If you see a little icon instead of a video player, clicking it should make it appear... (Blah LJ)

Linked again

Thursday, 4 December 2008 01:36
Art-game designer and blogger Auntie Pixelante, who linked to The Gameshelf a few months ago, has found Jmac's Arcade, and has challenged me in public to get my act together and produce some more. I hear a lot that they're entertaining or touching, which is great, but being told that they help provide an oral history of a nearly vanished subculture is new to me.

This is a kick in the pants, all right. Despite everything going on, I am led to consider that it may indeed be a good change of creative scenery for me to try pulling another one of these together. The whole point of these is that, unlike Gameshelfs, they're things I can make all by myself.

Bah. Not gonna be able to sleep tonight.
[livejournal.com profile] hahathor hosted a salon thingy for the first time in a while. I hadn't been to one since [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia dragged me to one sometime during the front half of this decade. I was honored to be a featured arteest this time, and showed a couple Jmac's Arcades in between musical acts. Received a lot of in-person accolades, which beats the pants of anonymous YouTube comments any day, let me tell you. And the other artists' stuff was delightful as well!

And I drank a copious amount of curious liquids, incl. mysterious blends by [livejournal.com profile] surrealestate, whose new LJ name I complimented. And now I am feeling very very affectionate and I love you all ok.
This will appear on the podcast feed shortly.



The music is "Subterranean Psychedelic Blues" by Son of Rodan, used under a Creative Commons license. (This isn't the music I'd been jabbering about using elseblog, whose permission to use I still hadn't got.)

"Official" Blip TV entry yonder.

This isn't my best one but it is also not my worst one and I hope you like it. Also I need to get a paid account again sometime so I can use my Jmac's Arcade userpic, eh...
In [livejournal.com profile] xach-approved <ul> format.:
  • Blatted out a bunch of job applications, based on jobs.perl.org. Heard back from one (got as far as signing their NDA, so far) and also got an unexpected but welcome query from another old colleague about a possible task.

    So, yes, in case the implication wasn't clear enough earlier: if you know of any Perl-friendly web-hacky freelance opportunities? My gimme-sign is now lit.

  • Set a bunch of Volity deadlines, of the coarse weeks-long sort that have been working well for me so far, spread between now and mid-February(!).

  • Getting back on the video horse, though not so's you notice yet. I've decided to go ahead and release the Arcade video with some other music - watch for that soon - and sent mail to the Gameshelf crew, proposing a much less ambitious do-over of April(sigh)'s crappy shoot so I can finish that damn episode.



It's hard to work on Volity when I'm well and truly unemployed, like now. When I do have income, it's a lot easier to see Volity as my other part-time job and pretend that my work with it is being covered under the same check. But when there is no money, Volity feels like an albatross, something I pour my life into alone for uncertain purpose.

I'm worried about paying taxes next year. Ulp. At least I know I'll be able to claim lots of business losses and expenses. Whee.

Weekend

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 01:18
Crazy weekend. There were the movies on Friday, then shopping and cleaning on Saturday (I bought nice new shoes, by god), and Sunday held more mini golfing and, finally, a video game party of the sort I've been threatening for a long time.

Golf was all right. It was kind of a cheesy course out in Billerica that [livejournal.com profile] dougo had happened across earlier. He, [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie, [livejournal.com profile] dianamp04 and I hit the greens, which were decorated with lumpy Fiberglas dinosaurs and bunnies and chipmunks. The holes were oddly cruel, relying heavily on subtle topographic twists to send balls into forsaken corners or even flip them off of the green entirely. We each maxed out the stroke limit several times, and I didn't feel that the course was clever or pretty enough (that the water was shut off didn't help) to justify its meanness. I like Kimball Farms' mini golf better, and still hope to play on a really nutty windmills-and-all course sometime soon. (Suggestions welcome.)

The video game thing went splendidly. Thirteen people mooshed into my apartment at peak; I went so far as to set up a table in the kitchen but it didn't get used because everyone was in the front rooms Wiiing, DSing, or playing board games. Several people were exposed to the Wii for the first time, and after lots of the mandatory Tennis there was WarioWare and Mario Party and Monkey Ball ahoy.

I am under the impression that half or more of my guests didn't really play video games at all until the recent advent of physically engaging home games, from DDR through Guitar Hero and on into the Wii. It is a Good Thing.

I got some comments early on that both my TV and my living room were kind of small, but I think everyone had fun. I certainly had fun being host! I don't do that very often.



Oh, what else... the client slid some work at me after I was like "dude?" at them, and I finished the Jmac's Arcade but will sit on it until I hear back from the band owning the music I like. Half of them did in fact write me back, and advised me to wait until the other half got back from vacation after Labor Day. In any other situation I'd just go ahead with what I have but since the thing's like five months overdue I may as well stick it out another week.

In Volity-land, I'm in the process of insinuating the successful test-firing from two weeks ago (already? sheesh) into a branch of the volity.net website. It's tricky and I'm trying to do right by my future selves who will have to maintain what eventually comes out of it, the poor bastards, so I am not predicting that there'll be demos in August. Early September, I bet. As per my annual habit I'm retreating to Maine for the long weekend and plan on making a working vacation out of it.

Broke personal policy to make a post to the Looneys' "geeks" mailing list tonight, finding myself completely unable to keep my mouth shut after a thread with people wishing that there were some way to play Treehouse on the web. Well... uh, there still isn't! But there will be, this year, since the first thing we're gonna wanna do around the pre-beta phase will involve porting over our current games. I normally avoid writing about all the totally awesome stuff duuuude that I'm working on oh boy you'll be so impressed, a firm believer that the more you pump that sort of thing up the further from your grip it floats. But in this case, I really can't see a reason why it won't happen, lawd willing and the crick don't rise.

Gremlins.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007 20:15
prog: (khan)
I am making a new Jmac's Arcade but I officially declare its production as bedeviled, which is to say that progress is slowed due to interference from imps. Gremlins! I have no other explanation.

* The music I want to use is from a local band whose email bounces. I got an alternate address through a mutual contact, but he's not certain that they're still together.

* I sunk hours into getting my screen-capture software to work with the game I'm recording. It was failing only with this one game running in MAME, and not any other title! Argh! I finally found a configuration that worked.

* My Mac's display is wacky, but only for my account. I'm investigating the cause, but it's hiding quite well. While it's happening, Final Cut looks like crap (though its output quality is unaffected) and the capture software is hard to use, since my cursor vanishes while it's running.

* My microwave blew a fuse halfway through rendering a long video clip. But at least it had the sense to do so after making my mac-n-cheese warm so at least I had that.

Ugh. Taking hours and hours longer than it should. It will be OK at the end, though.
Wrote a monologue for Jmac's Arcade yesterday, and hope to record it today. I've had the idea for this one since March, but then I did some Gameshelf work and then the webclient attacked and I haven't done any video work since.

However, last weekend I put together an aggressive but sane schedule of webclient milestones covering the next couple of months, and so long as I stay ahead of it I finally feel like I have time for my most neglected pillar. This is very good; I hadn't been been working by any schedule other than my two drop-dead deadlines (Sep 30 for live Tic Tac Toe demo, Dec 31 for full client), and that only gets me into work-or-feel-guilty mode. More fine-grained deadlines gives me a much more palpable sense of progress, and room to stretch in other directions.

Come Monday it'll be back to the Volity mines for another few days, though...

Dropped the Gameshelf crew a note last week about all this, too. I hope that producing another Arcade will whet my appetite to pick the show back up. Been considering sticking an audio news segment onto its RSS feed, just to keep it warm. We'll see.

Urgh, also in a stickyish situation coz the song I wanna use for this Arcade's BGM is by a local band (Rat Club) who hasn't updated their website since January and whose email bounces. They have a MySpace page and I'm tempted to get a MySpace account just to ask them if I can use the song. I'm further tempted to just try using the song anyway if I can't reach them, covering it with all appropriate attribution and hoping for goodwiil. It's pretty perfect for this piece.



Picked up Mario Strikers Charged a couple days ago, arguably the first "real" game (versus a discful of minigames and unlocks) for my Wii. It's a soccer game, and the followup to the original Mario Strikers for Game Cube that nobody heard of because it was for Game Cube. Haven't played enough to really get an impression of it yet; it's not quite as pick-up-and-go as Mario Kart but it isn't far off the mark either. The A button passes, B shoots, C fires off whatever power-up you just picked up, and everything else is an advanced technique that you can ignore at first. But it's not yet clear to me where the power-ups come from (it's nothing as obvious as running over "?"-boxes), and the action can get confusing pretty quickly.

The game encourages cooperative play, supporting two players to a side, and I look forward to doing some of that. Very interested in its internet play as well, so please let me know if you get a copy too.



I've been making coffee again, and generally eating breakfast produced in my own kitchen. Still hitting the Starbucks across the street for my afternoon jolt, though.

Dorkbot

Tuesday, 8 May 2007 16:29
This looks like it might be worth my while to come to and bring some Jmac's Arcades. Anyone wanna come with? I feel antsy that I haven't made any in three months, even though I have the inspiration for the next one; the other pillars just win out in the continual fight over motivation. So this might give it a little boost.



Speaking of the automated dorkiness implied by the subject line, [livejournal.com profile] xach strikes again with another wigflip toy, this one letting you make your own "lolcats"-style images without Photoshop. I started to show my appreciation by taking pictures he's posted of himself and his little son and putting I CAN HAS JUICEBOX or something on it but it didn't feel right, so I'll just talk about it here instead la bla.

Oh, and since it came up in conversation today: you have probably already seen loltrek, which I was amused to discover was by Stephen Grenade and some of the other interactive-fiction people I vaguely know. Good job, guys.

Fiddle dee dee

Thursday, 12 April 2007 11:06
I have a doctor's appointment next month. I was hoping to fit one in at the start of this week, but there were some insurance registration hangups that ended up with the completion of my 2006 tax return as a dependency, so I had to kick it forward. (They wanted to see my Schedule C as proof of self-employment, but they didn't want to see my 2005 Schedule C with its ~$1.75 in O'Reilly royalties, which doesn't appear to be the tax filing of an independent software contractor).



MICHAEL: I almost had Pop-pop in Reno.
GEORGE MICHAEL: [Sadly] Yeah, me too.

On the third and final season of my Arrested Development download bolus. I feel almost bad about laughing at jokes that are only there as rewards for long-time viewers, but then again "long-time viewer" for me means that I started with the pilot episode only four months ago.



Finally got around to gluing graphics (via <itunes:image> tags) onto my two podcasts. Hmm, and now that I look I see that the Gameshelf one shows up in iTMS but not the Arcade's pretty graphic. I tried to go with the rectangular one with old-skool screen dimensions. I guess Apple insists on squares. All right then.

I also got an email from Apple, asking us video podcasters to start exporting at 640x480 because that looks nice on both AppleTV and iPod (which scales it down). Very well.

There's a Gameshelf shoot in less than two weeks and I still don't know what's gonna be shot! I've been on such a Volity jag that I really haven't thought about the video-production pillar in weeks. No complaints from me, mind, but I nonetheless must figure out what I'm doing there.

Tootery

Saturday, 31 March 2007 14:10
I just suggested Jmac's Arcade blip site to Wonderland, as per [livejournal.com profile] queue's suggestion from a while ago. Wish me luck!

Show graphics

Wednesday, 28 March 2007 12:17
Blip wants a big and little picture of certain dimensions for each show, so I made some. I like how they came out. I haven't made a big image for The Gameshelf yet; I think that will require a posed still of me in front of a green screen with some props. Something for later.


Yes, these are LJ icons now, too.


Blip likes wide images. I have a variant of this one that conforms dimensionally to an old arcade game's screen, and I may use it elsewhere. I like it either way.
I've decided that I really like blip.tv. They do a lot of things right, and seem quite interested in getting better all the time. It is basically to a video series what LiveJournal is to personal text entries. Great features they already have include automatic cross-posting to places like del.icio.us and the Internet Archive, a pretty stats page for each show, and tools to easily wrap everything you post in Creative Commons licenses. I am also quite impressed at their customer service; when I recently submitted a feature request, I got a personal response from one of their engineers, and ended up in friendly conversation about it. That's shocking.

So, I am going to permanently move The Gameshelf to that site. In fact, I already have copied everything over: check out http://thegameshelf.blip.tv/ Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the old page on jmac.org. I may just set up a redirect. The move means giving up creative freedom for the site's look, but what I get in exchange is the freedom to be utterly lazy about everything else. I consider this a big win.

Jmac's Arcade may soon follow, though I still do mean to play with [livejournal.com profile] chocorisu's suggestion to make a small, neat, highly thematic custom-built website for it as well.

Oh, right. Taxes.

Thursday, 8 March 2007 12:29
I got my first more-or-less Jmac's Arcade fan mail today from the fellow behind a video podcast called Coin-Op TV. I've so far only watched the most recent episode, which features interviews with stuntmen and T-shirt vendors at a J-pop convention. Scrolling down the page I see a lot of more game-related stuff, though. Wow, there's an interview with PONG's creator?! Cool. I shall watch it more later.



Feeling really deflated today. I'm objectively aware that there's interesting stuff for Volity on the horizon but right now all I can see is business crap that nobody told me about, until it happened to come up in conversation recently: oops, yes, I probably should have distributed tax information to people a month or two ago, eh? At least I'm on it now instead of a month from now, but I could still hear our accountant's eyes rolling at me over the phone yesterday. I am going to meet with him next week, which I predict will be me saying "Dude, whatever. You do it. I'll pay you." repeatedly. I loathe this shit.



One of the horizoney things: I'm tentatively scheduled to present about Volity at the April 10 Boston Perl Mongers meeting, at 7:15pm at MIT, E51-376. I'd love to see some familiar faces there! I haven't been to a Boston.pm meeting in years, but will probably attend next week's (Tuesday, March 13, same time & location) to get a feel for it.
OK, so I wanna hold myself to my earlier promise to promote Jmac's Arcade upon publication of episode 4. I am not sure how to go about this. Any ideas?

I started to kick around the production of a very short (<= 20-second) promo but I am skeptical of how effective it would be on other podcasts, since I'm assuming most of them would be audio-only. Not that I can't make an audio version too, but meh.

Hm, and now that I think of it, I am quite hesitant to stick other podcasts' promos onto the JA episodes, since I want to keep them very short and entirely self-contained. So promo-trading deals with other podcasts may just not work at all.

Anyway, I'd like to hear any other promotion idears y'all might have.

Maybe I just need to get more snuggly with the podcasting community, of which I suppose I am by definition a member, but to which I've put very little time or effort in reaching out.


In which I do my laundry. http://arcade.jmac.org

I actually have more to say about this game (which would actually be me talking more about the game per se) but I wanted to keep to the script this time around. Maybe I'll do Moon Patrol Redux later.

I got really good at this game while working on this; you have to get pretty familiar with a game in order to die on cue. I also filmed myself getting to the Z checkpoint on one "quarter", if you can believe it.
Tuesday night [livejournal.com profile] dictator555 visited to help me haul my furniture around, implementing some redesign ideas she came up with last weekend, on my commission. I haven't plugged anything pluggy back in yet (on laptop now) but I'm already loving the effect of just having everything shifted around and the office turned back into a dining/gaming room. I feel like I've moved. If you've been here before you'll really notice the difference on your next visit.



I didn't mention before that Sunday night I got to play with a Wii, finally. The host had only one controller so there was none of the tennis that everyone's crowing about, but there was bowling, and that was plenty fun.

I ignored [livejournal.com profile] mrmorse's earlier admonition to let someone else make your Mii, so mine was based on my own perception of myself, and ended up looking something like a Planet of the Apes character with glasses. Other folks' Miis were group-build affairs and were all quite accurate. Just as with City of Heroes, it's almost half the fun, even though the goal is less making crazy character concepts and more just potato-heading up a Jpop-cute version of yourself.

Can you rescue Miis from friends' Wiis via broadband or do I actually have to go to this person's house and pick em up when I finally get my own Wii? It's not like we're more than acquaintances, so I'd rather just download them then have to go visit...



Spent hours being a perfectionist with Jmac's Arcade audio and ended up with something even worse than the first draft, hours later. It'll be days until I actually finish it. You'll know when I do.
Rendering the video of a Jmac's Arcade now, but it won't be done tonight, and I'm entering into Busy Land so I don't know when it will be done. Maybe tomorrow if I can grab the time. This one will be pretty short, at just over three and a half minutes.

Why don't I have digg and del.icio.us links all over my two podcast sites? Sheesh. It takes me a while to catch up on these things. I also mean to look at libsyn.com. As I write this I haven't even visited the website yet, but I do note that lots of podcasts I don't listen to use it. If they have nice goodies for video podcasts I will set something experimental up.



Last night I played Antike with some nice people but I really disliked it. It's a zero-sum territorial game, and I lost a lot of territory early on to a player experienced enough to pull off a mega-super attack combo that I didn't understand, reminding me of recent attempts to play Hearts online. I then resigned myself to playing solitaire for the remaining 90 minutes or so, seeing how many victory points I could get by paddling around the little archipelago upon which my conquerors kindly let me live out my days before one of them finally and mercifully crossed the finish line. I tried to make a display of good spirits but I'm afraid it came out all biley and I apologize if I was acting too acid to taste.

Then I made a game attempt to watch super bowl ads but was so horribly offended by the first one I saw that I had to stop there. And any description of it really uses more words than it's worth (I've tried twice) so I'll just say that I really hate almost all TV ads. A lot.
prog: (coffee)
Good morning, Somerville and surrounding satellites. In the Diesel with the battery I got last week. It's got like five hours of charge. Yay. Whitey is purring along happily. I feel pretty sure this is the last hardware upgrade it's getting.

I had a really good weekend. On Saturday I did all that writing for the Gameshelf and also started like three Angband characters who all died in like 5 minutes each. That's the only way to play, man.

Sunday I hung out with [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie, much as we did last Sunday, and perhaps this is becoming a habit. She pulverized me at Ticket to Ride, and notably this was a day after she apparently crushed vast multitudes across many games at Unity Games, an annual all-day tabletop event that I still haven't gone to. (I would if I had a car. There was plenty of carpool opportunity, but that wouldn't give me the ability to leave when I wanted, and I have a neurotic desire for this escape hatch at all times.) This is pretty good, because any desire to pull punches borne from her previous protests that I usually beat her at games died then. Henceforth, it's on.

We also drove around lookin for Guitar Hero 2 and those damn guitar controllers are apparently as rare are Wiis right now; in three stores clerks gave me the runaround of "No, we're out of stock, and they're not backorderable, but we get more in every week! Usually!" Not their fault and no hard feelings, but goddamn. The only two worthy new video games continue to be denied me, because they use specialized hardware and everyone in the Boston area wants one. (Yes, except you, I know.) I hate hardware.

I was surprised to see some PS3s in stock at one of the Targets. CJ asked me why I wasn't all over it, since it seemed reasonable to expect I'd want to upgrade from my PS2, and I had fun explaining Sony's last couple of years of anti-customer psychosis, culminating in this $700 game console with about five launch titles on the shelf behind it. Anyway, if PS3s were sitting on the shelf, surely Wiis will soon follow, right?

Finally, I wrote a monologue for the next Jmac's Arcade before bed. This will be a fun one and I hope to have it made before next Monday. Now I am procrastinating writing a SOTU-ish letter to the Volity community, one that I gave myself a end-of-month deadline to complete.
I've written the scripts for my monologues and lead-ins for next Wednesday's shoot. With a total reading-time of around eight minutes, it feels rather wordy, but I bet it will work out. Some of it will be read over clips of the games we played in the studio, and the rest will feature me standing before the SCAT green screen, which I hope will ultimately be more interesting to look at than me sitting in a chair in front of a wavy curtain.

In both cases I'll be using the DIY teleprompter rig I described before. I made a test movie, just text crawling up at a measured pace, and it seems to work fine. If everything doesn't fail spectacularly, then the end product will be much more watchable than the monologues I've had to edit in previous episodes. That means less editing time, too, even given the increased green-screen futzing I'll have to do; trying to fix performance foulups in post-production is both more time-consuming and less fun than adding in more content.

Yes, "batman4050", we will mention the Star Control petition, as well as some other updates about things that have appeared on previous shows.

After I submit this episode to SCAT and put it online, I'm finally going to start promoting the damn show. I've picked up a few remote fans, which is very nice, but I get the impression that they somehow stumbled across the show against all odds. I'd like to push its presence a little more; even at our relaxed bimonthly pace through the first half of 2007, it's still hard work to put a show together. A little bit of encouragement in the form of fresh fan mail and feedback would go a long way towards fueling me and the rest of the team. I don't doubt that it'll be forthcoming so long as I can actually stitch a good show together and then get the word out.



I would also like to make another Jmac's Arcade. I haven't made any since October and haven't promoted them at all, and meanwhile their instances on YouTube and Google Video continue to rack up comments from the haters. This doesn't bother me, but the fact that almost nobody else has commented (except for people I already know) makes me sad, since this suggests that the people who'd actually like it aren't finding it.

I have some ideas for fixing that, but I don't feel that I deserve to act on any while it's been three months since my last contribution to that feed. So, yeah, more to do.

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