What the fuck happened to all my Thanks

Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#1
I had something like 30,000 at the old board and only have 3 “likes” here? This is an outrage.

Anyway, I ate’nt dead. Maidenofwar nudged me about this place so I decided I might maek a poast. :mon: I’m not likely to be nearly as constant a presence as I was several years ago because I’ve already got enough shit on my plate as it is, but I figured it’d been something like five years since I last showed up and a few people might still care to hear from me. I’m on Discord all the time, though I’m not sure how much I’d be a presence in the TLS Discord either since I barely have time to keep up with the servers where I actually work on game development; however, I’ll probably lurk.

A few things I’ve been up to:

Games

I’m largely disconnected from Final Fantasy these days; I don’t even know if the FF7 remake is out yet (I guess there was some announcement about a leak), or when it comes out if not. Apart from the FFIV Free Enterprise Randomizer, I probably haven’t played a Final Fantasy game at all in years. This isn’t because I dislike them now; I’ve just lost interest in the gameplay style overall. The only games I’ve actually spent very long playing this year are Marathon Aleph One (the open-source descendant of one of Bungie’s two big series before Halo and Destiny, the other being Myth: The Fallen Lords) and the A Link to the Past randomizer. (I also really like the Super Metroid randomizer and the SMZ3 crossover randomizer, but I haven’t played either much this year.)

On that front, I’m one of a few designers of Marathon Eternal 1.2 (link goes to development page for the game; gameplay videos can be found on YouTube: 1.2.0 and 1.2 development and 1.2.1 development… ETA: and I just packaged together a new, semi-official beta, since the project director is rather busy at the moment). Eternal is one of the largest and most acclaimed third-party mods for Marathon (it may be the largest, depending on whether you account by how many levels the game contains, the number of polygons it contains, how long it takes to complete all the content in the game, or how long it takes to get from the start to the end – Eternal measures the longest on the latter, but may not be the longest to complete because Rubicon has three timelines). The official release of 1.2 was in March 2019. We are currently working on a 1.2.1 release, in large part because the Windows version of the game is flaky and requires users to decrease their graphics settings. That should be out in May or June. (If the game crashes for you, you will probably need to grab the latest walls plugin, which reduces all the textures to half their size in 1.2.0, thereby sidestepping the out-of-memory error. However, the game may still have difficulty loading a few specific levels. I recommend also running the game under Aleph One 1.3b2, which for whatever reason manages memory much better on Windows than any other release. If both those steps fail, you may also need to go to “Replacement Texture Quality” under Preferences - Graphics - Rendering Options and lower the “Walls” setting until it stops crashing. You usually shouldn’t need to go lower than “Higher”.) We’re also planning a 1.3 release, but that’s some ways in the future; it probably won’t appear until next year.

Eternal 1.2 is a ground-up redesign of the game, expanding several levels and fixing a number of common complaints about others. Most notably, the gameplay has been massively overhauled to make the combat much better balanced; I and one of our testers personally went through every level on the highest difficulty setting several times to make sure it was fair. The graphics have also been given a complete revamp, although I had nothing to do with that. My involvement was primarily with map design, gameplay testing, coding, and remastering the music and (in 1.2.1) every sound used in the game. (I should stress that I had no involvement with the previous versions of the game before 1.2.)

There is quite likely to be a new release of the Eternal 1.2.1 beta in a few days, perhaps repackaging the entire game so people don’t have to keep replacing individual components piecemeal; I’m polishing off a few further changes before I submit everything to be packaged together. (ETA: if you’re reading this now, this is done; once again, you can grab the new “semi-official beta” version here). This release should hopefully put the Windows crash issues to bed for good, due to some fixes I’m making to the map and shapes files that will no longer require any map to load more than one texture collection. (Due to an oversight with the way the stable Windows release of the game engine handles texture sets, if it has to load one texture from a collection, it loads the entire collection, thereby roughly doubling or even tripling the amount of memory required to run the level.) It will also (hopefully) introduce the precipitation seen in several of the videos as an optional plugin (it causes performance issues for some people’s computers so hasn’t been in the official releases thus far).

I’m also working on another mod called Where Monsters Are in Dreams (link goes to YouTube playlist), another absolutely gigantic mod that has been in development for an ungodly number of years. It still has quite a lot more work before it’s ready for a complete release, but we’re currently polishing off a demo that will contain roughly seven levels. It, too, should be ready within the next few months. WMAiD has direct story connections to both Eternal and Rubicon (another highly regarded fan mod) and we’re trying not to step on the toes of Phoenix (yet another highly regarded fan mod that also has direct story connections to Rubicon) either.

I also have a mod of my own that I’m working on entitled Marathon Chronicles (link goes to a YouTube playlist that contains gameplay of every level as well as a download link for the game). At the current rate, I don’t really expect it to be finished until 2022, but I’m trying to keep the development process as open-source as possible. Chronicles is planned as a direct sequel to both Rubicon and Eternal, although the connections to Eternal are currently rather oblique. Much of the story is not yet written, and most of the Eternal connections will manifest themselves in the (mostly yet-to-be-created) second half of the game. It’s been on hold, but I need to make a new update since I’ve had both a new weapon sprite and a new monster sprite submitted to me within the last month or two.

That YouTube is my own channel where I post a rather large number of gameplay videos, with the intention of digitising the entire contents of the Marathon Vidmaster’s page, but that project is also largely on hold due to other commitments.

Lastly, I’ve contributed scattered ideas to the Link to the Past randomizer. The door randomizer (which I highly recommend; it’s a head trip and a half) has an “experimental mode” with a “mirror scroll” feature that allows you to warp back to the start of a dungeon before you collect the actual Mirror. That was my idea; I didn’t code it, but as far as I’m aware, I was the first person to suggest the item. There is also a sprite of the Goose from Untitled Goose Game that will be added to the next release of the randomizer; it was also my idea, although I didn’t really contribute much more than moral support. I may have contributed scattered other ideas that may make it into some release of the game at some point, but I have not been keeping up with development lately.

Music

I haven’t done much of my own performance lately, but I’ve taken to remastering other people’s music rather obsessively, and I still rip vinyl records occasionally (haven’t done that in awhile though). I haven’t spent as much on increasing my vinyl collection size lately because I’m running out of places to put things; I buy stuff on Bandcamp as often as anything these days.

My taste still tends largely towards metal and prog, though my taste remains fairly diverse as well; a few of my favourite discoveries of the past few years are Karnivool, Oceansize, Rishloo, Zeal & Ardor, Janelle Monáe, Wobbler, and Victory Over the Sun, and of course I still listen to all the old stalwarts a lot as well. I’ve also got an on-and-off obsession with Counting Crows because the band’s frontman Adam Duritz suffers from a rare psychological condition which, I discovered in 2017, I also suffer, meaning that his lyrics are often uncannily relevant to my life. My favourite band is probably still Godspeed You! Black Emperor, although Deathspell Omega has been making a run for the title in recent years, particularly since their latest interview, which opened up their music to me even more (which I didn’t think was possible).

Politics

Still have anarchist political leanings, but I’m pragmatic about them. I’m never going to see genuine anarchy or anything even resembling it, and the best I can hope is to keep Republicans out of power and stave off climate change. This essentially makes me what would’ve once been described as a Yellow Dog Democrat (“would vote for a yellow dog if it were running as a Democrat”). I supported Warren in the primary; she was my first choice by a long shot. I like Sanders’ policies much more than Biden, but the issue I have is… how to put it.

Beyond the traditional left to right and anarchist to authoritarian axes, I would classify a third along the line of pragmatic versus revolutionary. These might not be the right words for it, but I see a division in the left between those who seek to reduce the harm caused by the existing structures, versus those who just want to overthrow the existing structure. Warren is what I would call a pragmatic radical (at least by the standards of the U.S.), whereas Sanders is a revolutionary radical and Biden is a pragmatic moderate. I, also, am a pragmatic radical, so when Warren dropped out, there was really no candidate who came even close to matching my approach. Sanders would have been about #5 on my list of all the candidates who ever ran (I was fond of Harris despite some policy differences with her, and I felt like Gillibrand and Inslee were criminally overlooked by our media), and Biden probably below that. (Biden does have his good points; in particular, he seems very willing to listen to people and to try to accommodate everyone’s concerns.) But at this point I’m on Team Blue No Matter Who, because the alternative is too horrifying to think about, especially seeing this administration*’s botched response to COVID-19, which borders on criminally negligent, if not outright malicious (then again, the current president* is a malignant narcissist, so no one should have expected anything else, especially after Maria).

On that note, I hope everyone is staying safe! I’m trying to minimise contact with other people as much as possible – I’m taking some time off from work until this whole thing is better under control, since some of my family members are in high-risk populations. My current work is linked to finance (I’m actually legally prohibited from discussing the specifics of the job, but I hear finance people talk all day whenever I go in), and I think most people in the industry are severely underestimating the effect this is going to have on our economy – we’re going to have at least two quarters where the GDP of almost every country in the world contracts, which rarely ever happens. People won’t be able to pay their rent, they won’t be able to pay mortgages, they won’t be able to pay insurance, they won’t be able to pay bills. The healthcare system will be completely overwhelmed. People – a lot of people – will die, some because there just aren’t enough beds or respirators or medical supplies. The costs of that are impossible to enumerate. That’s not even taking into account the psychological toll. Stay safe.

I’m serious about the Thanks though. My attitude towards staffing message boards these days is something like General Sherman’s towards the presdiency (“If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve”) but, if given access to a test board and info about the structure of Xenforo and the old Thanks hack, I’d be willing to write an algorithm to import all the old Thanks as Likes or whatever the hell they’re using now. Would be a worthwhile usage of programming/MySQL skills so they don’t just wither on the vine.

:mon:
 
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Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#4
I can’t say the fresh start doesn’t disappoint me. I know the old board is archived somewhere, but how often do people go back and look at it? :hohum: Given the old post history is still there on this version of the board, it just seems strange not to have the likes associated with them. But not my decision, of course.

I also take it there’s no way to re-enable the view of users’ custom font formatting? Which also seems strange, since the options to specify it are still there. I thought the custom fonts gave people’s post a bit of a unique flavour.

Anyway, thanks, you two!
 

Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#6
Thanks!

And like I said, if people are still interested and are willing to give me access to a test board, I’d be very happy to look at the logistics of doing it conveniently. I think I can probably knit together some sort of solution with string and twine; after all, I’ve merged about eight different message boards together over the years (all archived at Fool’s Gold, even though it’s not up at the moment). This wouldn’t be much different.
 

Odysseus

Potato Cult Leader
AKA
Ody
#13
Ayyyyyyy! You probably have no idea who I am, since I was just a lurker back when you were around, but anyway it's good to see you back. I was wondering whatever happened to you. RIP all your likes.
 
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