Leon's Microblog – November 2021

Here's my wishlist of changes for the final Smash Bros. patch: * Photon Edge no longer puts Mythra in freefall * Pichu's forward air heals them instead of damaging them * Turnip Pull now has a 0.1% chance of pulling the Mario Paint Flyswatter Assist Trophy even if items are off
Deltarune fanfic: Queen, much like Papyrus in the previous game, gives Kris her phone number as a helpline. Attempting to call that number in the Light World causes their phone to emit the Mario Kart Baby Park music on loop for 30 unskippable minutes.
Awhile ago I was fantasising to myself about applying 13 Sentinels's narrative structure to Higurashi… it would be interesting and challenging, given how Higurashi obfuscates the meaning and relationship of its "routes" by itself, to have 13S's extra non-linearity mixed in.
13 Sentinels… is definitely a game that serves as a captivating and original interactive fiction structure proof-of-concept. It does a lot of other stuff decently, but it should be capital-p Praised for mainly that.
It kills me that there are real-life sports where the teams have to play all 5 games of a best-of-five set even after one team wins the first 3 games. Abject misery.
There must be a VN somewhere where every dialog box is actually a BMP with the text baked in. After what I've witnessed in the resource folders of various VNs I've played, it's absolutely likely.
The most thrilling experience in this capture was that I completely lost track of Reimu's position between 0:32 and 0:35. I just kept following the bullets instead of following her. If you study that time closely, you can see some of the scrapes I was missing out on.
Monkey-see-monkey-do really works: all I had to do was watch one replay of someone capturing this spell, and the next thing I knew, it was in my possession.
*tries to say "Oyashirosama"* Oyasumipunpun
Granted, it may be rather easy for him to do this given that he's the sole series lead since its inception, and he only has to remember details from games and manga that he personally wrote, but keeping this all together across multiple decades is still rather impressive.
A huge part of why Touhou is so appealing to me is because ZUN is very much this sort of creator. Even though each game is narratively self-contained and very structurally homogenous, there's always details and care where a well-read fan would expect them, especially post-2010.
The Sonic Mania devs are the first to come to mind, but also current Kirby series lead Shinya Kumazaki (as anyone who's played Robobot and Star Allies can attest).
There's this class of serial fiction creator who I think of as having a Don Bluth-like passion for continuity, not just in the sense of tossing in a lot of continuity nods, but also remembering a lot of minor, obscure details whenever they would matter.
Incidentally, this spell feels very reminiscent of it, although it substitutes wildly different bullet sizes and speeds with less orderly patterns, with lots of bullets crossing each other's lanes.
So the thing about this spell, like many in the series, is that a good portion of it comes down to the enemy's movement. If she doesn't move, you can usually stay safe. I think in this footage I mostly got lucky.
Have you ever given one of your friends a mythic rare personal anecdote
Thinking about how much mileage the EarthBound "Wow" sample, which to my knowledge only ever played at the very end of the character naming screen, has been getting in recent years thanks to Toby Fox and Camellia and a few others putting it in their tracks.
Leon's Guide To Writing Plot Twists: Plot twists in fiction are like drops in pop music. The more there are, the better. Also, the sicker they are, the better. If you enjoyed this guide, please follow on Twitter! (Same account name as this.)
"Finally, crystal armour! No mere metal can match this level of protection! Now we're cooking!" *steps into a beam of strong sunlight and immediately catches on fire* "A-aah, could do with a paint job, though…"
"I did do some housework! I alphabetised your sock drawer!" "Alphabetised my sock drawer? That's just a fake chore that only cartoon characters do." "No, look in here. On the right, the Socks." "Very impressive." "And on the left, the Se–" *the drawer is slammed shut immediately*
What "genre" is Outer Wilds? Wrong answers only.
when in truth (as even very early games, mostly RPGs and sim games) "genres" are just distinctive game loops that each have their own artistic/narrative qualities, and any individual game can wield as many of these as it wants.
This feeds back into what I was musing the other day, about how discussion of narrative in game genres throughout the 90s and 00s was limited by 80s notions of "genres" as inherently atomic – Sokoban vs beat-em-up vs Breakout vs point-and-click,
The so-called "walking sims" are the top level, the "over"world, beneath which are other "genres" – whatever the combat is, the stat management that informs the combat, dialogue tree systems, et cetera.
RPGs of sufficient size have so many miniature systems of other genres embedded in them – visual novel, management sim, various action games – that I feel like it's less a discrete "genre" and more a hierarchy, a method of organising the genres.
OK, everyone, I'm going for a walk. Anyone got any crypto mining trojans they want me to leave running? I'm also up to join any spam botnets for a few hours if any of you own any.
Some incredible things have happened to me lately……… For one, I installed a Python library that syntax-highlights the command line REPL output! Heh, jealous already?
An "egalitarian" JRPG where overworld movement, battle movement, inventory management and character builds are four different jobs, and you (the player) can only perform one of them and must delegate the other 3 to computer-controlled party members for the whole game.
I appreciate comments suggesting ways to improve it, such as this. While I won't change or continue it (beyond bugfixes) because I don't like remakes or sequels, knowing how a work MIGHT be adjusted still provides a telling glimpse at what parts of my craft are valued, and why.
I understand this feeling exactly… and now I'm imagining the addition of a sidebar button labeled "Are We There Yet?" that, when clicked, simply tells you how many more passages remain until the end – a significant yet practical spoiler that you have to explicitly opt into.
This is more like the norm. I agree I'd have benefited from more non-binding choices and hyperlink varieties during the coworker segments, and the main reason they're absent is because I procrastinated on them and could only manage a single through-line of dialogue for each.
This opinion is far in the minority… To me the spam was very difficult and unenjoyable to write, and I think it shows. I don't have the comedic chops to make them as wacky as I'd preferred, and moreover I struggled a lot with making Zap's reactions to them interesting.
But, of course, cold impersonal numbers don't tell the full story… and with that, let me reply to a little bit of the anonymous judge feedback I got.
Now would probably be a great time to confess that none of the puzzles in this game of mine were designed at all. I just forced them out of existing material.
https://ifcomp.org/comp/2021 – WAHOO! We did it! Top Ten! We're in the slightly blue-ish labels, baby! Let the good times roll!
I'm glad there's finally a Majora's Mask speedrun that doesn't go back in time even once. Feels satisfying in the same way that 0 star Super Mario 64 is.
Most of the fighting techniques, maneuvers, and props used in Utena duels are not actually legal in high school Kendo. The audience's willingness to ignore this is known as "suspension of disbelief".
Today in women slowing down time
The following features are mandatory for Orthodox File Managers: • Two side-by-side directory panels, the "source" and the "destination" • The roles of the panels may be switched at any time. • It is forbidden for supernatural means to be employed as a file-locating technique.
"When Shakespeare coined the phrase "leet skillz" in "The Pwning of the Shrew", he couldn't have imagined it still being used 500 years later, let alone for skillz as leet as this."
Been having a pretty productive time today learning how to write Zsh autocomplete functions.
The only "metaverse" I support is GopherVR
It's Nov 16. And so the sad and happy tale of Zap, Chimes, Laurie, Wizard, Lily, Alice, Madiha, Denton Isaac, Henry Honk, Crichard Raleigh, PREDICTIAC, and all the other spammers must now pass into history. BUT you can revisit them on my website, forever! https://fairysvoice.net/games/You_are_SpamZapper_3.1/
This game's webcomic origins mean that several handfuls of panels were reintroduced as instance graphics, and they add a lot of variety to otherwise basic scenes that would've normally just gotten textual exposition.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/chapter-2-58512928 – Playing a mecha space war VN.
By the way, the displayed board game (which the Read Me claims is a remake of an unnamed Atari game) is pretty fiendish, even if it's not exactly deep. The Reversi-esque rules mean that a massive, yet incomplete combo can, and will, be turned around into a death-blow.
People keep calling the ironic explosion sound in Deltarune the "Roblox explosion sound", which I find funny because I've always known that sound effect (and several others) from 913,325 shareware Mac games from the 90s. (One example below.) It's an extremely old friend of mine.
Deltarune headcanon: the reason neither Noelle or Berdly pay any notice to Ralsei is because they assume he's just another of the weird-looking nameless strangers that Kris arbitrarily hangs around with for a day or two (similar to Onionsan).
and even the tiny seed of narrative context (a spaceship design, a fairy in an orange dress) can be fertilised into an interesting narrative independent of those things.
Anyway, I find it funny that this both validates and invalidates the original premise. It's safe now to accept that falling blocks or shmups or kart racing aren't, in and of themselves, narrative vehicles –but still, these sorts of games are almost never contextless and abstract,
Ostensibly an RTS, the story cutscenes that weren't really part of "the game" have now been expanded and built upon, until, suddenly, they are. That's all you have to do, apparently. To make an RTS have good writing, simply reduce the proportion of RTS gameplay. Easy!
Anyway, I was thinking about this with some amusement in the context of 13 Sentinels, a decade and a half later, which feels like this conundrum 'solved' by taking the perceived conflict to absurd extremes.
What was the method for adding a plot to an action game? Toss in some cutscenes and dialog boxes between the levels. Ah, but those aren't part of "the game" at all, but interstitial content that can be completely ignored! And so the argument went.
I remember how for the most part of the 00's, many believed that most videogames genres were simply incapable of having good writing, or even non-trivial writing at all. Imagine a falling block game with a riveting plot. Unthinkable, right?
So I'm looking up giantess porn, and, I dunno, I don't get the appeal. Just seems like hell on my index finger. *camera spins around to show a single huge eyeball on my monitor slowly scrolling upward as I rapidly crank the mouse wheel*
I've been thinking about this in terms of whether the perceived necessity of "interactivity" in interactive fiction are in this sense isomorphic with the perceived necessity of "difficulty" in videogames in general (including certain kinds of interactive fiction).
Here's a "ludology"-type question: do you consider branching narrative choices, in a game – regardless of any actual outcomes – to be "difficulty"? In the sense that they elicit a certain kind of engagement from the player.
Every Leon I know of is extremely proud of being named "Leon", like that's some kind of difficult achievement or something
They finally release a file compression program that lets you compress a compressed file multiple times, making it smaller and smaller until it starts increasing your hard drive space instead of consuming it. You only use it to add an extra 5MB to yours – don't wanna get greedy.
I've previously praised certain spell card designs (such as Sakuya and Youmu) for having "fearsome" gimmicks that counterintuitively make the patterns easier, and I feel like this is another great example of that.
It's well-known that danmaku shmup bullets have forgiving hitboxes (a point that a Deltarune character emphasises) but having a spell card where the bullet hitboxes are fundamentally wrong, and then calling the card "Paranoia", is a sheer power move.
So I downloaded a font, and… I think something important was misunderstood.
"It never used to be that way… and lately, I've started to think things, like… 'Is that what death is like?' and 'Is being unmoved the same as being dead?' and 'At some point… did my dream self die?'"
"That's just it. I never have nightmares anymore… but I never have good dreams, either. My dreams are permanently emotionally flat. I feel nothing inside them. No matter where I am, who's in the dream, what I need to do… I'm completely unmoved until I wake up…"
Are Electron/NW apps actually meaningfully any faster now than five years ago, or did everyone's expectations for PC software quality just wither away
Three stoats have found your corpse, still wearing that deadly cursed ring, and have decided they will not suffer the same greedy fate as you, because they're probably immune to curses. Then they try to gnaw the ring off your finger and lose interest when it proves too hard.
This one's pretty… pretty impolite, that is!!! It may not look like much, but you need a solid grasp of restreaming aimed danmaku, a sound cue for when the restreaming gap opens, AND awareness of how the Y position for the aimed streams vaccilates. Take this one into the lab.
You stumble into your apartment. Your shift went late, and tonight's scheduled exotic fish are almost over. You switch on the aquarium and crank open the tube, sinking into the cushioned end of the sofa as a few striped blobs are pumped in.
The Church eventually decided that dawn was when the biggest intact fragment of the sun had risen, for that was where the sun's soul was surely housed – to the dismay of the Army, who were steadfast that a single golden fragment was sufficient.
I checked the official Nintendo Japan site for the Legend Of Zelda series, and not only do they still have the three-prong forked timeline (seen in Hyrule Historia in 2011) but they put Breath Of The Wild at the end of all three prongs. That's just cheating. Bold, but cheating.
There's too much fantasising about what your favourite character would be like in Smash Bros., and not enough fantasising about whether your favourite character would instantly break a shield when used as a throwing item in Smash Bros.
For those who've played "You are SpamZapper 3.1", my new game… Is it "angst"
My personal theory for 17776 is that it takes place in the very statistically unlikely timeline where everyone's dying, or aging even slightly, simply does not occur ever, and that's the only explanation.
To my credit, I think I did well plastering over the seams, but having what I consider a valuable pacing tool pulled out from under me was a bit of a shock, and something I'll be extra mindful of in future.
I noticed partway through that I'd used a continuous writing style following the player-character (SpamZapper 3.1) and that some cutaways and breaks I was writing were clashing with that style, so I was compelled to go back and add linking material between them… whimper…
If I had to say what the most obvious stylistic flaw in "You are SpamZapper 3.1" (A NEW GAME BY ME THAT'S HERE FOR FREE https://ifcomp.org/ballot#entry-2529) is that I unwittingly penned myself into a writing style where I couldn't really do cutaways or scene breaks.
Just for context… this game doesn't have Binding Of Isaac levels of broken combos. You will lose if you don't go in with a plan for every chapter of every stage. But still… if you DO have them, an alarming amount of difficulty just melts into air… sniffle…
When challenge runners say routing is more fun than actually doing runs, I didn't think they meant like this.
I just planned out, routed, practiced, and got an extremely difficult 1CC achievement in Unconnected Marketeers, but since I did it using a super overpowered card combo, it ended up way easier than I expected, and now I just feel… unsatisfied… whimper…
Weirdly Mind-Blowing Game Design Brilliance tweet, but it's about when the Item Get Border Line is also the horizon line
I assume this has to do with mainstream mental health discourse improving over the years, probably due to social media, whereupon people started to accept that your audience would both understand what (for instance) a panic attack is and why it would be depicted at all.
crying and losing their composure over stuff in a non-sensationalised, non-extraordinary manner, and then processing those feelings among each other on-screen, which I feel is only present in mainstream 10's fiction and onward (at least in the West).
I tried to write my new Twine game "You are SpamZapper 3.1" (PLAYABLE RIGHT HERE https://ifcomp.org/ballot#entry-2529) in the style of very early 00s web fiction, avoiding textual anachronisms, etc. But, to me a big stylistic anachronism is how emotionally vulnerable the characters are,
I don't expect this to happen in the slightest because it's a kinda cliché opening twist style (and it would require everyone to not notice that their clothes changed) but it's one of my personal indulgence clichés.
I like the "god damnit Kris" meme but my personal favourite way for Deltarune chapter 3 to open is for them to seemingly wake up back in Kris's house, but it's actually a darkner house that looks like Kris's house by coincidence, and has frightening differences under the surface.
By the way, I like how this is one of those programs where you can go through the menus and find items that are slightly fixed versions of other items and which were definitely added long afterward. Environmental storytelling.
Just discovered over a full year later that IrfanView finally lets you rebind the menu shortcuts like a good software program. Hopefully it's only another few years until it can open images in zipped folders (something Foobar2000 has had for a long time).
I love playing Unconnected Marketeers (the latest Touhou game) with various esoteric builds, losing the 1CC on stage 6, then getting mad and just doing yet another all-bomb build. It's a wonderful feeling.
"Shooting star wishes are 1.2 times as powerful as birthday candle wishes, which are, in turn, twice as strong as wishbone wishes. Dandelion wishes are garbage. You can huff and puff a whole field away, and you're no closer than if you wished on a helicopter by accident."
"I love owning land. I love to stand on land, look around, and think "this is mine". I love to walk barefoot on the grass of a newly-purchased lot, and feel my ownership in the soil. I'm not in it for the money at all. If land cost nothing, I'd still buy it."
The funniest thing about this bug is that the root cause turned out to be that, when coding the base damage of JUST the unfocused version of JUST the 3-power version of JUST Marisa's middle laser, ZUN accidentally typed one too many zeroes. That's the reason. That's it.
One of my new favourite details: in Embodiment Of Scarlet Devil, Sakuya's spell card splash portrait in stage 5 is replaced with an uglier, angrier portrait when she returns in stage 6. This detail reappears in Perfect Cherry Blossom with Youmu, but the situation is reversed.
The biggest thing this theory has going for it is that the situation it supposes is rather impractical but not strictly implausible.
My latest Deltarune theorycrafting is that Ralsei got into Cyber World by jumping into his own fountain warp-pipe style, and re-emerging from Queen's fountain, whereupon he plodded all the way back left to find Kris. This mechanic will be used in later chapters as "fast travel".
Dead End Jobs For Ghosts (https://shortbox.gumroad.com/l/xdWFN) – The narrative and jokes in this one is a mixed bag of duds and oddly compelling moments, but its general structure and overall message is interesting enough to sneak a tick from me.
To All The White Girls I've Loved Before (https://shortbox.gumroad.com/l/QBUQc) – Memoir comic with very interesting paneling, and which is surprisingly scathing to the author's former self.
Top 3 Signs That A Game Has A Secret Character
The four seasons
That kind of unlikely and arbitrary, yet also mundane and inconsequential, and ultimately meaningless situation works like a treat in both comedy and horror.
The best Komi-san comic I read was the one where everyone except her has a blot of ink on their faces, and she's the only one that notices. And then she wakes up in utter terror. And then she goes to school, and everyone except her has a blot of ink on their faces in real life,
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