Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ridge Racer 3D: Duplicating Duels (Simpler Method)

So, a while back when I posted that other post, I had this really long and complex method to duplicate a StreetPass Duel that involved backing up data on the SD card and game title IDs and all kinds of nonsense.  The bonus points duplication was far simpler and therefore the preferred method.

Well, I'm an idiot.  Duplicating a duel is, in fact, just as easy as duplicating the bonus points.  You do, in fact, get to a point where you have completed the duel, but the game hasn't deleted it yet, and it politely waits for your input before actually deleting it.  So, without further ado, the method!
  1. Start up Ridge Racer 3D once you've gotten some StreetPasses for it.
  2. Go to Single Player → StreetPass Duel, get your bonus points, and then hopefully also a duel or two.
  3. If you got a duel, race it, and win so you get the points.
  4. Once you finish the duel, there will be a screen saying "you finished first!" and showing you the points you just earned.  Press A.
  5. The game will now save, which credits you with those nice juicy points you're after.
  6. Next up is a dialog that basically says "okay, we're just going to delete this now...".  Pressing A here causes the duel to be deleted.  So don't press A.
  7. Press HOME instead, and close the game.  Repeat the process from step 1 and the duel will still be there, because the game never had the chance to delete it.
See?  It's that simple.  Unfortunately, it's still faster in terms of points gained per minute to duplicate the bonus points instead, especially if you have a full queue of 8 StreetPasses, where you'll get 16000 points per duplication.  But it doesn't have to be as complicated as I initially made it out to be.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

XT Complains About Crossword Puzzles

My mom's been doing crossword puzzles for many years now, and as such occasionally enlists the help of my dad or myself when we might know more about something than she does.  Being naturally interested in puzzles myself, I often sit by while she does them, and to her lament I often complain about various things, which is the subject of this post.

First Complaint

Crosswords are stuck in the past.  Occasionally you see a clue that references something more modern, but it's usually something from The Simpsons, or music, or anything else from popular culture that's blandly mainstream.  Dr. Dre shows up fairly often, actually, usually clued as "Rapping doctor" or something similar.

You occasionally see individual clues that lead to putting in video gaming-related things like Mario or Sega, but they're never prominent, they never appear more than once per puzzle, and most certainly never appear as the theme when a puzzle has a theme.

The most obvious examples of crosswords being stuck in the past are clues that ask you about movies from the 1950s or musical artists whose entire fanbase is either dead or in assisted living these days.

Second Complaint

Crossword-ese.  These are words that, when you look up the clue on Google, all of the results are crossword websites.  You never see these words outside of crosswords, and you just have to know them.  Personally, I feel as though I've failed at solving the puzzle if I have to break out the almighty Google to get an answer.  Crosswords should be solvable just by looking at the clues and using any letters from crossing answers that you might already have.  Crossword-ese, on the other hand, leads to there being entire chunks of puzzles that you just can't get any letters in, which makes the puzzle less accessible.

Third Complaint

Circularly-referential clues.  You'll see this as something along the lines of these (hypothetical) clues: 10 Across: See 15 Down.  15 Down: With 10 Across, something obscure.  This does nothing to make the puzzle accessible to newcomers or seasoned solvers, as the only way to get either of those answers is to get enough of the answers to the clues that cross them that you can fill in the blanks.  There is the random possibility that the clue that actually hints at one of the two parts will actually pertain to something you're familiar with, but for that to work, you just have to know it, which kills a puzzle's accessibility.

Fourth Complaint

Factual inaccuracies.  These should technically be picked up by whoever edits the puzzle before it goes to print, but sometimes, issues like these escape even the best of the best.  To be fair, it happens, and we're all human beings who make errors and miss things.  It's just really annoying to have to deal with when you're working on the puzzle.  My mom was doing a puzzle recently that had a clue along the lines of "Chinese dynasty following the Han".  Well, I looked it up, and the next period of China's history is the Three Kingdoms era, with the kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu, none of which were dynasties.  Yet, the answer was "Wei".  Ideally, this clue could have been rewritten (edited, if you will), to be similar to "One of the Chinese Three Kingdoms", phrased as such to steer people to the Three Kingdoms era of China where the answer is relevant and actually correct.

Fifth Complaint

Misspelling things just so a clue will work with a given answer.  Seasoned crossword veterans call the shorter answers that comprise the majority of a puzzle the "fill", and this is an indication of bad "fill" that should have been reworked.  Honestly, Crossword-ese is also an indication of this.

Sixth Complaint

Trivia clues.  These are things that you just wouldn't know unless you happen to be intimately familiar with whatever they're talking about.  All too often there's something like "City in the zip code 12345", where the only ways to get the answer are to get answers that cross it, or look it up.  Again, having to look something up means you've already lost, and makes the puzzle less accessible.

Seventh Complaint

Clues whose answers are multiple words, and that give no hint of this.  I'm not talking about the tacked on "(2 wds.)" cheat thing that some puzzles have.  If an answer is more than one word, it should either be obvious from the subject that the clue relates to, or it should be subtly hinted at in the clue.  This usually falls back into the category of "you just have to know", which, as previously stressed, makes the puzzle less accessible.

Eighth Complaint

SAT words.  These are similar to crossword-ese, however, they're actually found outside of crosswords in very rare circumstances, such as in old people's speech and on the verbal section of the SATs.  They're typically long or obscure words that have much more concise and modern synonyms, yet people stick to using the less modern and concise versions so they can feel smug when younger people have no clue what they're talking about.  These reduce a puzzle's accessibility, because when you encounter one, you have to fill it in from crossing answers, and then when the puzzle's done you just sit there scratching your head and saying "that's a word?".


I'd love to get into doing crossword puzzles, because I love solving puzzles.  However, somebody, somewhere needs to start making puzzles that are accessible to people under the age of 50.  More video game and 1980s/1990s references would be a start.  Themes based around those would be better.  Involving internet culture would just bring the cancer that is internet culture to the print media and alienate the 99% who have no clue how to use a computer other than to look at websites and check their email.  I've advocated for accessibility all throughout these complaints, so we don't want to reduce it even further in the process of catering to younger generations.

And just to address this before it comes up, the word "meme" is not just a fancy synonym of the word "joke", nor does it accurately refer to pictures with caption text in the font "Impact" edited in.  Those pictures are more accurately referred to as "image macros".  No one single person decides what is and isn't a "meme", memes happen organically as the result of things happening.  True "memes" are more similar to the pile of in-jokes you and your friends and family probably have.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

3DS Demos: Adventure Bar Story

Since demos are a nice way of previewing a game to make sure you want to buy it before you actually go and buy it, I make a point of playing demos of games periodically.  It's a shame that the Nintendo eShop is so lacking in demos, because there are games that I think I'd be interested in, but need to experience some gameplay because I'm not going to blind buy.

This brings us to the demo of Adventure Bar Story.  It's a role-playing game with the new-style retro graphics where you can still see the pixels, but they're a lot smaller.  The music fits, it works, but it feels just kinda... there.  The controls are basic turn-based RPG controls, move around and talk to people, go into environments with hostile enemies, and fight them.  The battle system shows the order everyone will be attacking (D&D nerds would call this "initiative"), so you can prolong your characters' lives by getting rid of whatever's about to attack next.

The way you level up and get skills is a bit unconventional.  You have a score in each of the basic elements.  When one or more of those scores reach predetermined values, a new skill unlocks.  However, you don't level up from fights.  The items you get are materials for cooking.  Irritatingly, the game only ever refers to them as "mats", even in character dialogue, so I was thinking of actual mats for a while until I realized the idiocy.  Through cooking, you get food, that you can either sell at your bar/tavern/restaurant-type place to get money, or eat it to get experience and level up.

Selling the food at your bar is actually the main point of the game.  There's some rich asshole who runs an over-priced, under-good restaurant in town, and he's basically got the government in his pocket.  He wants you to leave your bar so he can have the property and move his restaurant there, because your location happens to be closer to the city entrance.  You decide that the only way to prevent that from happening is to make your bar a much better eatery-type-place than his restaurant.  However, when deciding your menu, you can't just set it and forget it.  You actually have to stock the items that are on the menu, and people will begin to get tired of a dish if it's on the menu for too long.  Also, the game divides the year up into seasons, and some dishes will be more popular in certain seasons.

So, yeah.  Getting things done involves a lot of item collection and a lot of time spent in the cooking interface.  You can and should talk to random NPCs on a regular basis, as they'll give you hints that can lead you to new recipes, or lead you to ingredients for recipes you haven't yet completed.  Make sure to inspect any and all bookshelves you find, as the books can give you recipes as well.  You can experiment around and find recipes on your own, you can use these hints and guess at the missing ingredient or the proper cooking method, or you can just go to the shop and buy recipes.  You can also buy the materials, should you be short on something.

The adventure comes in when you leave town.  You go to a location and run around it picking up materials, which are strewn about on the ground.  Occasionally you'll get pulled into a battle through random encounters that most JRPG players should be intimately familiar with at this point.  Fight, win, go on.  The game is divided up into days, and you can only visit another area once per day.  Occasionally you might find a secret passage leading to some goodies, but there's zero indication of where they are, so you just have to run around bumping into every single wall to discover them.

Some of the recipes you get actually make items for use in battle, which is a neat concept.  The different foods you can make will also give you stat boosts for that day, so it's important to make food as often as possible so you have it sitting around ready for consumption.  Each character has a satiety value, handily placed next to an icon of a stomach, and they can't eat if this value is too high.

There's humor in the dialogue on occasion.  In the town you start in, there's a guy right near the entrance who tells you the name of the town.  If you keep talking to him, eventually your character will point out that he always says the same thing, and humor follows.  Also, when inspecting a bookshelf, I found a book telling the story of the Three Little Pigs, and then I proceeded to receive recipes for Pork, Ham, and Bacon.  I lol'd.

I haven't finished the demo yet, so I don't know how long it is, but it seems to be one of the more content-rich demos available on the eShop, right up there with the demos for Bravely Default and Etrian Odyssey IV.  Some demos you download and play for about five minutes, and you find yourself at the end with the "buy the full game!" screen, but not this one.

Overall, it's definitely not a game for everyone, due to the cooking system and having to manage the menu and sell things periodically while still keeping enough around that you can level up so you can handle tougher enemies in combat.  A more conventional game would have the dishes you cook be available as consumables for temporary stat boosts, that you could probably easily ignore, and give you experience from battles.  This game tries something different though, and it actually makes gameplay interesting.  The solution to being too weak to continue fighting enemies?  Gorge yourself on food!  Give the demo a shot and see what you think.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Warrior's Way: Fighting my own specially-set up max army

So, a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away), I finished Warrior's Way and set my army with the 99,999 cavalry/99,999 archers/9,800,001 infantry split so that it could be easily defeated by much smaller armies.  But I'd never really tested it to see how it worked, nor did I know how many troops would be won when it was defeated.

Not until now.

Having purchased and system transferred to a New 3DS, which is old news by now, means that my Old 3DS got to go through all the games again.  When I got to ~150k troops, I tried fighting my max army, only to get screwed over by a field condition weakening infantry.  Either of the others and I would've been totally fine.  It's for this reason that I'm now going to recommend holding off until about ~220k troops, so that you can guarantee two wins, regardless of field conditions.

As far as spying goes, you'll need to spy at least once, usually twice.  If the specially-set up max army sends its giant group first, then spying a second time will be less necessary.  Later on, once you've got more troops, you can set up your army in such a way that you won't need to spy at all, and from then on it's just free troops (and a victory to add to your streak).

I've sidestepped it for long enough.  You know what I'm talking about.  It's the answer to the one question you still have.  How many troops do you get for defeating a max army?  After all, when you greet a max army peacefully and its monarch decides to give you troops, you only get a paltry 3000.  Well, it's a bit different if you can actually defeat the max army.  Quite a bit different.  Seriously, why am I still stalling for time?

502,849 troops!
Screenshot or it didn't happen.
I don't know if the number of troops received depends on the distribution, or what, but it's still a really nice number that allows you to grow an army pretty quickly.

So basically, every time my systems StreetPass each other now, my Old 3DS gets half a million more troops.  I'll take that.

Edit (20:45, same day): Replaced my textual approximation of how many troops you get with a picture showing the exact number.  Yay technology!