Strat's Blog

Avoiding a slow death

I regret to inform you that you’re dying. We all are. The journey we’re on is a one way trip and we’re unlikely to discover a cure by the time you need it. Knowing that, how will you decide to live the life you have?

10 reasons why I'm in love with bouldering

Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls without the use of ropes or harnesses. I’ve recently fallen in love with the sport and I want to tell you why. So here’s 10 (or so) reasons why I’m in love with bouldering.

Tabletop Roleplaying: Getting your players to care

If you’re new to roleplaying or just curious, take a look at my tabletop roleplaying 101 post before reading this one. Tabletop roleplaying works best when everyone at the table is fully invested in the world that the characters you’re playing exist in. Everyone at the table should be fully bought in to the idea of all of you roleplaying together. Here’s a few tips on achieving this and, in doing so, getting your players to care.

On Being Awesome (1)

Nick Riggle’s “On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck” is a philosophy book that discusses awesomeness and suckiness in detail. It defines language to accurately describe and reason about the awesomeness and suckiness that you perceive in yourself and in others. According to Mr. Riggle, awesomeness and suckiness revolves all around social openings which are moments when we can choose to break out of our norm-governed roles by expressing ourselves.

Tabletop Roleplaying 101

So… You, or someone you know, has expressed interest in participating in some form of tabletop roleplaying. What is tabletop roleplaying? Tabletop roleplaying is a form of interactive storytelling. We’ve been telling each other stories sitting around a campfire for as long as anyone can remember. Tabletop roleplaying games are an extension of this. At their core, these games are all about people connecting with each other, creating shared experiences through play and discovering themselves by becoming someone else.

Got to Go Fast

Yesterday I discussed me getting back into intermittent fasting and the individualistic (and very Western) reasons why. The short of it is: I want to feel good about my body, I want people to find me attractive and one way I can go about that is by slimming down a little. Now, are there less selfish reasons why someone would decide to start fasting? Well, of course, fasting, and dietary restrictions in general, are commonly practiced in many faiths.

Sentient Potatoes: The Future of War

So I’m doing intermittent fasting again. It works for me. It helps me reduce my weight in a sustainable way that doesn’t disrupt my life (too much). I don’t want to lose much weight. I don’t have to. From my very unbiased perspective, I can assure you that losing 10 pounds would be enough to bring me to very sexy man level. Theoretically (I don’t think it’s going to happen but who knows), losing 20 pounds would bring me to sexy Greek God level.

The Poltergeist Salad Tossed Itself

We like to believe that we are free (as in freedom). Under the crushing weight of the societal and economic constraints placed upon you, yes, you can choose. But your options might leave you wanting more. None of us choose to be born. It kind of just happens. I won’t go into the details but, a long time ago, your biological parents touched base and a few months later you were brought into this world.

Human-Flavored Soup: Soup-Flavored Human

I’m frustrated. I want to say a lot but I don’t always know how to express myself in the best way. My thoughts are vague and opaque within my own mind, rarely I’m able take these thoughts and convey them in a way that makes sense. A way that clicks with people and allows them to understand a tiny fraction of the way I feel inside. I solemnly pledge to spend more time writing my thoughts down on paper before they can float away in the never-ending churn that is the human brain.

Five Reasons to build your website with Hugo

I was making some small changes to my website last week, I don’t remember exactly what I was doing. I was sitting there. Waiting for my changes to appear. Watching the clock tick away. Contemplating the reality that every second I spend waiting for my build to finish is a second that I’m never going to get back. There’s got to be a better way! Turns out there was. All of a sudden, I spent an entire weekend gutting my website, ripping out Middleman, the static site generator I was using, and replacing it with Hugo.

Vim plugins I like

Vim is a text editor. I’ve been using it for over 6 years now and I’m madly in love with it. If you’re married to the command line like I am (or want to be), then getting over Vim’s steep learning curve will be well worth the effort. There’s quite a few good resources out there to help non-Vim users get acquainted with it. What makes Vim so cool? Vim is powerful.

Turbo Kid

The following text contains spoilers for the movie Turbo Kid (2015), reader discretion is advised. Let’s get into a relatively quick but complete summary of the plot of Turbo Kid before I dive into some of my thoughts. Feel free to skip ahead if you’ve recently watched the movie. A quick summary ¶ The story takes place in an alternate reality of 1997. Many years ago, humanity lost a war against the robots they created which led to the destruction of civilization.

My insults to the chef

I’ve been working full time and cooking for myself for long enough to be able to tell you that keeping yourself well fed is a lot harder than you think. For years, I’ve been spending hours each week: planning what I’m going to eat when, getting ingredients and doing the cooking itself. It’s tough and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. So, I wanted to take a little break from all that work to focus on activities that make me happy while keeping myself fed and healthy.

I'm not laughing, you're laughing...

Documental is a Japanese reality TV show with a simple premise. 10 comedians (ponying up 1 million Yen each) are locked in a room for 6 hours with cameras filming everything that happens inside. If one of them smiles or laughs, they get a yellow card. If they do it again, they’re kicked out of the room. The last comedian left in the room after 6 hours have past is declared the winner, and receives a 10 million Yen prize.

Undiscording yourself 101

Skip ahead if you know what you’re doing and just want to learn how to delete all your messages on a Discord server. Discord is a social media platform allowing users in various user-created groups, called servers, to chat with each other through text or voice chat and stream video of themselves or their screen, all in real time. Text messages are stored on the server forever and aren’t automatically deleted no matter how old they are or currently relevant they are.

Get me out of here!

I like to play games. And to no one’s suprise, I guess I’m really into escape rooms. What are escape rooms, you ask? Borrowing elements from point-and-click adventure games, live-action role-playing, interactive theatre, treasure hunts, movies, and TV shows, an escape room is “a live-action team-based game where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited amount of time”.

Untitled - Poem #21973

A dark and dank cave, you see, Murky and mouldy, walls surrounding me. It feels safe, or at least, it used to, Now, my monsters keep me company. A tiny ray of light seeps through, A gentle warmth between my toes. Cup your ear and you’ll hear, The sound of those I left behind, Praying for my salvation.

TLDR: Media Literacy by W. James Potter

EDIT 2022-08-22: check out my new /books page to see what the books I’ve been reading and what I think about them. I’ve been reading the Media Literacy (8th edition) textbook by W. James Potter recently. It’s a super interesting topic. Here’s a few passages that I’ve underlined in the text (I’ve read about half of the textbook so far). Hopefully reading a few of these passages encourages you to pick up a media literacy textbook and start learning about the topic so that I can talk about it with you!

The Overjustification Effect

I learned to code sometime in 2011. I started getting paid to code in 2016. What started out as a passion turned into a job. This sometimes leads to what’s called the overjustification effect. The overjustification effect occurs when an expected external incentive such as money or prizes decreases a person’s intrinsic motivation to perform a task. Overjustification is an explanation for the phenomenon known as motivational “crowding out”. The overall effect of offering a reward for a previously unrewarded activity is a shift to extrinsic motivation and the undermining of pre-existing intrinsic motivation.

A bar fight to remember

We found ourselves at the abandoned mine shaft, home to the mysterious entity we call the Eye. Preacher, our leader, a man of the cloth with the heavy weight of his unconventional faith on his shoulders. Desmond, an old man who’s been around and knows everyone there is to know. Teddy, an academic with a desire to gain political power for yet to be determined reasons. And myself, Blade. Ostracised from the Academy for my “dangerous” research, I took to the streets where my ability to make things go boom would be put to good use.

Benefiting from the Nasal Douche

I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies and dust mite allergies (and cats make me want to die) most of my life. I wasn’t brought to an allergy doctor when I was a kid and so I just learned how to deal with it. But my symptoms worsened over time, making it impossible for me to ignore them any longer. Eventually, I went to get help. How does one treat allergies? I’m not a doctor but this is what I know.

Exploring Marcus Aurelius's Meditations

I recently read Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (translated by Gregory Hays) and I quite enjoyed it. Some of his ideas are still relevant today and others haven’t aged very well (which is not surprising given how far removed Marcus’s experience of life is from our own). Overall, the text was interesting enough for me to be motivated to make this little toy that shows you one of the “meditations” every time you refresh the page (tip: if you click/tap on a word it’ll bring you to another meditation containing that word).

F*** dating apps

As discussed in my first entry of my “F*** X” series of posts, we are motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that encourage us to spend our valuable time on certain activities rather than others. Companies are not people, they’re not your friend. If they could murder you, without getting caught, and sell your organs for profit, they would. Money is what motivates companies to do what they do.

👉 🌐: 🤔 🌱 📃 🔠

EDIT 2022-08-22: Check out my new /books page where I talk about books I’ve read and my thoughts on them. I’m always been in 💖 with words but, somehow, I’ve gone through most of my life without studying linguistics at all. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻ (┛◉Д◉)┛彡┻━┻ (┛ಠ_ಠ)┛彡┻━┻ ┏━┓┏━┓┏━┓ ︵ /(^.^/) I started listening to the Lingthusiasm podcast in early 2021. It took me a while (until early 2022) to read the book written by one of the hosts (Gretchen McCulloch), but here we are.

F*** the haters.

Every couple of weeks, my friend L decides that it’s time to remind me of the “small” number of people who actively read the writing I do here. Here’s why I don’t care. We’re all influenced by a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that determine how we choose to spend our time. “Intrinsic motivation exists within the individual and is driven by satisfying internal rewards rather than relying on external pressures or extrinsic rewards.

The Power of Positive Thinking by Vincent B. Clear

The following text is an excerpt from The Power of Positive Thinking™ by Vincent B. Clear. What if your thoughts could become reality? What if you believed hard enough in something, it became true? Take the next step in your life’s journey by learning to harness The Power of Positive Thinking™ to make your life and the lives of those around you, greater than. My name is Vincent B.

"That's never happened before" syndrome

A speedrun is a play-through of a video game performed to complete it as quickly as possible. Games Done Quick is an organization that runs bi-yearly speedrun events where hundreds of people gather to speedrun games for a good cause. I’ve enjoyed watching GDQ speedruns for a few years now but up until recently I had never tried speedrunning. Over the holidays, I played through the physics-based “astronaut doing astronauty things” game Heavenly Bodies.

I'm not going to forget The Forgotten City

Each day I take off work is a pleasure, but each passing day off increases the sense of dread I feel about having to go back to work. No matter how much I love my job, like most people, I would rather be spending time with family and friends or working on hobbies that tend to be a little more creatively fulfilling. The passage of time is inevitable. Life’s short and no one can escape death.

Games I played in 2021

Despite getting sucked into Hunt Showdown in a big way this year, I spent less time playing games than I usually do. Still, I enjoyed diving into other worlds with the Oculus Quest 2, quick resuming games on my Xbox Series X (purchased in desperation after years of wanting to upgrade my PC but not being able to due to shortages) and playing games on the freshly built monster PC I decided to buy anyway.

Movies I watched in 2021

Here’s a list of the movies I loved (and hated) in 2021 in categories that describe how I felt about them (within each category, the ordering is irrelevant). Movies I loved ¶ Johnny Mnemonic Keanu Reeves in a business suit going insane in a dystopian cyberpunk world. Keanu’s inability to act and William Gibson’s inability to write only added to the charm of this movie. The pile of trash that Johnny stands on when making his speech about wanting “room service” near the end of the movie represents the movie itself.

Books I read in 2021

EDIT: Check out my new /books page where I catalog all the books I’ve read since 2021 along with my thoughts about them Please don’t judge me. I haven’t read many books this year but I’ve read infinitely more than I did last year. I used to read during my daily commute… One day, I just stopped commuting and so I stopped reading too. This summer, I decided to set aside a bit of time every day to read and here we are.

Getting high on Siralim Ultimate

Imagine if Pokemon, Final Fantasy and an assortment of your favorite opioids had a baby. That’s Siralim Ultimate. It’s a game about building teams of creatures to fight other teams of creatures. And that’s it. That’s the whole thing. Why is it so compelling? You choose a specialization (Monk, Cabalist, Necromancer, etc.), each of which gives you access to a certain set of skills to complement your team of creatures.

It's dead, Jim

I can’t write a hook for my life right now so I’m not even going to try. If that bothers you, I would love to hear from you. Giant Bomb has been my primary source for gaming news for a long time. I’ve been listening to and watching the people who work(ed) there since the early 2000s when they were working at Gamespot. The online personas of people like Jeff Gerstmann, Vinny Caravella, Alex Navarro, Ryan Davis and Brad Shoemaker have been a constant presence for most of my life.

You're a Rift Wizard, Harry!

Rift Wizard is a traditional roguelike (a turn-based procedurally generated dungeon crawler) that doubles down on the fantasy of being a wizard with a hefty leather-bound spell book at your fingertips, a legion of minions under your control and mastery over ALL of the elements. Who wouldn’t want that? A lot of video game marketing tells you that you’ll be able to become a Really Cool Mage™ if you play Our Really Cool Magic Game™… but they’re lying to you.

Writing... It's a Process 🎧

On and off, since early 2017, I’ve been writing about the video games I play. I’ve always loved video games and writing so it seemed like a good idea to write about video games for fun. I got into the habit of writing concise reviews for most of the video games I played. I would play through a game from start to finish, pick out the juiciest parts of the experience, write about it in about 200 words and post the review to Steam.

A Political Video Game: Suzerain 🎧

Suzerain is a text-based role-playing game where you play as President Anton Rayne leading the fictional country of Sordland in a political drama driven by conversations with your cabinet members and other significant people. The decisions you make will determine the future of Sordland and of its people, how will you lead? Suzerain is a narrative-driven game. Playing the game involves reading a lot of dialog, news articles, biographies of people and more.

The PC master race is over: the Xbox Series X won

I spent a lot of money purchasing an Xbox Series X. I’m encouraged to rationalize my purchases to make myself feel less bad about spending money on luxury instead hiding it away for a rainy day when I’m older and more broken than I am today. As always, I write honestly but, given the circumstances, take anything I say here with a grain of salt. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that I was introduced to video games at a young age.

Social Deduction through Text Chat in Untrusted 🎧

I’ve been lucky during these uncertain times to have been able to keep in touch with my close friends and forge new relationships through the internet. I’ve been in lockdown for most of this past year and because I live alone, I’ve been doing a lot more text chatting than before in a mildly successful attempt to stay sane. I have a love-hate relationship with text chatting. It makes it really easy to keep in touch with the people you care about.

Time to Die in Risk of Rain 2 🎧

Time always moves forward whether you like it or not. In the blink of an eye, the present becomes the past and the future becomes the present. Every moment spent standing still is a moment not spent moving forward. We’ve all been standing still for far too long, until we can move around again, let me tell you about a game where you won’t be able to stop moving. Risk of Rain 2 is a game that forces you to come to terms with the passage of time.

Beware the God Killer in Yoku's Island Express 🎧

Time stood still as a new kind of old evil ravages the world as we know it, freezing us in time and space, while we clutch our crosses in fear. Sadly, God is dead and we killed him. In a time of unprecedented irrationality, ignorance and stupidity, it’s been difficult for me to stay sane in these trying times. It may or may not be too late for our world. Only time will tell.

Piloting and Tinkering in Ring Runner 🎧

Nowadays, I lower my expectations as low as they can possibly go before playing a new video game. Maybe I’ve been disappointed one too many times or maybe I’m a pessimist. Either way, because I set the bar so low, when an amazing game falls into my lap, it gives me energy. In the short time I’ve spent with it, I’ve fallen in love with Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages.

Good games I played in 2020 🎧

2020 was definitely a year, but 2021 is just around the corner. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much else other than play games this year which is a silver lining that I don’t want to take for granted. I’ve never before had the time to play as many good games as I have this year. Without further ado, here are my favourite games I’ve played this year in no particular order (You can read my 2019 GOTY list here).

Valve, Steam and You

If you’re a PC gamer in 2020 then chances are you use Steam as one of your platforms of choice to purchase PC games. You might not know that Valve, the people behind Steam and many beloved game series such as Half Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike, and more, have been taking a 30% cut off of every game sold on their platform for a little over a decade.

Ready, Set, VR? 🎧

Virtual reality. Everyone should get a chance to put a headset on because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Modern VR headsets have been available for more than half a decade and yet not many people own one or have had the luxury of trying one. I was, and unfortunately I still am, an early adopter of VR. I owned an HTC Vive headset a couple years ago, I sold it.

Moving Out, Growing In

Moving out of my childhood home to live on my own was going to be tough. I realized this as I rolled out of the U-Haul truck with a piece of toast in one hand and my hopes and dreams in the other. I moved out of my family’s place a little more than a year ago. In the time since, I’ve experienced a lot, I’ve learned and I’ve grown. Given that I’ve just moved out again somewhere new, why not reflect on the time that I spent living away from my family and share that with you.

Chronic Pain and HUGE Trackballs 🎧

WARNING: If you’ve got pain in your body, listen to it. If you’re a big Gamer, please take breaks and play responsibly. Video games are wonderful but they aren’t worth destroying your mind and body over playing them, or making them. You’ll thank me later. I recently started using an ELECOM HUGE trackball mouse. Trackball mice are an alternative to traditional mice. Instead of moving the mouse around, you rotate a ball that’s fixed in place (the trackball) using your fingers which then moves the mouse cursor on the screen.

Baby's First 3D Models for Printing

I’ve been thinking of buying a 3D printer… It’s something I’ve always been interested in but until recently I haven’t had the space for it. The consumer 3D printing world has gotten a lot cheaper and simpler to get into in recent years. In preparation for that I’ve been playing around with OpenSCAD. It’s a CAD (Computer-aided design) program which, according to Wikipedia, is a computer program used to aid in the creation, modification, analysis or optimization of a design.

Power Fantasies, Environments in LoG 2

The world around us is mysterious, magnificent and beautiful. It’s a living breathing ecosystem with an internal logic of its own. Mother Nature, and Father Concrete, represent the interwoven complexity held within the environments that we live in and explore. In the real world, the environments we inhabit can be quite uninteresting, but anything is possible in a video game. I’ve been playing Legend of Grimrock 2 recently. I’m having a wonderful time, because the environment is more than just a place where gameplay happens, it IS the gameplay.

The Second Coming of Rust

In these UNCERTAIN TIMES, I’ve found myself with a little more free time than usual because I haven’t needed to commute to an office every day. I’ve tried to funnel that energy into creative and constructive hobbies. Keyword: tried. In the past week, I’ve spent some of that time learning the Rust programming language. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I finally took the plunge. Here’s a couple of notable features that I’ve managed to grok from my brief time with it.

My favorite games of the past, present and future

Hello fellow human. I’ve been quite busy this week, I’ve been focusing a lot of my free time on modding, making changes to an existing game, of a newly released game which I’ve been pouring a lot of time into given how good it is (I’ll mention it later on). Today will be a little less formal (that’s just a nicer way of me saying that it’ll be a little more half-assed than usual).

Hunt, Showdown, Repeat 🎧

You are a bounty hunter dredging through demon-infested Louisiana swamps in an alternate timeline of our 1895 but with some anachronisms thrown in. You need to find, then kill a demonic monster and, finally, leave the swamp as quickly as you can. Problem is… You’re not alone. You better hope to God that you brought the right weapons and that you’re not caught off guard by other bounty hunters. One mistake and not only will you be going home empty handed; you’ll be returning to your friends and family in a coffin.

A Gamer's Guide to: Cheating in Single-Player Games

Welcome to my second “A Gamer’s Guide to” blog post (check out my previous one on online multiplayer video games). I’ll be explaining how you can cheat in single-player games on PC. If you’re feeling like a rebel then take a seat and prepare to bask in the glow of infinite health, infinite currency and infinity itself. Feel free to use the techniques that I describe below at your own risk, I don’t advise cheating in any game that is a live service, is online in any way, has leaderboards or has micro-transactions.

A Gamer's Guide to: Online Multiplayer

Welcome to my first “A Gamer’s Guide to…”. This series of articles will cover a wide range of topics of interest to gamers from the perspective of a video game programmer. I know a little about what goes into making a video game. I gained a wide breadth of knowledge of every part of a video game including game engines, physics, gameplay, audio, AI, C++ (shiver) and more in my studies.

You can always reload, until you can't

Most games don’t matter. The actions you play out within most games don’t have any long term impact on you as a player. Some narrative games imply that the choices you make have an impact on the world but given that the world is imaginary, does it really matter? Some RPGs force you into making decisions that change the world or your characters but… You can always press F8 and reload.

Interviews - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Looking for a job sucks. A couple of months ago, I was going through interview after interview like a wrecking ball blasting through concrete. No buildings were destroyed in the process but I may have burned some bridges along the way. We laughed, we cried, it was roller coaster of emotions and then I got a job. Here’s a blow-by-blow review of the interviews I went through. I’ve reflected on each interview and coupled each with recommendations for you if you are or are planning to go through a similar interview process.

My Game of the Year List for 2019

I love video games. I’ve loved them almost my entire life. I loved them enough to make making them my job. I’m not working in video game development anymore but I still enjoy playing games and pondering over them. Here’s a list of the video games I played in 2019 which I enjoyed the most (in no particular order). Trials Rising ¶ Here’s my video review of Trials Rising which I wrote and recorded earlier this year during my extended break from employment (don’t expect any more reviews to come where that came from).

Warhammer 40k - a Blast from the Past

I recently dove head first into the world of Warhammer 40k. A dark and edgy tabletop game born in the 80s played with many miniature models of science fiction soldiers, aliens, etc. If you’ve heard of space orks (generic fantasy orcs thrust forty thousand years into the future) who paint their ships red because it makes them go faster (their belief makes it so) or about an immortal Emperor sending genetically modified soldiers all over the universe to defeat the forces of Chaos then that’s Warhammer 40k.

I code review an 8 year old project

One of the first projects I worked on after learning how to program, around 8 years ago, is called writerator. It is a Python command line interface (or CLI for short) for analyzing English language text and generating randomized poetry such as haikus and poems. I was contemplating using it to build a new side project which would analyze text from all over the internet from the previous day (news articles, Twitter posts, etc.

Building a website for 17$ or less

The website you’re reading this on was built by myself and it cost me a total of 17$ CDN (yearly). Without a custom domain it would have cost me nothing, zilch, nada. My goal for this website was to create my own space on the internet to allow me to easily share the software engineering work I’ve done, share the writing I do on video games and encourage me to write about other topics that interest me.

Influencing the odds inside and outside of Blood Bowl 2

“Blood Bowl 2 smashes Warhammer and American football together, in an explosive cocktail of turn-based strategy, humour and brutality, adapted from Games Workshop’s famous board game.” I’d be hard pressed to come up with a better brief description of what Blood Bowl is. In Blood Bowl, you take on the role of a coach leading and managing a team playing an extremely violent mockery of American football. During a match, two teams try to carry one ball from one end of the pitch to the other but the similarities between football and Blood Bowl end there.

The website, Mortal Kombat 11 and microtransactions

I’m currently working on my website (the one you’re currently on, I should probably put a “work-in-progress” sign up…). Work has been going well so far. I had done most of the ‘setting everything up’ for the site a year and a half ago before I was employed by Framestore VR. I’ve recently begun working on the project again, and the work has been going according to plan. I was expecting to spend the whole day working on on the website yesterday however Mortal Kombat 11’s story mode and juicy gameplay got in the way.