kjorteo: Screenshot from Uninvited, of a closeup portrait of the Mysterious Lady attacking the player. (Mysterious Lady)
(Dumb shitpost chatlog that I'm reproducing here because it's funny)

Everest, [26.03.19 08:22]
You should do a youtube series where you play these old games but things keep going subtly wrong in weird uncanny ways and it turns out the games are haunted like a youtube horror arg

Everest, [26.03.19 08:23]
Like "hmm, this is the trouble screen from the jonah game but im playing noahs animal stacker, thats weird... wait whats that behind m - AHHKK *stabbing noises*

Everest, [26.03.19 08:24]
YouTube fame in 2.5 seconds

Everest, [26.03.19 08:24]
Donr forget the hyper realistic blood

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:30]
Honestly I feel like the Interlight saga up until around when you got here really sounded like a creepypasta setup anyway--you had this RARE UNDISCOVERED GAME from a company (Interlight in this case) that basically works as a fictional OC company stand-in because it doesn't exist except for this game but the author can give all this exhaustive detail about them from their "research"

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:30]
that I acquired second hand from a mysterious yard sale ebay auction

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:31]
and you have all these blog entries about trying to get the damn thing working, VERY SLOWLY MAKING PROGRESS all while building intrigue

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:31]
and then of course as soon as we pointed that out the goddamn Lemmings thing happened

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:31]
it was perf

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:32]
Anyway so really all I needed to do was make some sort of Petscop/Ben Drowned like fake footage when I finally got to the part where I cracked the code and could show this game

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:32]
and make it creepy

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:33]
though tbh the actual game already has some really weird looking NPCs and, you know

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:33]
the trouble

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:33]
pretty much all I needed was some missingno glitchy shit and an entry about how bad things were starting to happen to me IRL

Everest, [26.03.19 08:33]
Youre talking while the old slave lady turns up ans whispers "kill your family..." in place of her usual line and you dont notice cuz ur talking

Everest, [26.03.19 08:34]
And ur like "wait what did she say?"

Everest, [26.03.19 08:34]
And just random single frames of corruption and eyes and stuff

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:34]
blood sheep
hear its bleat

Everest, [26.03.19 08:35]
Then you start seeing the trouble everywhere

Everest, [26.03.19 08:35]
You start dreaming about the trouble

Everest, [26.03.19 08:35]
Seeing that face behind your eyes

Everest, [26.03.19 08:35]
Woken up by the sirens

Everest, [26.03.19 08:35]
The edge of your vision you swear you can barely see those eyes

Everest, [26.03.19 08:35]
The trouble is going to catch you.

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:35]
I enter a door in my second run I KNOW FOR A FACT is safe because I just showed that area in the first, but there's randomly a trouble warp there now, and it looks... vaguely different somehow... mostly the same but a little more red-tinted. It's super hard to see because of how dark it is but it almost looks like there could be some blood on the floor.

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:36]
and it drops me off in a new area I've never seen before, not even when I was younger...

Celine & Sara Kalante, [26.03.19 08:37]
STAY OUT OF TROUBLE written in zalgotext
kjorteo: Screenshot of the SNES game Family Dog.  The titular dog is smiling widely and looking ecstatic, despite the fact that Family Dog is not a very good game. (Family Dog)
At long last, here it... mostly is.



This is an unlisted video for now, because it's not the official version yet. I have big plans for eventually getting a YouTube game review show off the ground. I taught myself spriting in Pixel Studio and composing in FamiTracker just so I could make the intro splash screen bumper things. My first episode will probably be Family Dog (and will probably make a lot of the same points with the same basic mood as my COMPLETE entry for it) just to set the tone for what kind of show I want this to be. (Conversely, this one. This is exactly what I'm aiming for. The only thing I would change is that my show probably wouldn't have the live-action skit intro.) Once it's established, I'll do a thing on The Story of Jonah, probably as episode 2 or 3.

But that's going to be months down the road, and I didn't want to wait. This is footage from an undiscovered game, something that you might be among the first people in the post-Internet world to see. Of course I'm going to have a "just so you know what Lost Sheep looks and plays like" leak in advance of the official review.

But here it is. After everything... after the entire saga in the Interlight tag, I present to you: Lost Sheep.

This would not have happened without your continued support. I hope you find the whole thing as... you know, worth it as I do. Thank you.
kjorteo: Sprite of a Skarmory posed and looking majestic, complete with lens flare. (Skarmory: BEHOLD)
My new microphone stand and capture card have arrived!

The microphone stand was supposed to be a solution to "how in the world do I use my microphone while I'm sunk deeply into my couch" because a regular vertical pole concert-style stand just... was not the right answer for that. This one looks like a boom arm on a C-clamp, so you clamp it onto something and then have an extendable arm from there. The problem is that I just plain do not have anything suitable it can clamp onto. I was really hoping the clamp was optional and the parts were compatible and I could just screw the boom arm into the top of my other stand instead, but no such luck. At least it came with a nicer pop filter that's probably an upgrade over my current one, but that's... vexing.

The capture card held much better news, though! After a brief panic where I thought I guessed wrong and didn't have the available free PCI-e slots required for it on my old potato of a motherboard, it turns out I could move some things around (fun fact: you're totally allowed to put one of those smaller PCI-e x1 type cards into a longer PCI-e x4 or x8 or x16 slot and it works fine) and everything's good to go now.

So! With the capture card in place, and the physical console and RetroTINK and everything feeding into it, my setup is good to go! I don't really have time to record the footage and make the actual videos just yet, but I of course had to take some test screenshots of various games and settings. I even made sure one of the test games was The Story of Jonah. This is still essentially an undiscovered game, after all. After all the hyping I've been doing, I have what may well be the first-ever images of this game on the Internet. After showing my friends and such in IM last night, you might just be among the first people in the world to see this....

Oh, and a couple other less-undiscovered games too, for reference )
kjorteo: Pixel-style portrait of Celine's face (Default)
It's been a while since we had news on the Interlight front, because as tantalizingly close as we came, we just were not making progress on the input issue. It got to the point where I gave up on the obviously dire state of CD-i emulation and looked into getting a physical console, but even those efforts were thwarted by eBay's terrible rules and framework. (Protip: If you snipe an auction at the literal last second, you are a bad person.)

I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such loving and supportive friends and companions who believe in this project as strongly as I do, and so I actually had several people working on this from various angles (seeing if they could fix the emulator, seeing if they could find a physical console, etc.) I could make a thank-you list that would leave us here all day. That said, the first person to make a breakthrough and crack the case was [personal profile] xyzzysqrl, who just happened to have a friend who happened to have an old console and games in the back of their closet somewhere, and so she hooked us up with each other.

The console I ended up with (which just arrived last night--thank you!) is somewhat off-brand (it's a Magnavox CD-i player, not Philips) with the main drawbacks being only one controller port (you know, because I was totally planning to couch co-op CD-i edutainment titles) and no A/V output options besides composite (okay, the lack of s-vid hurts a little.) It's also very much in not-great condition, with quirks and nuances like "maybe try taping the CD tray lid down so it stays closed enough to register as closed and actually play." However, the good news is that meant the console itself was a fairly deep discount value-wise. This in turn meant that I was also able to afford yet another bundle of games, including one valuable collector's item (I now yes-really own Wand of Gamelon) for roughly the same budget I was looking at for a console alone earlier. The local retro game store might be able to repair the CD tray lid (and possibly one or two of the other issues as well?) if I bring it in, and in the meantime, it still runs perfectly with the proper workarounds.

I spent most of last night going on a major shopping spree that included a RetroTINK, capture card, and a new boom arm-style microphone stand that will hopefully allow me to use my microphone from the couch (further testing and fussing with setups required.) I think I might need to get some HDMI extension cables tonight just in case, but other than that, that... should be everything for the capture setup? We'll see what I'm forgetting as packages start to roll in.

In the meantime, I don't have the means of capturing and showing footage yet (ordered and on the way!) but I of course had to test The Story of Jonah with the console now that I have it. Some quick observations:

  • Even though it looks like it's in visibly flawless condition and should run perfectly, I was unable to get my roller controller to work or register at all. Meanwhile, even though it looks visibly gnarled and untrustworthy, the regular controller that came with the console works flawlessly. I might see if the retro shop has another one just in case when I'm there to get the console looked at anyway, but it should hold regardless.
  • Whoof, the animation and voice acting in the Story of Jonah have not aged well. Young me remembers it being... okay, not outstanding but not YouTube Poop-tier, you know? No, this is absolutely poopable.
  • On the other hand, other than the pixels being chunkier on a modern display (I really need that RetroTINK, it's kind of urgent,) Lost Sheep is exactly as batshit as I remember it being. God, you have no idea how much I'm looking forward to showing you. It is MAGICAL. The world needs to see this.
  • There are five songs in the sing-a-long room (I think--I only briefly skimmed the menu,) which surprised me. I thought there were three (one of which I can remember.) I picked one of the other ones out of curiosity, and it all came flooding back. And I... look. I'm not going to make the usual stand-up comedy observations about how I can't even remember my goddamn water bottle when I'm going to work, yet a decades-old CD-i children's bible edutainment sing-a-long is burned in memory forever, because those observations have been made before. Instead, I will boggle over where in the absolute hell my brain was hiding that memory for over twenty years. I had zero recollection of that song. None. It was gone. If you'd shown me the title of the song and offered me a million dollars if I could sing even a single word from it while threatening to murder my entire family if I couldn't... I couldn't do it. There was nothing, not even the slightest hint of a thread to go on. But as soon as it started playing, there it was, like it'd never left. By the end of the first verse, I already had the entire chorus (lyrics and all) cued up in my mind and ready to go. And the Lord (And the Lord) in His mercy and grace, put an end to Jonah's chase, and let him fall~


So, after having stalled out so long, things seem to be coming together... remarkably quickly, actually. The idle pipe dream of "man, if I were a gaming YouTuber, my show would be about..." is happening. And all I can say is... aaaaAAA??

Thank you, everyone who helped and even just the people believing in us from the sidelines. This wouldn't have happened without your support and encouragement.
kjorteo: A screenshot of Magicant, from the SNES game EarthBound. (Magicant)
Last night's dream, part 1:

Denny's unveiled a new set of menu additions for... I don't know if it had a name, but various kinds of grilled tortilla sandwiches.

Like, picture a grilled cheese sandwich, okay? Picture the texture of the bread, all buttered and crisp on the outside, fluffy and, well, breadlike on the inside. Now picture if someone took a somehow-thick-as-bread tortilla and did the same thing to it, then folded it in half and put sandwich filling in the middle. I might possibly be talking about the mutant offspring of a soft taco at this point.

But when I say sandwich filling, I mean, like, actual "things you feed your six-year-old" sandwiches. There was an entire line of them, but the three I remember include actual grilled cheese, peanut butter & jelly, and a lettuce/tomato/some sort of shredded meat (I think ham but could have been turkey) blend.

Last night's dream part 2:

I woke up about an hour before my alarm went off, tried to go back to sleep, and kept having 10-15 minute doze-off sessions, and every single one of them had a follow-up dream where I was telling someone (friends/family/etc.) about this and they reacted with equal parts "yeah that sounds like something Denny's would do all right" and "I want one."
kjorteo: Scan from an old Super Mario Bros. comic, of King Koopa facing the camera and looking at his wits' end. (Koopa: Fed up)


*Screams externally*

I was on eBay looking just out of curiosity how much a physical CD-i would set me back, and I stumbled upon this lot. These aren't Interlight games, but Sandy's Circus Adventure and Zombie Dinos were similarly in the "My grandparents had all these kids' edutainment games" pile, and Sandy's Circus Adventure seems to have been met with Interlight levels of not existing anywhere on the current Internet that I was able to find.

God help me, this is going to be my thing, isn't it. This is what I'll be known for. Celine Kalante, the CD-i Children's Edutainment Expert.

Also keeping my eye on an auction for the system itself (fingers crossed,) which includes another game lot if I win.

I asked all of clan to please send help, but their reaction was basically the end of Edguy's Love Tyger video. I feel so enabled to do incredibly stupid things. Thanks, guys. <3

(Oh, and I got a roller controller, too. You know, for authenticity. Look, I honestly don't know how the edutainment pointy-clickies would even work on a normal CD-i controller. I thought this was the normal CD-i controller well into my adulthood; I'd never seen any other kind.)
kjorteo: Screenshot from Jumpman, of the player character falling to his doom, with the caption "FAIL" on the bottom. (Fail)
"Well," I told myself, "I just finished Chocolate Castle. I feel like I'm in the mood for Lexaloffle Games to continue hurting me, but I don't want to spend another eight years on a massive project. What do they have that's bite-sized? Oh, an entire community of PICO-8 games, of course."

GET OUT of this Dungeon is a decently competent Metroidvania, which is pretty impressive when one considers that someone made this in PICO-8. You are Santa, for some reason. You must get out of this dungeon, also for some reason.

It's all well and good, and I did dink around with it long enough to satisfy the "have I actually attempted to play this game" baseline for writing a post. Buuuuut it's a masocore spike hell game with finite lives (100, a decent supply, but still,) the controls are kind of fiddly which is not a good quality to have in a masocore spike hell game with finite lives, and it's just short enough not to have a save feature yet long enough that people are posting their completed screens in the comments with times ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Nnnnnnnah. If I'm feeling an itch for Metroidvanias, I, uh. I have other options.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Daedalian Opus, of a solved puzzle with the text "GOOD" displayed on underneath it. (GOOD)
Much like Zen Puzzle Garden, I picked this up in the Humble Voxatron Bundle back in 2011 and it has been haunting me ever since. Now all I need to do is play Jasper's Journeys and I can finally exorcise the spirit of Lexaloffle from this household, I suppose. Man does it feel like an accomplishment to be done with this one, though.

So. Klotski puzzles. Also known as "sliding" puzzles, "daughter in the box" or "princess in a box" puzzles, "rush hour" puzzles, or "everyone's least favorite part of any given Professor Layton game" puzzles. With me so far?

Chocolate Castle is a slight variation in that many (but not all) blocks are various colored pieces of chocolate. The goal to clear any given stage is to have all of the chocolate eaten (the puzzle is solved when no more chocolate exists on the board) which one accomplishes by via the matching-colored animals. So, for example, if you drag that dark brown dog onto a dark brown chocolate block, the dog will eat the block and then disappear. Furthermore, if you end a move with two chocolate pieces of the same color touching each other, they fuse and are considered one block of that combined shape from then on. This often makes for a very interesting dynamic where you eventually need to Daedalian Opus every matching-colored piece together into one because you usually only have one animal of that color and need to get rid of all of it at once, but you'll want to keep them unfused so they're small enough to get around each other until the very end, which means you'll have to be very careful about where you move.

For the most part, it's a gimmick that's interesting enough to make Klotski enjoyable, which is honestly saying something. When they remembered to use that gimmick to good effect in the actual puzzle design, many of the levels were the best kind of brain-breaking fun, something I was delighted to be stuck on and mad-scientist-cackling when I finally solved. On the other hand, sometimes there's this bullshit.

Chocolate Castle has 120 built-in puzzles (40 each of Easy/Medium/Hard.) There's also an editor for the community to fling rooms at each other, and each puzzle keeps track of how many moves it took in case you want to go for a speedrun or something. I cannot possibly begin to convey the extent to which I don't care; if it took me 200 moves to get through a goddamn ocean of chocolate bricks, the important thing is I got through it.

And it only took, what, eight years?
kjorteo: A screenshot of Magicant, from the SNES game EarthBound. (Magicant)
Last night's dream was the trailer for the upcoming realistic CGI Winnie the Pooh movie Disney was apparently working on (a la Jungle Book, Lion King, etc.) I've never been a huge Winnie the Pooh fan, but I mean I've never been a huge Jungle Book fan either and I loved the new movie, so sure I'll bite.

We start in a farm setting where a certain baby runt pig is being nursed back to health after being caught in a rainstorm or something. The other major characters are introduced as he recovers. The bee non-aggressively snuggles up to him, and given the stylistic choice to go for total realism, no anthropomorphism, yet still scale the bee's size (and, uh, waspiness) up to match, it pretty much looked like a baby pig spooning a Japanese giant hornet. A bit "uh" but I mean if Charlotte's Web can make spiders endearing, sure I'll give it a chance I guess. 8| Then the pig looks up at a certain bear cub over by the fireplace and "you know these two are going to be best friends forever and form the entire plot of this movie" music starts playing. Etc.

It was very Piglet-centric for a movie ostensibly about and named after Winnie the Pooh, but I guess it works out because stylistically this was literally Babe. Christopher Robin was nowhere to be seen, unless he grew up and became Arthur Hoggett, so I guess the whole "child's imagination and adventures with his stuffed animals" framework is gone and everyone is just real now.

It built up to the big triumphant fanservicey shot of an entire barnful of miscellaneous animals singing... uh... the well-known fanservice song from Winnie the Pooh. Is there one? I'm sure there is and someone in the comments is going to be like "HOW DARE YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS NOT USE (song) HERE" but I DON'T KNOW, I WASN'T REALLY EVER INTO WINNIE THE POOH OKAY. I think it just pulled some other famous Disney number (possibly "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"?) and in dream logic context I just sort of knew what they meant and had that "aaa it's the Winnie the Pooh song" reaction.

My ex from two relationships ago was squeeing with excitement proudly showing off this trailer because she somehow landed a voice-acting role and was in this movie, as a gamer(!?) named Snorch. Your guess is as good as mine how gamers get worked into the plot of a Winnie the Pooh movie, since Snorch wasn't actually in the trailer (but the "and (other ex) as Snorch" byline was) but I was told it was kind of a one-scene cameo type deal. Still, that's impressive! Congratulations and good job and etc.

I woke up about an hour before my alarm was going to go off, so I kind of rolled over and went over what I'd just witnessed, trying to commit it to waking memory so I could write this out later, then drifted back to sleep and--

Wait.

Wait just a goddamn minute.

Winnie the Pooh doesn't have a fucking bee in its main cast.
kjorteo: Crop from Action Replay box art, of a very cheap imitation bootleg Charizard with a hippo-like giant nose and ear tufts.  Text on the bottom reads "NOT FAKE" (PARizard: NOT FAKE)
Logged into Istaria with my dragon alt.

Showed up right in the middle of a (totally in-character, RP'd out with guildmates /em posing at each other) mini-crisis wherein we were struggling to get through to a wild dragon hatchling. The hatchling was deaf and mute and mostly unable to read or right, and was upset to the point of lashing out over something but the communication barrier made it impossible to tell what. Attempts to deescalate the situation failed, the wild hatchling attacked, was magically bound for a bit, then broke free and ran away. One of the others left some food on a nearby hill as a peace offering just in case they came back later.

With that crisis averted for now, the remaining guildmates sat around at just talked for a while. I ended up confessing through several layers of RP server obfuscation about "souls connected somehow" and "guiding forces" and whatnot to spell out the relationship between us and our characters (Syrahlia [F] and Ahrashace [M] are alts, Celine [MtF] and Sara [F] are a plural system, Celine controls both of them, Sara doesn't really play Istaria but watches) and ended up befriending another plural system OOC. We added each other on Discord and I'm looking forward to talking to them more.

Then wild hatchling came back literally right as I was signing off, so that whole saga is going to continue for everyone else. I just kind of left them to it because we had to get to bed.

And that was my Istaria session. Didn't do a single thing that made any sort of progression toward anything. Doesn't matter. Istaria: What Even Is This Game. (TM)

You know, I used to make fun of the fact that the only people who would play Istaria in the year of our Lord Current Year are the people treating it as Dragon Second Life. Turns out Dragon Second Life is pretty awesome actually.
kjorteo: A screenshot of Magicant, from the SNES game EarthBound. (Magicant)
This one is kind of pushing the boundaries of what counts as a game (let alone a completed game) but it's our blog and we want to include it.

Becalm is... not a game, exactly. I wouldn't even call it a tech demo. It's a screensaver, is what it is. There is no objective or win condition. There is no player-controlled steering or movement. The mouse looks around for possible screenshot purposes, the space bar cycles between the settings (the trippy one, the snowy one, etc.) and Escape quits. From the title screen, you have two game modes. One of runs for exactly five minutes and then fades to white and auto-closes, while the other runs infinitely until the player quits. If you've watched the trailer... that's it. That's Becalm.

Becalm is one of those "it's five minutes long and literally free so why not" pretty things my Steam discovery queue throws at me sometimes, and in that sense, it's exactly as advertised. It's pretty. It's scenic. The music is soothing. It's kind of like the home experience of one of those Tunnel of Love boat rides from some old-timey state fair. Sara and I played watched it together on the couch with a Steam Link, and she was into it enough that she let out an adorable little "Ackptthh" when it started raining. It was a brief respite from life, and it was... just... a neat pleasant little thing. We'll probably hang onto this one and do an every-now-and-then five-minute run as a meditation backdrop.
kjorteo: Sad Bulbasaur portrait from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. (Bulbasaur: Sad)
I had a bunch of doctor's appointments and exams today, mostly because I only wanted to use one day's worth of PTO to get as many of them crossed off as possible because I'm stingy.

It was... not bad news, really, but not good, and now I'm just okay-but-kind-of-deflated.

Endocrinology and Mental Health:
Hormone levels look fine. The doctor suggested that I could try maybe taking my spironolactone every other day instead of every day if I wanted to boost sexual drive and function a little, but warned that various feminizing processes could regress as a side effect. If they do, I could just go back to every day. Basically their overall point was "you're in control of your meds, you're allowed to see if some adjusting makes you happy and go back if it doesn't." So, that part is all well and good, no problems here.

Because these visits kind of double as general doctor PCP checkups for me (the line in this clinic is kind of fuzzy) we also went over some mental well-being stuff and touched on some issues I've been having recently with my temper.

To be clear, I don't think I have it particularly bad right now. Like, I'm not a short-fused wrathful explosion machine or anything. Any anger or frustration I feel at daily inconveniences is probably within the normal parameters of what everyone goes through. I've even had friends I've explained this issue to react with genuine surprise and an inability to imagine me ever being hostile. Anger issues? Me? Pfff.

However, I used to be that bad. I have matured and calmed down since then, and I'm a sweetie now (or I try to be most of the time, anyway.) And even though I'm better now... I guess the problem is that I never really learned to adjust to the healthy normal person scale? Like, you don't go from being an alcoholic to drinking responsibly after rehab. I'm left with the worrying dread that what if every time I ever get irked at anything is a relapse. That dread itself tends to make outbursts worse, as now there's a sort of one-two punch wherein I first get mad at something and then get crushingly guilty and remorseful as soon as I cool down.

(Look, I have Sara in my head, okay? Even if I do everything right as far as counting to ten and not yelling at people and venting out loud, she gets to see and feel my rage and it's pretty hard to feel good about subjecting her to that.)

So I guess I need... guidance? On how normal people have a mood without turning it into a thing, and I now have an appointment with their behavioral therapist in a few weeks. This would be the same one who single-handedly cured my panic attacks, so at least I'm in good hands.

Speaking of Sara, there's a decent chance she she'll come up at that point. I mean, if even my PCP/endocrinologist knows about (and fully approves of) her, a therapy type environment is more germane to the topic, surely?

Or maybe it isn't? She and I did talk on the way to the bus after getting out of this appointment about how she's my daughter (/sister/girlfriend/however you define our relationship,) not my conscience. She's not a filter, or cog in the Celine machine, or whatever metaphor you want to use to convey it being her job to regulate my systems. She does do that, mind you. She helps me immeasurably in everything from general favors to urging me to get to bed on time to just being there for me as a companion and source of cuddling and comfort. But that's all stuff your partner does for you out of love in a healthy and mutually supporting relationship. She's not meant to be an automatic mental purifying organ like my liver is for the physical end.

The goal here is still to get to the point where I am okay with my mental state, not "my mental state is a mess but Sara cleans up after it and therefore we as a system are fine." Ideally, neither of us should be there because we need each other. We should be technically fine if we had to stand alone, but still together anyway just because we want to be, because we love each other.

So we'll see how this visit goes, I suppose. It's just hard to feel good about the notion that I'm officially entering some sort of Anger Management Treatment spectrum, even if it's, you know, treatment, to fix a problem, and is ultimately a good thing. It's like how getting a hearing aid/glasses is a positive and helpful improvement to your life but the idea of needing them feels bad.

Speaking of....

Audiology:
Oh, my hearing loss is getting worse. I guess that explains why I was making [personal profile] everestdragon repeat himself every second or third sentence. I thought it was a combination of already knowing my hearing is mildly bad anyway + his Australian accent, but it's actually more just because my hearing is moderately bad.

Going to hang onto my audiology test results and maybe think about bringing them into the hearing aid center I usually go to for equipment cleanings and such... in a few months? Maybe? At this point they may need to slightly recalibrate/reprogram the strength on my right aid, and I might have to consider getting a left. I was thinking of looking into if they have newer, fancier models than this old thing I've had for years anyway, but buying a new hearing aid (let alone two) is money, and January is usually not a good month for that. I should be fine by March, and I'll maybe think about scheduling an appointment with them then. And, I mean, it will be nice to get stronger correction if I actually need it, but... sigh.

Vision:
Vision is mildly slipping as well! I'm at about 20/30 now, enough that I can get by just fine, but the doctor wrote me an eyeglasses prescription should I happen to feel like filling it at some point.

I haven't needed glasses since... well, before I had LASIK. I knew that wasn't a permanent rest-of-my-life fix and this day would be coming again, but it's still sad that here we are. I mean, I have no regrets; I got some good years of being 20/20 or even 20/15, and it was worth it for those. But... mmf.

Like the hearing aid prescription, I will probably hang onto this for now and fill it later, when I have more money. I don't expect to wear the glasses regularly, but I could see them being a special-occasions sort of thing if I'm watching a movie or couch console gaming or something. The hearing aid I probably should be better about actually using since I already have it, and even moreso once I get it reprogrammed/possibly upgraded. I guess we'll see.

Almost....

Jan. 13th, 2019 03:55 pm
kjorteo: Glitched screenshot from Pokémon Yellow, of Pikachu's portrait with scrambled graphics. (Pikachu: Glitch)


[personal profile] everestdragon happens to be visiting me for a couple days. Among the other things we've been up to, he took an interest in my ongoing Interlight saga and tried to help out with the emulation issues. Thanks entirely to him, we have made a huge breakthrough, and are closer than we've ever been to cracking this case... though agonizingly not quite there yet.

What you see above is test footage from our attempts to run The Story of Jonah. First off, it runs, which is a hell of a lot farther than we got before Evvy started helping! He found us a working emulator, which was able to read the image I dumped, and this is as far as we got from that.

The issue now is input. Once it gets to the title screen, all action stops. The game is entirely mouse-driven, but we find ourselves unable to move the mouse or click on anything, no matter how many options and settings we've messed with and what we've tried to do. It's agonizing to be this close yet this far... look! Lost Sheep is right there! Literally all we have to do is scroll over and click on it! ... But that is the point we're currently at.

Still, this was at least major progress, and we did learn a few things even from what we've been able to see so far. First off, wow that is some 90s edutainment aesthetic already. Those company and title screens are FONTASTIC. Like, Graphic Design Is Interlight's Passion.

Also, the splash screen goes back to crediting themselves as Interlight Productions, Inc. This even though the game's box (and LinkedIn profiles from ex-employees I found) credit Interlight International, Inc. David and Goliath (which experiences similar issues of working right up until you need to input something) also uses "International" even in its splash screen, making Jonah's splash screen... unique? I'll have to rip the others and see how many International versus Productions screens we have, but that's a project I'm saving until we get the input issue resolved.

Which has us completely stumped and we're stuck again.

But nnngh so close.

(Also, I just realized how much of a perfect creepypasta setup I've accidentally made this whole saga sound like so far. A completely forgotten game no one on the modern Internet has any record of at all, acquired from a mysterious old man at a yard sale eBay, with a series of slowly yet increasingly detailed blog entries delving into the history and backstory of this fictional game and company, complete with glitches and errors when attempting to play the game, and content we're desperately seeking but haven't been able to access yet this early in the tale. The question is, when we finally do get into Lost Sheep, was the CD-i capable of rendering HYPERREALISTIC BLOOD?)

Edit: I told Evvy that same creepypasta comment as above and then the very next thing we went to run another test with some Lemmings ROM and

kjorteo: Crop from Action Replay box art, of a very cheap imitation bootleg Charizard with a hippo-like giant nose and ear tufts.  Text on the bottom reads "NOT FAKE" (PARizard: NOT FAKE)
The main lands of Istaria provide a very guarded view of dragons, especially when approached by other, more bipedal races. We know they are typically very serious, and that there is a major faction-defining schism over whether to be openly speciesist or just politely speciesist.

In this daring exposé, I will roll a dragon go deep undercover to capture the hidden dragon secrets that they don't want the naka-duskael to know.





THIS JUST IN: Dragon hatchlings are giant puppies. Breath of Fire II was right all along.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Werewolf: The Last Warrior, of the titular Werewolf next to a sign that says "Don't Knock". (Don't Knock)
A little more than two years into gameblogging, and every single report I've made so far have been either COMPLETE or ABANDONED. That's how games normally work, right? I don't play MMOs or any kind of everlasting game like that. Everything I've covered so far has been a singular experience I either beat or decided it's not worth beating and quit.

Because I don't play MMOs, you see.

I don't...

Fuck.

*Sigh* Okay.

So, a very, very long time ago, back in the LiveJournal days, I made a snarky writeup looking back on an old (even at the time) MMO I had played and bounced off of: Horizons: Empire of Istaria. That post is still around somewhere, but I'm not going to link to it. It's old, I'm always ashamed of my own writing, I'm especially ashamed when it's a sassy Zero Punctuation-style takedown of something I've come to appreciate more sincerely with age, and it's full of broken image links that I'm too lazy to fix. Just know that, if you choose to take it upon yourselves to find it, I don't endorse it. There's a reason I'm not making it easy and linking it for you.

Short and sanitized version: Horizons: Empire of Istaria was a fantasy swords and sorcery MMO from 2003. You had your humans and elves and dwarves and stuff, your early-2000s mandated quota of one feline race and one lizard race, and DRAGONS. Horizons attempted to set itself apart from other fantasy MMOs of the day via emphasizing crafting (which is everywhere now, to the point that Horizons' "we have crafting" as a selling point doesn't sound particularly impressive, but the extent they pushed it was a slightly bigger deal back then?) and playable dragons. It also boasted a freely changeable class system for both adventuring and crafting schools--got to level 25 as a Mage and decided you didn't like it? Go talk to a Warrior trainer in any town and you are now a Warrior! Decided that was a mistake? The Mage trainer over there can change you back! No need to reroll entire characters for this! (Unless you're a dragon. Dragons have access to exactly one adventuring class, which is DRAGON. This is part of why I'm not a dragon even in the game where some would argue that being a dragon is kind of the point.)

My ex from two relationships ago and I used to play this game a lot, but it was... rough. There were bugs and issues. Performance was choppy at best, unplayable at worst. The City of Tazoon was a vast, sprawling, beautiful abandoned wasteland because of a bad case of what Final Fantasy XIV fans would know as 1.0 flowerpot syndrome: the city was so poorly optimized and technically demanding due to its size that even just looking at it tended to melt one's hard drive.

Horizons developer Artifact Entertainment eventually folded, but sold the game to a company named Tulga Games, who eventually folded and sold the game to Virtrium, LLC, its current owner. There is strong evidence to suggest that AE and Tulga were the same people in different hats selling assets to themselves to get through bankruptcy law loopholes, and the fact that I can't find anything at all about who in the world is Vitrium LLC (since this is conveniently their only product) is... suspicious. The game itself got renamed along the way, too, becoming Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted. But by then, we already didn't care anymore; having moved on to other, more functional, higher-quality games.

Every now and then, maybe once a year or so, I would get gray mail from them to the effect of, "Hey, former player! I'll bet you're wondering about all the stuff that's new and difference since you last logged on! Ever feel like coming back? :3" It would have been easy to unsubscribe from their mailing list after the first year or so and never think about this wretched game again, but... well. It was very infrequent (I probably would have if they'd have spammed me reguarly, but one newsletter a year is nothing) and maybe a part of me did have fond memories of my old friends in my old guild and the fun we used to have together.

This year, they came at me with a special holiday event they were running, with some neat in-game stuff (double XP and things like that) and the news that all old and players could be welcomed back for free with full paid account features and access for the duration of the promotion. By now I had been getting nostalgic enough to either tromp through this game again just to see or at least make [personal profile] xyzzysqrl do it so she could report, and that offer was the perfect opportunity to jump back in.

You know, to see. Have a look around out of curiosity, see if my old characters still existed, just evaluate things before I put it all away again. I figured I could get just enough of a glimpse to confirm that the game is still forgettable, have my curiosity resolved so those yearly emails would quit making me feel things, and maybe get a good quick ABANDONED entry to fill up a category or two for next year. It's fine, I don't play MMOs and Horizons sucked anyway. *stubbornly fold arms*

Instead, what I found was... Istaria is certainly an old MMO and it shows. If I hadn't told you that every screenshot I posted above this paragraph was from 2004 while this one is from last week, would you have known? This game still has a UI straight out of EverQuest 1, and graphics that are... let's say maybe EverQuest 1 1/2 or so (though I hear they're supposedly thinking about overhauling and working everything into Unreal someday.) There are still... quirks. For email after email bragging about how much has changed, there's still so much that hasn't that... yeah, this is still Istaria all right.

But.

Maybe it's the evolution of my attitude. Maybe the passage of time plus my matured appreciation for things turned its jank from unforgivable to retro and strangely adorable. I was almost going to use my Family Dog icon for this entry, in fact.

But that's not fair to this game. Throughout my time in their free promotion, my attitude has evolved from the "lol Horizons sucks" of the Before times to "pff okay this is awesome XD" to "okay but seriously this is actually not bad." For every issue I've had, the support team has been fast, responsive, and friendly to the point of practically rolling out the red carpet for me. The graphics... it's like why I will argue with people that Mario 64 actually has good graphics. They're certainly dated, but if you take the capabilities of your current platform, work them into a style, and makes something that looks good for what it is, then there's a certain timelessness to it. From the smoldering volcanic doom of the Char region to the deadly yet beautiful frozen northern mountains, Istaria's Aradoth is a scenic world. In that sense, it's not even so-bad-it's-good; it's just good.

Those performance issues on PCs of the time? This thing can run on a potato now. Even Tazoon is buttery smooth. (It's still empty, but shh.) It's nice to roam around in, especially now that I can.

Oh, and I could still get conspiratorial over the links between Artifact, Tulga, and Virtrium, but... unless you're one of their creditors, does it really matter who they are? They're putting out a good product that's fun to play. At least Artifact didn't sell Horizons to NCSoft.

In the past couple weeks, I've been all around a digital world, exploring questlines and locations that are both comfortingly familiar yet new and open to be explored. I've made new friends who have welcomed me into their fold. I witnessed a dragon from my newfound circle finish her deeply ceremonial ritual rite of passage to become an adult, and felt more things than I have at some RL cousins' weddings.

I... am going to keep playing this. In a world where $10 a month could get you, I don't know, FFXIV or ESO or whatever new real MMOs kids are playing these days, I'm going to subscribe--not ironically, but proudly--to this one. Not out of hipsterism, or Family Dog appreciation, but out of a genuine heartfelt feeling that this is a good experience and I want to keep experiencing it.

If the polish comes off and I stop having fun someday? Then maybe I'll cancel at that point. I'm not entering a binding contract that gives them my soul until the heat death of the universe or anything. It's a monthly subscription I can turn off if I ever stop having fun. But for now? I like this game, and it feels good to be back.

---

Sara adds:
I normally dislike when Celine falls so hard into an all-consuming game that she starts slipping on chores/bedtime/etc., but good heavens I've never seen these parts of her mind light up like this. This is delightful.

I mean she still needs to quit typing this and go take a shower.

But man, she's just... she's happy and I'm really feeling it too.
kjorteo: Sprite of the dead "boss" and "Sorry, I'm Dead" speech balloon from Monster Party. (Sorry - I'm dead.)
This was another "I saw it on my Discovery Queue and it looked five minutes long and free so eh what the heck" acquisition.

Space Between Worlds bills itself as a minimalist puzzle game about proximity and space between people. It's actually one of those artsy minimalist framework templates for a story of a lifetime, told in minimalist stages that boil down to being in the correct position relating to the stage's title. ("Hug" can be solved by inserting yourself between the two larger squares, "Play" involves chasing and remaining close to an erratically-moving square, etc.)

The Indie Game About Death here is obvious and heavy-handed, but the presentation is neat I guess. If you're in the mood for this then it does a good job being that thing you were probably looking for.
kjorteo: A picture of Celine meditating while Sara embraces her from behind, both looking serene, peaceful, and content. (Celine & Sara: Together)
The year is drawing to a close, and we can all only hope that it takes the bizarre time vortex we've all been caught in with it. Much like [personal profile] xyzzysqrl pointed out, it really does feel like the beginning of this year was at least three years ago. Yet, at the same time, I found myself caught off guard by just about every advance event--my annual vacation, my birthday and Christmas, writing this post as well as the awards posts--in the "wait, that's tomorrow?" sense.

So. 2018. Whewf.

Whewf? )
kjorteo: Sprite of the dead "boss" and "Sorry, I'm Dead" speech balloon from Monster Party. (Sorry - I'm dead.)
This game was about four minutes long for me. I will try not to spend longer than that on the review.

So. Frightened Beetles. You are a series of cute insects. Something frightens each one, causing them to take off running through a gibfest obstacle course, usually to splat against some wall at the very end anyway. This startles the next bug who was sitting right next to that wall, who takes off through their own bloody journey, and the cycle continues like a relay race sponsored by the Happy Tree Friends.

This is... not what I was expecting and not something I would have played if I'd known what it actually was, but hey. It's four minutes long, free, and I can think of lower quality offerings if this genre is your thing.

The first leg is kind of cruel, though. Not only are harmless background leaves only marginally darker in color than the instant death leaves, but this is by design, as the two are often directly next to each other in long sequences that are deliberate attempts to confuse the player into crashing. Not cool.
kjorteo: Uncomfortable Bulbasaur portrait from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. (Bulbasaur: Uncomfortable)


"Do you know Hector? Like, is he with you? He just kind of showed up in the office and he won't stop flexing. I am deeply concerned."
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