Zany Video Game Quotes - Live and in the Cloud

I've been working on a side project for roughly 5 years now, and this past week I managed to finally launch it. Zany Video Game Quotes, is a site worked on acquired by a very close friend of mine. He worked on the content and enlisted me as the lead developer.

Before you make judgement about the design or the code or whatever, you can just take a look at the 15 year old static site that is the source for this. My site is an improvement one way or another. Geocities FTW.

The Developer Details

The code is NodeJS/JavaScript, hosted and fully powered by Windows Azure. Some decisions were made that I'm unsure of it at this point, but it was more important to get something out there and live rather than getting caught in the weeds.

You can check out the source here, and make suggestions on how to improve things in the GitHub issues section. There is plenty of work to be done, I realize, and hopefully some feedback can help steer that direction.

If you're looking to contribute, that is high up on the list of priorities. Because I'm using Azure Table Storage, I'm having a few issues getting things up and running with the Azure Storage Emulator. Hopefully I'll get something setup in the next while, but in the meantime, suggestions are always helpful!

The Point

Of this point: to celebrate the announcement.

Still, there are plenty of things I learned along the way, and I'll be sharing these along the way here on the blog. Here's a few ideas, but if you'd like me to share others, please let me know in the comments!

  • 5 Things I Learned about Side Projects (in 5 Years)
  • Azure Table Storage FTW!
  • Notes on Open Source-ry

Thanks for playing. ~ DW

Traf-O-Data and Windows NT on LGR Tech Tales

In recent days, a specific YouTube channel has my caught my attention. It's called Lazy Game Reviews, and last night I came across a great playlist of only four episoded called: LGR Tech Tales where LGR, the host, goes through a specific event in computer history.

What's so Interesting?

Outside of reviewing old PC hardware and MS-DOS games elsewhere on the channel, this series struck a cord with me because it talks about the beginnings of Traf-O-Data, which we now know as Microsoft.

What I find so facinating, are the Digital Research and IBM OS/2 stories and how they relate to Microsoft. More specifically:

  • When looking for a custom OS for their new PC, Microsoft forwarded IBM to Digital Research. It wasn't until later that Microsoft bought a product and marketed it as MS-DOS 1.0 and took on the contract from IBM, due to frustrations with Digital Research
  • After commissioning a custom OS from Microsoft, eventually IBM gave up the contract and went to develop their own OS. That original OS, formely named PC-DOS, became Windows NT, the OS we all know and love today.

The Point

I've just really found LGR interesting. Looking back at computing history through the 70's, 80's, and 90's shows just how different things have become.

Ultimately, I have no point other than old computers are really cool. If you're interested in that kind of thing, then I suggest you check out LGR on YouTube.

Thanks for Playing.
~ DW

Retrospective: The YouTube Experiment

At the beginning of the month I announced I'd be doing a web series on YouTube called Script Unscripted.

It was planned to be a sort of experiment in content production, as over the past year I've really dived into the whole YouTube thing, to a point where we've cancelled cable in lieu of Internet TV, and I thought: "You know, I could probably do that".

So far, it's consisted of four episode, and roughly four hours of time.

I wanted to take a moment to review some of the things I've learned so far.

Livestreaming Still Needs Planning

When I watch a livestream on Twitch, or a coding video on YouTube, a lot of the time it seems unscripted and done in the moment.

I think I'm right about the unscripted part, I don't believe it was done in the moment. There is plenty of planning, setup, and familiarity with your tools that needs to happen to produce quality content.

Over the four livestreams, I have managed to make errors in production on pretty much all of them in one way or another. Sometimes it's the background music being too loud. Sometimes, I forget to push "Start Stream", other times I forget that different platforms have different hardware configuration, which results in audio and video being out of sync.

I still need practice with my configuration. Ideally, I'll be setting up a more consistent environment in which I can keep things setup and ready, but there is a lot more I still need to learn.

Editing is Time Consuming

The experiment was supposed to yield both a livestream full-length YouTube video, and a shortended or "Minified" version. Though the series, I managed to make one minified version, and write a second that I never got around to finishing.

Why? Well, I recorded the amount of time it took me to get the first video ready.

For 2-3 minutes of video, it was about 5 hours, plus time to create the assets like the intro animation, and end card.

I realize it's not that bad for most streamers and video people, but being that I've very new to the whole thing, it takes time to pickup a whole new set of tools and learn how to use them.

Ultimately, editing, sound production, animation, and all the polish to make it appear clean is time consuming.

That Being Said...

I'll be continuing to do more videos as I've got the tools and skills to keep it going, and in all it's a lot of fun. I just need to practice more and start leaving my confort zone to try and explore new techniques.

Celebrate Small Victories

YouTube is very saturated, if not over saturated with content producers being that that only bar to entry is that you need a recording device on a computer.

With that, if you're expecting to become the next big thing on YouTube, you should probably get your ego in check as you'll be greatly disapointed.

If you want the success, there are people who make YouTube their full time job, and in all fairness, it's not a great paying one for the most part. It takes a lot of time, energy, and possibly most importantly consistency.

That Being Said...

I have a very low subscriber count, and not at many views as some. But I have subscribers, and I have views, which is awesome!

I had low to no expectations walking into this, but having a live chat aobut code with Cecil Phillip in episode three, and ultimaely having tons of different things happening all at once, all while coding, has been a lot of fun. Plus, now I'm building up a new network, and who knows where it will go.

The Point

I think the point is that I like dong the "Vlog" or YouTube thing. It's definitely different, and much more time consuming, but it forces me to practice skills that would be otherwise getting rusty, like public speaking, live demoing, and writing concise and ideally non-technical content.

I plan on continuing this YouTube experiment, but I want to change it up to be a little more versatile with the content.

In any case, you can be sure I'll be announcing it on the blog and maybe even with a commercial you YouTube.

Thanks for Playing. ~ DW

Make an HTML Gaming App for Twitch and Overwolf

Do you know HTML and JavaScript? Do you like video games? Well, here's a way to blend those worlds together.

Last week Overwolf announced the Twitch App Challenge, that throws the gauntlet at HTML and JavaScript developers to create an Overwolf app to win cash and prizes for one of the many categories.

Uh...What's an Overwolf?

Great question!

Turns out that Overwolf is an HTML/JS app platform for apps geared towards gamers. The idea is that gamers need to be able to interact with the real world through their computer while gaming, but tabbing out to check out your Twitch stream chat, or to view a YouTube video, breaks up the action.

Overwolf stops that by hosting HTML/JS apps in a window that overlays in the game so that you don't have to tab out of the game.

Their platform can even be integrated directly in game, but for this contest you'll probably be looking at the HTML/JS app side of things.

Cool! What are the App Categories?

Yet another great question! Good work on that. :)

They are all listed on the contest page, but here's a quick breakdown straight from the page.

  • Interaction -- Apps that enhance the interaction between broadcasters and viewers
  • Information -- Apps that display data about the viewers to the broadcasters, or vice-versa
  • Customization -- Apps for customizing game or broadcast layouts
  • Freestyle - Make anything you want - look Ma, no rules
  • Gamification - Reinvent great ideas like Twitch-plays or that one with the fishbowl

As you can see, they are all Twitch related, but there are a lot of options. They even setup an idea site for non-developers to submit ideas.

Conditions

Other than the legal ones that you should look into yourself before submitting, basically you need to create an Overwolf app that uses the Twitch API.

Looking through the Overwolf developer documentation, if you're used to debugging HTML and JavaScript with Chrome Developer Tools, you are good to go.

The Point

No point, other than this is a really cool content and a way to tinker around with games and app dev. Take a look, and I hope to see your app appear on the list.

Thanks for playing. ~ DW

NetFront-- the Unknown Browser Everyone Owns

Image Source: Wikimedia

NetFront is a web browser that I hadn't heard of before, but I have installed on six of my devices.

It is a WebKit-based proprietary web browser that apparently is installed on nearly every non-Microsoft video game console since 2011. Go further back, Sony Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable (PSP) had a version of NetFront running on it back in 2005.

So doing some crude estimation for an install base:

That gives us a rough total of 209.5 Million NetFront users out there that are playing games and could possibly be looking to surf the web with their devices. In all likely hood, likely for video game information being that video game media is generally distributed through the web in some way or another.

It should be noted, that the 200M major video game consoles with NetFront running on it. That doesn't include all the other devices that include "digital TVs, set-top boxes, game consoles, car navigation systems and In-vehicle Infotainment (IVI) devices" (REFERENCE).

The Frustration

When I use one of my game consoles to browse the web, I'm generally looking up video game content and heading to IGN, GameTrailers, or Giant Bomb, or Twitch.

But, their sites don't appear to work.

On the PS4, I get "Not Enough Memory" errors when I login to Twitch. I can watch it, but only if I'm not logged in.

That makes sense.

Or Giant Bomb or GameTrailers, where their videos just won't load on the Wii U or PS4.

Video game websites not running on video game consoles. I realize it's not everyone's web platform of choice, but doesn't seem kinda obvious that this should work?

At first I blamed the sites, thinking that they were all going for the app approach like IGN. But, that seems like a very difficult road to go down considering the number of app platforms there are already.

But, in looking to figure out how to develop for these platforms, I found a lack of resources available. Sure there are ways of detecting, but there aren't any developer guides for the platforms like IE for Xbox One and Xbox 360

The Point

Honestly, I'm not sure. I just wanted to share it because it blew me back when I found out that there was another browser out there that was really relevant in my world.

I just find that web browsing through an appliance like a Playstation or an Xbox makes sense. Sure there is always the idea of putting a PC right on your TV, but maybe that isn't the answer.

Thanks for playing. ~ DW

Video Games Preventing Cancer with AGDQ

I wanted to share something I find freaking cool. It's called Awesome Games Done Quickly, or AGDQ.

It's a fund raising marathon, where for an entire week a group of gamers, known as speed runners, play a series of video games as fast as humanly possible. Sometimes is just someone on their own, sometimes it's a race, or sometimes, it's a blindfold challenge (i.e. the person plays the game blindfolded).

Throughout the marathon they accept donations that go towards a charity. This year, they chose the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and 100% of the donations go towards the charity. There isn't anything cut off for administration fees or anything.

As of this writing, they have collected over $530K in donations from people watching on Twitch.

Plus, that doesn't ever include the Humble Bundle package that people can buy and donate other ways.

Huh?

Don't ask questions. It's an amazing event and I am just blown away by the generosity of the gamer community along with insane skill demonstrated on these games. I mean, beating Mike Tyson's Punch out in 22 minutes?

Complete insanity. I have yet to even get to Mike Tyson on my own.

The Point

I just wanted to share this as I find it cool and video games are a real passion of mine. I suggest you check it out on Twitch, or even donate if you're so inclined.

Thanks for playing. ~ DW