Category Archives: Uncategorized

Welcome Back!

Welcome, dear reader, to what may very well be the 4th iteration of this blog! If there are any of you out there still reading, (I’m looking at you, Eric Case), I pledge many more updates in an attempt to divest myself (and, hopefully by extension, you, too) from the conformist timesuck that is Facebook and its social media brethren.

The journey of my nearly 10 year old SQL database is a winding one: from the early days of Zhukov Video, through a temporary stay on ITP’s servers, to finally resting at nicksantan.com and now robysoft.net, I’m hoping to better unify this blog with my other web stylings. In the past this blog has served a smattering of purposes ranging from personal musings and amateur film theory to technical how-tos to Robysoft announcements to writing assignments from my time at Tisch: ITP. In the future, I hope to increase the frequency and diversity of what’s posted here.

This also marks the first time I’ve styled a WordPress theme from scratch. While there may be the rough edge here and there that I haven’t gotten to, I’m hoping the minimal layout will allow for distraction-free reading and writing for those of you not using RSS readers (if those are even still a thing now that Google Reader has been so cruelly taken from us… but I digress).

But onto the future! And also the past, as I’ll occasionally be attempting to recap the numerous orphaned projects and forgotten adventures that were scantly documented during the past year of bloggy limbo. Until then –

Igloo Command DELUXE now available!

I’m proud to announce that my newest game, Igloo Command DELUXE is now available for iPhone and iPad in the iTunes App Store! It’s truly the game the original Igloo Command was meant to be and by far my most polished effort to date. It boasts new powerups, new enemies, improved graphics and gameplay and new Game Center achievements! I hope you’ll give it a try, and if you do, please let me know what you think either privately or via iTunes’ ratings and reviews!

 

As has become tradition around these parts, I’m kicking off the launch with a HIGH SCORE contest with a retro gaming Champion’s Pleasure Pak as a reward to the plucky winner! That’s right, to thank you for buying and playing my game, I’m offering a 20th Anniversary Edition Game Boy Micro and a Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge along with a one-of-a-kind Champion’s T-shirt to the player with the highest score (as verified by Apple Game Center) on November 1st, 2012.

To recap, the Champion’s Pleasure Pak includes:

  • Nintendo 20th Anniversary Game Boy Micro system with charger
  • Super Mario Bros. Advance 4 (Super Mario Bros. 3) cartridge
  • Deluxe Edition ‘World Champion’ T-Shirt celebrating your achievement

Please make sure that you are logged in with Apple Game Center before playing to ensure that your score is recorded! Good luck!

Why the iPhone/iPad can't be the future of videogames.

The iPhone and iPad are not the future of gaming. Ironically, it took a rather spectacular game, Castlevania: Encore of the Night, to help me fully conclude this.

You’d think Castlevania: Encore of the Night would be as convincing a title as any as to the promise of iPhone/iPad gaming. Its got great 2d visuals, awesome music, and familiar RPG elements all wrapped in a thoughtful Puzzle Fighter-esque sort of puzzle game. It’s a card-carrying member of one of traditional videogaming’s longest running and most well-regarded franchises, Castlevania by Konami.

What’s the problem, then? It’s a puzzle game, albeit a fine one, which really begs the question, why aren’t we playing a traditional Castlevania game on the iPhone/iPad? It’s because we can’t. With the lack of tactile controls, use of a traditional directional pad and buttons aren’t available and movement would either be reduced to a tiresome tap and drag affair or to a pathetic on-screen representation of a directional pad and buttons.

Even Castlevania: Encore of the Night, despite its good design, is rather a chore to play. (You have to click on each block to rotate it and ‘swipe’ to move it left or right). What does it say about the iPhone/iPad that it can’t even play Commodore 64 games properly (via the admittedly cool Commodore 64 emulator now available in the iTunes store). The player has to use an onscreen representation of a joystick and button, thus impairing control and reducing screen real-estate dramatically. Think about that. A 30-year old gaming machine with 64k of memory can outperform this machine at certain gaming-related tasks.

You might argue that I can’t expect ‘traditional’ games to work in the iPhone/iPad, and that these platforms require both developers and gamers to think of new types of games and new ways to play them. You might insinuate that the days of directional pads and buttons have gone the way of the Atari 2600 joystick before it, deep into oblivion or into nostalgic fantasies, whichever comes first.

You’d be both right and wrong. Yes, the iPhone/iPad enables new types of games, many of which have not been done before, and that’s great. It’s bringing new people into gaming, which is also great. Does this mean the old games are inferior or past their prime? Not a chance.

The “traditional” videogame (with tactile controls) has been around for over 30 years producing countless genres, variations, experiments, and experiences. Can a touch screen provide the same diversity of experiences? Color me unconvinced. The gestures just seem too imprecise on such a small screen and with such fat fingers.

I think the time is ripe for a mobile phone with simple gaming controls included to help bring a more complete gaming experience to the masses. A directional pad, two buttons, and perhaps two shoulder buttons would certainly suffice.

One wonders why Nintendo didn’t every attempt such a hybrid device. At the time of the Wii launch with the Nintendo DS riding high, Nintendo’s reputation was sparkling and it seemed that they could do no wrong. Even the simple, glossy white look of their peripherals, consoles, and interfaces was downright Apple-esque. A Nintendo DS with even a marginal phone built in, courtesy of a partner in the mobile phone industry, seems like it could have been a success, or at least an interesting failure.

Nintendo was probably wise not to make such a gambit, as navigating Nintendo’s online store via the Wii leaves a lot to be desired from a user interface standpoint. Designing a full-fledged phone would certainly have been biting off more than they could have chewed.

The iPhone/iPad might be great for simple games on the bus, but they’re not the future of videogaming. Not until they can play Castlevania. The Castlevania from 1986, that is.

Castlevania in 1986. Inexplicably better than today?

Encounter with the Double Down

KFC recently challenged me to DOUBLE DOWN. I can only assume this implies that I will have to wager BOTH my dignity and perhaps my life for the chance to earn the pride (or shame) that lasts a lifetime; the knowledge of being the only kid on my block with the cojones large enough to eat an entire DOUBLE DOWN sandwich. It’s a good thing the colonel is already deep in his grave because this sandwich surely would have sent him 6 feet under in a matter of moments.

For those of you who don’t know, the DOUBLE DOWN is KFC’s bold bid to rid the planet of both napkins and breaded buns in one fell swoop. A sandwich where the ‘buns’ are two fried fillets of chicken. Inside, of course, you’ll find monterey and pepper jack cheeses, ‘special sauce’, and two strips of bacon.


The Double Down is a strange asteroid of a sandwich. As you can see, the appearance is craglike and… unappealing. The sandwich smells good, though! Not unlike… fried chicken! I sit down in the secluded corner of my local KFC to begin my experience… for science, of course.

Upon first clutching the Double Down in my shaky and slightly sweating palms, I can say that supporters of napkins and buns can breathe easy for the time being — napkins and buns will live to see another day. Despite KFC’s revolutionary claims, holding the DOUBLE DOWN leaves your hands greasy and soiled, as expected.

I take my first bite… and I taste a familliar flavor, one that has graced the world’s finest cuisines for thousands of years…

Salt! Lots of it! Salt! Overwhelming every pore of my body and every atom of my being. 1300+ milligrams of sodium will do that, I guess. It is another 15 seconds and two cups of diet Pepsi before my vision is restored and I am able to continue.

There’s bacon, cheese and sauce in this sandwich, supposedly. I mean, I know I can see them, but… I can’t taste them. All I can taste is salt. Seriously. Other than that, it tastes like a piece of fried chicken from KFC with some goo inside. Whatever flavor the special sauce contains, I am unable to identify or discern it.

I stumble out of the KFC feeling slightly disappointed. I am still alive, after all. And although I admire the ingenuity of the KFC exec who dared to follow up the company’s successful and health-conscious “Kentucky Grilled Chicken” campaign with this abomination, humanity will have to wait with baited breath just a tad longer to witness the demise of the pesky scourge of napkins and buns. I do wonder if the sandwich would not be made more enjoyable with less salt. Then again, it was probably some sodium-based preservative that was behind the campaign to transform a piece of fried chicken into a bun, a notion that seems ridiculous in hindsight.

Try the DOUBLE DOWN for yourself, if you dare.

Dr. Doom

“Blessed with great intelligence and strength, but cursed with vanity.”

We're back!

Wow. Somehow, we’re back. And things are quite a bit different. There’ll be lots of new stuff here, now. I promise. For real, this time. Please let me know if you find anything broken.

Technical Difficulties

Wo there! We’re currently experiencing technical difficulties. Right now, the goal is for the site to remain up for a day. Goodluck and godspeed.

The Beautiful Game

So, I’m addicted to watching the headbutt heard round the world. Apart from what you think of Zidane’s headbutt or who you were rooting for in the World Cup, does anyone else think Zidane’s ‘apology’ was exceedingly lame? Come on, who still gets enraged by generic ‘your mama’ insults these days? (And generic they must have been if Materazzi doesn’t personally know Zidane’s mother…)

On the option of simply walking away from the insults, Zidane absurdly claims that he could not walk away “because it would mean that [Materazzi] was right to say all that.” On the contrary, if Materazzi’s objective was to infuriate an opponent and get him kicked out of the game, didn’t he succeed brilliantly? Wasn’t he right to say ‘all that?’ Walking away would have been the only way to make it futile for Materazzi to try to provoke an opponent with verbal taunts. In addition, to claim that someone’s insults might be perceived as true unless one responds with violence is a 4th grade reaction at best.

I take issue with ‘apologies’ that also include the clause ‘I would do it all again.’ You aren’t really very ‘sorry’ for your actions, then, eh?

A test, and only a test…

What’s really happening? We are programmed just to do / Anything you want us to / We are the Robots.