Flying Monday post

No adventures in coding to report this week. I would like to have been playing with a few experimental games I want to make and working on my ongoing projects, but I’ve been snowed under with day job work and haven’t had the time or energy. Hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel by the end of the week!

Switch Lite
I also need to switch this thing on tonight and check it’s still okay, as I haven’t had time to use it for a few months now. Maybe I’ll actually have chance to play games on it one of these days!

A few scattered running thoughts

I won’t lie – running has been a bit tough for the last few weeks. When I’m very busy and/or stressed in other areas of my life, I find that I feel lethargic and lacking in energy when I’m out on my runs, and my pace slows right down. It also doesn’t help that my body has been busy healing from my uveitis attack. Still, I’ve been getting out there every day and getting on with my daily run streak, even though I’m finding it frustrating and confusing that I can’t seem to manage faster than an 11:30-minute mile after doing 10-minute miles all the way through the Sunderland 10k three weeks ago.

Sunderland 10k
Powering towards the line at Sunderland. (Photo: AWOL Adventure.)

I’m also now marathon training, which does slow my general pace right down if I’m not careful. However, it’s only two weeks until parkrun starts again in England, and once Geth’s on his annual leave from work we’re going to try and get our Tuesday interval sessions going again, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some speedwork in to mitigate the sloth-like pace of my long runs.

I’ve also got plans for changing my running week around a bit and not loading all my big sessions into the weekend. However, that will have to be gradual, as I need other areas of my life to start playing ball first (and/or the sudden onset of an ability to get up at 5am, which is… unlikely). Still, once I’ve got it sorted, I think it’ll work really well! I’ll keep you posted.

Muggy days and nights

There’s been a lot of rain this week, but the temperature has not lowered and sleep has been difficult due to the muggy night-time atmosphere. I’ve also had so much day job work I’ve not had time for anything else. I’m obviously thrilled that business has been booming recently, but I’m looking forward to a bit of downtime soon!

Not much else to report this week as a result. Hoping to be able to squeeze in some game creation as well next week.

South Shields
Another nice memory of last weekend’s visit to South Shields. Possibly the only visit I’ll have this year now that they’ve announced we all have to turn around and go back at the halfway point of the GNR!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Liam Payne and Quavo – ‘Strip That Down’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’
2 Unlimited – ‘Get Ready For This’
Technotronic – ‘Pump Up The Jam’

Sunday

Jason Derulo – ‘Want To Want Me’
The House Of Love – ‘Shine On’

Monday

Arctic Monkeys – ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’
Don Henley – ‘Boys Of Summer’
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’

Tuesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Cast of Peter Pan – ‘A Pirate’s Life (Is a Wonderful Life)’

Wednesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Cast of Peter Pan – ‘You Can Fly’

Thursday

Keala Settle – ‘This Is Me’

Friday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Let The Battles Begin!’
Alannah Myles – ‘Black Velvet’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘The Trials’
Tracy Chapman – ‘Fast Car’

Gamebook Wednesday: Nintendo Adventure Books #1, ‘Double Trouble’

Having been in an interactive fiction place for some time now, I’ve been going back to my old childhood gamebooks for a bit of bedtime reading. They were very well-loved back in the day by me and my brother Malcolm and travelled everywhere with us, but it’s been a long time since I cracked them open. Recently, I thought I’d give them another go and see what they were like from an adult viewpoint.

The first one I pulled off the shelf was the first in the series of Nintendo Adventure Books, Double Trouble.

Double Trouble

In addition to (likely) being in a slightly different gamebook headspace from where I was as a child, I’m also in a slightly different Nintendo headspace. In the ’90s, I knew Mario from my Game Boy, where he was a tiny black and white cluster of pixels jumping high into the air to bash blocks and jump on monsters. I loved Super Mario Land (platformers were my absolute jam from my first bumbling small child attempts at HunchBack on the BBC Micro circa 1988-1989 right through until the end of the ’90s, by which point adventure games had taken over my world), but the monochrome Mario didn’t have much of a personality.

Fast forward to the early ’20s, where I am in the process of transitioning from a wonderful decade spent with my 3DS to the shiny delights of my new Switch Lite. These days, I know Mario through games such as Paper Mario: The Origami King (my gaming highlight of last summer), which are considerably more story-driven than Super Mario Land! As such, I have a much more concrete idea of all the main characters and their places in the Mushroom Kingdom.

This had a pretty big knock-on effect when I flipped open Double Trouble the other week for the first time in decades. In the ’90s, the books in this series were a pleasant expansion of the limited amount I knew about the Mario universe; in the present day, the details are just different enough to jar. Bowser was still King Koopa back in 1991, when this book was published; Princess Peach was Princess Toadstool; her dad was still in the picture; there were a ton of minor characters I haven’t seen mentioned in games for a long time. Still, once I adjusted my worldview back a few decades, there was quite a bit to enjoy.

The story is a fairly daft premise about Bowser King Koopa trying to cause havoc in the Mushroom Kingdom by cloning all the citizens (the actual brains behind the cloning machine is his son Iggy, later retconned as not Bowser’s son and another character you don’t hear about very often these days). The gameplay is a mixture of standard ‘make a choice and turn to page X’ and ‘solve this wordsearch or maze puzzle to find out whether you get to turn to page Y or Z!’ The latter can be frustrating and dull, although thankfully most of the pencil marks that Malcolm and I made back in the day are still intact.

There’s a fairly annoying and slightly lazy mechanic where you get hit on the head a lot, resulting in amnesia, which is meant to be the explanation for why you keep getting sent back to the same passage you’ve already read when you make a wrong but not wrong-enough-for-game-over decision. I wouldn’t mind, but Mario spends his entire life hitting blocks with his head, so you’d think his skull would be tough enough to withstand a few thumps from turtle minions.

You also collect a lot of coins, like you do in the platform games. However, there never seems to be anything you can spend them on – it seems they’re just meant to represent points at the end of the game.

Still, it’s a fun little story that can be finished in twenty minutes or so. I’ve got another couple of the books in the series, so I’ll be coming back to these soon!

Useful link: listing at Demian’s Gamebook Web Page.

2020 Pestos #10: Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Pesto Alla Genovese

This used to be my favourite pesto!

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Pesto Alla Genovese
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Pesto Alla Genovese.

It’s not my favourite anymore, for two reasons:

  1. They changed the recipe. It’s still very nice, but it’s a little too rich to be perfect.
  2. Geth and I have stopped going to the big Sainsbury’s in our locality that sells this pesto. We went all the time pre-pandemic, as it was convenient to drop in on the way back from our Slimming World group, but obviously our routine has changed and other supermarkets are more convenient for us now.

Still, I’d like to try this one again sometime, as it would make a nice change to my usual selection!

Adventures In Coding: Downtime Post-Release

I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice already this week, but here’s another link to my latest game!

I had a really good time making Waiting for the Day Train once I let go of the hope that I could somehow finish Marie in time for the ParserComp deadline (having actually sat down and properly scheduled everything out, it will most definitely be going into one of the early 2022 competitions instead). I had fallen in love with the game idea when wandering around the beautiful vicinity of Causey Arch during Mum and Dad’s visit a few weeks ago, as I wanted to do a relaxing adventure accompanied by the photos I’d taken. In the end the adventure was not portrayed as relaxing – it’s a timed game, as the aim is to catch the last day train so that you can escape the night and its associated evil spirits forever… but there has to be some sense of danger in an adventure game!

Waiting for the Day Train

I really loved making the two themes for the game (there’s a day theme, for the playable part of the game, and a night theme for parts of the framing story). I’ve had some very nice feedback about it so far, which has given me a few ideas for future updates.

It’s going to be a fun few months as I have a lot of game ideas to play with. Marie is still trucking along in the background as well, in a slightly more sedate way than she was doing before.

For a week or two, though, I’m taking it easy and carving out some time to play all the other ParserComp entries!