list of circumstantial evidence, because every suspect needs a piece of circumstantial evidence that gets hand-waved aside at the end of the book.

Of course, the computer would randomly pick the culprit from the list of suspects, too. There are some books where it feels like the culprit's identity was picked out of a hat.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Boxcar Children Review Series

Here is my review series, for the Boxcar Children books.

I've read books 1-11, and Book 35.

The review series is on hold for now, but my overall plan is to read Books 1-19. Those are all the books written by the original author. I might continue onto the ghostwritten books after that. We'll see.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Boxcar Children

I find the history of the Boxcar Children series to be quite interesting. The author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, wrote the first book in the 1920's, for one of her classes. It's designed to help children how to read, with simple words and a easy-to-follow story.

The book got reissued in the 40's, which prompted her to write a sequel. She wrote a new book in the series every 1-5 years until she died in the 70's. I'm kind of surprised it took her so long to write these books, considering how simple the stories are. They're classified as mysteries, but that's debatable, in my opinion. Some of the books are clearly just "the Alden family has a fun time", with a 2-3 chapter mystery slapped onto it.

From what I can tell, she didn't think of it as the Boxcar Children series. She thought of it as the "Alden Family Mysteries". That's the name which is on the inside of the older editions. That name makes way more sense, considering there are no boxcars in the series, outside of the first book. There are also no numbers on the older editions; the books are listed in order, but not numbered.

The books are owned by Albert Whitman, but in the 90's, they partnered with Scholastic Publishing. Together, they turned it into a full-blown series, which has published about four books a year, ever since. The name changed to "Boxcar Children", the characters were modernized, and it became a standard mystery series. That is, the mystery is always the focus, there's always four suspects, always three suspects, and so on. If I had enough time, I could probably figure out the series formula. Book #35 is the only book I've read from the ghostwritten series.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dishwasher Drama

We had some dishwasher drama recently! The dishwasher stopped draining. There was a pool of water at the bottom, every time we ran the dishwasher. This had the side effect of giving us really dirty dishes; it's hard to clean dishes with dirty water.

I tried fixing it myself. I managed to unscrew the pipe to the garbage disposal and clean it out. That didn't appear to do anything. Then I tried unscrewing one of the pipes on the bottom. Water started spraying out over the floor and me, like some kind of crazy sitcom. It took about eight towels to clean up.

I called a repair person, who basically said the dishwasher is done for. We can pay $700 to repair it, or we could buy a new one. We decided to get a new one, but the installation people refused to install it because it's too large. Why? Apparently, it's standard in the dishwasher industry to say a dishwasher is 24 inches wide, when in reality, it's anywhere from 23.5 to 24.5. Also, they'll sometimes list the size of the box the dishwasher comes in, rather than the dishwasher's actual size.

So we're going to be washing dishes by hand for a while.