Posted on: Mar 29th, 2020 @ 7:32 pm
Download it here!
Satilla Complex is on the bleeding edge of delivering industry-leading shipping solutions to our customers! Or something.
not be a real corporation, but in this game, you get to be a drone operator! You spend a day controlling the delivery drones that ship packages from the Satilla Complex warehouse to customers.
Use Shift or 'X' to take off, and Ctrl or 'Z' to land the drone. While in flight, use the arrow keys to move the drone.
Watch out for the Canada geese that are migrating this time of year, as well as the vile Despicable Desmond who loves stealing packages from the warehouse.
Thanks SmithyGCN for making most of the sprites, HansAgain for the logo, Miles for testing, and K16 for the music.
MFGG and lessons learned
Posted on: Jan 8th, 2020 @ 3:10 am
There's a Web site called MFGG. You might've heard of it before - a huge chunk of y'all have a connection there!
I stepped down about a year ago
(also known as February 8, 2019), I was an admin on the site. I served in that role for about seven years - which is quite a good long time, especially in Internet years.
I think I did a decent job of making sure the place didn't implode. But while hindsight is 20/20 (especially in the new year), there are some things I could've done better. Since it's a new decade and a trendy time to reflect on the previous ten years, I decided now was as good time as any to write my own self-assessment.
Not everything I did was dumb! Really! I promise!
Maintained fangaming focus...
MFGG is, at its core, a site for making, sharing, and discussing fangames, especially Mario fangames. I was wise to not deviate too far from this successful formula. Nowadays, there's a greater demand for online communities that fill a niche (like Mario fangames) than for those that serve as unspecialized hangouts.
...without going overboard
Black Squirrel, the admin who came before me, did a lot for the community, but he was a little overzealous around the time of The Split. I was wise to restore some institutions on the periphery of fangaming (like Drawing Competitions and the badges associated therewith). The community also proved itself capable of handling a General Chat board (at least for a while) and a Gaming board, and I'm glad I brought those back (especially Gaming).
Stayed active and visible in the community
I wasn't active 24/7 on MFGG, but it's also true that I was in college/grad school or had a job (or both) my entire time as an admin. Yes, I could've spent more time on the site, but I struck a healthy balance of devoting a lot of hours to the community and maintaining my own sanity.
Engaged members of the community
I wasn't everyone's BFF every second of the day, but I made a lot of friends just chatting one-on-one over IM or forum PMs. This also had the nice side effect of making people feel good about the staff and community as a whole.
Made games and stuff
MFGG is a site for making creative things, especially games, and I think the leader of the community should be involved in those activities! I was pretty good about that.
Didn't cuss like a drunken sailor
The Mario series is generally squeaky-clean, and it's reasonable to assume that the content of a fansite for the franchise would not be radically different from the content in the actual games. I'm glad I kept MFGG safe for work most of the time. There were a few folks who complained that they couldn't disable the swear filter, but the small number of people who would consider leaving a Mario fansite because they couldn't cuss are probably not people you want on your site.
He went data way
Relatively few online communities have been in continuous operation for almost two decades - but MFGG has! That's given us a massive archive of data we can use to help us make better decisions. It showed us how activity has fluctuated at different times, helping us dispel misconceptions (like the dumb idea that MFGG's userbase has gotten younger over the years) and make better decisions about how and when to promote events. I also recognized that data is a complement, not a replacement, for good ol' common sense - and that some data is fascinating but not terribly useful!
Made more good staff decisions than bad
The Village People
No man does it all by himself
While I was the most visible admin during the better part of this seven-year period, I certainly wasn't the only staff member - I had plenty of other people who contributed a lot. After a few years, the majority of staff members were people I had chosen. Not every staff member was a home run, but I made more good decisions than bad ones. I think I did a pretty good job of building a staff with diverse backgrounds and skillsets, and not letting the group swell to excessive size (we didn't have a hard cap on the number of staff members we could have, but having "too many cooks in the kitchen" can be a problem if you get carried away with promoting all your friends).
Didn't get wrapped up in dumb Skype drama
MFGG had a bunch of unofficial Skype groups (and later Discord) during my time as admin. These unofficial groups were sometimes fun, but they tended to get dramatic after a while (although the Coconuts IRC stayed pretty chill). Toning down the "discord" was part of our motivation for creating an official Discord channel, although that wasn't very effective.
I find fast-paced chat groups to be a distraction. You can be active in a forum if you check once or twice a day. With a chat group, it's easy to get wrapped up and check every few minutes when you should be working on a game or finishing a Great Big Team Project. I usually ended up leaving these chat groups after a few weeks, and I have no regrets.
Had some semblance of a life outside of MFGG
Leaders are most effective when they have some semblance of life outside of the place they lead. This is especially true in the online world, which can be isolating and disorientating if you're not careful. My social life hasn't exactly been riveting, especially in the first couple of years of my tenure, but I was pretty good about having interests outside of plugged-in things. Sometimes I even moved my body and went outside and stuff.
Went out on my own terms
It could be argued that I stayed on board too long - I wasn't quite as active and engaged in the final year or so, when I got a full-time job (and, unfortunately, when MFGG drama reached a high). However, I'm glad I didn't cave in to the pressure of a couple of rather toxic folks* who clamored for my departure. Instead, I left once I'd done everything I wanted to do as an admin and felt it was time to pass the torch to a new generation.
* Thanks for pushing me to step down - you actually had the opposite effect, and staying on board for a few more months was a valuable learning experience for me!
Whether by omission or commission, I also did plenty of dumb things.
Let things stagnate
When I first become a staff member of MFGG, I saw myself as the caretaker of this awesome place I'd enjoyed using for years. I was reluctant to rock the boat (for I might sink the ship!). I also tend to be more of an "incremental changes" person rather than someone who leads radical transformations.
However, I was a little too slow to make changes that would have benefited the community. In particular, I stuck with some really outdated forum software (yes, that means you, phpBB version 3.0.12) that made it next to impossible to add new functionality. By 2017 or so, I was realizing that we had stagnated. We made a lot of changes at once, although this transition was sometimes painful.
Didn't embrace social media
MFGG first got big in the era before social media had become a major influence on the world. In fact, MFGG was getting close to a million posts per year at its peak despite getting no advertising or organized promotion outside the community!
The MFGG administration of the early 2010's viewed social media as something that's a little flaky - a poor use of time, and something that could attract copyright problems or sketchy new members. I see their point. I was also concerned that social media could cannibalize the actual forums if implemented badly. However, it took us too long to get a Twitter going.
Didn't anticipate the way copyright issues would happen
MFGG is a site that makes tributes and parodies based on material owned by other parties (in most cases, Nintendo). None of these fangamers earn money off of these derivative works (in fact, we work for free and give Nintendo a whole heap of free advertising!). I've been a tiny bit concerned about DMCA takedowns in the past, but I didn't anticipate the way copyright problems would affect the fangaming scene.
In the past handful of years, there were a few takedowns of high-profile Mario fangames hosted elsewhere (usually because they're almost 1:1 remakes of games that Nintendo still sells, or games that were earning revenue for their creators). Then people started hyping the idea that if you make a fangame, it'll quickly get taken down. By now, some people are afraid to make fangames - even really simple projects - because of fear of takedowns.
I'm not sure how big a difference we could've made, but maybe we could've had some positive effect by sharing our side of the story - that we make nonprofit games for fun, and that the games getting taken down are making money off other people's properties.
Made a couple of bad calls with staff
There were one or two staff promotions I never should have consented to. There's one that happened in 2018 that was a very bad idea - he contributed a lot of good things at first, but once he got a colored name, he had a really hard time getting along with the rest of the staff and stirred up a lot of drama. There was another person who was very articulate and made an exquisitely-crafted case for his promotion, but he was a bit too eager to make drastic changes without having any understanding of the community's purpose or history. (This one didn't do much damage, though, since he lasted only a few weeks and didn't hold much power.)
Was probably too easy on inactive/jaded people
At any given time, MFGG usually has a few staff members who are barely active at all. This is understandable - no one's getting paid to watch over a Mario fansite, and people can get busy with school/work or have other more important things that prevent them from participating regularly. However, I think I erred on the side of being too patient with inactive staffers - it may have been good to demote a few of the inactive staff members earlier and replace them with people who had the time and willingness to serve. That said, I caused a few hurt feelings when I demoted an inactive staff member who wanted to stay active - fortunately, he came back not long afterwards.
Didn't build rapport with one subset of the community
Don't hurt me, but I've never been a fan of Minus World - the community that was split off from MFGG at the end of 2010. It never seemed to have a purpose or goal, and it seemed like a negative and toxic environment. (To use a recent example, their annual awards show had a category where the members voted on their least favorite former member!) In 2017, a bunch of people who primarily hung out on MW joined the MFGG forums, and misunderstandings and drama ensued. I still probably could've done a better job of building rapport with them.
Didn't pull the plug on the Discord experiment
This might be a hot take, but I think having an official Discord group did more harm than good, and we would've been better off retiring it.
Didn't play any of the recent games
I still don't own a game system newer than the original Wii! I would've been more engaged and "in the loop" if I'd owned one of them. I was in college/grad school most of the time I was on staff and didn't have much cash flow, but buying a 3DS or something wouldn't have broken the bank.
Specifically, we never really embraced Mario Maker, which was a missed opportunity for us. Maybe I would've pushed harder for more Mario Mania support if I'd actually played the game!
And that's all, folks
I'm still thankful that I got to contribute to my favorite Web site as an administrator, but I'm also glad I don't have to worry about online drama anymore! (Instead I have plenty of real-life drama to keep things interesting.)
Perhaps someday I'll write a longer reflection piece about my life, MFGG, and online culture in general. Perhaps I won't. You never know!
Game Title Generator
Posted on: Nov 27th, 2019 @ 2:07 pm
I've been having way too much fun with this.
Big Weight Loss Racer
Strategize of Rule
Hideous Rabbit X-treme
Remote Cookie Uprising
Command of Lies
Everybody Loves the Love Jihad
Forgotten Cannibal Temple
Shoot of Hypocrisy
Irritating Terrorist Prophecy
Year and Cult
Internet Quiz Fiasco
Ye Olde Desert Rescue
Create Your Own Combat Forever
Corporate Monster Revolution
Supreme Hillbilly of Doom
Crossdressing Yoga Demolition
Samurai Vocabulary Restaurant
Roman Lacrosse - The Movie
Bionic Volleyball for Kids
Jedi Florist Legends
My First Car Attack
Revolution and Skeletons
Kosher Sword Creator
Celebrity Equestrian on Wheels
No One Can Stop the Android in the Outback
Wrath of the Buddhist Dudes
My Little Turtle Spies
Soviet Platypus on the Road
British Drug-Dealing Man
Day of the College Scam
Retro Nudist Smuggler
Darkest Basketball Zone
Scottish Wrestling Story
Backing up a bricked LG G4 phone
Posted on: Nov 24th, 2019 @ 1:20 pm
Back in late 2015, my brother bought an
phone. It was a great phone... at first. However, the phone turned out to be a lemon - because of a defect in the hardware, after a while the phone got caught in a "bootloop" - when you turned it on, it would get stuck on the LG loading screen. We couldn't find anything to revive it - restarting it, removing the battery, trying to load recovery mode, and so forth. This problem happened to thousands of users, resulting in petitions, lawsuits, and innumerable complaints on social media and support forums.
My brother ended up buying a new phone when the problem happened in 2017. However, the broken LG G4 had been sitting on his shelf for over two years, and we decided it would be fun to back up all the stuff he didn't get a chance to recover (don't follow his example in not backing up your files!).
After a bit of Googling, I found that there was no cure for this problem - LG could replace the broken part, but that would wipe out all your data. Various users complained about this problem on forums and social media, and the general consensus was that there were two ways you might be able to temporarily revive the phone (at least long enough to do a backup): fire and ice. You could expose the phone to high temperatures or stick in the freezer.
Before we go any farther, I'd like to warn you that you should be very, very careful in exposing a phone (or any electronics, especially those containing batteries) to extreme temperatures, or using microwaves or ovens used for preparing food to heat up electronics - this can release all kinds of interesting harmful substances.
I started by sticking the phone in the freezer. I removed the battery, loosely wrapped the phone in a towel, and stuck the phone in the freezer for an hour. Then I re-inserted the battery and tried to turn it on. After a few attempts, the phone turned on for a few seconds. However, it quickly died again.
Realizing the freezer trick was probably futile, I tried Plan B: exposing the phone to high temperatures. I decided to start by using a heating pad - the kind you might use to soothe a sore muscle. I knew the heating pad would generate heat but probably wouldn't make things dangerously hot. After removing the battery, I wrapped the phone in a heating pad and switched it to its highest temperature. After about 20 minutes, I removed the phone and tried to turn it on. It took a couple of tries. I had almost given up, but I decided to keep the phone on the bootloop screen while it was wrapped in the heating pad.
A few minutes later, I heard a loud notification sound and saw the T-Mobile logo appear - a very good sign. I was able to connect the phone to my laptop using a USB cable and copy all of the stuff we wanted - photos, audio, and other original content. The phone stayed alive for a couple of days before perishing again.
The moral of the story?
- Back up your stuff regularly
- If you manufacture phones, try not to make dud products
- If stuff breaks, don't be afraid to Google around and try creative solutions (but don't do anything stupid or dangerous, and talk to a pro person if you're dealing with very important data)
Cheerwine Deluxe 1 + 2: Eighth and a Halfth Anniversary Edition
Posted on: Aug 29th, 2019 @ 1:30 am
Have you ever dreamed of helping Iggy Koopa save the glorious province of Saskatchewan from the extremely evil Council of Evil? Of course you have! That's exactly what happens in Cheerwine Deluxe, the greatest game of all time (unless it's not). And to make the best game even better, I bring to you: Cheerwine Deluxe 1 + 2: Eighth and Halfth Anniversary Edition!
Yes, it's here. It's the original two Cheerwine Deluxe games in a two-game megapack (OK, there's nothing mega about it, but it sounds nice that way).
Probably the most noteworthy addition is a save system - the game saves your progress at the beginning of each level. I've made a few incremental improvements to gameplay, graphics, audio, and text. I've also ported the game from GM 8 to GM Studio 1.4.9999 and made my ancient code marginally less bad.
Cheerwine Deluxe is a series of surrealist joke games. While most of the game is pretty zany, I hope there's still some semblance of actual gameplay. Keep in mind that this game was made way back in 2011, so it's pretty old stuff. The game is "safe for work", but there is no shortage of content that some might deem offensive! There's also tons of frustrating gameplay, trippy flashing lights, and annoying noises, so if you have a problem with such things, you may want to steer clear of this game.
Talk to Transformer
Posted on: Jun 14th, 2019 @ 1:58 am
A fun little thing. You type in a bit of text, and this site will use machine learning to continue whatever text you gave it! Sometimes the results are surprisingly coherent, while other times it's delightfully nonsensical! Here are some of my favorites from prompts I've entered:
Talk to Transformer and the Marlboro Man
(I don't remember what the prompt was for this, but it had nothing to do with cigarettes or taffy.)
We were walking down the parking lot of Marlboro Man's favorite store called Taffy, and I asked, "Is there a secret door inside the store that leads up to a basement?"
Taffy Man, who calls himself 'The Real Truth' responded, "No, there is not. Do you remember when Uncle Jim told us he liked a real, old cigar?"
Of course I remembered that! It must have been some grand, grand story! But still, I asked:
"How old did that uncle get?"
And the answer stuck:
I was a kid. At least five years old.
Afterward, I stopped walking by Taffy for a long time. I sat down in the driver's seat of my car and pretended I had forgotten the entire story. Then I went outside.
The store looked just the same again.
"There is a secret entrance down from the gas station," said the salesman. "It's locked behind the parking lot."
I was relieved that the salesman was telling the truth. To be honest, I still didn't think it was quite true. It wasn't until a friend took me down the road by myself, following
Talk to Transformer: The Musical
Prompt: Once upon a time, in a land far, far away...
You were a young girl. A pretty child...
That life, so young and so beautiful...
You thought, what's next...
You wanted to be loved,
and have your dreams fulfilled...
But when you're seventeen, you get your wish...
I've never seen my own reflection...
And for those who know me,
you'll never, ever understand!
(Singing) For those who can see my eyes...
Oh, what you've been through.
But for a long time...
I could not be saved...
Because when you look to me...
Who am I, who am I?
My name is Elphaba...
I am my parents' child.
I'm your wife.
You'll know I'm not gone.
I'll keep my promises...
I'll not be in any pain.
I've changed my ways,
but you'll never see it...
You won't feel me.
(Singing) If Elna, my wife, were here, she'd take my mind away.
If she were here, she'd say "Hola," and be gone.
Talk to Transformer - and Kim, and Plato
Prompt: Kim Kardashian asked Plato, "What
is a person?"
"I think of them as being essentially one in the world, so my question is the same as it is about what is an important and important and important thing to be in life, but in a different context: what is a person?"
The following exchange appears courtesy of ABC:
Dr. Stephen Hawking: "So what is a person?"
Plato: "It's an idea or a phenomenon that is important to you, the way you think about the world, and if you have it, you think about it, so it's a sense or an idea, because if there's been no reason to think about something, you don't really know it. Now, you can know when it's important or important because you've had a feeling of some importance to it. So, for me, I think it's like a sense, but, the most important thing, for me, is the notion that you've been born with. If it was inborn into you, wouldn't that make for a person? So that's the thing, and I think you could say what it is with Plato, I think everything, from the smallest animal all the way up to the universe. The thing I have always felt is that if an idea's good enough for a person, they're going to choose