Saturday, December 16, 2017

In Praise of the Heavenly Fatherland

I translated a Latin poem called "In Praise of the Heavenly Fatherland". It was written by Bernard of Cluny, and it's taken from his much longer poem, "In contempt of this world". I didn't bother trying to keep the original rhyme and meter, but it sounds pretty fantastic in Latin. Each line has ten syllables. Syllables 3 and 6 rhyme, syllable 9 sometimes rhymes, and syllable 10 rhymes with syllable 10 of the next line.

The newest hours are the worst times; Let us stay awake.
Behold, that supreme judge menacingly comes near.
He comes near, he is at hand, and he terminates evils. He encircles the lands.
He rewards the right, he frees the anxious, he gives Heaven.
He removes the harsh and hard weights from the burdened mind,
He strengthens the sober, he punishes the wicked and others justly.
That most holy one, the most serious one, behold! The King comes!
The man rises! The god-man, the judge from the father, approaches!

Here is brief life, here is brief lamentation, here is brief crying.
It will be repaid, the reward is not to live briefly and not to lament.
O retribution! A short lawsuit stands, eternal life.
O retribution! The heavenly house stands, all clean!
What is given and to who? Heaven to those who desire and a worthy cross,
Stars to the worms, the best to the guilty, the stars to the maligned.
They are warriors in their own way, and rewarded afterwards. What kind of reward? Full.
Full refreshment, and no suffering, and no punishment.
It is lived with hope in this way, and Zion is tormented by Babylon.
Now tribulation, then recreation, a scepter, a crown.

O good fatherland, the sober lights are waiting for you,
The sober lights are weeping over your name
Mentioning you is an anointing of the heart, the cure of pain,
Receiving Heaven in the mind is the fire of love.
It is there the planted laurel and cedar hyssop
Are radiant with jasper, the walls bright with gold-bronze.
Here for you is sardian, there is topaz, here is amethyst,
The heavenly gathering is your fabric, and Christ the gem.
Death on the cross is your light, and the flesh of the leader has been crucified.
He resounds praise, blessing, shouting for joy.
You without shore, you without time, the fountain once a stream,
You taste good-sweet, and you have living stones everywhere
The laurel is for you, the golden gift is given, the adorned bride,
And you receive the first ruler with kisses, looking into his face.

The golden city, Jerusalem, the homeland full of milk, the decorated citizenry,
You overcome every heart, you barricade both heart and mind for everyone,
I don't know, I don't know, what celebration, what kind of light you have,
How much shared joy, how much individual glory,
The entries are Jerusalem
Jerusalem's gates are filled with shouts of joy, full of witnesses,
The citizens gleaming, the Prince standing, the light clear.
The celebrated city Jerusalem, towers and heights safe by the sea,
I seek you, I dwell in you, I burn for you, I want you, I sing, I greet you.
My best and most holy Father made you.
In freedom it has endured, from freedom it is lifted up, by freedom it is washed.
It washes everything with heavenly grace, the fountain of David surging,
It washes everything, it flows over everything, cleaning everything.
O my, my hope, you golden Jerusalem, with brilliant gold,
Splendid multitude, with standing leader, with always blooming trees,
O good homeland, will I see you and your glory now?
O good homeland, will I have your full reward now?
Clap, my ashes, God is your part; you are his, and you are.
Clap, my ashes, God is your part; you are his, and you are.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cream Cheese Chicken with Mushrooms

Okay, this will be the last recipe blog post!

4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup water
8 oz package cream cheese (soft)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small can mushrooms

Put the chicken in a slow cooker. Add the water and cook on high for 3 hours. Blend the other ingredients in a bowl, then pour over the chicken. Cook on high for two more hours. Simple, and it tastes good enough that I added it to my recipe book.

The original recipe called for Italian salad dressing. I have no idea why.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beef and Mushroom Stew

Beef and mushroom stew was easy enough to make.

3 pounds stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 (small) cans of mushrooms
1/2 cup apple juice
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Whoever wrote this book sure loves dry onion soup mix with their roasts. Anyway, mix them all together and cook in a slow cooker on low for 10 hours.

My family thought it was okay. I burned my tongue on it, so I'm not adding it to my recipe book. Call me petty, if you want.

There was a lot of liquid left over. So if you make it, maybe turn that liquid into gravy. That's a thing people do, right? I would recommend adding the cans of mushrooms, shortly before serving, otherwise you won't be able to taste them, not really. Switching out the apple juice for water would probably have little effect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sunday Chicken

Here's the Sunday Chicken recipe!

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup sour cream

Put the chicken in a slow cooker. Mix the soup with the soup envelope, and pour it over the chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. One hour before serving, stir in the sour cream. (I'm told it curdles if you try to put it in earlier).

This recipe worked out really well, because Mary likes sour cream. The sour cream is strong enough that it overpowers the taste of the dry onions. Or at least, Mary had no idea there were onions in this meal. She thought it was just sour cream, so she liked it. It helps that I let her put the sour cream in; that made her feel like she made the meal.

I'm going to add this to my recipe book, but I want a different name for it. Any suggestions? If I don't get any, I'll probably do something generic, like "sour cream chicken with dry onion".

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Barbecue Meatballs, Chocolate Fondue

Barbecue Meatballs is a winner! Just put meatballs in a slow cooker and dump a bottle of barbecue sauce on them. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. It's simple, and it tasted good. I'm adding it to my list of meals now!

I don't want this to be a super short blog post, so here's another winner recipe: chocolate fondue. It's for one of those small slow cookers. It's two cups of milk chocolate chips and 2/3 a cup of half and half. Mix them in a slow cooker. Cook on low for a half hour. Stir. Cook on low for another half hour. Done!

I'm not adding this to the recipe book just yet. I want to try again, with 3/4 cup of half and half. The chocolate was thick and overpowering; it could have used more of the half-and-half to make it smoother.

It definitely tasted good, but we made a big mess on the tablecloth, eating it. We got several things to dip into the fondue, like brownies, strawberries, marshmallows, graham crackers. My wife said buying the extras made it cost three or four times as much. That must be how those fondue restaurants stay in business; they buy the extras in bulk. I want to try the other fondue recipes in the book (caramel fondue, cheese fondue), but my family isn't fond of the idea.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Slow Cooker - Craberry Pork Roast

The recipe says to cook a 2-3 pound pork loin in a slow cooker, on low, for 6 to 10 hours. Gotta love that wide range, huh?

For a topping, you have a can of whole berry cranberry sauce, with grated orange peel, honey, cloves, nutmeg, salt and pepper. I could list out how much you use of each one, but I'm not going to. I didn't like this recipe. I couldn't taste any of the extra ingredients. It honestly tasted like a normal pork loin, with cranberry sauce.

If I get the urge to make it again, I'm going to make a pork loin the normal way, in the over, then put cranberry sauce on top.

This recipe, along with the Coca Cola Roast recipe, is making me a little suspicious of this slow cooker recipe book. I've been good about the whole "trying 1-2 new recipes every week" thing, so I should have multiple recipes to talk about this week.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Everything Wrong with White Wolf

I'm working on "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: White Wolf of Icicle Creek" now! Please leave your suggestions as a comment below!

If you don't remember that game, here's my livestream for it:



I only got through the first twelve minutes of it, this week. I've been busy.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Layton's Mystery Journey

I just finished playing Layton's Mystery Journey! It's probably going to be a while before every video of the walkthrough is public, so here's a little mini-review.

I liked the game's setup. It's a series of smaller, self-contained 1-2 hour mysteries. Each of the seven millionaires gets a mystery, and our three main characters each get a mystery. Then there's the intro case and the finale case. A nice little setup. Some of the mysteries had interesting premises, and they usually played out well.

There's only one case I outright dislike, and that's the Madame Doublee case. The solution to that case left a bad taste in my mouth. Some of the mystery solutions are silly, and the game is silly in general. I liked the tone of the game, but that particular case was ugh.

The finale case tries to tie all the other cases together, but it does so in an unsatisfactory way. I think the main problem is that two of the game's plot threads are left hanging.

1. Professor Layton suddenly disappeared a few months ago, and no one knows where he is. This gets mentioned several times, like it's going to become important in the finale. But no. Turns out, it's just a cheap excuse for why Layton doesn't appear in this game. None of the main characters from his series appear, either.

2. Katrielle's sidekick in this game is a talking dog named Sherl. He's probably the funniest character in the game. The prologue introduces him as a human who was turned into a dog, only now he has amnesia, so we have no idea who he is or where he comes from. Again, this seems like something big that the ending would resolve, but no. Turns out, amnesia is just a cheap excuse for why the game doesn't go into his backstory.

I would like a sequel, provided that it addresses these two issues. It could try to bring in the Layton Brothers spinoff game, if it was particularly ambitious, but I don't think that's entirely necessary. The game does throw a reference to Layton Brothers in a bonus scene that's unlocked, if you solve every puzzle of the game. Hey, that's something!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Francy Droo and Friends

My newest videogame is available for purchase!

This one is a collection of FIVE games, although you can buy the games individually on itch.io, if you prefer. The games are the two Francy Droo games, Trapped in a Soap Opera, Who Am I?: The Let's Play Disaster and My Nigerian Prince.

As you probably know, I really like Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger. So I wanted to have a subplot in Francy Droo 2, where Francy goes to a soap opera. She meets characters who are send-offs of the Nancy Drew characters, like Dick Marlin the actor, Wayne Dowers the talent agent and Cynthia Matterhorn, the prop room lady. (My apologies to the other characters, for leaving them out!)

In Wayne's ending, he pretends they're characters in a soap opera. I had so much fun writing that bit, it inspired me to write "Trapped in a Soap Opera", where an actor gets stuck in his own soap opera. I wanted to show off some soap opera tropes in a humorous yet a realistic way, because most soap opera parodies I've seen are clearly written by people who have never watched a soap opera. For example, I included "senior cast member who has been on the show for decades" as a soap opera trope in the game. I used actors from "Days of our Lives" as models for most of the characters.

"Who Am I?: The Let's Play Disaster" is two interesting ideas, meshed into one. First, what if Arglefumph came to life? Sometimes, I feel like Arglefumph is a totally different person from me. Second, what if there was a let's player, who was playing through a game, and the various characters started interacting with him? I ended up playing all three characters. Like, I'm Michael, I'm Arglefumph, and I'm the surly Let's Player whose playing the Michael/Arglefumph game.

The other two games, "Francy Droo and the Missing Mother-in-Law" and "My Nigerian Prince" were previously available for purchase.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 5

Big Island Mike makes Joe go fishing for six Ulua fish. The first fish you catch is always an Ulua. The last fish you catch is always an Ulua, too. Other than that, "what fish you catch" appears to be random.

I figured this would be a good place to abuse save states. You know, make it so that Joe catches six Ulua and ten three-dollar fish. That way, Joe can trade in the fish for snorkeling equipment, without the need to make necklaces or go fishing a second time.

I tried it out, and guess what? The programmers thought of that. I made $28 in spare fish, and the game stopped letting me get more fish. Every fish I caught after that was an Ulua, which you don't get any money for. So it's impossible to make enough money for snorkeling, the first time you go fishing. That's probably because you have unlimited bait, the first time you go fishing.

The game glitches, if you go fishing without talking to Big Island Mike about Ulua. In order to do this, you have to make enough money in necklaces, to afford bait. The magical, unlimited bait appears if you do this, because you're fishing for the first time. You can probably get $30 from fishing, by using that glitch.

I also tested out the shells in the game. I can't figure out the pattern. It seems like they appear randomly, in real time. You can save the game, wait on the title screen for five minutes, then reload the game. You'll probably get at least a few shells like that. So in a speedrun, you could totally abuse save states to get all the shells you need. It takes a long time, in real time, but in terms of actual gameplay, it's not so long.

Which strategy is faster, though? Making necklaces or catching fish? Let's see. It took me 21.88 seconds to make an aloha necklace, which is $4. It took me 15-20 seconds to catch a fish, the most expensive (non-Ulua) fish being $3. So...yeah. Fishing wins, but it's almost the exact same amount of time. Like I said, you can't get the $30 you need, the first time you go fishing. Therefore, you'll have to fish and make one necklace. That's faster than fishing twice, because in order to fish a second time, you have to pay for bait, and you have to fish a few times to cover the cost of that bait.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 4

I know I said I wasn't doing a speedrun for Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun, but I saw a lot of the game while doing the Everything Wrong With video for it. I figured to work on it at least a little more.

When you make the necklace for Big Island Mike, there are a few variations on the conversation. She mentions extra shells, if she picked some up, and she mentions multiple necklaces, if she made more than one. The fastest conversation is no extra shells, just one necklace. That's .6 seconds faster than the alternative. In that same conversation, it's 1.5 seconds faster to ask about Kane Okala, as opposed to saying you already know about him. It's about .5 seconds faster to tell Mr. Mapu that you need the key.

At Quigley's camp, it turns out you need to listen to the fourth diary entry, before you can open the trunk. You don't need to listen to it for more than a second, but you do need to listen to it. I also discovered you have to get everything out of the trunk, and you need to press the power button on the radio, before looking at the solar cells.

Once you do all that, you go to Dr. Craven. You solve his puzzle for solar cells. You put the solar cells in, and you call Quigley. Switch to Joe. You ask Big Island Mike about his "try it and trade it system", then ask him if he ever leaves. He gives you Ulua bait and tells you to fish for 6 Ulua. Go fishing, then give Big Island Mike the fish, so he can leave.

Once he leaves, you go into his room and find the map. The game automatically switches to Nancy. Go to Quigley, and she tells you to get the clipboard. Do that, then go back to Quigley. This starts the frass puzzle.

Pretty much everything, up to this point of the game, is linear. And, actually, doing the frass puzzle is pretty linear, too. At least, I suspect it is. Probably the only variation is deciding whether to go to Kapu Cave before or after fixing the microscope. That doesn't make much of a difference, for a speedrun.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tax Stuff

Hey, Congress managed to pass the new tax plan! Sort of. It has to go through the reconciliation process first, but odds are looking good that it will pass. Here are some thoughts I have.

1. The Senate did the time-honored technique of "drop big news on Friday night, to avoid major news coverage". People use this technique because it works, but it seems super sketchy for them to drop huge legislation in the middle of the night. They were up until 2 AM, voting on the various last-minute amendments and such.

Some people complained that Senators were not given enough time to review the various last-minute amendments. I'm going to be sarcastic here and say that's not important to the process. Everyone voted along party lines on basically every vote. You don't need days of preparation, when all you're going to do is vote with your party.

2. There have been various news reports, on how the tax plan will affect the middle class. I think I figured out why these reports rub me the wrong way. It's because they have a totally different definition of "middle class" than I do. Like, a single person who gets $125,000 a year? That's not a middle class person in my mind. That's rich person.

3. I've seen several complaints that there's anti-abortion stuff in the tax law. That seems amazingly out of place. Let's take a look at what's going on!

The part of the law in question is the section about 529 plans, or as they're more commonly known, "college savings plan". It's possible to make tax-free donations to a college savings plan. The previous law said that a child has to be born, before you can donate to their college savings plan. The new law says that you can donate to a college savings plan, even if the child isn't born yet.

...That's all. It has nothing at all to do with abortion.

(EDIT 12/4: I've been told by a commenter that the 529 thing is an attempt to "to legally define a fetus as a person, (as a person can benefit from a 529 account) therefore in line with the life begins at conception argument. Regardless of where anyone stands on this topic, it does not belong in a tax bill." Here's the interesting thing about that. The tax law already defines fetuses as "non-persons". Fetuses, and specifically stillborn children, cannot be used as dependents or other tax benefits. From a tax standpoint, if it did not go through a live birth, it's not counted as a child. That also seems like an abortion argument, which was put into a tax bill. Personally, I'd let the parents of stillborns claim the child as a dependent, just to help cover the medical expenses of childbirth.)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Insults Aren't News

I may have mentioned this before, but I don't like news stories that boil down to "someone insulted someone else online". That's not news; that's the YouTube comments section. News stories like that feel more like clickbait or gossip magazine fodder than actual news.

I remember during the 2016 election, there was a news cycle about Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush insulting each other on Twitter. They went back and forth for a while, and it was all completely pointless, because neither Clinton nor Bush write their own tweets. They have marketing interns who do that for them. It was a fight between interns. Probably unpaid interns. But no, the news acted like the two politicians were personally taking time out of their Presidential campaigns to make insulting memes about each other.

I remember when Twitter first started to hit it big. One of the major draws was the fact that you could interact with celebrities for real! But now, pretty much every celebrity, company and politician has marketers do their tweets. (Oh, yeah. "Rival companies insult each other on Twitter" is also a news story that appears sometimes. Ugh.) I'm not blaming them, for letting other people handle their Twitter accounts, though. I know that if I ever hit the big time, I wouldn't have enough free time to respond to everyone on Twitter.

Even Pope Francis has some Tweets which I suspect were written by someone else. Namely, the Tweetstorms that get sent out, whenever he writes an important document. I'm pretty sure Pope Francis doesn't quote himself, dozens of times a day.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Game Making Update

Here's an update on the games I'm making! I sent Mermaid Mission Titanic off to testers. About two-thirds of them responded. (Come on, other two testers! Send in your feedback!) I'm going to revise the script based on the feedback I got, then I get the fun of figuring out artwork.

In the meantime, I've writing the Pride and Prejudice text game. I'm finishing up Chapter 10 of the game, which is Chapters 1-31 of the book. We didn't purposely set out to make the game a third as long as the book. It just sort of worked out that way. When Diana and I came up with the outline for the game, we just listed all the "big" scenes in the book, the ones that are most interesting or important to the story. The final count was 21.

It turns out that there are large gaps, between some of the important scenes. Like, "Collins proposes to Lizzy" and "Lizzy meets Lady Catherine". That's about nine chapters in the book, and uh...one chapter in the game. It's one of the shorter chapters, too. Pride and Prejudice is a good book, but it is not as fast-paced as modern novels.

Or maybe I'm just cutting out as much as possible, now that at the part of the game where there are multiple storylines. You can be locked into the Bingley or Collins storyline at this point, and soon, you can lock yourself in to the Colonel Fitzwilliam storyline. So each chapter has be rewritten three or four times. It's quite a lot of writing!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 3

The third major segment of The Creature of Kapu Cave is with Frank Hardy. I think the game automatically switches to him, when Nancy sees the teeth at Kapu Cave. If not, then I'll have to think of an ideal place in the route, for Nancy to call him.

As I recall, Frank finds a receipt with Johnny Kuto's name on it, and he convinces Pua that Mike might be involved in something shady. She tells Frank about the hidden tunnel that you can scuba dive to. She says you need the map first. When she says this, you can talk to Big Island Mike about the chest with the map. He makes you do the Hawaiian shave ice challenge, for the password to open it.

When you get the map, Frank automatically calls Nancy, and the game switches to her.

This should be a simple enough segment. I just need to figure out what triggers Pua's speech on the hidden tunnel.

You can do fishing for money at this point, or you can save it for the final segment with Frank. You need 30 Big Island Bucks in total, to get the scuba diving gear. There's no point in doing this earlier, because if you do, an eel appears in the water. The eel does not go away, until Nancy has entered Kapu Cave. Stupid eel, stopping players from triggering the endgame sequence early.

Everything else in the game is the extensive endgame sequence. Nancy uses the information from Frank's map to enter Kapu Cave, and she solves a number of puzzles there. Frank then uses the map to enter Kapu Cave underwater, and he solves a number of puzzles there. The end!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 2

The second segment of the game is straightforward. Joe asks Big Island Mike if he ever leaves. Big Island Mike forces Joe to go fishing for him, and then he DOES leave. Joe finds the coordinates for Dr. Quigley Kim, and the game switches back to Nancy.

Then, it's the main section of the game. Nancy meets Quigley, and she's forced to do the long frass puzzle. There are a lot of things to do for this puzzle.
  • Get all the frass samples by Quigley
  • Get all the frass samples from Kapu Cave
  • See the microscope is broken
  • Go to Hilihili and get a new microscope
  • Look at the frass samples under the microscope
  • Fill out the clipboard
  • Put the clipboard in Quigley's analyzer
I think that's all you need to do. I'll have to see if you can skip any of these steps, or if you can look at the microscope (and trigger the microscope puzzle) earlier. I think you can get away with only looking at ONE frass sample under the microscope. Still, testing this segment will be a pain. It's just redoing the same things, over and over again, in a slightly different order, to see if any of them can be skipped.

The rest of the segment is linear. You tell Quigley the results. She forces you to break into Hilihili and get their pineapple sample. You test it at Camp Quigley. Then, you tell Quigley the results. She gives you more things to test. Then, you tell Quigley the results. She is confused and gives you a nose ring. (It makes sense in context.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Creature of Kapu Cave Speedrun Planning 1

I'm not doing a speedrun for Creature of Kapu Cave at the moment, but after the last livestream I did, I decided to update my notes for the game. It's a pretty straightforward game, isn't it? You switch back and forth between Nancy Drew and the Hardys Boys regularly. So, just play as Nancy until you can't make any more progress, then switch to the Hardys. Play as them until you can't make any more progress, then switch to Nancy. Repeat this, until you get to the end of the game.

There's a minimum of four times when you have to switch characters, right? Or maybe three. So the game is easily divided into six or seven segments.

Segment 1 is simple. Make the necklace for Big Island Mike, then go to Camp Quigley. You open the crate to get the hook, then use the hook to get Nancy's car out of the ditch. Check the solar panel, and Nancy notes she needs some batteries. You get the batteries from Hilihili, then you radio Quigley. She mentions coordinates, and you have to switch to the Hardys to get them.

The only thing I would do for this segment is test the various triggers. Do you have to use the radio, before Nancy notes the solar panel? Or do you just have to LOOK at the radio? Similarly, what's the trigger for opening the chest with the hook? Do you have to listen to all the tape entries? Do you only have to listen to ONE tape entry? Do you only need to pick up the tape player? Can you open the chest without getting the tape player at all?

I would test these, and every other trigger in this segment, just to see if there's anything that can be skipped. Other than that, I'm pretty sure this part is linear.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pride and Prejudice

I'm writing a Pride and Prejudice text game. Diana Gray and I outlined the entire game and wrote the first five chapters, back in 2014 or so.

We stopped at Chapter Five, because Chapter Six is where the game splits up. Your character can decide to pursue Mr. Bingley, which doesn't happen in the original book. Chapter Seven, it splits up again, as your character can decide to pursue Mr. Collins, which doesn't happen in the original book, either.

This has proven to be kind of a pain, because now I have to write each chapter three times over. First, I write it the normal way. Then, I rewrite it for players who are locked into the Bingley pathway. Then, I rewrite it for players who are locked into the Collins pathway. There are three more eligible bachelors, but you can't lock yourself into their pathways until later on.

I'm more or less writing the script, over the original text. That is, I copy/pasted the text of the book into my script. Then I rewrite it. I try to use the original phrasing, whenever possible, but the rules of English grammar have changed in the past 200+ years. People no longer tolerate fifty-word sentences, nor is it appropriate to use the word "and" after a semicolon.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tax Reform Plans

What's going on with tax reform? Well, the House passed their version of tax reform. The Senate is still working on theirs. If both version pass, they have to rewrite the two bills, so they match. Then, both the House and the Senate have to vote on them, again.

I think it'd be easier if they just, you know, wrote a bill once, rather than three times, but then again, I'm not a politician. Let's have some fun and see what the differences between the bills are! I'm getting my info from this news website.

1. The Senate says to keep all seven tax brackets the way they are. The House condenses them into four. I talked about the House's bracket plan earlier. I happen to like it, because it's simpler, and it moves the goal posts for the next tax bracket farther away from me. People who got moved up a bracket don't like it at all. I suspect that either the Senate's version will win out, or a modified version of the House's plan will win (say, one with five brackets, not four.)

2. The Senate says the highest tax rate is 38.5%, while the House says the highest tax rate is 39.6%. Currently, it's 39.6%. I think the House will win this.

3. Standard deduction! The House's standard deduction is $12,200 for a single person, while the Senate's is $12,000. I think the Senate's version will win out. I mean, I'd like the extra $200, but the Senate has tighter rules on fiscal responsibility, and that's a really simple way to make the tax plan gather more revenue.

4. The Senate's version repeals the individual mandate for health insurance. Basically, if you don't have health insurance, you pay a fine, and the fine goes up every year. The House's version doesn't make any changes to the mandate. There was a fairly large blowback to the Senate's plan; news reporters claimed millions of people will stop getting health insurance, without the fine in place to encourage them to do so. Since the Senate got blowback and the House didn't, I'm guessing the House's version will win.

5. The child tax credit is currently at $1000 per child. The Senate doubles the child tax credit, while the House adds $600 to it. They also add a new $300 credit for parents and non-dependent children. The House's version is more complicated, but it's cheaper by $100, so it's more likely to pass.

6. Things I don't understand. The Senate and the House have plans, for things like estate taxes and business types and mortgage interest deductions, which I've never had to deal with. I can't tell which one is better. Obviously, the government gets more money if it limits deductions, but just as obviously, people get furious if they can't deduct as much as possible. I'm thinking the version with the larger deductions will be more popular with taxpayers, as will the version with the longest phaseout period.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sharks VS Ducks

I went to the hockey game between the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks on 11/20/17. This is probably the only Sharks game I'll get to see all year! I'd love to watch every game, but I don't have the free time (or the money to pay for a fancy TV sports package, just to watch one team!). So, my one chance to get to know all the new people on the team!

The game was exciting, and I liked it. Anaheim dominated the first half of the game, while the Sharks dominated the second half. I'm told Anaheim played a big game the night before, which is why they weren't at 100% the whole game. The Sharks managed to slow down their momentum in the first half with a kind of lucky goal, early on in the game.

At one point, a Sharks player got a penalty, which allowed Anaheim to score. A particularly nasty fan threw a yellow diaper at the player who got the penalty. At least, it looked like a diaper. They had to halt the gameplay, in order to clean it up, and that fan was escorted out of the building by four ushers.

The Sharks stadium has plaques for all the athletes from the San Jose area. It's got a metal plaster of the person's face, with their name and a description of their accomplishments. One of the Olympic athletes is Bruce Jenner. I wonder if there was any debate, over whether or not to update the plaque when Bruce changed genders. On the one hand, it's not very respectful to have a big, public reminder that Caitlyn Jenner used to be a man. On the other hand, metal plasters are expensive, and the plaques are clearly supposed to represent the athletes at the time of their accomplishments, not modern day.

The game went into overtime, and I was surprised to see that overtime is now three on three. Apparently, they started three on three overtimes in 2015. Shows how closely I've been paying attention! It was really exciting and different to see each team play with three people, instead of the usual five. It greatly changes the dynamics of the game.

The game ended up going into a shootout. The shootout lasted nine rounds! Normally, it only takes three. That was also exciting, although sadly, the Sharks lost. Oh well! At least they get a point for taking the game into overtime.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Game Surprises

I got a comment on this blog:

You have played each Nancy Drew game multiple times over the years, as most loyal fans have. Have you discovered new things you have never seen or found before that surprised or shocked you even after playing the games over and over? If so, which games and what was the circumstance? For example, we have played the Secret of the Old Clock 20+ times but we never knew you could click on the clock in the foyer to open the pendulum and see the mirrors puzzle solution.

Games 14 and 15 are the ones that are fresh in my mind, thanks to "Everything Wrong With". And wouldn't you know it, both games have an optional confession that I haven't heard before! In "Danger by Design", JJ Ling can confess why she has engineering books in her cupboard. In "The Creature of Kapu Cave", Quigley can confess why she has the Hilihili pass / phone number in her trunk. I never heard either of those confessions, until this year! I wonder why they're optional conversations and not mandatory ones; usually, these games try to have all confessions be mandatory conversations, just to tie up any loose ends.

I'm also surprised, whenever the speedrunners find a new trick that I didn't know about. Their specialty is skipping as much of the game as possible, of course, but I'm so used to playing the games all the way through, it's a surprise to see what's technically optional. Brady's confession in "The Final Scene" is technically optional, but I never skip it. In fact, I had no idea it was optional until I saw the speedrunners skip it.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm thankful for all you supporters.

I make some money off of YouTube, but not enough to make a living out of it, and that just makes me all the more grateful. I have to imagine that, at some point, a person could have so much YouTube popularity that followers are more or less expendable. But you're not! You're sticking by me, even though there haven't been any Nancy Drew games in two years! I am very glad that you're still around.

I'm also thankful that the next Nancy Drew game has not been cancelled. Her Interactive has been pretty upfront and honest in the past, whenever they've cancelled games (Ship of Shadows, Captive Curse iOS, the Wii/GBA/DVD ports). It's not the case that they've secretly cancelled games without telling anyone. I'm certain that if they did cancel the game, they'd let us know right away.

So I'm grateful the game hasn't been officially cancelled. I'm sorry if that sounds like a backhanded compliment. It's not supposed to be one! But like all the other fans, I'd be super thankful if we have the game before Thanksgiving next year!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Nanowrimo

I'm participating in Nanowrirmo this year! Kind of. For those of you who don't know, Nanowrimo is the National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that people will start and finish writing a 50,000 word novel, in the month of November. I think December is a free month / catch-up month if you didn't finish. January is dedicated to editing the novel.

My Nanowrimo page for this year is here. As you can see, I'm using Mermaid Mission Titanic as my submission, even though it's a game, not a novel.

I wrote the game over the course of three weeks in October, but I kept a daily word count. The word count includes programming code, which players don't get to see. Is that cheating? That feels like cheating. The final word count, with programming, is 44,844
words. So...40,000 words overall?

While waiting to hear back from testers, I'm working on the Pride and Prejudice text game, which has MUCH LESS programming. I wrote three chapters of the game so far, which made up 18691 words, so I'm definitely good when it comes to writing over 50,000 words for Nanowrimo.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Italian Chicken Slow Cooker

The next recipe we made was Italian chicken.

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 envelope Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup water
1 package cream cheese
1 can cream chicken soup
1 can mushroom stems

You put the chicken in a slow cooker. You combine the salad dressing with the water and pour it on top. Cook it on high for three hours. Then, you mix the other three things together in a bowl and pour that on top. Cook for two hours on high.

I'm not sure why it's called "Italian chicken", since you can't really taste the Italian dressing. In fact, I'd recommend not putting in the Italian dressing at all. The cream cheese with cream of chicken worked well; I think it made for an interesting mixture and sauce. My family members don't seem to agree. Oh well!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Slow Cooker Burritos

The next recipe I tried was burritos.

1 lb cooked ground beef
2 cans refried beans
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

The recipe says to combine everything in a slow cooker, on low, for six to ten hours. That's it!

The food ended up being okay, but it's not burrito filling, in my option. It's mostly beans. You can't really taste the ground beef, the seasoning or the tomato sauce. As far as cooked beans go, it's not bad, and it's slightly different than just cooking two cans of refried beans. But I dunno. The end result is close enough to beans that I'm not sure it's worth it to buy three additional ingredients.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Danger by Design Speedrun Planning

I'm not working on a speedrun for Nancy Drew: Danger by Design, but I know how I would go about it. It seems to me that the halfway point of the game is the scene where Dieter is at the park. He drops Noisette Tornade's obituary, which allows Nancy to solve the numerous Noisette puzzles. If you try to solve the puzzles any earlier, the game won't let you.

So my question is "What triggers the scene of Dieter at the park?".

I suspect the trigger is "Nancy gets ordered to buy a parrot at the park", but that begs the question of "what triggers Nancy being ordered to buy a parrot?". Here are all the things I did before getting the "Dieter in the park" scene, the last time I played the game:
  • Do all the chores on the chore list (on Nancy's computer)
    • Fix the plotter
    • Solve Dieter's photo challenge
    • Give the photos to Jean Mi
    • Get the envelope from JJ
  • Make tea for Minette (a chore that's not listed on the computer)
  • Buy things for Minette at the park (a chore that's not listed on the computer)
  • Make cookies for J.J.
  • Solve Prudence Rutherford's challenge.
  • Get a high score on Model Match, so you can talk to Minette.
  • Solve the dodo box challenge.
  • Solve the cockroach challenge.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Puzzle Segment Programming (2 of 2)

Programming an adventure game segment in a visual novel was difficult, due to the interface. You're more or less forced to do the entire thing through menus. My menu looked like this:

  • Search this area
  • Search a different area
  • Interact with Item 1 if (you searched and found it already) and if (you haven't solved its puzzle)
  • Interact with Item 2 if (you searched and found it already) and if (you haven't solved its puzzle)
  • Check your inventory
  • Ask a friend for help

That's a simplified version of the menu. The real thing uses variables. There's a separate variable for "found an item", "item is in inventory" and "puzzle is solved".

As I said yesterday, each area has four items to find, two of which are inventory items. You search an area repeatedly, until you find all the items there. I can't think of a better way for the main character to find items. I'm told I could try a "click on the screen to add items to the inventory" interface, but one look at the programming for that confused me.

"Check your inventory" just goes down the list of inventory items. Easy.

"Ask a friend for help" was also easy to do. It checks to see if you found everything in area 1. If not, it tells you to search there again. Same thing for the other areas. Then, it checks which items are in your inventory and gives you a specific clue for each one. I programmed it, so you only get one clue at a time, though. If it gave ALL of the clues at once, that'd almost be TOO helpful.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Puzzle Segment Programming (1 of 2)

I wasn't sure how to write one segment of Mermaid Mission Titanic. My wife suggested adding a puzzle, where the mermaid has to escape a locked room. That sounded great to me, so I started writing one.

I figured I would make it simple. The room has three areas you can look at. Each area has two inventory items. Each inventory item gets used on one thing.

Three areas with two items each adds up six puzzles. I decided to add a second round to the challenge. So, each of the six puzzles gives you an item. Half of the items are used on the other half. So overall, that's nine puzzles.

...Programming this challenged ended up being a nightmare. There are nine possible inventory items, and nine possible things to use inventory items on. I had to program every single possible combination. It looked something like this:

If (Character has inventory_item_1) and (Character uses inventory_item_1 on crate):
show inventory_item_1 onscreen
Character "I'm going to use this on the crate."
Character "Oh, bummer! It didn't work!"
Character "I am ashamed of myself for being a failure."
hide inventory_item_1
Choice:
Character can go back to "pick an inventory item to use" screen
OR
Character can go back to "what do you want to do" screen

Imagine that, eighty-one times. It took dozens of pages. In retrospect, I didn't have to make it so hard on myself. Instead of writing a unique response for each item interaction, I could have programmed a generic response like "no, that's not right" to cover all seventy-two incorrect decisions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken Echilada

This recipe was okay, although it's clearly an oven recipe, transferred to a slow cooker. It calls for...
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle green taco sauce
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 4 oz can of diced green chilies
  • 2 cups grated cheese
You put them in the slow cooker, in that order. It's a recipe with two layers, so you do half the food for the first layer and half the food for the second layer. You cook it on high for 30 minutes, then cook it on low for 3 hours.

I stirred everything up at the end, before adding cheese. I'd also recommend only using six tortillas, for the first layer. Using 12 tortillas as a base is overdoing it, for a slow cooker. The bottom of the meal ended up being nothing but tortillas, mixed with absolutely nothing. That's why I think it was originally an oven recipe. Also, it took about thirty minutes to prepare everything. That's definitely an oven thing, not a slow cooker thing.

The enchiladas ended up being very good, although maybe I'm just saying that, because I liked the taco sauce and chilies. That was different and delicious. The kids don't let us cook food with chilies, sauce, anything spicy, or anything that looks spicy. I can kind of get away with putting salsa in food, as long as it's not visible.

So good recipe, but it's good I made it when the kids weren't around, because they'd probably never put up with it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coca Cola Roast

It's been a while since I talked about cooking on this blog, huh? That's because I finished my second recipe book, and I never actually bothered to move on to another book. My wife recently said she wants to have slow cooker meals, now that it's fall. So I pulled out a book of slow cooker recipes, and hey, now I've got a new cookbook to go through.

This time, I was smart and marked down the recipes I want to try ahead of time, that way I won't lose my place and forget.

The first recipe I tried was Coca Cola Roast, although you can use a different kind of soda. You put a 3 pound beef roast into the slow cooker, sprinkle it with an envelope of dry onion soup mix, then drown the whole thing with 24 ounces of Coca Cola. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.



The roast ended up being bland. You can't really taste the soda or the soup mix. It tastes like it was a normal roast, cooked in water. Nothing fancy, and needs gravy. I would not make it again.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Everything Wrong With Creature of Kapu Cave Suggestions

Please, leave your suggestions for Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Creature of Kapu Cave!

Here's the livestream I just did for the game, if you need help thinking of anything:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Patreon

My Patreon page is new and improved! I lowered some of the rewards tiers and added new ones. I figured someone would bite at the "pick a book for Arglefumph to review" or "pick a game for Arglefumph to play", but I guess not!

As of my writing this, I'm currently at 54,470,564 views and 37,384 subscribers. Those are good numbers, right?

I mean...The YouTube Wiki doesn't have a category for anything less than a million subscribers. They still have a page for me, though. And it's still got that out-of-character picture of me, pretending to be a tough wrestler dude. Ugh. Can't they update that picture?!

Anyway, big thanks to everyone who's supporting me on Patreon! I don't expect to get rich off this, by any stretch of the imagination, but if it covers the baby's monthly diaper expenses, I'm all for it. Or maybe I'll use it to pay an artist, so I can have fancy art for "Mermaid Mission Titanic"!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Return Free Filing

I saw a thing about return free filing the other day. That's the income tax system they use in Japan and other countries, where the government does your tax return for you. The way it works is that businesses and banks report your finance information to the government. The government runs that information through a computer, to figure out how much you owe in taxes. They send you a copy of the results, as a bill.

You can contact them and have the taxes adjusted, if there's a discrepancy. Like, the numbers are wrong because you had a secret wedding which they didn't account for, or your legal name doesn't match the name on your bank account.

The IRS has similar method called "substitute for return". They don't use it much, because it's not cost-effective. The IRS isn't going to spend $5,000 to get $20 in taxes. That's ridiculous. There are easier, cheaper ways to get money from someone who didn't file a return.

Call me selfish, but I don't really care if our country switches to return free filing. I have to file a manual tax return no matter what, because I'm classified as a contract worker. YouTube isn't required to send my finance information to the government, so they, uh, don't. I get the fun of doing it all myself, and filling out additional forms (Schedule C, Schedule SE (self-employment)).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm told that some kids in college today don't even try to pay attention in class. They just play on their phones the whole time. I have no doubt that this is true. I'm just lucky that the phone I had in college wasn't capable of playing games. I probably wouldn't have been able to get through class without being distracted by dumb stuff.

2. It seems that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders had a big debate on the tax reform plan, with Cruz for and Sanders against. I didn't see the debate, but based on the recaps of the debate, they spent the whole time talking about business tax reform, not individual tax reform. That's almost the opposite of what I did here on my blog!

Sadly, it seems like the debate was an exercise in futility, as they disagree on basic economic facts. Without any common ground to work off of, there was little for them to do, besides disagree with each other. But Sanders' fans think he did well, and Cruz's fans think he did well, too, so even if the debate was a failure in terms of one person convincing the other, it was a success in that they both got to score points with their respective bases.

3. I'm working on "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Danger by Design". I decided to move all the problems with the tutorial/intro to the END of the video. Otherwise, I'll paint myself into a corner and be forced to repeat those problems with every single game for the next ten games. Or however many games it is, before they change the intro.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Haircut

I'm not an extrovert. I just play one on YouTube. Sometimes in real life, I have introvert moments. Like, a waiter will talk to me at a restaurant when I'm not expecting it. I'll flinch, and my mind will go completely blank, rendering me incapable of responding to the waiter without sounding like an idiot. Or, at least, I think I sound stupid.

I think being an introvert is why I don't like getting my hair cut. The barbers always want to chat with you, have a conversation. I don't feel comfortable talking about the details of my life to a complete stranger, who I'm not looking at. Most hair cutting places have TVs now, and I never know when it's appropriate to ignore the barber and watch the TV.

I went to get a hair cut recently. The barber said last time I got a zero with a fade, do I want the same thing this time? And my mind went totally blank. I had no idea what she meant. She switched to asking if I want finger-wide hair. You'd think that would be pretty easy to understand, right? It's as wide as a finger? I also held up a finger to show how long I wanted it cut to. She didn't understand, and now all of a sudden, the trip has turned into a confusing guessing game of "what does the barber mean?".

I suddenly remembered, I have pictures of myself for The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved The World. So I pulled out my phone and showed her the pictures. I didn't realize until later that, duh, I have other pictures of myself on my phone, not just ones from the photoshoot of me with a shaved head.

Anyway, that's why I got another shaved buzzcut: I'm horrible at interacting with people at barbershops.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sick Baby

The baby got sick for the first time. Apparently, it's a bug that spread throughout the entire school. All the kids and their parents are getting it.

The baby had a temperature of 100.6 in one ear and 100.8 in the other. So I guess that's 100.7 overall, which is about two degrees higher than normal. The temperature only lasted a day or so, but she had a cough for the entire week. Also, her nose is more or less leaking snot. It's gross. Yes, we have plenty of burp cloths to clean up her face, but it's still gross.

I posted about the baby's sickness online. Big mistake! My relatives freaked out, and I had multiple people contact me with the message, "Get her to the hospital immediately!". She's not that sick! Maybe they misread the post as 106, not 100.6. Anyway, it wasn't fun, getting desperate phone calls from people who mistakenly think my child is dying.

Of course, now I've got the sickness, and it's just yuck.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Game Making Update

It's been about a week since I sent Mermaid Mission Titanic to a group of testers, so they can review the script and let me know their thoughts. Only one of them has finished the questionnaire I gave them. Should I ask the others to hurry up, or give it another week?

I am both excited and terrified to see the results of the questionnaire. Let's hope they all agree on whatever changes need to be made, so I don't have the "half the testers want A, half the testers want B" dilemma.

The game that I sent out is the placeholder art version. My wife sent it to one of her friends who does art, along with an offer to do the art for the final game, for a specific percentage. I'm also terrified to hear the results of that job offer. If it doesn't go through, I'll most likely have to do the art myself. I mean, it'd be nice if I could get real-life photographs for the game, but that would involve contacting mermaid cosplayers and 1910's cosplayers. I know those groups exist, but it seems like it'd be a weird message to send. "Hey, I need several pictures of you dressed like a mermaid AND a passenger on the Titanic!"

While I wait for the results to come in, I'm gonna get started on writing a book-based game for Choice of Games. I did a Twitter poll, and Pride and Prejudice won! That's just as well, I suppose, as I already have an outline for that game. Now I just have to...uh...remember what happens in the book.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Married Priests

There has been clickbait news this week about Pope Francis allowing married priests, in the near future. Let me cut through the clickbait and give you all the real story.

The Amazon area in South America has a severe priest shortage. Pope Francis asked for the Bishops there to come up with "courageous solutions" to the problem. Suggested solutions include "allowing married priests" and "allowing female deacons", both of which existed in the early church, but don't exist today.

Pope Francis recently met with Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Amazonian Bishops. Afterwards, he announced a Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon area, to take place in October 2019. It will only cover the Amazon area. That's nine different countries, but most reporters are using "Brazil" as shorthand to refer to all of them. All the Bishops in the area will be flown out to Rome to meet with the Pope and come up with a solution to the problem.

The announcement was made October 15, three weeks ago. I don't know why the news people didn't notice the story, until this week.

Well, that's the story! Pope Francis and the Amazonian Bishops are having a special meeting, about the priest shortage there. Almost assuredly, "let married men become priests" will be discussed as a possible solution at the meeting. This isn't happening for another two years, though.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tax Reform (Part 2)

The tax reform has a lot of stuff in it, most of which will mean nothing to non-tax people. Here are some of the bigger things which I haven't heard about in mainstream media coverage:
  • The lifelong learning and hope credits will be eliminated. Now there's only one education credit: the American Opportunity Credit
  • Alimony is no longer allowed as an adjustment to income
  • Moving expenses are no longer allowed as an adjustment to income
  • S-Corp flow through income is subject to SE tax
I've seen people talk about the state and local tax deduction, which is something you can get if you itemize on Schedule A. The basic idea behind it is that your income shouldn't include any money spent on state taxes, local taxes or property taxes. That is, you shouldn't have to pay taxes on the money which was used to pay taxes. That's dangerously close to double taxation! (Although, obviously, you can pay multiple taxes on the same thing.)

Predictably I suppose, the state and local tax deduction has led to a fight between states and federal. This especially happens in rich states with high taxes, such as California, New York, and New Jersey. Those are also the states where most news reporters live. Oh. Is that why the news people are reporting on this angle, to the exclusion of all others?

Obviously, New York would like it if people paid all their taxes to them, and then wrote off that money as a federal tax deduction (which, in turn, frees up more money which could be taxed). Obviously, the US government would like it if people did not write off state taxes as a deduction, because that means they pay less in federal taxes. Some people have accused the states have of deliberately gouging rich taxpayers, treating the state and local tax deduction as a federal subsidy.

(These are probably not regular taxpayers making that complaint. Regular taxpayers rarely complain about not paying taxes, unless, of course, the complaint is about other people cheating on taxes.)

The new tax plan gets rid of the state and local tax deduction. Property taxes are still deductible, but only up to $10,000. As per usual with tax law, the people who normally take the deduction are angry to see it go. The people who don't normally take the deduction like the idea of rich people paying more in taxes. ("Rich" in this case means "someone who pays over $6500 in state and local taxes", because that's about as much as a person would have to pay in those taxes to make the state and local tax deduction worthwhile)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tax Reform (Part 1)

Hey, the tax reform plan is finished and available for public consumption! It is written in legalese, though, so most people won't read it.

Let's start with the tax brackets for married people. There are four different tax brackets! The original outline called for three tax brackets, so right off the bat, we know they made changes to the plan.
  • A married couple pays 0% in taxes, if they earned under $24,000. (12K for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 12% in taxes, if they earned under $90,000. (45K for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 25% in taxes, if they earned under $260,000. (200K for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 35% in taxes, if they earned under $1,000,000. (500K for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 39.6% in taxes, if they earned over a million dollars. Sorry, millionaires!
Figure out where you fall under the new tax plan! Now, compare it to the current tax plan:
  • A married couple pays 0% in taxes, if they earned under $12,700. (6,350 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 10% in taxes, if they earned under $18,650. (9,325 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 15% in taxes, if they earned under $75,900. (37,950 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 25% in taxes, if they earned under $153,100. (91,900 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 28% in taxes, if they earned under $233,350. (191,650 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 33% in taxes, if they earned under $416,700. (416,700 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 35% in taxes, if they earned under $470,700. (418,400 for an individual)
  • A married couple pays 39.6% in taxes, if they earned over $470,700
Does the new plan put you in a different bracket? Are you paying less or more in taxes, now?

Basically, this plan gets rid of the 28% and 33% brackets. It combined the 10% and 15% brackets into a 12% bracket.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Three Things Thursday - Pronunciation

1. They mentioned Oregon on "General Hospital" the other day. I was excited to see them talk about my home state, but then they mispronounced "Eugene" by emphasizing the wrong syllable. Eugene is a city in Oregon. It's pronounced just like the name. Maybe there's a regional accent for "Eugene" in some places

2. I did my video walkthrough for "The Oregon Trail" years before moving to Oregon. I'm sure that I mispronounced some of the place names. The two most common ones are Dalles and Willamette. "Dalles" is pronounced "dowel", when it totally looks like it should be pronounced like Dallas. Also "Willamette" isn't pronounced "Willa-met"; it's "Wil-ammit", rhymes with "slam it" and, uh, another word.

Aloha isn't in "The Oregon Trail", but that's another city people mispronounce. I'm told the "h" is silent, but it still sounds weird to me when I say it. I'm just more used to the Hawaiian pronunciation of "aloha", I guess.

3. Since I'm on the topic of mispronunciation, Dr. Wells in The Flash mispronounces "mea culpa" in one episode. It's "may-uh" not "me-uh". It kind of ruins the whole "I'm a smart guy who knows other languages" effect, when you don't say the languages correctly.

Granted, there are two acceptable ways to pronounce Latin (the Italian/Catholic way and the German/American/Roman way), but they both agree on how to say "mea". Just don't ask them how to pronounce "meae", or you could find yourself in a the middle of a nerd fight.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Saints Day

Happy All Saints Day, everyone! I figured I'd celebrate by posting the Litany of Saints that was used at my wedding.

  • Holy Mary, Mother of God
  • Queen of All Hearts
  • Mary, Queen of Apostles
  • And Saint Joseph, her husband
  • Saint Michael and all angels
  • Peter and Paul
  • All the Holy Apostles
  • Matthew and the Evangelists

  • Catherine of Alexandria
  • Blaise, Christopher and George
  • Saint Stephen and all martyrs
  • John Henry Newman
  • Louis de Monfort, Jean Vianney
  • Francis of Sales and all Bishops
  • Francis and Clare of Assisi
  • Vincent de Paul

  • Catherine Laboure
  • Kateri and Faustina
  • Katharine Drexel
  • Bonaventure and Bellarmine
  • Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Augustine and Monica
  • Therese of Lisieux
  • Thomas Aquinas and all doctors

  • Anne and Joachim
  • Louis and Zelie Martin
  • Isidore and Maria
  • Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • Jane Chantal
  • Thomas More and Philip Howard
  • Juan Diego and Saint Louis
  • Rita of Cascia
  • All you holy men and women, pray for us

They're grouped by Mary, early Church, martyrs, male religious, female religious, doctors of the church and married saints. Saint Matthew was a tax collector before he met Jesus. Katie and I have both worked at the IRS, so it was kind of an in-joke to have him be the evangelist who got mentioned by name at our wedding.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone!

I don't have a costume this year. I was going to do a costume with the baby, but my wife went ahead and bought matching costumes for the kids without consulting me. A tragedy!

It's okay. Now that I'm the parent, I don't get to go trick-or-treating by myself. One year, I saw a group of parents dressed up like the Avengers, but that seems like way too much effort, considering that I can just buy candy whenever I want.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Here's my Nuzlocke playthrough of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN).



From what I can tell, the playthrough was popular with my subscribers who like Fire Emblem...and no one else. My subscribers who don't know or care about Fire Emblem ignored it, as did Fire Emblem fans who don't know or care about the Arglefumph YouTube channel.

So, the videos are probably going to languish around 100-200 views each, for the rest of time. Oh well!

Nuzlocke wasn't the only challenge that I thought of doing for this game. Here's the entire list of possible challenges that I had:
  • Ike Solo
  • Girls Only
  • Laguz only (so, just four characters???)
  • Swords only
  • Magic only
  • Mounted units only
  • Lance users only
  • Greil merceneries only
  • Ike, Boyd, Oscar, Soren, Mist only (Greil mercenaries, minus a few)

I was hoping the playthrough would be popular enough, to warrant me going back and replaying the game, with these various challenges. I guess not.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Star Trek DS9 #7: Warchild

The seventh Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book is called Warchild. It's received mixed reviews; according to Goodreads, it usually gets rated two to four stars out of five, with an overall average of 3.3 stars.

That seems accurate to me. The book should get mixed reviews, because it's a mixed book. It's got plenty of elements which are good, or at least, have the potential to be interesting. But the various ideas and storylines don't fit together in a satisfactory manner, and no one can quite agree on what caused the overall failure.

Before the book starts, there's a note saying it takes place between Seasons One and Two of Deep Space Nine. In real life, the book came out after Season One, but before Season Two aired. So the author got to see some episodes, before writing the book! That's good.

The story is that the late Kai Opaka made a prophecy, about a mystical child who's destined to become a great healer and save the war-torn planet. The child is in a refugee camp, which is being savaged by an unknown disease. Dr. Bashir is sent there to cure the disease, while Dax comes along to assistant him and secretly search for the child of prophecy.

I didn't like the first three to four chapters, which set up the storyline. I couldn't get a read on either of the monks, who came to report the information. I didn't get a sense of their personalities or what their motives were, and I halfway had the feeling that the author has no idea how the Bajoran religion works. That's understandable. I've seen almost all of the TV show, and I have no idea how their religion works. But when religious drama is the main centerpiece of your story, it should be fleshed out a bit more. What we end up with are religious sects (that are never seen in the show), doing things in a temple (which is never seen in the show), and totally ignoring the fact that Sisko is a religious figure known as the Emissary (which is seen on the show over and over again).

Dr. Bashir goes to the camp, where he's devastated by how badly the refugees live, and he butts heads with a monk who has given up hope. Bashir works himself ragged helping the people; he's both excited at the chance to practice frontier medicine and disheartened by how few people he can help. This was interesting and different. Bashir decides he can't stop until everyone is healed, so he sneaks away in the middle of the night, to visit the other refugee camps in the area. He develops a reputation as a master healer, and he's kidnapped a violent group that lives in underground caves.

At this point, it turns into a soap opera. The warlord has a beautiful daughter, who quickly falls in love with Bashir. He makes a play for her; he mistakenly thinks that she's rejected him, and he's forever lost all chance of being with her. For her part, she does the exact same thing. It's a soap opera. I kind of liked seeing Bashir get rejected after using bad romantic techniques--he mainly brags about himself--but this subplot felt incredibly out of place. One of Bashir's patients dies, and the warlord puts Bashir on trial for the death. The trial is an obvious farce, as it's clear Bashir was sentenced to death long before the trial started. Bashir's love interest pleads with her father for Bashir's life.

Bashir's storyline goes from main plot to subplot, when he leaves the refugee camp. In the main plot, Dax discovers the child of prophecy, who has the ability to read minds. A religious villain kidnaps her, and there's a big standoff. Our heroes rescue the child and bring her to Deep Space Nine. Her brother starts causing chaos, and she gets kidnapped a second time. She is sick at this point, and only Dr. Bashir can cure her. Our heroes look for Bashir and arrive just in time to save him from the trial.

I had a few problems with this plotline. Like the monks earlier, I couldn't get a read on the brother character. His personality seems to go through wild changes. One minute, he's spouting wise poetry and axioms. The next, he's punching kids in the face and biting people. I also disliked the religious villain. Despite the fact that he kidnapped the child, he's allowed free reign over the station. He spends most of his time being a jerk to everyone and openly threatening Sisko. It was so bad, I kept waiting for Sisko to call Odo and throw him in holding for a few days. However, the villain was effective in creating dramatic tension by setting up an artificial deadline, which he later cuts short.

Another problem is that this is the third kidnapping of the book. That's too many kidnappings. The kidnapper was an interesting character. He's Vung, a Ferengi who used to be the second-richest in the world, but he lost his good luck charm. Now he has the worst luck in the galaxy. He also has a cloaking blanket, which allows him to pull off the kidnapping. I'd say it was a good idea, but it wasn't developed enough. Vung only shows up twice; once where he's introduced and once where he's caught as the kidnapper.

The child of prophecy is also underdeveloped. With her sickness and both kidnappings, she doesn't say anything in the second half of the book, until the finale.

In the end, Dr. Bashir returns in time to save the girl from her disease. There's a big plot twist, when it's revealed that the girl's brother is the child of the prophecy. And later on, it's revealed that the prophecy is a fake. In the margins, Kai Opaka writes that the entire thing is bogus, just an excuse to give people something to rally behind, as they try to rebuild. No one noticed this, because she wrote this in an ancient language. It's not explained how the child of prophecy knows how to read this language, nor is it explained how she can read minds.

Also, Dr. Bashir's lady love is so inspired by him, she becomes a doctor herself. Sadly, she won't be able to see him, because that would ruin the series continuity. I mean, uh, she won't be able to see him, because she's too busy studying. That seemed like a pretty weak excuse to separate two characters who were madly in love.

Overall, I didn't enjoy the book. The refugee camp was the best part, but there were problems with the rest of it. That's kind of a shame, because there were some ideas which could have worked, if they were tweaked a bit. I mentioned what I thought the problems were, and how to fix them, but other reviewers have totally different ideas about what went wrong and what changes are necessary. I probably wouldn't want to reread this. I give it a 4 out of 10.

---

This will probably be my last Deep Space Nine book review for a while. I picked up two of them from Open Library recently, so I could read them on a beach trip. Now I've reviewed books 2-7 on my blog. I skipped Book 1, which is a novelization of the first episode. Open Library doesn't have Book 8, so this is probably a good place to stop.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Whispered Secrets: Everburning Candle Walkthrough

As I said yesterday, I was thinking of writing more walkthroughs for GameFAQs. I started on Whispered Secrets: Everburning Candle. It was somewhat difficult. I don't remember the game, and the hint button is not as useful as it could be.

See, the game has an ideal order for getting all the items and solving all the puzzles. The hint button is not at all synchronized with the ideal route. All the hint button does is check to see if there's an item on the screen you can interact with. If so, that item is highlighted. If there are multiple items you can interact with, one is highlighted at random.

The Collector's Edition of the game comes with an in-game guide. This is the exact same guide that's available for free on the Big Fish Games website. I'm told people get paid to make those guides. I would love that job! I promise, I'd be super good at it! I've got over a decade of experience with writing videogame guides, at this point!

The in-game guide is perfectly fine, but it also doesn't fit the ideal route for the game. The ideal route is in my speedrun; it gives you the least amount of backtracking and looking at items. At least, I hope it's the ideal route!



So in the end, I just downloaded a copy of my speedrun. I'm going to use that to write the walkthrough.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Love Chronicles: The Sword and the Rose

Welcome to Inside the Guide, the column that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at writing walkthroughs for GameFAQs! I have written, uh...zero walkthroughs for GameFAQs this year. Maybe I did one, just so I could keep "currently a contributor" on my resume, but that's it. Having a baby has cut into my walkthrough-writing time.

Recently, I played Love Chronicles: The Sword and the Rose. It's kind of a neat old game, definitely made in the era when "casual adventure games" was just starting to become its own genre. I had to try harder to beat this game, because I couldn't rely on the hint button to speed my way through challenges. I especially liked how they tried to give a purpose to hidden objects challenges; instead of finding random objects, you find a series of specific objects, which are used to build a makeshift invention. Neat!

I liked the game so much, I wanted to play it again. So I decided to write a walkthrough for it! It helps that the game is short (two hours, nine page walkthrough). I played the game for a little bit, then wrote down what I did, played the game a bit more, wrote down what I did, and I just kept going until I was done. It was a relaxing way to de-stress myself, and there were multiple times when I told myself, "Okay, I should stop playing now, but I want to keep going! Maybe I'll just finish this screen and stop here," only to find myself playing the game for another ten minutes.

My only complaint would be that the game is incredibly linear when you replay it. I thought it was more open-ended, the first time I played it. However, that's not a complaint, because linear games make for easy walkthrough-writing. So I'll change my only complaint to the ring-pulling puzzle that gets you the sword. It's harder than it should be, because the rings are small. Plus, I think that's the only puzzle of the game without a skip button. Give it a skip button, and I'll be happy!

The game is divided into three sections, where you need a certain number of rose petals, to move on to the next section. When you start a new section, you can't go back to a previous section. That made the walkthrough easy to write. There are three sections of the walkthrough, and each one covers a separate section of the game. Usually, adventure game walkthroughs don't split up into sections that easily.

I normally have a link to my video walkthroughs, in my text walkthroughs for GameFAQs.com. In this case, the videos haven't been made public yet, and they probably won't be until 2018. So I made an unlisted playlist on YouTube, which the GameFAQs walkthrough links to. That way, the GameFAQs walkthrough links to something, even if it's just a "sorry, these videos aren't available for viewing!" message.

I probably should have waited on that. I could easily wait a few months and put in the link to the video walkthrough, when I actually have a working link. But...that would require remembering to do so. This way, I can forget about my walkthrough and never have to touch it again. That's way easier than "update in a few months, just to throw in a link to your YouTube page".

I had more fun than I expected, with this brief jump back in the GameFAQs pool. Maybe I'll write some more walkthroughs! I didn't know which ones to do, so I re-downloaded all my games that start with "T" "U" and "W", figuring I'll start with those. I think they all have hint buttons that I can abuse. So writing those walkthroughs will be "press the hint button, write down what it tells you to do, press the hint button, write down what it tells you to do" until the game is over.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

New Nancy Drew TV Show

There's a new Nancy Drew TV show in the works, again! This one sounds a bit like "Murder She Wrote", a TV series I've never seen.

The premise is that Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew books, suddenly gets thrust into a real-life murder mystery. She's forced to team up with her old friends Bess and George, to solve the mystery. Only Bess and George aren't really her friends. They're kind of got a grudge against Carolyn, because she made them look stupid in her books.

Sounds like this will be based on the original Nancy Drew book series, as opposed to the current Nancy Drew series. (Or the two series in between the original and the current one.) The premise sounds okay to me. I wonder how old Carolyn Keene will be in the series, and if they're really going to call her Carolyn. Maybe they'll call her "Nancy".

I'm all for this TV series, even though it seems like the target is, you know, not me. Hopefully it will find its way onto TV, Nancy Drew will become more popular and mainstream again, Her Interactive will be flushed with cash, and the next Nancy Drew game will come out sooner! Hooray! If they hire me as a writer for this series, that would also be fantastic.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

EWW2

Here are more ideas for "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Danger by Design". I'm not sure if they should make the final cut or not.

1. Neither of the windows by Nancy's bed have curtains.
2. Nancy's room has no closet.
3. Based on the placement of Nancy's suitcases and dresser, I'm forced to assume she lives out of her suitcase. (The suitcases are easier to reach than the dresser. To be fair, she DOES live out of her suitcase, most of the time.)
4. The tea puzzle assumes Minette can decide to be left-handed all of a sudden. (Maybe she's ambidextrous?)
5. Nancy was sent to figure out why Minette is so far behind in her work. Nancy could have concluded "Minette is late, because she's too distracted by computer games to do any work". That's a totally reasonable place to end the investigation. Nancy also could have reported about the threatening messages and sabotage incidents, slowing Minette down. Those are all good places where Nancy could have stopped investigating.
6. Dieter's postcard has been kept in perfect condition for over 60 years.
7. You can't ask Minette about Sonny Joon.
8. Nancy was supposed to borrow clothes from JJ, but those clothes she wears (as seen in the tunnels) were in her suitcase in previous games. Those are HER clothes. This strongly suggests that she wears the same outfit every day, the entire trip.
9. “I should use my OWN keyboard.” I had one person say this TOTALLY tripped them up when they played the game. Did anyone else get confused here?
10. Was there a point to the "Dieter has a boa constrictor in his studio" subplot? Or is it just there to develop Dieter's character a bit?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

EWW 1

I know people are interested in the "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Danger by Design", so I'm going to post about it here. At this point, I've basically got the final list done. There are about twenty things I'm unsure about including in the final video. Here are ten:

1. Minette's hair looks like a bowling ball. (Am I the only one who thinks that?)
2. Do people really store beverages underground?
3. No one in this game cares that Minette tried to kill Heather at the beginning.
4. Only Heather's head and arms are capable of moving. (Is it mean to make fun of the animation?)
5. Nancy throws the letter into a tiny slot, on her first try. Nancy has amazing aim. (Does that make sense? Normal people would place the letter into the slot and push it in. Nancy throws it in and doesn't miss.)
6. Nancy's prices are always one euro, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the suggested retail price. I just thought it was weird how she always uses the same percentages.
7. Dieter is not at all surprised when a strange woman wanders into his apartment. (He's totally relaxed when Nancy comes in, even though he's not expecting her.
8. Prudence says "because of your investigatory prowess that my real necklace was recovered soon after!". (That didn't happen in "Secret of the Scarlet Hand", although to be fair, she does indicate it happened "soon after".)
9. Marchand says, "I have been told that it is probably a decoder". Sounds like Marchand has no idea what he's selling. (But still charges a lot for it.)
10. Good thing the history professor told Nancy about Noisette's final words, otherwise the left-green-down puzzle would be unsolvable. (It seems weird that she left behind solid clues for everything, but the clue for that one was "I'll just say it before I die and hope someone records it". But that's a wordy complaint.)

I'm cross-posting this on Facebook.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Timed Strategy Game (Part 5)

I had another idea for the timed strategy game that I may or may not make!

The idea is banks. Banks are basically a joke in timed strategy games. They purposely make them useless, by limiting these factors:
  • How much you can put in
  • How much you can take out
  • The interest rate
  • The interest speed
Of course, you can always spend real money, to make banks more effective.

So, let me just fix this broken system. There should be no cap to how much money you put in, and how much money you can take out. Interest will compound at, I dunno, 2% per hour. I'd have to actually do the math to see what interest rate would work best with the game.

In order to stop wild cheating, there will be a 15% charge for withdrawing from the bank. So, if you're taking out 100 coins, the bank takes 15 and gives you 85. Still, I guess it's possible that someone would load the bank with supplies, then come back a month later and take it all out at once. Then they'd burn through the rest of the game with the huge number of supplies. That'd be a valid strategy, I guess!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Danger by Design

I'm now taking suggestions for "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Danger by Design"! Leave a comment if you've got some good ideas!

I'm going to leave this up as my newest blog post over the weekend, just to make sure people don't miss it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Star Wars: Rogue One

My wife and I got to see Star Wars: Rogue One recently. I thought it was okay, but my wife disliked it. She thought the casting and the story was off. I didn't like casting for the male lead, but I think the rest of the casting was fine.

I haven't seen the original trilogy since I was, uh...seven? The movie was more or less a big homage to the original trilogy, and it ends about ten seconds before the original trilogy begins. I'm thinking a fair amount of material went over my head, simply because I don't know the original trilogy.

I'm more familiar with the prequel films, which came out when I was in high school. I distinctly remember that the bad guys had the plans for the Death Star in Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. That, um...kind of contradicts the premise of this movie. Doesn't it? Like, the bad guys had the plans for this thing finished, a long time ago. Maybe that was just a prototype, and not finished plans.

The ending to the movie was rather sad. All of the interesting, new characters had to die, in order to preserve the series' continuity.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Timed Strategy Game (Part 4)

I'm probably not going to even try to program a timed strategy game for months, but I might as well keep figuring it out, while I'm on a roll!

Most of the games has a library or knowledge center. These provide stat boosts, general in groups of 1%. So, you can increase farm production by 1%. You can increase maximum farm capacity by 1%. You can decrease the amount of time it takes to build a farm, by 1%. That seems good to me. Decrease the time and resources needed to build a place, or increase production.

Since knowledge centers are so useful, I'm going to have them relatively expensive to build. Let's have it be "80% of the maximum resource cap, if you have four buildings", to build a knowledge center. To get a particular piece of knowledge...I don't know what'd be reasonable. Normally, the knowledge center runs off a fifth resource tile, a type of currency which only gets spent in the knowledge center. But that's usually paired with training grounds and infirmaries, which I won't have in the game...

Maybe I'll just be mean, and have the knowledge center require something outrageous like six times what a normal building makes. You want to increase farm production by 1%? Great, give me the cap of six full farms. With non-resource tiles, it can cost three times what it normally does.

To prevent it from being TOO unfair, you'll be allowed to deposit resources and such into the knowledge center, even if you don't have enough to purchase a knowledge upgrade. So you can slowly get enough to purchase upgrades.

I'm going to stop here, because this sounds like a good enough framework for this sort of game. I've only got two more ideas for possible features. They're both

1. A store. You buy equipment for your hero and such. A piece of equipment basically has the same effect as a knowledge upgrade.
2. An army. Yeah, I don't like the idea of building an army to fight other players. But what if it's to fight monsters and stuff? That could be better.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Timed Strategy Game (Part 3)

In addition to resources, there's usually a home base or a palace that you have to upgrade. The palace can never be deconstructed, and you can never build anything to a level that's higher than your palace's level. So if you want level 2 buildings, you need a level 2 palace. If you want level 3 buildings, you want a level 3 palace.

There are also walls around the camp, which fill the same purpose. Basically, when you finish upgrading all your resource tiles, you upgrade the walls and the palace to advance to the next level. There's normally a whole host of other things you need to keep up, but maybe I'll keep it simple with just the palace and the walls.

The walls and palace require a lot of resources to build, and I can't see the pattern here, besides "palace requires way more than walls do". Let's go with "walls = 50% of the maximum resource cap, if you have four buildings" and "palace = 90% of the maximum resource cap, if you have four buildings". The resource cap is four times a building per hour, so that's times 8 for a wall, and times 14.4 for a palace.

How long should it take to make them? If I average out the times of all four buildings, it's 37.5 seconds. Palaces are a big deal, so let's say a palace is twice that, or 75 seconds. Let's say walls takes 50 seconds, or 2/3 of a palace. Their time can both increase by 30% each level, the same rate that normal building times increase at.

There's normally an army building aspect to the game, which involves training five types of troop so they can get resources and fight other players, but I don't like that aspect of those games, so I'm not gonna include one. That is, um...like, half the game. You can get equipment for your hero, but your hero is only good for quests.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Timed Strategy Game (Part 2)

Continuing from yesterday, the guide I had doesn't say how much each building produces, so let's skip over to a Mobile Strike guide. It starts at 50 per hour, and goes up by 50 each level, until you reach 1000, at which point, you have to be super-invested in the game, because it takes a week to build anything. Yeesh.

Math is difficult, so I'm going to go with 60 per hour, which works out to 1 per minute. I guess it's easy and makes sense, if that increases by 60 every level. So a level 1 farm makes 1 crop per minute, a level 2 farm makes 2 crops per minute, a level 3 farm makes 3 crops per minute, and so on.

Timed strategy games generally have a cap on how many resources can be created. I guess the idea is to prevent people from, say, turning off the game for a week, then logging into have a giant amount of resources. Since I'm thinking of having 15 resource tiles, I'm going to go with a cap of "the amount a building makes per hour, times four". Once a building hits its cap, it stops producing resources.

To demolish a building, it's usually the time you took to make the building, divided by two. That works fine on lower levels, but not so much on higher levels. I don't want to penalize players for redoing their layouts, so I think I'll make building demolition something like 30 seconds.

I have no idea if these numbers make the game too hard or too easy. They obviously make the game easier than their freemium counterparts, and I'd rather have the game be too easy than too difficult! I feel like Level 20 is a good ending point, so that can be where the game ends.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Timed Strategy Game (Part 1)

I talked about doing a game like Mobile Strike a while ago. Paul says it IS possible to do a timer in Ren'py, so theoretically, it's possible to program a game like that!

The good news is that all the in-game statistics are available online. That website is for Vikings: War of Clans instead of Mobile Strike, but same basic game. How can I adapt the way their game works?

There four resource buildings (Farm, Lumber Mill, Mine, Stone Quarry) that you can build, on 25 squares. I kinda like that setup, because if it was 24, people would build six types of each building and stop there. 25 changes the strategy a bit. For my game...let's go with 15. Four types of buildings, fifteen spots you can put them.

The building cost appears the same for each building. That is, Level 1 requires 50 resources from each of the other three buildings. Level 2 is 85, level 3 is 145, then 250, 420, 840, 1700, 3400, 6750, 10500. Looks like sometimes it doubles, but not all the time. Doing math, it's generally in the 40% to 50% range that it increases. (That is, you take the previous level and divide by 0.4 or 0.5). My game isn't going to be a freemium game, so let's make it easier. Let's go with a 20% increase with each level.

The time it takes to create a building is much longer. Level 1 is one minute, Level 2 is two minutes, level 3 is 4, 8, 20, 35, 90, 150, 270 and 540. 8 to 20 and 35 to 90? That's way more than doubling! It eventually reaches the point where it takes more than 12 hours to upgrade a single building. Again, my game isn't going to be freemium, so let's go with a more reasonable 30% increase.

The amount of time differs by ten seconds, depending on which building you're making. Huh. I never noticed that. That's kind of neat! So let's say Building 1 starts with 30 seconds, building 2 with 35, building 3 with 40 and building 4 with 45.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Scheduling

I'm trying to spend an hour each day, working on the Mermaid Game. The plan is to write the entire game, then program it, and then do all the artwork and stuff.

The problem is that I don't have a lot of free time. Basically, I can only work when the baby is asleep. And I've sort of got other work to do, during those times. Housework is the number one priority, but I've also got my YouTube channel, a ton of books to read, and translating stuff from Latin, or else I'll totally forget the language. And there's this blog, obviously.

Last week, I tried making myself a to-do list, and it was not super successful. There were three days when I did no work at all on the Mermaid Game. But hey, I finally edited and uploaded all the Phoenix Wright 6 videos! I just gotta watch them all and come up with titles and descriptions. There are 83 videos for Case 5, by the way. It's a long case.

This next week, I'm going to try a different schedule. Like, Monday is house cleaning and game writing. Tuesday is YouTube recording and game writing. You know, a schedule like that. I'm pretty sure the house cleaning will get out of control and throw off my schedule, but maybe it'll work.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ren'Py Character Name Generator

I'm writing a mermaid game in Ren'py. I thought it'd be neat, if people got to pick the mermaid's name from a randomly generated list. I asked people on Twitter for good mermaid names, and I got twelve names that I liked for the main character.

Programming the name generator was a nightmare. It took at least an hour. I'm going to post my programming here, just in case someone else is going to try something similar. This should save them a lot of headache!

My comments are in #s. For the sake of this example, the player can pick one of two options, which are taken from a list of four possible names.

---

#First, I assign a random number, from 1 to 4, to each name option.

$ Heroine_name_option_1 = renpy.random.randint(1, 4)
$ Heroine_name_option_2 = renpy.random.randint(1, 4)

#Then, I check to make sure they don't match. If they do, the game goes through the randomizer again.

label Heroine_name_randomizer_check:
if Heroine_name_option_1 == Heroine_name_option_2:
$ Heroine_name_option_2 = renpy.random.randint(1, 4)
jump Heroine_name_randomizer_check

#Both options now have a different number.
#Now I change each number into a specific name. 1 is Nancy, 2 is Bess, 3 is George, 4 is Deirdre.
#I had to do it this way, because the in-game randomizer only works with numbers.

if Heroine_name_option_1 == 1:
$ Heroine_name_option_1 = "Nancy Drew"
if Heroine_name_option_1 == 2:
$ Heroine_name_option_1 = "Bess Marvin"
if Heroine_name_option_1 == 3:
$ Heroine_name_option_1 = "George Fayne"
if Heroine_name_option_1 == 4:
$ Heroine_name_option_1 = "Deirdre Shannon"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == 1:
$ Heroine_name_option_2 = "Nancy Drew"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == 2:
$ Heroine_name_option_2 = "Bess Marvin"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == 3:
$ Heroine_name_option_2 = "George Fayne"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == 4:
$ Heroine_name_option_2 = "Deirdre Shannon"

#Now the player can pick one of the two options.

menu:
"What is the character's name?"
"[Heroine_name_option_1]":
"Now your name is [Heroine_name_option_1]
jump next_scene
"[Heroine_name_option_2]":
"Now your name is [Heroine_name_option_2]
jump next_scene

#But wait! There's no way for you to know whether the player will pick option 1 or 2.
#My first instinct was to make both variables the same, and just use one of them. You know, "if player selections [Heroine_name_option_1], then [Heroine_name_option_2] becomes the same as [Heroine_name_option_1]"
#But there doesn't seem to be a function for "Change [Variable 1] to equal [Variable 2]".
#I could do it, by changing the names back into numbers. Set one of them to one, and a do a simple loop of "Do they match? If no, add one. Repeat until they do match". Then change from numbers back to names again. But that's kind of tedious.
#So I just added a third variable, [Heroine], which will equal [Heroine_name_option_1] or [Heroine_name_option_2], whichever one the player picks.
#But again, there doesn't seem to be a function for "Change [Variable 1] to equal [Variable 2]". So I was forced to write out all the possible answers, when making [Heroine] the default name, no matter which option the player chooses.

menu:
"What is the character's name?"
"[Heroine_name_option_1]":
if Heroine_name_option_1 == "Nancy Drew":
$ Heroine = "Nancy Drew"
if Heroine_name_option_1 == "Bess Marvin":
$ Heroine = "Bess Marvin"
if Heroine_name_option_1 == "George Fayne":
$ Heroine = "George Fayne"
if Heroine_name_option_1 == "Deirdre Shannon":
$ Heroine = "Deirdre Shannon"
jump next_scene
"[Heroine_name_option_2]":
if Heroine_name_option_2 == "Nancy Drew":
$ Heroine = "Nancy Drew"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == "Bess Marvin":
$ Heroine = "Bess Marvin"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == "Pearl":
$ Heroine = "Pearl"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == "Angel":
$ Heroine = "Angel"
if Heroine_name_option_2 == "Deirdre Shannon":
$ Heroine = "Deirdre Shannon"
jump next_scene

#From now on, I use [Heroine] in the script. The program replaces it with the name the player chose.