Activism Fitness Personal Politics Projects Video Games

The Check-in. April 2018.

This month has flown by. One of the busiest in recent memory.

I was out of town every weekend in April doing something. Which was fun, and exhausting. In the spirit of that this post will be short and sweet and totally miss details. Always more to do.

The business didn’t stop me from keeping on those #hashtaggoals.

Political Stuff

In terms of political stuff, I moderated my first debate/town hall/forum for two of the Democratic candidates for IN-4. It was a fun, new experience that I would not mind doing again. I’d wish I would have probed on some of the answers, but I was so focused on getting through the many questions in time for the audience questions that I got sidetracked.

Here is the video for the event!


Like all good people who are tragically online, I’ve started a podcast with my cousin, Jay Pavlina! It’s ostensibly about game development and programming, but we touch on some weird, wild stuff as well. Jay explains more here. Check out our first episode! We are recording episode two this weekend, so stay on the lookout for that.

That VG Goodness

Upgraded the setup once again to new degrees of greatness/completely unnecessariness.

Firstly, I got tired of Tim and Matt play streaming in potato quality, so I went to Purdue Surplus and grabbed the best machine they had there for $50. It needed RAM and HDD, and I had that. It proved to be a choice decision as the machine can stream and record in 1080/30 (limitation of the capture device I have) to Twitch.

Second, after trying for a while I was able to snag a gscartsw_lite, which allows me to have all my old consoles connect via RGB without having to switch. This also provides dual outputs so I can hook it up to my upscaler as well as my CRT television. In essence, I can now stream to Twitch, play on the HD TV and play on the CRT all at the same time. It’s very cool! (Like, I think it’s cool) It works, the problem is the SCART cables I bought are of surprisingly low quality and introduce an abundance of noise to the signal. I have some much better (and sadly, more expensive) SCART cables coming from the UK as we speak.


Let’s see where we are this month:
April 2018: 75.1 Miles
April 2017: 30.9 Miles
Difference: +44.2 Miles
Year difference from 2017 (as of this post): +176.7 Miles

Whew, what a month. 2018 is proving to be wild.

Projects Video Games Website

An Update!

I’ve been meaning to update this blog more because I have a lot in the pipe I want to get out on here. As I finish college and get into the real world I want to make this a sort of interactive resume for potential employers. That also means you guys can look at all the neat stuff I have been working on.

Recently, I have built myself a new machine and can now edit video like nobody’s business so I want to get into vlogging again. Everyone loves vlogging!

In terms of my “Game Design Diary” the worst thing that could happen, did happen. A dude who is far more eloquent and well versed in the topic wrote about it – Jeremy Parish. He has been doing his “Anatomy of a Video Game” series for a while and he landed on Metroid right about the time I did. Anyway here is a link to the first article. It is really well done and worth the read.

I will come up with something else to write about. I just need to find it.

All I am saying is stay tuned for some neat stuff. It is coming. No take backs.

Projects Video Games

Game Design Diary – Metroid: Part 1

skitchI started Metroid as my prior post indicated I would do. I consider myself a fairly masochistic gamer (I have all 10 Mega Mans under my belt without any cheat or help), but I  never was a map maker. The furthest I have gone is Etrian Odyssey with the ability to “auto-map”. There is one concession I made with Metroid. I wanted a map. The one you see above is the map I have been using and marking off as I progress. I have not used any other guides or walk-throughs.

Metroid nails some things off the bat. The atmosphere is spot on. It feels desolate and alien and the sparse use of music and effects adds to the tone of the game. The learning curve in the game can be very daunting. This can be viewed in one of two ways, rewarding or overly-complicated. My take is that it’s learning curve discourages new player, to the point where they stop playing. Hell, I’ve started Metroid three or four times prior and never stuck with it. It drops you in without so much as ‘hello’. I would give subtle hints to get the player invested. These are fairly moot points in terms of the Metroid francise because they adress this concern in Super Metroid. That being said, this is for my benefit, not Nintendo’s.

In general I don’t care much about graphics in a game. The gameplay mechanics and motivation are far more important, but I should at least comment on the visual style. Despite many modern games with their muddied brown-grey-brown palette, Metroid uses high-contrast and stark blackness to create a very compelling color scheme.



Each area of the game has a color scheme that makes it feel distinct and packs a punch. Games shouldn’t be afraid of color.

One of the surprising things I encountered in the game is the run-and-gun strategy ala Mega Man just doesn’t work. The enemy placement and behavior has been thought through and punishes this action. For instance, there is this enemy called a Waver. It’s action is basically to move in a sine wave pattern and change direction when it bounces off things. They take a lot of hits, but their patterns are predictable so it’s best to avoid them all together if possible.

Here is when I first noticed:

waverWhen you first enter the door on the left you will see the enemy come towards you. Your initial instinct is to run at it guns blazing. The best strategy however is to stay put and let it get to the maximum height of its arc and then run under it. You can outrun it and avoid the encounter all together. This ladies and germs is smart enemy placement. They most likely figured that out by play testing and seeing people’s behavior. Play testing is imperative. I love that the game makes you think about what your doing instead of mindlessly running around. It becomes an immersive experience instead of a passive one. The games that I tend to enjoy.

That will finish up the first update. I still have more to play and more notes to take. This first session has been super helpful and I hope to continue this. More to come!