Friday, August 18, 2017

And Then There Were None - Speedrun Notes

I had to delete my speedrun of Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None due to a copyright strike. I still have my notes which detail the speedrun route, though! Might as well put them up here, in case anyone's interested.

Chapter 1. Skip opening scene.
Run down to dock.
Return to house and talk to Rogers.
Listen to game room convo.
Go to dining room. Get flashlight.
Enter kitchen.
Enter pantry and get necessary items from there.
Go upstairs. Talk to Mrs. Rogers. Two seconds faster to NOT help her.
Talk to everyone else upstairs. Circle them clockwise to save about five seconds.
Right to McKenzie and Emily.
Vera and Lombard.
Blore. Scene plays.
Listen through door for another scene.
The game requires you to get two letters of invitation at this point.
Go upstairs. Get silk sheets.
Get Wargrave's letter of invitation.
Go downstairs.
Get needles and Rogers letter of invitation.
Listen in at the door in the kitchen. A glitch skips the next scene.
Press Escape to skip the accusation scene.
Get doctor's bag from Dr. Armstrong's room upstairs.
Deliver bag to Dr. Armstrong. Walk up to him before giving the bag to skip slow animation.
Go to parlor. Take the record.
Talk to Dr. Armstrong, Marston and Rogers.
Talk to Vera and Lombard.
Talk to Emily Brent.
Marston chokes. Skip scene when I can.
Talk to everyone again. Only ask each person about the first thing.
Skip scene. Take glass. Go upstairs.
Check Armstrong in bed. Go left. Enter and exit Lombard's room. Left. Enter and exit Brent's room.
Go to dining room, skip scene.
Talk to everyone about first thing.

Chapter 3 starts.

Rogers convo. End as soon as possible.
Go to gameroom through the dining room. Doctor/Judge in gameroom. Talk to them, end the conversation as soon as possible.
Go to front door. Talk to Emily.
Rush to Blore/Lombard cliff path. Talk about a way off the island.
Blore/Lombard front steps. Skip as much of this convo as possible.
Blore/Lombard woodshed. Skip as much of this convo as possible.
Raid woodshed. Bucket, ladder and shovel. Read gas card.
McKenzie on the beach. Talk to him about the peaceful spot.
Vera on Shiprock Point. End the converstaion as soon as possible.

Chapter 4. Talk to everyone about the first thing.
Brent in parlor. Start the convo and end it.
Rogers by Dining Room Door. Start the convo and end it.
Screening Room - Vera and Lombard. Talk to each of them about the first thing.
Blore in Rogers' bathroom - start and end
Armstrong in his room (upstairs and left).
Go through Vera's room for the telescope. Her room is 3 left of armstong's
Wargrave in McKenzie's room. Start and end. That room is 2 left of Vera's.
Go upstairs to Vera's room. Select option 1.
Go to the woodshed.

Chapter 5.

Fill water bucket.
Talk Blore at woodshed.
Emily/Doctor fight. Talk to Emily.
Talk Judge.
Grotto run. 28-11-49
Go to apple orchard. Use ladder to get apples.
Get cure from apiary.
Talk to Vera on the cliffside.
Make apple juice.
Talk/see doctor upstairs.
Go to ruined village. Get items from the first two houses.
Use juice on thorns to clear away goats and get the other item.
Give everything to Emily.
Run around the area.
Try jumping off the cliff.

Chapter 6.

Leave to Lombard's room.
Watch the scene and return to the game room.
Up to Vera's room.
To dining room.
Use the cure on Narracott.
Go to the generator. Turn it on.

Chapter 7.

Talk to everyone about the first thing / end convo as soon as possible
Check Wargrave, Vera and Lombard.
Leave house and return. Check Vera.
Leave house and return. Talk to Blore about all, to trigger Lombard / all.

Chapter 8.

Go to screening room. Judge's body is there.
Leave through library to find Blore's body. Take the bear.
Find Dr. Armstrong's body on the rocks.

Chapter 9. Run to the bonfire.

Chapter 10. Enter the house. Use the bear on the culprit.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Internet Archive

I visited the Internet Archive building in San Francisco recently!

Back in March, I said that I wanted to give them my entire River Heights series, so they could scan in the books and put them on Open Library. That way, other people could read the series. The series is somewhat rare, since it went out of print 25 years ago, and nobody has ever heard of it. The later books were especially hard to find; Amazon prices the last book at $43.97. And that's for a used copy.

I was planning to mail the books to them, but I figured that I was going to San Francisco anyway, and I was relatively close to finishing the series. So I power-read to the end of the series, so I could drop off the books in person. It actually worked better that way, because I was able to include the books that I left at my parents' house when I moved out of state. That would be my entire comic strip book collection, which was something like five volumes of Little Orphan Annie and seven volumes of Li'l Abner. Those books are huge. The Annie ones are hardcovers, over 4 pounds each.

I also left a bunch of Latin and Greek books at my parents' house, but I didn't donate those, because there wasn't any room left over in the laundry basket, once the big books were put in.

I'm pretty sure I confused the receptionist at the Internet Archive building, since I was a stranger in casual clothes, walking into their building with a laundry basket. The good news is that my wife told me to email them to confirm their physical address ahead of time, so I had the name/email of one of their employees. I looked slightly less like a crazy person, because I had employee approval.

I thought it was a neat trip, although it would have been neat to get a tour of their facilities. According to the plaque on the door, they have normal tour hours. I didn't know that! I probably looked extra-weird, a tourist showing up outside of tour time. So I didn't hang around long, after giving them the books. I took a picture of their scanning machine in the lobby and left. They had an arcade machine in the lobby which I wanted to try out, but I figured that'd be rude.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Latin Translation

I'm translating "Dialogue Between God and Sinner" by Pope Innocent III. Don't bother Googling it; there are no English translations of this work.

The sinner mentions the passage in Luke, where a disciple tells Jesus, "Teach me how to pray" and Jesus responds with the Our Father. The first sentence of God's response to the sinner is "Pro certo quod sic orare docuit te Filius consubstantialis mihi et coaeternus", which is "Most certainly, the Son taught you to pray that way."

The sentence also has "consubstantial and coeternal with me", to describe the Son. It makes total sense in Latin, since "Son" is the last word in the sentence; all the author did was put adjectives next to the noun they describe.

But "Son" comes first in the English version. So the proper translation is "Most certainly, the Son, consubstantial and coeternal with me, taught you to pray this way". That's not natural-sounding at all. Putting the adjectives before the noun doesn't help, because that's "Most certainly, the consubstantial and coeternal with me Son taught you to pray this way". It sounds better if we put "Son" at the end, following the original word order, but that completely changes the subject of the sentence; "Most certainly, you were taught to pray this way by the Son, who is consubstantial and coeternal with me".

Translating is hard sometimes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cooking Blogs

I set up a new label for this blog: Cooking! You can click it on the right hand side of the screen and see all my posts about cooking. If you find a cooking post which isn't labeled "cooking", feel free to let me know!

Are there any other labels I should set up for this blog? I use the generic label "other" for most of the blog posts. Maybe there's a topic I talk about often enough that it's deserving of its own label.

Speaking of those labels, I have no idea why all of them are capitalized, except for "movies" and "pictures". I once tried to capitalize them, but Blogger autocorrected them back to being uncapitalized. I think what I have to do is go back through every single one of those posts, unlabel them, then put capitalized labels on them. That's too much work!

I made up the labels years ago. Some of them don't get used much anymore, like "TV Shows", since I haven't had cable TV in years. "Walkthroughs" has also fallen out of usage, as I stopped writing walkthroughs for GameFAQs. As for "Videogames", it's rare that I play a videogame that I don't do a video walkthrough for, unless it's an iPhone game.

And sadly, there haven't been many opportunities to use the "Nancy Drew previews" label in the last two years...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Video Series

This past week, I've written about a shipping wars series, and a what if series. I'm just floating around ideas for possible video series.

One to two years ago, I decided to start three Nancy Drew video series. I did "Everything Wrong With", speedruns and long game reviews. The plan was that I'd do them for every single Nancy Drew game.

This only lasted for three or four games, because the speedruns took a long time. Now I just do "Everything Wrong With", although the last two videos (games 12 and 13) have taken a long time. Sorry about that! My editor Olivia had computer issues. I occasionally speedrun a game, if it catches my fancy. I'm planning on going back and doing all the reviews when I finish with EWW.

I suppose I shouldn't be thinking of starting new Nancy Drew series, while I haven't finished the old ones yet. Oh well.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shipping Wars

Another idea I had for a video series was "Nancy Drew: Shipping Wars", where I go through each game and say which characters should date each other. Because romance.

I could try to make it interactive, with Twitter polls! Like, "Message in a Haunted Mansion". I do a poll, asking if Charlie should date Nancy, Abby, Rose or No One. Same with Louis. Then for the girls, I ask if they should date Charlie, Louis or No One. I would be interested in seeing if my followers agree with my romantic preferences.

This raises the question of gay relationships. Should I include them? I don't want to be homophobic and exclude them, but on the other hand, the only Nancy Drew character who's confirmed as gay is Dagny from Sea of Darkness. There's not a lot of options for gay pairings with only one gay character.

What about phone contacts? The phone contacts in that game are Hannah, Bess and George, and the one reporter whose name eludes me now. Do they get a chance for loving, too?

I also thought there could be a "date someone from a different game" category. Maybe? Like, Hal Tanaka from "Secrets Can Kill" with Miwako from "Shadow at the Water's Edge". They are both quiet, Japanese people. That was actually the only one I could think of, but I think it'd be neat to at least have the option available. I have no idea how I could poll people on the topic, though. Maybe that'd be something for Facebook topics.

As you can see, I gave the idea some thought. I dunno if I should go through with it or not.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Romance Novels

Yesterday, my friend Paul shared this list of computer-generated romance novel titles. The program based it off of real romance novel titles. I thought it'd be funny to write plot summaries for these fake books:

The Billionaire’s Marriage Valley. The best kept secret in Washington D.C. is the tiny Jefferson neighborhood, where all the richest politicians go to find love. Josie and her sister Alexandra are completely unaware of the neighborhood's reputation, when they inherit a house there. Soon, Alexandra is being courted by two senators from the same state! But when Josie's ex-fiancée reappears as a lobbyist for the military industry, Josie wonders if this is one movement she'll have to veto.

The Baby Surgeon Seduction. Melody and her boyfriend are expecting a baby this November, and tensions are running high as her career and her relationship seem to be falling apart. A severe attack of false contractions lands her in the hospital, where she meets the handsome Dr. Braxton-Hicks. Soon, Melody is faking any number of pregnancy problems, so she can spend as much time as possible with the charming baby surgeon. Is this blooming relationship going to deliver her heart's desire, or is Melody doomed to go into labor...alone?

Christmas With Her Blackmail. It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Wrong! After a drunken holiday party that went way out of control, Valerie finds herself being blackmailed by one of her co-workers! She's forced to dress up in a ridiculous elf costume, watch snotty children, and fend off the advances of a lewd mall Santa. The only way Valerie can make her life normal again is if she figures out a way to blackmail the blackmailer. But she never expected to fall in love along the way...

Friday, August 11, 2017


I don't live in California anymore, but I figured I would check in on my birth state. Have they finally finished the high speed rail? I was living in the state in 2008, when they voted to start the project. It's a train that runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and it's awesome!


Oh, hey, they've barely even started construction. It looks like the most recent development was being sued by environmentalists in LA. You keep on trying, California.

In other news, some people are trying to have California leave the United States of America. Called "Yes California", or more commonly, "Calexit", they got permission to gather signatures from citizens. If they get enough signatures, it will be on the ballot in 2018. This group stopped their work in April, but another group has picked up where they left off.

It's an interesting idea. California has the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world, by various counts. It's certainly possible that it could exist as its own country, although there would have to be some big restructuring. My first reaction, though, is that this will NEVER happen. It sounds like it's just a load of sour grapes, from people who dislike President Trump. People in Texas, who disliked President Obama, started a similar campaign to have Texas leave the United States, after the 2012 election.

As you may know, both California and Texas are huge states. One is Republican, the other is Democrat, and they more or less cancel each other out in every Presidential election. If one of them leaves the United States, it pretty much guarantees that the other political party will win. Take the 2016 election, for example. Hillary Clinton got about three million more votes than Trump, but eight million of her votes were from California. If California hadn't been part of the United States, Trump would have won in a landslide. Similarly, if Texas wasn't part of the United States, Trump wouldn't have won.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What If Videos

The other day, I watched some "What If?" videos by MasakoX. He's a DragonBall Z fan, and he's gone through a lot of various scenarios, like "What if [big event] occurred earlier?", "What if [Villain] became a hero?" and "What if people died for real on the show, instead of being brought back to life all the time?".

Some critics say this is basically alternate universe fanfiction theater. Fair point, but I still find it interesting.

I wonder if I could do something similar for Nancy Drew. The only "What if" scenario I could think of was "What if Bess was the main character, not Nancy Drew?". Also, "what if George or Deirdre Shannon was the main character?", which is the exact same thing, only tweaked a little.

"What if Nancy didn't have a boyfriend?". Honestly, I think if Ned hadn't been introduced in Book 7, she would have been given a different guy as a generic boyfriend. Nancy and her friends all had generic boyfriends in the original series; Ned was the only one who survived the reboot. The Hardy Boys had generic girlfriends, too. They are in the reboot, but they're not dating the Hardys anymore, so they almost never show up.

"What if [Game] had a different culprit?". That could be fun! But if I did that for every game, it might be super repetitive.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice (German)

Game #4 in the 2017 Foreign Nancy Drew Marathon is The Phantom of Venice, in German.


. Rosie throws up on me, during the intro.
. You know how the French and German versions of the game tried to sync the audio with the animation? The person playing Colin doesn't even kind of try to do that. He will regularly talk for 5-10 seconds after the animation. So Colin will be frozen in place on the screen, while his voice actor is still talking. Occasionally, he says Nancy's lines for her, too.
. All the other voice actors are spot-on, and they're especially good at speaking German with Italian accents! I like Teenager Nancy the best.
. Helena's scream in the scene where the Phantom robs Nancy is so fake, it's hilarious.
. In the first Scopa scene, Nancy tells Enrico (in German) that she wants to speak with him in English. He agrees, and they continue speaking in German. A lot of people in the chat thought this was hilarious.
. There is no German/English translation book. That was the one thing I was wondering about, going into this game. They just make it unavailable for purchase. The "Italian to English" book is changed into an "Italian to German" book.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


The IRS is hiring for contact representatives! It's the same job I had, when Katie was on maternity leave! Basically, they're hiring people to work the phone lines.

  • Full time work that doesn't require loads of experience
  • Little competition. The number of applicants was way lower than the number of open positions, or at least, that was the case last year.
  • Unlike other jobs where you talk on the phone with customers, you can hang up on people who are verbally abusive. Customer Service Reps who have worked at other companies tell me that is wonderful. They also like how "making each phone call as short as possible" isn't the main metric you get graded on, because every phone rep has had the one customer who just won't stop talking.
  • Long training. It takes 2-3 months of classroom training, before you get to use the phones. The first month is more or less "taxes for newbies".
  • Antiquated Computer System. The IRS mainframe was built during the Kennedy Administration. That was before computers had cursors, lowercase letters or the "enter" key. You'll have to work with this old computer system. 99% of the time, you won't deal with it directly; you'll be using modern computer programs, which piggyback off the original system.
  • Unknown end date. The IRS doesn't know in advance how long the tax season will be. Last year, Congress passed a budget within one day of the deadline, or something like that.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 37

As I promised yesterday, this blog post will cover the rest of the game (in French). The finished speedrun is here:

I beat the game more quickly in French, despite having had less practice. I think this confirms the French conversations are faster. Kind of. The conversations are faster, if the person who's talking doesn't appear onscreen (like during phone calls, the trivet quest conversations, or whenever Nancy talks). If the person who's talking appears onscreen, it's generally the same amount of time in both languages, as they made an effort to sync the dialogue to the animations.

The main conversation in the game, where no one appears onscreen, is the ham radio challenge. Flute talks faster in English, Thisby and Pyramus talk faster in French. In English, it's fastest to call Thisby first (which takes 4:55), but in French, it's faster to call Pyramus first (which takes 4:16).

With the in-person conversations, there basically no difference between the two languages. Most of the time, Nancy has two choices of different lengths, like "No thank you" and "Actually, what I'd really like to do is talk about Josiah Crowley". It doesn't matter which language you're playing; option 1 is always going to be faster.

There's a difference between the two languages, when Emily asks Nancy to visit Jim Archer. Nancy's English options are "Sure" or "I guess". Her French options are "Avec joie" and "J'imagine". In English, the first option is about .2 seconds faster. In French, the second option is about .1 second faster. Also, the first option of the first Jim Archer conversation. In English, you select the second option, as it is .4 seconds faster. In French, the first option is .03 seconds faster.

There are other differences between the two versions. There are different solutions for the carriage door, Topham's logic puzzle and the golf poem puzzle. The phones don't ring in French, which would be a timesaver if you had to call anyone.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Meta Post

I got some snarky comments on my last Old Clock Speedrunning blog post. Ha ha! I know timing games in French isn't the most easily accessible topic. So why am I writing so much about it? Two main reasons:

1. I spent hours working on the speedrun for Secret of the Old Clock. I might as well get some blog posts out of it.

2. I feel like there should be some record of what this game's timings are, for the sake of other speedrunners. Even though there are only two other people besides me who have run this game, it's useful to at least have timings on record. Otherwise, we could end up with a situation like Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, where someone broke the world record, merely by selecting different conversation options. (It was a 12 minute improvement, so I'm guessing they did other things, too.)

Obviously, writing 40 blog posts on speedrunning the game is going a tad overboard. I think 3-10 posts is probably a good amount. I tried writing about it on Facebook, but only did about three posts. Then I got confused, because what I had on Facebook was not at all synced with what I had here on Blogger. I stopped.

Tell you what. I'll combine all my other blog posts on this topic into one blog post, so we can have it over and done with quickly. Sounds good?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 36

The third conversation of the game is with Emily. My discussion of the English version is here.

In English, the fastest way through the conversation is to select the first option both times. The first time, you avoid a conversation about insurance. The second time, Nancy's question is slightly shorter than her other question.

Checking the French version, it's the same. The fastest way through the conversation is by selecting the first option both times.

In English, the first choice gives a difference of 5.6 seconds, and the second one gives a difference of .2 seconds. In French, the first choice gives a difference of 5.5 seconds, and the second one gives a difference of .05 seconds. The time difference between conversation options in English is a tad greater than French. I wonder what the time difference is between the two languages, when you take ALL the game's conversations into account.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 35

The second conversation of the game is with Emily. My discussion of the English version is here.

You want to avoid mentioning Nancy's father at juncture 3 or Jane in juncture 5, as those lead to brief tangents.


Juncture 1: .3 seconds faster to pick second option
Juncture 2: .7 seconds faster to pick first option
Juncture 3: Faster to pick second option
Juncture 4: 1.6 seconds faster to pick second option
Juncture 5: Faster to pick second option


Juncture 1: .8 seconds faster to pick first option
Juncture 2: .1 seconds faster to pick second option
Juncture 3: Faster to pick second option
Juncture 4: 1.35 seconds faster to pick second option
Juncture 5: Faster to pick second option

So it looks like Junctures 1 and 2 are different, between English and French, as far as time goes. With the other three junctures, the second option is faster, no matter which language you're playing.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Walkthroughs to Record

Here's the list of games I have, that I need to record walkthroughs for.

Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice: Case 5
Spirits of Mystery: The Fifth Kingdom
Edge of Reality: Lethal Predictions
Love Chronicles 2
Maestro: Dark Talent
Spirit of Revenge: Cursed Castle
Spirit of Revenge: Elizabeth's Secret
Dark Parables: Swan Princess
Spirit of Revenge: Florry's Well
Miles Edgeworth 2, Case 3?
Dark Dimensions: Blade Master
Beard in the Mirror
Other pathways in the Spy Fox games?
DOS games

I generally record whatever game is at the top of my to-do list. Let me know if there are any you want me to do, and I'll reshuffle the list accordingly.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Walkthroughs to Post

Here's the list of walkthroughs that I've recorded:

Fire Emblem Path of Radiance Nuzlocke (11 videos)
Ghost Trick (75 videos)
Royal Trouble: Honeymoon Havoc (8 videos)
Grammar Games (2 videos)
Captain Warlock (11 videos)
Phoenix Wright Case 4 (23 videos)
Spirit of Mystery: Chains of Promise (12 videos)
Cadenza: The Kiss of Death (9 videos)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger (6 videos)
Living Legends: Beasts of Bremen (10 videos)

I normally do a Twitter poll with the first four games, asking people which walkthrough they want me to post next week. Let me know which ones you want to see, and I'll reshuffle the list accordingly.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Shadow at the Water's Edge (Russian)

Here's me playing Shadow at the Water's Edge in Russian!

I did a title card for this video! If you check out the "trending" section of YouTube, you'll notice almost every video has a title card, featuring the YouTuber's face. So this title card is me making dumb faces, at the game's title screen. I probably won't do title cards in the future, but it was interesting to do one, at least once.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just So Stories

I don't like reading baby books to the baby. They're so boring. It's stuff like "red, blue, green, yellow...purple!".

So instead, I read her the "Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling. I got the idea, after they were mentioned in Matilda. I only knew "The Elephant's Child", growing up. They had a VHS of that story, done by Jack Nicholson. That was the best story of the entire book.

Other good stories were "How the Whale Got His Throat", "How the Camel Got His Hump", "The Beginning of the Armadillos", "The Cat That Walked By Himself" and "The Butterfly That Stamped".

I disliked "The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo"; it wasn't much of a story. As for the others, I'm ambivalent about them. The two stories about Taffy were cute, but "How the Leopard Got His Spots" struck me as vaguely racist. He gets his spots from a black person touching him; the idea being that someone touched their fingerprints all over a leopard, and their fingerprints left several groups of five spots.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


My friend Jeddy recently wrote a review of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, which confirms what everyone already suspected: I am an idiot for liking this game.

Seriously, though, I liked the game. It was my introduction to the Castlevania series; my grandmother got the game for me when I was in high school. I liked it a lot, with its exploring and collecting and cool magic system that the series immediately got rid of after this game.

The prevailing opinion of gamers and the Internet is that Circle of the Moon is not a good game. People prefer the NES and SNES games that came before it. That's a perfectly valid opinion. The series adapted accordingly. The sequels became more similar to the SNES games, and less like Circle of the Moon. Game #2, Harmony of Dissonance, is about half-SNES and half-Circle of the Moon. Game #3, Aria of Sorrow, is full-blown SNES style, and it's the GBA game that's most popular.

At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Not having played the SNES games, I can't be sure.

So the Internet and fans in general think the series got better, with each new GBA game. I'm sort of the opposite, 'cause I liked the first game the best, and I wasn't too happy to see the series move away from it.

Maybe I'll do a walkthrough for the game someday. Probably not, as it'd be a long walkthrough, and I don't think it'd appeal to my subscribers, who prefer casual adventure games. And can I just say, the speedruns for this game are incredible! I had no idea that it was possible to get through the game without killing a single enemy (besides the bosses). Not only is that possible, but it's ideal for timesaving.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Challenges

I really hope my Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - Nuzlocke videos will be popular.

I know, my attempts at playing Fire Emblem Gaiden and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest were both unpopular, to the point where I cancelled the walkthroughs halfway through. But maybe third time's the charm for Arlgefumph Plays Fire Emblem?

I would love to replay the game, with a different challenge! I love playing strategy games with challenges. Here are some possibilities:
  • Ike Solo
  • Girls only
  • Sword users only
  • Laguz only
  • Magic users only
  • Mounted units only
  • Lance users only
  • Greil merceneries only (i.e. only Ike, Titania, Boyd, Oscar, Soren, Mist, Rolfe)
I've done Ike Solo before; it's not too difficult. It's mostly just time-consuming, because he maxes out somewhat quickly, and then you have to wait about ten chapters before he gets a story-based promotion. Since Ike Solo is a real possibility, I think you can tack that onto any of these challenges to make them easier or more palatable, if you're having trouble. Like, "Girls Only + Ike" or "Magic Users Only + Ike".

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Nuzlocke

My walkthrough this week will be the first half of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. That's the GameCube Fire Emblem game.

I did the game with a Nuzlocke challenge, which I adapted from Pokémon. Here are the rules.

1. You can only get one new character per chapter. If there are multiple characters in a chapter, you get the first one who talks, and you kill all the rest. This makes the game extremely different! For one thing, the game likes to give you new characters in groups of two to six. So your party will be much smaller than normal.

I ended up getting several characters I rarely use (Tomrod, Devdan), and missing out on characters I regularly use (Marcia, Reyson). It ended up being the case that there were no archers in the Nuzlocke party.

2. No resets. If a character dies in battle, you can't restart the battle and try again. This rule is designed to avoid cheating, and it caused much suffering whenever a good or useful character died unexpectedly.

3. You can never have more than the maximum number of characters. Each battle has a character limit, and you can never go above it. This didn't end up being a problem for me, since I had too many deaths.

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 34

Playing this game in French changes the timing of conversations. Let's use the opening conversation as an example. For reference, I talked about the English timing here.

In English, Nancy's options are "That's right. Are you Emily's guardian?" and "Emily told me your name. It's...". In French, Nancy's options are "Exact. Vous etes la tutrice d'Emily?" and "Emily m'a dit votre nom. C'est...". As you can see, they're basically the same. The time difference is likely to be negligible.

There are five points, where you pick what Nancy says. In both English and French, it's faster to pick the second option, in points 1, 2, 4 and 5. With 1 and 4, the second option is faster, because Jane's response is shorter. With 2 and 5, the second option is faster, because Nancy says fewer words.

Interestingly enough, the third point where you pick Nancy's response is different in French! In English, you want to pick the option "Is she all right?". That's faster than the second option, where Nancy says, "Maybe she's know, still thinking about her mom." In English, Nancy pauses while saying this line. In French, Nancy doesn't pause. So the second option is faster in French!

It's not THAT much faster. It's .07 seconds faster to pick the second option, if you're playing in French. It's 0.4 seconds faster, to pick the first option, if you're playing in English. So the time difference between the two languages is about 0.5 seconds, for this particular conversation option.

Still, it's interesting how one conversation option is faster in French, and the other is faster in English.

I timed the entire conversation in both languages, following the fastest conversation route. Overall, there is a 3.22 second difference between the two versions. French is faster.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Max Holchek Interview

The Nancy Drew podcast did an interview with Max Holchek, who worked on Nancy Drew Games 4-12. He voiced Nicholas Falcone and served as a creative director.

There were interesting tidbits in this interview! He picked out the books that they based games on, and he tried to switch genres every other game.

The thing I found most interesting? The decision to make two games a year was not the original plan of Her Interactive. It was more or less forced on them, when the publisher decided to change the price of the games. They either had to double their production or halve their staff. I'm sure fans of the series are grateful they went with doubling production.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Mary listened to Matilda by Roald Dahl as a book on tape recently. I was mildly interested, since I liked the book when I was younger. The movie was good, too.

The book reminded me of The Twits, another book by Dahl. That first half of that book doesn't have much plot. It's just two mean people, playing mean pranks on each other for a long time. Matilda follows along that pathway. It's just her, playing a series of pranks on her parents. She makes them think the house is haunted, she dyes her dad's hair and she glues his hat to his head.

About halfway through, the book switches gears and Matilda goes to school. She meets a nice teacher, and she butts heads with a memorable villain named the Trunchbull.

Matilda develops telekinetic powers at this point, which I thought was amazing when I first read the book. I'd never heard of anything like that! Now that I'm older, I'm a bit more skeptical. WHY does she get telekinetic powers, all of a sudden? The last chapter of the book indicates it's because her brain's potential wasn't being used, but that sounds fishy to me. Miss Honey was giving her fifth-grade lessons (or at least, fifth-grade books), so her brain was more actively used and stimulated in school, compared to the first half of the book where she sat at home all day. You'd think the powers would have shown up then, instead of conveniently showing up right after she meets the main villain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Channel Organizing

I've mentioned this before, but I'm not sure how to organize the various demos and things I've done on my YouTube channel. There are some games that I've played the demos of, like Phoenix Wright 5 and Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. There are other games, where I've tried out the game for fifteen minutes and just called it a demo.

I've got them spread out over various playlists. Some are in "livestreams", some are in "demos" and some are in "backlog clearing".

Maybe I should just delete the old demos, which nobody watches anymore? I should switch the livestream demos over to demos, even though they were livestreamed? I'm not sure.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Female Link

Before Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released, everyone I know was super excited because the game would feature a female Link. I have no idea how that rumor got started. Obviously, it was false. Maybe people were confused with the female Link character, Linkle, in Hyrule Warriors Legends.

I was thinking about it the other day, and Zelda games really like having dual overworlds. There's the light/dark overworlds in Link to the Past, there's the good present/evil future worlds in Ocarina of Time and Oracle of Ages, the giant world/small world in Minish Cap, the normal world/twilight world in Twilight Princess and so on.

I think a female Link would follow along that precedent. That is, a female Link would be part of a game, where there's a male world and a female world. It could be that Link's the only person who can travel between the two worlds, or it could be that Link has the ability to change genders. Both scenarios would fit in with the series precedent.

That seems like an awesome premise for a game to me! I think there is a big potential for confusion and awkwardness, though, because the game developers will most likely follow Japanese standards for male/female behavior. Japanese beliefs on gender don't match with American beliefs on gender, obviously. That was a problem with Case Three of Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. A big plot twist was that a person of one gender was secretly a person of the other gender, complete with stereotypes like "only males yell loudly" and "women cannot resist putting on dresses". I think I'd prefer a game without a female Link, as opposed to a game with a female Link that follows stereotypes that are unknown to me.

Oh! Speaking of stereotypes that are unknown to me! In two different books, the Baby-Sitters Club denounces the stereotype that men have to order dinner for their wives at restaurants. I honestly never heard of that stereotype before. Is it common? I can see why the girls would NOT like it, though. Having someone order for you, without consulting you first? That's a jerk move.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 33

Ha ha ha, you thought I was done planning the speedrun for Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock? You are mistaken! I went back to the game for a bit, to see if I could learn anything new. I don't have access to the game's programming, so I could be 100% wrong about these things. In fact, I probably am. But hey, I spent a half hour wasting my time on this, might as well get a blog post out of it!

Richard Topham doesn't appear, until you talk to Emily and exit through the front door of the Lilac Inn. If there was a way to glitch the game into thinking you've talked to Emily, you could get to Richard Topham earlier. Like...I dunno. Click on Emily to start the conversation with her, then immediately click the menu button to save your game? That way, the game thinks you've started the conversation, but doesn't think you're still in the conversation?

There's also a brief moment in the opening scenes where you have access to the cursor. That's right after Jane leaves the podium, and when Emily discovers the missing jewels. If there was a way to turn around or move places during that brief moment, you'd skip the rest of the opening scene. You could leave the Lilac Inn immediately and talk to Richard Topham; the game would proceed as normal. You'd have to go back to the Lilac Inn to ask Emily about Jim Archer, but you have to go back and ask her about her mother's middle name anyway, so that's not TOO bad.

Any suggestions or ideas as to how to get this to work? It'd be a neat timesaver.

I also discovered that all the people in the trivet fetch quest don't show up, until they have to. That is, if you visit someone early, they won't be there. You have to meet Mrs. Sheldon to make the phone operator appear, you have to meet the operator to make Mrs. O'Shea appear, she has to tell you about printing the tickets before the tickets appear. Too bad there's no sneaky way to cut out most of the trivet quest by fishing early, or something like that.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Several Questions

I got several questions posted as a comment to one of my posts. Let me answer them rapid-fire.

1. How did you discover that some ND puzzles and story lines are optional?

Some of them, I was deliberately looking to see what could be skipped, for speedrun purposes. Others, I skipped accidentally, and I didn't discover they were a thing until I replayed the games.

2. How did you find out Lani Minella disliked some of the ND puzzles when she played the games?

Phoenix, one of the Nancy Drew interns who talked to Lani Minella, told me so. I have never talked to Lani, either directly or indirectly.

3. How many times have you played each and every ND game?

Five times each, I'd say. More like twenty, with the ones I've done speedruns for.

4. Which ND game do you think you have played the most times?

Message in a Haunted Mansion. It's short, so that's ideal for speedrunning.

5. Who is your favorite ND character?

Let's go with Nancy, this time around.

6. Who is your least fav ND character?

Whoever gives you a ton of chores.

7. After your first game was Haunted Carousel, which was the very next game you played?

No idea.

8. If you could only play one ND game ever again, which one would it be?

Right now, The Final Scene is a game I want to revisit.

8. What is your favorite part of being a father?

I like watching Rosie develop and learn new skills.

9. What is Mary's favorite part of being a big sister?

She likes playing with the baby.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull (French)

Here's the latest video in the Foreign Nancy Drew marathon!

The French version is DEFINITELY faster than the English version, as it cuts out some of the dialogue. For example, the part where Bess tells Lamont what order to look up. According to the text box, Bess is supposed to say the number out loud, before Lamont searches through his index. The game cuts out Bess' line and goes straight to Lamont searching through the index.

Solving the graveyard puzzle was incredibly difficult, because most of the character names are puns. The only one I understood Marion Nett, or "marionette". I was able to get the names "Grant" and "Tammy Tasselman", simply because they're the same in both languages. The others were a nightmare to figure out, and I'm sure it took at least twenty minutes.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Star Trek Voyager

Well, my wife and I finished watched all the episodes of Star Trek Voyager. It's an okay show. The two previous Star Trek shows both got really good in Season Three. Voyager waits until Season Five, before getting good. I wish the show had improved much earlier, instead of improving past the halfway point.

My main problem with the series is its wasted potential. The premise is that our heroes are stranded, 70 years from home. It's almost impossible for them to get back alive. Also, half the crew is dead. They're forced to team up with their mortal enemies in order to survive. About two episodes in, neither of these things matter anymore. Everyone acts like normal officers on a normal mission, to the point where they could be only 7 days from home, and you wouldn't know it.

When the show started getting good again, they remembered the "stranded far from home" premise, and we had about five memorable episodes that take place in our home galaxy. These episodes starred Barklay or the Doctor. There was also a neat subplot of our heroes getting letters from home.

They didn't go back to the premise of "half the crew are former rebels", which I guess makes sense. They've been acting nicely for five years. No need for them to suddenly turn evil, although we did have a mind control episode where they did just that.

I think something which dragged the show down was the large cast. It's got too many characters, and remember, the original Star Trek had three main characters. The other characters were mostly just props, although Scotty the Engineer managed to become an ascended extras. Voyager wasn't able to successfully juggle so many characters; I think they should have gotten rid of a few of them.

I'd suggest getting rid of Harry Kim. I liked him a lot, but he was unimportant to the show. I'd also get rid of Chakotay, who was in basically every episode, but it felt like he wasn't. It felt like he was missing, for a season or two. It doesn't help that his main character trait is "stoic"; the show has too many stiff characters as it is. I think it was the right decision to get rid of Kes; as the DVD commentary from the producers said, she just didn't work, even when they tried multiple things with her.

The Doctor is great, as is Seven of Nine. I'm sure someone must enjoy the Neelix/Tuvok dynamic, or else they wouldn't keep showing it. I'm ambivalent about Captain Janeway. It's clear that fans of the show love it, when Janeway is forced into a rough situation, and she makes tough decisions, like in "Year of Hell". I personally don't like that. Yeah, it's nice to see her kick butt and take charge, but I'd like to see her do that, without being forced to go through awful situations first.

My wife and I are split on how we feel about the other characters. She hates the Bellana/Tom romance, which is basically the only romance on the show. I liked Bellana as a character, although I didn't like her gratuitous nude scenes. Tom has an interesting backstory, being the criminal son of a celebrated admiral, but I think there were too many "Tom plays with his newest car/obsession" episodes.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Life Overview

I mentioned high school yesterday. Hard to imagine that I'm twice as old as I was when I first entered high school!

I have a hard time remembering high school, without cringing. I was pretty awkward and made stupid mistakes a lot. I also wrote awful poetry, fought with my parents, and occasionally hated everyone. I started doing videogame walkthroughs in high school, though, so it's not a complete loss. And I was President of the English Club for a semester, until the club was cancelled due to lack of interest!

It sounds awful when I put it that way, but I got a neat t-shirt and theme song out of it.

College was a lot like high school, with all the bad parts amped up, because nobody had any parents to keep them in check. Seriously, everyone behaved like idiots without any self-control. I hated most of college and high school. If I could go back, I'd probably change colleges. Or at least, have a different major. Go into business or computers, something which pays better than ancient languages. But college is when I started my YouTube channel! I saw it as a natural extension of videogame walkthroughs.

The other major periods of my life since then have been "Michael has no idea what he's doing with his life", "Michael is studying to become a Catholic priest", "Michael has no idea what he's doing with his life, Part Two" and now I'm on "married with kids". When I read some old posts from this blog, it feels like I'm reading something that was written by a totally different person!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This Blog

I feel like I haven't had enough time to keep up with this blog, recently. I mentioned Facebook yesterday, and I honestly feel like I don't have enough time to keep up with my Arglefumph Facebook page! I try to write a new post for Facebook every day, even though it's usually a generic post like "here's the latest video I've posted today!". But half the time, I'm scrambling to come up with something, and I post late.

Keeping up this blog is harder, as I usually write more than a single sentence. The baby takes up most of my free time, but I think my wife is part of the problem, too. I now have someone in real life who will listen to the random thoughts and ideas I come up with! I don't have to resort to using a blog for human contact anymore!

This is the first time that's been the case since, um...high school? High school.

Anyway, I'm not cancelling the blog quite yet, but don't be surprised if I try to transition away from the blog and onto Facebook for my random Nancy Drew writing.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Reviews

Okay, now that my Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription has run out, I can stop reading Sweet Valley High books. I feel like that's all I've read so far this year, after reading 33 books in six months.

I've recorded the audio for all my Sweet Valley High reviews at this point; I just need to pick out pictures and sync them to the audio. My wife and I joke that my book reviews are glorified PowerPoint presentations. The reviews I'll have, when I'm done, are books 52 53 57 59 67 79 81 83 91 94 99 100 105 112 126 127 128 129 130 131 141 142 and 143.

The only non-Sweet Valley High book reviews I have ready are Hardy Boys Casefiles 6 and 17 and Baby-Sitters Club 37-39, plus Baby-Sitters Super Special 5. I wrote reviews for the next four River Heights books, but I haven't recorded them yet. I find it amazing that there are only four River Heights books after this. I'm gonna finish that series relatively soon! Maybe. Or maybe Sweet Valley High's huge backlog will get in the way. Maybe I'll Facebook ask my fans how to proceed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Mary and I are watching the Supergirl TV show together, and it's really good. The show strikes a balance between stereotypical girl parts (like love triangles) and stereotypical boy parts (like punching aliens). So there's something everyone can enjoy!

My favorite character is Supergirl's boss, who drops a lot of funny one-liners like "Get me a salad. I don't care what type it is, as long as there's a cheeseburger on it." Sadly, her funny one-liners got replaced by random pop culture references, which I guess are supposed to be kind of funny, but they're more self-aggrandizing than anything else.

We're currently working our way through Season One, which came out in 2016. There are some painful references to the 2016 Presidential race, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Like one episode, with the racist politician who openly rants about aliens. Or the episode where "the walking personification of white male privilege" tries to discredit Supergirl's boss by publicly releasing her emails. Those are the more obvious examples. I have to imagine they received some backlash for interrupting the superhero cartoon with political lectures.

[Random side note: Just saw the episode where Supergirl has to disable a nuclear bomb. I paused, on the shot which shows a map of the United States, with red lights for all the places that are being bombed. The only place in Oregon getting bombed is Medford. What?]

Mary sometimes complains that the special effects are too CGI. I tried telling her that is the only type of special effects that exists, nowdays. It actually reminds me a bit of the Quidditch scenes, in the first Harry Potter movie, in that the greenscreen shots look better and more realistic than CGI shots. They should lean more heavily on that.

Overall, I'd give the show a thumbs-up. I like it so far.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Fairly Oddparents

My wife and I were talking about long-running TV series the other day, and I couldn't help but think of The Fairly Oddparents. I liked that show when I was younger. I haven't seen it in years, but it seems to me that it went through several distinct phases.

Seasons 1-3 were really creative and inventive, coming up with neat ideas based on the premise of magical fairies who can grant every wish. It was good stuff.

Seasons 4-5 were not so good, as the show became more of a generic sitcom. Creative premises were replaced by more typical premises, like "let's do an episode based off a movie" and "celebrity guest star episode". Also a lot of "reuse a previous idea/character that was popular", which was hit or miss. That was when I stopped watching the show, and it was cancelled.

The show was uncancelled two years later. Seasons 6 and 7 introduced Poof, the new main character. I don't much care for him, myself, but I enjoyed those seasons. The show went full-blown comedy at that point, and I liked that. Off-the-wall comedy works well for the show.

Season 8 was a strange one, with only six episodes. They made each episode double-length. The show was basically the same, but longer episodes made it different enough, to keep it fresh.

Seasons 9 and 10 tried to shake things up, with a new main character each season. I haven't seen Season 10, but Season 9's new main character was kind of a failure. He was a weird Rick Moranis parody, and I'm told he hasn't been seen since.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Harbinger Maze

I just finished writing the video descriptions for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger. I doubt I'll write a full review for the game, but I wanted to complain about the maze. The maze in that game is straight-up awful.

The main reason it's awful is because of the drones. Every time you take a step, there is a 40% chance of drones appearing. You need to shoot the drones off the screen, or else they shoot you, and it's game over. Turning left or right counts as "taking a step", for the purposes of the drones. It's really hard to get your bearings in a three-dimensional maze, when every few seconds, you have to do a shooting challenge.

The other reason why it's awful is that it comes with unnecessary, unexplained rules. The maze has four exits, not counting the one you enter from. You need to visit the four exits in a specific order. If you visit them in the wrong order, sorry, you have to go back and do it again. This isn't as bad as it could be, since the maze is mostly a one-way trek. There are only two places where the pathway splits for real; all the other pathway splits lead to dead ends. Still, basically no one is going to visit all four exits in the correct order on their first try. That would require a ton of luck.

The first two exits you want to visit are generator rooms. Those are simple. Go into the room, push a button, then turn around and go back into the maze. I'm not sure why you have to visit the one generator room before the other. They're not connected in any way.

The third exit leads to the central control room, and the walkthroughs I saw recommended to visit this room FIRST, as you can turn off the drones from here. The drones are such a huge pain, going out of your way to disable them as soon as possible is definitely a good idea.

Turning off the drones is part of a five-part matching puzzle, with the other parts being activated by the two generators. The puzzle is difficult and unexplained. The general idea is that you press both panels with the same picture on it, while following audio cues. Do this for all five matches, and you're done! The problem is that the audio cues aren't obvious, and they appear to be randomly mixed up. Last time I played the game, I knew what I was doing, and I still failed the puzzle three times in a row.

The fourth exit leads to an elevator, a hallway and another elevator. You can't get into the second elevator, unless you've solved all the puzzles in the third room correctly. There is no in-game explanation for this, like "the elevator needs power". The game just doesn't let your character step forward to the elevator. He walks partway down the hallway and stops there.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. Two people were flying drones in the sky, during the local Fourth of July fireworks. What a jerk move! "Let me fly a lighted drone all around, to distract everyone from the show!"

2. What's with all the reviews of Wonder Woman that say it's the first action movie with a female lead? Did those reviewers not watch the last two Star Wars movies? I didn't see the last one, but I did see The Force Awakens, and it was all about a woman with superpowers saving the world. I'd say the Jedi are superheroes, if you use a loose definition of "superhero".

3. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the Bernie Sanders people have me on file as a potential political candidate, in the next set of elections. I highly doubt that they'll ask me to run for office, though. I've posted too many silly things on this blog and YouTube; I can just imagine the attack ads, featuring my goofy dance moves. Plus, I'm a pro-life Democrat, and we tend to be unpopular with Democrats in general. Maybe I could run as a family values candidate? I have a family. That makes me pro-family values, right?

More realistically, though, they'll pick someone from Portland. Those people are way more invested in politics than I am. My interest in politics is mostly limited to writing Cat President: A More Purrfect Union. In my defense, I had a baby shortly after the 2016 election! It's hard to get the free time to focus on politics, when you're changing diapers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Insurance (Part 2)

Yesterday, I explained that insurance is cheaper, when a lot of people are buying it, but not using it. Prices are higher if people are using it a lot, or if only a few people are buying it.

This is why childbirth insurance is expensive. Pretty much no one gets it, except for pregnant women. It's an unfortunate combination of not many people buying it, and almost everyone in the insurance pool using it. When I say "not many people" get that health insurance, I'm speaking relatively. Obviously, millions of women give birth. But the percentage of the general population who gives birth any particular year is low, compared to, say, the percentage of people who watch the Superbowl.

This is also why the government runs the Medicare program, for people who are 65 and older. Statistically speaking, people at that age are very likely to need healthcare. By putting all those people in their own separate program, it lowers the cost of healthcare for everyone else. When you don't count senior citizens, that lowers the number of people using healthcare.

I personally think we should renamed "Medicaid" as "elder care" or something like that, because as it stands now, "Medicaid" sounds a lot like "Medicare", and people get the two confused all the time. Medicare is healthcare for poor people, who normally can't afford healthcare. The idea is that this increases the number of people who buy insurance but don't use it, making prices go down. I personally think Medicare's effect on the price of healthcare is more or less irrelevant; we should provide Medicare to people who otherwise couldn't get healthcare, because it's the right thing to do. Jesus commands us to help the sick as a corporal work of mercy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Insurance (Part 1)

I've been told that the golden rule of insurance is "insurance is cheap, when people who don't need it are buying it."

For example, let's say Nancy Drew has "getting hit on the head by a criminal" insurance. When she gets a concussion, insurance pays $5,000 for her hospital fees. If there are 50 people in the insurance pool, they all have to pay $100, to cover for Nancy's fees. If there are 100 people in the pool, they all have to pay $50. If there are 5,000 people in the pool, they all have to pay $1.

Basically, we need a lot of people who AREN'T getting hit on the head, to cover for Nancy. But say Frank and Joe Hardy join the insurance group. Now there are three people getting concussions, and everyone has to pay three times as much, in order to cover them.

Get the idea? People who use the insurance = higher cost per person. People who don't use the insurance = lower cost per person. Ideally, you could get such a large number of people in your insurance pool that prices would stay relatively stable, regardless of how often it's used. That's sort of how car insurance works. The car insurance company has millions of customers, keeping prices low.

Another way insurance companies keep costs low is by charging people on a sliding scale. That is, the more likely you are to need the insurance, the more you have to pay to get it. I remember in high school, when the guys spent HOURS complaining about the fact that they have to pay more for car insurance than girls do. Adults responded with condescending remarks about sixteen-year-old boys being reckless drivers. This led to the teenage boys complaining even more.

The sliding scale usually has a cut-off point, where it's not financially viable for someone to get insurance. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are a good example. They get into dangerous situations, every single month! Each book usually has three to five scenes where they almost die or get killed. I wouldn't want them into my insurance pool, because they'd make my prices skyrocket!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime

Here's my walkthrough for "The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime".

I was expecting an adventure game, like the previous installment in the series. Alas, we got a hidden objects game without any voice acting, instead. It's moderately amusing, even if it's not as high-quality as the last game. I think it would be improved with voice acting and some more localization (for example, sometimes a wrench is called "wrench" and sometimes it's called "spanner").

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor in Russian

Here is a livestream of me playing Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor, in Russian!

The most interesting difference is that LouLou, the female parrot, is now Lori, the elderly male parrot. Lori's word association game was turned into a "enter the famous person's last name challenge". I think Ethel is less scary in Russian, while Linda is more scary, as she does angry wolf-breathing. Playing Bul against Jane is easier, as she is a way less aggressive player.

Also, you see the pieces of paper that Nigel uses for his memoirs. I'm pretty sure that's not in the English version. I mentioned the lack of memoir-papers in the "Everything Wrong With" for that game, right?

I'm pretty sure that there's a time difference between the English and Russian versions of the game. Speedrunners will have to figure out which version is faster! The main time difference will probably be Nancy's dialogue. If she talks faster in Russian, then speedrunning in Russian will be ideal.

I'm hoping to turn this into a 2017 Foreign Nancy Drew Games Marathon! I have no idea what the official name for the marathon should be, though,

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Video Walkthroughs

My wife wanted me to figure out how far in advance I have videos ready, for the YouTube Channel. Well, here are all the walkthroughs I've got recorded!
  • Fire Emblem Path of Radiance Nuzlocke (11 videos)
  • Ghost Trick (75 videos)
  • Phoenix Wright Case 3 (14 videos left)
  • Royal Trouble: Honeymoon Havoc (8 videos)
  • Grammar Games (2 videos)
  • Captain Warlock (11 videos)
  • Phoenix Wright Case 4 (23 videos)
  • Spirit of Mystery: Chains of Promise (12 videos)
  • Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime (10 videos)
  • Cadenza: The Kiss of Death (9 videos)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger (6 videos)
Oh, jeez, now I have to do math. 106 videos, not including Ghost Trick. 181 videos with that super long iOS game. I generally post two videos a day, so that's...50 days? Two months? Add another month for Ghost Trick. I guess this means I've got a pretty decent-sized backlog.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Turkey Brie Melt with Cranberry Apple Chutney

The other recipe I tried this week was a turkey brie melt, with cranberry apple chutney. I got the recipe from a Nob Hill magazine. Nob Hill doesn't exist anymore, but the recipe is still available online.

It's basically a fancy sandwich with three layers. Layer one is brie cheese slices! I couldn't find that at the supermarket, so I used muenster. Layer two is quarter-inch thick turkey slices. Again, I couldn't find that at the supermarket, so I just went with normal sandwich turkey slices. I used two slices of the turkey and cheese on each sandwich.

Layer three is chutney. I mixed a third of a cup of cranberry sauce with a splash of vinegar and a small amount of cinnamon. (I didn't have the other ingredients: raisins and minced onion.) You combine it with small apple slices, from a peeled, chopped and cored apple. It's basically just apple slices in cranberry sauce, and it's delicious. Cook it on low for 20 minutes.

The recipe recommends cooking it on a skillet, like a grilled cheese sandwich. I, um...I don't know how to cook grilled cheese sandwiches. Both Mom and my wife never let me do it, so I never learned. There's some kind of skill, involving putting butter on the bread slices and flipping the sandwich? Anyway, butter the outsides of the sandwich and cook it on both sides, on medium, for five minutes.

I liked the sandwich, especially the apple slices in cranberry. I want to use the chutney sauce on other stuff, not just sandwiches. But once again, my wife hated the recipe. She says she hates fruit sauces, and she hates apple pieces mixed in with things. So double failure.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sausage Egg Scramble with Chips and Cheese

I tried cooking the sausage egg scramble with chips and cheese, because it seems like a recipe I can make!

First you brown sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. You add six beaten eggs and a teaspoon of garlic salt. You stir frequently until the eggs are almost set. I'm not sure what "set eggs" are, but I didn't have time to look it up, because I was sort of cooking and watching the baby at the same time.

Step two is to stir in a cup of pico de gallo, a cup of tortilla chips, a cup of shredded Mexican blend cheese, and a sliced avocado. I, um, just dumped some shredded cheese on top without measuring it. Bad Michael. You're supposed to cover the skillet and cook for a few minutes more to melt the cheese.

The end result was like an omelette with sausage bits, although my wife said it is definitely NOT an omelette. She also ate zero bites of the meal. She thought I wouldn't notice, but I did. I guess we can count it as a failure.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Quinoa Chicken Wraps

Last week, I tried a new recipe: the quinoa chicken wrap! It wasn't actually a recipe, though. I saw something a fancy wrap recipe in a booklet, but the only ingredients I had were the quinoa and chicken. So those got upgraded to the main ingredients.

It was pretty simple. You take chicken breasts and cut them into pieces, then cook them in a frying pan. You cook the quinoa in a pan, according to the instructions on the box. Then just put them both together in a tortilla. It's basically a chicken burrito, except without any cheese and with quinoa instead of rice or beans. It tasted just fine to me!

I decided to make it again this week, only this time, I'm going to add a leaf of lettuce to each wrap, to make it even more healthy and wrap-like. I'm not entirely sure what the definition of a wrap is, and how it differs from a burrito, but it seems like most wraps include lettuce and/or tiny cheese bits. But when I went to the grocery store to get ingredients, I got stuck because I couldn't find the quinoa box. I found a bag of quinoa in the rice section, but it has more complicated cooking instructions than "boil in a pot of water like macaroni and cheese".

We'll see how it goes over. I'm pretty sure my family will like it, and I can add this to my official recipe book. The first-ever recipe in the book that I came up with myself! This is pretty amazing. Speaking of amazing cooking stuff, I found my missing recipe book! You know, the one that I was working on, before the baby was born. Now that I've got it again, I can go back to doing 1-2 new recipes a week! I found two cool recipes to try out this week, and spoiler alert: I couldn't find the correct ingredients for them at the grocery store, either.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! Two years ago, I married Katie, and darned if we can remember what we did on our first anniversary. I think I tried to find a mango cake, to replace the one that was stolen from our wedding, but the local bakery didn't have mango available as a flavor. Sadness.

Enjoy the day off of work, everyone!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Latin Project

Here's a better example of what I was talking about yesterday. My current translation project is St. Thomas Aquinas' piece on the "Our Father", entitled Expositio in Orationem Dominicam. A google search for the title reveals one copy of it, and a bunch of garbage results. The singular copy is pretty good, though! It has the Latin version on the left and the English version on the right, for easy comparison. My only complaint is that they added English footnotes, when Aquinas cites his sources in the text itself.

If you look for this text in English, you get more results, but they're all the same translation. There are 1 or 2 other translations from, but those have all been mangled by their OCR program.

This particular text is basically a PowerPoint Presentation. He divides the "Our Father" into seven parts. Each part is broken up into smaller parts, and he has 1-4 points to make about each part. He made a bulleted list for the prayer and expanded on each bullet point. It took me a while to realize that's how he was organizing it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Greek and Latin

I was a Greek and Latin major in college. With the birth of my baby, it's been impossible for me to keep up with those languages. Latin is the easier language to study, since it's more recent and uses the same alphabet as English, so I'm dropping Greek and keeping Latin. The goal is to do at least some Latin translation each week. We'll see how it works!

I'm a little disappointed that the Internet hasn't proven to be a boon for Greek and Latin studies. If only computers had been developed a hundred years earlier, when it was more common for Americans to be multilingual! Most of the time, all the good online sources are ripped straight from public domain books, written before 1923. Those people did all their work by hand, and just imagine how much better they could have done, if they had computers!

For example, textual variants. All the old manuscripts were written out, copied and recopied by hand. Not every copy is the same, and it's interesting to see the various differences. There should be a website where you can hover your mouse over a line or something, to see the different variations. That'd be neat to see for Greek and Latin texts. Also, for Shakespeare's works. Oh man, we could scan all the original texts and see them for ourselves, instead of relying on typed versions of the texts!

Also, more translations would be nice. When I'm translating something from Latin, it's useful to have one or two English translations as a guide, in case I get stuck and can't figure out what the author is saying. But most of the time, the only translations available are the pre-1923 ones. You'd think there would easily be 5+ websites, with multiple translations of a single work. There are certainly enough websites with multiple translations of the Bible. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine something like that for Greek and Latin writings.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Everything Wrong With Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon

Okay, I'm compiling the list of reasons for Everything Wrong With Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon! Leave any good ideas as comments on this post!

Here's a playthrough of the game I did, to help me come up with ideas:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. I recently got a copy of The Ultimate Catholic Comic Book, which is a collection of comics from various online cartoonists. It's pretty good, although I'd say it leans a little heavily towards Dad jokes (puns). The comic strip I did in 2007 was pretty pun-heavy, though, so I can't criticize.

I thought the book would be a reprint of all the comics available online, but no! Jason Bach did a bunch of new, exclusive comics for this collection! He's the only cartoonist of the group that I'm familiar with. If I ever try to follow up on my pipe dream of making a Catholic priest adventure game--something like The Shivah--I'd totally try to get him to do the art. He does commissions!

2. The Vatican has released a survey, in preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops. The theme of the Synod is youth and young adults. The survey is open to everyone born after 1950, to Catholics and atheists alike, and it's designed to help them get a sense of what people in the world think today. The results are going straight to the Vatican, unlike the survey they did for the last Synod, where the results went to the Bishops, who compiled them and turned them into the people at the Vatican.

The survey is available in English here.

3. It's been about two years since Pope Francis released Laudato Si, his encyclical about the environment. It more or less confirms that global warming is real, and we need to do what we can to stop it. We also need to stop the root causes of global warming, which are harmful to people in general and would cause great damage, even if the environment was untouched.

It's kind of sad that the United States has gone in the opposite direction of science and the Catholic Church on environmental issues, in the time that has followed. Come on, US Government, let's save the planet!

On a side note, I find it odd that the Catholic Church has a reputation for being anti-science, when it agrees with science on global warming, evolution, vaccines and the big bang theory. It's other Christian sects that don't go along with those things.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 32

Towards the end of the game, you have to call people on ham radio. They give you cues, for the clock puzzle. It turns out that you can enter the first three cues, without making any calls. Great! But the fourth cue double-checks to make sure you did all the ham radio calls. You can enter the correct answer, but the game won't accept it, if you haven't made calls. Shoot. And here I was getting excited about the possibility of skipping the ham radio conversations.

The timing on the conversations is a little odd. You have to call three people. With the first person you call, you can ask them a question after getting the cue. With the second and third person you call, the person ends the conversation before Nancy can ask a question. Here's the timing.

Flute Conversation 1: 1:40
Flute Conversation 2: 1:41
Flute No Conversation: 1:03
Thisby Conversation 1: 2:11
Thisby Conversation 2: 1:55
Thisby No Conversation: 1:39
Pyramus Conversation 1: 2:16
Pyramus Conversation 2: 2:13
Pyramus No Conversation: 1:44

Let's see how the math plays out.

Flute Conversation 1 + other no conversations: 5:03
Thisby Conversation 2 + other no conversations: 4:42
Pyramus Conversation 2 + other no conversations: 4:55

Oh, good, there's one option which is clearly faster than the others! I rounded the times to the second, earlier. If things had been closer, I would have to be more specific.

I suppose I should be thorough and check every single combination of cues. Like, what if the game only checks to make sure you've got the cues for Flute and Gloria? That'd be weird, but possible. But checking all the combinations would take such a long time...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 31

The second conversation with Jim Archer is simple. Ask him about the safe deposit key. It's about two and a half seconds faster to say "could this be it?", because if you pick the other option, he responds with "really?" before Nancy shows him the key. He asks you to do a favor, and it's about .1 seconds to say, "Sure!" over "Such as?".

It's about two seconds faster to tell him to get a new seamstress, over asking how much he'll pay. And it's about one second faster to ask how much work needs to be done on the dress, over telling him to say no more.

With the second Jane conversation, you need to pick the second option twice. The first time is faster, because Jane doesn't say "No. You mean...". The second time is faster, because it avoids a conversation about the culprit's motive. When Jane gives you the pie puzzle, it's faster to say "Sounds good!" over "if you insist".

When you find the hidden passageway leading to Emily's room, it triggers a conversation with Jane, the next time you talk to her. It's faster to avoid this conversation, so I talk to Jane (to get the sewing needle) before I find the hidden passageway. Also, good news! You don't have to talk to Topham about the Shakespeare book, before you can explore his house. You can go through the hidden passageway and explore his house directly.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 30

The second conversation with Topham is easy to navigate. He asks if you've solved his logic problem. It's faster to say "right here!". Then you ask about Marcel twice--it's always the third conversation topic--so you can get the key from Emily.

Then you ask about the quartz, which is the third topic. You get to make three choices here, but Topham has the same response, no matter what options you pick. So once again, the fastest way through the conversation is to pick the options that Nancy says fastest. It's about a second faster to claim you're getting it for Nancy's father. It's 0.2 seconds faster to say "really?" over "is that so?". And it's about a second faster to say "Me? Really?" over "Subject? As in...experiment?".

Then you do the random puzzle, where he says a certain line, which is associated with one of five cards. The various lines are...

  • This is which card?
  • What card am I holding?
  • Tell me, what card is this?
  • What card is this?
  • Can you tell me what card this is?
  • What card am I concentrating on?
  • What card am I thinking about?
  • Which card am I thinking of?
  • Do you know what card I'm looking at?
  • What card am I looking at?

From what I can tell, some people get the same answers every time, while other people get randomized answers all the time. My copy of the game seems to have one set of answers for Junior Mode and one set for Senior Mode.

If you save your game and reload, the answers are the same, so you can always do a segmented run, to avoid doing this puzzle multiple times and randomly stumbling on the answers.

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.