FanimeCon 2017: Day 2 thoughts + my graduation

I didn’t actually do much at Fanime for day 2, considering that a good majority of my morning was spent getting ready for my graduation at SJSU, as well as, you know, graduating. I met a couple of good friends while I was waiting for the ceremony, and while the ceremony was a long hour and a half in the sun (I actually got a little bit of a sun tan from wearing the cap), when it was finally over, it felt rather liberating to be all finished with college after 7 long, arduous years.

Originally, my family was planning on taking me out to a sushi buffet called Tomi’s, but the wait times ended up being astronomical (around over 2 hours), mostly because graduating students ate free at the buffet. We opted to eat at a Korean BBQ and hot pot place called Q-Pot, where we ordered a large assortment of Korean BBQ meats and Japanese miso hot pot (or at least I did) for about 2 hours; it’s really hard to fish out udon noodles when they’re so small and deep into a boiling hot pot. Before we finished eating up, my mom gave me $100 spending money as a graduation gift, so poverty con is no more and I can actually afford to buy things from the Artist Alley and Dealer’s Hall again 😮

Unfortunately, I got back to my hotel at around 4pm, which left me only a little bit of time to rest before heading over to the US Voice Actors’ Roundtable panel, featuring Erica Mendez (of Kill la Kill and Love Live fame), Lauren Landa (of Madoka Magica and Sailor Moon fame), and Chris Cason (he does a bunch of stuff i guess). I managed to get the second-to-last question in the panel (“What are three anime songs that you guys would sing for karaoke?”), and the other questions asked throughout the roundtable brought a little more insight to the three VA’s interests, as well as breaking into the voice acting industry in general. Near the end, they hosted a little trivia round where they gave out some invitations to something (I didn’t really catch what they were), and while I didn’t know any of the answers to their questions, it was still interesting nonetheless.

I played a bit in the game room, mostly a brief game of Soukyugurentai on the Sega Saturn and a few games of TGM3 again (this time, with a decent rank of 1 on my best run). Afterwards, I went to The Grill as per kinda-sorta tradition with my group (the quirk is that The Grill is one of the most expensive restaurants in the area), ordering the loaded mac & cheese with onion rings (my cousin GraphiteHelix paid for my share as a present for my graduation). Afterwards, I ran briefly into my friends ChunandRice and Salence on the way back to the hotel, where we made a little bit of small talk and shared my social media silence with them (“message me on Facebook Messenger if you wanna let me know about something”). The rest of the night was just sheer shenanigans with a visitor who stopped by after not coming to Fanime since 2015 (:3 」∠ )

Tomorrow, I’ll actually take a closer look at Artist Alley and Dealer’s Hall, as well as go to Erica Mendez’s panel and get her autograph on my copy of Puyo Puyo Tetris (she did the voice of Arle). Now that I actually have spending money, I can actually enjoy the rest of the convention like I used to 😮

FanimeCon 2017: Day 1 thoughts

10 years.

It’s been 10 years since I’ve been going to Fanime, with my cousin GraphiteHelix and myself being the only original crew that’s been holding our personal group boat afloat. To tell you the truth, it’s this group that I’m in that makes this convention worth it, aside from the fact that I’m in the gaming room a good majority of the time (though that may soon change considering a few significant differences I’ve noticed in this year’s eGaming and arcade hall).

A good majority of Day 1 was spent in my hotel room settling in. Due to some mishaps with the UnFairmo–er, Fairmont Hotel, we ended up rooming in Hotel de Anza after GraphiteHelix scrambled for another hotel in the area (“GOD BLESS HOTELS THAT AREN’T WELL KNOWN! >.<” quoth the cousin). The convention from Hotel de Anza is about 10-12 minutes away, which means that we’re more likely to make more of our time worth it outside of the hotel due to the sheer distance we have to travel just to get back. Thankfully I packed a Bluetooth speaker to blast some music while I walk to and from the hotel, mostly vaporwave and bangers from Camellia to make the walks more interesting.

At the convention, I only really grazed some of the Artist Alley and the Dealer’s Hall. Considering that I was short on money, there really isn’t much that I could do in either of those two places, so I naturally spent most of my time at the convention in the eGaming/arcade area. IIDX, SDVX, and Drummania V8 were notably absent from the arcade area, though beatmaniaIII THE FINAL, Jubeat Prop (I think), TGM3: Terror-Instinct, and the Asia version of THE Bishi Bashi made a return to the arcade, among other common contenders, mostly from On-Campus Entertainment. I played a few games of TGM3 with one of my friends DDRKirby(ISQ) noticing me with his friend tagging along; I managed to get a few subpar Master games in before getting hit with a promo exam of…grade 3. Baby steps? Baby steps. It also doesn’t help that I played more Guideline Tetris than TGM in the past couple of years.

Alongside TGM, I also joined DDRKirby(ISQ) and his friend in a game of THE Bishi Bashi, where we managed to get to stage 17 in one credit (DDRKirby’s friend survived until stage 13, and I survived until stage 16 after receiving a flurry of Monster Mode challenges). I ended my time at the arcade area by playing an Internet Ranking course on Dance ManiaX 2nd Mix J-Append Paradise, where I did…fairly decent, I suppose. Afterwards, I spent the rest of the day in the hotel, but not before running a quick errand of getting my cousin some forks and cups at the nearest Walgreens, alongside a quick Japantown trip to buy some chopsticks (because some of us know how to use chopsticks :c plus we had a lot of instant ramen packed up). The rest of the night was just Nintendo Switch games, YouTube videos, and karaoke, alongside whatever shenanigans brought forth by my roommates in my group.

Tomorrow, I’m graduating from university, which means that I have to drive early to the stadium that I’m going to walk at and spend the morning and afternoon outside of the Fanime area. It’s been a long 7 years since I’ve been at university, but all of that comes to an end tomorrow…and I’m still doing stuff for Fanime afterwards.

Here’s hoping for some graduation money! ( ゚Д゚)

Relativity and skill levels

In my 6-7 years of engaging with video game communities thanks to Fanime and college, there is something that I’ve learned about the remarks of video games of all skill levels:

Remarks from those of different skill levels, from the very beginner to the world record class, must be segregated based on their skill level.

I’ve seen people downplay their own abilities many times when it comes to video games, and something I’ve observed quite a bit is when people of lower skill levels see someone of an obviously higher skill level than them say that “they’re not very good” or that “they suck”, then feel like their efforts were downplayed even further as a result, merely because they’re not at this player’s level (nevermind any possibility of them not knowing how to play at a high level, let alone having the practice to). I’ve also observed the exact inverse as well: when people of higher skill levels see someone of an obviously lower skill level than them say the same thing, then feel the need to remark on how easy it is instead, leading to a somewhat close source for “git gud” remarks (nevermind how much time, practice, and perseverance it actually took before it became effortless, and that’s if they even remember the struggle at all). There’s an obvious difference in weight that needs to be observed from both lower level players and higher level players, and one must understand that the remarks that different players make in regard to skill are almost always RELATIVE, NEVER ABSOLUTE ON THE WHOLE SPECTRUM.

This is why it’s foolish for a high level player’s downplay to be treated with equal weight as a low level player’s downplay…because it isn’t. When I say that I’m bad at shoot’em ups, it shouldn’t be treated in the same light as when, say, dwrkoa says that he’s bad at shoot’em ups. Or when I say that I’m not fast enough at Tetris Sprint, it shouldn’t be treated in the same light as when, say, S2LSOFTENER says that he’s not fast enough on Tetris Sprint (and, by extension, all of competitive Guideline Tetris as a whole). The gap in ability must be considered to better keep all players happy with their own state of progress; failure to do so will end up either giving you a false impression that the barrier to entry is impossible (in a LOW -> HIGH impression: “I can’t play as good as them”) or make you come out as arrogant, even if you don’t mean to or even realize it (in a HIGH -> LOW impression: “How can they possibly be struggling on this when it’s so easy?”).

When you accept that remarks of different skill levels must be segregated from each other, it allows you to focus more on what’s within your reach, especially for a lower level player whose only meaningful progress is upwards. It also reduces the tendency to downplay your own abilities when it’s perfectly fine to just go through the motions at your own pace. You’re in your own league, and they’re in their own; there’s no need to worry about something that’s beyond what you can grasp right now.

DEP (Digital Evolving Psyche): Post-Gallery Talk

Gallery 1
Digital Evolving Psyche

DEP (Digital Evolving Psyche) was an art gallery project that I embarked on last month from March 20th to March 23rd at San Jose State University’s Black Gallery. This gallery consisted of a digital front end on a computer, projected on the entirety of the back wall of the Black Gallery and controlled via a generic USB controller on a pillar. Audio for the gallery was provided from the projector’s speakers, and the whole front end was supplemented by an arcade cabinet displaying the most polished game I’ve created throughout my college career: Prismic Shift.

The front end was built in GameMaker: Studio due to my long-time experience with the program, though there was no built-in way to play back videos (which three of the final eight pieces I showcased were based on), so some expenses had to be made to enable video playback (and even then, I could only cap the video playback at 30fps due to glitches). The front end was an interactive portfolio with light visuals such as stars and, later on, rings and a small blue gradient, showcasing a variety of my works ranging from music to video and graphic design. I also spent the duration of the gallery building upon the front end, hence why it was the Digital Evolving Psyche: I was creating more of this gallery as I went on as a planned-out self-imposed challenge.

Gallery 3
A digital portfolio that you can interact with via controller

The different changes throughout the duration of the gallery were as follows:

  • Day 1 – I only had my video entries (A Day in the CS Club, we are PUCific, Prismic Shift) on showcase this day, mostly to test out the video playback plugin I used for the front end. There were some glitches with the video playback, causing me to reset the front end multiple times throughout the day. In terms of basic interaction and visuals, the menu consisted of a star field and a marquee scrolling at the top, with brief controls on the bottom right. The gallery also kept track of time in a 24 hour format, as well as what day the gallery was running.
  • Day 2 – I added 5 more entries to the gallery showcase (in(die), Harutopia, the bed of diverse flowers, The Reflectors OST, and Minecraft BART Station). The most important expansion to the gallery was the addition of image viewing and audio playback, programming my own music playback engine to automatically play through an album’s tracks as a track ends. I was in Andrew Blanton’s ART 175 class as this gallery was going on, so the class came to visit for a few moments. I also brought over a few drinks and snacks just in time for the official gallery showing this day, in which a few of my friends stopped by to take a look, as well as give a few critiques about it.
  • Day 3 – Nothing was changed in terms of lineup, but the order of the lineup was changed to make my more prominent works stand out more (A Day in the CS Club was moved to the other page while works like Harutopia and the bed of diverse flowers were moved to the front page). Another addition to the gallery was a notebook for people to write their thoughts on the gallery and my work (since I was told that was required for my gallery). In terms of visuals, I added floating rings to the main menu to complement the star field.
  • Day 4 – The only change I made to this day was a rotating music lineup depending on the time of day. I aimed for the pieces to be more sentimental as the gallery approached its last hours, ending with complete silence as the clock struck 7PM, as well as a simple message saying “This gallery has ended its final day. Cleanup will commence soon.”
Gallery 9
The visuals and other elements evolve as the gallery goes through the days

Setup and cleanup weren’t as hard as I thought it would be, considering that the gallery was relatively simple in itself (a controller on a pillar in the center, an arcade cabinet on the side, and a computer running the front end, connected to a projector). All I really had to do was be considerate of where I was running the wiring (in the controller’s case, I only had to tape down the wire until it reached the wall) so as to prevent tripping hazards in my gallery. Otherwise, I think setup took around an hour and a half on the Friday before my gallery, though I spent a little bit of time testing out the projection a bit more so that it suited my needs (the projector projected at a 4:3 format, so I ended up having to use corner adjustments to make it fit the entirety of the wall). I didn’t make any minute adjustments to any of the lights, so some of my projection may have had shadows casted by the hanging lights.

Cleanup was slightly quicker since all I was doing was taking down the gallery components, though I needed to keep the arcade cabinet in for the night until Rubaiyat was available to pick it up. I had to be quick with cleaning up the rest of the gallery, considering that check-out time was at 12PM sharp, so I did the rest of my thorough cleanup (i.e. mopping and sweeping) around that time.

Making Of 3
This USB controller was hooked up by a very long USB extension cable (25ft.), enough to reach the front end computer

Overall, I think this was one of the most ambitious projects I’ve done under pressure, though it was at least within reason of what I could actually do this time. I had originally planned out a three-projector gallery with a lot more interactive elements such as a digital guide with its own opinions on my works, as well as said guide being voiced and taking over on the last day, letting out all of its frustrations when people expect the usual selection of portfolio items, but 1) it was definitely beyond the scope and motivation for me to actually pull off, 2) it wouldn’t be fair to the bystander to be subjected to whatever “issues” I shared with them through this gallery, and 3) it would be technically and financially unfeasible to do a seamless three-projection gallery when I only really have one day to set everything up. It kept me in check with what I could and couldn’t do with the skill sets that I currently possess, and I’m glad that people enjoyed this gallery as much as I certainly did creating it.

DEP Day 1 (Digital Evolving Psyche)

First things first, I…uh…really underestimated how much prep work it takes to arrange, duct tape, and put all the things together, especially when you only have ONE EXTENSION CABLE that is actually capable of taking in the heavy duty charge of a presentation projector and an iMac at the same time. I did manage to get things set up, but I decided to spend the next 4 hours ironing out whatever kinks I could with the frontend of DEP before officially opening the doors.

In terms of features, DEP as of Day 1 has the following:

  • A Day in the CS Club, we are PUCific, and Prismic Shift showcased
  • Video modules semi-working (the plugin hates 60fps for some reason, so some re-encoding will most likely be necessary–and hey, lower files sizes are always a good thing!)
  • A proper working marquee system (mostly for notices on when the gallery’s going to open or close, but can also be used for other purposes if I so desire)
  • A clock!
  • A day counter!
  • Falling stars!
  • A more optimized fade in-fade out system that’s probably a dozen times better than whatever junk I hacked up for Prismic Shift

For Day 2, I will probably work more on developing the following:

  • Image and audio modules (so my fliers and music can be properly showcased)
  • A basic “guide” to make things more entertaining, hopefully, as well as give more insight to all of the pieces e.g. behind the scenes stuff and second thoughts from an “outsider” perspective
  • Improvements in usability (because lord knows how much I suck ass at that coughprismicshiftcough)
  • Better music!
  • More sound effects!

At least I got arranging the gallery out of the way fairly quickly. Now if only I could snag another computer to use so I don’t have to sacrifice my laptop for the day…not to mention the risks of stolen property and whatnot 😡

Awkward IRL moments in watching anime: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid ep3

(GraphiteHelix and I are watching the latest dub episode of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid which, as of this writing, is episode 3)

Tohru “Although, your clothes seem to always be a bit too tight in the chest for me…”
Kobayashi “Ugh…speaking of…”

AvatarJT |・ω・)

Kobayashi (starts jiggling Tohru’s boobs a bit) “There’s no way in hell you’re really just a D.”
Tohru “I’m a D for Dragon, if that helps!”

AvatarJT |д゚)…
|°)…
|)…
|…
|

Walked right into that one w