Happy Halloween!

(Technically its the 30th for me, but WordPress publishes everything on some weird timescale where it’s usually listed for the day after)

Three big things happening soon! These all cropped up within the same 24 hour period, so that was an experience.

1. PCI Gaming, the L4D2 speedrunning community who I voiced a tutorial for (and also appeared in a speedrun) has asked me to v/o another project. I’ve already sent them the lines, and I like supporting their community since they’re keeping L4D2 alive in their own little way.

2. Ken Blanchard Co. had a brief freelance gig for me, I had to add text to a video and make it look “fun”. I decided pastels and wiggly text would best get that across, and they didn’t complain so hoo-rah? (And trust me, the shaky-cam vertical smartphone footage is all them, I just did the editing)

3. Most importantly, I’ve got a job interview tomorrow! I get to meet with the head video editor for Brendon.com and see if I fit a couple different video-editing positions they have available. It would literally be a dream come true if I could land the position, I love video editing and I’ve always wanted to do it in a “go to work everyday” office setting. Tomorrow I gotta wake up early, print my resume at the library, and get a haircut before heading over by 11am. (It’ll also be the first time I get to do a job interview in costume. I’m going as a Star Trek redshirt!)

And after that, I get to attend a wedding at 3:30pm between two of the friends I’ve made in Portland. It’s certainly gonna be a humdinger of a Halloween, I’ll tell you that. But I can’t wait!

We got a second follower but it is a LIE

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oh god make it stop

gamecool10 is no longer the only follower of this blog…except he is. Because Appeals is clearly a bot account trying to lure me into following back or acknowledging in some way. But I’m too wise for you, Appeals! I even let autocorrect change your username so your robo-detectors don’t perk up at this blog post and pay me any more attention.

(I wonder what gamecool10 is up to these days. I highly doubt he still reads this, and he flagged his blog private a long time ago so nobody could access it. Maybe he knows something I don’t.)

In other news, I’ve finally arrived in Portland and am currently in the process of setting up my room and gathering groceries. It’s cold and rainy, but not as cold as Ohio so I think I’m going to be okay. I’ve informed all relevant persons about my lack of a high-powered gaming desktop, which most notably means I can’t make VGFAQ videos for the time being. My #1 priority needs to be finding a job anyway.

Not much else to say. I love the room, it has its own bathroom which is a luxury I haven’t enjoyed since Ohio, almost five years ago. And the snow gives me an excuse for staying holed up and exercising on my exercycle instead of jogging or swimming at the local beach.

The Medical Necessity lore nobody asked for

Remember Medical Necessity? It was the game development project where I had my first ill-fated experience as a project manager. In the end, we got cancelled due to lack of progress during the first quarter of production, and the only surviving product is the purchasable sprite sheet on itch.io.

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The design document and production wiki note that the default names for the player’s allied soldiers are Homer, Berenson, Collins, and Cunningham. And while digging through a lifetime of old boxes preparing for my move to Portland, I found the original action figures those names came from. Their plastic has gone gummy and they’re now too fragile to do anything but collect dust, but at least I can photograph and chronicle the 4 most important toys I owned growing up.

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“Corps Man adventures” were one of my favorite pastimes growing up with my younger brother Jake. We had huge boxes of GI Joes, LEGOs, Star Wars figurines, and other assorted toys, and we went on countless adventures where we’d each control one or more characters in sprawling odysseys that often took us around the house, backyard, and even our friends’ houses if they were participating. Arctic expeditions, police/detective procedurals, time-traveling, natural disasters, jailbreaks and manhunts… we role-played a huge amount of scenarios throughout the years, very rarely reusing characters or locales in favor of constantly inventing new backstories and storylines.

The squads on this page are among the very few action figures who always represented the same recurring characters. Jake and I each controlled our own 4-man team of special forces soldiers, and over the years they went on dozens of different missions for the “Power Team”, an international peacekeeping force. We made them ID Cards and everything.

The Rangers

My squad was the Rangers, and tbh they’re way more boring than the crazy stuff Jake came up with for his backstories. Just jump straight to the Mini-Force if you wanna see what a precocious 7-year-old can come up with.

Cunningham

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Cunningham (the American) was the leader of my squad, with pretty typical leaderly qualities like being good at any team role and keeping a clear head under pressure. His main gimmick was believing that tools are unnecessary with sufficient skills, which was why he had no backpack and no attachments on his rifle.

Homer

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Homer (the Australian) was the team’s muscle and combat specialist. He was always needlessly positive and optimistic, and had a tendency to get injured and need the other characters to drag him around until they found medical attention or a lull in combat to patch him up. He also wore the team’s parachute, which in our young minds made him literally immune to falling damage at any time.

Berenson

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Berenson (the Brit) was the team’s engineer and tech specialist. He wore a radio backpack so he could communicate with HQ, and was usually the one hotwiring vehicles or “hacking” something while everyone else defended him. He was the team complainer and usually sarcastically whining about having to do anything.

Collins

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Collins (the Norwegian) was the team’s pilot and sniper. He’d always be the one driving/flying whatever the squads were using to get around, and during combat he’d often hang in the back and snipe with his scoped rifle. He was a scaredy-cat and always nervous about what the teams were getting themselves into.

The Mini-Force

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Jake’s squad was the Mini-Force, and they wore tan uniforms to distinguish themselves from the Rangers’ green. Each teammate also outranked the next (unlike the Rangers, where everyone but Cunningham had the same rank) and could issue orders to anyone below them in this list.

Jake

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Jake himself was the commander of his squad. He had a custom uniform we made by stitching a bunch of different army men pieces together ala Frankenstein, and it represented his chameleon abilities–because he didn’t wear the uniform of any specific army, he could bluff his way into enemy bases by claiming he worked for them. His sidearm was a laser pistol he canonically built himself.

Cooper

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Cooper (the Canadian) was “the competent one”; he was the teammate who knew how to do everything, and Jake’s second-in-command. This often left him in-charge whenever Jake was infiltrating an enemy base. I don’t remember a single time he actually put those goggles on.

When it came time for me to move away to college, our parents got Jake a dog so he’d still have someone to play with, and he named it Cooper since it was his new second-in-command.

Loft

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Loft (the Antarctican) had a Barbarian-style rage that he could enter whenever he ate a Snickers bar. He didn’t talk much and he didn’t use guns, choosing instead to wade into battle dual-wielding a knife and a metal club. We used him as a “Shit, we need someone to do xyz but no human could realistically pull that off” plot device a lot.

Fireburst and Bentley

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Originally, the fourth member of the Mini-Force was Fireburst (the English, cause we thought England and Britain were separate countries). He was “the stupid one” and usually just fired his gun at enemies or screwed something up to make the mission harder. Then one day we lost him in the backyard and he got replaced with Bentley (the Russian), who had a black printing error on his chin we both interpreted as a minuscule soul patch. Bentley was a rock climber who could scale any wall, but he never got much of a personality; his main gimmick was not being incompetent like Fireburst.

(Years later we found Fireburst, who we decided was now a badass survivalist that retired after being rescued and reintroduced to society.)

The Power Team HQ

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Some other action figures entered the canon as we bought more figurines from the same set. They only rarely appeared as “guest stars” for a mission, or in storylines that involved the home base being attacked by invaders.

Xaviers

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Maximilian Xaviers was the commander of the HQ, and often the one assigning us missions. He preferred to stay off the front lines, so he’d wield a high-powered sniper rifle whenever he found himself involved in combat. Sometimes he’d get kidnapped and we needed to go rescue him.

Damont

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At some point, we realized HQ’s radio operator should get a name since we’re constantly talking to him, and thus Omeed Damont was born. He was a redeemed criminal and sworn noncombatant who refused to fight or kill anyone, so he never did anything beyond being the radio guy.

Møter 

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Achmed Møter was far-and-away the least seen character. His only job was being “a soldier stationed at HQ” and filling any minor plot role when we didn’t have another character to do it. I think he even died once or twice. We pronounced his last name as “Moy-turr” but that’s probably not how that letter actually sounds.

Mahgninnuc

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Mahgninnuc was Cunningham’s evil twin, and he had a red eye and blond goatee we added with sharpie. Sometimes he commanded the evil forces, sometimes he was an underling working for the current villains, but he was always Cunningham’s arch-nemesis and the only recurring antagonist. He wielded a transparent red sword that could superheat to cut through anything, and often used it to escape after the heroes destroyed his evil plan of the week. I don’t think they ever ended up catching him.


This is actually the second time I rediscovered this small bag of action figures. They also reappeared while Jake and I were cleaning the basement shortly before I was gonna move away for college in 2009, and we enacted a short ceremony where Xaviers gave all eight of them medals and they retired with full military honors. Shame I can’t really remember any of the missions they actually went on, but these dudes are an important part of why I grew up loving storytelling to the degree I do.

New Novella!

Ever wondered where Emilena learned to swordfight? Want to see her clash with pirates, survive tropical storms, seduce a pirate queen, and negotiate with poorly-managed cruise liners on the high seas? Read Surviving the Serris Sea!

I didn’t actually set out for it to be 18,000 words long, I just had a lot of different oceanic complications I wanted to fit in there because it’s a pretty big departure from my usual plots. I wanted to push Emilena out of her comfort zone and leave the gritty urban environments where she and Flora have most of their adventures. Hope you like it!

New game released!

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Ever wondered whether Harry Potter could successfully bring the One Ring to Mordor? Now you can find out!

Here’s something that kinda came out of nowhere. I’m prepping for my move to Portland and last night I went through two dozen ancient boxes of crap from the undergraduate (and earlier) years. I found a couple surprising things here and there, including one of my white whales; the final project I created for a summer abroad course in 2011. I took the heroes from all 7 books we covered (Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Golden Compass, Harry Potter, Howl’s Moving Castle) and created a matrix where you can choose any hero and transplant them into any other universe to see how they’d fare.

I thought this thing was long gone for ages, but lo and behold it was sitting happily on an old flash drive. I added in-browser compatibility, updated the interpreter to fix a scrolling bug on Google Chrome, and now it’ll be online for all eternity, never to be lost again. Hooray! There are 42 different scenarios to explore, so I hope you have fun! 😀

Looking Back

As mentioned in my other blog post this week, I just chewed through a lifetime of old storage boxes in one evening. I didn’t really have a choice; Goodwill was coming in the morning, and lord knows I didn’t want the donatables sitting around for another 2 weeks before the next time they’d swing by.

But I’m honestly glad they spurred my hand and made me sift through it all, because I found a bunch of diamonds in the rough. Old things I’d long lost and never thought I’d see again. The biggest and best white whale was Oxford: Portal to Fantasy, but there were also several old videos from long before I’d even created a YouTube account. These days they’re useful only to remind myself that I’m actually improving at my craft. Without further ado, in order of age:

1. Chelvis Nemo Productions

The first videos I ever edited were a loose tetralogy of vignettes starring my brother, with a different neighborhood friend as the villain in each short (I’m the evil wizard in ‘Return of the Kingdom’). I did all the work in iMovie, and honestly these turned out pretty entertaining even all these years later. It helps they don’t overstay their welcome, clocking out at 1:24 minutes each.

2. A Cheesy Love Story

At some point in high school, I attended a UCLA film camp and this short flick was the resulting abomination my group produced. Once again I played the villain and handled all the editing, though it’s clear I was still getting the hang of cutting different takes together. I also composed that godawful song at 2:36 using GarageBand.

3. Interrobang: The Art of War

In college I first started getting the idea of creating my own YouTube channel, and recorded the pilot for a planned series of videos where I talk about classic works of literature. This series was going to be called “Interrobang” and star myself playing a character named Mark, but it never progressed beyond this single episode. The editing is still choppy, and it’s painfully audible whenever I switch between sound files.

4. What was that, Sandvich?

This was the first thing I ever uploaded to YouTube (which almost immediately earned my first dislike!) It was a really obvious joke any TF2 fan would have thought of after this MLP scene aired 3 days prior. I was hired by Legend of Equestria shortly after this, and put my videography dreams on hold to develop games, which would remain my primary passion even after starting The SPUF of Legend in February 2016.

5. The SPUF of Legend – Episode 0

While the first public upload to the SPUF of Legend was our guide to TF2 weapon pickups, this unlisted test video is actually a few hours older. I’m clearly heavily influenced by STAR_‘s style and have transferred into gaming commentary away from appearing on camera in person.

6. The Only 5 Melee Weapons Worth Using in Payday 2

I know we’ve progressed beyond the purview of “Nick’s early videos” but this Payday vid was probably the most important one I ever uploaded to the channel. I’d been releasing game commentaries for years by this point, and had developed a bit of a following. But I was getting tired of the 5-10 minute format and designed this video to cover its topic and wrap itself up as fast as conceivably possible. I didn’t anticipate how popular the “lightning list” format would be, and all my future videos heavily modeled themselves after this one. It’s also where I started regularly adding subtitles after non-native English speakers complained they had trouble parsing my rapidfire format.

7. VGFAQ

I didn’t return to the on-camera format until VGFAQ started paying me money to create videos for their channel. For the first time, I had to handle lighting and making my face look decent while reciting my lines (you can tell I sneak a ton of cuts in there, usually during card transitions so the viewer’s hopefully not looking at me). The convention videos didn’t get enough views to justify the time, money and work we put into making them, but I’m glad I got to stretch my legs as a roving videographer for GDC and E3.

And that’s pretty much it for big milestones! I’ll be going through some sort of transition soon, since I’ll be stuck up in Portland without my tank of a desktop and will have to make videos without relying on 1080p AAA game footage to distract the viewer from the simplistic editing. Honestly, I’m kinda looking forward to the challenge; as my early vids show, I never got into videography for the journalism. I’ve always wanted to tell stories using a visual medium, so we’ll just have to see if I can weather yet another paradigm shift.