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Title: Oh blue Powerade Zero, how I love thee.
Posted: April 14, 2009 (05:17 AM)
You are not like the other Powerade Zeroes. They are vaguely medicinal, but their underlying flavors are too well defined--strawberry or grape. You are mixed berry. You allow no questions as to what berries, besides blueberries are actually BLUE.
There are other regular power-ade flavors. Pink Lemonade comes close to you, as do those weird light green and cloudy white ones. But they are named after weird emotions.
You had a competitor in powdered blue Gatorade once, but Sam's Club stopped carrying it. Then Gatorade got Tiger Woods's endorsement. He is from Stanford. I hate Stanford. Plus Gatorade is too sweet tasting to feel like it gives you a charge.
And you are frequently on sale, five for a buck, at Jewel, easing the exorbitant 3% Cook County beverage tax.
Veritably, you are to sports drinks as Ny-Quil is to cold medicine.
Title: The great GameFAQs review competition and my memories of it, pt 3
Posted: April 10, 2009 (01:43 PM)
Subtitle: 13 short reviews and what became of them.
Is this tooting my own horn? Yes, a bit. But in case anyone here came to write about reviews to work on other things, I think it's fair to say that it can lead to bigger things and not just better reviews. In a way, this bigger faq/review stuff may have come at the expense of my own "real" writing. The FAQs I wrote this week didn't seem like much, but they were exhausting.
Archon II: I wrote my first guide for this, and it took 3-4 years to bring it out of actual question-and-answer format.
Centauri Alliance: This was a painful game on the Apple II because you got attacked and 90% likely killed every 3 squares in the final dungeon. Emulation allowed me a better save-and-restore method than what they had, and it sped up the boring hyperspace between spaceports, which really bogged the game down. I got outbid on a "Quest for Clues" book on eBay at the last second around 2001. The seller was kind enough to mail me a xerox copy of the CA section. I am glad I was audacious enough to ask. Hey, I bucked the price up by a lot more than the cost of a stamp. Then I got the edition of QfC with Centauri Alliance hints a lot cheaper in a later auction($8 vs $17). I wrote out a bunch of maps to my webpage but took years to post them to GameFAQs.
Deathlord: This game's almost a part of me. It's scary. I bought it in 1986 and joked I'd be in college by the time I finished it(it actually took til Y2K, when I had a job.) At first, I wrote my mapmaker, which was black and white and very clunky. Then I added color. Then I managed to draw icons faithful to the original file, and then I was able to write in to/from teleports for the weirder dungeons. Unfortunately the maps were 1024x1024, and the textures were somewhat unreadable. This was in 2002. 5 years later I redid the icon maps into much simpler and managed to find a slick way to describe the teleports. I'm especially pleased with how I mapped the Telegrond Dungeon here. Then with the maps pretty much done, I found an awesome bug that gives your $100 holy symbol near-infinite uses.
Decathlon: Well, when I found out about emulation, I whipped this game. A lot of Apple games could've afforded some speeding up. This one, I slowed down. For the 100 meter dash you'd hit two keys in rapid succession, and I was able to make it across in 2.8 seconds apparently. I remember barely beating Bruce Jenner's record before Dan O'Brien et al. With emulation, I shattered the new record, too. I even beat the Russian and Chinese scores from the cheaters in the TI-99 version of the game.
Dragon Wars: Another game I put maps on for my website, before rejigging them with my new map editor. I've replayed through it several times, but I didn't clinch an easy way through until I realized you can give everyone 20 strength and use the underworld to get to the mystic wood. Have them fight Enkidu. Then restart the game with your characters. Repeat, etc. Boom! Druid spells for everyone. Easy re-healing. Oh, there's also the regenerating +5 attributes trick to schlep on top of that. But even without that cheat, I figured a relatively straightforward way to waste Long John Ugly in the bottleneck fight midway through the game. It took a few tries through.
Jawbreaker: this game wasn't worth a FAQ(or not yet, maybe if I'm bored and unscrupulous enough to write one for HG Points) because the pattern is terribly easy. But I loved how it ripped off Gobbler(harder, as monsters were more random,) which ripped off Pac-Man.
Magic Candle: It took forever to write a guide for this game. The Apple images were corrupt, but the Commodore worked great. Oh, I was surprised at the terrible color of the PC games. But Magic Candle wasn't done yet. I discovered Rings of Zilfin, the predecessor, later. Then Keys to Maramon, then Magic Candle II, III and Bloodstone--all three exhausting games. DosBox helped tremendously. I needed 2 passes through the FAQ for some of these games, and while I output some literal maps that took up a ton of space, eventually I was able to go with pared down maps that were less than 1 byte per pixel square. 16 bit compressed PNGs can get small. Jason Spangler was an immense help to me on this. I think he saved my original high detail maps I posted to Earthlink. I'm so glad I got to play the sequels, because they are such fun to figure how to go through quickly. The graphics are beautiful, but they are fun games to think about when you are away. Oh, and on a side note, my Bloodstone review placed 13th in Review of the Day(it was Monday, big update) when the GameFAQs board was active. It won Review of the Month, my most satisfying such win. Boo-yah!
Type Attack: I never found an Apple disk image for this game, but I eventually discovered the Atari 800 version in late 2007, so I FAQed it. The time I wasted making my own silly easy levels on this game is overshadowed by the time quicker typing saves me. I know there are freeware flash games that are similar now, but the dancing letters after four successful levels are not to be missed, if you enjoy old-school emulation.
Wasteland: Another game I finally got around to mapping after five years or so. Some people didn't like my Comic Sans font for the sewers and Base Cochise. I started with the maps for the critical parts, but then I decided to start contribution-total-whoring, and I sent in maps for a lot of the small cities. I'd always wanted to map Las Vegas out fully, and Wasteland fans can see its nuances here. The FAQ won FotM. Which surprised me--Ranger HQ is the best overall Wasteland resource out there(I was semi-heartened to see others found the cheat with the 3-point skills,) but after several times through, I was able to put together my own ideas of where to go first, what to do, etc. Ranger HQ even explains the level rankings, for those curious. I advise you to build up climbing skill, buy a shovel, go to the basement of a Spade's casino, step on the pile and hold down escape. Using climb gives each character 10 experience to turn. I got to Jerk within two hours.
Wizard's Crown: This game's message board housed one of the longest running topics on GameFAQs. Then the board invaders hit. The topic creator used a little pull to delete the more egregious spams in the nick of time, before it got shut down. We posted slowly on it, and it lasted seven years total. It was one of the first games I mapped out, and while it wasn't hard, it led to the enjoyable sequel Eternal Dagger. And I still love the ticker-scoreboard quick-combat summaries it gives. Best memory? Beating Tarmon and his minions in quick combat--you see, he is tough otherwise as he destroys magic weapons that attack him. Also, realizing that the game takes party position into account even when in quick combat. It does the tactical combat in its head. Another example of my gaining respect for a game on the Nth replay through.
Fool's Errand: Someone else already FAQed this on GameFAQs, and another website had graphic solutions. There's a reason it's popular. Go play it if you haven't! (Incidentally the only PC game on the list. Though at the time it was "Dos/Windows." A year or two later I blundered asking for Dos/Windows games at the GameStop in Golf Mill, some of my finest unintentional comedy ever. Then I made the blunder of buying a few lame ones, when there were so many good abandonware games on the 'net.)
Title: The great GameFAQs review competition and my memories of it, pt 2
Posted: April 09, 2009 (09:24 AM)
So here are specific winners and what I remember of them. First, here's a link to the original tourney results. It's the one, the only, probably because CJayC had to check all the reviews back then, and some of the rushed efforts must've given him a real headache.
The three random winners are lost in the sands of time.
GlucoseJoe just churned stuff out--almost as many reviews per day as I had all tourney. What I remember of his reviews was a bit incoherent, but hey, the guy wrote 10 a day! I believe there may have been some copying from one system to another(reprise Insert Quarter in Master System joke about one of Kasket's more infamous reviews here) and the Long Bonus was for >4k I think, maybe 5. GJ had some good sensible reviews after that, though his record eventually fell to someone down the list a bit. Then he took his reviews down after some of his iffier ones got holes poked in them. I think there was a flame war over Ys too. He has a few up still, and while I remember in particular his Pengo and Super Pac-Man arcade reviews as being a bit short on substance, I pulled a lot from the reviews of his I did read.
DJellybean aka Dingo Jellybean was also a big name on the FAQ board, and he sacrificed volume for clarity, as I remember. I forget when he formally surrendered, but for a while, the contest was in doubt.
Hiryuu faded from GameFAQs after this contest. Only one of his reviews got pulled since then. But you can see his stuff is very short. He had one less review than Blackjack4x, but he found odder titles, and that got him a guaranteed prize.
Blackjack4x and fduboo are two reviewers I remember coming back a lot later, and saying "Boy, ASchultz is really up there in reviews"--it'd been a long time since the review contest, definitely. Slow and steady overtook them, and I think at the start, Blackjack's review count motivated me to do more. Again, what a review was wasn't clearly defined back then, so he was really ahead of the curve.
SMcFadden aka Psycho Penguin aka DaLadiesMan aka Tank Abbott aka ...: infamous on GameFAQs. Amusing that he was squashed between two weighted winners and also that he had such a high penalty total--this was for clear bending of the rules, illegibility, filler, etc. If he'd done a bit more or less, perhaps he'd have been the random winner. I am assuming CJayC gave Blackjack4x the numbers from 0/10355.75 to 526.25, SMcFadden from 526.25/10355.75 to (526.25+413.5)/10355.75, etc.
For some reason I was shocked to see how young he was even after he acted out a bit on the boards. But he did start the reviewing community going and noted my Wizard's Crown review too as something to look at from an up and coming reviewer one. He jumped in the lead for reviews but I eventually overtook him, then Kasket overtook me. He improved a lot, too, since his review-off days, rewriting a lot but unfortunately with the habit of putting in filler once KB wars heated up. But it was on the FAQ board where he had really stormy relations. That's a whole several posts, of which I don't have the full details. There's a lot to say about McFadden, and I wasn't in enough inner circles to know it all. All I saw were the flame wars.
Emptyeye, the creator of BORO, also could write well when he got a head of steam up. If he'd been a little more unscrupulous, he'd have had a better chance of pulling off a prize.
Gruel had a long and fun career on GameFAQs, and while some bash his writing, there's no denying he got a lot better.
Lethargy, whom I'd never thought of, is amusing to see that high up there. Nothing lethargic about over a review a day!
Bobo of course became Bobo the Clown and then SGreenwell. He went in for the odd games then and does now.
JHarring was a recommended writer for learning how to write a FAQ early on.
LordZero and Dallas, both prolific FAQers, got negative scores.
EdTheMoogle and Vegita, two reviewers panned for some sloppy efforts, also went negative. Vegita came back and managed to fight through self-pity to put out some decent efforts. Ed took his stuff down.
...and who is this, sneaking in at #35 of 362, just scraping into the top tenth percentile? Why, it is your gentle, humble narrator. I'm not sure what I got the long-points bonus for, as I had nothing over 4K, but my base-points ratio was a perfect 5.0 for games not written about yet. A few other competitors had this distinction, but I had the most. Tamahome and GSephiroth above just missed out on this perfection. Although I'd have traded it for a few more reviews.
I think it took time to work on me that I could write about whatever, whenever. I suppose that annoying example that motivational books give about the 4-minute mile(once one person breaks it, everyone does) is more pertinent in the electronic age. We've seen it with processing speed. And it's surprising to see it even with writing. Though I think those who expended all their energy were burnt out, they paved the way for other people--including a horde of up and coming reviewers who saw their quantity and said, we can do BOTH, dammit.
As a last point, note that the odds GameFAQs gives of winning are, essentially, incorrect. The total positive points, minus the three winners, was not x. That'd be the value for any one specific prize of the three. The odds are in fact (1-x)^3, close to 3x for practical purposes. So Blackjack4x really had a 14.96% chance of winning the weighted random prize. I had about a 2% chance. Everyone had a .9% chance of winning the random drawing. There were 349 positive score entrants and a total score of 10355.75 from them.
If anyone knows the story of Casey, I'd love to hear it. I think -10000000 was for acts of deliberate sabotage, -1000000 for plain old plagiarism.
Looking back, I was probably too worried of rejection to write more. I mean, the review contest was for more reviews of games, but mine didn't seem too useful--or like what was on the site. And some games were legitimately jumbled in my head and I wished I'd remembered more. And I was scared I wouldn't proofread later.
Which also turned out wrong. Yes, my reviews were inaccurate, but so what? They were at least less horrendous than a lot that got through, and I fulfilled my goal of at least one revision on each of them.
Tomorrow: a "where are they now" rundown of my first thirteen reviews.
Title: The great GameFAQs review competition and my memories, pt 1
Posted: April 08, 2009 (09:38 AM)
The forum boards reminded me of this, and I think I'll be able to write something interesting about them.
Maybe some other time I'll (re-)tell the story of how my love for Deathlord and Ultima IV brought me to GameFAQs in the first place. But for now, there is the review competition.
Around July of 1999, I, in some forgotten order,
1) found Ultima IV as freeware
2) found GameFAQs with a walkthrough for Ultima IV
3) said "Hey, maybe they have something for Deathlord"
4) contacted Wilson Lau, whose homepage contained a map or two of Deathlord, that I really liked the game and wanted to see how I could help him with it. His 2000 and 1999 update logs have been instrumental in reminding me of the fun times I forgot to log.
5) started listing other old Apple games I loved and maybe one day would write for.
Then the review contest struck. 31 days for who knows how many reviews. It's too bad KasketDarkfyre didn't know about GameFAQs in those days, or maybe he just hadn't revved up.
I remember feeling like a donkey between two haystacks, with all these games to write for, worrying about a game being rejected for being too obscure and so forth. And of course I wasn't really comfortable with emulators yet.
But looking at the numbers for my reviews, I wrote for 12 of the 13 following titles:
Championship Lode Runner
Well, I got points for writing for a new game. I wish I'd remembered more, but there was also a lot I really couldn't fake. Looking back, of course, I think a lot of people did.
I don't think I wrote for Deathlord until later. I originally wanted to complete it before writing it--though I got close enough a month later, I thought I might as well. In fact, I remember completing Deathlord several days before Y2k--if the bug struck, I wanted to say I at least solved Deathlord before the WWW went to smash.
I didn't complete other games, like Centauri Alliance, but I bet many other gamers didn't either, and given how annoying the end-bit was, my review was adequate...til later when I solved the game.
I believe the database containing review dates crashed on November 1st, and that is why some reviews are "before 11/1/1999." The numbers cannot be in numerical order since Deathlord is in the middle, but I sort of wish I'd kept a log myself, but there is enough.
My reviews for the contest were nowhere near as long as they are now. I had a lot to say at the time, but maybe I can pack it down now. These are the reviews I hesitate to send to HG, because they probably can be pared. But on the other hand, at the time, I was feeling great that I had a lot to write, and I needed to do that, and I wanted to move on quickly--too often I'd blocked myself. The hell with detailed proofreading or "killing my babies."
...well, they're grown up now and less cute, so it's probably time to.
So I want to write parts 2 and 3 later. Tentatively, that is all that is planned. One story a day is about all I can handle without overload.
Part 2: the other contestants, and thoughts on them, and who survived, and who didn't.
Part 3: "where are they now" of my contest entries and about how these main games led to other things.
Part 4: a look forward to other tournaments at GameFAQs
Part 5: A look at how HGWars has helped me look at things differently. (Possibly AFTER it's all wrapped up. I don't want to share too much information too soon.)
Title: HG 27, GameFAQs 2
Posted: April 06, 2009 (11:24 PM)
Well...once again it looks like my reviews do better on HG, at least short term. Perhaps I should write more. The whole HGWars things with HGPoints doesn't hurt, either--ok, it was a big motivation.
So, without any new games(stalled on Champions of Krynn--how much IS there to say that I didn't say in Silver Blades?) I decided I'd rewrite old reviews. I was worried going back through a few reviews that I'd either
1) cringe at part of them, or
2) not be able to improve them but know I should.
I just re-jigged Taxman and am surprised at the amount of juvenile stuff I wrote. Part of that was being glad about having something to write. I spent a lot of time saying "Yeah, good ideas but..."
...but that's not why we write, to have people say that. That's not why I read, to say that to other people.
Gamma Goblins coming up. And maybe some fan fiction too. I have some notes from 2004(!) Talk about putting stuff off. But I'm confident it's sarcastic, snide, and insightful--and an appropriate sendup for a bad NES game that I appreciated for its badness. And I hope you will too, soon.
Because that means I decided to put aside my dumb reasons for putting things aside and take the couple days max I really should need for the short little story I have planned.
Title: First review in a while
Posted: April 04, 2009 (01:42 AM)
Well, I cranked one out, for Secret of the Silver Blades. Largely from my maps and walkthrough, I was able to remember a lot. I'm sensing there are probably a few artificial lines in there. I have to admit, HGWars and the prospect of spending HG points has got me interested in trying my best here.
I'm happy with the job I did proofreading it, though some stuff I'm sure slipped through. I just want to do things differently than I did before, and I'm not concerned about being terribly flashy...I just want to be able to look at my work and not care whether or not I'm ashamed--just dive right in and say I like this, that or the other, or I overuse this phrase or type of phrase.
Also I wrote a Miner exclusive review--the precursor for Lode Runner. It reads like a monograph and not a particularly ground-breaking one, but the game's badness interested me--how does something bad become good?
If I send any other reviews here, and I probably will, I'll use it as a chance to proofread my old reviews. I have them saved, and maybe I'll keep the old copies with hard drive space being cheap...but I'm ready to take the meat cleaver and get rid of the things I go in for and I shouldn't. Even if it is one thing, like how I used to lump too much in a paragraph, I will gain from it.
Title: Dumb quiz
Posted: July 10, 2008 (04:15 PM)
But it made me laugh uncontrollably.
My 1st 2 answers:
1. hermit living in the big city
2. Level headed person who always makes the wrong decision.
Title: Two commercials
Posted: June 03, 2008 (05:30 PM)
2 commercials from the early 90s.
Scottie Pippen, lookin' awkward! This one, I looked for on YouTube a year ago. It wasn't there. It is now.
Posted: May 08, 2008 (04:22 PM)
Vista stinks. It really does. There was this app I wanted to put on my computer, WinBoard. It allows you to analyze chess games, and it comes with Bobby Fischer's 60 most memorable games, part of a book I had as a kid. It went out of print long ago.
So I tried to install it a year ago and phphphpllt. No dice. The installer upgraded, though, and so I was browsing through the games. I haven't played in a while, mainly because I tended to get into boring positions where my opponent got more bored than I did, and I could snatch out a win.
But looking at Fischer's games I was analyzing, and looking for aggressive stuff, and assuming both players could play actively. I've been more aggressive about other things, but it manifested itself in how I saw the games. My intuition hasn't gotten any better, but instead of "I guess an attacking player would play X, but I'm not one," I was able to poke at a lot of the side lines that didn't work, or see pretty quickly what the multiple threats in a move were.
It's asking more than 1 pawn and a cloud of exchanges, and I liked the feeling. I have too much to do to get back to chess, but I know if I do it'll be as I want it to be--interesting and full of ideas instead of just playing too safely and figuring I better be happy sticking with what I know.
Title: Pure Salesmanship
Posted: March 06, 2008 (09:27 AM)
An old favorite of mine, involving a football coach hawking Hummers.
I never wanted a Hummer, but I think this is the bestestest Hummer commercial EVER. You will too, even if you don't like football. Or Hummers.
Posted: March 03, 2008 (03:14 PM)
Why is it, some dude can wear an eyepatch like a video game fighting character, sit there just talking over beats...and expect to write something people will enjoy and remember a decade later?
Man, FUNK DAT!
Title: BRAD THE GAME
Posted: February 22, 2008 (07:26 PM)
I'm sure I'm not the only person here who visited http://www.bradthegame.com, but I always wanted to see all the endings. I used WebReaper and probably went in for too much silliness at once. Because I got a bit sick of it. But it will be there for later.
Anyway, today I did something I always wanted to do, but then I remembered some useful stuff I wanted to do even more, so the day wasn't like perfect or anything.
Title: THE FOLDER
Posted: January 08, 2008 (05:03 PM)
This was last year's resolution, but I went through a folder of stories I'd never gotten around to writing. The outlines weren't very good and I jumped over them and said "oh I better do things this way or that way or whatever."
I'm ready to go through these stories and don't care if they're any good. I noticed a date on some of the printouts--July 1997, just before I left my place at college. It was one of those times I tried to get a lot done before I had to pack up and go.
I've made my life so I don't have to pack up and go too often, but then that stability means I need to find new ways to poke myself into action. This time, I got sick of staring at the folder inside my file cabinets.
This is a good start, and I hope I continue to find excuses to get sick of stuff that sucks earlier and earlier.
Posted: January 07, 2008 (01:38 PM)
It was bound to happen. I'd half wondered why something like it hadn't come sooner, then I forgot about it.
I recommend worldcat to see if there are any books in the area. It's useful for me, because I can find books in suburban libraries, university libraries, and city libraries.
Title: Happy New Year.
Posted: January 02, 2008 (01:49 PM)
It's been a while since I posted here. I'm a bit sick of gaming/FAQ writing at the moment--I stretched my goal for # of documents a few times near the end of the year & got to my final goal with 3 documents submitted but not posted before year's end. It was fun to do on vacation/slow time, but I think I put bigger things aside for it.
There's a lot to do in the new year, a lot of small new stuff and important new stuff. I called up a state senator today, then a state representative's office, about mass transit. I'd never done it before. I managed to ask some pretty decent questions including how to call if I disagree with a vote, or if I may disagree. The person there was helpful.
Well, next is the governor's office. He supports a solution for mass transit in the Chicagoland area, and I think he's had a point when vetoing some revenue solution(er, tax increases,) but I'm upset with the way he's handled things. So I needed a few minutes to be polite.
I may get back to games in a few months, but this is part of a new sort of challenge of things I want to do, as in just bugging people more, period. I recommend everyone else try writing their representatives as well, taking 5-10 minutes to say what they mean on an issue important to them. You won't be the dumbest person mailing them, and it may lead to being more assertive in matters you CAN fully control.
You could say calling up elected officials is a lot like writing a review. Whether or not you respect the officials themselves, you need to respect the office by making good points and laying them out civilly and efficiently. I guess you don't get to make a catchy tagline, but oh well.