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tagline by hcs at 11:42 PM EST on February 25, 2020
bottled under the authority of the midnight society


Yikes, Spotify has got a big problem with credential stuffing. I signed up with an old password and within two days I got an email saying it'd been signed in from a distance. Put in a proper unique password and signed out everywhere, the next day it needed another reset for "suspicious activity" (I assume from being hammered on by the attacker).

edited 5:05 PM EST February 26, 2020
by hcs at 2:33 AM EDT on March 20, 2020
Been catching up on a few games I'd bought but not played:

Portal 2 (2011) was a lot of fun, and now I know what all the lemon talk was about a few years ago. Only did the single player story.


Heaven's Vault (2019) I was looking forward to for its ancient languages mechanic, but I've bounced off it so far. I'd enjoyed Inkle's 80 Days (2014), which is very strongly suited to multiple playthroughs. I think I don't like something longer with the feeling that I'm making irrevocable bad decisions at each dialog branch, and it's hard to decide how to consistently role play the character vs saying what I'd want to say. There's also a great deal of information being dumped and I'm a little overwhelmed and feeling I'm not absorbing essential things.

The language translation mechanic itself is a bit of a letdown, at least early in the game you're making completely arbitrary guesses without context and no way to indicate confidence level. I was expecting something more puzzley, this is very adventure gamey.

But I haven't played enough of it yet to really give it a fair try, so I may revisit it. It doesn't help that there are graphical issues (flickering) on my system, I should fix those first so the whole experience doesn't feel so janky.


I just finished The Beginner's Guide (2015), it struck me quite strongly. It is over quickly, which allows immediate reflection on the whole course of the game. I have to think some more about it, maybe I'll end up replaying it. I didn't see it going where it did, though I can see how someone more skilled at empathy might have. Recurring symbols were employed to great effect.

I've also heard good things about The Magic Circle (2015), which I bought around the same time but haven't played yet, and which also deals in meta-art themes. That may be next for me, though I'm going to have to let Beginner's Guide sink in some more.

edited 2:35 AM EDT March 20, 2020

edited 2:36 AM EDT March 20, 2020
by SmartOne at 2:00 PM EDT on March 21, 2020
Funny, I don't even have a Spotify account but just got a bunch of emails to verify account creation.
by hcs at 10:23 PM EDT on April 2, 2020
Been watching a hummingbird visiting the tree across the street from my apartment, my new desk looks out that way so I've been seeing it often the last few days. I suspect it's an Anna's, but not sure.

I've gotten better day by day at getting a photo of it, but I don't have very good optics. This is through binoculars held up to my smartphone camera.


edited 10:23 PM EDT April 2, 2020
by hcs at 7:37 PM EDT on May 26, 2020
I ran across a CD-R from 2005 (still good!) where I'd put the source files from my Max Payne PS2 rip kit. The links to the MP3s have been dead for a long time as I deleted those from the web site pretty soon after uploading them. So today I reencoded them, enjoy weird stuff like this report from the voiceover producers, or "The Void" with "Captain Broussard" and "Scott" [Miller] in the engine room.
by hcs at 2:18 AM EDT on July 5, 2020
For the last few months I've spent virtually all my free time (and some time that wasn't really free!) on a new version of Neon64. I've got 2.0 beta 1 up there now, this is the first release.

Kind of symbolic releasing it today, the first entry in my old devlog was 2002-07-04. That's when I came home from a fireworks display, moved my PC next to the family TV, and started on 1.0. That was 18 years ago (2020-2002); the N64 came out only 13 years after the Famicom (1996-1983).

The old version was written, along with the assembler, in DOS on a PC with 8MB RAM. Now I use vim on Linux on a PC with 8GB RAM, mostly using a Chromebook as a terminal.

I had started work on a new version using a new assembler (written in Racket) last year, but that fizzled out as I was caught in an infinite cycle of yak shaving. This current effort started in May, using bass.
krom's code made it really easy to get started, my first real exercise was reworking his tile conversion RSP ucode to be 4x faster, and it went on from there.

cloc thinks it's 8951 lines of code, seems a little short to me. The last nonzero byte is at 0xb268, about 45K total. The instructions in the CPU portion fit nicely into the 32K instruction cache.

There's some notes in the readme about the architecture so I won't go into much detail about that, I pulled every trick I could think of to get this running smoothly while still being fairly accurate.

If anyone tries it out please let me know!


Also recently I pre-ordered the FF7 Remake OST, looking forward to it as I already enjoyed some of the arrangements in the rip.

edited 3:46 AM EDT July 5, 2020
by hcs at 2:27 AM EDT on July 8, 2020
Neon64 2.0 beta 2 is up, including source.
by hcs at 6:03 AM EDT on July 23, 2020
I finally fulfilled a dream this week: to run a N64 ROM with custom boot code. See boot_stub.
by hcs at 8:12 AM EDT on July 27, 2020
Neon64 2.0 beta 3 is up, a few new features and lots of bug fixes.
by hcs at 12:08 AM EDT on September 4, 2020
I picked up Micro Mages a few weeks back, started playing it this week, just got to Hard Mode tonight. It's very cool, well designed, and all the more impressive for fitting in unswitched NES cart space (40K)! Check out this interesting video with a breakdown of the size reduction techniques.

I ran across it while looking for a Super Bat Puncher demo cart, which I'd love to have as I think that's one of the most impressive homebrew NES games, very good technically but moreover very well designed, but I think only a few were ever made for an auction so I've never been able to find any (besides one I saw at MGC one year that wasn't for sale). Micro Mages is from the same developer, Morphcat. I think I'd heard about the new game before, but I missed the Kickstarter somehow. So I picked up the Kickstarter rewards (NES cart, box, manual, soundtrack, etc) on eBay. Lunar contributed an arrangement for the soundtrack, cool!

I look forward to being able to play this with 4 players some day. Part of the reason for the 8x8 characters is to allow 4 players with minimal flicker (it also cuts down on needed CHR-ROM). I'll have to get Fourscore support in Neon64; generally the game works well, but even 2nd player doesn't work at the moment. (The other main issue I notice is the noise channel is too loud or doesn't decay fast enough, or maybe it needs a filter, the drum on the boss stage sounds like it plays some long beats instead of several short beats.)

edited 12:09 AM EDT September 4, 2020

By the way, Micro Mages is also for sale for PC (, Steam), packaged with an emulator, and includes easy access to the ROM if you want to play it in your emulator of choice.

(I should add that my standards for NES homebrew are probably not the best calibrated, I knew every major homebrew game maybe around 2005 but only a few high points since.)

edited 12:30 AM EDT September 4, 2020

In other "hcs plays" news:

A few weeks ago I started playing Hollow Knight. It's neat! I like exploring the world, the combat generally makes sense for a not-so-hot-with-combat guy like me, the style is interesting for how it kind of wrestles with the broader tone.

I tried playing Nier Automata, but even with the graphics and minimum and resolution turned down to NTSC levels it has trouble running on my whimpy machine. The gameplay isn't really up my alley, in any case, as I said not big on combat, and especially not great at it in 3D. Love the music, though.

Probably the most time I've spent lately is Desert Golfing, while listening to podcasts. I've long ago lost the game I started back when it first came out, several Android phones back, but I'm now much further than I've ever been. I certainly don't remember having gotten to the interesting color schemes. It's sometimes frustrating, but usually the 2D golf thing is a soothing nothing, with little jolts when hitting a hole-in-one. There's also this weird curiosity as to whether it develops any further. Don't spoil it for me, I don't want to know for sure one way or the other! I've tried to avoid looking up anything about it, though I just recently searched for hole 2866 to see if I was missing something.

edited 12:45 AM EDT September 4, 2020

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