Monday, August 31, 2009

Azureus is now annoyware

Nearly every time I download something it pops up a box asking for a donation. There's no way to turn this shit off in the options. They're trying to guilt trip donations out of people. How many times do I have to say "no I'm not fucking donating" before it stops fucking bugging me? There's no option to say "Never ask again", only "ask later".

What was the last version of Azureus to lack this nag dialog and where can I download it?

You seriously think annoying the fuck out of your users is going to get you more donations? That's not how donations work. People have to want to donate. Otherwise it's just extortion.

If another bittorrent client would add a decent rss feed scanner I would switch away in an instant. Seriously, that's the only thing keeping me on this pile of shit. I need regex matching and the ability to tell each filter what feed it should be looking at. I don't want bullshit "oh we try to figure out what season and episode it is" predetermined shitty matching options, I just want straight regular expressions. None of the stuff I download has a season/episode number in any of the expected formats anyway, it's usually just "[group name] series title - episode number (codecs involved)" or something similar.

I'm going to give Deluge a try. It has a few RSS plugins with regex support. One is really wonky with its formatting strings though. Seriously just give me a straight up regex matching the feed entry title. None of this "oh I want episode [0-9]{1,2}." I want to be able to take my existing regexes and paste them into the new thing and have it work. For instance, my Basquash filter is Basquash\! [0-9]{1,2} \[umai\]. Why does it need to be more complex than that? As long as it's case insensitive or can be globally configured to be case insensitive it's all good.

The only decent looking RSS-with-regex plugin for Deluge is for its webui. That might actually work out better, if I just ran off of a web ui and could access all my running torrents from my web browser. Less taskbar clutter and all.

I can't switch immediately because I have three torrents going (with a fourth destined to come in just as soon as the next episode of Basquash is released), but once I can afford to close Azureus and free up the port it's using, it's go time. I'll probably post a review of Deluge once I get it going and set it up the way I want it and all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flash Games Revisited

Since my last post about flash games, it's only natural to expect me to find others, so here's an update.

Ok, so I cheated, this (like the previous post) is a random selection out of my Newgrounds favorites.

Toss The Turtle - Shoot a turtle out of a cannon, and use various things to keep it from stopping. Get money, buy better stuff, repeat. Go for high distance. Protip: the AK-47 is the best weapon in the game despite being mid-tier just because its ammo capacity is way higher than any other weapon. Learn to feather touch your mouse button to just fire one round at once and it'll last quite a while.

The Competitor - Tired of regular shoot-em-ups? Ever wanted to play as the army trying desperately to hold back that stupid single enemy ship that somehow destroys everything? Here you go. Select your enemy type (they have different stats) and draw your pattern on the screen. You have an ink gauge that limits your drawing ability, and some enemies take more ink than others.

This Is The Only Level - From the creator of Achievement Unlocked. There is only one level in the game, but you have to complete it over and over again with different rules and mechanics each time. You should recognize the main protagonist elephant if you've played Achievement Unlocked.

Friendly Fire: Blood and Gore - If you've ever wanted to kill lots of cute animals, well, this game is for you. As you kill them, you can pick up their guts and bones to get experience. Once you get enough, you can upgrade your weapon. Features a wide array of weapons, truly awesome sound effects, and 68 achievements to unlock. Best weapon by far in my opinion is the pirate cannon. No other weapon can take out a big enemy with one shot.

The Arrow of Time - From the creators of The Legend of Zelda: The Lampshade of No Real Significance. It's also the rare defense game that I actually like. This one has depth that most don't. Sure you can buy upgrades and different types of arrows, but you can also combine two different types of arrows' effects together. So if you want to make homing explosive arrows, go right ahead. The best DPS is actually homing piercing arrows, and this is also the only combination I've found that will get you the "20 arrows on screen at once" medal.

Red Remover - A puzzle game. Remove the red blocks and circles in as few clicks as possible. Features 45 levels, possibly the best usage of smiley (and frowny) faces ever, and a bonus mode to test your memory of each level's layout and solution. Each level has a "par" number of clicks, which in most cases is the minimum number of clicks, but it can be beaten on several levels. None more hilarious than level 44, which I happen to have made a video of. Par is 31? Seriously? 23 is all you need ;)

Newgrounds Sim - Old but good. You play a start-up flash developer making games and movies and submitting them to Newgrounds. Your goal is undefined at the beginning but becomes clearer later on when the sticker list is given to you (this is the achievement list). When you get all of them, you win. One neat thing: when setting up your in-game Newgrounds account, you can give it a picture to use as your profile picture. Give it something small because it'll take forever resizing it, but it's definitely a neat feature. I just took the one I wanted to use (which it turns out is actually Tsuina from To Heart rather than Yomi from Azumanga Daioh... rrg) and put it on my server so it could actually find it, since it didn't want to use a local file.

Territory War - Ever play one of those tank games where you choose your angle and power and try to hit the enemy? This is similar to that, but with stick figures. You can move; there are several different levels with varied terrain; and you have grenades, guns, and your feet for weapons (That's right, you can kick people. Best used near a pit.). Has a single player campaign that's pretty much there just to get you used to the controls and aiming, grenade power, etc., so you can play the two player mode with a friend. You can also exploit the game's hit detection to send your gun accuracy to impossible levels. Simply pile all the members of one team exactly in the same spot, and shoot the pile with the gun. You'll easily get 200-300% accuracy this way. It'd be nice if you could get the full 600% (max team size is 6), but I rarely ever get more than two or three people perfectly positioned.

I'm going to stop editing this and go to sleep since my virus scanner is busy eating up every spare CPU cycle it can find. There will very likely be another wallpaper update somewhat soon, just a heads-up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

stuff (and things)

King Nothing Expert Bass FC finally. 259754 points, 3rd on PS2.

Broke 800k on Mercyful Fate (Expert Guitar) with a completely random 809739 a few days ago, and then today out of nowhere I got 857662. Maybe 900k is a little closer than I thought? On my 857k run I only missed 3 SP phrases, and they were all stupid drops.

I finally found a plugin for foobar2000 that can slow down music, so now it'll be a lot easier for me to chart the last part of Alsatia's solo. This plugin also does pitch shifting and a couple other things. Playing Through The Fire and Flames at -33.33% tempo with a -6.00 semitone pitch shift is lulz. If you want to get it and play around with it, it's foo_dsp_soundtouch. You may or may not need some Visual C++ runtimes and/or one or another version of .NET installed to use it.

So it's a new semester for all the students, which means more fun at UVa's anime club. The activities fair went well, though due to the layout we ended up not being able to have more than one or two people at the table at once. There went my super special awesome plan to bring chairs to sit on. Fortunately this gave those of us not at the table a chance to catch up. I know, we have the internet and all, but who the hell posts every aspect of their life on the internet?

This also means that CAINE House is in full swing, and with it plenty of video gaming and parties are to come. After the activities fair, we spent a while playing Geometry Wars on the 360, during which time we instituted a game modifying rule for evening play: every few minutes someone opens the front door of the house. Since our screen was a wall (projector lol) and the sun was in the right spot, this made it really hard to see until the door was closed. After that there was some Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2, BlazBlue (I killed my thumb on yet another dpad, I don't have a PS3 stick because I don't have a PS3), Virtual-On, and Tales of Vesperia (co-op RPGs ftw). I'm having trouble putting most of that into a chronologic sequence of events at the moment, but I do remember that BlazBlue was at the end of the night. Jin is so broken. Bread and butter = combo into air, end combo with freeze, land, relaunch and repeat.

CAINE House needs more co-op games. We'll probably end up with a GH/RB setup, but some non-music/rhythm/roleplaying genres would be nice too. I'm thinking racing games with co-op would be neat, but the only one I can think of at the moment is *ahem* Rumble Racing. I know the simulation racers have vs. modes, but what about team play? Teams are a big part of every racing series ever, so it'd be neat to be able to do that in a game. Maybe have a four player splitscreen with two teams vs. each other. Who knows.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

sankaku's danbooru instance is slow

Click next page, go browse other sites for 5 minutes, come back, see that the page doesn't contain anything I'm interested in, repeat.

Someone get them a faster server or optimize the software or something, because fuck.

The only thing that prompted this is that I had seen a couple images of Yomi in their galleries that don't show up when you search for mizuhara_koyomi. I figured I'd be nice and go tag them, but it's taking for-fucking-ever.

On top of that apparently I'm not allowed to use more than four tags in a search. Maybe this is because I haven't registered or something, but being able to search for more than four tags would definitely make this go faster.

Holy shit there's a lot of K-On ero. I just got an entire page full of it. My tags I'm searching for are "megane brown_hair brown_eyes -mizuhara_koyomi". I'm excluding mizuhara_koyomi because the images I'm looking for don't show up in a search just for that tag, so having those in the result set (as megane brown_hair brown_eyes will do) just makes it take longer.

The two images I've seen that don't show up are from a Santa-san gallery a while back and their recent "oppai pressed against glass" gallery.

I just noticed an image that brings up a new point. Apparently there's a To Heart character (Tsuina) that looks fairly similar to Yomi. That may in fact be the character in the Santa-san image.

If you hadn't figured it out already, I'm making a new paragraph every time I start another page loading.

Just saw Tsuina again. Dammit. Going through all 60 pages of results for this search is going to take at least a couple hours.

I might as well link both images. Maybe in the process of doing this I'll find a faster way to find them because holy fuck this is taking forever. Aside from the useful tagging features, why would anyone want to use the Danbooru software if it's this fucking slow?

Fuck I think both of them are actually Tsuina. They both have the same hairstyle, which is the same as the hairstyle in the other pictures I'm finding that are tagged to_heart. It's slightly different from Yomi's, and I'd been disregarding that because it looked like her.

Maybe now I need to see To Heart? Wasn't it originally an eroge before they made the anime?

Fuck, they're both indeed Tsuina. A search for "to_heart tsuina" just showed me both images I was looking for.


On the plus side, I did find this image before starting my search. Maybe it's time to go through all images tagged akiyama_mio again?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ok so I'm a moron

Unexplained programming terminology ahead, so beware.

Regarding the recent Greasemonkey script I wrote, I realized that event hooks placed by a Greasemonkey script can call functions defined in a Greasemonkey script if you hook the event correctly (which I was doing) and give it a reference to the function rather than the typical string containing the function call (I was also giving it the proper reference, hence the title of this post). It's not so much a Greasemonkey security thing as it is a Greasemonkey functionality thing.

When a page loads, Greasemonkey checks to see if you've got a script that should run on the page. If you do, it creates its sandboxed environment, loads the script, allows it to run, and then erases the sandboxed environment. It's sandboxing the target page to prevent it from accessing all our delicious privileged code, so we can call its API functions and the target page can't even tell that Greasemonkey exists.

When you give the typical string, that works so long as the function still exists. With Greasemonkey, the function doesn't exist for very long. Giving it a reference to the function, however, causes the Javascript engine to say "hey something's still got a reference to this function, I'll keep it around" and then it works as intended.

What all of that means is that I don't need to inject a script tag into the head of every single web page I view. It runs entirely client-side now, with the exception of the CSS which is still remote loaded. I could probably insert the CSS client side too, but the code would look even more messy. Overall it's just easier to stick an extra stylesheet link in the head of the document than to dick around embedding the CSS in a string or doing it via the appropriate Javascript methods.

Also, after figuring this out, I went ahead and implemented the 500 millisecond (half a second) delay before showing the target. Doing this pretty much requires a queue. Luckily I found a public domain Javascript queue object so I didn't have to write my own. With a queue it's really simple. As you mouse over a ton of links without leaving your mouse on one of them, mouseover events are triggered in the order you mouse over them. My mouseover event hook is now three lines that start the timer that calls my actual "show the link target" function, instantiate an object I created to encapsulate the object references and timer id I need later on, and load that object into the queue.

The beauty of this is that the mouseout events that are triggered when your mouse leaves the area of each link are triggered in the same order, so all I care about is the least recently triggered event in the last 500ms. Which is exactly what a queue provides me with. My function that shows the link target simply reads the info of the event I care about off of the queue without popping it, and then mouseout takes care of popping it and cancelling the timer. I found no clean way to tell if the timer id was still valid, but it doesn't seem to matter as clearTimeout doesn't appear to bitch at me if given an expired timer id.

Unfortunately, I'll still have to allow a site to run Javascript to see link targets, but it doesn't flicker like crazy when I mouse over a bunch of links quickly anymore. The only remaining problem has to do with AJAX-inserted links, which my script tries to take into account but doesn't fully take care of.

My test case for that is's shoutbox. The contents of it are inserted after page load, which my event hook for adding a new DOM node picks up on just fine and adds the mouseover and mouseout event hooks to all the links. But the shoutbox code insists on updating a string telling me how long ago the comment was made. I can clearly tell when each comment was made because it has a timestamp right fucking next to it. It does this stupid update every minute for every comment in the shoutbox. When it does that my event hooks on all the links in the shoutbox disappear. Event hooks elsewhere are fine. I tried adding them back in by hooking the generic DOM modified event but it didn't work. I don't really know what can be done to fix this, nor do I really feel like going through the effort for a script that's supposedly a temporary workaround.

Partial scripting victory still counts as a victory. I'm going to go to sleep now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

frantically strumming

Okay, I just had overstrum 100%s of all three huge altstrumming sections in Frantic (Palms Are Sweaty, and Frenetic Bridge 1 and 2). Overall I missed five notes.

This FC is so going to happen.

All my drops were the aforementioned overstrums or random stupid shit.

This'll be my first FC of a non-easy song if I can get it. It's one of the easier non-easy songs, but whatever.

GH:M FCs in the near future: Frantic, Fuel, Nothing Else Matters, and The Unforgiven.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Greasemonkey hackery

Kind of foreshadowing a possible Firefox Configuration post in the future (it's changed a fair amount since the last one). I was changing up my configuration a few days ago, and noticed that one of the extensions I installed lacks a feature that the one it replaced had.

I had been using Pimpoflage to put the menu bar and status bar on autohide, to get them out of the way unless I actually needed them for something. It was nice, but it had issues. Its "show menubar+statusbar on command" keyboard shortcut hardly ever worked, and it conflicted with Tab Mix Plus' feature that forces new windows to become new tabs in the current window instead. I made some settings workarounds so I could cope with it while I looked for an extension to replace it with, and then I finally found DisableMenu.

DisableMenu does the job without conflicting with Tab Mix Plus. It does it a little differently from Pimpoflage, when you mouse where the status bar should be the menu bar pops up too. Its keyboard shortcut actually works though. The big flaw, that was the reason for the Greasemonkey hackery, is that when I mouse over a link it doesn't pop up the status bar telling me where the link will take me.

So I wrote a Greasemonkey script to do that. The script itself is actually just a stub that injects a script tag into the head of the document loading a script off of my website. That script does everything. This was necessary because I needed to have functions be called on a couple of different events, and if they're defined on the Greasemonkey side of things then Greasemonkey's own security protections won't let the page call them.

The visual styling takes after SRWare Iron's (and by extension, Google Chrome's) behavior for showing link targets. It just pops up in the lower left corner, covering up the page. I even copied the rounded corner on the top right corner of it. It takes its colors from your OS' visual theme, so it should look somewhat decent even on a dark theme or whatever, as long as your colors contrast enough.

It doesn't work everywhere, I've encountered a couple of sites that it either does absolutely nothing on, or the injection of the script (and the CSS that gets injected later) messes up the page somehow. Blogger's post creator/editor is basically rendered inoperable by the injection of the script, and I haven't seen it trigger at all on xkcd. (Edit: oh lol I wasn't allowing xkcd to run scripts, it works fine there)

In addition, when viewing my blog, another oddity arose. The navbar that blogger puts at the top of the page is actually in an iframe. With its own separate document object model. Meaning the link target showed up at the bottom of the iframe instead of the bottom of the browser window. Maybe there's a proper fix for this (checking to see if the document has a parent? does that work?), but I doubt there's a concrete fix that will work across all sites on the internet (i.e. with vanilla frames). It doesn't even matter anyway, it's just a workaround until DisableMenu's author gets around to implementing the feature.

All of the bugs and oddities can easily be fixed by specifying exclusions in Greasemonkey, i.e. pages the script shouldn't be included on. I had to exclude it from secure (https) pages entirely since the script is being loaded over a regular http connection. Mixing secure and insecure content is bad.

The only thing left to implement is a short timer so it doesn't pop up and flicker while trying to display link targets as I move my mouse over a bunch of links. A 500 millisecond timer should do the trick, if my mouse has been over the link for half a second I'm probably interested in where it leads.

I could make the script available for others to install, but I won't. The requirements justifying its use are fairly specific to my case, so it's unlikely that anyone reading this will need it. If for some reason you do actually need it, let me know and I'll send you the stub script. The CSS uses a Mozilla-specific selector (for the rounded corner) since Firefox 3 doesn't have CSS3, so it might not work right in Fx3.5 or in Opera. It'll be up to you to add additional exclusions according to your own browsing habits though. If you just want to see the code, well, be warned, it's probably going to be hard to read. When I write something up quickly I tend to omit whitespace, and whitespace makes code a lot more readable. Maybe I'll fix it, maybe I won't.

Speaking of Firefox 3.5, I'm waiting for one extension to be updated (I might try just hacking the maxVersion) before I update. Everything got updated a lot faster this time around.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

YouTube rant

So YouTube has plenty of shortcomings, bugs, and annoyances. Yeah.

First off, you can only report people for inappropriate videos. Inappropriate, hateful, etc. comments I have yet to find a way to report. People make accounts for no reason other than to troll, so it'd be really nice to be able to report them so they can get banned.

Next, what's with this new channel layout they're eventually going to force on us? I've seen a few channels that use it, it's horrible. Look YouTube, pay close attention to what I'm saying here. When I visit someone's channel and click a video link, I expect to be taken to that video's page where I can view, rate, favorite, and comment. I don't want to have to click the video title and then find some other link in the page to be taken to the video's actual page. The current channels are much simpler and cleaner. It's true, they're not filled with web 2.0 bloat, but that's a good thing. They load fast and don't use massive amounts of resources on my computer. That's the way it should be.

Next, I have three videos up on YouTube. From my channel I can see the number of views and the rating, but not the number of comments. Someone was asking me something in a comment on one of my videos and I completely missed it because I didn't fucking know the video had a comment. This could also be solved by the remedy for my next point.

The Inbox. YouTube sends you helpful messages telling you things like "so and so commented on this video" so you can go "lol ok". But it doesn't try to make it obvious that you have new messages at all. There's an image at the top of the page with a number in parentheses next to it, this is the inbox link and the number of new messages. But it doesn't fucking say "oh hey you have new messages" it just sits there looking exactly the same but with a (1) instead of a (0), which with the small font size they chose look almost identical. Make it tell you on login or page load with a nice block at the top of the page "You have a new message in your inbox." with a link so I can go check it out.

The subscriptions panel sucks. The individual channel sections themselves are fine, but New Videos is bugged. It randomly re-inserts videos you've already seen. This bug is only further compounded by the fact that they just fucking removed the text that tells you how long ago each video was added. Thanks for making your pages convey less useful information and misrepresent old things as new.

Speaking of subscriptions, somehow my channel has two of them. I can view lots of statistics about my channel, such as where around the world my video views are coming from and how people are finding them and so forth, but I can't tell which video someone was watching when they subscribed. So I have three videos showing gameplay in three different games and I don't know which one is pulling in the subscribers. I can infer (probably correctly so) that the video with the most views is the one that got me both subscriptions. That would be my Guild Wars shadow step exploration trick video.

Videos autoplay. Seriously what the hell. I don't want this shit, give me an option to make all videos start paused or something.

Some people in their videos have inserted annotations that pause the video for a certain amount of time. I've explored all the available options in the annotation editor but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do this. Their help pages say "oh yeah you can do that" and even go over the finer points of why you'd want to and configuring the amount of time it pauses, but they don't tell you how to make one of the damn pause annotations at all. I get the note, the bubble, and the link. That's it. None of them have any little mystery meat icon in their menu of mystery meat icons that looks like it should configure a pause length.

So there's an option to tell YouTube to prefer high quality video where available. That's nice, but there's a bug and a shortcoming associated with this. The bug: after a while the option resets to "choose based on my connection" all on its own, which always seems to choose the low quality version even though I have a 7 megabit downstream. The shortcoming: No option to additionally prefer HD video over HQ where possible. Even with the option set to "always use high quality video", I still have to hit HD on every single HD video I watch. Or add "&hd=1" or "&fmt=22" to the end of the URL (without the quotes, of course).

In video comments, even if a comment was hidden due to being modded down too low you could still click "Show" to see it (and mod it down further if you wanted to) but now this option is gone. You have to configure it to show all comments so you can see the ones you want to mod. Possibly related to my first point.

I'm sure everyone's encountered this last one at some point during their YouTube browsing sessions. Every now and then, a video will just randomly take forever to load. It doesn't matter if you watched the video yesterday and it loaded fine then or if you've never seen it before, it doesn't matter if you have HQ or HD selected, or any other criteria I can think of. It just suddenly decides "ok this 5 minute video is going to take an hour to load."

Also, touching briefly on Guitar Hero, I finally FCed Hotel California on Expert Guitar. Awesome song is awesome.

Friday, August 14, 2009

huge wallpaper update is huge

Thirteen of these images got edited between me saving them off of /w/ and uploading them to Picasa. THIRTEEN. Of twenty four total images. Mostly it was slight cropping to correct aspect ratio or resampling to a standard wallpaper resolution, though there was some detexting in there too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

animu update

So by now I think it's old news that Haruhi's Endless Eight bullshit has ended. The ninth new episode contains a whole two never-before-seen minutes of animation showing the one thing they had to do so the summer would end. If you've been holding off you might as well just skip to about 18:45 and just watch from there to the end of the episode.

Since the rerun that the new episodes are in was announced to be 28 episodes, we only have a few new ones remaining. It's kind of pathetic. I wonder if they'll go ahead and extend the season. It's also been speculated that the DVD release might contain other episodes entirely, which given how KyoAni has already achieved epic troll status, I wouldn't put it past them.

By my count, the only episodes from the first season still to air are The Adventures of Asahina Mikuru Episode 00, Live Alive, The Day of Sagittarius, and Someday in the Rain. We've seen nine "new" episodes, and ten have been re-run in chronological order, ending with the Remote Island Syndrome two-parter. Including the four episodes of the original season left to air, there's 23 episodes, leaving five more new ones. All the rumored airing schedules have all been shat upon by the endless turd known as Endless Eight, so who knows what they'll animate for those last five.

Whoever came up with the idea to stretch an arc that should have been two or three episodes at the most into eight should be killed. Not just shot, like I usually say, but actually killed. It's the only way the fans can get justice.

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood on the other hand has been quite entertaining. There's some stuff happening now that I don't remember at all from the first season, and the pacing has slowed down a great deal to a much more normal level.

Basquash continues to throw surprises. The Underworld was an interesting place for them to end up, and we learned a bit about Iceman's past. Also I think I'm beginning to see who the main antagonist is.

Monday, August 10, 2009

random stuff

The natural flow of things on /w/ has slowed down, so I suspect I'll get to work sifting through what I've saved to see what needs editing, detexting, decrediting, resizing to standard resolutions, and so forth. I know there's a bunch of editing to be done this time, so it might take a while. Anime you can expect to see: Gurren-Lagann, K-On!, Azumanga Daioh, Haruhi, and Full Metal Panic.

That's right, I now have two entire Full Metal Panic wallpapers that I like. All the wallpapers I get to choose from for FMP usually fit one of these 3 criteria: Low resolution, official (and therefore plastered with logos, credits, and websites), or just plain weird art style. Also, barely any of them feature Kyoko. I know she's a side character of barely any relevance to the plot, but... dammit she's the meganekko.

Completely unrelated, has anyone else who's subscribed to a few people on YouTube noticed the annoying glitch on the New Videos section of your subscriptions? It just randomly re-adds videos I've already watched. If you're going to call the section "New Videos", then don't fucking re-add shit that isn't new.

I've found a workaround for my problems with Guild Wars (and any other DirectX game) that seems to work: Running the game windowed. I formed this hypothesis directly after playing Polynomial for quite a long time windowed with no crashes, bricks being shat, or spontaneous reboots. It's interesting that running the game windowed lets me play without the weird things happening that happened when I ran it fullscreen. All on a computer that used to be able to run the game fullscreen no problem whose only hardware change has been a different network card, which was unrelated to the issue in the first place as it started happening long before my onboard lan died.

Speaking of Polynomial, I started it up after typing all of this post except for this paragraph and made it an entire hour on the lowest enemy-populated difficulty before voluntarily stopping so I'd die. I guess my points about powerup durations are rather moot now, seeing as how when there's shittons of enemies in the level and the game is running at a blazing fast 5 frames per second, you can usually fly through another powerup before the first one's worn off just because there's so many of them out there. There were so many enemies they were killing each other while trying to shoot me. So I present the following screenshots. The first is just before I let myself die, and the other is the error I got upon exiting the program.

I spent most of Saturday catching the hell up on the Negima! manga. I've fallen behind getting the official American release, so I figured until I get around to getting them I might as well see what happens. Without spoiling anything, all I can really say is there's lots of great action, great humor, plenty of stuff gets explained, and there's a fair amount of stuff I just didn't expect to happen at all and was like "holy shit" when it happened. If you thought the Budokai arc was awesome, wait 'till you read the Magic World arc ;) It's not quite over yet but it's definitely closing in on the end of the arc.

The scanlations are generally good (there's a couple chapters that were total ass, but that's because I was reading it on and they don't seem to select the same scanlation group every time), but the scanlators never seem to explain the latin (i.e. all of the spell casting), which the official American release explains in great detail. Or maybe onemanga just didn't figure people wanted to read pages of translator notes, I dunno.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Conventional Survey

I guess since I got tagged on this on Facebook it's now customary for me to fill it out and tag some other people or something. I don't really get these "social networking" circle jerks, but whatever. This one has the added quirk of having been posted on my blog and then automatically imported to Facebook as a note, like all my other blog posts.

I guess this means I have to work out who to tag on this shit.

As always, extra formatting to enhance readability is available if you view this on my blog. I didn't format the survey into a proper HTML ordered list because that would mess up copying it to erase my answers and put your own.

1. How many times have you been to a convention?
Oh fuck, you're going to make me count? *turns around and looks at his con badges* Ten.

2. Do you sleep at conventions?
Yes, though depending on the con I may skip a night...

3. Do you eat?
Yes, of course I do. If it weren't for food I wouldn't be here today. What kind of question is this? The REAL question should be "Do you shower?", to which my answer is also yes.

4. Are you shameless at conventions?
Actually I'm about as reserved as I am elsewhere in real life.

5. On average, how much money do you spend?
Depends on what I'm buying, where we go to eat, etc. I'd say $100 or less. I tend to buy more of the less expensive things as opposed to less of the more expensive things. Though I did pounce on an import copy of Vib Ribbon at MAGFest 4, to the point that I had the dealer hold on to it for me while I ran to the ATM to pull out some money. Also relevant: there are only two ATMs in the nation I can use without transaction fees, and they're right across the street from each other. Shitty credit union ftl.

6. Do you go to conventions to pick up people?
No. Most females I've seen at conventions have either been overweight cosplayers or already have boyfriends. Maybe I'm just not in the right place at the right time...

7. Do you go to conventions to bang people?

8. How much cellulite do you see when you go to conventions?
Overweight Yuna cosplayers, check. Also every time I look down I see my stomach.

9. Do you cosplay?
Only if dressing in a t-shirt and denim jeans counts as cosplaying Keiichi from Ah! My Goddess.

10. Does your cosplay show a lot of skin?
My regular clothes don't, so no.

11. Is your cosplay the epitome of badassery?
I'd have to do a real cosplay first.

12. Do you wait in line for; dealer's room, panels, autographs, ceremonies?
If it's awesome enough, I'll wait in line for it.

13. How many friends have you met from conventions?
I've got a few random con friends. Mostly (read: 100%) at MAGFest. I see them online throughout the rest of the year. IRC FTW.

14. Have you ever been drunk at a convention?
Yes. It's fun.

15. Name your conventions:
Katsucon 10, 11, 12, 13
Otakon 2004 (L'arc~en~Ciel concert w00t!) (getting dehydrated in the reg line not woot.)
MAGFest 4, 5, 6, 7 (staffed 5, 6, and 7)
Nekocon 11

16. Do you go to conventions alone or with a bunch of people?
MAGFest, alone. All the others, with people. I find that there's enough awesomeness at MAGFest to offset the "loneliness" of going alone.

17. Get your own room or mooch off of someone?
MAGFest 4 was in Charlottesville, so I just drove home when I needed sleep. 5, 6, and 7 have had staff crash rooms. The rest, I split a room with people to cut down on cost.

18. Ever partied hard with a voice actor?

19. Taken a picture with Silent Bob?

20. Jay too?

21. Gotten home to find out you've lost weight from walking around so DAMN much?
I wish.

22. Hugged random people?

23. Kissed random people?

24. Stalked someone who was cosplaying your favorite character?

25. Gotten a g/f or b/f out of a convention?

26. Hooked up with someone?

27. Tell the truth now... seriously.
Really, no.

28. Had a temporary convention love that ended by Monday morning?

29. Raved until you fell over?
I'm not a raver. I wouldn't mind going to one of these things if there was actually music I'd heard before instead of shitty techno. It's hard to rock out to music you've never heard before. You have to do the generalized "I don't know the structure of this song" rocking out pattern and everybody can tell that's what you're doing, so none of the hot chicks ever come over to you.

30. Flirted with a dealer to get a discount?

31. Taken pictures of people?
Somehow I always manage to not have a camera at conventions. I don't own one (and I don't have a cell phone, part of the elite few) so I'd have to get one of those funsavers and deal with film and not having the pictures in digital format. No thanks.

32. Had your picture taken?
Yeah actually, at Katsucon 10 someone randomly decided they wanted to take a picture of me when I was wearing my "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" shirt.

33. Gone to a photo shoot?

34. Planned a photo shoot?

35. Been stalked?
Not that I'm aware of.

36. Been annoyed by someone?
Oh sure. Most of it passing annoyance though.

37. Done the annoying?
Not that I'm aware of.

38. Had fun at a convention?
If I go to a convention and don't have fun, its name would have to be Katsucon 13.

39. Had such a miserable time you wanted to leave but didn't?
Well, I almost turned around and drove home trying to get to Katsucon 13. Shame on me for not parking at a metro station I guess.

40. Gotten in a fight?

41. Tried to stage a fight?

42. Success?

43. Freaked out when you saw one of your most favorite characters?
I don't remember doing so, but my memory is kinda bad.

44. Someone freaked out when they saw your cosplay?
I'd have to cosplay first.

45. Hung out with random people that you'd just met?
Yeah, some Icelandic guys that were at MAGFest 5. I went with them and a group of random attendees to McDonald's because the Icelanders hadn't been there before and wanted to go. They were cool.

Though I guess any given MAGFest qualifies as "hanging out with random people you've just met".

46. Reunited with a friend?

47. Broken off with a friend?
Not at a convention, no. He broke off with me by forfeiting real life for World of Warcraft.

48. Cried at a convention?
No, but I have had seasonal allergies at more Katsucons than I care to count. Well, I guess it's four since I've only ever been to four of them. Having to cope with seasonal allergies at a convention = teh suck.

49. Saved trash from stuff you bought?

50. Eaten ramen and drunk ramune like they were air?
I've had (overpriced) ramune at Otakon, it's okay I guess but there isn't enough of it in the bottle and I'm not rich enough to buy it by the case or anything. As for ramen, the stuff is salt soup with noodles added, so no thanks. If there exists a no salt ramen somewhere, SOMEBODY FUCKING TELL ME. I'm aware the vast majority of the salt is in the seasoning, but ramen without seasoning is like nachos without cheese.

I did, however, buy a lot of Leninade from the dealer that was selling it at MAGFest 7.

51. Slept in the same bed as someone you've only known a few hours?

52. Made any money?

53. Made someone else money?
If spending it in the dealer's room counts, then yes.

54. Sick of this survey?
Yeah actually.

55. Okay...last question. Favorite convention you've ever been to?
MAGFest (okay, who didn't see that coming)

Monday, August 3, 2009


No, this isn't a math lecture. Through a YouTube link pasted into MAGFest's IRC chat, I discovered a neat 3D space-themed shooter called Polynomial. The game gets its name from its level generation, they're all various different fractals.

The game is in a beta state at the moment and so understandably is lacking some things, however, I'll cover what's actually in the game before I delve into my own personal wishlist.

The fractal you're flying through and around serves a second purpose besides looking neat: staying near it will heal your ship (or whatever you're flying, there's no third person view). This is very important since the game spawns enemies that will shoot at you. You can choose different levels to get different fractals, or play around with the editor to find completely new ones. Some fractals are harder than others because they have a thinner fractal field, meaning it's harder to stay where you'll be healed.

The controls are fairly intuitive. Mostly everything can be done with the mouse. Turning, aiming, firing, and zooming in for a better look at your target are all on the mouse. Heck, even the throttle is on the mouse, via the scroll wheel. The only controls that require use of the keyboard are the roll controls.

This brings me to my first gripe: there's no strafe control. I'm fairly used to 3D first person shooters, and so I instinctively find myself trying to use A and D to strafe around my target. W and S double as throttle control, so they're fine, but A and D roll rather than strafe. Thus, if you're flying past an enemy, or a powerup, and you need to turn to get it back in view, it takes forever. Even 6 degree of freedom shooters like Descent have strafing controls.

Speaking of powerups, the game has three of them, and they do fairly standard things. One makes your shots deal more damage, the second gives you auto aim, and the last one boosts your speed. Auto-aim works by showing a circle around your crosshair, as long as you keep the enemy you're shooting at within that circle, you don't have to aim directly at them. The speed boost is nice for when the game decides it's going to spawn enemies faster than you can kill them, which happens even on the lowest difficulty that spawns them. It lets you easily get some distance so you can pick them off without having to dogfight. It does make it harder to steer, but that's to be expected.

Furthermore, you can combine the powerups. Extra damage with auto aim really tears through the enemies. My only gripe is that the powerups don't spawn close enough together and don't last long enough to make such a strategy feasible. Typically by the time I fly through the auto aim to get it, my extra damage is almost gone (or vice versa).

The enemies themselves are nothing more than a ball of graphical effects with a multicolored ring around them. They make a popping sound when you kill them. That's one of the only three sounds in the entire game, by the way. The other two play as you damage enemies and as you take damage. Making sound effects and music takes a while though, so it's understandable to want to get the core gameplay in there first. In the meantime, you can start up your audio player of choice on shuffle in the background to get music.

As far as finding enemies and powerups is concerned, it's fairly easy. The lower left corner of the screen contains a radar that shows you things, and all around the edges you'll see arrows pointing towards things that aren't on screen. Everything in addition has a number beside it indicating how far away from you it is, the bigger the number, the farther away it is. So figuring out what to shoot and which powerup to fly towards is pretty simple, just follow the numbers.

Determining whether you're close enough to the fractal to regenerate health is simple. At the top of the screen, to the left of the health bar are two indicators that may or may not be present at any point in time. There's a lightning bolt that shows up if you're out of range of the fractal, and a nuclear symbol that shows up briefly when you take damage. Also, I've found that the places in the fractal where the particles are packed more densely will recharge your health faster, so if you're in need of a lot of health and one of these spots is nearby (they're really bright, you can't miss them), fly slowly through it and watch your health rocket up.

When you die it does some interesting effects, making it look like the screen has lost vertical hold and stuff.

As of this post, the game is so beta it doesn't even have a title screen. It just pops you right into the gameplay (fortunately paused). It runs windowed by default, and while you can resize the window I have yet to figure out how to get it to open the window larger. It will also go fullscreen, but once again you'll have to set it every time because it doesn't seem to save the preference to the config file.

A minor issue is that I get an error dialog sometimes when I exit the game, saying something about "the memory could not be 'read'". Naturally, when I started the game up just now to try and get this dialog to see exactly what it said, it didn't show up. Maybe it's because I only played for a minute or so, whereas my usual sessions last longer.

The game has no multiplayer, however, that's on the developer's to-do list. In addition, there are some features that the developer would like you to buy the full version to get, such as saving custom-made levels. The full version also predictably has more levels.

Now, onto the wishlist. I'm going to omit most audio concerns because making sound effects and music takes forever, other than one small concern.

  • An audible alarm when I'm low on health would be nice. Generally I try to watch the health bar up at the top and fly close to the fractal particle thingies when I need to replenish, but typically most of my deaths happen because I think I'm good on health and just found an auto aim and extra damage powerup right next to each other and I turn around to lay into the enemies and POW, I'm dead.
  • Health bars for enemies
  • Something to tell me how much longer an uncollected powerup is going to stay there, since I've had powerups disappear on me as I was heading to collect them multiple times now.
  • Either give them a longer duration, or make them consumable by pressing a button on the keyboard, so they don't activate immediately upon pickup. This would allow much more strategic use of powerups.
  • Or powerups could be activated by shooting them. Then the entire arena is your powerup inventory. Solves the "discretionary use" situation in a slightly more luck-dependent manner.
  • More powerups. Some random things I thought of include:
    • single-use full heal - for those dogfights away from the fractal, or even the really hectic ones inside it.
    • spread shot - being able to damage multiple enemies at once when you get to the point where there are tons of them would greatly increase longevity.
    • bouncy shots - would work like the Mutalisk's attack in Starcraft, it would bounce off the target to hit nearby ones but deal less damage every time it bounces, with a reasonable bounce limit of 2, as in, each shot would hit up to three targets. Would be truly spectacular stacked with extra damage and spread shot.
    • stealth - would probably be best balanced like cloaking in Star Trek where they can't fire while cloaked. Handy for escaping the dogfight temporarily to heal.
    • invulnerability - spice it up a bit allowing the player to move into an area and take charge, this would of course be a temporary effect.
    • gravity well - when you fire this, it goes a set distance (maybe flies until you press the fire button again) and then attracts nearby ships to that point and holds them there for a short period of time. The ships can then be taken out with regular fire. It would have to have a distance indicator on it and be of a different color from powerups and enemies so it's distinguishable at a distance. In multiplayer the well would have to be destroyable by enough fire, small enough that being sucked in is avoidable but large enough that the well is still effective.
  • A few different modes, to diversify a bit. An arcade-style "kill all the enemies in the level to advance to the next" mode would be neat. What we currently have is basically Survival mode. Story mode would require coming up with a story, but could be done.
  • When multiplayer happens, co-operative multiplayer vs. the computer controlled enemies. I'm sure the developer is mainly thinking of competitive multiplayer and will probably implement a Deathmatch-like mode right after writing the netcode, but occasionally people like to work together too. You could even have Team Deathmatch, for co-operative competition.
  • Strafe controls. 'Nuff said.
  • Different types of enemies - Diversify the challenge to make us actually need the extra powerups I'm suggesting.
  • Different types of ships - The typical choice between all-around balance, light damage/low armor/high speed, and high armor/high damage/low speed.
  • More weapons - Having a few different weapons around is almost required for multiplayer shooter games these days. Have them be collectible by powerups, maybe require ammo (or possibly an energy bar that needs to refill between shots, that might refill faster if you're within range of the fractal), but always have that good old infinite ammo cannon there for backup. My first idea was "missiles!" but the whole atmosphere of the game screams for energy or beam weaponry rather than physical weaponry.
  • High score tracking - So we have some measure of progress in getting better at the game. Obviously being able to last longer before dying is evidence, but saving those scores and formulating a list with names is a time-honored tradition. I don't care about online rankings, all I really want is local score tracking.
I don't want to "death spiral" here, but personally I'd wait until the game has a few more features before buying it. It'd be a death spiral because if nobody buys it then the developer doesn't get money, and possibly loses motivation to continue developing, which people would be waiting for before spending their money.

The verdict: Try out the demo. Watch development intently and if you like it, pounce once it has multiplayer.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Random GH stuff

In Guitar Hero: Metallica: I've now FCed Toxicity on both Guitar and Bass. I've had several annoying -1 runs on The Unforgiven (dropping AFTER the solo rrg). I just got a -4 on Frantic, only missing in the three massive alt-strumming sections (Palms Are Sweaty... and Frenetic Bridge 1 and 2).

Yesterday I started up Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and quickly remembered why I don't play it anymore. For anyone who's played it, you probably saw this coming, but Joe Perry's fretboard is fucking awful. It disguises notes as-is and under star power they're the same color. I got a -1 on Dream On by dropping an easy GY chord in a slow section because I couldn't fucking see the Green. Also I noticed I hadn't sightread most of its bonus tracks (called "The Vault") so I went through and did that. Sucks that Joe Perry's fretboard is so awful because you have to use it for over 60% of the songs. I kinda wanted to get an Expert FC in GH:A too.

If you need to get better at alt-strumming in Guitar Hero, pick up Guitar Hero: Metallica. Seriously. Mine's improved tremendously since I got GH:M. I can handle bursts a bit better now, though I still can't do bursts at the speed of those in The Way It Ends. I've actually found some gallop patterns where if I try to purely alt-strum them I drop, but if I play with the timing windows a bit and start each on a downstrum I can combo them no problem.

Good songs to practice include: (all on Expert)
  • Frantic
    • The bursts of 9 strums + 16th rest + chord at the beginning are great for practice.
    • Palms Are Sweaty... and the Frenetic Bridges are good for alt-strumming with the occasional HO/PO.
    • The rest of the song contains fairly simple bursts of 9, and later bursts of 25 where the first 8 are green, the second 8 are yellow, and the last 9 are green, even leading into one of the slider sections for a little practice whammying star power holds at the end of a burst.
  • War Ensemble Bass
    • Load up Verse 3 + Does It Hurt Yet?, ignore the first few notes, and lay into the purple wall.
    • For practice switching speeds, Verse 2.
    • For fret switching with pauses, Solo 1A + 1B.
  • Toxicity
    • Good for strumming bursts ending in sustains or between HO/PO strings.
    • Actual runs through the song will help you get better at whammying after alt-strumming.
    • Also good for weird alt-strumming rhythms.
The game is full of good songs to practice alt-strumming on, that's just a small selection of what's available.

There's a technique that's key for mastering alt-strumming, called subdivision. You want to subdivide the alt-strumming bursts (on, say, Frantic) into groups where you can easily discern how many times to strum and easily keep track of where you are in the burst so you know when to stop strumming. This will differ between people, but I'll tell you what I do. I subdivide them into groups of 4, and I mentally count "one, two, stop!" as I play each burst of 9. Also handy to know is that on those bursts of 9, if you start on a downstrum, you'll end on a downstrum. On the bursts of 25 it's the same, both are odd numbers.

Sometimes it helps to take musical section boundaries into account when subdividing. This works well on Frantic, which has a long burst of green that spans a section boundary (between Frenetic Bridge 2 and Pre Chorus 3). I still don't know how many notes there are in it, but I hit it without overstrumming the end pretty much every time.

Yeah, I play Frantic a lot. That's because I'm close to an FC of it. The SP path is painfully obvious, which will help overall score, but I'm getting more and more consistent on the alt-strumming.

It'd also be nice if I could FC Fuel, but I have a lot of random inconsistencies to work out first.