that.. intro, says it all.
The cd-rom said “earthjim.exe” so I popped it in, being the worlds greatest gamer and all, I had no fear. Sure the man who sold me the disk said it was haunted, but who cares. I sure didn’t. But then, when the game opened, the screen was black, and the voice over that says “Earthworm Jim” had a childs voice saying the same thing underneath the deeper voice. And Jim’s eye’s as he stared at me, blood seeping from his very sockets.. I had to press on and press start! Knowing full well I could just turn the thing off, I decided to keep on going because reasons. The game started, the title screen just said “welcome to hell” when it should have said “New-Junk City”, the background track was in reverse and Jim was out of his power suit. Just when i started to move, Jim stopped, turned and looked RIGHT at me, missing pupils they just looked, dead. He then screamed “HEEEEELPPP!” as a raven swoops down and grabs him. He fights valiantly, screaming bloody murder the entire time he was being torn to shreds. Blood flying everywhere, soaking the level in a crimson red. Finally, jim’s mortal coil was shed, as he drooped limp in the crows maw, and carried him off to finish the job. The screen fades to black. At this point, a crow smashes into my bedroom window! I take the game out and smash it with a hammer, surely it must be the cause! The funny thing, after I did that? The crow never came back. I swear, I could have died that day.
One day I happened to be perusing a yard sale, when I saw a stack of old video games on the cheap. Excitedly, I slid on over and started fanning through them. Some great old stuff in here from a lot of different console. Decent, Half Life, and to my joy I spotted an SNES cart with without a label, just permanent marker that said “earthjim” on it. I was excited because, being 23, I missed out on Earthworm Jim, and hadn’t really given it too much thought up until now. I look through the rest and determine nothing else of interest, so I take the cart to the person running the yard sale.
“Hey how much for this one?” I ask
“Oh shit,” he mutters under his breath. I could barely hear him as he continued “How did that get there..”
“Is there a problem?” I inquire
“Uh, well, no not really. Just a warning, I was supposed to toss this one in the dump many years ago, as it’s not.. quite right” he explains.
“Really? So it doesn’t work?” I ask, feeling a little disappointed
“No, it works just fine.. look I’ll let it go for.. two dollars” he bartered
It was a deal. I reached in for two singles and we exchanged handshakes. I hurried home.
Once I got to my room, I had to hook my super nintendo up again, not a big problem but annoying all the same. Once I do I pop the game into the top loader and slide the power button. Blackness.
“Shit” I mutter to myself, as I turn the console off, eject the cart, blow into the cartridges bottom, and throw it back in again. Still, blackness. “Aw come on, a bunk cart? Damnit”. Frustrated, I leave the room immediately to fix something to eat, forgetting to turn off the console.
Some moments later, fresh peanut butter toast in hand, I return to my room to see Earthworm Jim’s mug on my television screen. The letters for “Earthworm Jim” dance around on screen, but something about the color scheme struck a nerve with me. It made me kind of sick actually. The tones were muted, and everything had a weird off kilter tint. The colors triggered something in me, a queasy feeling. So I reset the console, to once again: pure blackness.
I decide to wait a few moments this time, maybe this is what the man meant by “not quite right”. it could simply be a damaged cart. After a couple agonizing minutes staring intently at a black screen, it flashes a seizure inducing white for a split moment before showing me the same sickly screen. This time I heard a voice over say “Earthworm Jim” but the audio was a little scrambled. That couldn’t have been right either..
This time I decide to hit start and see if it get’s any better from there. The text label that’s probably supposed to be showing me the name of the level, instead shows me a series of random letters, “OFX KVOL DJUZ” as they dance on screen. I briefly think this may be some kind of password, and jot it down once I could find a pen and paper. It dawned on me though, why would the first level show me password? What would be the point of that? Old game logic?
I try out the controls. At first, I try moving around. Moving the left looked fine, but its when I moved to the right, every once in a while Jim’s sprite would swap for another randomly. I just ran back and fourth here trying to see if there was some kind of pattern, and the answer is no, there was not. Next came shooting, looked fine as far as I could tell, but there was no audio to it. I pressed a button and could see Jim extract himself out of the suit and attempt to whip.
The crack of the whip escaped out my televisions speakers with such wicked ferocity, it felt like it stabbed my ear drums. I cover my ears in reaction but it was far too late, the ringing in my head so maddening I started seeing double until it died down. I decided to take a small break and swallow some aspirin.
“What the fuck was that about.” I exclaim to myself, kind of as a way to test my hearing as the ringing died down. I checked the volume, it was mostly all the way down, how the hell did the game make such a loud noise? I grabbed a pair of construction earmuffs from my work uniform, and press the whip button again…
Nothing? soundless? No.. no there was sound. I take off the muffs and notice it’s making a relatively normal, albeit stereotypical whipping noise at a normal volume level. I couldn’t have possibly imagined that? No, the pain in my ears still rang, it definitely happened. Do I continue, I think to myself, or toss it in the trash? I’ll be honest, curiosity got the best of me. This was all too weird not to endure, but I just dont know what to be prepared for next.
Aside from Jim’s character swapping glitch, the game played relatively like “normal” for a while. Got past some areas, died a few times, hell I even found out that the level text was just “NEW JUNK CITY” but with each letter shifted one letter up. Must be the text loading in weird. I finally get to the first boss, a weird trashcan looking dude, and start laying waste to him with my silent machine gun.
And then blackness.
“Goddamnit, did the game rese-” before I could finish my sentence the game came back and the trashcan dude was in the middle of throttling me. Once I started getting back into winning again, the screen dips out again, but with a tiny bit of small text in the bottom right of the screen, I’m surprised I noticed it at all. “tbwf_nf”. I barely have time to commit it to memory before the game comes back to me having mostly lost the fight. I pause at this point and jot down the letters.
Using the decryption tactic as before I found the message said “save_me”. Figured this was some weird wayward debug message caught up in the same problem as the level text. Giving it a few more moments thought, I put the pencil in my mouth and unpaused the game.
Through some miracle I managed to win the fight against the trashcan guy. So I pressed on. After some more bouncing around on mounds of pixelated tires, and getting used enough to the graphics where I was no longer feeling queasy looking at it, the screen decided to flash white for a brief glimpse. You know when a bright light burns your retinas and you can still faintly see it after it had already gone away? Everything I looked at on screen and around my room had a white washed tint as I tried desperately to blink it away. I swear continuously under my breath..
“I don’t know how much more of this I can take” I confess to myself, I mean this game is starting to affect my health and who knows whats going to happen next. And before I even have a chance to think, it happens again, like someone had thrown a flash bang in my room!
As I again, desperately try to blink away the white wash, I notice something amidst the white square, it was faint but it definitely looked like a near silhouette of a young boy. I couldn’t make out anything else.
That’s it, I’m done. Now it’s getting too real.
I turn off the machine and yank the cart out of the console, and go so far as to throw it in the kitchen trash. I pop a couple tylenol and lets be honest, some cold medicine to help knock me out for the night.
I turn off the lights with a yawn that would make a black bear blush, and retire by falling face first into my bed. The medicine did it’s job.
Whew, it’s cold in here tonight.. I end up with goosebumps on my arms and legs from the cold in my room and try to sleepishly tuck under my covers without opening my eyes, still too knocked out.
Whew.. it’s cold again. My mind is conscious enough to notice my blankets were mostly off again, but I couldn’t open my eyes yet. I just reach down and re-cover myself.
Whew… what the hell, I’m so fucking cold again! where are my covers? I think to myself. Mind startled awake again but my eyes just won’t open properly. I feel around but can’t find my covers anywhere near me as I desperately attempt to grasp at anything that feels like them. I pry my eyes open to find them
All I see is a fucking face damn near touching my own!
In a bought of fear, i madly take multiple swings into the air that don’t connect to anything, and scuttle back as far as I again until my back is up against the wall. I open my eyes again and look straight ahead, but nothing was there. Look to my right, nothing, left, nothing, down, nothing. When I look up at the ceiling though, there was the face, and again only mere millimeters from my nose, staring at me!
It took me a full second to piece it together, this was the silhouette I saw!
My eyes widen so much I could almost swear they could have just fallen out at any moment. The figure then starts reaching for me
I duck and attempt to dodge the touch, but in one motion his vaporous hand lands on my shoulder.
“Thank you” he whispered to me without opening his mouth.
I blinked, and in that moment, he was gone.
“Did I just fucking imagine that”, eyes still so wide open. The temperature even returned back to it’s normal heat. If I didn’t imagine that, how long was he standing there fucking watching me? Was he causing the cold? I just sat there, wide eyes, barely blinking, for the remainder of the night until the sun came up the next morning.
My muscles felt stiff as a board. I could barely move my arms, let alone my legs from having stayed in the same upward position for seemingly an eternity. Once I regained my composure, I wrapped myself in my blanket, despite the heat, and walked over to the kitchen to quench my parched throat. The only thing in the fridge was a juicebox, so I hurriedly stabbed the foil opening with the straw and drank it so quickly I don’t even think the liquid touched my tongue.
I walked over to to the trash to discard the used tetrabox, and after having tossed the item in, noticed that the super nes cart was actually torn in half, no.. not torn, more like burst from the inside out.
Both stories were written by me, not lifted from anywhere. I hope you got a chuckle out of the first bit, and I hope the second story kept you interested the whole way through
The important part I’m trying to illustrate here was I utilized elements of the supernatural, while still staying well within the framework provided by entertainment mediums such as video games, using an understanding of the technology and making literal use of it’s limitations. Simply put, game characters “bleeding”, especially sprites, isn’t scary, nor is it unnerving at all. This would have to mean the assets stored in the data were tampered with in a physical way, and most hardware like game carts and disks simply cannot be written too again like that. So utilize a digital characters worst fear: glitching, or being erased. A fictional character hurt, bleeding, or otherwise insulted in a real-life setting is simply not threatening to them. A simple fridge magnet is your basic gun to a digital entity.
So that’s the tip, hope this helps! Probably wont, but I hope. I’m just so tired of sprites bleeding at the eyes………….
So it’s a lame claim to even no fame at all, but I’d like to post this anyways, because I’m proud of the response and I’m happy with the responses it’s getting. It’s rare that my comments receive any responses, let alone positive attention and even praise.
Have you ever thought about something from your past, you have the super vague memory of it but it’s just blurry or not long enough to trigger anything specific. It’s just kinda.. there?
So, when I was a kid, I remembered this scene from an old cartoon. I was really young and this memory was super fuzzy, but the part that I did remember shaped a specific outlook for me on how “cool kids” weren’t actually all that “cool”.
The scene involved a dog, whome for so many years of my life I’ve misattributed to Courage the Cowardly Dog, and the dog was at the beach with his family. I remember some punk “cool kids” invading their personal space with a BoomBox and thrashing about in the stupidest looking dance to the nonsensical shit blasting out of it. The scene resonated with me greatly when the dog, who can’t seem to stand the music either, drags the boom box to the water and tosses it in, much to the other beach goers rejoice, and the utter heartbreak of the “cool kids”
That’s all I remember.
Something came up today where I had a moment to reference the Iron Giant, which got me onto it’s wiki page. While very very quickly and briefly skimming some details, I saw a link to something called “Family Dog” and how Brad Bird was attached to it. That got me to thinking for a second. So I clicked on it.
I was immediately greeted with this dogs face, and suddenly it all came rushing back to me. It wasn’t Courage, it was Family Dog! But, I still needed to be sure. Thankfully Wiki’s breakdown of the episodes lead to me the episode name “Dog Days of Summer” and the description though brief, confirmed there was an episode where the family goes to the beach.
One quick google search lead me to youtube originally which was entirely in french, and then one more search sans youtube lead me to daily motion where the full episode sat.
Here it is. The tiny nugget of a memory that has resonated with me since I saw it on TV as a small child, and here it was, in full high video quality, clarity, and glory. I love how I can bring this chapter to a close, as I’ve been passively wondering about what show that scene came from ever since.
The sequence in question, starts at 14:48 and ends at 18:26 pretty much exactly, where for the first time in the entire episode, the dog is allowed to be happy for a moment and highly praised for restoring order to the beach for him and his owners.
I love when re-discoveries like this happen.
my most professional youtube production to date
not that that’s saying much, but still.. lots… to fix going forward.
New episode tomorrow!
Video games is a weird thing.
So there’s some shit going on right now about how Rust, a game of survival, for whatever reason decides to throw you into the shoes of a random gender, and your stuck with it for life. Never mind the fact that Rust of all things isn’t a good platform for being Politically Correct or Morality Policing with shit like this being the norm
But “People are Freaking Out“? Really?
It stems from this weird outcry lately of game players decidedly only playing games now if they can “identify” with who they’re playing as. This is an aspect of game playing I literally just can’t understand.
Oh, I get a persons innate desire to have the adventure all for themselves, but the problem is that you do not translate into the adventure, at least not until true Interactive Storytelling becomes a norm.
When people pour umpteen million hours into the character creation tools of Elder Scroll and later Fallout games, what is this for? Nothing you choose here has any effect on the game whatsoever, and it’s not online so no one will see your hard work, what’s actually stopping you from just smashing the “Accept” button on the default chosen template and going from there? Nothing. Actually nothing. Nothing at all.
And that’s fine, this is a series that thrives on having an adventure around you, and your just along for the ride. You have no voice, no major impacting interaction with the environment (in fact you can steal someones shit and they will just never notice), and only a bare minimal consequence when it comes to the dialogue trees.
And that’s the pull with blank check characters. Unlike experiences such as Dungeons and Dragons where imagination is the only limit to what can happen, video games are defined by limitations and working within them. We’ve come a long way, but the myth of true Interactive Storytelling is still a ways off, as people like Chris Crawford can tell you, who has spent his entire career chasing this dream. This is why in a role playing video game where you get to create the character from top to bottom, the world will never be able to truly understand who you are and what you do in their universe.
I dont know about you, but I look at character driven media fondly, and why? Because they have personalities and flaws that help push a narrative and build a world around them. The fact of the matter is, not everything needs “choice”, and not everything needs to pander to you as a person to be an excellent adventure and narrative.
The statement “because it doesn’t matter what the gender is, the same things can happen whether they’re female or male” works as a double edge sword to those who throw it around, as then why is there a problem in the first place being forced into an established character, regardless of their gender/race/orientation? If it shouldn’t matter what gender they are represented as in the game, why should it matter what the choice of the designers took? it’s the same game, enjoy it for how it’s designed.
Never in my entire life of playing video games, have I ever felt a detriment to the experience if I was “forced” into a “role” I didn’t completely identify with. Because I don’t let pettiness destroy my enjoyment of things, and neither should you. I didn’t feel “taken out” of the experience when playing as Faith anymore than I did playing as Dante. I didn’t feel I was being misrepresented when playing obvious over-sexualized and objectified male roles like Chris Redfield any-more than I felt uncomfortable playing as obviously over-sexualized objectified Ivy in Soul Calibre. I didn’t feel weird playing as Bayonetta any less than playing as Solid Snake.
These are characters, they aren’t supposed to represent ME as a person, they are representations of characters as defined by the designers spinning an experience.
That’s not to say that the fight for equal representation is won. There are definitely plenty of games out there starving for a female character where there is only and needlessly male choice. Counter-Strike is my favourite example here. For all the updates it’s received in 16 years, still no female character on either side?
But if we’re going to seriously sit here and perpetuate this “I’m a girl, so take your male lead as an only option and shove it” and “im forced into a female role but im a dude so I don’t know what do with myself” nonsense in video games, why not go the whole mile?
You know what, I don’t feel Harry Potter had enough feminism in it, please J. K. Rowling, re-release every book and movie but instead of Harry Potter, it’s Henrietta Potter and replace all the male pronouns with female pronouns please. ONLY THEN WILL I BUY INTO YOUR FANTASY.
You know, I don’t feel as though Hunger Games was as strong as if I could have a choice to buy into a male version of the books and movies. Please re-release a new series of Hunger Games but instead of Katniss please replace with Keith Everdeen but keep Gale as a love interest.
It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Like what’s the point of an artist or designer if every single lead character has to be this weird blank mute slate so every single person in the world can slot themselves into it.
This is all getting extremely ridiculous. But it does boil down to artistic and design integrity. A couple of extremely good examples of companies holding their ground come to mind. Like this response in the No More Room in Hell games Steam Forum:
Game devs showing artistic integrity rather than caving in the face of the latest moral panic. Need more of this. pic.twitter.com/LDGijR5GYa
— Jim K Weaver (@JimKWeaver) April 20, 2016
That is an appropriate response to the nonsensical notion of “your [insert thing here]’s stop where my feelings begin” over-sensitivity to unnecessary topics.
The other one? Blizzard, me and you have never really gotten along but this.. this was savage and amazing of you.
Some people took problem with this pose that Tracer, a character in Blizzards new game OverWatch, strikes.
In a controversial move, Blizzard said “We hear you, we weren’t happy with the pose any ways, so we’re going to change it” much to everyone who tripped over themselves to be offended’s rejoice. What they got in return?
While I think it was a bit gratuitous to do this, it did tell me that Blizzard wasn’t taking anyone’s shit. They hired and trust their designers to do their job well, and they will stick by their integrity instead of pandering to the latest bleating sheep calls of the overly sensitive who most likely wouldn’t purchase their product in the first place.
And no I’m not referring to the weather
I struggled for three solid days to get a properly configured connection to a Postgre database, three days! I finally got it, by seeking out a github repo that accomplished what I was looking to do already. The docs? Unhelpful.
A lot of my problem stemmed from a situation where I thought I grabbed spring, through this “spring boot” thing it talked about. Wasn’t sure what Boot was exactly but it looked like a quick and easy way to get going. This came with zero configuration files and ran out of the box with gradle. At this point we could see a page that said “lol” on it and I was able to move some files around to make more structural sense. We were stoked to really get started.
So my next task was to establish a database connection, preferably with Hibernate ate if it could be swung easily enough, of not a basic JdbcTemplate file demonstrating an executed query would have sufficed. It’s even here where I hit a wall.
This wall erected because I was missing a few things: jdbc overall, Postgre drivers, and configuration for… anything, really. I added jdbc and Postgre to the gradle builder and let it do its “magic”, which it failed repeatedly to accomplish doing. Despite the maven repo giving me exactly what I needed to plunk into gradle, it simply refused to download anything. For both jdbc and Postgre drivers. After fucking around for seemingly forever trying to get a query to execute and messing with downloaded jar versions,, cursing because a fresh project is already getting messy.. My partner in this project pointed out Spring Initializer.
Spring Initializer is a tool that let’s you choose a huge repository of plugins and components to bundle in pre-configured into spring boot, ready to go. At this point my faith in gradle was nil and every person on the planet talked about maven instead of gradle, so we went with maven this time. And hallelujah, it got everything! It was like Christmas! Except I still didn’t have a connection..
The next day was all about jumping around the documentation. See the problem I have with the documentation is it pulls the greatest docs sin: assumes you have everything. In this case, spring boots docs just assumed I already have a configuration xml or configuration class ready to go. Not even initializer came with one. I was stuck again trying to find information, any information at all, about the configuration file. What it’s called, where it needs to be, and what it’s schema is. Because all I’m getting from the docs is stubbed snippets of the config needed for just that thing. And that’s not right. And the examples that do feature using things like JdbcTemplate? In memory configuration-less h2 database. Ugh.
Eventually after failing to find spots which talked about the vital STRUCTURE of a spring boot app, I did a last ditched effort and went to github, looking for spring samples. I hit a treasure trove repo which contained samples to do a huge variety of things in spring, but lacked the one thing I was looking for: connecting to a database. Oh make no mistake there was a single jdbc sample there, but it Too made only a passing mention about “the config xml” without actually saying what it is, where it’s at, or what it looks like, it just said “add your connection info to it”
At this point, I’m ready to call into question what I’m doing all this for. This is torture. Until I stumbled upon my saving grace, another repo, explicitly dedicated to setting up spring boot with Hibernate and Postgre. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Following this persons repo got me up and running in 4 minutes. I had to make some light adjustments as I think he was just using spring and I was using boot, but nonetheless the vitals were all there.
So now we’re rocking a connection, a data class persisting back and fourth, a template engine, and a now configured host with heroku.
What’s next? Well.. I’m currently looking at scala.
This blog has been a bit cathartic to me. At least, I think that’s the right word I need to use. I started really publishing to this thing as a means to keep my mind busy while my wife and daughter took a trip to see the little ones grandparents. They live in a city four or so hours away, so naturally I come back to work and get to hang out on my own.
These moments are quite the double edged sword, and just as predictable as magic. On one hand, I get an opportunity to come and go and do pretty much anything I want without having to worry about being somewhere or doing something else out of inherent parental and spousal responsibility. I love being a husband and I love being a father, and this is supposed to be a win/win scenario. Kid gets to see her grandparents and cousins, wife gets to see her family too, and I do the aforementioned lifestyle to get caught up on whatever I need to. We do this twice a year, and the length of time varies, though it’s anywhere between 2 and 3 weeks at a time.
The past few times we’ve done this however, have been killer on me. I miss my wife dearly, but being away from my kid for so long, hurts me in ways I thought I were immune to. I miss coming home to the sounds of her rushing the door to greet me after coming home from work. I miss her grabbing my hand, leading me to her room to play blocks and legos. I miss playing video games and watching movies with her. And the part that stings the worst is I miss hugging her tightly. Out of everything, I probably miss that the most. She is my world.
My wife is my rock through and through, she keeps me on the straight and narrow (which I need) and helps me stay organized and productive. Keeps me motivated, keeps me level headed, and gives me everything I need as a reason to live my daily life as I do.
My daughter is my heart and soul. I’m so lucky to have a kid like her. She’s so happy, cheerful, caring, sensitive, yet reserved. She trusts her parents to guide her straight and true, and in return she gives us her love and respect. It’s so easy being her parent, it’s so rare that she does anything intentionally malicious, it’s even more rare when he’s truly angry at anything. She’s a loving little individual who prefers to see people happy than anything else.
And I’m not just saying that as her parent. I truly do mean that. She will NOT let me leave for work without dragging her mother over to give me a goodbye hug (nor will she let her leave until we’ve had a goodbye group hug either). If your hurt, sad, injured, or anything other than happy, she will drop everything to come and cheer you up, it doesn’t matter what it was that caused it. And it’s not just us, it’s her friends too. Ever since she seemed to grasp the concepts of compassion, she’s also been extending that sweet loving side of hers to her baby/toddler friends too. They arent allowed to be totally sad for long, she will give them a hug, take them by the hand, and go play.
She’s truly the best.
I miss you girls, it’s been super tough this time around without you! can’t wait to see you again tomorrow! 🙂
It is no secret whatsoever that I have not been a fan of Java, for quite some time now. I didn’t like it in high school, I didn’t like it when I was writing android apps (ironic that my proposal to my wife was written as an android app), and certainly not for many things.
The thing is, I don’t hate the syntax. I love OOP, and Java is about as purebred OOP as it gets. No, I hated the ecosystem that surrounds Java development. The tool chains, the dependencies, the headaches go into full swing when all that comes within a few feet from me. So imagine my shock when I was thinking about which platform to start building a new project with, and decided on Spring?
I was actually quite impressed with how fast it took me to build out something that returned a Hello World on a page, and even more impressed with how fast it took to transform that request into a dynamic RESTful API, complete with json output. Having been exposed to Java applications, it’s just always been kind of Java’s thing to serve up XML as the serialization of choice, at least to me anyways. Well no more it seems!
Even more impressive was when it came time to get my friend to try building it too. He grabbed IDEA 2016, opens the folder, typed “gradle build && gradle bootRun” and he was up and running, able to see the same thing I was. No hassle, no fuss. This is clearly not the same levels of frustration I’d had only even a couple years ago. This is a totally different beast now… I can’t wait to explore it further!