The Busy Days of Bay

I’m sure over the last month those who read my little online-web-blog-thing have noticed my talking about being busy, tired, stressed out, dead, etc. etc.  So it’ll come as no shock when I announce that I’m moving.

And this isn’t just ‘moving to an affordable place six miles from where I already live.’ No, I mean, like a lot, like, 1,870 miles worth of it. Which I am pretty sure equals about one metric fuckton when converting to in units of stress.

My week consists of responsibilities I already had mixed with moving an apartments worth of junk into boxes in a week long span. So of course Sunday arrives and I haven’t touched a computer in weeks.

So what am I going to talk about today? Tekko and my Deadpool costume? Night in the Woods? (which I haven’t finished yet but already have thoughts on?)  What it’s like to make it as an adult when you can’t legally drink yet? Nope, nope, and nope.

Because I am feeling both generous, and lazy, but mostly the latter. I’m going to share with you all…a peek into the first chapter of my unfinished book, “Half-Sight”.

Now, if you do decide to read past this point, I do warn you: this is my first work of writing in fictional form since I was ten and I bought a typewriter from a yard-sale, and, while the stories of Princess Pickle and her adventures with her father, King Bob, were truly epic, they did not provide me with the years of practice needed to make me the next Shakespeare.

I’m open to pointers and help, but please have a gentle heart and understand I am still learning.

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Chapter one

Meg

 

Meg stood, dumbfoundedly staring at the short woman in front of her, whose winged eyeliner looked as though it was about to take off from her very face and whose fur coat dragged dust along the tile floor of the convenience store. “Answer me!” the woman demanded, once again.

Meg thought for a moment on how to respond to the woman’s question without sounding too horribly condescending before finally bubbling her clenched teeth into the most sincere smile she could muster.  “Well…six plus six is twelve…” she pointed out, showing the smaller woman her own receipt. In an attempt to explain the primary school math required to realize that purchasing two six dollar lipsticks would indeed add up to a total of twelve.

“I just don’t understand why it would be so high” The woman fumed, which would have made her thickly drawn on eyebrows look even more amusing if Meg had the energy left to be amused.

The short witch-like woman had come into the small corner store almost an hour ago, demanding to return a half drunk water bottle, a unopened pack of colored pencils, and a lipstick that had been clearly used at least a dozen times, and so as not to be rude, Meg had complied.

Once the return had been finished though, the woman insisted on buying something with her newly acquired cash from the return and so went around the store, shouting every few moments “Is this on sale?” which was almost always replied to with a slightly confused “No?”

Eventually she had settled on two very unique lipstick colors and continued to insist that six plus six should only add up to ten.

“Just see if I shop here again” The woman huffed, before taking her receipt, and her bag from the counter, and storming out of the store.

Meg was used to this woman by now, and as much as she wished that the strange little woman, and her eyebrows, were being honest when they said they wouldn’t be coming back, she knew that that was the fourth time she promised to never return for her makeup fix, and yet she, and her musty smelling fur coat, always made their way back again.

Meg had seen many customers like that come and go over the last five months. She liked to make up names for the regulars. ‘Fur Coat Lady’s’ name was Tammy. Meg had a theory that she used the makeup in satanic rituals to bring back her dead cat Margaret.

And really who was to say she didn’t?

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Unwrapped Wednesday: Warheads

Growing up I had a lot of allergies, and I mean a lot. I mean, I was allergic to everything except unsalted kale chips made by the free range organic monks that run Whole Foods. This sucked and it led to a lot of picnics eating Syrup-free Snow-cones. See also: Water flavored.

But in adulthood I have grown a lot of tolerances and my immune system is a lot stronger. But this means I am one of very few full grown adults in America who can say things like ‘I have never had Twizzlers’ or ‘Whats a Mike & Ike?’

These are things I have legitimately never seen let alone tasted. It’s not that I was locked in the basement or anything. But what do you do when you have a kid who can’t eat the things a majority of kids experience within their first five years of life? I would have avoided the candy aisle too.

So for a couple of months I will be making posts about my thoughts on trying iconic candys and foods for the first time. I get to try candy. This sounds like a blast.

And this week I will be trying: Warheads.

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I’m skeptical.

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And a little scared.

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“WHY?!”

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DROWN THE SADNESS.

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Why doesn’t the taste go away?

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I survived. Kind of. Worst taste test ever, I thought this game would be fun. Who’s dumb-ass idea was this again?

Tekko 2017

If anyone was wondering why my twitter has been empty or why this post is so short: the answer  is Tekko 2017. If anyone is wondering why I have no pride left or why I have a blister on my nose, the answer  is Tekko 2017. Pretty much from why I’m walking like a dinosaur with a limp to why the internet is apparently about to be flooded with my image you need only know that the answer  is Tekko 2017.

I spent the last two nights at Tekko, a growing anime convention in Pittsburgh. I have gone every year for three or four years now and have gone unnoticed until this point.

But this year I am a celebrity. You ask anyone at Tekko and they know me. They don’t know what I look like, what my name is, or what I do for a living, but they know me.

Because this year, I pulled out from the back of a closet my wedding dress and created this:

You’re welcome people of Tekko, and the world.

I may do a longer post about this later but for now, you all exhaust me and I need to go to bed.

 

Tire Swings

Freedom and frustration 6Someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago about art therapy, and in giving it a go I drew this. When I was a kid, my family went through some hard times and our house was being foreclosed on and we didn’t know where we would end up next. A house? A apartment? Homeless? And so, during that time my sanctuary was out on the tire swing. I would often swing out there for hours and after dark and it created a both horrible and wonderful feeling. Every time my foot kicked off from that tree there was a wonderful rush of getting out my frustration but also kicking out into the dark unknown. It let me put my feelings of fear and frustration into the real world and deal with them.

This wasn’t the first time in my life that there had been something big and scary. But its the first time I am old enough to understand it. Its the clear marking between my point of childlike innocence and the point where I start to realize just how scary the world truly is. And I found this tire-swing exceedingly comforting.

That tire swing and three tree it swung from was ripped out the year we sold the house and has been replaced by an empty yard. Probably for the best since the roots made a lot of the sidewalk structurally unsound but every time I find myself driving by it and think about that tire swing, it feels a bit like a spot where you recently lost a tooth. Missing something, wrong, haven’t experienced in nine years.
Now, as an adult. I’m in a similar place. I have to move back in with my parents due to complicated financial problems not worth getting into. And its easy to feel a bit like that little kid. I don’t know where I am going to end up or whats going to put me there. I’m starting to feel the shrink of my safety net as its really time for me to be out on my own.   And it makes me really miss that tire swing in that little backyard when my biggest problems where the things my parents had to deal with.

Good Robot?

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I know what you’re all thinking. Me reviewing my own Dad’s game? All it’s going to be is a shining review followed by a link to where to buy it, right? Well don’t worry, I promise to be impartial and give it the same level of scrutiny as every other game I review, so let’s begin.

Good Robot is a adorable little 2D shooter where you’re a robot fighting through a procedurally generated little world inhabited with robots. It’s appealing, simple, and gives that old arcade feel we all know and love. I have always been a sucker for the simplicity of old arcade games and I love how Good Robot mixes that feeling with modern mechanics to lead to an incredibly kinesthetically appealing game.

In fact my only complaint is one that  makes me very sad to make because otherwise, it’s an incredible game. And when I see a game just miss the mark like this one does, it really does make me sad.

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But see, there are just far too few unicorns. In fact, I might go as far as to say I didn’t even see one through my entire playthrough.

This could have been fixed easily and is just inexcusable. Even just a unicorn horn or a tail on a robot even could have diminished the overall problem but instead we get nothing but awesome, shooting robots. Without even a glimpse of a pink, sparkly, unicorn.

Hell, there isn’t even a pony.

Happy April fools to you all, I hope all pranks pulled on you are harmless and amusing.


You can buy the game on Steam here. And you should totally do that because it’s awesome and so is the man who made it. But you didn’t hear it from me.

It’s time to talk about Harvest Moon, again.

Image result for harvest moon gameI have written around thirteen different columns on Harvest Moon over my writing career, the first one was back in 2009 for a essay competition to go to a video game camp. It was a shining review with a few points about the frustrating travel times in Animal Parade and how it broke things.  

 

I was eleven, and I didn’t win, however I did find a love of writing, and beyond that, I found just how hugely flawed the Harvest Moon games are. So much so that, even today, eight years and twelve columns later, I haven’t fucking shut up about it.

 

So, now we are going to talk about the underlying problem that branches out into all the little problems I have been talking about for years.

 

Each game is a glorified remastering of the game before it. The big evolutionary change of the last twenty years? When you could play either a boy of a girl without buying the mirror game.

 

Each game has arguably cuter graphics and they give you a kind of new story each time but each time a game comes out I end up imagining this conversation:

 

CEO: Quick! Our last game, you were given a task to save a village by a fairy in a tree! We need something new! Something fresh! Something never seen before!

 

Employee: We could have a fairy…in a meadow?

 

CEO: I…love it!

 

It feels like every time a game comes out they make the same exact mistakes as the game before only with nicer graphics and a revamped character or two and act as if it’s a brand new thing. The mining will always be a fun mechanic that they overlook and make unworthwhile, and the pacing will always be abysmal.

 

And people bought them anyway, therefore allowing them to never improve upon what they had.
It’s a vicious cycle, beginning and ending with the fact that no one else was making Harvest Moon like games at the time. People want to go after that big shooter money, rather than that little casual game stuff. So Nintendo never had to improve upon what it had. Leaving us with games no better than they were in 1997. While platformers and FPS’s learned how to be better games. Harvest Moon learned it could repeat its mistakes and get away with it.

Olli Olli 2: The tutorial masterpiece

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I never understood sports games, they seemed pointless to me since you could, you know, just go outside and play regular sports? Video games create an amazing media with which you can create anything your imagination allows. So it always proved strange to me that one would put hours and years of work into a game that simulates something that would be cheaper to do right outside your own front door.

 

But Olli Olli 2 gave me a look into why one might play such a game, because, while I technically could put several months of work into learning to skateboard, I have no reason or wish to do so. And Ollie Ollie isn’t the same as riding a skateboard. Yes, there is a man and yes, he does indeed skateboard,but the game has more in common with a rhythm game than it does actual skateboarding.

 

But I never would have even picked up the controller if it hadn’t been for the amazing tutorial.

 

Olli Olli 2 is difficult game; you skateboard in various places with varying obstacles, but the main mechanic is timing: jump at the right moment, land in a very specific window of time. Every landing, every jump, every trick could spell a defeat.

 

And with such high stakes and difficulty a good tutorial is very important. Without one players could become frustrated, either by the difficulty or, even worse, by being babied.

 

The ‘tutorial’ itself is simply how to move forward, how to jump, how to land. It takes about a minute and is just to get in the basics, but when you take a good look at the game, from Level One the the final track, the whole game is the tutorial. Introducing just enough difficulty at a time to create a challenge, but not so much to warrant to use of helpful how to bubbles.

 

It’s pulled off so masterfully you don’t even realize it’s happening

 

More games need to be handled this way. The sea of information delivered by friendly bubbles needs to stop, it patronizes the player and often, with how many people simply skip the tutorial, you would be better off giving no tutorial whatsoever and just saying good fucking luck.