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Platform Tour v1.0.4 with WAVs (VB.NET 2003) 452 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Platform Tour v1.0.4 (VB.NET 2003) 6.61 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Power II: The Island Demo (VB.NET 2003) 3.41 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 40MB Project Page
Blocks: Extended Renderer Version (VB.NET 2003)137 KB Windows XP, Vista, 7 No DirectX RAM usage: 20MB Project Page
Quadrill v1.1.2 (VB.NET 2003) 1.57 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 70MB Project Page
Quadrill v2.1.2 (VB.NET 2003) 1.42 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Quadrill v3.1.1 (VB.NET 2003) 1.17 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 120MB Project Page
Quadrill v4.1.1 (VB.NET 2003) 2.88 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 180MB Project Page
Quadrill 4 Full (VB6) 4.52 MB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Quadrill 4 Demo (VB6) 1.41 MB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Jump-Cross (VB.NET 2003) 109 KB Windows XP, Vista, 7 No DirectX RAM usage: 20MB Project Page
Quadrill 3 full version (VB6) 530 KB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 50MB Project Page
Quadrill 3 map editor. (VB6), 200 KB
Syntax Highlighter (VB.NET 2003), 23 KB
Guide on How to Use the .NET programs on my website.

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Iceplug News

Jan 17 2018, 19:36
What Does "Unfair" Mean? Happy New Year, even though I'm a few weeks late.
I had a brief period of embarrassment and confusion a while back because of the definition of "unfair". Traditionally, when something gets described as unfair, it means that certain people would have a clear disadvantage against others. This is based off the idea of "fairness", where everyone gets an equal shot.
Indeed, I remember, as a child, the idea of fairness meaning that no person had an advantage, and it being unfair to compete against a person who is out of your league. "It's unfair that I have to work so hard to get an 'A' when this other person doesn't even have to study to get it." In fact, it's one of the driving forces for me to teach: to increase the efficiency of students that are working hard to improve their grade. Life is not fair. Some people will have an advantage in a given situation and some will have a disadvantage. (Admittedly, sometimes these disadvantages are not adequately addressed, but that's not the point of this discussion.) It's not fair to play basketball with a 7th grader competing against an NBA professional. At its core, the idea of fairness and unfairness revolve around the idea that someone is at a disadvantage. Well... that works until we get to the idea of video games.
Coming off of the previous discussion of fairness and unfairness, you would conclude that the only way for something to be unfair in a video game is if you're in competition with someone else. The competition would then seem to eliminate the notion of fairness in a single-player game, relegating discussion of unfairness only to multiplayer games and bringing to mind multiplayer cheaters that use programs in order to move at superspeed, have perfect accuracy, perfect luck of item pickups, and other inhumane cheats. These cheats allow these players to receive an advantage that is, well, unfair. This notion of fairness is in line with the description of fairness from above: a person in a competition with an advantage that is not given to other competitors. So, what's the problem?
The problem is that there are notions of fairness in single-player games as well. "This boss is unfair", "this level has a jump that is unfair", etc. In each case, the player who is playing the game by themselves can invoke fairness discussion. How? There's no other person to compare advantages with. The only advantages are those that exist inside the game itself and, even if those are skipped, it doesn't cause someone else to put them at a disadvantage. The only competition that might exist is the competition between the player and the game. So what gives?
As it stands, the notion of fairness is "expanded", in this case, to describe the single-player experience. The idea of a task in a single-player game being unfair is rooted in the idea that the player is expected to be able to complete the task with a certain degree of success. In this case, the description of fairness becomes decisively more arbitrary. Here, we're no longer comparing experience and aptitude levels of people involved, but comparing a single player's skill and aptitude with the expectation and preparations of the game.
The question at hand: does this latter description of "unfair" have any relation to the former description of unfair? As it is, it seems like the only relation here is that experiencing something unfair is discouraging. "I can't do it!"

Dec 20 2017, 8:38
Does Not Finishing A Game Invalidate Your Opinion On A Game? Context: Link at ResetEra that was linked to me (somehow) via Twitter. The word "Invalidate" is a very strong word that the author uses, but, more importantly, we need to discuss the importance and value of opinion, what it means for an opinion to be invalidated.
In the world, you hear a lot of talk about facts (facts, false facts, alternative facts, when confronted with facts, face the facts, etc.), but it seems that how to handle opinions seems to be lost on others, so I will provide my perceptions of opinions and how I think they are and should be used.

Opinions are simply someone else's perception on an issue (usually on subjective terms, but sometimes objective). Margaret says, "Five pounds of shrimp is a lot of shrimp." The concept of shrimp or five pounds are not disputable in this case; what is disputable is the non-numerical usage of "a lot". What constitutes "a lot" of shrimp? Is five pounds truly a lot of shrimp? To a five-year-old, five pounds is probably a lot of food that would take, perhaps, a week to consume, but, to a much larger adult, five pounds can be consumed over a weekend and, therefore, is not that much food. So, what use is there for such an opinion if its not applicable to everyone?

The value comes in how well you relate to the person stating it. If Margaret is, for instance, someone you've been close with for a while and have similar tastes, then Margaret's opinion of shrimp is much more valuable to you than if Margaret was, say, much younger/older than you with a considerably different lifestyle and diet. This is what opinions are: convenient ways of conveying information based on previously observed similarities. Margaret could say, "Well, the average adult consumes five pounds of shrimp over the course of a month and generally not all in one day," but that's wordy, complicated and, even in its verbosity, doesn't quite convey the same message as "Five pounds of shrimp is a lot of shrimp".

Is Margaret's opinion on five pounds of shrimp valid? Well, as previously mentioned, her opinion is valid as long as she knows what she's talking about. Perhaps, Margaret comes from a country that doesn't use pounds. Perhaps Margaret accidentally interpreted pounds as kilograms, so she thinks five kilograms (which is 11 pounds) is a lot of shrimp. Perhaps, Margaret is used to a certain type of shrimp that has added vitamins that, if consumed in five pounds, would be a larger percentage of your daily value of iodine, for example. Other than that, her opinion is valid.

Compare with the initial statement: "Does Not Finishing A Game Invalidate Your Opinion On A Game?". An invalidation of your opinion of a game only comes from the instance where you never played or otherwise observed any aspect of the game to begin with. So, at face value, no: Leaving a game unfinished does not invalidate your opinion on a game... however, the rest of the initial post indicates that the original poster should not be concerned over whether their opinion is valid so much as whether their opinion is valued.

"I feel as if Game X isn't as great as everybody is saying", I say.
"Yes, but you also never finished it, so how much does your opinion really matter?"
Does your opinion matter? Interpretation of how much an opinion matters could be construed as either "The opinion matters to everyone" or "The opinion matters to me". It's the Internet, so it's sufficient to assume that people are only actually talking about themselves under the belief that the majority agrees with their every idea. "So how much does your opinion really matter [to me]?" In this context, it should be easier to see that the issue is the value of the opinion as opposed to the validity of the opinion. So, let's rewrite the question.

Does Not Finishing A Game Devalue Your Opinion On A Game?
My answer: yes. In this regard, why would I value an opinion of someone who finished the game and got a more complete experience less than someone who gave up halfway or, worse, didn't get past the tutorial? You can read the whole post and decipher almost every argument as "Opinion Invalidated" or "Opinion Devalued"... except, of course, the people who replied to point out the difference themselves.
Now, maybe you can take issue with people that think that their opinion should be fully valued simply because it's valid. This is not how opinions work; we (that is, everyone) have to share enough of a common set of values for a single person's opinion to be valuable to us.

I think climbing up stairs in twos is silly, dangerous, and leaves you unnecessarily prone to stairway accidents. You don't need to value this opinion as it wasn't valued by most of the people I work with. However, my opinion is still valid and would have mostly remained to myself except that I just wrote it here.

Dec 10 2017, 9:59
As Promised, Submission Form
It's not going to be very long. I just ran out of time in the last article. Anyway, the form is found here and, presumably, you can still make a submission to run in Harvey Relief Done Quick, even though the event is already over.
"HOW THIS WORKS: You submit this form" - is this truly necessary to say? The large header just above says "Harvey Relief Done Quick - Run Submissions", so naturally, this is how you make submissions, right? Perhaps, the only "issue is that it stands out on its own line, rather than being included in the next line.
"2. Committee will immediately begin processing submissions, because of time constraint" - if the time constraint were looser, would the committee not immediately begin processing submissions? Does the person who submit the form care about how long the committee spends processing submissions? How can the committee "immediately" process submissions which are going to be received over several days? The presence of "immediately" is largely unnecessary; the only requirement are that the runs are processed before the schedule is set to be released. The presence of "because of time constraint" seems more for protecting the committee than it is for conveying useful information to the submitter. In addition, the comma in this sentence is out of place. Quick comma rules - "Contrary to popular belief, commas don't just signify pauses in a sentence". Number 2: the comma does not separate the phrase "because of time constraint" at the end of the sentence. If it were at the beginning of the sentence, then it would be acceptable. More on commas later!
"4. You will be emailed when your run is selected. CHECK FOR THIS EMAIL by around 8PM EDT Thursday" - There's an almost sarcastically large number of TALKING IN CAPITALS in this form. Generally, talking in capitals means that you're yelling. Yelling in this context is unnecessary. Could you imagine if you were going to apply for a job and the person helping you out just started yelling at you? You would conclude that you either messed up and should reconsider applying for the job, or the person helping you out is experiencing some catastrophic mood swing and probably shouldn't be helping you in the first place. Of course, neither of these are actually applicable, yet the question still stands. What is the purpose of the capitals? In addition, the firm nature of "CHECK FOR THIS EMAIL" is immediately offset by the wishy-washy phrase, "by around 8PM EDT Thursday". Check by 8pm? Check at around 8pm? How about checking for this e-mail Friday? Why is the demand higher for the submitter to check for the e-mail than it is for the e-mail to be sent at 8pm? Much like point 2, the content of point 4 seems more for protecting the committee just in case it doesn't send all of the e-mails at exactly 8pm (or some other time after 8pm) than it is for conveying useful information (e.g. by saying decisively that the e-mails will be sent by Friday).
"5. The email will provide instructions on joining a particular Discord server. You MUST BE IN THAT SERVER by Friday at 12PM (Noon) EDT. That is how we will verify you are available for your run." - more CAPITAL LETTERS. Note the suddenly firm time for being in the Discord server. Why wasn't this firmness shown in #4? Is it because only the committee gets the leeway? Note the dangling modifier on the last sentence - it took me a few re-reads to understand this sentence. "That is how we will verify you are available for your run." From this sentence, it sounds like joining the server by 12pm Friday is going to somehow be used to verify the submitter will be available for the run, but no, that doesn't make sense. More than likely, being present on the server just before the run is scheduled is how the organizers will verify the runner is available. "SUBMITTING HERE WILL NOT AFFECT YOUR AGDQ SUBMISSIONS, FEEL FREE TO RE-SUBMIT THE SAME RUN. " WHY IS THIS SENTENCE IN CAPITAL LETTERS? Why does this sentence have a comma splice? To me, it feels like if I'm getting yelled at, the yelling is greatly undermined by comma splices. But seriously, grammar aside, why is this sentence in capital letters? It's different from the previous all-caps phrases that were used to specify requirements; this sentence is just providing extra information. Also, I was (and still am) a little skeptical of the idea that submitting a run to HRDQ not having an influence on AGDQ. The entirety of HRDQ was completed before the AGDQ games list was selected. If a run was submitted for HRDQ and it went very well, does it make the game more likely to get accepted at AGDQ? What if the run goes poorly? Are the submitters truly expected to believe that no one considers running the game at another online marathon (such as HRDQ) has no effect on AGDQ submissions?
"However, if you do manage to get yourself banned, that will remove you from AGDQ." I'm generally of the mindset that dealing with rule violators should be done behind closed doors and should otherwise not look like it does here. The way it's presented here makes it look like every Games Done Quick event has several hundred people that get banned and that addressing the crowd of people who are going to "get themselves banned" is a worthwhile endeavor. Also, "you do manage to get yourself banned" can be shortened to "you get banned". I understand that it's helpful to think of being banned as something that's hard to do, but I'm also sure that anyone with the will and desire to get banned can do so.
"There is no specific deadline, however we will be emailing the accepted/backup runners by 8PM EDT on Thursday." - but didn't the rules just state that submitters need to CHECK FOR AN EMAIL by around 8pm Thursday? Here's a few timing details: the submission form was released on Wednesday, submitters need to check for an email by (around) Thursday 8pm, and accepted runners need to join the Discord by Friday at 12pm. Now, we're saying that there's no deadline?
"TECH REQUIREMENTS 1. We will be using a private RTMP server for your stream. Don't worry, it's very similar to Twitch." - I like the last sentence because it makes me smile . In addition, it is now required that you don't worry. Worrying is a violation of the technological requirements. Don't worry!
"TECH REQUIREMENTS 3. A webcam is not required, but you may provide it. (We are working on logistics of this, we may drop it later)" Isn't it strange that the tech requirements contains an item that is "not required"? More importantly, comma splices inside of parentheses are still comma splices.
"We may allow you to invite others for commentary, but do not rely on this!" - It seems like this sentence is supposed to read, "We may allow others you have invited for commentary," but as it stands here, it reads as if you're not allowed to invite others for commentary.
"TECH REQUIREMENTS 8. You MUST be in the Discord and ready to go & respond at least 30 minutes prior to your run. " - I may accept that comma splices are slightly arcane in regards to grammatical rules. This is a run-on sentence. The use of the never-seen-before ampersand (&) shortly after "and" really brings it out.
"If you have tech questions, do NOT wait until the last moment, or your run will be replaced." - this sentence sort of encapsulates most of the problems that I've already talked about: the capitalized "NOT" used to provide a firm stance on an ambiguous phrase such as "the last moment", and the definitive follow-up consequence ("your run *will* be replaced") of violating the aforementioned ambiguous requirement (the requirement reads as if asking a question too late gets your run replaced whereas, in practicality, the requirement would be "having an unaddressed technical issue with too little time to address until the run is scheduled").
"Why are you being picky? It was a successful marathon" - remember that the point of this and most other discussions is to point out problems that can be easily fixed to enhance the professional appeal without compromising the marathon. In order for video games to overcome the preconceived notions and stereotypes placed on them, it is beneficial for communities around them to look desirable to as large an audience as possible. I don't feel that any video game community is representing itself well with phrases such as "The email will provide instructions on joining a particular Discord server. You MUST BE IN THAT SERVER by Friday at 12PM (Noon) EDT. That is how we will verify you are available for your run."

Dec 7 2017, 10:01
Biased Polling
A while back, Games Done Quick had a marathon called "Harvey Relief Done Quick" to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston. The event raised over $227,000 dollars for the charity organization Houston Food Bank. Among one of my favorite things, however, was the break in pattern from previous Games Done Quick events. Normally, there's Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) and Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ), but this new marathon is called Harvey Relief Done Quick (HRDQ). The difference in pattern caught a few people off-guard, as you can see by doing a Google search for "HGDQ2017". HGDQ is not a thing (Harvey Games Done Quick?), and since Hurricane Harvey is, thankfully, not a recurring event, the year is also redundant. Thus, the only thing you *should* be seeing is "HRDQ".
Another thing with Harvey Relief Done Quick is that the event was set up very quickly. It started with, I assume, discussion between organizers behind the scenes and then a quick poll. Side note: Polls such as this one are biased from the start, considering the options. Honestly, who would say no to some extra entertainment in the name of charity with no burden of participation? If the downsides of each option aren't readily evident, there's no incentive for people to disagree. It's along the same vein of questions that I've seen on YouTube videos and such.
"Should I hold an extra event on the 3rd?" has no downsides mentioned. The question itself is the same as asking, "Should I do something fun with no implications on the future?".
Instead of asking, "Do you want me to get a special item and come back to defeat this monster?", you might as well ask, "Should I finish playing the game or do you want me to not make any meaningful progress?"
Instead of asking, "Do I continue trying to do this trick or do you want to see me do a different level?", you should ask, "Do I make myself annoyed or do you want to see me do something exciting?"
It's a line of questioning that's designed to look like it gets viewer/community feedback, but is worded such that people who pick the alternative are either contrary or making a large assumption about the consequences.
"But Iceplug, why is there a 12% selection rate for the 'No' option on this poll?" I can think of a few reasons. Firstly, an old idea from previous GDQ events is, "Why aren't there more GDQ events every year?", and the answer to it is usually something along the lines of, "If there are more events, it will reduce the effectiveness of the marathon/people will get tired of GDQs faster/the organizers won't be as focused on the individual marathons as much as they are now". Neither of these options have been observed previously and probably won't be observed this year (but we will see), so all of these rules are speculation. A simpler answer would probably just be that the organizers don't want to, since it requires signifcant resources and manpower to run the two marathons now. This could be an assumption made by those who clicked "No".
Secondly, for whatever reason, GDQ seems to have a bunch of conspiracy theories surrounding the charities, the organizers, the events, and other ideas that aren't substantive enough for me to investigate, but may still cause others to click "No".
Thirdly, the short turnaround time for the marathon may have fallen into people's normal work schedule and they wouldn't be able to set aside the time or money to donate. After all, the poll does ask if you would be willing to "support/donate", and, to some extent, support and donate mean the same thing. (Technically, donations imply support, but you can support without donating by retweeting and advertising the event to others.)
That's all the time I have now. Next time, I'm going to talk about this submission form.

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The story of Iceplug:
Iceplug - sting ray (NOT A MANTA RAY!) that swims in cold waters, usually near the poles, though mostly in the south, near Antarctica. The average babies are born at about a foot long and wide (they look like squares) and are usually a light orange and translucent. After about 6 months, they become more opaque and start to take on a bluer color. Their tail can grow to almost 5 feet, and the adult Iceplug grows to about 25 feet. Not to be outdone, most adults create stashes of coral in their homes and forge them into tridents (which are actually quite effective weapons).

Feedback? E-mail me (Iceplug) at blackout119(at)yahoo(dot)com. Be sure to include a descriptive subject, and the first seven characters of the subject must read Website, otherwise I may move it into the Spam/Junk folder. I strive to reply to all e-mails at the end of the day, but I definitely respond to them at the end of the week.