Lab Notes 19: Where Have I Been?

Hey guys! It’s been a while since i posted, and i just wanted to give a bit of an update.  So the big thing is that school’s started again. And that means things have slowed waaaaaaay the hell down. I have to wake up early, and i’m there way longer than i wanted to be as my classes are so spread out. By the time i get home all i want to do is crash, which hurts my sleep at the end of the day, which makes getting up harder, which makes me want to crash more when i get home which….i think you can see how this goes from there.

So, yeah. For the last week and a half i have not been nearly as active as i wanted to be. I dont even think i’m going to be able to keep up with my saturday streams….the things i started IN CASE school got in the way of my posting. Funny thing that.

But there is some good news. I applied for graduation and, unless i truly fuck up this quarter, i will be a college graduate this December. It’ll only be an AA, but that’s better than nothing. Plus, i’m meeting with some university people next month, and i have a good feeling i’m going to get in.

I do have a few reviews planned over at IndieGamerTeam, though, and i do intend to keep posting stuff here as well. I’ve got an editorial about hype i’ve been planning on writing up, so there’s that.

Introducing my Saturday Streaming.

Hello everyone!

So, I am very much aware that i’m not as active as i want to be on this site. I was aiming to post at least 1000 words a day, but as time has gone on I’ve found myself less and less inclined to do that. With school and everything, i just needed sometime to myself. It also doesn’t help that i was pushing myself to keep a semi-professional schedule without any of the benefits of doing so. I’m not getting paid and i rarely garner the attention of those i want to work with, so the stress about my time between posts ends up getting the better of my and i kind of just say “fuck it” and stop.  I really don’t like that, and i am going to try an do better from here on out.

On top of simply making an effort to write more, i’ve also decided that i’m going to start doing a Saturday Stream on my twitch channel. This means that at least once a week i’ll be doing something related to the site, while also allowing me to just kind of chill out and take a breather. Now, i’ll be the first to admit that i’m not the best when it comes to live streaming, but it is something i want to get better at. I recently did a charity stream for Indie Gamer Chicks Birthday, and i’ll probably try to do another one next year too. So getting better at this kind of thing would mean a lot to me. So join me at 1:00pm Pacific Time this Saturday and hang out, have a chat. It’ll be fun.

Turning 25: What I Hope to Accomplish This Year.

Red number 25 with reflection

Hello everyone! Unless WordPress’ stupid scheduling system messes up on me again, you should be seeing this on February 1st, which means IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!! As it says in the title, I’m 25 today, which is kind of horrifying because that means I’m 1/4th of the way to 100 and I’m not ready for that shit. Jokes about my extensional dread of being old and irrelevant aside, not is when I like to look to the future and talk about what I hope to accomplish in the next 12 months. I already did my “looking back” post near the end of December last year, but let’s recap:

  • I moved out. To be honest this was only a couple of weeks ago, but as it was one of the big things I wanted before turning 25, I’m going to go ahead and count it.
  • I started this site. I even registered the domain name.
  • I started getting review codes. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t posted nearly as much as I would have liked. I was aiming for 1000 words written and published a day, then started to settle for one post a day…then settled again for posting at least a few times a week. But, I have made it to the point were I’m getting review codes and press releases, witch is nice and been a big help.
  • I got one of my idols to reblog some of my work. Moviebob reblogged an editorial I wrote, which was super awesome. I wanted to get something at least liked gy either him, Laura Kate or Jim Sterling, and I got it. Technically Jim Sterling also retweeted me, but I’m not going to count that as it was a joke tweet about how long it was since the last FistShark episode.

That’s a lot of pretty great stuff. There was more that I talked about in my looking back post, but you can read that HERE if you’d like. Now lets start looking towards the future. What do I hope to get done this year?

      1. I want to be done with community college. If all goes well, next quarter will be my last at my community college and i’ll be transferring to a university to get my journalism degree. While that does mean I should also be starting the school I hope to get into this year as well, I’m not adding that to the list just yet. I mean, yeah I hope it happens and that my GPA is up to snuff in order to get in, but my main concern is going to be getting my AA.
      2. This is the big one: I want to get fucking paid. And no, I don’t just mean I want to get a job. I want to get paid for writing about games. I missed my chance at becoming a freelancer for Polygon a little while back because I didn’t have a good enough computer. I got all the parts for the one I got now about a week after they stopped looking at it took me three weeks just to get it working properly. So, this year, that’s the end goal, getting some kind of paid work. Either freelance, staff work or just getting big enough to run ads on my site or to justify starting a patreon. Realistically, I’m hoping for freelance work, but that’s fine with me. This is also another one I almost already accomplished too by the way. Someone wanted me to post an sponsored article (from them, not by me) about their site and was willing to pay for the privilege. Unfortunately, it was a real money gambling site and something about the email made me uncomfortable about doing business with them, so I just kinda….deleted the email without saying anything….i’m not good at telling people no, okay.
      3. I want to get better at editorials. I’ve only written a few for the site, but i’ve not been too happy with any of them. So this year I’d like to change that. I’d like to post at least one editorial that I’m truly satisfied with before I turn 26.

And that’s my big three goals for this year. Now comes the part were everybody stops reading: the selfish “gimmie-gimmie” part. I don’t expect anything to come out of this, but I’m going to ask anyway. While I will include links to stuff I want in case any of you have too much money and want to burn some of it, That’s not what I’m asking for this year. No, instead I’m going to ask you to donate to the Epilepsy Foundation.

See, my best friend is epileptic. She means the world too me, and the idea that I might wake up one day and see a message from her that reads “hey, this is your friends dad. She had a seizure and hit her head (or something like that) and it doesn’t look like she’s going to make it past the night”….that idea fucking terrifies me. When I decided to write this part, I had a dream were this exact thing happened and I woke up crying a few hours latter. So, if you think I am just the coolest person ever and you want to do something nice for me, donating to the Epilepsy Foundation and helping bring an end to this nightmare is one of the best ways you could do it. Links to everything is down below.

Epilepsy Foundation

Steam Wishlish

Amazon Wishlist

Looking back at 2016


2016 has been a year of cognitive dissonance and emotional whiplash for me. In almost every way that matters this has been an awful, awful year. It’s also been one of the best years of my life. If you read my last Lab Notes then you’ll know that the last few months have been hard for me, but for the most part the story of my 2016 has been one of my life coming together as the world tried it’s best to tear itself apart.

To illustrate what I mean: back in June I met one of the biggest goals I set for this year. I got Moviebob, one of my three big idols along side Laura Kate and Jim Sterling, to like and retweet an editorial I wrote. That was a huge moment for me. But then I had to deal with the fact that my first big “fuck yeah, I’m getting good at this” moment was riding on the coattails of one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks the US has ever seen. That piece I wrote was about the blowback Moviebob and others got for saying that E3 presenters should maybe think about what they were presenting as the Orlando shooting had happened the day before. While I’m not going to go into all the awful shit that happened as my life seemed to be getting better, I think it’s important to know for an honest assessment of my 2016.

This year also saw me finally getting review codes! Back in August I got my first code, for the game Bear With Me Episode One, and a little bit later I got my first pre-release code for The Final Station. While I haven’t done nearly as many reviews as I would have liked, this was another step in the right direction. Ever since then i’ve made enough contacts with developers and publishers that I honestly don’t always remember who I’m already on their press list and have to check before sending out emails. I mean, Nintendo probably won’t be sending me review codes any time soon, but I’m at least a little more sure that’s I’m making progress.

I also met one of the most important people in my life, my editor and best friend, Cathy of IndieGamerChick.Com. Cathy has done more for me than anyone I’ve ever known, both professionally and personally. When it felt like my life was falling apart she was the only person I could really talk too and she has helped me improve as a writer to an astonishing degree. Honestly, go read my old Poor Mans Geek reviews to my the last few I put up and it’s night and day. Hell, compare my ClusterTruck review to my Dark Souls 3 review (which I put out before working with her) and you can still see the improvement. But as great as all that is the best part is just having her as a friend. Literally almost every interaction I have with her makes my day better just by the fact that I got to have that interaction. I don’t know what else to say other than she has made me a better writer and a happier person. Cathy, if you’re reading this, I love you friend and I wish I could repay you for everything you’ve done for me.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Vikkie Blake followed me on twitter and I have semi-frequent conversations with Joe Parlock. So I’m getting noticed not only by really fucking cool people, but people I hope to someday work with. Vikkie even called me cool on the podcast they do, so that’s pretty neat. If either of you two are reading this, keep doing what you;re doing: your both amazing and I look forward to reading many more piece by each of you and suffering through as many bad jokes as the world can produce along side you both.

I am not where I want to be just yet, but this year has made given me the hope that I can get there one day. While I do kind of hate that I can say that in a year that’s been as awful as it’s been for pretty much everyone, I can’t lie: I will always look back at 2016 with some degree of fondness. I’m looking forward to the upcoming year, and I feel ready to take on whatever 2017 has to throw at me.

Lab Notes 18: Fall Quarter is Done And the Future for Ludophile Lab!

The last few months have been some of the hardest i’ve ever lived through. So much so that I was honestly dreading the new year as the potability of homelessness was becoming very, very real. I have been trying not too talk too much about it until the dust settled and I could say with some degree of certainty what my future was looking like and I think now I’m ready to do that.

So first off, what happened? Well, it’s hard to talk about because because I don’t know how much can be said without making issues for people involved, but I will try. For the past few years I’ve been living with my mother and step-father out of financial necessity. Once I got back in school, however, I had a plan: by the start of winter quarter of 2017 (which starts in January), I’d start looking for a place of my own. Either with room mates or a cheap apartment by my self. I’ve planned, I’ve saved and I’ve busted my ass to keep my fanatical aid. But at the start of this quarter, shit hit the fan. Within an hour of me getting home the day school started back in September I had to call the cops on my step father for assault.

This, as I’m sure you can imagine, caused some stress around my house. One of the ways it did was in how it changed my plan for next quarter. While I was already planning on moving out, it was also assured that I would have a home for as long as it took for me to find a place. Now, I have to be out by the end of January. That’s not even the worst of it. My step father was released without having to post bail, so for the last few months I’ve been living with a man who isn’t too keen on me (to put it mildly) and have been forced to live in fear of being fucking murdered every time I go get food or have to run to the bathroom.

Living like that began to take a tool on my grades too. I was really beginning to do poorly in once class (it was online, which meant most of it was done at home), and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to bring up the grade in time. If I failed this class, it was very likely I’d also lose my financial aid. If I lost that, I’d have almost no cash to move out with, which meant that by January 31, I’d be homeless because I still have to be out by then.

I honestly cannot tell you how scared I’ve been for the last few weeks.

But I managed. I’m passing the class by the skin of my teeth, bu I’m passing. So as long as I don’t competently bomb my finals in my other two classes, I’m set for next quarter. And personally, I’m feeling really, really good about both my upcoming tests.

And that’s were i’ve been at personally and mentally for the last few months. But what has that got to do with the site? Well, here’s the plan:

I’m about half way though Aragami which is the last of the late reviews I have too do. So I’m going to use the time between now and finals to complete that, and I plan on getting a review out before the end of the month. Come the third of next quarter, after getting books i’ll know what i’ve got to work with in terms of rent money, so I’ll be looking for a place. I’m hoping to get a room mate, someone with internet so I don’t have to just stop, but I may have to update the site from school between classes until I can get my own internet. But I don’t plan on just stopping, not any time soon. But, once classes start my output might look like it did this quarter: when every I could get around to it. I can’t go through this whole “might fail and go homeless” thing again. I just….i just can’t.

For the first time in a long time I honestly feel really optimistic about the future. I’ve spent so long dreading the end of this quarter, that to know that I’m not dead in the water just yet is a huge relief. Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re doing better that i’ve been. Normally this is where I say that I’m “headed back to the lab”, but I think a more accurate thing to say is “i’m headed to bed”.

Until next time.

My Adventures in PC Gaming

On September 19 school started, and with it my financial aid money came. After getting the books I needed for the quarter I came home and bought the required parts to build my first ever gaming PC. I had found a site that had PC builds broken up by price range that I used to get all the parts. I went for the $600 model and even splurged a little for a podcasting mic and a mouse with remapable buttons to make getting screen shots easer. On top of that I even got one day shipping to get the parts as soon as possible. With all the additional cost the first perches I made was just over $800, but it would be well worth it, or so I thought.

All of the parts came in about a week later, and I had a friend help me put everything together, which took up most of that day. After over a week I finally had my very own gaming PC. I used an HDMI cable to hook it up to my TV (I had gotten the tv I got because it said it could was PC compatible), I turned on the computer and…nothing happened. I assumed this was because I was lied to about my TV’s capabilities, so I sighed and just bought a monitor for the computer. That came in about a week later, but again, it was all going to be well worth it once I….god fucking damn it. The monitor didn’t come with the right kind of cable to hook into the computer. Because of this I had to go to my local tech store to get one. But with school and work study, this means the only day I have free that the store is also open is Saturday. And on Saturday one of the buses I need to get on to get to the tech store run hourly. Because of this I had to wait for an hour at the buss plaza, only to get off more than a few stops prematurely. It took a little time to find the store, but I finally got there. Within an hour I had found the cable I had needed and was ready to head back home. Once again, all would be worth it once I got my games up and running. I got home, hooked up the computer monitor to my computer and…..motherfucker! Once again, nothing happened. I tried repeatedly to get my computer to work, but each time the monitor kept saying there was no signal. A few days later I asked the friend who put my computer together to take another look at it. It turned out they had missed exactly one connection that made the computer pretty much useless.

This time, it worked. I had my computer up and running. In a few hours I had steam downloaded as well as one of the games i’ve been playing for review. On my Laptop the game ran at around 30fps on low settings, so I couldn’t wait to see how the new PC handled it.

It ran at a max of 9fps. It was unplayable. My new, almost $1000-in-total gaming PC could not handle a simple indie platformer that my $200 store bought display model laptop could. I was pretty much broken at this point. I didn’t know what to do. So I decided once again to take another trek up to the tech shop and have the professionals look at it. I had asked on the phone how much that would cost (thinking that my friend just set it up wrong) and I was looking at about $50 for their hourly service. This time I took a cab as I didn’t want to wait for the bus for a few hours in the cold and rain with my big ass PC. I get there and the guy takes one look and knows exactly what the issue is: I didn’t download my drivers. The guy who helped me even said he wasn’t going to charge me the full fifty dollars because of how simple a fix this was. So we began and things started off pretty well. 2/3 of the drivers downloaded with out any issues. The third just would not download. I was there for three hours as the professional tried to figure out what exactly was going wrong. A few times the guy had said that he was glad I had come in, because he liked solving challenges but this was so uncommon that he just wasn’t sure what to do.

As time went on I began to panic. This was going to end up costing me $150, and I wasn’t sure I had the cash to pay for it. But then the guy just stumbled upon the answer: my version of windows was the issue. He downloaded an updated version of Windows 10 and….IT FUCKING WORKED. While the OS was updating it just grabbed the drivers and I was good to go. The best news, because the eventual fix was so easy, the guy only charged me $20 like he said in the beginning.

I don’t know how common these kinds of issues are for other PC gamers, but I legitimately had to spend nearly 3 weeks getting the PC set up and fixed. Now that everything is working I am really happy with the PC over all (my internet sucks, so downloading is a pain in the ass) but frankly, this really made console gaming so much more preferable in my opinion. All the graphic power and mods in the world doesn’t means shit too me compared to ease of use. Even with all the PC-wannabe bullshit that consoles have pulled over the past decade, I still much prefer being able to just buy and setup my tech instead of having to spend weeks doing….all of this shit.

I hope you all enjoyed this little divergence, and I hope anyone looking to build your first PC have more luck at it than I did.