Forgot password?  |  Register  |    
User Name:     Password:    
Blog - General Entry   

Update: Robo-Scorpions, the fried chicken coefficient, and the rings of Saturn

On 09/25/2014 at 07:52 PM by Michael117

See More From This User »

 photo pup13_zps650530fe.jpg

Your beloved monarch returns from a brutal conqest, to share more pictures of pups in costumes! Haloween season is almost in full effect. The leaves are falling, the mountains and forests here in Colorado are blazing with color, and the harvests have come. In monarchy-school nobody ever tells you how much work it is harvesting the souls of dissidents and burning their crops to ash. Trust me, it's tough work. I would've broken a sweat if my knights weren't doing all the beheadings.

Anyways, the time for statecraft is well overdue and I must fulfill my duties to the fine people here.

Happy Birthday Pixlbit!

It's been five years since the site launched and it's better than ever! I followed Julian Titus and Jesse Miller here back when they started writing and podcasting for the site, which makes this my third year skulking around Pixlbit I suppose. Here's to another 5 years of tyranny kingdom-wide peace, brought to you by yours truly, the one and only M-117.

What I've been playing

Fallout New Vegas - I completed the Old World Blues DLC and I'm a few hours into the Dead Money DLC now. OWB was really tough, even for my high level character. Old World Blues is full of robots that are highly resistant to most damage types. I had the Robot Expert Perk (+25% damage to robots) and I was still having a lot of trouble. The robo-scorpions are really fast, they use powerful lasers, and they tend to hunt you in packs. The robot-skeleton people had powerful guns that degraded my light armor to the breaking point in just a couple firefights. Overall it was challenging and required me to use a lot of strategies I don't normally have to resort to.

The story was kind of funny. It's a super joke-heavy DLC with tons of sexual innuendo and silly characters. By the end of it I was glad to get out of the Big MT before all their jokes starting driving me crazy, but the writing definitely has some entertaining moments.

Undead Nightmare - I started playing this expansion for Red Dead Redemption for the first time, and it's pretty fantastic, when things aren't buggy. I've been having some issues every time I play where I come into a town to liberate it from zombies but all of the zombies have no heads or arms, basically just the clothing textures remain. The scripting is also broken so I can't complete the liberations. Luckily it all usually fixes itself when I reload my save, but the same bug keeps happening when I come into any new town. It's been difficult to get immersed in Undead Nightmare since I'm always waiting for the next bug.

Borderlands 2 GOTY - I'm playing the Siren class. I did several quests and leveled up a few times. I'm in some cave right now with a bunch of high level corrosive monsters and Super Badass level bugs that are tearing me apart. I've died enough times to have lost at least 20-some thousand dollars (you get charged loot every time you die). This cave sucks, it's like the Blighttown of the Borderlands 2 world.

What I've been listening to


The old Amorphis album, Tales From The Thousand Lakes, is my favorite thing in the world this past month. The whole album is pretty much a melodic doom metal masterpiece but these two songs are some of my favorites.

The first song, To Father's Cabin, starts out with a riff slightly similar to Metallica's Orion, but it quickly transforms into doomy prog-rock with spacey-vocals, sweet keyboards ala The Doors, and ends with a great straight forward riff.

The beginning of the second song, Magic & Mayhem, is beautiful, doomy, and has great keyboards. Then a couple minutes into it a super heavy Deep Purple meets Black Sabbath style riff takes over. It's sexy, thick, crunchy, and dark. The riffs in Magic & Mayhem make it feel like sludge is pouring through your veins and somebody lights it all on fire. I learned to play the whole album on guitar earlier in the month. It was weird trying to figure it out because it seems like they tune the guitars to D standard but then go a little further down (or is it up?) so that all the strings are flat I guess (or is it sharp? I wouldn't know, I don't study music I just play it). It sounds cool though and I have strings that can make that tuning sound okay so it works out I suppose.


Things have been going alright. Midterms are coming up and I have straight A's so far. I only have three classes this semester but they're all worth more credits so they still end up eating away most of my time, both weekdays & weekends. As you can tell from my list of games I played, I got around to a grand total of three games over the past month, and only accomplished a little bit in each.

College Algebra is demanding the most time but it's actually pretty fun. Our math book is full of word problems containing Ice Road Trucker references and other weird Western things that let you know Americans were on the authorial team. I did a problem a few weeks ago where I had to create an equation comparing the weights of two buckets of chicken, and then use quadratics to find the percentage of white meat in each bucket, or something along those lines. It was a classy time.

The only thing I've struggled with comparatively is working with the conic sections and all the terminology. I'm still not exactly sure how to find the directrix and focus of a parabola. In Astronomy we are doing math in every class. We deal with algebra and geometry in every piece of Astronomy homework, and for some reason it's much simpler to absorb conic material in that context than it is in my actual math class.

Programming class has been the easiest so far, but it still has its challenges. This week I finished an assignment that introduced us to if/else statements in DarkBASIC via a simple program where you ask for a user's input (the user types a number, 1-4), and in turn they receive a message on-screen, like "Your color is Red!", placed randomly within a range of X and Y coordinates I set.

The first three options account for red, blue, and green, and each message had to have its text be colored appropriately. Option 4 gives the user the ability to exit the program, and any integer that wasn't 1-4 gave the user a, "Not a valid selection" message. It's the simplest of if/else programs but I spent all of Monday's class period staring at the screen not sure how to start. I didn't end up coding at all.

When the next class day came around my friend Lauren reminded me that the user's input needed to be stored as a num variable, and the messages defined as strings. Once I saw her first two lines of code the rest made sense and my brain felt less foggy. Next week I'm doing a similar if/else user input project but instead of the color coded messages I have to show a color coded ellipse, triangle, and square for those first three options.

 photo Horowitz_Saturn_2012_zpsa01fe2f2.jpg

Last night, we went stargazing in Astronomy class! I've only ever used a telescope once before, to see Jupiter. Our professor got the Northern Colorado Astronomy Society to bring out some of their hot telescopes and host a stargazing night for our class. There was a variety of refracting and reflecting telescopes, and they were all proper expensive amateur astronomer scopes. One guy was an engineer that personally built his own and lasered the mirrors I think.

Anyways, the evening of stargazing was incredible. To say my mind was fucking blown would be an understatement. We saw dozens and dozens of objects last night. Open clusters, globular clusters, nebulas, planets, moons, double-star systems, even double-double star systems, and three different galaxies. They also helped us identify some of the constellations in our local sky.

I not only saw Saturn, but we could clearly see the rings, and even Titan. I never thought it would be so bright and clear. The double-double star system was mind boggling, that was the coolest thing I saw all night. Two stars relatively close to one another orbiting some center of gravity between them, and another separate pairing of stars doing the same thing, and both pairings each orbiting another center of gravity between the pairs.

All the game industry drama and stress of everyday life just melted away when I was looking through those telescopes. I highly recommend it. Go look up a local amateur astronomy club in your area, get in touch with them and ask if you can hang out with them when they take their telescopes for a star party. It's so worth it.

What's on the horizon for your monarch?

Well, Alien Isolation comes out in less than two weeks, and if you can't tell from my avatar I'm super excited for it. That's my most anticipated game of the year, so I might go buy that?

October is practically here, so by the time I do my next update I will officially be doing my month-long celebration of Halloween season! I have FEAR 3, Resident Evil 6 & Revelations, Undead Nightmare, and Saturn 9 ready for me to play. Slender: The Arrival just came out on consoles for $10 and I'm definitely going to buy that as long as I can afford Alien Isolation first. I don't have much money so I'll have to sell a textbook from the summer semester in order to get Alien. Maybe I'll have a few dollars left over to get Slender: The Arrival also!

Look forward to the start of horror month, and to more pictures of pups in costumes. Also, get outside and look at the stars!



Super Step Contributing Writer

09/25/2014 at 08:16 PM

My stats class is enough math for me. Good luck with the classes!


09/25/2014 at 08:55 PM

Smile Thanks Joe.

As far as the math classes go I've barely started, which feels incredibly daunting since math has never been my strongest set of skills, but it's going okay so far so I'm keeping my spirits up. Once this one's done it's on to trig and then the calc sequence, just as prep. If I can get into Digipen for game design and computer science we will have to do even more calc, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics.

Super Step Contributing Writer

09/25/2014 at 09:13 PM

This is why I never went into game development. Not a good enough artist or mathemetician. I think I could write a good script though. 


09/25/2014 at 09:31 PM

There's a lot of different jobs in game development but the point you make is totally true, and all the admissions representatives and teachers I've talked to (mostly the ones at Westwood back when I was thinking about going there) told me that in order to break into game development most people come at it from one of those two extremes. Either the art side, in which you need to be a pretty great artist and your chances of actually getting onto a team are still super slim at best, or a great programmer with a strong computer science background, which includes tons of math. I'm not an artist so I decided to try out the other extreme and luckily it's going okay so far.

Based on all the things I hear about the game industry I'm not sure if I'll ever actually settle down in any one place with a big team and have a career. The job security is terrible, even for highly talented people. You could get like twice the pay and much more job security being a non-gaming programmer at like Boeing or something I've heard. Basically, making games is a fools errand, I'll never pay off the student loans, and I'll probably get laid off all the time at the end of projects lol.

I'm not sure what will happen, in a few years once I've actually completed a B.S. in the field I might end up taking the non-gaming route and just develop games as a hobby on the side, or open an independent studio, or just get "lucky" and be a programmer getting tossed around between all the AAA studios making Assassin's Creed 17 and Uncharted 12.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

09/25/2014 at 10:21 PM

I always thought they should teach math and especially calculus as part of physics. It makes so much more sense to not just see things as total abstractions. 

Glad classes are going well, though, and having a stargazing night in Astronomy sounds awesome!


09/26/2014 at 12:01 AM

Thanks Travis!

Our astronomy instructor has been using a lot of math and physics work, and labs as well as physical experiments to show us some of Kepler's laws, Newtons laws, and help us understand orbits and everything. It's been really great so far. I took an astronomy class in highschool but we never did any interesting labs, never went stargazing, and didn't much math. I can't really remember much of value that came from the high school astronomy lol.

This class we are in now is pretty great though so I'm happy.


09/25/2014 at 11:06 PM

straight A's are the reason you're the monarch and I'm one of your henchmen, my Liege.


09/26/2014 at 12:04 AM

You're no henchman, the amount of Jedi you've killed should easily earn you a kingdom of your own. I fear the only reason the peasants don't revolt on me is that I bring puppy pictures from far and wide to keep them at bay.


09/26/2014 at 09:53 AM



09/26/2014 at 03:41 AM

B2's a bitch sometimes.


09/26/2014 at 10:52 AM

Very much like those Amorphis songs. I love melodic stuff and also Progressive Metal, so the combination was reallt pleasant. The second song also sounded like if you took 70s Genesis and put it in Melodic Death Metal. It's those synths.

I may continue Amnesia: The Dark Descent this October. It very much fits the season and Halloween a lot.


09/26/2014 at 04:17 PM

Glad you liked the songs, Alex!

Is Dark Descent the first of the Amnesia games? I can't remember which one is which, I think Machine for Pigs is the newest one but I don't remember.


09/26/2014 at 05:06 PM

Yes, Dark Descent is the first one and A Machine for Pigs is the sequel.


10/09/2014 at 12:32 PM

Math is one of those things that unless it is made relevant makes little sense. I learned a lot of tips and tricks for how to make it relevant when I was a peer tutor in the Learning Resource Center in college from one of the math profs. She specialized in teaching math to people with learning disabilities and had a huge bag o' tricks to make it all make sense.

Log in to your PixlBit account in the bar above or join the site to leave a comment.