Some thoughts on retro gaming, nostalgia and childhood stories

A section of the splash screen from Tetris (Original game boy edition)

So after a few weeks of streaming some of my current PC games, I’ve been trying to think of what sort of overall theme I want my Twitch/YouTube presence to have. I could keep mostly streaming Minecraft * but really there are a million MC streamers out there. Really there are about a millionty-one PC game and current console streamers already out there, and I feel like if I keep doing what I’m doing, even keeping the “my kids** and their friends are watching lol look at how bad I am at this okay self try not to cuss too much” angle, it’ll keep feeling a bit too much like a retread of what literally everyone else is doing.

This week I’ve been bopping around on Amazon staring lustfully at the ElGato HD60 because I was thinking about streaming my hilari-bad attempts at playing Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey*** but I can’t quite justify the cost of an HDMI capture card, not at this point in my fledgling streaming… experiment? Sure, let’s call it that. And then, poking around the cheaper options, I stumbled across RCA to USB converters and something in my brain said “Aha!” and immediately the theme from Zombies Ate My Neighbors started playing in my head.

Look, y’all know I’m an Old. Full disclosure, I’m staring down the barrel of 40. Not quite Pong old, or even quite Atari/NES old, but old enough to remember needing a box or a stool at the arcade because I was too tiny to reach the controls at five or six, old enough that having a personal computer (moment of silence for my Apple IIGS) was still a revolutionary thing to have, especially for a kid, and definitely old enough to remember the sheer unadulterated joy of finding Super Nintendo games under the Christmas tree in 1991, knowing that the console itself was under there somewhere (and my dad muttering something about “someone put the cart before the horse” but enjoying my moment anyway). I still have that exact console, which still works and get played with regularly in my house. I also still have a working Game Boy**** as well as all but one (two?) of my own games. So yeah. Old.

A while back, in a conversation I had about reissued game consoles that tend to hit the market every Christmas season, a friend of mine said something about not understanding the idea of spending money on retro-gaming. As far as games were concerned they didn’t want to keep wallowing in the past, but wanted to embrace the now or the future in terms of game consoles. This person has also previously stated a similar viewpoint on keeping/rereading books, because “what’s the point if you know how the story ends already?” Needless to say I respectfully but vehemently disagree, as my home library can attest. While I admittedly should go through and cull the books I am definitely never reading again, my library contains volumes I have acquired over the years – dusty hardbacks, Scholastic Book Club paperbacks I have meticulously repaired with scotch tape, gifts from friends – that I return to repeatedly to the point of almost considering the books themselves old friends.

Unsurprisingly, I have the same attitude towards games. While I had both Game Boy and SNES growing up, I only had a handful of games because I was 13, games were expensive and my parents, being Olds even at the time they were raising me, really didn’t see the point of constantly buying me new ones. I think I had less than 5 total for the SNES, only a couple more for the Game Boy and borrowed the rest from friends. Then high school started really kicking my ass and I didn’t have time for video games again until after college. As a result, I’ve played the ever loving crap out of my handful of games, and occasionally going back and revisiting them has the same feel as picking up a well-loved book. Sure, I’m older and wiser and not as blind to various flaws in the game (Example: that rampant Princess as Macguffin trope as well as other problematic gender stereotypes in Mario games – shoutout to Black Girl Gaming, btw) but picking up an old controller and executing a series of jumps that are still in your muscle memory a quarter century later is its own kind of weirdly comforting.

Anyway. I bought a cheap ass analog to USB converter dongle, and this weekend I’m going to see if I can get it to work. If I can, I’ll take y’all on my latest trip down Nostalgia Lane with me. Possibly with less cussing.


* I know, I know, I need to make a post about the Contemporary build eventually. lol I am bad at game blogging.

** by “kids” I also mean my former Minecraft server kids, they didn’t call me Server Mama for nothing.

*** insert pout about how much farther Husbeast and Wee Beast are than me – I’m still in what is essentially Mario Mexico because I’ve barely had time to play.

**** Not my original; my nephew drowned that one in a bucket of water in, like, 1997. I’m still bitter.

I should probably announce my Twitch schedules here too, huh

lol, yet another “lookit me, I’m bad at game blogging” post.

Tonight’s Twitch schedule! (all times Eastern US)

7pm: Stardew Valley

This one was a request from one of my friend’s kids who just started playing. I think this is a good opportunity to show off the main game and the big farm, which I think I’m four years (game time) into at this point. Married Shane, had two kids, aging an unholy amount of wine in the basement, blah blah blah.

8pm: Minecraft

I’ve decided to start my next Big Build! It’s been a while and I’m excited about this one. I will probably do a post here about what inspired it, but I’ll reveal what it will be tonight during the stream.

Hope to see you tonight!

Some news type things

Two characters, Pearl and Marina, from the game Splatoon 2. Pearl is glaring at the camera, Marina looks excited.

Open a gaming blog, immediately neglect said blog; that seems to be my general M.O. I’m thinking scheduling content time might be the only way to keep me posting regularly, so I declare Sundays are news post days… starting now!

ARBT gets a Switch

One of the major reasons I’ve been absent the past week is I got a Nintendo Switch after stating that “I’ll get it for my birthday” nearly all year. Wellp, up came my birthday and here we are. This is the first console I’ve ever actually bought for myself, so I’m kind of stupid excited about it. (My previous two were the SNES and the Wii, the latter of which I primarily used as a Netflix delivery vector before we got a Roku.) I’ve haven’t really gamed on any kind of console in literal decades, so I’m having to finally confront the irrational controller fear that kept me away from Xbox and Playstation. (Oh God, so many buttons. I’m an Old, shut up.) This is me trying to get past that hurdle/prejudice/aversion/something something dark side.

So far I’m slowly (very slowly) figuring out how to handle myself in Splatoon 2. Not ready for salmon runs or what have you yet by any measure, but at least I am thoroughly enjoying beating up tentacled creatures and making a huge inky mess in the bargain. Husbeast also got Mario Kart 8 maybe the day after the Switch arrived, and we also later picked up another set of Joy-Cons so we could all play it at once. The trash talk factor in my house has gone up exponentially much to my amusement, especially since Husbeast and Wee Beast pout in exactly the same way when they lose races to either Eldrich Teenthing or me.

ARBT on Twitch *

I’ve now had two streaming sessions on Twitch and have had decent feedback on both, so I’m going to set a regular stream time from here on out: Monday night from 7pm US EDT to ??? I’ve done one session on Minecraft (which I’ve lost – kind of a bummer) and one on Stardew Valley (I may chop that session up into highlights and put clips on Youtube… haven’t really decided yet). I may do a run on Rust this Monday just because I wanna do a bit with the Halloween features before Thursday’s wipe. I may switch it up mid-stream but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’m still kinda figuring out how to Twitch and the overall character of my channel right now. I’m sure I’ll settle on some direction as I do it more, but for now it’s pretty much whatever I feel like doing.

And that’s pretty much it for this week’s news post. Since it’s all stupid and rainy and both the kids are otherwise occupied I’m gonna go put in some more Splatoon time.

ARBT out.

* The rhyming headlines were in no way intentional.

Kitty Trap

WW2 era gun bunker on a hill with "Come see my cat" spray painted on one side

So noodling through Tumblr I discovered the above picture. After having a chuckle and mostly agreeing with the notes under it (my favorite being “this would be the horror movie scenario which gets me to leave my car and get murdered” because yep) I looked at it again and went “hey, that might be fun to build in Rust.” So I found a desolate looking hill by the satellite dishes, quickly built a bunker (with some decent loot hidden inside), then carefully lined up two huge wooden signs on the front facing the road. I then doctored up a cropped photo of just the graffiti, sliced it in half, and loaded it onto the signs using the SignArtist oxide plugin. I’m pretty pleased by the end result.

A Rust recreation of the same WW2 bunker with graffiti.
Happened to catch the cargo drop in the picture too.

Undecided whether this is a one-off joke or if I’ll be including the bunker in future wipes, but for right now I am VERY amused.

Bizzy. Baksun.

Being eaten by another non-gaming project at the moment.

Servers are still up for now, but probably won’t get back to content/streaming until next week. Have fun in the meantime!

The First Church of Obi-Wan

Screenshot from the game Rust, depicting the interior of a church.

Time to give my Rust island a little love!

Every wipe cycle I take the time to paste in one or two builds to liven up the landscape a bit. (Considering the island is usually empty, the landscape needs a lot of livening.) The first one is always the First Church of Obi-Wan, named for the giant picture of a bearded, Jesus-esque Ewan MacGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi hanging inside.

I built this originally for a private session of hunger games/hide and seek for my friends on the server; I built the church, put myself into God mode, and for every skull of another player they would bring me as “tribute” I would reward them with a gun. More skulls presented generally got better guns. Needless to say the game got brutal very quickly and the chest I was standing behind to receive tribute filled up VERY quickly with skulls.

I liked the church build so much that when I started leaving the server open I first would rebuild it in world immediately after wipes, and then once I discovered the Copy/Paste mod, just started pasting it in. It is built with strategically placed teddy bears and other comfort generating furniture, as the idea is for it to be a sanctuary where players can rest and heal up, though since there’s nothing preventing other players from popping in and sniping whatever sitting ducks are currently inside, and also since the helicopter can see inside via the grates in the cieling, there is only so much safety to be found inside. Use at your own risk.

I’ve made some improvements over the past few months, the latest being adding a side porch for workbenches and a large furnace in the back.

Baby’s First Twitch Stream!

screenshot from Minecraft with overlay at top for twitch streaming

So as a procrastination project from what I’m supposed to be doing until next weekend (I know) I’ve been working on this blog and also slowly setting up my Twitch channel for For Realsies streaming. I finally got all my ducks in a row and went live last night. As a test run, I noodled around ARBTServer and toured a few of the builds.

I’m pleased with how it came out. Aside from hating how my voice sounds outside of my head, lol, I think I did reasonably well for my first time, and I learned some things, like how there’s a 30ish second delay between capture and view, and that I need to really start paying attention to the chat channel so I can respond to people. And maybe need to slow down a bit instead of babble nervously. But despite the nerves and the “oh god I’m talking into the void” bit, I had a ton of fun and will definitely be streaming again. I will post ahead of time when I do!

A big hat tip to the folks at Black Gamers Revolution for their help, advice and support in getting this done!

I like what you got

Screenshot from minecraft, depicting a pixel art rendition of the Cromulon from the TV show Rick and Morty

Well considering I found this on the Minecraft server right when I was wondering how I was going to kick off Blog 2.0, it seemed like a sign. (also thanks for the laugh, EvilPenguin!)

But yeah, this is the second incarnation of my gaming blog. It will mostly still be minecraft based, but I’m hoping to feature some Rust as well as maybe other Stuff I Play (because you all really need to hear about my angst over whether to marry Shane or Elliott in Stardew Valley, right? right.) I’m hoping in the coming weeks to slowly bring the Builds section of Minecraft up to date and kick off my Twitch channel.

It occurs to me that some might wonder why I’m dedicating most of my blog to my mostly-dead-these-days Minecraft server and my lets-face-it-it’s-always-dead-in-here Rust server. I don’t know. They may not be the most populous places in the game world, but they’re mine, and a fair bit of my non-player friends occasionally ask about what I’m doing in Minecraft these days so there’s that reason. Also as a black lady gamer in these troubling times, I feel the need to represent, to be a candle in the pepe-the-frog-littered darkness that is gamer space, to be all like “Hey. It’s not all 14 year old edgelords here. I’m here, and others like me are here too.”

So. I’m ARBT. And I’m here again. Come play with me!

One more quick map post

I hit a little bit of a snag with regard to maybe bringing the browser interactive tool to the site – namely that the javascript is still looking for huge files instead of the reasonably sized cropped one. Stay tuned for alternate ideas.

Anyway, one more map, this time an enlargement of our densely packed spawn area:

Home Sweet (272, 65, 12)
Home Sweet (272, 65, 12)

Since on the previous two maps it was near impossible to label everything in the spawn area, I decided to crop it down just to Spawn and the area around it. There is… a lot here, some of which I didn’t recognize/remember, and even at double the size I still had a couple of places where I had trouble fitting in labels.

I mostly wanted to have a spawn map so I could visualize the border of the building/modification ban, and the good news is I’m taking it from 200 blocks back down to 100, which is more than reasonable. Possible exception being that area in the lower right corner, as that space is empty – the other 3/4s of the square is quite full. So yeah, outside the red box please.

Stay tuned.

More Maps

When we last left your fearless leader, I was gleefully sorting through oodles of generated maps of ARBTServer and squeeing about finally having a world map after waiting a year and a half. I haven’t budged much from there, really. The interactive tools are really informative, since you can browse the maps by dimension, depth, etc once MCPE Viz crunches out all the pictures it’s capable of making. I really want to share ours, but unfortunately this means I’ve been spending large portions of the last couple of days cropping the generated overworld graphics down to a manageable size, because as generated they were well over 10000 pixels to a side and also well over 10MB a pop. Not exactly feasible – hell my husband’s brand new computer could barely handle browsing through these giant images and they were local to his machine. So I’ve been cropping them. The maps I’ve been showing around/ uploading skirt the dimensions of the known world; I figure when the builds edge farther than those boundaries we’ll start cutting it wider.

The other thing I’ve been doing is rotating the images 90 degrees clockwise, because according to how they come out, the sun rises in the north in Minecraft. (Come to think of it, that does explain why coordinates nver did quite make sense to me.) I’ve gotten used to orienting myself according to how the sun behaves on Earth, so I’ve been flipping the images on their “sides”. Cheating perhaps, but my world my rules, and if I want North to point upwards, by the Pants of the Server Mama it will.

The cropping and flipping process is tedious and slow because of the sheer whopping size of these pictures though – as it is I’ve only gotten from bedrock to “sea level” (lvl 62), though that may have been due to me looking at the level 62 map and thinking “ooh, continents.” Or at least very large islands separated by rivers?

Anyway long story short, there was a complete gear shift in what I was doing, and after tweaking colors, labels, edges, typefaces and various Photoshop effects, I came out with this.

Yar yar fiddle dee dee.
Yar yar fiddle dee dee.

When I was in middle school (back in the stone ages, practically) projects for history class often involved making maps or old fashioned letters by “aging” whatever paper we’d written or drawn on by first soaking it in old coffee, crumpling and smoothing it like 20 times, and then for that extra old document look, burning the edges with a match. That’s what I sorta wanted to evoke with this as well as it being a way to cover up the areas of missing/unexposed chunks. It didn’t quite mask it entirely, but it did work enough to get the suggestion across… and it looks awesome. BRB, changing my Facebook cover photo awesome, which says something considering the last time I changed it was when I finished Grand Central. But seriously though… I kinda want to get this printed and framed.

More map stuff later in the week!