Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Phone!

Thank you, readers! I used your advice to help me get a new phone.

Partially. The store only had one type of iPhone available, which I like to call "something the salesman should have mentioned earlier". In good news, I didn't have to worry about data plans because my parents set one and--Really? I have to go with the one Mom and Dad picked?!

Ugh, fine.

Anyway, thank you for all your help. I got the iPhone 5S, which I believe is the best phone you can get, next to the one that's about two weeks old. I will definitely take the advice of using the Internet through wifi, instead of using phone-Internet.

Now my main challenge will be figuring out how to send cat pictures to my fiancée, via the messenger app. I can do that on Facebook, but talking to her makes up about 90% of my Facebook activity. I'd like to cut out the middleman and just do it directly to her phone.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Deadly Device's Book

According to Wikipedia, Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device is based on In and Out of Love, from the Nancy Drew on Campus series. That series is more or less a college-based soap opera.

You can read the first chapter of the book here. Nancy gets a new roommate, who becomes the romantic interest of her ex-boyfriend. Bess tries out for a play and butts heads with the darling of the drama department.

HOW does this have ANYTHING to do with The Deadly Device, again? I mean, don't get me wrong, Nancy's soap opera drama sounds awesome. But it has nothing to do with the game?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New Phone

I'm finally able to buy a new phone, one of those fancy phones that connects to the Internet. I'm more or less limited to getting an iPhone, though.

Question 1: What kind of iPhone? 5S, 5C, 6 or 6+? I think those are the only kinds that exist.

Question 2: What is a data plan? What kind should I get?

I think a data plan is a type of scam, where they put an imaginary Internet limit on your phone, and they charge you when you break the limit. They also charge you to increase that limit. It's sort of like Candy Crush, in that regard. Anyway, suggestions as to how large my imaginary limit should be? I'll use my phone's Internet mainly for sending messages, using Google Maps as a replacement GPS, and for those games that require an Internet connection for whatever reason. I won't really be using it to check websites and stuff.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

More Game Writing

I'm also trying to write some visual novel games, for Ren'py. (If my text-based adventure games don't get picked up, I'll probably look into doing a visual novel port). Mostly, I'm writing Nancy Drew parody games, starring Francy Droo.

As it turns out, writing a straight-up parody is difficult. I spent about ten minutes thinking of ways to parody The Secret of the Old Clock, and the only joke I came up with is changing "the Crowley will" to "the Crummy will". So I scrapped the idea and made up my own girl detective instead. I'm still keeping the name Francine Droo, because it's awesome.

Mystery #1 is The Mystery of the Missing Mother-In-Law, where a mother-in-law is kidnapped on a wedding day. I want to give the game multiple endings, and my current problem is making it so the player can find all the circumstantial evidence on their own. It's a lot easier to force players to find evidence, but not as much fun to play.

Mystery #2 is The Midnight Phone Call. Francy changes phones, and she finds a mystery when she gets calls intended for the phone's previous owner. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I hope to have an ending where Francy goes up against a knife-wielding maniac.

Mystery #3 is The Speed Dating Sham. Francy goes speed dating and...um...somehow a mystery is involved. I like the title, so I'm keeping it, even if I can't think of a good crime.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Game Writing

I've been swallowed up by writing videogames recently. Specifically, I've been working on text-based adventures, which I hope will get picked up by Choice of Games, a company that releases text-based adventures on the iPhone.

First, Untitled Sherlock Holmes Game. The legal issues were resolved, and I can resume work on it.
My question is "How much should I change the original text?". The Sherlock Holmes stories contain words whose meanings have changed in the past 100+ years, as well as some awkward sentence structure. Extremely long sentences are no longer in style, I'm afraid.
In my original demo, I tried updating words and cutting out various sentences. This time around, I'm changing as little as possible. I hope the sections I write / edit don't stick out like a sore thumb, next to the original material.

Second, Pride and Prejudice. This is a monstrously long project. The current version of the demo is 20,000 words, and it goes all the way up to the Netherfield Ball at the end of Book 1. The original plan was to have a modern English version and a classic English version, but it took so long to do the modern English version that we're throwing out the classic one.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Number 4

I'm trying to help the five-year-old write correctly. She has a bad habit of writing 2, 3, 7 and 9 backwards.

You know, I never learned the difference between open-top 4s and closed-top 4s. Is there an official difference, or is it just a matter of taste? Closed-top 4s look too much like 9s, which is why I never write them.

I also don't know the difference between the lower case a which is an o with a tail, and the lower case a with a line on top.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wedding Reception Stuff

The prices for Wedding Receptions are ridiculous, and they charge for a bunch of stuff that I will not use.

  • $35 (per bottle) alcohol, along with two $20 bottles, per table. That means each table gets to drink $75's worth of alcohol. Why is it mandatory to get everyone drunk?!
  • Three votive candles per table. Clearly, these wedding people don't know that "votive candle" means something different to Catholics. And we coined that term first. Like, over a thousand years first.
  • Cake tasting. Screw that! I want to have a cake, not a cake tasting!
  • Organic coffee. If you want coffee, there's a Starbucks down the road.

All prices come with a 13% free, an 8% fee and an 8.75% fee. That's about 30%, if you add them all up. But if I wanted to rip people off, I would make them compounding fees. I'm not business-savvy, and I thought of that rip-off technique, so it's a safe bet all the wedding reception places have thought of it, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Copyright Stuff

YouTube's copyright system is kind of a mess.

I wanted to add background music to a video, so I tossed in some public domain Bach music. The video got flagged as breaking copyright laws; a company named "Ad Rev for Rights Holder" claims the music belongs to them.

It doesn't. The original music is public domain, and this particular recording of the music is also public domain. A quick check online ensures that this is not the only public domain material on Youtube that Ad Rev has flagged as their property.

I disputed the claim, and this is where things get crazy. Guess who gets the decide whether or not my dispute was valid? If you guessed "an unbiased third party", you're wrong. If you guessed "YouTube", you're wrong.

No, Ad Rev got to make the final decision. Unsurprisingly, they ruled in their own favor. Which means, among other things, ads will automatically appear on the video, and all profits will go straight to Ad Rev.

So, sorry everyone! I deleted the video, and you won't get to see it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Schedule

I do not know what the upcoming schedule for my Youtube Channel is going to be.

This week, I have the first Living Legends game going up, since people liked my playthrough of the second game. Even though they are ridiculously similar, I think the second game is a tad better than the first.

After that, there's about two weeks before the new Nancy Drew game comes out. I'm trying to think of something short I can do, during that two-week gap. I think I might try Haunted Halls 4, since I played games 1-3 last October.

I finished a speedrun for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device, and I submitted it to Speed Demos Archive, the main speedrun website. Currently, it is at the "wait for volunteers to verify the run is good" stage. If they can't get enough verifiers within a month, it is opened up to the general public. It's been sitting in line since September 9th, so I'm betting it'll take at least a month.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Catholic Survery

This week, the Diocese of Springfield (in Illinois) released the results of surveys they did of Catholics and ex-Catholics in their area. They interviewed about 1400 people, and the work was done by a third party to prevent bias or a skewing of statistics.

The #1 reason people left the Catholic Church was because they disagreed with what the church teaches. This was mentioned 47% of the time. I thought it was interesting how this coincided with education levels. If you went to grad school, you are more likely (on some topics, twice as likely) to disagree with the Catholic Church.

The issues people disagree with most are birth control, the fact that priests can't get married, divorce and remarriage, fertility treatments and homosexuality, in that order. I am surprised that fertility treatments were mentioned over half of the time, while abortion was not.

The #2 reason people left the Catholic Church was a lack of connection to the Church. This was mentioned 38% of the time. To put it simplistically, people got bored and left. A majority mentioned that their spiritual needs weren't being fulfilled.

Reason #3 and #4 were about tied, around 15%. These are church scandals and a lack of Christian atmosphere. People over 50 hate church scandals more than people under 50, for whatever reason. As for lack of Christian values, the main reason seems to be that the priests / other Catholics are jerks, so people leave.

---

The second survey was for practicing Catholics, and they indicate a lot of the same ideas (they don't like it when priests are jerks, they prefer to feel a sense of community, they dislike the church's view on birth control more than anything else, etc.). The improvements people recommended most were changing the mass and/or the priests.

As a Catholic, I wonder what I can do to help, besides for "stop being so anti-social when I'm at church".

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Angry Birds Epic

I finally made it to the end of Angry Birds Epic. The last few sections were extremely difficult, and I had to do a lot of grinding. Fortunately, the game has an autoplay feature. I just set my party to fight the battle with the most enemies over and over again for several days until they leveled up enough.

The second-to-last fight was pretty unfair, in that you had to fight three bosses at once. In addition to this, three healing bombs show up every third turn. If you don't kill the healing bombs right away, they explode and bring the bosses back to full health. In other words, every third turn of the battle is kind of wasted. You can't use it to attack the bosses; you have to use it to stop them from healing.

The last fight steps up the unfairness. The boss has a move that allows it to heal all of its health. And that's just phase one of the battle. Phase two is the one where the boss has a move which does 550 damage to all enemies. That narrowed down my options for the battle, since not all of my characters had more than 550 HP. The boss' healing system in the second phase was pretty unfair--at minimum, it healed a fifth of its health each time--but it was easier to circumvent than in the first phase. I still think I got lucky, but I'm not complaining! I managed to beat it!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Iraq

Last week, President Obama gave a speech about the military action our country is taking against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the organization that has seized control in Iraq and Syria. Strangely enough, the leaders of the group are using the medieval term "caliphate" to refer to their organization. It'd be like if someone took over Italy and declared themselves the Caesar.



President Obama says that ISIL is not Islamic. Even though they are Muslims using Islamic terms, their actions completely go against what Islam teaches.

I can understand that. That's basically what I believe about the Catholics who were responsible for the Spanish Inquisition. Also, the malicious people involved with the big child abuse scandal in 2002-3. I know Catholicism is a religion of forgiveness, but I have a hard time forgiving these people for all the harm they have done, which continues to cause harm long afterwards.

President Obama is now the fourth United States President in a row to declare military intervention in Iraq. Clearly, whatever the US has done there since the 1980's has been ineffective. Let's hope this will be the last war in the Middle East.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cooking

My latest cooking misadventure was trying to make a pork tenderloin. It comes in a plastic wrapped with instructions, but even though I followed the instructions, the plastic popped. Also, the middle of the tenderloin didn't cook at all.

I also tried cooking a tri-tip steak, which turned out okay, but you couldn't tell because of the awful gravy. The gravy had way too much salt, and yes, I'm one of those people who dislikes having salt on everything. If food companies would stop putting salt on things that don't need it--cereal and cheese, for example--that would be great.

The problem with cooking the steak in the oven is that I had to cook potato casserole in the oven at the same time. The casserole recipe says 350 degrees for 30 minutes, while the steak says 375 degrees for 40 minutes. I didn't have enough time to do them separately, so I cooked them both at 350 degrees, and I left the steak in for an extra ten minutes. Is that a good idea? Is there any good way to convert cooking times? Like...two hours at 350 degrees equals one hour at 700 degrees?

Tonight is turkey burritos, and I hope turkey cooks the same way beef does, because otherwise I am in trouble. But that's okay, kind of, because I still can't brown beef correctly yet. Whenever I try, instead of breaking up into tiny pieces, the beef breaks up into little slices. And most of the time, the fourth of the meat that cooks first is burned, by the time the final fourth is cooked.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monkey Island

Every now and then, someone tells me to play the Monkey Island series. I've tried it out, but to be honest, I don't think it's entertaining. The puzzles don't make any sense, and the jokes aren't funny.

I don't mean "not funny" as in "I understand the joke, but it doesn't amuse me". I mean "not funny" as in "I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a joke, or if it's just a weird line of dialogue".

Here's the playlist of me trying out the first game and not understanding it.

Out of the games I played, the third one was definitely the best. I got all the way through the prologue, mainly because the manual told me how. I probably would have played the game all the way through eventually, but since I got the game from the library, I had to return it. Maybe if they do a remake of the game, I'll look into it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wedding Planning

I got engaged on Labor Day Weekend. Right now, we're moving past the "everyone says congratulations" phase, and onto the "we are planning a wedding and have no idea what to do" phase.

Katie had her bridesmaids come over this weekend. I was more or less forced to sit in the basement and hide as they went on a dress rampage. I thought it was over when they left, but Katie started telling me that I need to completely change my wardrobe to fit their dress decisions. Sorry, Katie, but I'm not buying a second tuxedo to match the bridesmaid dresses.

Clearly, I need to get revenge on Katie by inviting all my buddies to the house and playing videogames all weekend, while she hides in the bedroom. The problem is that I don't have any groomsmen. I'd like to ask my GameCola buddies, but they all live on the east coast. They also sometimes read this blog, so "Hi guys!" if they're reading it now.

I have a feeling my wedding party will look like this:


Click for larger picture.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Other Star Trek Characters

I'm not a fan of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, but I like the other main characters, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy. It's impressive how much Spock seems like a legitimate alien, and not just a human with putty on his ears. As for McCoy, I like him because he's more or less the only normal person on the show. Spock and McCoy play off each other very well, and I think it works so well because they are both extremely smart.

I have no real opinion on Mr. Sulu. I know George Takei has made a career out of the role, but he is a really unimportant character. He's more like an extra who shows up a few times than a reoccurring character. I am still unsure as to what role he fills on the ship. It seems like his particular field of expertise changes, depending on what the script calls for.

I can't understand half of what Chekov says.

Scotty is an okay character. It's interesting, because he's a generic tech guy, and in no way does he match up with our modern conception of "generic tech guy". He generally doesn't do much besides exposition, but on the occasions where he steps up and takes control of the ship (since the captain and first officer are constantly abandoning the ship to enter dangerous situations), he does a fair job.

Lt. Uhura is a pretty awful actress. She does a blank stare all the time and talks in a monotone. When she did actual acting in the "Mirror, Mirror" episode, I was shocked. In her defense, though, none of the women on the show ever seem to have good roles. It's very much a male-dominated show.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Captain Kirk

My fiancée has finished watching the first season of Star Trek. I have inconsistently watched it with her.

I don't like Captain Kirk. Sure, he can be clever sometimes, but he is ridiculously inconsistent. Sort of like other TV shows, his personality changes to fit whatever moral the screenwriter wants to drive home that week. So one week, he's on a crusade to destroy creepy aliens. The next week, he's on a crusade to protect the misunderstood aliens. One week, he talks about how great it would be for humans to find a paradise; for the next five weeks, he goes to various paradises and destroys them.

That's a running theme in the show, actually. Kirk screws up everyone's happiness, because it doesn't fit his particular worldview. So he ruins things for the planet which has simulated wars instead of real wars. And he ruins things for the planet that is run by Landrew the Computer. And he ruins things for the planet where people have happiness plants.

The planet of happiness plants was probably my favorite so far. It's basically the Lotus Eaters storyline, from The Odyssey. I hope they do more episodes based off that book. I mean, a planet with giant cannibals, or a planet with a magician host who messes around with the crewmen for her amusement. Those sound like Star Trek plots.

I can understand why the TV show is popular, but I can't quite explain why Kirk himself is popular. He's sort of like an incompetent Indiana Jones, and most of the time, I disagree with him.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective

Here are the reviews for the first four books in the 2004 Nancy Drew series. I kind of like the books, because they're easy to get through. The series still suffers from the problem of drastically changing between books, depending on the author.

Book 2 is the best of the lot, but I can't believe no one notices or cares, when Deirdre's crimes go from committing sabotage to attempted murder. Usually, Nancy doesn't forgive people who attempt to kill her multiple times.









I think I'll review the next two books in this series (which is a two-part story), before moving back to 1980's Nancy Drew.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Engagement Video

In case you missed it, here's the video about me getting engaged to Katie.



The last time I had a big party was for my college graduation, and I sent out invitations to everyone on Facebook. It worked, since Facebook was for college kids only back then. But now I have no idea how to publicly discuss the wedding on Facebook, without it getting seen by dozens of people who aren't invited.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Education Reform

I know a lot of people are calling for education reform, and I thought I would throw my two cents in.

1. Grammar. In my experience, grammar gets taught to 8-10 year olds, and it gets completely ignored in older grades and high school. I think it would be better if high schoolers learned more about grammar, because they would certainly have an easier time understanding infinitives and gerunds than fifth graders.

2. Vocabulary. In my school, vocabulary lists were always taken from whatever book we happened to be reading. This can result in highly specialized vocabulary. For example, if you read Catch 22, you're likely to get a lot of military words. It would be better if vocab focused on words children need to know, not just whatever words happen to be nearby.

I know that The Cat in the Hat was written, in reference to a teachers' vocab list of words young readers need to learn. I'm sure there is a similar list for older children.

3. Math. Math is great, but I feel like it gets too advanced. I mean, I liked calculus and trigonometry, but I have never used those things outside of a math classroom. Meanwhile, my girlfriend who works with the IRS encounters people who can't add and subtract on a daily basis. So perhaps math classes should work extra-hard on drilling in fundamental math, instead of focusing on the more advanced and abstract math.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Channel Anniversary

September 25, 2007 is when the "Arglefumph" YouTube channel was created. Is there something special I should do to celebrate the seven-year anniversary?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Labyrinth of Lies

Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies is available for pre-order now! If you preorder, you get the bonus edition. It looks like the bonus edition comes with cell phone games and phone charms (and an award for getting all the phone charms).

We also have pictures of the various characters available on the game's page! The characters are Xenia, Niobe, Thanos, and Grigor. Additionally, there is a museum curator as a phone contact. The Hardy Boys are also phone contacts.

The most exciting thing is the new trailer!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cooking

Okay, my latest attempt at cooking burgers worked perfectly. I guess 12 minutes on medium heat is what I need to do. Thanks to everyone for all the help!

My mistakes were using cooking spray--maybe my pan is no-stick to begin with?--and setting it on maximum heat. I was sort of imitating my mother, there. When Mom is in the car, she always cranks the AC to the maximum setting of 4. She never sets it to 1, 2 or 3. Likewise, with cooking, she always puts the stove on the highest setting, unless it's a recipe that specifically calls for the lowest-possible setting.

What's the difference between the various settings, I wonder. I'm told that if you cook on low, it takes longer to cook the food, but it is cooked more thoroughly.

This week, I'm only cooking food I cooked before (minus pork chops--I have no idea what I'll do with those). On Saturday, I cooked spaghetti for the first time. Water bubbled up from the pot and coated the entire stove top. And the sauce smelled like vinegar. I'm not sure what went wrong.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Schedule

I am trying to make a schedule for my Youtube page. Maybe you could help! Here's what I have.

  • Reviews for Nancy Drew Girl Detective 1-4. Should I release these all at once, or one per day?
  • Review for Nancy Drew Notebooks: The Singing Suspects.
  • Playthrough of Death and Betrayal in Romania: A Dana Knightstone Novel. I haven't finished the game; I'm on Chapter 6 of 7. There are multiple epilogues, I'm told.
  • Speedrun for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device (new and improved run, about four minutes faster than the last one!)
  • Living Legends: Ice Rose. People liked Living Legends 2, so I though I would play the first one. I did this in 4 segments, so it'd take four days to post.
  • Walkthrough for My Sweet Bodyguard, a Japanese dating sim. I'm playing this with Katie. Each video is about 20 minutes long.

What order should I post things in? How long of a break should I have in between projects? I like to have a break in between projects, because otherwise some videos tend to get ignored and overlooked.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frozen Fever

In the news this week, they announced Frozen Fever, an animated short based on the movie Frozen.

According to the description, "it’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever, but Elsa’s icy powers may put more than just the party at risk." The short will contain one song.

Personally, I am wondering how long the short will be, and how it will be distributed. My cynical side is saying it is a six-minute short, which will play in front of an otherwise unpopular movie.

I'm basing this off of Tangled Ever After, a short which played in front of Beauty and the Beast 3D. I like Tangled, but that was a disappointing short. It was all about the non-talking animal companions having slapstick adventures.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Angry Birds Epic

The autoplay feature in Angry Birds Epic is good, but it has some quirks that need to be worked out.

1. The autoplay system has no idea how status ailments work, so it will treat afflicted characters normally. This means poisoned characters will do damage-inducing moves, which ensures they will die next turn. Also, the healer will waste turns, trying to heal a character that has the "cannot be healed" status effect.

2. Characters make their moves, with no regard to logical order. For example, Character A attacks, Character B attacks, and Character C casts a spell to raise everyone's attack level. It drives me nuts, because that should be done BEFORE everyone attacks, not after.

3. If you pause the autoplay system, it won't let you do a special move on that turn, unless it happens to be the special move that the autoplay system was planning to use. This is the biggest problem.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Replacing Actors

My Internet friends are happy, because there's a new main character on Doctor Who! Well, kind of. The show seems to do a weird dance between "it's a new character" and "it's the same doctor we've had for 50 years". Like, he's technically the same time lord / doctor, but now he looks different and has a different personality.

I'm used to actors being replaced, because I've been watching Days of our Lives for over ten years. Their weirdest replacement saga is the one with Roman Brady. Wayne Northrup played Roman from 1981-4. Drake Hogestyn took over the role in 1986. Five years later in 1991, Wayne returned the show. How did Days explain the fact that the original actor and the replacement actor were both on the show at the same time? They went with "Oh, it was really John Black in disguise as Roman Brady...for five years."

...Yeah, that's pretty ridiculous, but there's more. In 1997, Josh Taylor took over the role. He's not a bad actor, and he's been playing that role regularly for the past 17 years.

But Wayne the original actor returned to the show AGAIN, in 2005. Which meant that all three actors for Roman Brady were on the show, at the same time. Days decided to explain this by saying, "He's not Roman Brady; he's a totally different person who was married to Marlena in the 1980's. We just never mentioned him until now, because it wasn't important."

Now that I think about it, it's almost like the casting drama is better than the drama on the show. Wayne's 2005 appearance (the only time I saw him on the show) wasn't particularly good, and I wasn't surprised when they wrote him off the show by killing him. That character was promptly forgotten and never mentioned agian.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dick Tracy

For the past two months, I've been reading the Dick Tracy comic strip. I never read the strip before, but it's a long-running strip about a hard-boiled detective and his gang of weird villains/friends.

The current storyline is that Dick Tracy has been hired to find Little Orphan Annie, who hasn't been seen since her comic strip was cancelled three years ago. It's a pretty good premise, but it went into slightly weird territory. Dick Tracy finds Annie by time-travelling back to the year 1942, when both of their respective comic strips did well.

But now our heroes are trapped in the 40's, and they can't get back to the future because they have no idea how they time travelled in the first place! Also, a mysterious villain named Axel is lurking around. He's not doing anything besides lurking, but it's supposed to be suspenseful nonetheless.

My memory of 1942 Little Orphan Annie is shoddy. All I remember is that she organizes the neighborhood kids into helping the World War Two effort. They catch a submarine filled with Nazi spies, who are all murdered in a group. There were complaints about that storyline being too violent for a kids strip, which happened a lot with Annie.

The Dick Tracy storyline is moving a bit too slowly for my tastes. It is certainly moving slower than the 1942 Dick Tracy strip, which was 1-2 panels longer, so it got through more material each day. Still, I'm gonna stick with this story until it gets wrapped up. From there, I'll decide if I still want to keep reading Dick Tracy, or if I want to pick up some of the original Dick Tracys instead.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day! Enjoy the holiday! I'll probably enjoy it, until we have a three hour drive back home, which traffic stretches out into four hours.