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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

Feb 19 2019, 16:17
A while back, the speedrunning community (within its infinite capabilities of opening venues for discourse) decided to get speedrunners to share their "unpopular opinions" on Twitter, which is simultaneously a great way to mention your personal grievances and also to provide little substance. Most unpopular opinions are expectedly negative: "This idea is a bad idea", "Saying that 'This idea is a bad idea' is a bad idea", etc. Combine with the fact that speedrunners are painfully uncompromising and quick to espouse ideas that conflict with other people's ideas and you get a hot mess. Dive in here, if you're feeling up to it.
It turns out that "unpopular opinions" aren't exactly popular. Personally, admitting that an opinion is unpopular serves as self-justification for remaining ignored and unaddressed, so I find the idea that there is an "unpopular opinions" thread to be kind of funny. One of the comments about "unpopular opinions" external to the thread, advising people to instead focus on positivity, caught me. Notably, the idea of 'positivity' as the ideal to strive for. "Positivity" seems to be an ideal that people strive for without a good understanding of what is actually desirable. The replies in the thread are, perhaps, not very civil, but that would indicate a call for civility over one for "positivity". Some of the unpopular opinions are, perhaps, unrealistic, which would indicate a call for reasonability or sensibility over a call for "positivity". What is "positivity" and why am I now inclined to be against it? According to Oxford Dictionaries.Com, positivity is the practice of being or tendency to be positive to optimistic in attitude, with other definitions generally being "the act of being positive". Positivity, by this definition, as it is in reality, does not solve all problems. Some problems have to first be addressed in order to be solved. Being "positive" then implies that these problems will not be addressed. If my wallet is stolen, I could be positive and hope that it will be returned, or I could instead, call the authorities. Calling the authorities isn't "positivity". I can have positivity after calling the authorities, but positivity does not contribute to getting my wallet back in this regard.
What's the opposite of "positivity"? Well, it's obviously "negativity". Definitions of negativity vary considerably.
Vocabulary.com defines negativity as a "tendency to be downbeat, disagreeable, and skeptical. It's a pessimistic attitude that always expects the worst. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as an attitude that is not hopeful or enthusiastic. Most of these definitions read like negativity is an absolutely terrible trait to have. Indeed, you can even tell that negativity is a bad trait because it's the word "negativity". Oxford Dictionary defines "negativity" on the other hand as "the expression of criticism of or pessimism about something". This definition is a little more reasonable, but is only found after skipping over other definitions. It's very clear why "positivity" is so heralded by its advocates, despite being shown so quickly that it is not always sufficient.
Side note: synonyms for "negativity" include "cynicism" and "pessimism" (a synonym of realism). Neither of these synonyms sound overly negative, which reinforces "positivity" as a fortuitious word choice.
Let's return to the unpopular opinions, again. Note that "positivity" was used in reference to the unpopular opinions and not to longstanding feelings, so obviously, a "tendency to be downbeat" doesn't work here, and neither does attitude-based attributes like "a pessimistic attitude" and "an attitude that is not hopeful". If it were a general attitude problem (which is certainly reasonable given the community history), then positivity would work a lot better. However, since positivity is invoked for this specific case, then it only opposes the opinions that are put forward. Personally, I find the idea of pushing "positivity" as a means to devalue opinions or to suggest that these opinions shouldn't be shared to be more detrimental than the opinions themselves. Open and honest discussions are a lot more beneficial to the community than pretending that these opinions don't and shouldn't exist under the guise of "positivity". Now, if you want to talk civility, I hear you.
If you want to learn more about what positivity actually is, then there are numerous articles that talk about positivity to no end. People love talking about positivity as it relates to mindsets and attitudes. Having a defeatist attitude doesn't generally open any doors to success, which is why people talk about it so much. However, it is a considerable disservice to ignore the difference between positivity as "avoiding a negative attitude" and positivity as "making criticisms", intentionally or not.

Dec 17 2018, 9:51

Aside from the absurdity of limiting a serving size to six fries when no restaurant serves this few fries in their smallest order, why was this professor credentialed as a "Harvard" professor rather than an actual discipline that indicates that he knows what he's talking about? Is it really more important to know that the professor was from Harvard than to know that the professor has studied nutrition? Professors say silly things all the time, regardless of which university they come from.
In addition, instead of "limiting a serving size to six fries", the author from the sourced post actually says, "I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries." Here, it's not saying that you take an order of fries and eat six of them, then let the rest go cold. Instead, it's saying that you can have these fries on the side with your food (yes, there's that salad that's thrown rather predictably in there, though the article is about potatoes).

Dec 9 2018, 16:30
Where I Discuss People Being Too Hard on GDQ
The hot new GDQ news: two speedrunners have been banned from attending GDQ. Specifically, and according to the "smoking gun" screenshot, these two individuals were banned for sexist and transphobic language. The ban itself is completely understandable; it is against GDQ policies, not to mention that GDQ and speedrunning community does not tend to take this issue lightly.
What is also interesting is the tumultuous path taken to get to this ban.
A user posted several screenshots of these two users making divisive comments in a Discord and asked if GDQ is "okay" with it. To be clear, AGDQ is over a month away, so GDQ has plenty of time to make a decision about this. In fact, they have essentially until a couple of days before the marathon because the only goal is to stop these individuals from coming to GDQ. So, if GDQ really needed to address this story, the only thing necessary is a tweet that says, "We have banned two speedrunners from the GDQ event due to espousing harmful and dangerous beliefs incompatible with GDQ", after completing a thorough and methodical investigation. (Admittedly, the tweet probably isn't necessary if only a handful of people knew about these Discord screenshots.)
Instead, GDQ quickly tweets out that they are aware and will be "investigating to determine the authenticity of the reports". My initial thoughts, having no previous knowledge of this event, were, "Who's in trouble now? Is there a murderer in the speedrunning community? Did someone get convicted for marijuana possession? Did someone die? There are so many questions that I'm probably not going to get answered." The tweet itself comes off as a lot more urgent than it really needed to be. My curiosity was piqued and I, and presumably many others who follow the GDQ Twitter, needed to do some informal investigations of our own to determine what the issue was. After discovering the issue was simply some divisive language and not actually an immediate matter of life-or-death, I began questioning why we needed this tweet in the first place. This just stirred the beehive of inquisitive people.
GDQ then released a second tweet stating that they've completed their investigation and determined that no action will be taken because "unfortunately, pictures can be edited". This one went down a lot worse to our increasingly inquisitive audiences, as it should have. It went so poorly that official GDQ Twitter deleted this tweet by the next day. After several hours of "investigation", it appears that the extent of their investigation was an investigation of a picture. Of course, my first reaction was, "I can imagine how disappointing it would be to see this", followed immediately by, "Hold up, did they spend hours investigating a *.png file?" Presumably, some of the GDQ staff had a meeting somewhere to discuss how they were going to deal with this issue, made the smart decision to not take the image at face value, but then maybe asked around, being unable to find any way to vouch for the veracity of these pictures, and then found themselves at an impasse. At this point, official GDQ Twitter decided to make this unnecessary tweet, as well. Again, there's so much time that they could've taken to do this "investigation" and that there is no actual rush to resolve this situation in one day. In addition, the ability for GDQ to begin and finish an investigation in one day means that the "investigators" had the free time and ability to hastily rally these people and resources without anyone to say that they should take this slowly and carefully.
After a few more minutes of an overly inquisitive and now increasingly vitriolic viewing audience, GDQ had to clarify that they don't agree with the comments and that they were still accepting reports. At this point, this tweet was now a lot more necessary than the previous two as a means to get GDQ out of the hole that they've dug for themselves. This tweet is still up and you can take a quick look to observe how much discontent there was in the community (compare to the first tweet). My eyes were drawn to the word "reports". Why are they calling them "reports"? After observing an investigation begin, end, and begin again in the span of six hours, I started believing that the official GDQ Twitter account was like a small child pretending to be a criminal investigator except with the confidence of a 25-30 year old. Criminal investigators don't ask the public for "reports"; they ask for "help", "advice", or "tips". The conclusion of an investigation means that enough evidence was made to make a comprehensive decision. Crime shows have difficult investigations become "cold"; they don't "conclude". Concluding the investigation sounds a lot more like, "I cannot be bothered to investigate this", rather than, "I need your help to determine our actions here".
After another three hours of investigation, the GDQ investigators reached their decision to ban for an indefinite length (practically forever), which was again tweeted out by the official GDQ Twitter. Of course, this tweet was now necessary, but it was also the only tweet that I said was necessary in the first place (just remove a few words to make it not sound like excerpts from a soap opera). There are many lessons to be learned from this, which is, of course, why I'm discussing it. The only tweet that was necessary was the final tweet announcing the conclusion of the investigation and the ban, which again, I argued that this tweet is also unnecessary. GDQ has been (sometimes infuriatingly so) reluctant to discuss reasons why people are banned from their events (to protect the individuals from harassment by others, according to someone that I can't remember right now). When people were banned from GDQ, you'd know who it was, but not specifically why, Here, we know why, and, with a small amount of reply checking, you can figure out who.
Some people have been upset that these individuals were banned "indefinitely". The precedent for indefinite ban is already set with another attendee banned for possession of marijuana and distribution to a minor, which is against the law, so they've done it before. At the same time, they've also had encounters of specifically racially-insensitive speech at most being met with a regular-length ban (allegedly, and I forgot who told me this). Meanwhile, GDQ still has regular attendees that have got off free of punishment for espousing this speech.
Some people were upset that GDQ didn't immediately ban these two individuals after the screenshot was posted, which shows a gross misunderstanding of fairness. Anyone can fake screenshots, but you should believe me anyway. It would greatly inconvenience me to show concrete proof of this crime, so just take my word on it. This idea is extremely detrimental to the community, especially when a permanent ban is involved.
Some people are still upset over GDQ's handling of this event, so much so that they've never forgiven them for it. This seems overly excessive and I think these people are just being too hard on GDQ. GDQ can be fixed and it has demonstrated from this event the ability to fix and improve itself, which is one of the most important things for adults to espouse. If GDQ did something beyond forgiveness, it would have to be a lot worse and more personal than this. However, I do like the idea of shuffling the speedrunner stratum at GDQ; it would probably lead to a more diverse GDQ event.
That being said, the official GDQ Twitter account really does a lot of unnecessary stuff. Between slightly condescending quote-retweets and inconsistent interest in the people that official GDQ Twitter interacts with (see one month ago here and here, GDQ Twitter has demonstrated a questionable command in public relations. Since GDQ Twitter has demonstrated an ability to acknowledge its weakpoints, hopefully we'll be seeing less of this in the future!

Sep 30 2018, 20:43
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"I'm literally Pie right now" - Ivan.

May 20 2018, 9:46
No one is saying that Someone is probably saying that. Saying "No one is saying that" is recklessly neglectful and bordering on disrespectful. Instead, I recommend saying, "The people who are saying that are uninformed" or, even better, if possible, investigate it yourself.
Imagine that I had a conversation with a low-level staff member of a large organization that said, "We're running behind on production of glass-top blue-metal tables." If I gather a hundred acquaintants to complain about the company running behind on table production only to get met with a spokesperson that says, "No one is saying that we're behind on table production", then my first inclination is that the spokesperson is either lying or uninformed. Either option doesn't look good on the company.
Let's say that the spokesperson said, "The people who are saying that are uninformed". In this case, the spokesperson may still be lying or uninformed, but opens the possibility that the spokesperson knows the truth and that I just talked to a person on their way out.
Even better: "We will look into this issue and get back to you". The promise of getting someone to research your viewpoint is greatly appreciated. It is, however, a promise, and shouldn't be broken very easily.

Apr 24 2018, 13:14
What do the following sentences have in common?
"Crappy fact: Sleep is a break from exhaustion, not a way to fix it."
"True joy comes from helping others. Not yourself."
"3K ppl died on September 11th and not a single gun was used. It's not a gun problem, it's a people problem."

These sentences all involve someone trying to "disprove" something by "proving" that it is something else. This appears in a few realms of communication and mostly used incorrectly. "X is not Y; X is Z." implies that X cannot be both Y and Z. This only works if Y and Z are mutually exclusive; that is, X cannot be both. Thus, in order for this argument to work in the first place, the two ideas that are being compared cannot possibly both apply.
Post-Edit Upon further analysis, if Y is a "superset" of Z, then these statements can also be valid. For instance: Cars are vehicles; they are not boats. Here, an object in question can be both a boat and a vehicle. However, if the object is a boat, it is, by default, a vehicle. Similarly, if an object is not a boat, it does not necessarily lose its status as a vehicle.

"True joy comes from helping others. Not yourself."
One can receive "true" joy from helping both others and themselves. In fact, I, personally, would declare that true joy requires helping both others and yourself. If you are not able to help yourself, for instance, when you drive into a ditch, drop your phone off of a bridge, or, to be more mundane, at a self-serve restaurant where you are literally offered to "help yourself to the buffet", how can you say that you will receive joy? Yet, this is what the sentence appears to say or, at the very least, imply. "True joy does not come from helping yourself. True joy comes from helping others."
Of course, the argument can be easily hidden in the definition of "true joy", which causes me to question what "false joy" is. Can you receive false joy from helping yourself? Can you also receive false joy from helping others? Is it really worth it to explore what "false joy" is when it's not true in the first place and wouldn't require anyone's help to discover? Regardless, since joy can be found from helping yourself, this statement is easily flawed. An easy fix would just be to remove the fragment of a sentence ("Not yourself") altogether.

"3K ppl died on September 11th and not a single gun was used. It's not a gun problem, it's a people problem."
Oftentimes, in political discussions such as this one on gun control, you'll find sloppy arguments such as this which don't serve to advance the policy and are just there to argue for argument's sake. "It's not a gun problem, it's a people problem." Here, the problem is presented as a people problem and, since the problem is a people problem, it cannot be a gun problem. The problem, itself, is admittedly nebulous in context, but it is the problem of preventing or reducing mass shootings (in the same vein of the school shooting problem from last time). Here, a specific school shooting, like many other shootings, is described as both a "gun control problem" and a "mental stability problem". Yet, the statement "It's not a gun problem, it's a people problem" immediately attempts to rewrite the two issues as mutually exclusive, even though the argument was initially proposed as twofold. Such is usually how the discussion of dealing with mass shootings ends up (just in case you were wondering how important it is to understand the argument). A quick fix: "The people problem is more important than the gun problem."

"Crappy fact: Sleep is a break from exhaustion, not a way to fix it."
Here, the writers would like you to believe that sleep cannot fix exhaustion, because if sleep could fix exhaustion, then it would also serve as a break from exhaustion. The first question that comes to mind: "What kind of exhaustion do you have that sleep does not fix?" It wants to purport the idea that "exhaustion" is a pervasive state of mind that requires psychological intervention and, while these states of mind do exist, they're in direct conflict with the classical definition of "exhaustion". For instance, if I work a job that requires lots of focus for extended periods of time and we experience an increase in workload with multiple requirements before the next morning, I can be understandably tired, even exhausted, after finishing work. This fits the definition of "exhaustion", yet, if "exhaustion" also describes a chronic state of being drained or reaching a point of burnout, then the two words should not be used in the same manner. My exhaustion after a day of work differs from your exhaustion after years of work. Nevertheless, one cannot simply use "exhaustion" as the latter when the former is also included and thus making the sentence incorrect. However, does sleep both serve as a break and a fix for "chronic exhaustion"? Probably not, since it won't "fix" the cause of chronic exhaustion. Therefore, provided that an acceptable description of "exhaustion" is used, this statement is probably valid (hey, I didn't say they were all bad).

"Artists opening commissions isn't being greedy, it is offering a service in exchange for money and can sometimes be someone's only income"
Charging money is not an altruistic action, so one cannot definitively say that opening commissions is not greed. Providing income for yourself is generally considered a necessity that does require some level of self-preservation. Self-preservation is inherently selfish and, therefore, opens the possibility of being greedy. "Sometimes" being someone's only income means someone "sometimes" "isn't being greedy".

"[Immigration rules are] not a matter of toughess, it's a matter of enforcement. LEGAL immigration is hard the issues come from ILLEGAL immigration."
Using commas instead of semicolons and spaces in place of commas is not advisable; it makes you look silly, but you won't realize it because it's too intimidating. On a serious note, enforcement requires a certain degree of toughness that goes without saying. How much toughness is up for debate, but it does require some level. For instance, if I wished to enforce a rule that stated "no smoking in lobby", I have to have some degree of inflexibility for things such as smoking while standing in the doorway of the lobby. (Technically, it's not in the lobby, but you have the smoke coming into the lobby. You have to let them know that you also aren't going to allow smoking in the door of the lobby.)

Yes, I noticed that it said "Toughess" and not Toughness.

"consent isn't about getting permission, it's about caring for other people's comfort, decisions and autonomy"

Consent isn't about getting permission? Definition of consent as a noun: "permission for something to happen or [permission] to do something." Definition of consent as a verb: "give permission for something to happen". So yes, I'd say consent is about permission. Consent can, however, be about more than permission, such as caring for another person's comfort, decisions, and autonomy. But it's still about permission.

Side note: Article on "Is exhaustion a legitimate medical condition?", that says decisively that exhaustion is a medical condition, which I will still contend is a bit sloppy as it ("clinical exhaustion") shares its title with a more innocuous temporary condition of "exhaustion". Otherwise, if exhaustion is treated this way, it will end up like "depression", which can either refer to the temporary condition of being sad about something happening or the more long-term condition of "clinical depression" or "major depressive disorder". Nevertheless, if someone admits to "suffering from exhaustion" or "suffering from depression", one would naturally conclude the more pervasive version.

Mar 14 2018, 21:48
Video Game Violence Revisited In light of the school shootings, people in charge who still view video games as "that thing that cannot be controlled, so it must be despised" come down again on video games. This response then triggers the traditional response from the video game community, who cite research results to justify their position.
The problem isn't that they're citing research results; the problem is what they're citing, which is one of the following two phrases:
A: Studies have not shown that there is a causal link between video games and gun violence
B: Studies have shown that there is not a causal link between video games and gun violence
On the surface, the two sentences look identical, but they're not. Sentence A indicates that the studies are incomplete, which, they have to be, since there are both existing obstacles to studies involving gun violence and only a small sample of the population that engages in gun violence in order to correlate with any significance.
Quite simply, the results go like this: there were anywhere from 300-350 mass shootings that occurred in the USA in 2017. A large number, sure, but when compared to the total number of people in the USA, this represents one-millionth of the population. A large number, sure, but the metrics that they are being compared to are substantial. The percentage of USA households that own a gun are 42%. There is (obviously) a causal link between owning a gun and committing a mass shooting, yet this is already restricted to 42% of the population. Compare that to the percentage of households that own a video game console (80%). Since there is a causal link between owning a gun, applying a rule to video game console owners only reduces the applicable portion of the population to 34% (assuming ownership of a gun and ownership of a video game console are independent, which it probably isn't). The point is that the standard is far too broad to be of significance. It would be similar to trying to find a correlation between adults with ten fingers and gun violence. There's probably a correlation, but the applicable fraction of the population affected is far too large to justify sweeping concessions.
On the other hand, statement B implies that the research is complete, and that further studies will undoubtedly yield similar results, otherwise the study itself is wrong. Thus, statement B is dangerously priming its audience to reject the idea that video games cause violence even if indicated in a future study. Sure, statement B is similar sounding to statement A, but it is well-known that people will not seek to verify the results for themselves. I posted a link earlier in 2013, which stated that people shouldn't become overly attached to the idea that video games do not cause violence.
While there may not be a causal link found yet, that does not mean that there is one. I've previously mentioned that the causal link between video games and gun violence is likely similar in appearance to the causal link between sports and gun violence: both sports and video games bring out aggression and increased energy levels with its participants. It certainly isn't unfeasible to believe that aggression and excitement may be characteristics that could lead to gun violence.
Similarly, a link to violence and video games is likely similar to that between violent movies and video games. Consider that young children's first exposure to guns is, to some extent, from television shows (such as cop shows, crime shows, and other shows with lots of action), movies (PG, PG-13, etc.), and, to a lesser extent, video games. At this point, curiosity would set in and the child begins to ask questions about guns. At this point, the parent is expected to step in and provide a reasonable description about guns and how they're used in society, including why you don't just kill people with guns.
Regardless of the existence of the causal link, the main reason that reduces the gun violence is that they're illegal. Regardless of how the child is raised, they will *eventually* learn about guns, their capabilities, and hopefully, their implications. Assuming that video games can bring up the destruction caused by guns without consideration of their effects in reality is a fantasy.
You also have to consider that people who make their living off of violent video games are probably going to push back against any notion that might affect their livelihood. Just as gun companies are pushing back on ideas that will cause them to lose sales, video game companies will push back against notions that lessen the value or demand for their games. I've observed one instance where a person, dealing to great extent with violent video games, decided that Sentence B is perfectly valid.
In addition to sentences A and B, some people believe that, because video games can do good things to people, video game can't possibly do bad things to people. This is nonsensical. Cars allow people to travel great distances independently and are a great convenience. They're also massive and fast-moving weapons that have been used in multiple acts of terrorism. Obviously, there are upsides and downsides to using cars. Choosing to focus on their benefits does not mean that they are not used to maim or kill. You can clearly see cars being used as weapons in most action movies and, to some extent, TV shows. Interestingly enough, guns themselves also have pros and cons.
The idea that a concept which can be explained with explanation X must therefore not be explained with explanation Y is a rampant fallacy on the internet, and we will discuss this soon!

Mar 3 2018, 22:25
"Unfairness" Update
Last time, I said that "unfairness" was expanded in single-player video game experiences to accommodate the player's expectation and preparations for the game. I was unable to determine any relation to the traditional idea of "fairness", but I had a major development recently. Well, to be exact, the major development happened at the end of January.
The idea here is that "fairness" means "playing by the rules". In this context, it is unfair for a team to break the rules. This brings up another issue: what are the rules? Does the game have an obligation to follow a set of rules?
The quick answer is "no", as most realms of art pride themselves on pushing the envelope and breaking the norm. Yet, video games are subject to implicit rules as well, with ideas such as "Avoid frustrating the player", "It shouldn't be laborious", and my most maligned "Things the player should know", but that's a different discussion.
Breaking implicit rules has to be the source of "unfairness" in these video games. Who defines the rules? Well, obviously, the person playing the game. Therefore, the rules vary from person to person and, while there are certainly some rules that are quite common, there are other rules that are not. Thus, unfairness is still majorly subjective, but now for a different reason.

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.