Categories
Gaming Video

My Favorite Games in 2020

Whether laid off and looking or stuck inside for nine months, gaming was critical in helping fill the void for many of us this year. Here are some of my standout experiences of 2020.

Honorable Mentions

Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II (GameCube | 2002): A seminal experience for me in high school with my Dreamcast, PSO has continued to be an alluring, simple hum of a grind that relaxes me almost 20 years later. The household and I started new characters and I personally pumped over 160 hours into this classic this year. Our characters as of writing: a 110 HUcast, a 99 RAmarl, a 91 FOnewm, and our guest character, a 26 RAcast.

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Gaming Video

Myst III: Exile Retrospective

Join me for a full playthrough of the early-2000s Presto Studios adventure game, Myst III: Exile! I also discuss the game’s development and reception, and try my best to explain the story and puzzle solutions as I go.


In the closing weeks of 2017, I recorded some for-fun streams of playing through Myst and Riven on Twitch and posted them to YouTube.

Despite being one of my favorite game series ever, I dropped off the series after Exile. In an attempt to get back on and get some motivation to see through Myst 4 (and maybe Uru and 5) before mainlining Obduction, I wanted to revisit the first three games and share my thoughts in some form. Three years later and I’ve finally completed that self-imposed obligation! On to Myst 4!

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Personal Photography

The Dandy Lion

In mid 2019, our friend Erik was nearing the end of his lease in downtown Orlando and was scoping out houses closer to work north of the city. Meanwhile, we were sitting on a house we were kind of bored with, seeing that it had appreciated 40% in value while staring down an upcoming roof replacement. We hatched an idea: what if Erik bought a house big enough for the three of us? Then we could sell our house and use the opportunity to shake off the boredom and prepare to move permanently out of Florida. Sounds exciting!

This is a visual story of how we found that house, fought through the upgrades and moves, and made it something workable to ride out the pandemic in. And mostly because I just love a good before-and-after gallery. 🙂

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Personal

Origins of a Radicoon

Why am I an internet raccoon? It’s both a simple answer and the story of my entire development as a person.

I have always had a wild imagination and been fascinated with expressive fantasy. Secret magic, fantastic worlds, cartoon melodrama, unlimited possibilities. Emphasis on cartoons—I loved cartoons. It started as early as I can remember. I remember being absolutely enthralled with an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—the one where Mikey turns into a human—in daycare at age 4. I was also obsessed with Disney’s Pinocchio in preschool, even winning a costume contest as the puppet in my mom’s labor-of-love makeshift outfit.

I received an NES for Christmas around age 5 and took to it like a duck to water. My kindergarten journals are stuffed with drawings and references to Mario and Mega Man. In early elementary school I wrote Mega Man fan fiction on the classroom’s Apple 2. I remember pouring over laminated pages of old Nintendo Power issues for whole library periods. Games back then held tantalizing secrets that were only traded on the playground and I would often daydream about all the possibilities. I wanted to be a robot like Mega Man or (eventually) a badass like Sonic so badly.

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Personal

When You Plan to Lose

I’m walking down a local bike path just trying to breathe as the storm rolls in. I have reasons to hope and plenty to worry. We’re going to have a great dinner, focus on Mario multiplayer, and let whatever happens happen—it’s all we can do.

Four years ago I was complacent. I weighed too much, didn’t exercise at all, ate and drank whatever I wanted, and didn’t care about myself all that much. Progress was alright and politics could be put out of mind. Everything would work out in the end.

I remember shaking all election night, from 8pm until I tried to go to bed and beyond. I remember having trouble breathing. The next days, weeks and months were harrowing.

I suppose I got over it eventually. Humans are able to acclimate to even the most negative changes. But an important thing came out of the last four years: a sense of weight to life. To quote Jia Tolentino, “…the way we live is not inevitable at all.”

Since Trump got elected, I’ve: lost 90 pounds; helped my partner learn how to ride a bike and biked hundreds of miles together; fought for multiple salary increases; visited every state park in Florida; experienced therapy and learned a ton of techniques to battle negativity and anxiety; acquired multiple certifications; and for the first time in my life, really started to respect myself—tracking goals, budgeting seriously with my partner, dressing up, and really believing I could do the hard things. And it took Trump’s election to enable all these things by making me realize what I was taking for granted.

During this pandemic I started triaging my belongings in an effort to donate as much as I could. I literally made an inventory in Airtable and marked every item as “keep”, “donate”, or “use and donate.” In the months that followed, I read more books, played more video games, and enjoyed more of my belongings than I ever had in any period prior. It’s all gone and I don’t miss any of it. I enjoyed the things I ditched more than I probably would have if I’d never thought to ditch them in the first place. When I planned to lose something it mattered a lot more to me.

Whatever happens tonight (or this week), let’s not forget what we stand to lose. There is no narrative arc to your life, this country or this world. Our time is limited, and there will never be a better time than now to tackle the things we’re all putting off. It is up to us to treat our lives as finite and valuable no matter how great or terrible things are outside. And if you need any help, drop me a line. 🐾

Categories
Personal Yearly Updates

35

Another year, another birthday blog! This year I decided to ask those that wished me a happy birthday to contribute a writing prompt they’d like me to answer. Special thanks to Alex, Balt, Brian, Camus, Chance, Copper, Dakota, Doobie, Drakon, John, Kyne, Landis, Leeroy, Lokai, Milo, Mitri, Ray, Rosco, Sarge, Sepf, Simia, Soli, Tailsy, Toya, Tugs, and Vic for questions.

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Personal Travel Video

Hiking in a Pandemic

Despite going to the Boone / Blowing Rock area every year for the past few years, we were pretty hesitant this year. With face masks and caution, we ventured up for ~12 days and braved the crowds. With significant rain in the forecast starting at Day 4, we decided to liven it up by shooting a lot of video and trying to document what a weird year of hiking it was. Enjoy!

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Monthly Updates Personal

COVID Town

I started this year dealing with the loss of my grandmother after a wonderful week-long speed-running convention, thinking about how my year was going to shape up. Seven months later and every convention has been canceled, my cousin‘s sudden passing was nothing more than a family text, and I don’t really even remember what it’s like to have office space.

The transition was so sudden. Both my and my partner’s workplaces shut down overnight, and it doesn’t look like there’s any chance we’ll be back at the office in 2020. Our living situation was intended to be temporary, and as such we don’t have one dedicated space for working, much less two. It’s been a challenge transitioning from being very mobile individuals that fed off of the opportunity that mobility provided to being stuck in a small two-story rental with no natural division between work and home.

Emotionally, the pandemic has dialed up the amplitude on an already-jagged rollercoaster of a year: higher peaks, lower lows, and an even larger gulf between how grateful I should be vs. the emotional state I find myself in.

Despite the fear and anxiety of death and sickness, this crisis lit in me a fire of opportunity and possibility. I didn’t expect the situation to last long, so I figured I’d better make the most of it. That fire is now a pile of embers—still hot, but without much fuel, and limited by a difficult struggle with disgust, restlessness, frustration and helplessness. It has been a strange period of golden opportunity and crushing loneliness. Let’s talk about it.

Categories
Gaming

Super Mario Maker World

The “Super World” update for Mario Maker 2 could not have come at a better time. To generate some spice during the COVID-19 lock-down (and as a break from studying for the PMI-ACP), the roomies and I spent May and June building our own Super Worlds and played them together in early July.

It’s nothing too special in a Mario Maker sense, and it’s my first real shot at designing challenging (but not super challenging) levels, but I took it pretty seriously and I’m pretty happy with the results! Enough to make a trailer at least.

Below are screenshots, level codes, and some narrative bits I wrote for each world to read during our livestream. I even wrote this…ridiculous prologue story to set the scene in the hour prior to the stream that you all have the sad privilege to read now. If you want to play the Super World yourself, my Maker ID is: GCG-9QN-TMG

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Gaming Personal Video

Shooting Stars: New Horizons

What happens when you mix the star-struck owl from 2020’s chillest anti-viral videogame with the hottest celestial meme of 2017? Animal Crossing: New Horizons Shooting Stars!