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Saturday, October 9, 2004

Rupee Shards: Status Report 1.

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Before I get to the main subject of this post, I should mention that It's All About the Rupees and my HTML FAQ have new URLs, so anyone with bookmarks should update them. Also of note, Alan hooked me up with a Gmail account not too long ago and I've dumped my Yahoo account. So anyone wishing to contact me by e-mail should send their messages to desbreko@gmail.com as I won't be checking my Yahoo account anymore.

Work on Rupees v2 is progressing nicely (for only having been working on it for two days), and it's now "officially" known as Rupee Shards. The main reason for the name change is that "It's All About the Rupees" is just too dang long, even though I love that quote. And I also figure that Rupee Shards is a more fitting name for a site that's going to house my various articles anyway, those figuratively being the shards, so I'm happy with the new name.

The layout has been finalized as well. It may end up needing some small tweaks in the future, to make it best accommodate the content, but the overall structure won't be changing from here on I don't think. And that means I get to talk about it.

Just looking at it, Rupee Shards' layout seems pretty simple -- header, two columns, footer -- until you take a look at the code and see that I'm not using any tables. Figuring out how to do a two column layout with CSS was a pain in the butt, and especially with the variations I'm using on the "standard formula" for two column layouts; there was much swearing over how CSS is sorely lacking in simple layout things such as vertically aligning elements, which can be done so easily with tables. Seriously, valign='bottom' in a table cell tag and you're good, but to achieve the same effect with CSS I had to use a funky arrangement of divs.

But I'll stop the ranting there, and give some details about how the layout actually looks. ... Though really, I think it would be easier to give an example. Coincidentally (well, okay, so maybe it's not entirely coincidental -- I may have been inspired by it a bit), Rupee Shards' layout is similar to that of OtakuBoards, though aligned on the left instead of centered on the page. If you look at the left column there on OB, the "Launch Jukebox" bar and everything above it is sort of like the left part of my header, with the right part being like the main OB banner and the "> OtakuBoards" bit. I've then got a left navigation column and right main content column below the left and right sections of the header. And if you look at the bottom of the OB page, the little bit with the drop-down menu for selecting a skin and the "Contact Us," "theOtaku.com," etc. links is situated in the same manner as the footer on my page, at the bottom of the content column but still beside the navigation column.

If you couldn't follow that. ... Well, a straight description of Rupee Shards' layout without OB as an example would only be more confusing. So you'll just have to wait till I get done with the site to see what I mean or until I decide to put up a screen shot of it or something.

With the layout done, I'm now working on the site's color scheme. I already know basically what colors I want to use, it's just getting those few, all-important details down. Like the header banner -- as of yet, I really have no idea what I'm going to use as a background behind the "Rupee Shards" text. And getting the right shade of color for the nav column's background, or maybe using a textured background.

The color scheme stuff kind of goes hand-in-hand with the site's graphics, which I've mainly been avoiding while working on the layout, though hopefully I'll get the first version of the main layout graphics done fairly soon. I say first version because I fully expect the header images and any background images I use to change several times throughout the development of the site. They did when I was working on Rupees v1, and I really have no reason to think it'll be different this time. I'm even sort of planning on it, in fact; I'm not going to bother spending a lot of time perfecting any graphics I make at this point, since they'll most likely just be tweaked and changed later, but instead make some sort of rough drafts with the ideas in my head. Later, when I've got more of the content layout finished and start working on the graphics for that, I'll make more of an effort to produce better graphics for the main layout. That way I'll be able to work on serious versions of both the main layout and content layout images at the same time, which will make things easier in the way of keeping the same theme and style and just generally matching them better.

And that's it for now. I'll leave you with the start of a Rupee Shards completion checklist. Because everyone loves lists.

Rupee Shards Completion Status
Site Layout: Tentatively Complete
Color Scheme: Work in Progress
Site Graphics: Work in Progress

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Thursday, October 7, 2004

Rupees v2

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Work has officially begun on a new version of my web site, It's All About the Rupees. I don't really want to give out many details as yet of, since the site's still in early development -- as in still developing the basic layout -- but I can say for sure that it's going to be a radical overhaul of the current version of the site.

Really, the current version of the site was never even planned; it just sort of happened while I was experimenting with CSS. "Hey, I wonder if this will work." "Cool, it does ... sort of. Maybe if I tweak this..." "You know, this isn't looking too bad. Maybe I'll add some content and actually upload it." That was the basic thought process behind the site. I was playing around with CSS properties on divs, developed a liking for static sized divs with scrollbars for overflowing content, and voila: It's All About the Rupees was born.

Of course, it had some "birth defects" that had to be treated, and it never quite fully recovered from them. ... But that's why I'm developing the new version of the site. The current version was a fun concept to play around with, and good for helping me learn a good amount of CSS, but it's too gimmicky and limiting to be a serious project. There are things I'd like to be able to do with the content in the future which just wouldn't be possible with the current layout.

The development of v2 isn't completely centered around the content, though; I'm coding the site in XHTML 1.0 Strict, instead of HTML 4.01 Transitional, and I'm going to be using PHP rather than relying on JavaScript. So this, too, will be a learning experience, it's just that I'm putting some actual planning into the site's layout so as to accommodate future content.

My main goal with developing v2 is to create a decently professional looking site on which to put my various written articles while learning XHTML (though that isn't too much of a step from HTML 4.01) and PHP at the same time. So whereas my original goal with v1 was simply to learn CSS, and later I decided to use it as a place to put up my articles and graphics, I'm thinking of v2, from the start of the project, more in terms of the whole. And the end result, I hope, whill be a wholly better product.

With all that said, however, don't be expecting to see Rupees v2 any time soon. (Unless you're one of a few privileged people I may decide to show previews to.) Web design has always been mainly just a hobby for me, so I'm not in any hurry to complete v2, and I'm thinking of this as a somewhat long-term project anyway. But I'm not abandoning v1; I'll continue to update the current incarnation of Rupees (providing Tony's site goes back up or I get other hosting) whenever I have something to add to it. My work on v2 will be concurrent with my maintaining of v1.

And wow, look at this. For barely telling anything about the actual site, I've managed to stretch this post out quite a lot. Go me, goby! (For those of you going "WTF?" that was a bad Animal Crossing pun.) But anyway, farther details about Rupees v2 will be posted when they're decently finalized.

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Sunday, October 3, 2004

Now Playing #60

Game: Tetris
Track: A-Type
Time: 1:04
Size: 6.10 KB

Really, I prefer the B-Type music in the old Game Boy version of Tetris (I have no idea whether or not the music is different in other versions of the game), but the midi for A-Type was a lot better than the one for B-Type. So I went with A-Type, which isn't actually too far behind B-Type for my preferences; I just don't like C-Type that much.

And now that I've made my preference for Tetris' music known, I have to say, the game was still fun to pick up and play for a few games last night. (After not having played it in years.) I'm not big on puzzle games, but I've always enjoyed Tetris. And I made it to 92 lines on an A-Type game (starting from zero), which is the farthest I think I've ever gotten. And yeah, I'm lazy and haven't ever completely beaten either mode, but I don't really play all that often.

In closing, Tetris owns you all.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Where Are the Sharks?!

First off, click the Jim's Big Ego - Stress link in the music section of the current interests table in my introduction. ... Or the one here in the post -- your choice. But seriously, click it; it's a link to a flash music video for the song Stress, by Jim's Big Ego. I love listening to it when I'm just sort of in a drag and don't feel like doing anything, since it usually cheers me up. Awesome song, and there's also a Cowboy Bebop AMV floating around out there on the net that's set to it.

So after getting that link put in my introduction, I decided to make another greeting to submit to theOtaku.com. I pretty much just grabbed the first decent idea that came to mind as I was looking through my collection of Oh My Goddess! art and ran with it, deciding I can always make more if I get other ideas later. And Oh My Goddess! seems to be very suited for greetings of the Love and Dating type, and that's what this one is -- it's got a nice shot of Keiichi and Belldandy standing in front of the Gate of Judgement (from the movie), with the words "There's no doubt in my mind..."

I'm really happy with how it turned out, considering the technique I used for getting the text to stand out enough to be readable was completely experimental for me. I've never much liked putting separate shading behind the text to make it show up better, since I usually think it clashes with the background picture too much, but with a little use of The Subtlety (groaning is heard echoing from the direction of Alan's site), I think I made it blend in pretty well while still accomplishing its task. So be sure to check it out when it gets put up ... or else you'll make Shinmaru cry.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rupees Update

Wow, three days in a row where I've posted on this thing. How long's it been since that last happened? ... Maybe my subconscious is getting desperate to not drop out of the top 50 or something.

But anyway, I've finally gotten around to adding another article to my site, It's All About the Rupees. (Click the button in my introduction to get there, or if you're so lazy that you can't even move the cursor that far, just click this link.) I know, I'm horribly behind on my goal of one article a week, but I attribute that to Skies of Arcadia Legends. The game grabbed me and just would not let go, much like a Desbreko does -- and trust me, I'd know. (Ha ha, bad pun.)

I swear I'm going to try and catch up, though. FFT isn't having quite the same affect as SoAL did, so it's not completely unbearable to split up my gaming time. Then again, I've started watching the Ranma OAV, so that's taking up some time. ... But I'm hoping to get a game review of something or other done later today. Maybe I'll finally get around to doing one for Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, like I said I was going to do ... um ... months ago. Dang I feel lazy now.

So yeah, go read my latest editorial in the mean time. It's called The Sword So Owns the Pen, and it's about entertaining battle systems versus good stories in RPGs -- which is better? I found it an interesting subject to think and write about, and though the article obviously highlights my preference, it'll hopefully get people to think about their own preferences in that area. It'd be cool if people posted some feedback about the article and their own thoughts on the subject for comments, too.

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Monday, September 27, 2004

Gamer Babble

Wow. Zero comments on the last post. That hasn't happened in a while -- I usually get at least one per post. Guess no one that visits my site has anything to say about Final Fantasy Tactics, though I'm not really surprised. It's an older game, and it doesn't seem to be as much of a mainstream title as the main Final Fantasy series. But oh well; I'm enjoying the game, which is all I care about.

Shifting ... what, six years? ... forward in Square's history to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, I'll most likely see a friend today whom I've lent my copy of FFTA to. When I talked to him a week ago he said he was up to the second crystal, I think it was, so I'm wondering how he's progressed through the game since then. As I mentioned in the FFTA thread on OtakuBoards, I'm interested in how he'll play the game; specifically, how much his style will differ from mine.

And yes, I'm actually very interested in this. If you look back through the FFTA thread, and the number of posts I have in there compared to other people, you might notice I have a slight obsession with the game. So getting to see a different way to play the game will be fun for me, and my friend gets to actually play the game -- which he said he's having a lot of fun with -- so it's a win-win situation. Aren't I generous?

And shifting forward yet again to present game releases (or near future at any rate), the more I look at the upcoming fall/winter releases, the more unsure I become of which game(s) I want to purchase next. From a rough, off the top of my head estimate, I think I should be able to afford two games before Christmas (I want to have a good amount of money left for Christmas presents, as I'm tired of giving people cheap gifts, and I'm also trying to save money for next generation consoles), but two is so few compared to the number of games that I want. Which, of course, brings up the problem of "what do I want to get first?" After Christmas and then my brithday in early January, I'll most likely have a decent amount of money to spend on my most wanted games that I didn't pick up before Christmas, so I'll probably get most of what I want sooner or later.... It's just deciding on what to get for that "sooner" part that's hard.

The plan up to this point has been to get Metroid Prime 2 Echoes (GCN) and Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls (GBA), but games like Tales of Symphonia, Pikmin 2, and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (all for the GCN) make me doubt that plan. Metroid Prime 2 Echoes is pretty much set in stone, as I've been craving more Metroid action ever since playing Super Metroid again, but it's the second choice that's giving me trouble. I mean, I'll have just played through two RPGs -- Skies of Arcadia Legends and Final Fantasy Tactics -- and I'm not sure I'll want another long RPG so soon. That's where Pikmin 2 is looking good as a second choice, since I really enjoyed the first game and I've heard there's nothing but improvements in the sequel. But then again, neither Tales of Symphonia or Paper Mario are your standard turn-based RPG, since they both involve a good amount of action in combat (especially in the case of ToS).

Quite the dilemma, eh? But whatever -- I don't have to worry about making a decision until I'm done with Final Fantasy Tactics, so I think I'll go refill my coffee mug, listen to the Pokmon theme, and end this post.

I want to be the very best...

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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Now Playing #59

Anime: Cowboy Bebop
Track: The EGG and YOU
Time: 1:42
Size: 12.8 KB

Really, I only have vague recollections of where this song appears in the series, but I like it nonetheless. It's the one song that really stood out to me -- a funky piano track with a catchy tune. And that's pretty much it, heh.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anyway, to keep this post from being totally pathetic, I'll talk about Final Fantasy Tactics. Right now I'm on chapter 1 with eight hours of play time, and I'm just starting to really get into the game. I'm starting to open up some more advanced jobs and I'm moving my characters away from being boring Squires, so the combat is becoming more fun. Which is good, considering the main reason I enjoyed FFTA was the combat, and while FFT's story is already about ten times better than FFTA's, I doubt the story would be able to hold my interest if I didn't enjoy the combat very much.

One thing about the combat that annoys me in FFT, though, is that you permanently lose any fallen party members when a battle ends. To me, this just doesn't make sense. I mean, sure, if the party member's body disappears after the set amount of time, then I can see them being gone forever. But if their body is still there at the end of battle, what's stopping the other characters from reviving them afterwards? There are no more enemies to deal with, meaning they could do it right away (providing you have the necessary magic/items in stock), so I don't see why you can't just choose to use a Phoenix Down or Raise spell after the battle ends to keep the character alive.

And something I miss from FFTA are the different character races. They added a lot of variety to the battles, since each had their own race-specific jobs as well as their own natural strengths and weaknesses. In FFT you get male and female characters, sure, but that's not even close to the level of variety that having five different races in FFTA provided.

Still though, I think FFT is going to provide me with many, many hours of fun. FFTA lasted 182 hours, so if FFT lasts me anywhere near that long, it'll have been well worth the purchase. No regrets so far.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

So good it'll wet your pants...

...and in more than one way.

Every now and then, I come across an OverClocked ReMix that's just absolutely amazing. One good enough that I'll listen to it for hours on end, playing it over and over on loop as I go about doing whatever on the net, and afterwards still love it just as much as when I first heard it. That's the case with this one, and I am, in fact, listening to it as I write this. And it is, without a doubt, one of the best OCRs I've ever heard.

I therefore command thee, readers of mineOtaku, go forth and download djpretzel's Sunken Suite OCR. (Trust me, there will be much rejoicing.) It's a remix of the Dire, Dire Docks theme from Super Mario 64 which is, in itself, my favorite track from Super Mario 64, and this remix is an amazing orchestral rendition of the song.

The track starts out slow and somewhat quiet, a piano playing an original counter-melody with something else I can't quite identify (something like an organ and a violin?) humming in the background. From that, it builds into a slight remix of the original track's main theme, the song slowly gathering speed and intensity as drums are added to the mix. At the height of the song, the thundering of the drums and crashing cymbals come to the forefront, the piano continuing to play the remix of the original song and the stringed instrument humming along beautifully. This continues for about forty seconds, running through the length of the original tune once, before abruptly dropping off and returning to the how the song began, with just the slow piano and background melody, as it fades off into the end of the track.

Really, I can't find anything I don't like about this remix. The whole thing is perfectly executed -- the choice of instruments, the new melodies mixed with that of the original song, the building up to a climax and then the sudden decline -- I love every part of the song. Even to the point of writing a whole myOtaku post devoted solely to telling about how much I love it.

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Des the Otaku?

I've never really considered myself much a fan of anime, but more a sort of casual viewer. I'd watch a series here and there when I got bored -- Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Love Hina, Oh My Goddess!, .hack//SIGN -- a few series that managed to interest me. But the interest usually didn't last beyond watching whatever series, and then I wouldn't watch any more for quite a while.

I guess three years of visiting OtakuBoards/myOtaku has finally rubbed off on me, though, because I'm finding myself more and more interested in anime. Right now I'm nearing the end of the seventh and last season of Ranma , and though I've still got the OAVs and movies left, I'm actually thinking about what I want to see next. Anime is becoming more of a real hobby for me, and I've even had thoughts of actually buying (gasp!) some manga, though I haven't looked at prices or even what's available around here yet.

Of course, I don't think it'll ever get to the same level as gaming. I've been a gamer far longer, and I enjoy my video games far too much (to the edge of -- no, scratch that -- to the point of obsession) for anything else to top gaming. Still though, it's nice to have a good variety of hobbies; makes it easier to find something to do when you're bored. ... Though on the other hand, it also makes you stretch your money thinner. But oh well; I think I'll manage.

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Sunday, September 19, 2004

Now Playing #58

Cartoon: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Track: Heroes In a Half Shell
Time: 1:04
Size: 9.77 KB

About a week ago, Alex sent me copies of a bunch of random themes from a CD he found in his basement, which he apparently burned quite a while ago. And one of the tracks was the theme from the old, original TMNT cartoon -- I hadn't heard that song in years, but it brought back lots of memories of watching Saturday morning cartoons (as well as the old NES/SNES TMNT games). So of course, being the awesome song that it is, I had to find a midi version and put it up here. IM me if you want the mp3 version; it's only about 2 MB, so it shouldn't take too long to transfer, even on a 56K modem.

Heroes In a Half Shell, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Heroes in a half shell -- turtle power!

They're the world's most fearsome fighting teens (We're really hip)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
They're heroes in a half shell and they're green (Hey, get a grip)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
When the evil shredder attacks
These turtle boys don't cut him no slack

(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Splinter taught them to be ninja teens (He's a radical rat)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines (That's a fact, Jack!)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Raphael is cool but rude (Gimme a break)
Michaelangelo is a party dude (Party!)

(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Heroes in a half shell -- turtle power!

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