Sunday, April 30, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 12

Yesterday was the good news that minigolf is optional. At least, it's optional as far as the carriage lock puzzle is concerned. Is it optional when it comes to saving money? Sadly, no.

Nancy starts the game with $3.50. That perfectly matches with Mr. Waddell, who charges her $3.50 for the key and quartz. Those two things cancel each other out.

Nancy gets $1.00 from the underground passage. She has to spend money, to get five toys. She can get a toy for 10 cents, through golf. She can get a toy for 25 cents, through the store. Math dictates that Nancy must play miniature golf 2, 3, 4 or 5 times, to keep the cost of toys under $1.00.

If not, you have to deliver telegrams, which takes time, and should be avoided in a speedrun.

So...this means my speedrun route will include playing miniature golf twice, the fewest number of times possible. I will have to change the route, if it turns out that it's impossible to beat the game without delivering telegrams or paying for gas, because both of those things affect the finances.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 11

Okay, I played a little bit of "Secret of the Old Clock"! Just a little, because Rosie woke up and needed me to play with her.

I found out that it's possible to go through the opening scenes without talking to Emily about Jim Archer. This is not a timesaver, as you HAVE to do that, in order to proceed. I found out that you don't have to play minigolf in this game. WHAT. NO WAY.

Yeah, the only reason you play minigolf is so you can beat the carriage lock puzzle. There are four things for that puzzle: bard bounce, the poetry book in Emily's room, mini-golf and Gloria's middle name. The first three are entirely skippable. If you know the answers to those questions ahead of time—"keen", "omar" and "pony"—you can put them, and the game accepts it.

The game does force you to learn Gloria's middle name. In order to get that, you need to read Josiah's book of clues and talk to Emily. So, yeah! You can skip the other stuff involved with the carriage lock puzzle. Timesavers!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 10

Here's my general outline, for how I would speedrun "Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock". I haven't tested anything out yet, so a lot of items are marked "if you have to". Maybe some can be skipped.

1. Go inside the Lilac inn
2. Talk to Jane
3. Solve the bard bounce puzzle in the den, if you have to.
4. Solve the clock puzzle in the den, if it turns out you can't do it later.
5. Go to Emily's room. Look at the poetry book, if it turns out you have to.
6. Talk to Emily. This triggers the kitchen scene, which includes a conversation with Jane and a conversation with Emily.
7. Go to Topham's. Get the paper on the way.
8. Find the mouse for the cat.
9. Talk to Topham. Solve his puzzle so you can search the house.
10. Solve the clock puzzle on the mantel for a mirror.
11. Read Josiah's notebook of clues, if you have to.
12. Do minigolf. Do it multiple times, if you have to.
13. Do the golf flag puzzle, if you have to.
14. Drive to town. Get the key from Waddell.
15. Meet Jim Archer. Use the key on his clock for a mirror.
16. Start the trivet puzzle. Finish it it completely if it's fastest to do so here. Otherwise, split it in half.
17. Back at Lilac Inn. Discover hidden passageway in the den, if you can. If not, do this step as Step 26. Solve Creepy's Corner puzzle and get record, if you have to. Play record in Emily's room, if you have to.
18. Ask Emily for her mother's middle name.
19. Enter carriage house.
20. Solve clock, dominoes and mirror puzzles. Go upstairs and read the two notes.
21. Go to Topham. Solve his puzzle for quartz and ask him about Marcel.
22. Go to Emily. Get the key from Marcel.
23. Back to town. Do the rest of the trivet puzzle here, if needed.
24. Get the quartz cut by Waddell.
25. Go to Jim Archer. Get the dress.
26. Go to Lilac Inn. Talk to Jane, do pie puzzle, do sewing puzzle. Read the note to Emily's mother, if you have to.
27. Back to town. Do the rest of the trivet puzzle here, if needed.
28. Give dress to Jim for trivet. Open trivet for ham radio numbers.
29. Go to Topham and learn he won't give the Shakespeare cues, if you have to.
30. Break into Topham's and get the Shakespeare cues.
31. Use ham radio to call everyone and give them Shakespeare cues, if you have to.
32. Series of puzzles.
33. Endgame challenge.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 9

Solving the long trivet puzzles gets you the ham radio numbers. I think what you do at this point is talk to Topham, and he refuses to give you access to the Shakespeare book. Maybe you can do this earlier? I'll have to double-check what the trigger is, for asking about the book.

I believe that asking Topham about the book triggers the scene, where you can use the hidden tunnel to break into Topham's house. Again, that's a trigger I'll have to research. It could be that there's another trigger entirely, like getting the quartz from Waddell.

So you break in Topham's, give the mouse to the cat, and get the cues. At this point, the game is linear. You give the cues to the correct people, so you can solve the hobo sign language puzzle, which is followed by another puzzle. This gives you a golf ball. Use the golf ball to get the key. This triggers the endgame challenge.

And that's it! That would be my speedrun route for "Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock"! It requires a lot of work, as I determine what triggers what, and change the route accordingly. Also, there will be a lot of work, determining the fastest way to do all the driving challenges.

Tomorrow, I'll have a big bullet list, just as a general outline.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 8

I talked about the trivet yesterday. I forgot, the trivet puzzle has some more complications.

When you have both halves of the trivet, you enter the password "GOODFELLOW" to get the numbers to call on the ham radio. You're supposed to listen to the Creepy's Corner record, before solving the puzzle. I'll double-check to see if you DO have to listen to the record, but if you do, that means Nancy has to go to the hidden passageway and get the record and listen to it, before she can open the trivet.

Does Nancy have to listen to the whole record? Because it's long. Maybe you can get away with only listening it, for a few seconds. And maybe you can get away with NOT listening to the record. Maybe the game only checks to see if you have it in your inventory.

Also, getting the trivet half from Jim Archer requires a few more hoops to jump through. Once you get the key from the hat, from Emily, you go to Jim Archer. He gives you the sewing puzzle. You go back to the Lilac Inn, and talk to Jane. She gives you the pie puzzle, in exchange for a sewing needle. So you do the pie puzzle, so you can do the sewing puzzle, so you can get the trivet half from Jim Archer. I believe that you can check the note to Gloria, at this point. I'll have to check if it's necessary to read the note to Gloria, or if you can skip it. I bet you can't skip it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 7

As I said yesterday, the first major part of "Secret of the Old Clock" is getting the mirrors and reaching the upstairs area of the carriage house. This area has two different notes. One is about Marcel's band, and the other is about the piece of quartz for the ham radio. Both of those are longer puzzles, and I'm fairly certain you HAVE to read the upstairs notes to trigger these puzzles.

Both puzzles involve talking to Topham, so that's nice. You can kill two birds with one stone that way.

With the quartz, you ask Topham for it. He makes you do his psychic puzzle. Then you take the quartz to Waddell to be cut. He charges you a lot of money for it, the greedy jerk.

With Marcel's band, you ask Topham what Marcel is. It's a hat that Emily has. You go to Emily and get the key from the hat. Then you go to Jim Archer's and use the key for the second half of the trivet. Obviously, I'll want to arrange things so I have both halves of the trivet at this point. So...I'll have the trip into town, where I get the quartz to Waddell, get half of the trivet from Archer, and solve the second half of the trivet puzzle, if necessary.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 6

The first major part of "Secret of the Old Clock" is finding all four mirrors. You use them inside the carriage house, so you can go upstairs and start with the next major part of the game. The mirrors are...

1. Inside the den. You can get it at any time.
2. Inside Topham's house. You have to solve Topham's word puzzle, before you can get it.
3. Inside Jim Archer's area. You have to get the key from Waddell before you can get it.
4. Inside the carriage house. You have to solve the golf flag challenge, in order to get it, I think. Maybe the game lets you enter the right solution, without having beaten the golf flag challenge.

As I said when I started the speedrun routing, I don't know what the trigger is for "hidden passageway in the den can be found now". Hopefully, the trigger is early on in the game, so I can get the mirror in the den and discover the hidden passageway on the same trip. If not, I'll have to take two trips to the den, one for the mirror and another for the passageway. I think you have to use the hidden passageway twice regardless, but I'm not sure.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 5

As part of the trivet challenge, you need five toys for the orphans. You can buy toys at the general store, which is near Twin Elms. You can also win the minigolf challenge multiple times for toys. Minigolf is cheaper than buying toys, although it takes longer.

It all comes down to money. Nancy makes money in this game, by delivering telegrams. That takes a long time, and it would be ideal for the speedrun if I could avoid it.

The only other time Nancy gets money is when she goes through the hidden passageway. I think there's a dollar or so, there. Nancy spends money to play minigolf, buy toys, use the phone, get the key from Waddell and get the jewel cut by Waddell. Buying gasoline also costs money.

I guess I have to do math here! Calculate how much money Nancy earns, versus how much money she has to spend. Hopefully the math will NOT work out to "play minigolf five times in a row for five toys", to save enough money to avoid delivering telegrams.

I will also have to time how long it takes to win mini-golf, compared to how long it takes to get toys at the general store.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 4

Josiah's notebook gives you the carriage lock puzzle AND the trivet puzzle. It's a long puzzle.

There's also a clue about the trivet, in Jim Archer's typewriter. I'll have to test that. Do you need the typewriter or the notebook to start the trivet puzzle. Do you need both? If I only need one of those clues, then I'll skip getting the other one.

The trivet puzzle is long. What you do is go to Twin Elms, then to Titusville Telco, then to the orphanage, then to the printer, then to the fishing hole, then to the printer, then to Titusville Telco, then to Twin Elms.

Maybe you could split the puzzle in half, as a timesaver. Titusville Telco is the spot that's closest to the Lilac Inn. So one of the trips there can turn into "visit Titusville Telco, go back to Lilac Inn and do stuff there, finish trivet puzzle the next time you go to town". That's not the worst idea ever, since you have to visit Jim Archer two more times, before you get the second half of the trivet, at which point, you DO have to finish the trivet puzzle.

So...I guess I can chart out routes, time them, and determine what's fastest.

What happens if you run out of gas? Does the game automatically send you to the gas station? If so, maybe you could plan things so you run out of gas at a certain location, then get warped to the gas station. That could save time! Obviously, it'd save time if you never have to get gas.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 3

You readers are fine with me plotting a Nancy Drew speedrun for a week, right? This is kind of a Nancy Drew blog.

Josiah's notebook gives you the carriage door puzzle. The carriage door puzzle has multiple parts.

1. Bard Bounce. Play this in the den.
2. Favorite poet. Look at the book on Emily's bed.
3. Mini-Golf. I hate this puzzle.
4. Gloria's middle name. I'm pretty sure you have to ask Emily for this.

While speed running, I'll have to test all the various combinations, here. Maybe it's like "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time", where the game SAYS you have to get all six medals, but really, the game only checks to see if you got the first and last medals. You can technically skip the others.

So I'll see if any of these four things can be skipped. Hopefully one or more can! I doubt that all four can be skipped. The route will have to adjust, accordingly. Like, if Bard Bounce can be skipped, I won't ever do that. If Gloria's middle name can't be skipped, I have to plan to go back to the Lilac Inn and do that. I have to go back to the Lilac Inn at SOME point, so maybe I can combine two trips?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 2

Continuing from yesterday, the next part of the game is either "go into town" or "go to Topham's area". I'm guessing we go to Topham's first, because that unlocks some things in town.

1. Call Nancy's dad and learn about telegrams. I'm pretty sure if you ignore this, he's going to automatically call you at one point. That would mean it's faster (and cheaper) to NOT call Dad at this point, but maybe I'm forgetting something that makes it advantageous to call now.
2. On the road to Topham's, get the piece of paper about the key at Waddell's. That way, when you go into town, you can get the key appraised and solve the clock puzzle at Jim Archer's.
3. Find the mouse for the cat.
4. Talk to Topham. Solve his puzzle. I'm pretty sure he won't let you explore his house without solving his puzzle.
5. Solve the clock puzzle on the mantel for a mirror.
6. Read Josiah's notebook of clues. I'm pretty sure you can't solve some of Josiah's puzzles, without having read the notebook. The big puzzles would be the trivet puzzle in town and opening the carriage house door.

I said "I'm pretty sure" multiple times. When routing the speedrun, I'd have to test it and make 100% sure. Because if it turns out I can solve the carriage door puzzle without getting Josiah's notebook? Pfft, I'm not doing steps 4-6. I'm skipping those.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 1

I played Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock and you know, that's one of the games that I don't have any speedrun strategies for. I guess it's a little difficult to route because it's non-linear.

Well, the first part of the game should be easy enough to route! You have to...

1. Go inside the Lilac inn
2. Talk to Jane
3. (Solve the bard bounce puzzle in the den, or save it for later?)
4. (Solve the clock puzzle in the den, or save it for later?)
5. Talk to Emily. This triggers the kitchen scene, which includes a conversation with Jane and a conversation with Emily.
6. Now you can go to other places and do things! All other locations are closed until the kitchen scene.

Lots of conversations, I see. So that means I'd have to replay this section over and over, in order to find the fastest conversation routes.

I don't know if I have to solve the two puzzles here at the start, or later. Later on, you have to visit the den and find a hidden passageway. It'd be a timesaver to solve the den puzzles while finding the hidden passageway, as opposed to making TWO trips to the den. I guess it all depends on what the trigger is for "hidden passageway in the den can be found now". I think the trigger is meeting Mr. Archer? Maybe?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How Language Is Learned

One of the things philosophers talk about is how language works. Are there limits to language? Does language affect understanding? How do people begin to understand the concept of "language"? Can we have a scientific-based approach to language?

I mentioned this to my wife, and she said it sounds like all of these so-called "great philosophers" are single men who never had kids. That is pretty much true. Socrates is basically the only great philosopher who had a wife.

Saint Augustine had a son, and he wrote some basic philosophy on "how language works". Babies and little kids learn words through repetition and example. If you point at a chair and say "chair" 100 times, the baby will eventually learn that the thing you're pointing at is called a chair. Our baby Rosie is coming up on four months now, and that's how she learned words. Granted, her vocabulary is super-limited. She knows "Mom", "Dad", "Rosie" and "play". She might know "hello"; Katie and I disagree if Rosie knows "hello" is distinct from "play", as she makes the same sound in response to both.

Kids grow a vocabulary as time goes on, and they speak in sentences which aren't sentences, like "Rosie bottle" for "give me the bottle". Once the concept of sentences clicks, their vocabulary explodes, as they can start deducing words from context, without having to be physically shown something to know what it is.

At least, I'm pretty sure that was Saint Augustine's theory of language. It's pretty much "this is how babies learn how to talk". I like philosophies that are grounded in reality, myself.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Teenager Taxes

I sometimes interact with people who say they're doing their kids' taxes. Whenever I ask, it turns out that they're NOT kids. They're adults, 18 or older, and in college. If you're old enough to vote, I say you're old enough to do your own taxes, without Mommy's help.

I can understand a parent trying to help out their kids, because the kids are busy. With me, it was different. Dad figured I was too stupid to do taxes on my own, so he took my tax forms and filled them out for me. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dad!

So, yeah, I was also the college kid who didn't know how to do taxes, because I wasn't allowed to. I'm mad about that, because it made me completely unprepared for real life. To make things worse, my teenager taxes were easy. Literally. I would have done Form 1040 EZ. "EZ" for "easy", because it's about a third as long and cuts out the tough stuff that doesn't apply, like stocks, dependents, etc. 15-year-old Michael should have been given that and told to do his taxes. He totally could have figured it out in under a half hour.

I can't use the 1040-EZ anymore, because I get YouTube money, and I'm partnered with a Canadian network, so it's foreign-filtered self-employment income. It's about as complicated as it sounds.

Well, I'm going to learn from my parents' mistakes. Rosie and Mary are doing their own taxes, as soon as they start making money. Which is now, actually. Mary's YouTube channel has made about ten cents. Not enough to meet a filing requirement, but it might be best to have her do the simple tax return now, just for practice.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Taxes

Tax day is coming up. Normally, Tax Day is 4/15, but it was delayed this year because of the weekend and holiday. Make sure to file a tax return, either electronically or by mail!

I recommend saving a copy of your tax return. You don't know if identity thieves will attack you next year, and you'll need a copy of your prior year tax return to prove your identity. There are other situations where you might need a copy of last year's tax return, like for mortgages or college scholarships, but identity theft is the big one. Keep a copy of your prior year tax return, just in case.

Another tip: don't put the wrong address on your tax return. You should never do that, as a general rule, but you especially should avoid doing this, if you know you're a potential identity theft victim. Say, someone stole your wallet or hacked your office mainframe. As you can probably guess, "totally different address" is a huge red flag for identity theft. So keep your address current and correct!

The sad identity theft cases are ones which are obviously NOT identity theft. Say your bank rejects your refund, because the refund was in the name of "Donald Trump" and your bank account is in the name of "Don Trump". As you can probably guess, it's a huge red flag for identity theft if the bank rejects money due to name mismatch. So make sure your bank account is in your legal name, i.e. The name on your social security card. Don't use your YouTube username for this!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I saw someone playing the new Zelda game on the bus yesterday! I couldn't tell what was going on, but then again, I was busy trying to watch the game while pretending I'm NOT watching the game, because it's creepy to lean over someone's shoulder on the bus to watch their game screen.

From what I can tell, the game looks like it's filled with a lot of open-world exploration. And I don't want to sound mean, but that's one of the things I disliked about the GameCube Zelda games. Yes, it's neat to have a large open world with beautiful graphics and fancy stuff to look at. But I don't like looking at scenery! As I talked about last week with adventure game design, I'd rather have one screen with six things to do on it, as opposed to six screens with only one thing to do.

That was Wind Waker to a T. It has 49 islands, but the vast majority of them are oneshots, with only one thing to do, like a minigame or a puzzle for a piece of heart. I prefer something like Majora's Mask which tried to jam-pack a ton of stuff into one area, or something like Ocarina of Time which makes you redo areas twice or more. (Yeah, that was probably due to hardware/space limitations, but maximizing the use of a game location isn't a bad idea!)

I'm going to guess that the new Zelda game is like the others, and about halfway through, you unlock the ability to warp from one location to another, cutting down on all the "walking through large, empty fields" time. Because we were on the bus for over twenty minutes, and that is literally all the guy did. He was going through large fields, with occasional trees. At one point, he found a wooden structure and at one point, he found a lake with rocks. I wanted to see dungeons and puzzles and monster fighting!

I know I might sound negative in this blog, but I still want to get the game and play it myself. Just...I might skip over the exploration parts and get to the action/story/puzzle parts.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April Fools Suggestions

Oh, hey, I forgot to post my other April Fools Day jokes. I wanted to write something about the upcoming Nancy Drew game.












Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rosie Smiling

Here's a picture of Rosie smiling!



Rosie's facial muscles have improved, to the point where she can smile on purpose. It's not just her smiling, because she's copying the facial expression of someone who's looking at her. In this case, she was smiling because she recognized me. It sometimes can take a while for her to see a person, remember them, remember that she likes them, and then starts smiling.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rosie

Now that Rosie is over three months old, her face is changing. She used to look just like my clone, and now she looks like her own person. Kind of. She still looks a lot like me, to the point that you'd pick me as her father in a police lineup.

Note to Nancy Drew authors: Include baby daddy police lineup in the next book, okay?

I'm told it's normal for babies to completely change their appearances. She'll probably look different at six months, and different again when her permanent hair comes in. It's similar to how older children change. The way you look at 8 can be totally different from the way you look at 16.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pluto

I read a lot of books from the 80's and 90's, and I always get sad when I see the books mention Planet Pluto. As you may know, Pluto isn't a planet anymore. Poor Pluto.

From what I can tell, a bunch of scientists got together and decided Pluto isn't a planet. Is that all it takes? A bunch of scientists agree on something, and that makes it true or false? What about situations where scientists disagree? Does that make something true and not true at the same time?

Or when scientists change their minds, like they did with Pluto? Does that mean something can be true one week, and false the next? It seems kind of crazy that truth can be so malleable. I always through of truth as firm and unchanging, as in "something is true, even if no one believes it". Like, Neptune was a planet in 1500, and that's true, even though no one believed it.

I feel like this is partly why there's a problem with fake news. If your definition of truth is "[x] is true if a lot of people agree on it", that can cause problems. A lot of people think the world is flat, but that doesn't make it true!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mystery Tales: The Hangman Returns

My walkthrough for this week is Mystery Tales: The Hangman Returns!



And in case you missed it, here's my walkthrough for the previous game: Mystery Tales: Her Own Eyes!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Adventure Game Design 2

The adventure game I'm writing has puzzles. Since I'm basing it off casual adventure games, I tried to have puzzles in the vein of casual adventure games. You know, puzzles like "use watering can on a flower", "pop a balloon for an item" or "bribe a squirrel with walnuts". I've seen many games where you have to feed a cute animal or cook food to progress; those are pretty standard.

But then there are weird puzzles, like "put a smiley face sticker on the can of soda, so you can use it", even though it's 100% possible to use the soda the way it is. I wanted to include some of those, too. So I threw in some oddly specific puzzles, as a genre parody. And I also made puzzles out of whatever random items popped into my head, like a baseball.

In addition to inventory item puzzles, casual adventure games also have more traditional puzzles, like "jigsaw puzzle", "matching puzzle" and "sorting puzzle". Sticking with the genre, I decided to add a puzzle like that, after every fourth inventory item puzzle. My friend Paul, who made "The Beard in the Mirror", came back to me and said, "Michael, puzzles are hard to program. Can we get rid of these?"

So we went back and forth on the puzzles, figuring out which ones can be programmed, which ones are interesting and which ones are relevant. We got rid of the ones that are hard to program, that aren't relevant and that aren't interesting. Hopefully, this means we have a better end product!

I should note, we haven't done any work on the game yet, outside of finishing the script and outline. We're busy with our other games, like "The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved the World" and "Francy Droo 2". Please vote for them on Steam Greenlight!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Adventure Game Design

Yesterday, I said I've kind of written an adventure game. It's an escape room game, and I tried doing level design, following the casual adventure games that I play a lot.

Generally, these games will made up of a series of areas, which are three to six screens long. Like, the first area is the park, which is three screens. The second area is the hotel, which is four screens. The third area is the school, which is four screens. The final area is the cheese factory, which is six screens.

(Obviously, it varies from game to game. Some companies like having fifteen screens, with two things to do on each, while others would rather have be five screens, with six things to do on each.)

I decided to go with two areas. Area 1 has four screens, while Area 2 has three screens. Each screen has 4-6 items/puzzles. I knew I wanted one overarching puzzle, requiring an item from each screen. I also wanted one item on each screen to be used to solve a puzzle on a different screen.

So I scripted out the game like that. "Screen 1 has items a, b, c and d. Item a is used on item b. Item c is used on screen 2. Item d is used for the overarching puzzle." That worked for about a minute, until I realized the items for the overarching puzzle have to come last, otherwise someone could get them right away and skip everything else. I tried to fix that, and got myself confused as to how the overlapping items/puzzles interacted. In retrospect, I should have made a separate list for that topic, but I tried building it onto my other list, which made things even more confused.

Oh well, at least the game is more complicated now!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Yooka-Lalee

This month, they're release Yooka-Lalee, the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. I loved the original Banjo-Kazooie, which is a funny and challenging game.

The first level, Mumbo's Mountain, is particularly well-designed, and now that I've kind of written an adventure game, it makes me wonder if I can translate that level design into an adventure game.

I could be remembering incorrectly, but I think that level has three main areas. Each area has two puzzle pieces for you to get, along with a new move. The new moves interlap, so that the new movie in area 1 unlocks a puzzle piece in area 2, new move in area 2 unlocks a puzzle piece in area 3, and new move in area 3 unlocks a puzzle piece in area 1. So you're encouraged to visit each area multiple times to get everything.

That could work in an adventure game, right? You have three different screens. Each screen has two self-contained puzzles and an item that's used to solve a puzzle on a different screen. Maybe throw in a final puzzle, which requires an item from all three screens. That would be an okay setup, right?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

I got to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie recently! I'd say 2/3 to 3/4 of the new material was good, but...only 10% of the movie is new material. Pretty much all of it is recycled from the original. It's like one of those videogame "enhanced remakes", where they change as little as possible.

Granted, the original film is fantastic, but when I'm able to quote the movie's dialogue before the characters do, that's not a good sign. It sort of reminds me of when The Three Stooges movie came out, and all my friends who were fans of the Three Stooges just shrugged and decided to rewatch the original instead.

The CGI and special effects are all fantastic, except during "Be Our Guest", which went a little overboard with the CGI, making it less impressive than the original. The songs were good, especially the Beast's new song. I noticed the timing was different on some of the songs. I don't know if that's them purposely trying to be different, or if the actors needed to pause and take a breath in between lines. I saw Frozen; I know Josh Gad can sing fancy!

As I said, the new material is good. Mostly, it explores the character's backstories, like what happened to Belle's mother or the Beast's parents. They explain that Gaston was a Captain in a war, which is why he's so bloodthirsty and why pretty much everyone in town follows his orders. And the rules of the curse are explained in more specific detail, helpfully closing up the plothole of "why doesn't anyone in town remember the prince who lives close by?".

But as I said, it's only about 10% new material, nowhere near as much new material as there was in Maleficent or Cinderella. (That's what my wife says. I'm trusting her on this, as I didn't see those movies.)

Overall, a good movie. I liked it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Fools

My April Fool's Day joke this year was "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock".



I originally had a typo in the video's title, listing it as "Secret of the Od Clock". I changed it to "Secret of the Odd Clock". Several people didn't notice the typo when clicking on the video!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Jewel of the Nile

Jewel of the Nile is a 1980's movie, the sequel to Romancing the Stone. The series is about an author, who writes ridiculous action romance novels. Thanks to convoluted events, she ends up living out a real-life action romance adventure.

It's not really a movie series. It's just one movie and a sequel. They were clearly hoping to turn it into a franchise with this one, but things didn't work out. I suspect it's because this movie was not as good as the first and it was clearly more expensive. There are numerous, gratuitous crowd scenes that just scream "lots of money". I can't help but feel they should have cut back on one of those scenes and put more money into the climactic "person walks through fire" scene, which had some awful green screen.

The story is that our heroes have to stop an evil dictator in North Africa by smuggling a religious leader across the country. The leader's title is "Jewel of the Nile", hence the movie's title. He is also fantastic in this movie and steals the show. So much that I looked him up, only to be disappointed he didn't do anything else.

This movie could not be made today. There is some racist material against North African Muslims, mostly coming from Danny DeVito's character. Danny DeVito plays a New York thug who hates everyone, and there's a lot of slapstick comic relief where he gets hurt. He's basically Joe Pesci from Home Alone, only he's allowed to swear. There is also an extended scene of native North Africans, which feels racist. The primitive people put on a tribal dance for the amusement of the white people. The dance includes twerking and full frontal nudity. My wife and I fast-forwarded through it, as well as the sex scene which followed.

The movie is rated PG, but it should be rated R for violence, swearing, sex and nudity.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Crazy Death Trap

Katie and I watched Jewel of the Nile the other day. I'll review it tomorrow, but today, I'm going to talk about the crazy death trap in the movie. It's probably the one thing in the movie that will stick with me after a few months.

The evil villain captures our heroes. He wants to kill one of them, but he doesn't know which one. Flipping a coin would be too easy, so the culprit makes an elaborate death trap.

He ties the heroes up onto a giant pendulum device, overhanging a well. The ropes are connected to the sides of the room. On side one, acid is slowly dripping on the ropes. On side two, rats are slowly eating through the ropes. There's no way to predict which rope breaks first.

As soon as a rope breaks, the one hero falls to their death. Since they're connected to each other, that means the other hero will be pulled up and away to safety. That way, one hero lives, the other dies, and it's random as to which one is which.

Both the heroes escape, when Danny DeVito places a ladder over the well. They fall and land on the ladder, instead of falling to their deaths.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Nancy Drew and the Generic 1980's Mystery

I was planning on doing a book review for Nancy Drew and the Generic 1980's Mystery today, as an April Fool's day joke. The idea is that I would make up a silly plotline and pretend it was a real Nancy Drew Files mystery.

The plot ideas I had include...
  1. Bess has a boyfriend who looks like Michael Douglass.
  2. Brenda Carlton meets Detective Ryan and dates him. Maybe they meet at Pancake City.
  3. Nancy makes out with the hot cover guy, and later on makes out with Ned, with no regrets.
  4. Nancy makes incredibly stupid choices that put her in obvious danger, just so we can have cliffhangers.
  5. The villains easily defeat Nancy several times, but at the end, she suddenly remembers that she's a karate expert, and she knocks them all out with one punch.
Oh well, maybe I can recycle this joke idea for next year!