How many U.S. cities can you name?
Posted on: Sep 19th, 2020 @ 6:18 pm
This was kind of fun.
(I did it without Googling, so apparently I've forgotten about the existence of towns in West Virginia and New Hampshire!)
Katarina the Hippopotamus
Posted on: Aug 30th, 2020 @ 11:45 pm
Download it... if you really want to.
Way back in spring 2013, Game Maker Studio was still relatively new, and MFGG had a Minigame Competition with a theme of subverting video game expectations. I wanted to try GM Studio, and I wanted to participate in a Minigame Comp, so I decided to make a simple indie minigame in GM Studio!
Unfortunately, this project didn't go so well. First of all, GM Studio wasn't cooperating with my PC - to get it to compile games, I had to change a very-not-intuitive setting in the GM options! Making an indie game required original sprites, and spriting has never exactly been my forte. I also had a hard time coming up with a compelling idea for the competition, and it didn't help that I was dealing with some family issues.
I came up with a taco-loving rabbit named Katarina the Hippopotamus who has a fake mustache - and is not a hippo! It makes absolutely no sense. Also, the game has armed alligators who shoot baseballs at you.
Earlier this year, I was backing up some old stuff and stumbled upon a demo of this game. Apparently, in the past I deemed this game to be so not notable that I never even backed it up! Curious about my old work, I opened up the file and decided that it would be fun to make a playable game with it. This game is only one level long, as there's definitely a reason I didn't turn this into an epic three-hour adventure! Still, there's a possibility I'll adapt this engine for something down the road.
I can't say it's the greatest thing of all time, but here's a one-level game if you're actually interested.
Posted on: Aug 18th, 2020 @ 1:25 am
Download it here!
An update to one of my earliest programming efforts! Marioy 2 is a Mario fangame I started waaaaaaaay back in 2007. In this game, Boom-Boom has decided to terrorize the Mushroom Kingdom by playing "YMCA" at high volume all day long, and only Mario can save the day!
This isn't the fanciest Mario fangame of all time, but it has 28 levels and a nice variety of enemies and features. I spent way too long trying to splice features into an old version of the Hello SMB1 Engine. However, this project ended up teaching me a lot about programming and probably played a role in me "going pro" in this career path! The 2020 update fixes a great multitude of bugs and adds some new features (a more reliable save system, a level select screen, online high scores, and Stop 'n Swop, to name a few).
Before you play, I recommend that you press F1 or go to the Game Information page to view the controls, story, and other tips.
How to change the last modified time on a folder or file in Windows 10
Posted on: Aug 1st, 2020 @ 10:23 pm
Every once in a while, a program will change the "last modified" date of a folder or file when you didn't want that to happen. (Microsoft Office often does this.)
If you want to change the date of a folder or file, you can use the following Microsoft PowerShell script:
$d = [system.io.directoryinfo]"C:\Stuff"
$d.LastWriteTime = "8/1/2020 6:14 PM"
I'm sharing this in case someone (perhaps myself!) finds this useful.
Installing a GoTek floppy drive emulator in a Tandy 1000 RLX
Posted on: Jul 31st, 2020 @ 12:41 am
Many moons ago, my late grandmother gave me her Tandy 1000 RLX. It was an old computer even at the time. However, I'd sometimes turn it on and play around with random applications installed on the machine.
Since the hard drive on that computer was manufactured at the dawn of the 90's, and hard drives seldom last forever, I decided it would be prudent to back up the hard drive - there were a few things on it that I'd hate to lose. This task has proven to be difficult - as in "one of the toughest things I've ever tried to do" difficult.
My first thought was to use the 3.5-inch floppy drive - the hard drive is only about 40 MB, and there aren't a lot of files on the computer, so using floppies would be quite doable. When I insert a floppy into the drive, the drive lights up and spins, but it doesn't recognize the disk. It won't recognize any disks - in fact, I've had this problem since at least 2002. I've tried cleaning the drive (including with Tandy's very own cleaning disk), but that didn't help. And sadly, installing a known working floppy drive from another machine wasn't an option...
Tandy was one of the biggest names in personal computers back when computers were becoming mainstream. They produced some great-quality machines - my Tandy is still running flawlessly (except for the broken floppy disk drive) after almost three decades. However, Tandy also used a lot of weird proprietary hardware that doesn't play nice with more standardized component. An excellent example is the floppy drives for many (all?) Tandy computers - instead of using separate cables for transmitting data and power, Tandy used a single cable for both data and power. This might be convenient, but it means that a typical floppy drive won't work if connected to a Tandy - in fact, doing so might damage the drive or the system.
The Seagate ST351A/X hard drive installed in the Tandy has proven to be amazingly reliable, but it also has an infamously complex jumper configuration. My Tandy recognizes the drive only if a jumper is placed diagonally
between the "bus reset high" and "bus reset low" pins. This is extremely unusual - I've talked to a known expert in this field who confirmed that she's never seen such a monstrosity. I've tried using an IDE-to-USB bridge adapter to connect the hard drive to a modern PC running Windows 10 - the drive powers on, but the drive isn't recognized. It's possible that the adapter isn't producing a firm connection, but I suspect it's an issue with the jumper configuration.
I looked into a few other options as well - using a serial or parallel connection might be doable, but navigating old-school PC communications settings is no easy task. I also considered buying a known working Tandy floppy drive, but demand for Tandy stuff has increased and the supply isn't increasing, so prices have gone up substantially in recent years, and it's hard to find drives. (Plus, I'm not sure if any of my floppies are even good anymore!)
After lots of discussion and failed efforts, I found something that seemed viable - the GoTek floppy drive emulator. These are kind of like emulators for video games - they make computer software think it's talking to its favorite kind of hardware, when it's really something very different. The GoTek floppy drive emulator is a little chipset wrapped in a slightly flimsy plastic board, complete with the usual floppy drive pinouts for data and power. However, I still had the same problem with it being incompatible with Tandy's motherboard. Fortunately, I found a special adapter that "directs traffic" so that the pins being used to transmit power through the data cable go to the place where non-Tandy drives expect to receive power.
So here's what I did. Don't attempt to follow these steps yourself unless you feel comfortable in your ability to safely use multimeters, razor blades, and possibly soldering. You can hurt your drive, your computer, or possibly even yourself if you're not careful.
1. I bought a GoTek floppy drive emulator (model SFR1M44-U100, for what it's worth)
2. I bought a
Tandy 1000 Internal Gotek Adapter
. It only took about three weeks to arrive from Australia, which is pretty impressive, especially when you're in the middle of a global pandemic. (Also, thanks Nite for finding this!)
3. I found a USB thumb drive - the GoTek needs one to store the floppy disk images. A 16-GB drive was more than enough space. Make sure the drive is empty (or has nothing important on it) before you begin - your drive will be reformatted and you'll lose any existing data on it.
4. I adjusted the GoTek's jumper pins. I kept the jumper on S0 for the Tandy, but the Windows XP machine wanted S1. If one setting doesn't work, try the other. You might also need to keep the jumper that connects J5 and JA. You probably won't need any other jumpers.
5. OPTIONAL: I tested the GoTek in a Windows XP machine (one with a normal pinout) just to make sure that the drive would power on and was usable. If it's working correctly, the front LEDs will turn on as soon as the computer is turned on, and the computer will detect the GoTek as drive A.
6. POSSIBLY OPTIONAL: The firmware that comes installed on the GoTek is known for being... not great. You'll have a better user experience and more configuration options if you install FlashFloppy (which is free) or HxC (which is not free). To do this, first you'll need to connect two pairs of pins on the back of your GoTek. You can use a bent paper clip to connect them (that's what I did), although soldering pins onto the holes and connecting them with a jumper is a far more professional approach. You'll need these two pairs connected to allow you to update the firmware over USB. Once you do that, you'll need a USB-A to USB-A connector (I had to order one from Amazon - these are a little bit tricky to find) to connect the GoTek directly to your computer. You'll need to download
the FlashFloppy files
the software from ST Microelectronics
to update the firmware.
is very helpful in explaining the full process.
is also good.
7. Don't forget to remove the jumpers (or paper clips!) you added in Step 6.
8. I made sure that the USB drive was formatted in FAT32 with MBR enabled. Then I made sure that it had a few floppy disk images (in .IMG format) on it.
9. I also uploaded the FF.CFG file to the FF folder in the root of my USB drive. The default settings are probably
10. OPTIONAL: Once again I made sure that the drive was working in my Windows XP machine - I wanted to make sure the firmware update worked properly.
11. Now I'm ready to test the GoTek drive on the Tandy. I connected the adapter to the back of the floppy drive, and then I connected the floppy drive cable to the adapter. I made sure that the blue line on the cable aligned with pins 1/2.
12. I turned on the Tandy, and nothing happened - the GoTek's LEDs didn't turn on at all, and the Tandy didn't detect the drive. I used my multimeter's DC voltage mode to confirm that the adapter's power pins weren't getting any voltage.
13. POSSIBLY OPTIONAL: It seems that my floppy drive's cable was incompatible with the adapter. I used a utility knife to (carefully) cut off the notch on the end of the cable that connects to the floppy drive. Then I connected the cable to the drive upside-down. Before reconnecting the GoTek drive, I used the multimeter to confirm that the power pins were getting the correct voltage from the adapter when the computer was powered on.
14. Then I turned on the Tandy, and behold, it recognized my drive! Yay.
Posted on: Jun 21st, 2020 @ 4:50 pm
Download it here!
It's a lighthearted strategy RPG I made for MFGG. It might take a few cues from the GBA era of Fire Emblem games. Maybe. There are five (not especially long) chapters.
You can find more details
I played Game Party 2 last night
Posted on: Jun 7th, 2020 @ 1:23 pm
It's the only piece of Wii "shovelware" I own, and yesterday was the first time I ever played it.
It is not the greatest game of all time. However, it's mildly fun when you're playing with someone else. The minigames I tried were at least playable, and they're accessible to players of varying skill levels. I'm sure I'll be playing it every day for hours on end for the rest of my life.
Or not. We'll see.
The game would've been more fun with Miis instead of the "make your own avatar" thingies with limited options. Also, all of the outfits available just scream "2008 MySpace profile picture"!
You can still buy it at
for $48.99, which is probably more expensive than when it first came out in 2008. I have no idea.
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