Thursday, April 28, 2005

E.T. Doesn't Suck?

My brother is writing a script for a movie called "True to Life." It's about video game programmers who get laid off and pull off this heist for revenge. Or something like that. Anyway, the script called for a reference to the worst game of all time, which some sources will tell you is E.T. for the Atari 2600. To make sure he's getting his facts straight, he downloads an Atari emulator, a ROM for E.T. the Extraterrestrial, and another for Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark for comparison. Both games were produced by the same person. I watched him play both, and as far as we can tell, E.T. is actually rather passable while Raiders of the Lost Ark is a peice of crap.

Allow me to tell you about these games. First, E.T. the Extraterrestrial. You play E.T., who has just been dropped off on Earth and has to find the three peices of his communications device so he can contact his ship and get the Hell off this godforsaken rock we call Planet Earth. The three peices are in random holes around the forest, which you will drop into and try to hover out of. You can also collect Reese's Peices that you can use to either restore your rapidly-dwindling health or bribe that kid he's living with into giving you a peice of your phone. However, there are two people trying to keep you from your task: A scientist who grabs you and puts you into an easily-escapable cage in town and an FBI agent who mugs you and takes your stuff.

This game plays with a single action button, the function of which changes depending on your location. If you're in a hole, for instance, you can use it to float upwards. The other functions are activated in randomly-placed locations on the various screens. One is to eat a Reese's Piece. Another summons that kid, who takes your Reeses and, if you had nine of them, later returns with a peice of your phone. Yet another teleports you to another screen (and possibly into a hole). A rather useful one commands your pursuers to go home, and a just as useful one will tell you which hole on screen has a phone peice in it. The last one I remember summons your ship once your put your phone together. Unfortunately, this won't be the same place as the ship lands, which it won't do if anyone else is around. Fortunately, the ship lands in the same place as it dropped you off. There's only one level, but you can adjust the difficulty (in terms of enemy speed and number) and when you win you can make E.T. dance while that kid runs around his little pixel house.

Who exactly this game is the worst ever so far isn't particularly apparent too me, especially after playing Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don't know what player's expectations were back in Atari's day, but this game is simple and challenging, if short and completely lacking in replay value. But if Raiders of the Lost Ark was considered a good game, maybe E.T. was bad because it was too easy to win. And by "easy" I mean "possible."

Here's the opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari: Indiana Jones is on a descending platform looking up at the Ark, which then disappears. Granted, you shouldn't expect much from the Atari, but it doesn't even make sense. Anyway, on to the game.

On the first screen, snakes move down it in an attempt to kill you while you collect your whip. You also have a basket for some reason. On to the next screen. This is the bazaar. It has two shopkeepers. One will trade you his flute for your basket. The flute protects you from the snakes that are still raining down from the top of the screen. We don't know what the other guy does yet. There are also three baskets, each containing either a grenade, a gun, or a key. You can also get a talisman from one if you know how.

The third screen is you falling off a cliff that's apparently just south of the bazaar. You then land in a pit, die from the fall, and respawn where you landed. In the pit is a man in a black trenchcoat. If he touches you, he steals something from you. If you have nothing, he just stands there and humps you. He can also just shoot you and put you out of your misery.

Apparently, you're expected to find out that you can use the grenade without killing yourself and then use it to blow a hole in the wall on the first screen. You can then explore the cave and wind up inside a pink cage you can't escape from. That's all I've seen of the game so far.

Anyway, there you go. What have we learned here today? I don't know either, but I'm trying to wrap this up so I can go to bed. Does E.T. suck? I'm not so sure, but it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It's just short and aggravating. There's a game here, it's just unfinished. If there were more levels, and maybe smaller holes, it might've been decent. Would it be so bad if it were, say, a Flash game? Well, probably.

I feel compelled to continue...

My Flash robot builder still isn't finished, but I showed my teacher what I was doing and he was able to figure out a fix. Basically, I need a button that will make the parent clip draggable that isn't the parent clip itself. It seems so obvious now, especially after completing the next project, which has a single button that makes the entire clip draggable. For some reason, everyone else in class needed an extra week to work on it. Not having done the project that first week, I was one of those people. Fortunately, it didn't take me long to put it together, if you consider four hours over four days short.

The only real problem I had was when I tried to publish it so I could turn it in. There was a fire in the computer lab and everyone had to evacuate. By the time we were allowed in, I had two minutes to get to class. That's solid planning there. Had I taken the bus instead of walking to school, I might've had fifteen minutes to work with. Fortunately, my class was just down the hall and around the corner from the computer lab.

Now I need to start planning my final project. This being a programming class of sorts, I was thinking of making an RPG battle like I did when I took C++ and Java. I was supposed to have started last week, but... eh... I didn't even look at the assignment sheet until today, which was when the project proposal was due. I'm supposed to make an educational site, with games, that appeal to a five-year-old child. Fortunately, I wrote a children's book about dairy farms back in junior high, so I already have an idea for the site. I just need to get my head in the game, is all.

I also haven't touched my webcomic site yet. I'll have to get to work on it some time. You'll notice a new strip is up, which kinda follows a script written by Pyremon Infernos over instant messenger. I had to abridge it slightly to get it to work. This is actually the third strip I made, but for some reason I thought it'd make a better fake-out as the first. I'll need to work on some new strips by the end of next month. That's when the strips I already made will run out.

I kinda feel bad for Terra, like I'm picking on her yaoi/shounen ai/gay porn fixation. Oh, for those of you who don't know, the two characters in this strip are based on people I know from an on-line forum. Terra's the purple-haired Roll recolor and Pyremon's the one in the red cloak.

All right, here's another one of my quiz results:
What Type Of Anime Character Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, April 25, 2005

I Seem to be Having Tremendous Difficulty With My Lifestyle

I bit of a Hitchhiker's Guide reference up in the title in honor of the movie coming out this Friday. However, it happens to fit the subject of today's post (which may explain its obscurity). You see, I'm taking only three classes, one of which doesn't even have homework. So how do I manage to accomplish nothing for the past couple of weeks? Well, I suppose it's a complete lack of work ethic, but other than that I think it has to be my internet addiction. It's like a freakin' hydra. When I try to drop something so I spend less time on it, I manage to get on board several more things with which to waste my time. At the beginning of the semester, I decided to stop reading the webcomics I bookmarked (as opposed to the ones I haven't) cold turkey, only to find myself on the ground floor of two start-up role-playing forums (namely Freeform and EXE the Net Age) and pretty much allocating the remaining free time I loosened up to the Adventure Quest forums. But I suppose this isn't the real reason I have three weeks worth of Flash projects due this Thursday in my Interactive Projects in Flash class.

You see, this all started the week after Spring Break. I put off the draggable movie clip project because I thought it was due in two weeks, only to discover the morning of class that it wasn't. Then, looking over a fellow student's shoulder at some projects that got turned in that week, inspiration hit me based on a somewhat recent Bob and George comic. Thus, I took eight Robot Master sprites from MegaMan 5, turned them into fifty transparent gifs, added in a few minor enemies, and imported all of them into Flash. While I was simple, if long and tedious, to simply make draggable robot parts, there were several other elements that needed to be added to the project. For the past two weeks, I have been stuck on the first one I tried to do.

Here's the deal: You can put symbols, such as movie clips, into other symbols. This makes them child and parent movie clips, where the child is inside the parent. Now, maybe I've misinterpreted the instructions, but I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to make both the parent and child movie clips independantly draggable. My teacher seemed to think it was possible, but so far, it hasn't been. You see, symbols in Flash have what's known as a Hit State, which is the area in which the symbol recognizes that it's been clicked upon or moused over. By default, it is the exact same shape as all the visible elements inside the symbol, including other symbols. What those symbols do when you hit them depends on the action script codes assigned to that symbol. Got that? Good.

Here's the problem: while I can make child clips draggable while inside the parent, once I assign similar code to the parent neither of them move independantly. My class happens to have a discussion board, and for two weeks I've been waiting for someone to come up with a solution. So far, we've come up with two possible conclusions: there's either something wrong with my code, or somehow misinterpreted the requirements. Despite the fact that everyone else completed their projects on time, no one has been able to help me. That suggests that the problem isn't in the code. If it's not the code, perhaps parents aren't supposed to be draggable. However, one of the requirements is a button that resets child and parent clips to their original locations, which I think is a strong indication that the parents are expected to go somewhere. Another student suggested that child clips aren't supposed to be nested inside parent clips. But if that doesn't make them child and parent clips, THEN WHAT THE HELL DOES!?!? His suggestion was that child clips are supposed to be restrained to the area of the parent, but that doesn't quite sound like being "inside" the parent to me. I mean, the code for constraining movement is independant of other clips, and clips can start outside the contrainment area, so I think that pretty much rules it out. You couldn't hear that from where you are, but I just sighed aloud. That's because I know I should have just moved on to other projects, but I have this unexplainable need to finish this one first. It's like I'm obsessed, but I'm not actually doing anything. Hell, I have stuff due in my Fiction Writing class tomorrow that I haven't even started yet!

Well, okay. Maybe that last bit was more due to my laxisdaisical work ethic. Fortunately, I've already written something I can turn in, but it might be too long and I'm not exactly proud of it. It's a Chimera Knight piece, so you may see it eventually. Sooner if enough people request it.

In other news, I went to see Sahara yesterday. I think that was mainly because the video game based on it was produced by TKO Software, a game company based right in my home town. I think. The line between Capitola and Santa Cruz kinda blurs to me. Author Robert Anton Wilson (of the Illuminatus! series) tried to figure out which town he was in, only to discover he was in Live Oak. Keep Santa Cruz wierd, indeed. Anyway, the release of the game had to be held back because it was done well before the release of the movie, so hopefully it will be a good game. Then again, monkeys could fly out of my butt. If a game is based on a movie, superhero, or, worse, a superhero movie, chances are its the worst game you'll ever play. It's practically a law of physics. Almost every copy of the ET video game for the Atari (I think) is buried in a hole somewhere in the Nevada desert. I'm not kidding. It's that bad.

A sort of round-about way of saying this, but since I have ideas for video games, I was considering an internship at TKO. I think one of the reasons I didn't try to get one was because I can't drive and I'd need to take more than one bus to get there. And I wish I had more to say about it, because it almost seems like an non-sequitor at this point.

Anyway, Sahara isn't that bad a movie, and it has quite a few moments that could work for a video game. I'm not sure if all the songs fit the locales, though. But if there's one thing in this movie that is never actually explained: How does a Civil War-era Iron Clad ship which, as they point out, is not designed for intercontinental travel get all the way to Africa? Oh, there's a decent enough explanation about how it got to its exact location (which I will not spoil but is probably obvious by now anyway), but it doesn't explain how it gets from the battle at the beginning of the movie to the aforementioned Dark Continent. Also, there's a subplot about a disease coming out of Mali that it's warlord seems to take full credit for although by the end it appears he is not actually responsible for it. Speaking of the end, I'm probably going to have to watch it again since I had to go to the restroom during the climax. From what I hear, it's pretty cool. Two words: Delayed reaction.

For those of you keeping score, that's three movies I had to relieve myself in the middle of. The other two are Independance Day and Digimon: The Movie. And now, another quiz result:


?? Which Angel Or Demon Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

All Righty...

I'm pretty sure no one's reading this, but here's another progress report on my site. The frame code works like a charm. Now, I just have to delete the old news and figure out where to put that huge Adventure Quest banner ad. I'm thinking right next to the comic, but that may distract too much from the comic. Or, I could just get rid of it and use a text link, but I happen to like that ad. I think the joke is funny and I find Robina Hood quite attractive. I prefer Mia, the NPC in Adventure Quest's Guardian Arena, though. I'm not sure why.

I really wish I had more to say here, but I guess that's how it goes. It's not like I have to write a novel each time I post, unlike in those eFeds. Damn! Haven't you ever heard of quality over quantity? Well, I suppose I'm not one to talk, since I haven't actually been to one in years. I used to run it with my brothers. Ever hear of CCWN? Probably not. We weren't very big. Now I feel compelled to recreate my eFed character in every WWE game I get, and I rarely even play the games otherwise. I'm just not into fighting games, I guess. I'm more of an action/adventure/RPG guy.

Eh... This one isn't exactly a quiz result, but it was in my folder and the file was next alphabetically.

my name is Char-Mander

Charmander was adopted by Jess

Get yours at Pok├ęchow

Monday, April 18, 2005

Connection Complete! I Think

Okay, so it turns out I just need to use frames to get my new blog onto my webpage. I had to copy the HTML from another site (since they were using it the same way I wanted to), and I hope they don't mind my using it. Thing is, when I tested the webpage on my computer in Netscape, it displayed Netscape search results instead of my blog. But, when I tested it in Internet Explorer, it worked just fine. That's why the old updates are still on this page. I'm going to hazard a trial run, and if I like what I see I'll delete the old updates.

What kinda sucks, though, is that it seems like it has to go at the very bottom of the page or else nothing below it will appear. If I want more frames on the page, I'd have to use completely different HTML and the entire page, to my knowledge, would have to be just frames. No actual content, just code that points to other pages in order to put it on the first one. I suppose both methodologies have their advantages, but this is the only one I'm comfortable using with Keenspace. Keenspace uses templates for the index page and individual strip pages (generated dynamicly from a template) along with special site code that is automatically replaced with the proper HTML. I'd elaborate, but I think I may have said too much already. I haven't read the TOS in a while, and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to tell you about the site code. Eh, heh. ^_^;;;

As you can see, I've changed the layout of the blog. I was using a template and I wasn't happy with certain elements being all lower-case. I suppose I could've just changed that myself, but I didn't want to bother with that. By the way, the date on the previous post is wrong. Funny story. On that date, I was making this really long post with all sorts of HTML (from on-line quiz results, if you must know) and saving drafts as I went. At one point, I reopened the draft an everything - EVERYTHING - had disappeared. Considering I was a good part of the way through a folder filled with text files containing scraps of code, I wasn't quite in the mood to start all over. I had meant to write something in it real soon, but I kinda forgot about it for a month. Then, since I still had the draft and I was a bit of a pack rat, I decided to use that post and put more stuff in it. So now the date a is a month off, but that will soon change since I just now noticed that I can change the time and date on the posts. -_-;

Also, you might notice the picture on the top right. Its an older version of the sprite I'm using in the webcomic. I thought I had lighter-colored hair at the time, but I'm not really that blonde anymore. It kinda darkened as I got older. In fact, I don't think I've been that blonde since elementary school. Boy, how time flies. There are also links on the right, which I may expand by transferring links from the webpage. Whatever you do, don't click on the link about the brain-eating zombies. They will eat your brain. I'm not kidding. Don't click on it. 99 people have already lost their brains from that link alone last I checked. Don't be another statistic!

Still ready to go? Don't say I didn't warn you.

What else, what else...? I noticed something about novel blogging on this site. I think I'll open another blog and put some of my work in it. I'm currently working on a novel that I want to make into some kind of RPG or video game. It takes place on this planet where animals can transform into tools and weaponry and such. Kind of Legend of Zelda meets Pokemon, but the actual inspiration started with something more along the lines of Tenchi Muyo meets the Big O. A friend of mine wanted ideas for robots in this giant robot fic he was writing, so I gave him one that was a cabbit like Ryo-Ohki, the cat-rabbit creature from Tenchi Muyo that could transform into a living space ship, but this one, named Big-Ohki, transformed into a giant living robot modeled after the title machine from Big O. It kinda looked like Big O, except made of crystal and lacking a head. Later I discovered the Ryo-Ohki could transform into a robot in the series Tenchi in Tokyo, but I thought that series sucked and prefered to ignore that form. I also gave Big-Ohki a backstory involving the terraformation of Mars and how the colonists that accidently got stuck in the process wound up with the ability to bond with the transforming wildlife. This would ultimately lead to this kid bonding with the aforementioned cabbit-mecha, growing up to become a space policeman, losing his android partner to a made bomber, going rogue, and becoming a bounty hunter. Then all sorts of other ideas came along and now I have a story about a girl who bonds with a wolf that transforms into armor ('cause I thought the pun "Wearwolf" was too good to pass up) and she wants to become a Chimera Knight. I haven't really decided what exactly Chimera Knights are or what they stand for, but I imagine they'll be a sort of cross between a Jedi Knight and a superhero. I guess I'll do some research on chivalry and Jedi codes to come up with a good idea.

So, I guess that's it, then. I think I'll tag on a quiz result here from my massive vault of junk data.

Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Telling ghost stories
that scare the crap out of me is your goal in
life. Please stop, the clowns'll eat me...

What's Your 90's Nickelodeon Show?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The First Post

Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. Yes, I know its a dumb phrase, but that's what makes it cool. And I know spheres don't have corners.

Anyway, I'm probably going to look into getting this blog to publish itself to my webcomic, Desperado Coyote. It used to be about this guy who gets abducted by aliens as a sacrifice to their evil overlord, who he then assassinates, allowing him and those aliens (and their cute living starship) to become intergalactic bounty hunters. After not doing that for two years, I finally decided to use the space to host my new reality sprite comic, The Virtual Life. Its about six recolored video game sprites forced to coexist under one roof and the hilarity that ensues. Basically, just like any random sprite comic, but with confessionals!

As for me, my interest includes internet message boards, webcomics, anime (as long as I don't have to pay for it, except maybe Excel Saga), and video games. Recently, I've been getting into MegaMan. I'm up to the sixth game in the Anniversary Collection for the GameCube and I'm also playing MegaMan Battle Network 4: Blue Moon version on the GBA. I also catch MegaMan Axess whenever I can.

You may not know this, but when I think some show or something is cool, I make a character for it. As such, I made up a Net Navi/Robot Master for MegaMan who I call Alienman. Actually, I made up Alienman years ago for a contest published in Nintendo Power, but he didn't even get an honorable mention. I think Knightman won that contest. That's right. Alienman could've gotten into MegaMan 6. I'm guessing he lost because I didn't color him in or because his weapon didn't do anything special, because it sure wasn't for being a poorly-drawn mass of tentacles. If you've seen magazine art contests that allow children to enter, then you probably know what I'm talking about. But now I'm redesigning him to be a grey with a UFO attack. Cheesey, I know, but that sort of thing can be cool, or at least funny. Too bad he won't ever been in an official game. No thanks to me, at least.

Incidently, I was going to enter an alien spirit for that Shaman King contest a year or so ago, but it turned out I was too old to qualify (I'll be 24 this May). His medium would be a squirt gun, and use of spirit control would transform it into a laser gun with sniper rifle and rail gun functions. I think there was also going to be cloaking and holograms and stuff. Now, however, I think it should've been a frisbee that becomes a UFO. Ah, well. The drawing kinda sucked anyway. And it wasn't in color.

But I don't know if lack of color would've been an issue with Fox Kids/Fox Box/4KidsTV/whatever. I remember a similar contest they had with Fighting Foodons. I couldn't even see some of the line-drawing Foodons that they displayed on television. I don't think my Angel-Haired Pasta Foodon won, even though I'm a pretty decent artist. Maybe I was already too old, or maybe I just didn't see it. Or maybe I'm just too in the middle for them. I shouldn't sass children's art styles (you should see some of my work from elementary school), but did you see some of those? Some were good, but I swear some were made with finger paint.

I think the people who do those contests try to pick from two extremes: Really crappy and really good. Now, you've got to show the really good ones. Those deserve to be seen. They're just that good. Forget the fridge, put some frames on those mothers! The really crappy, on the other hand, are probably just there to make the crappy artists feel better. You know, like the trophies you get at some events for just participating. Like the special olympics. I understand and all. For all they know, those kids put their heart and soul to make art only slightly better than a pile of crap. But what if it's not a matter of skill? What if they just didn't care in the first place? Well, I guess it would still be nice to be on display, but it's just so irritating to lose to drawings like that. It's like being told that my drawing is somehow worse than those. Maybe next time I enter one of those contests (if I can), I'll wear a blindfold when I draw, because there's no way I'm going to be able to beat the really good drawings. Six wallet-sized and two portraits, please!