Archive for May, 2012

Ni No Kuni Status: May 20, 2012

May 21 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Still chipping away: I didn’t make a lot of progress this weekend, but a little progress is better than nothing. We went back to the pig city, and told the king about the missing staff and the graffiti in the ghost valley. He told us that the graffiti was associated with pirates near a jungle village, and gave us a passport that would cause the villagers to grant us entry. And he also taught us a teleport spell so we could return to cities we’d previously visited; I’m not currently planning to do that, but I’m glad it’s an option.

I wasn’t sure where the jungle city was, and I didn’t get an arrow on my map, but I figured heading for the boat might work, and sure enough, once I got on the boat, the map did tell me where to go. So I sailed there; there was some drama going on with a religious artifact (some stones used in a festival?) and a girl were both missing. But both showed up quickly, I’m not sure what was going on with that. We were told to go north to find the pirates; that’s where I stopped.

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Rock Band Status: May 20, 2012

May 20 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m still mostly making sure I don’t do an awful job as accompanist for the Suzuki recital on June 8th, so I didn’t practice guitar at all on Saturday. Today, I went through the standard review stuff; the main question that raised is whether I should try finger-picking the triplets in Something Bigger, Something Brighter. It’s a lot easier (at least for that part, there’s another tremolo bit where I assume I’d want a pick), but I don’t think the guitar will detect finger-picking nearly as well for game purposes (though I haven’t tried recently), and I also have no idea how they actually play it in real life. I’m currently thinking that, if I were good at using a pick, playing it that way wouldn’t be a problem, but who knows.

As to new songs, I went through two that I’d recently downloaded, namely The Only Exception and Jerk It Out. Both are tier 1, though a bit harder than I expected from that level: chord progressions that were slightly unusual, enough to throw me for a bit of a loop but in a good way that will bear further studying. And certainly I enjoyed playing both of them.

Liesl and I also went through a few pieces of DLC on harmonies: the Hall and Oates 3-pack, Heart’s Alone, and The Only Exception. All good songs; the one surprising bit there was that we managed to get 100% on Maneater, I totally wasn’t expecting that.

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Rock Band Status: May 13, 2012

May 13 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I told Miranda’s violin teacher that I could be the accompanist for his students’ next recital, so I spent most of my music time this weekend going through those songs. Mostly songs that I’ve played before, and in particular the hardest ones are all ones I’ve played before, though there are a few new ones that will require some amount of practice. So I imagine I’ll be somewhat busy going through those until I feel that they are well enough into my fingers that I won’t distract from the students’ playing; the recital isn’t until June 8, so I certainly have more than enough time.

When playing Rock Band, I mostly went through old songs. And, actually, they mostly sounded pretty good, or at least not awful, I’m happier than I have been about the sound that’s coming out of the amp. The newest song that I added to the rotation is Something Bigger, Something Brighter, whose triplets I’d been practicing all week; the practice helped, but it’s still way too fast for me to play at full speed without missing a bunch of notes. Something to work on, definitely: my right hand needs to get better at that kind of stuff.

The one new piece this week was Smoke on the Water. Which I was excited about, and which turned out to be fun enough, but still a bit of a disappointment. Basically, the only part that’s at all difficult is the solo: it’s a tier 4 song, but if you throw away the solo, it’s more like tier 0. (At least that’s how it felt to me, though maybe it’s unusually well-suited to me: I ended up #85 on the leaderboard, which is quite high for me for on-disc content, and it’s a popular enough song that I would think many people would have taken a swing at it?) The solo actually would be a good one for me to work on, if I should so choose: it’s definitely too hard for me, but most of it is noodling around without changing your hand position too much, so if I spent the time to learn the hand position changes, the rest would be good practice. I’m not planning to do that right now, but maybe eventually I’ll make a run through the game trying to get better at solos? The one other thing that I learned was when playing it unmuted: there are arpeggiated chords with a fair amount of space after them. If I just play them normally, then the last note of the chord sounds for a while; so I experimented with lifting up my left hand after playing the last note to mute the chord. Worked pretty well, though there’s definitely room for improvement.

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Ni No Kuni Status: May 6, 2012

May 07 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

This week, I did the second half of the dungeon I started last week. That second half turns out to be a ruined city, rather than a crypt; I rather enjoyed the layout there, both in terms of its geometry and its art. I used a few too many items during the final boss fight (it took me a while to realize that yes, I really should spam healing), but I did okay. After which I went into the crypt behind the boss and found that somebody had already been there and taken the magic staff I was apparently looking for; that person left some graffiti, so we decided the next step was to go back to the pig city and ask around.

On our way back, we stopped at the house before the ruined city with the girl in it; it had been destroyed, and looked like it had been destroyed for years. So it turns out the girl was a ghost of some sort as well. Then we went back to the city, and I saved when I got there.

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Rock Band Status: May 6, 2012

May 06 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Not a lot of practice this week, but I did go through my standard practice list (throwing Subdivisions onto it), and do a couple of new tier 4 songs. Specifically, on Saturday, I did Something Bigger, Something Brighter; most of that piece is fast triplets that I’m nowhere near accurate enough on. Which was frustrating at first, but actually I enjoy the way the triplets sound when I play them unmuted and when I don’t have to keep up with the actual song, so now I’m converting that into a practice bit for outside of game, and am hoping to get better at it. Which is good, because I have a long way to go: I was convinced for a while that it was going to be my first non-three-star song, but when playing it unmuted I actually managed three stars through a combination of being able to hear the triplets a little better and having the game being a little more forgiving on the non-triplet sections. (Normally, playing unmuted is bad for your score, because it falsely claims you’re strumming in pauses just from string vibrations, but on fast runs, that actually sometimes fills in glitches in your playing, so I got up to 4x multipliers in places where I probably didn’t deserve it.)

I also broke my A string on Saturday; this time, rather than replacing all the strings, I just replaced that one. Here’s the video I used this time, worked well, and I’m managing to get the string wound more neatly.

On Sunday, I learned Lasso. Which turned out to be quite good for my level: the chords are a bit unusual for me and a bit fast for me, but in both cases they’re definitely within reach. The only bit I can’t get is the solo, which basically is playing something fairly straightforward on the G string combined with accents on the high E string—it’ll be a while before I can do that, but at least now that I’m thinking about it that way I can do the G string part and sound good and have a framework for thinking about it if I want to try both parts.

My D string broke while I was in the middle of today’s practice; not sure if that’s a coincidence or if strings generally have similar lifetimes or if combining new strings with old strings puts extra stress on the old strings somehow? At least I’m good at replacing strings now; and at least I have a backup guitar, so I can just swap guitars until I’m done practicing.

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VGHVI Minecraft: April 26, 2012

May 05 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I took way too many pictures this month, so I’m just going to dump them in here with minimal commentary. First, a bunch of wandering around pictures:

Tower from below in the haze

Top of tower in the haze

Glitch in water

Water at the top of a mine

Flying over the desert

Cliff face with arch

Underwater hills

Underwater lines and structures

I saw my first jungle:

Jungle oasis

The border of the jungle

The interior of the jungle

Looking down from the treetops

Looking up from the jungle floor

I wanted to be able to find my way back there, so I thought of making a map; the map didn’t update after the initial picture, though, maybe it doesn’t work when flying or something?

Trying to map

Sunset behind a snowy mountain

Sunset in valley

Glow of a house at sunset

Cows on a cliff

Chunk loading abstraction

Cave in cliff wall

Snow and sand

Squids and a duck. Uh, chicken.

Miranda is having to take state tests at school, and is none too pleased about that, so she decided to create a piece of art expressing her feelings.

Anti-testing art

Instructions for proper use

Snowballs work too

The artist examines her art

Dan was working on some sort of tower, here are some pictures of the work in progress:

Dan working on a tower

Outside the tower

Looking up at the center

Tower door

Roger was building pyramids; it was dark, and unfortunately I only got one picture:

Roger building a pyramid

And Pat was working on a sandstone palace, it looks like it will be huge when it’s done.

Pat building a sandstone palace

Palace door

Palace from above

Palace wall

Building the palace floor

Working on the palace tower

Tower and moon

Tower window

Inside the tower

I spent the last twenty minutes or so watching Miranda build a fire temple:

One wall of the fire temple

Purple flames

Looking up at the roof

Looking through the gate

Oblique view

View from above

Starting work on the floor

Laying out the glowstone

Underwater view of glowstone

Let's add some lava

The finished floor

It burns!

Enclosing the temple sides

Administrative note: the May VGHVI Minecraft session will be on May 24, not May 31.

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