Kaze no NOTAM – NOTAM of Wind PlayStation categorySimulation categorySports category

Title screen from Kaze no NOTAM

There’s no way to steer a hot air balloon. I don’t think that occurred to me until playing Kaze no NOTAM.

In real life, you can move a hot air balloon up or down, but once you’re in the air, it’ll go wherever the wind is blowing. A skilled balloonist can determine the direction of the wind at different altitudes and try to maneuver into a more favorable wind pattern, but that’s about as far as they can control it. It’s the same way in the game. On the right-hand side of the screen, there’s a meter that shows the wind direction at different heights. You can look for an air current that points you in the general direction you want to go, but beyond that, it’s out of your control. » Read more about Kaze no NOTAM – NOTAM of Wind

All-Day Tea Party Spooktacular wrap-up Blog category

Nightbringer from 2K5

Nightbringer from 2K5

Wow! Thanks to your generous donations, the All-Day Tea Party Spooktacular for Trans Rights 2020 raised an incredible $4420.69 for Trans Lifeline! According to a spokesperson for Trans Lifeline who dropped by the chat, that’s enough money to fund their hotline for two days and provide a microgrant for a trans person who needs to update their ID!

The response to the marathon this year was amazing. I set our donation goal lower than last year’s total with the understanding that money is a bit tighter for everyone right now, but y’all were out of control. We sailed passed the original goal in the first few hours of the event, and by the end, we reached 354% of our goal!

This also meant that I had to subject myself to some truly terrible punishments as a reward for the audience. I drank four gross sodas: ranch dressing was the worst by far, but mustard and dirt soda were bad too. Grass soda was surprisingly drinkable. It was just grass-y! The others tasted strongly of concentrated seasoning, but the grass flavor wasn’t too different from a fancy juice.

But the absolute worst, as viewers will know, was the One Chip Challenge. The One Chip Challenge is a seasonal promo product by the tortilla chip brand Paqui which consists of a single apocalyptically hot tortilla chip that comes individually sealed in a coffin-shaped box. Urged on by an unbelievable $500 donation from Pete and Kate, I ate the chip and suffered for nearly an hour on camera for everybody before finally feeling comfortable enough to end the stream. The remainder of my evening is best left undescribed.

Things went off the rails after the One Chip Challenge (nothing on the schedule from 11pm onwards happened as planned), but this was such a fun stream! Big thanks for Misty De Meo for stopping by to play Moon, and thank you to everyone who tuned in to watch. Your donations will make a tangible difference for trans lives.

If you want to watch any part of the stream, you can catch the video here.

This was a lot of work to prepare, so I’ll be taking it easy for a bit. I have a few more articles and projects in mind as we head into the end of the year, so stay tuned for more later! But one thing you should never expect more of is ranch soda. Never again.

The barrage of sodas this year left me so full of foul-tasting liquid that I didn’t drink as much tea this time around – I didn’t even get to my Halloween teas! – but the hot beverages from the stream this year were:

A short break Blog category

Hi folks! After seven weeks in a row publishing new articles on Tuesdays, I’m taking another short break to work on some bigger projects and get ready for the charity stream on Halloween. Sticking to a regular schedule has definitely helped me out; I think this is the most consistent I’ve been writing since I started the blog! So far, so good.

I hope the schedule has been helpful for you as a reader too. Again, I can’t guarantee I’ll post every week, especially when I decide to take time work on bigger stuff, but I’ll keep scheduling stuff for Tuesdays in the future.

See you soon!

You are invited to the All-Day Tea Party Spooktacular for Trans Rights 2020! Blog categoryStreaming category

All-Day Tea Party Spooktacular for Trans Rights 2020 banner

Tea and skull icons by Pixture

It’s that time of year again… with a twist!

This Halloween, I’m hosting the All-Day Tea Party Spooktacular for Trans Rights 2020, a livestream marathon to raise money for Trans Lifeline!

Trans Lifeline is a non-profit organization that provides microgrants and support services for trans people in North America. I’m excited to raise money for them as part of their Trans Heart October charity drive.

Last year we blew past our ambitious stretch goal of $1000, so this year, I’m setting the goal at $1250! It’s a bit lower than the total we raised last time, but with finances tighter during the pandemic, I want to make sure it’s a goal we can reach. And if we hit the goal, we can keep going!

Normally, I do my annual charity marathon livestream in November around my birthday. Unfortunately, my birthday is the week after the US presidential election, and I just do not want to deal with the aftermath of that. So instead, I’m bumping it forward to Halloween! Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I’m gonna go all out making this stream spooky as hell.

Content hasn’t been decided yet, but as with every year, in the spirit of this blog, we’ll be playing weird old games and software. We’ll definitely play some old horror games. Plus, look forward to more donation incentives, which may involve strange novelty sodas. And as always, I’ll be drinking plenty of tea and taking breaks! Even though this is a marathon stream, I want to be sure we’re taking care of ourselves. Bring your own tea! Maybe something fall-y. I should probably get pumpkin spice tea, right?

The stream starts on October 31 at 10am EDT and will go as long as I’m feeling up for it. Streaming more often has helped me build up my endurance, so maybe we’ll get closer to that fabled 24-hour stream this time? Who knows!

See you on Halloween at twitch.tv/obscuritory… if you dare! » Read more about You are invited to the All-Day Tea Party Spooktacular for Trans Rights 2020!

Virtuoso, the dead end of the rockstar fantasy Shooter category

Title screen from Virtuoso

Rock is dead. Not the music, because the music continues to live on. It’s taken on other forms like punk and indie rock, or even been absorbed into the big umbrella of pop music. But as a cultural movement, rock is history. As music journalists have noted, the idea of “rock” is aging and has fallen out of relevance. It’s no longer the cultural institution that it was 50 years ago in the era of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, or even 30 years ago, when bands like Guns N’ Roses were a polarizing force in pop culture.

And it’s difficult to imagine anything about rock that’s more dated than the idea of the rockstar. Fame has never stopped being attractive, especially in show business, but the specific image of the rockstar – the hedonistic bad boy in a leather jacket who turns heads on- and off-stage with their self-destructive antics – feels hopelessly out-of-date. On the one hand, the aesthetic of looking like David Lee Roth is uncool now, which is nothing he could’ve helped because coolness always becomes uncool with time.

But what’s really shown its age is that there’s a kernel of ugly selfishness in the rockstar fantasy that’s become more pronounced over the years. It’s cute and a little glamorous when it’s just Mick Jagger getting high and thumbing his nose at authority, but as the genre wore on into the late 90s into the pissed-off era of nu metal and its ilk, the self-righteous anger behind the rockstar persona became more palpable. Maybe it’s a cheap shot to invoke the specter of Woodstock ’99, a music festival that was infamously marred by violence and destruction, but it represents a low point for rock. Twenty years later, when the biggest stars in music are using their fame as a platform to draw attention to injustice, the image of a famous rich white dude singing about getting mad and breaking shit like he’s still owed something, well, it sucks – the greatest condemnation one can make of rock.

Virtuoso predates that era by a little bit, but it imagines rock ‘n’ roll going down a similar road, and it has an absurdly bleak vision for the future of rock. The hero of Virtuoso is the ultimate badass world-famous rock god, and he hates it. » Read more about Virtuoso, the dead end of the rockstar fantasy

Breakout roundup Arcade category

Screenshot from Spore

Breakout is such an obvious idea that it’s weird to think somebody had to invent. The ball-and-paddle game formula is super simple, and countless games have copied it, notably a huge number of older free and shareware games, often by new developers starting out with something less complicated.

It’s difficult to talk about Breakout clones on their own, because they’re all copying from the same well-trodden template. And for the sake of this blog, I didn’t want to write half a dozen short posts about games that are so similar.

So instead, let’s talk about a bunch of them all together! For this article, I wanted to cover a variety of games inspired by Breakout that I’ve been meaning to play and talk about what makes them interesting. These games try to jazz up the ball-and-paddle game genre, either by adding new features or changing something about the genre itself. Maybe we’ll learn something by looking at several different Breakout clones at the same time! » Read more about Breakout roundup

5 A Day Adventures Educational category

Introduction screen from 5 A Day Adventures

For better or worse, the 5 A Day Adventures CD-ROM was originally given away to elementary schools and libraries for free.1 It was meant to encourage kids to eat healthy food, but it’s also, unavoidably, an interactive ad for the Dole Food Company.

I realize that a promotional CD-ROM about fruit is sort of a ridiculous thing to write about. It almost doesn’t matter whether 5 A Day Adventures is any good, because the interesting part has less to do with the food pyramid and everything to do with the bigger colliding forces at work in the worlds of education, software, and public relations that produced this thing. » Read more about 5 A Day Adventures

Faces …tris III Puzzle category

Title screen from Faces ...tris III

After the runaway success of Tetris, the game’s designer Alexey Pajtinov made a few sequels.

First, there was Welltris, a three-dimensional variation of Tetris.

And then… there was Faces, a game where you make faces.

Technically, it’s called Faces …tris III, with the “tris” unconfidently tacked on the end as a reminder that this is actually supposed to be a sequel to Tetris. In reality, the two games have very little in common. » Read more about Faces …tris III

L-ZONE Adventure category

Title screen from L-ZONE

There’s no dialogue in L-ZONE, or any words for that matter. To the extent that this game has a narrative, it’s incredibly vague, like an impression of a story without any specific people or places. A city on another planet. An underground lab. Colossal machines and living robots. A nefarious plan. A chance to escape. » Read more about L-ZONE

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