Friday, August 28, 2015

Livestreaming

YouTube just launched YouTube Gaming, which is a livestreaming service sort of like Twitch. My stream is here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/arglefumph/live

We're gonna try it out this Saturday, at 9:00 AM, PST. I'll be working on my Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness speedrun. Hope to see you there!

Last October, YouTube revoked my livestreaming privileges for a full year. I still haven't gotten them restored. As a result, YouTube will not let me schedule any livestreams in advance. They also won't let me make cards for my livestreams. I think "cards" are those pictures, where people super-impose pictures of themselves over a screenshot of the game. My friend Diana did that for her Francy Droo walkthrough.

But hey, at least they're finally letting me livestream again, two months earlier than planned! Thanks, YouTube Gaming, for letting me slip through the cracks!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fact or Opinion

My friend Nathaniel wrote something really good recently, about facts and opinions. He mentions how people today have a bad tendency to confuse feelings or opinions with truth.

This is something that bothers me, because I do so many book reviews. I don't want to be an arbitrary reviewer, who gives scores based on how I feel at the moment. I want to have consistent standards.

If you've watched some of my reviews, you'll notice that there are some things I consistently give low scores for.
  • Continuity errors
  • There is a subplot or character who is briefly introduced, then disappears for the rest of the book, with no explanation.
  • The mystery is solved by accident or coincidence
  • The culprit's plan is illogical and makes no sense
  • The main character does something incredibly stupid, like overlook an obvious clue
  • Brenda Carlton or Deirdre Shannon appears.

I make a point of reading every book twice, before reviewing it. Sometimes it changes my opinion of the book, like "Oh, it's not so confusing! I must have been distracted the first time around." or "Man, I loved this book, but it's really clich├ęd and awful."

There have been books which I gave decent scores to, even though I disliked them. I did that recently, with the first two books of the Eco-Mystery trilogy, and less recently, with the book where Nancy time travels without any explanation as to how or why.

As for Nancy Drew 5: Secret of Shadow Ranch...well, I disliked it, and I gave it a bad score. I am definitely in the minority here, since that is the best-selling Nancy Drew book of all time, and the most popular Nancy Drew game of all time. So I went a bit out of my way, to justify why I don't like it.


For more on fact and opinion, watch my Garfield video on the topic! I mostly make fun of the "official" definition, for being wrong.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cooking

There hasn't been much on the cooking front lately. The past week or so, all I did was retry some old recipes. The stuffed mushrooms are the only ones good enough to make the cut.

This upcoming week, I'm trying out chicken parmesean, an adaptation of the glazed carrot recipe (I want to see if I can cook it without the glaze), and two simple oven recipes for Mary to try out (cheese toasties, mini-pizzas). I'll give you all an update on how these recipes go.

In related news, I finally figured out where the grocery store's discount meat section is. Two weeks ago, I was going to get a roast, because they are super easy to cook in the oven and the label tells you exactly how long to cook them. (Still not sure how to clean the pan after a roast, though. I put it in the dishwasher, but the pan still is stained everywhere.) But they had discount sirloin steak available, for two bucks chapter. I got that and broiled it. I didn't add any spices or sauces, and I didn't have an exact time, so I guessed the cooking time based on my microwave cookbook. Katie was super-impressed by how it turned out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ads

You've probably noticed that ads have reappeared on my blog. That's because I was greatly misled, about the nature of these ads. Blogger made it seem like I would get $100 every month, by putting ads on the blog. Now it looks like I get $100 every 15 months.

Google AdSense won't pay you until you earn over $100, so...I guess I'll have ads on here for the next nine months. My apologies to anyone who's bothered by seeing ads here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mary Anne

Earlier today, I was thinking about how boring Mary Anne from the Baby-Sitters Club is. A realistic Mary Anne book plot looks like this:

A new sandwich store opens in town, and Mary Anne goes there to get a BLT. But the cute guy at the store gets her order wrong! Mary Anne is sad and embarrassed, but she's too shy to say anything about it.
She berates herself for a full day, then she returns to the store to ask for a new sandwich. BUT! The cute guy recognizes her, and he decides she wants "the usual". So he gets her the wrong sandwich again!
She visits the store several times over the next 80 pages, but every time, she gets the wrong food. Finally, she explodes in a ball of passive/aggressive rage, and she tells the cute guy that he got her order wrong! He apologizes, and she feels better. The end.

I like Mary Anne, but gosh, she is boring.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Reviews

The end is near, for the Nancy Drew Girl Detective and Hardy Boys Casefiles book reviews! I'm almost at the end of the Girl Detective series, and I'm at the end of my Casefiles collection.

That leaves me with these various review series, that are uncompleted.
  • Baby-Sitters Club
  • Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
  • Nancy Drew Files
  • Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys Supermystery Series

Those are all really big series. As in, over 100 books. Nancy/Hardy is the shortest series, with 36 books, but I only have a third of them.

Any suggestions as to how I should tackle these books? I kind of like the idea of cycling through the various series, in small groups. Like, four BSC books, four Nancy books, four 1980's Nancy books, and repeat until one of them is finished. But I also like the idea of doing large chunks, like reading Nancy Drew 6-15 in order.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Summer Marathon

Here are links to every playlist in my big summer marathon.

Game 1: Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch
Game 2: Grim Facade: Sinister Obsession
Game 3: Samantha Swift and the Mystery from Atlantis
Game 4: Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies
Game 5: Spirits of Mystery: The Dark Minotaur

Game 6: Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death
Game 7: Blackwell Unbound
Game 8: Love and Death: Bitten
Game 9: Dracula: Love Kills
Game 10: Spirit Soup: The Queensbury Curse

Game 11: Dark Tales: Edgar Allen Poe's Red Masque of Red Death
Game 12: Spirit Walkers
Game 13: Fire Emblem Chapter 2
Game 14: Tales of Terror
Game 15: Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride

Game 16: Miles Edgeworth: Prosecutor's Path - Bachelor Party Special
Game 17: Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (Demo)
Game 18: Nevertales The Beauty Within
Game 19: Samantha Swift and the Fountains of Fate
Game 20: Midnight Mysteries 3: Mark Twain

Game 21: Sable Maze: Forbidden Garden
Game 21: Haunted Legends: Bronze Horseman
Game 23: Mystery of the Ancients: Curse of the Black Water
Game 24: Haunted Legends: The Queen of Spades
Game 25: Nick Chase and the Deadly Diamond

Game 26: Royal Trouble
Game 27: Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty
Game 28: Campfire Legends: The Hookman
Game 29: Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel
Game 30: Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony

Game 31: Otherworld: Spring of Shadows
Game 32: Dark Parables: Queen of Sands
Game 33: Otherworld: Omens of Summer
Game 34: Age of Enigma: Secret of the 6th Ghost
Game 35: Enigma Agency: The Case of Shadows

Game 36: Dark Parables: Rise of the Snow Queen
Game 37: Dark Dimensions: City of Fog
Game 38: Reveries: Soul Collector
Game 39: Fiction Fixers Adventures in Wonderland
Game 40: Grim Facade: Wealth of Betrayal

Game 41: Nancy Drew: The Model Mysteries
Game 42: Dark Parables: The Exiled Prince
Game 43: Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box
Game 44: Azada: In Libro
Game 45: Tiger Eye: The Sacrifice

Game 46: Dark Parables: Red Riding Hood Sisters
Game 47: Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians
Game 48: Unfinished Tales: Illicit Love
Game 49: Engimatis: The Mists of Ravenwood
Game 50: Drawn: Trail of Shadows
Game 51: Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull

Game 52: NightFall: An Edgar Allen Poe Mystery
Game 53: Sable Maze: Sullivan River
Game 54: Grim Facade: Artist and the Pretender
Game 55: Ominous Objects: Family Portrait
Game 56: Grim Tales: The Vengeance
Game 57: Princess Isabella: Rise of an Heir
Game 58: Awawkening: The Sunhook Spire

Friday, August 21, 2015

Land Before Time 9: Journey to Big Water

I didn't like Land Before Time 9 very much. It felt like they took a minor step back, in the animation department, with lots of hand animation super-imposed upon computer-generated 3D animation. That can look good, at times, but here, it just made me wonder how much money they could have saved, if they animated everything traditionally.

The movie starts with lots of rain. Littlefoot tries to visit his friends, but they're all busy. Everyone sings a song about how boring it is, not to play with your friends. Pro Tip: If your movie is boring, don't draw attention to that fact, by turning it into a musical number. And especially don't START the movie with that song.

Bored Littlefoot meets Mo, a friendly dolphin creature. He tries to introduce Mo to his friends, but Mo is hiding. This prompts a musical number about imaginary friends. Immediately after, Littlefoot calls out for Mo again, and he instantly appears. It's almost like Mo hid, the first time he was called, just so they could have a musical number.

The rest of the movie is made up of the kids and Mo, walking/swimming to the ocean. They do a reprise of "Big Water" from the fifth movie, and I'm sad, because now I'm reminded of a much better movie. There's a sequence where a random dinosaur helps our heroes (prompting a song), and a sequence where it looks like everyone will be killed by a carnivorous swimmer.

At the end, they reach the ocean. Mo's dolphin friends know the land route back to the Great Valley, which doesn't make much sense, because they're dolphins who don't walk on land. Anyway! The kids walk back home, and they are reunited with their parents! Good thing their parents stayed at home instead of, you know, looking for them. To be honest, though, I wouldn't look for those kids, either. They've left the valley in every single movie so far...

Overall, I didn't like the movie. I find it weird that the quality of these movies can vary so drastically, considering that they're made by the same people every year.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Things Thursday - Marathon Changes

I had to make several changes to the marathon schedule. Here are three of them.

Book of Legends won't record without graphical issues. The game is just too old. I'd have to record it on my Windows 7 computer, which wouldn't be the worst thing ever, but I'm too lazy to set that up. So I replaced it with Nancy Drew: The Model Mysteries for the DS.

Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull doesn't work with Fraps. Again, I'd have to record on my older computer. I tried, but the first half hour of the game ended up being twenty minutes of hidden objects challenge FAILURE. So I decided to replace this run with NightFall: An Edgar Allen Poe Mystery. That's a freemium game which I played for about an hour and a half, before running into the "pay us money or wait several hours" wall.

[Edit: I figured out how to record MCF 13th Skull, with one of those Twitch programs. We'll see if the quality is any good.]

There were graphical issues with Drawn: Trail of Shadows. The game just outright crashes for me, after you draw the first picture. So my walkthrough ended up being 15 minutes long. Instead of replacing it with something else, I decided to keep it as is. After all, three people requested it. Also, I'm lazy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nancy Drew Reboots

Continuing from Monday, if you could do anything with Nancy Drew, what would you change?

As Bill indicated, the 1980's reboot of Nancy Drew tried to be more serious, by introducing murder mysteries instead of sabotage. They also turned Nancy into a gorgeous action girl, who sees plenty of romance. Often, the romance doesn't involve her boyfriend Ned. Nancy was more likely to break the rules and do bad things.

I personally like 1980's Nancy Drew. I like her self-determination, dedication and bravery. I don't like how she's always making out with other guys, though. 1980's Hardy Boys also have a lot of one-book relationships, which I don't like. The idea is that our heroes have open relationships, because they're so independent and sexually alluring, but to me, it just makes them looking like a bunch of cheaters who throw themselves at anyone they can find.

With the 2004 reboot of Nancy Drew, they turned her into a klutz for some reason. They made Bess a mechanic, in a vain attempt to avoid the "girly-girl" stereotype. Only one book took Mechanic Bess seriously; in all the others, she's a girly girl stereotype. George stayed exactly the same, except she inherited Bess' computer skills from the previous series.

The biggest change in 2004 Nancy Drew was the introduction of regular characters. There are people like Harold Safer and Deirdre Shannon, who appear in every book. Deirdre Shannon, Chief McGinnis and Mrs. Mahoney were the characters who got the most screen time. I definitely liked the idea of regularly reoccurring characters. It's a change from the previous series where every new book has a different set of characters, and hardly any character appears in more than one book. All in all, though, I think Hardy Boys did a better job with a large cast of regular characters.

The advertising for 2004 Nancy Drew said that the biggest change was modernization. Nancy has a cell phone and uses computers and drives a hybrid! Fans of Nancy Drew weren't impressed by this. Nancy did those things for YEARS before the reboot.

I can't really tell what's new with the 2013 Nancy Drew book reboot. It seems exactly the same as the previous series, except all the secondary characters disappeared. And they bumped the reading level down a bit.

We're kind of getting a Nancy Drew reboot now, with the Her Interactive series. There's a new writer, and a new voice for Nancy Drew. I wonder how it will turn out. I'm kind of excited!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Livestreaming

I'm not sure what to do with my Twitch account. Right now, it looks like it falls into the "unpopular and unprofitable" category.

You know that livestreaming marathon I did last year? In June, those videos got 24,849 views. That made up 15.45% of my paycheck that month.

In contrast, the twitch videos have gotten six views, and they make up 0% of my paycheck.

My instinct is to immediately cancel the Twitch account and do something like "Saturday Streaming" instead. You know, a livestream every Saturday, from now until it no longer makes any sense to keep doing it. I can't start this project until YouTube restores my streaming privileges in October, but it's something to think about.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Creating the Casefiles

Here's a quote from an interview with one the Hardy Boys ghostwriters, Bill McCay. It describes how the more mature Hardy Boys Casefiles series was created.

Besides the emphasis on plot, the Hardy Casefiles put a premium on action. These books were aimed at the same boys audience as comic books, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and shoot-em-up computer games. When we were laying the groundwork for the new Hardy Boys series, the publisher asked me, "Bill, if you could do anything with the Hardy Boys, what would you change?"

A loaded question. I answered, "I'd blow up that yellow sedan they've been driving since 1930 . . . and I'd have Iola Morton (Joe Hardy's girlfriend) in the back seat when it went up."

For a second, I thought the poor man was going to have a stroke. He sat up very straight, looked at me, then said, "What happens next?" That was our first Casefiles.

Why did I give such an outrageous answer? Well, the yellow sedan gave a completely different cultural message back when the Hardy Boys first came out. That was still the era when Henry Ford could say, "You can have any color you like -- as long as it's black." A red or yellow car meant it was a sporty model. A sedan meant -- wink-wink, nudge-nudge -- it had a back seat. Today, you hear "yellow sedan," especially in New York, and you think "taxicab."

As for blowing up Iola, I wanted to serve notice that no character was safe and that the Hardys should investigate the most serious of crimes -- murder. I'd fought for that when my company, Megabooks, revamped Nancy Drew, and I thought the boys should play for equally serious stakes. We were trying to be as serious as possible -- besides mystery, the Casefiles would draw heavily from the thriller and spy novel genres.

If you could do anything with Nancy Drew, what would you change?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Land Before Time 8: The Big Freeze

The Big Freeze is about winter! Winter comes to the Great Valley, and there's snow for the first time. I guess they live in California. (Either that, or the ice age is coming to end the age of the dinosaurs!)

There are two other storylines, and yes, I like it when these movies have multiple storylines! I've noticed that these movies tend to be awful, if they only have one storyline (see movies #3 and #9).

The one storyline is about Spike, who hasn't gotten a storyline before. Poor fellow. A group of migrating Spike Tails appears in the valley, and he makes friends with them. Now he has a dilemma: should he leave his adopted family and join up with his own kind? Or should he stay here?

Ducky is angry at Spike for no real reason, so she insists that he go with the Spike Tails. He does, and it doesn't take long for Ducky to complain about his decision. Um, Ducky, it's kind of YOUR FAULT he left. You told him to! She chases after Spike, along with the others.

The other storyline is with a dinosaur named Mr. Thick Nose. He's the oldest and wisest dinosaur in the valley; he's been everywhere and seen everything. He tries to lead the herd when the snow appears, but he completely fails apart, and everyone ostracizes him.

Since nobody is talking to him, Thick Nose goes with the kids, to help find Spike. They find a hot spring that protects them from snow, and they also find a big carnivore who they have to fight a few times. Thick Nose confesses to the kids that he is a fraud, who's never left his home before. He makes up for it, by saving the kids a few times, and by doing a musical number.

In the end, they lead everyone to the hot spring, and Mr. Thick Nose saves face. They find Spike, and he's reunited with his adopted family.

This wasn't the best movie of the series, but it wasn't that bad. I found it odd that they spent so much time on Mr. Thick Nose's reputation, since "old guy who pretends to have done a lot of stuff" isn't really a children-friendly storyline. If it was on TV or something, I guess I'd watch it again. It might even give the movie a new meaning, if you know from the beginning that Thick Nose is a fraud.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reveries: Soul Collector

If you look at my past broadcasts on Twitch, you'll see that...huh, whenever my stream drops, it makes a new video. I should figure out a way to fix that.

I mean, you'll notice I tested out Reveries: Soul Collector! This game was put on my "might be worth speedrunning" pile, because it's short. It took me about 80 minutes to play, on my first try. When I tried to speedrun the game, I did it in about a third of the time. So that'd probably result in a speedrun of 27 minutes or so.

The problem is hidden objects challenges. Oh no! Unlike, say, the Dark Parables series, the hidden objects scenes are different every single time. A "perfect" run would require me to memorize every possible hidden object. I'm not going to do that, so I'll have to settle for an imperfect run. That basically means I'd do it for fun, not for glory; I'd only post it on my channel, instead of submitting it to Speed Demos Archive.