davidn: (Default)
Okay, with the introduction out the way, it's time to get down to a hard night's snooping. Act 1 of 8. Not even the Germans write plays this long.




Colonel's Bequest - Act I Part 1 )
davidn: (skull)
Well, [personal profile] kjorteo has been requesting for someone to do this for a very long time - partly because of interest in the game itself but mostly as repayment for the years of suffering she went through to produce her wonderful run of Laura Bow 2 - so at long last, I'm going to take a look at the first game Laura Bow appeared in, The Colonel's Bequest.

Colonel's Bequest - Introduction )

Starcraft

May. 11th, 2017 10:35 pm
davidn: (Default)
I'm having a serious try at the Starcraft campaign for the first time, now that it's free. I remember playing it online before but being severely crushed - I can just about get by with some saving and building about a hundred aerial units before attempting anything.

The Zerg Cerberates in the mission briefing screen reminded me of someone.
davidn: (rabbit)




#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday



Thanks, Livejournal. You've helped me record a truly incredible stretch of my life, from unsurely feeling my way into adulthood in university, through graduation, marriage, moving to America, becoming a huge furry, and a voice actor for pigeons on the Internet, and other madness like that - up to buying our own single-family home and seriously, actually having a baby. It's an incredible record of fourteen years (started on April the 30th in 2003) - but I fell out of using it for the last couple of those, largely due to nobody really caring about reading anything I had to say any more.

And in this insane time, we have to take stands wherever we can, small actions to make ourselves feel we can at least have a tiny effect on the course of what's happening when we might come to harm. Therefore, everything from here on will be posted on my equivalent at Dreamwidth instead. I'll work on switching my site over to using Dreamwidth's API - and hopefully will find a reason to write again some time.
davidn: (rabbit)
I discovered a new fruit at Russo's! This one doesn't really look a whole lot like anything, and if you live in a remote place with houses built into mountains to hide from the Vikings like I did, even the thing that you think it might be is a trick.


What's my fruit? )

Vulkan

Mar. 3rd, 2017 10:24 pm
davidn: (rabbit)


I’ve finished Vulkan! Enough to call it a beta, anyway. Venture down into the Vulkan power station, a promising side project by UAC that as usual accidentally drilled into Hell and summoned an army of bloodthirsty demons.

This is a partial conversion for Doom 2, a bit more than a set of levels but not quite a different game. It features a ton of effects from Brutal Doom, a new weapon the Flak Cannon, several new enemies and a boss level that isn’t terrible.

It runs under GZDoom, which you can get here, and you’ll need a Doom 2 WAD. As you can see it’s particularly dark and bloody compared to most of my games, but not in a particularly realistic way.

Download: http://teamouse.net/games/vulkan/vulkan.pk3










Bamboozle!

Dec. 14th, 2016 02:58 am
davidn: (rant)

A post inspired by this, where I ended up writing rather a lot.

I used to play Bamboozle all the time before school (though I only ever really had a hope at the Saturday editions which were aimed at children of about ten)... it was interesting how it was set up, and so archaic now! I’m going to seriously go on about this, so get ready.

This is based on just my experience with it, but as far as I could tell, Teletext worked by broadcasting pages of text over the airwaves in sequence in blocks of one hundred, then looping back to the start. So at any time, the 1XX range of pages would be beaming into your aerial in the sequence 100, 101, 102... 198, 199, 100, 101 (and the same for 2XX, 3XX, etc).

This meant that when you requested a page (in this picture, number 390, but I can’t remember Bamboozle ever being at that page) a separate number display would come up showing which page was being broadcast at the time, and you had to wait for it to roll around to the one you wanted so it could ‘catch and display it. If you were lucky you’d catch it at the right time, but if you requested 390 and the TV was currently receiving 392, you’d have to wait until it came all the way around again... I think the whole cycle never took more than about 30 seconds but when you’re browsing around, that multiplies up quickly.

And those coloured buttons were used as “shortcuts” between pages! On each page, the coloured buttons would be wired to relevant other pages, and a bit of text would be displayed in each colour at the bottom of the screen describing where the four colours went - on the BBC News front page which let’s say was at 110, red might be wired to politics on page 112, yellow for sports on 113, blue for a delightful BBC Micro-rendered weather map on 116, and so on.

Bamboozle was a quiz game, and on each page, a question was asked with four possible answers presented in the four different colours. The link text at the bottom of the page just said “Answer” or something generic for each one - but underneath, three of those buttons led to a page telling you you gave the wrong answer, and one of them led to the next question. Once you’d played a few times, you got used to what the wrong and right page numbers were, and if you saw the page number in the “requested page” slot before the broadcast cycled around to displaying it, you could change your choice and find the right answer without it noticing. Eventually, the last question’s correct answer would direct you to the winning page.

But if each page had a number, you could just type in the winning page and get right to the end, couldn’t you? Well... no, and this was another quirk of the system - all the pages of the quiz were stored in slots with “numbers” like 12A, 12B, 12C that you couldn’t enter directly (you only had your remote control numbers to work with). I think the extra slots were A-F, implying that the whole Teletext system actually used hexadecimal numbering but that all pages were usually assigned slots that looked decimal for human use? Or maybe it was just a coincidence that there were six extra slots - I don’t know.

You could cheat a little, though - during normal operations, the Up and Down buttons raised and lowered your requested page number by 1. I’m not sure if this was universal to all televisions, but on the one in my family’s living room, you could also walk back through the hidden lettered pages by hitting the Down button - 12C, 12B, 12A... and if you went below that it would revert to 129, therefore linking you away from the quiz. The reverse wasn’t true - if you hit Up on 12C you’d be put straight to 130, so you couldn’t skip forward. This was useful, though, because the questions were arranged in blocks of 4 with “wrong answer” pages with the highest slot at the end of the block:

12A = Question 1
12B = Question 2
12C = Question 3
12D = Question 4
12E = Wrong answer for questions 1-4
12F = Question 5
13A = Question 6
13B = Question 7
13C = Question 8
13D = Wrong answer for questions 5-8
13E = Question 9
13F = Question 10

(The ‘wrong answer’ pages always linked you back to the start of their block and made you tediously pick through questions you’d already answered again - otherwise they would have to have had a unique wrong answer page for each question). So with a layout like this, it was possible to answer any question from 1-4 wrongly, press Down when on or requesting the 12E wrong answer page, and skip straight to question 4 - however, it wasn’t possible to skip upwards.

32

Nov. 15th, 2016 11:33 pm
davidn: (rabbit)
I'm 32 now - it felt like a bit of a non-event after the last week. I got a card from my wife's family that started "It's been an incredible year..." which led me to wonder whether they'd been living through the same year I had. The earliest shock I remember in 2016 was Alan Rickman's death and before I could even get close to grasping that there would be no more films with him as the British villain in them, tons of other people died and Britain and America started themselves on the path to collapse.

But some good things did happen this year, and I want to remember those.

[livejournal.com profile] kjorteo and I finished The Poison Skies - it's the first album I've ever fully recorded and physically released, an incredible milestone. We can now both say that we have music on iTunes, an entry on Metal Archives... and that we were picked up by someone who does reviews of independent metal for an Australian magazine who thought it was all right. It had been in progress for such a long time and was interrupted by other things multiple times, but I'm so proud of both our efforts.

I put on a show at Furpocalypse with a month's time to cobble it together - it was obviously "Would I Lie To You" under a different name, but organizing six people into a panel game and have it actually work was a wonderful feeling. I had no experience promoting anything like this, was just relying on luck and the crowd-drawing power of some of my panellists, and I was amazed at the turnout, with people queueing out the door to get in and a panel room filled. The reaction was amazing and now Anthro New England are very excited for Furry Little Liars to be put on there as well.

Whitney got pregnant, after a long time trying, and we're going to have our beautiful mutant mouse-rabbit very soon - just over a month to go. I went through a lot of time thinking I wasn't ready, but now it somehow feels... right, to move on to the next stage of life. I hope for our child to be one small addition to the number of decent people in the world.

And as a result, we moved into a new house, out of the tyranny of the condo association! We have so much space now it's incredible, and we've been putting the freedom to good use, converting a dingy room in the basement and a weird room on the top floor into my space and a space for our new arrival. I could have asked for it to have been in a better country, but... we have a haven.

And the team I manage at work brought out a cheesecake to celebrate my birthday yesterday! That helped me a lot, to remember that no matter what awfulness is happening in the world, I'm among good people.
davidn: (rabbit)
After a month-long ordeal, we've finished the nursery in our house and it's ready for the baby to move in!

One of the strange things about this house when we moved into it was that it had a third bedroom on the upper floor that wasn't shown in any of the photos that the estate agent provided. And when we looked at it, it was easy to see why - the room was entirely clad in wood and had two beds built into the floor, taking away all the space and making it look not so much a friendly bedroom as a room that a mortician might use to prepare bodies. But it had potential, and so with no experience in redecorating, we set about transforming it.


This was what the room looked like at the start, with some tape around the ceiling and windows in anticipation of the painting that was to come. Some of these photos might accidentally give the impression that the wood had charm to it, but in reality it just made the room perpetually dreary. But that wasn't the worst problem with it...


With the help of my father- and brother-in-law, we demolished the fixed box-bed-slabs and threw their bits in the back garden. You wouldn't believe just how much wood there was in these things - far more than you would think necessary to support someone's weight, and we've still to arrange taking it away or cutting it up to use as firewood. That was the first struggle, and it revealed another difficulty - whoever had installed these had removed entire sections of the wall and floor to accommodate them. They're not even just taken off cleanly - they've been sawn through, exposing the bare floor and insulation behind them. I can't imagine how the person responsible never thought, during the lengthy procedure of putting these in, that it would be easier to just buy a couple of beds.


At the end of the first day of their visit, after a trip to Home Depot that lasted several hours and a lot of work on top of that, we got to here - drywall has been mounted on the giant gaps left by the beds and it's been spackled in. My father-in-law also bought a load of tools to assist with the suddenly-elongated job of redecorating the room, and said to consider them a birthday present!


The process of filling in the gaps in the floor was a much more tedious slog, cutting planks of flooring to fit, nailing them down and progressing slowly row by row. It took all day, but the end results were two filled-in floor sections and this apocalyptic mess.


After clearing that up, it was finally time to prepare the room for painting - a couple of days later than we had thought, and with the family back in California by now, we were on our own without extra help for this. I taped off the borders and put down a plastic sheet to cover the newly patched floor, but didn't realize that the air vent on the ground in the corner would cause it to inflate like a bouncy castle.


After cutting a hole for the vent to breathe and spending a day rolling primer on to the walls, I was successful in making the room look significantly worse. It looks patchy and awful but all it needs to do is get paint to stick to it - and if you try to ignore how shabby it looks, ou can already see that the room looks a lot brighter as a result.


This is more like it! It took three coats of the yellow paint and a large effort from both of us to get it to be really convincing, but the room was beginning to come together now.


With the painting over, we could take up the plastic at last, and installed some new lights to replace the weird boat-wheel themed ones that used to be in the room. (Yes, only one works. I'm still looking into that.) Whitney had the idea of putting some fabric on to the lower wall to act as a skirting-board - I don't know where that came from, but the result looks great and provides a softer surface for a toddler's head to crash into. She put together the pieces and we tacked them up with a staple-gun.


Then it was my turn again, adding a painted wooden trim around the top of the fabric. With a length of general-purpose rail from Home Depot and the tools left with me by the floor-cutting stage, I was able to feel my way into fashioning some pretty convincing ninety-degree joins.


With that task finished, the scraps from it cleared up and a rug-pad put down, the room was finally ready to receive its furniture...


...which arrived today! This is a collection of new furniture, things that Whitney's family handed down to us and some great finds from people in the surrounding area who were trying to get rid of their old stuff. It's beginning to feel very real now - this room will be occupied in something like seven weeks' time!
davidn: (prince)


Team Hatoful finished our playthrough of Undertale (quite some time ago, actually - it just took me this long to finally edit together the final part) and it's now up as a playlist on Youtube. At 45 videos totalling fifteen and a half hours of the game, it's our longest playthrough ever (narrowly beating Holidaystar which was about 15h 10min but did it across 48 videos).

Thanks, Toby Fox, for your characters and amazing world!
davidn: (skull)
I had two dreams last night and they were both very stressful! I'm hoping that after a week with little sleep, it was just all the tension dissipating out of my system at once.

The first was about being at a hotel at a convention, except Whitney and her parents were there as well and I had to divide my time between the two groups. I kept losing where my room was - after going out of the main hotel part and into the convention centre rooms, I came back and I could never find where I was going among the identical corridors, as if the rooms were shifting around every time I left. Eventually I would find the reception desk and they would point me back in the right direction, but I kept forgetting things and having to go back... I was meant to deliver an album to someone in the Pictionary room and make it back in time for dinner at 7 with the family, but I think I ended up on a mountainside somewhere and then everything turned into Final Fantasy 6 after the end of the world and I don't even know any more.

The second - which might have led in from the first due to finding this in the game room or something - was a game that was something to do with Sonic and Zero Escape together, if you can believe it. In the context of the dream, this was the infamous ending puzzle to Sonic 06, even though nothing like this (or anything competently programmed at all) exists in the real game. After rushing through a space station with a countdown going, the last task was to decipher and input something called the Struggle Combo to prevent the space station exploding. The clue for it was this massive ring of symbols and colours that went through all the machinery in a big circular control room, and you could slide it around like a big horizontal wheel. Depending on the mode you had the game in, it had squares of colour that corresponded to the buttons on the Xbox controller, symbols that were meant to resemble the button letters but really didn't at all, and other things that I never worked out. After failing and restarting, you were given a time of five minutes to fly down from the vent you entered from and go back to the control room to start the process again.

The Struggle Combo was randomly generated for each player, and so there wasn't a solution available online, but people had written massive FAQs dedicated to how to work it out, including the types of symbols that could appear and how they related to each other. I never even came close.

Bermuda

Sep. 4th, 2016 08:30 am
davidn: (rabbit)
We're in Bermuda! We're spending a week here as our last holiday as a couple before the baby arrives, and it's something that we don't do for ourselves nearly often enough.

The environment is like a hybrid between Britain and America after a severe global shift in weather - our taxi in from the airport took us the length of the entire country (about 15 miles) through what in America would be a tiny back road but in Scotland would be one of the main arteries. Everything happens much more slowly here - the drivers let each other out of side roads aggressively and hoot at each other if they don't accept their generosity in time. Our taxi driver tutted about crazy speeding moped riders when one passed us at about 25mph.

The "hotel" is really a group of little semi-detached houses, and they're all violently pink - I've grown very thankful for my colourblindness sunglasses because I can see them so vibrantly with them on, but when I take them off everything just looks beige. It's incredible how much they make a difference. And the weather is humid and frankly uncomfortable even as I'm writing this at 9:30 in the morning, but our suite has an absolutely massive air conditioning unit on the ceiling that keeps us alive.
davidn: (savior)
I keep on saying that I'm going to keep this thing updated again and then usually instantly forget - but there's still no better place for a long-lasting archive. Therefore, I really should announce that The Poison Skies is finished and released after so long in production!


It's a 20-track album based on [livejournal.com profile] kjorteo's novel The Afflicted - it's the first album I've produced with vocals and digital instruments instead of through Modplug Tracker, and it features songs written variously by both of us. You can listen for free on Bandcamp or download a digital version - for the first time, physical copies are also available, and I'm immensely pleased with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPZcpGdVShk

Pregnant

Jun. 13th, 2016 08:56 am
davidn: (rabbit)
I have a huge announcement today - but it's not the one I've been building up to over the last few weeks...

My wife Whitney is pregnant for the first time! Yes, soon we're expecting a little mutant mouse-rabbit of our own :) Our due date - seriously - is Christmas Day, condemning this child to a lifetime of rubbish combined Christmas-and-birthday gifts.

It still feels new to me every time I think about it, and I have no idea how things are going to be after December... but maybe I'll manage to mess this child up a little less than my parents did with me.

head.dance

Jun. 9th, 2016 11:02 pm
davidn: (rabbit)




head.dance release party with [livejournal.com profile] ravenworks! This is a game for the Altspace VR environment that's like DDR for your head, nodding along to songs. Despite having no VR gear it was amazing to watch as explorers in this virtual world entered the room and wandered around chatting while people took turns playing this big virtual head-DDR machine and enjoyed the music. Some of it was mine! And based on [livejournal.com profile] kjorteo's story!)





I happened to be in the middle of it when the creator himself (right, barber pole) came in to show Mr. JoeJoe (left, ethereal motorcyclist) around the room, and then it apparently got mentioned in an Altspace VR talk of some kind and people kept flooding in...

Seeing this appreciation for a game first-hand in such a physical way is something I've never experienced before... it felt like looking at a popular booth at an independent game festival which had brought along a huge complicated rig, except the "hardware" is entirely in software. I think hopping into here briefly has seriously boosted my appreciation of the possibilities of VR.
davidn: (rant)
I just remembered about something very weird that happened to me a long time ago. When I first came to live in America in 2006, I had two suitcases of possessions, and a desktop computer was not among them - my personal computer was an increasingly eccentric bulky laptop that was built in 1998. After moving into our flat and ordering furniture, household things and computer parts, I chose to spend the time with my limited computer power writing a ZZT game. This became Castle of ZZT, and with the time I was forced to spend on it combined with the way that I actually drew a plan out before starting, it was by far my best effort in this department (though this might not be saying much).




The weird part was after I submitted it to Z2, the premier site for both ZZT and impenetrable lunacy at the time. Games went into an approval queue that was publically visible before being added to the site, to make sure they weren't spam, and I checked to see if it had been accepted once in a while. But on one check, I saw my uploaded ZIP had been replaced with one that had a different file size - and there was also a new ZIP that was called "castle_of_zzt_use_this_one_instead.zip" or something along those lines.

Both ZIPs contained an altered version of the game, which I saved because I was so baffled by it. This is what you get after starting it up:




Curiously, the "OF" has been removed from the title screen. The same has been done to the scroll that you pick up in the first room - the game's title is changed to just "CASTLE ZZT".




Messing around with the first part of the game, I don't notice any other obvious differences, though I haven't looked very closely because it's quite long. But slightly later on, things get strange. The castle has a large central staircase (which I could have made less awkward to navigate, looking back), which allows you to take several routes at the start of the game from the first and second floors, and you'll get a key to access the stairs up from the second floor at some point.






In the actual game, these stairs lead to an aerial view of two towers, which contains a puzzle that you have to plan ahead for.




But in the altered version, a third floor has been added instead. It's decorated in red, convincingly in the same style (using the same kind of "splat a KevEdit gradient background on it" aesthetic that I used throughout the rest of the game).






The boards are all named "Third Floor" with cardinal direction markers afterward so that the mysterious editor could keep track of where the rooms lay. The floor is laid out as a largely empty maze of twisting passages that are consistent but not logically laid out - you can loop around by going north or south. But if you keep heading roughly northwest, you can progress.








The next few boards are called "Free Will", but they continue the red and grey corridor theme with no apparent differences from the Third Floor boards. You have to pick either the east or south passage here - going south will dump you back near the entrance, going east will take you to another long corridor - which has some strange cracks at the end...






The corridor ends at this strange board, which is called "Free Will EEE". It contains a red circle/boulder that says "Y2" when you touch it (Colossal Cave again!), a guard programmed to let you through the blue "gate" of sliders for nine gems, and what appears to be "Snoop Doggw" written in yellow walls beyond that. Underneath is a nest of tigers, a small river and some ammo. The border of the room breaks down at the bottom left, but if it's meant to be saying something I can't tell what it is (enqn?)






Going south from here brings you to this place, a surprisingly detailed outdoor scene with shadowy round trees that displays the text above when you enter it. (The "fake wall" message is part of ZZT itself.) The tone of the dialogue is strange - was it copied from another game file? And going south from here...




...you reach the end of the game, which is my own "THE END" message from the end of Castle of ZZT, shifted up on the board a bit with the red/grey type of background from above added. And then it ends - no further clues are offered. This is the only way to finish the game, as the boards that would have let you escape the intended route south from the main entrance have been deleted or overwritten.

After discovering the switch of files I asked the site's admin, who I think at the time was Quantum P., and he helped put the real version up - but I saved this oddity to preserve it. The readme accompanying the ZZT world file was left intact, and my name was still on the game with no other credit added. With the game largely unaltered at the start, was the idea to make people think that they were playing my game and then for it to appear that I'd gone mad halfway through? That's my only guess - they had clearly put a fair amount of effort into whatever it was they were doing, but I never worked out who this was or why they did it.
davidn: (prince)
KING'S QUEST 3: PART 8 (LAST)

Right, King's Quest III - you've been playing around with me for far too long but this time I'm going to finish you once and for all.




Finishing it once and for all )
davidn: (savior)


This is a preview of something I have been aching to show off for a very long time!

"The Poison Skies" is a joint project by me and [livejournal.com profile] kjorteo, with artwork by Sparkyopteryx. It's a concept album inspired by the characters and story of Kjorteo's novel "The Afflicted" (and you can read the first chapter of the online edition behind that link). "Stand Our Ground" is the fifteenth(!) track, and is about Jonathan Coral, a character from the story who is determined to keep standing up to the wickedness and madness of the world despite his exile in the wilderness.

Over the couple of years since I released any new songs I've been trying to learn more about music production, graduating from my previous Amiga-style sound (and I have to thank [livejournal.com profile] ravenworks for giving me so much advice on vocal mixing). After experimenting with my own vocals on The Day the Night Slept, this is my first fully voiced album - and I hope you enjoy the sound as much as I do!

You can hear the high-quality version of this track on Bandcamp, along with a selection of previews from the rest of the album! I have just a few more tracks left to record - hopefully the full version will be available soon.
davidn: (skull)
KING'S QUEST 3: PART 7

When we left Gwydion, in stark contrast to his situation at the end of most of the other updates in this adventure, we had landed in Daventry and things were full of promise. At least, they had been until I walked on to a screen that resembled a special marathon edition of the awful pointless mountain path obstacle course that was the front path to our house. Shall we just hope that it doesn't go on too long?






It's already not looking good )
davidn: (prince)
KING'S QUEST 3: PART 6

Our sixth update, leading into what you might broadly call the second part of the game, opens with a hornpipe being bleeped to us over the three-channel Tandy sound chip (from which I will spare you) and a cutscene without you involved (which I don't think has happened before in a King's Quest game, although I could be wrong). Well, it's the ship scrolling from left to right, but it's something.














Pirating continues )

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