The event becomes a tradition for Extra Life.

At the end of Destiny 2’s first year, my regular raid group had the idea to run all three of the Leviathan raids in one evening, as a challenge to ourselves for fun.

It was a pretty good time.

We didn’t get around to this last year, but in the last couple of weeks, what’s now grown to become Ethos (our Destiny 2 clan) started discussions around doing something similar once we’d completed Garden of Salvation. Schedules have magically aligned, and this Saturday, we run Raidapalooza 2019.

Raidapalooza 2019 will start this Saturday, November 30, at noon Central time, and will run for 12 hours maximum. Each raid will be limited to a two-hour hard cap.

It’ll be broadcast on Twitch here.

We’re raiding for a cause.

Since this will be a fairly long event, we’ll be streaming it on my Twitch channel, and hopefully raising some funds for Extra Life. I didn’t get to participate in Game Day this year, so instead, I’m running some longer streams between now and the end of the calendar year to raise those funds.

I’m hoping to raise $1,000 this year. Right now, we’re sitting at $50, and we could use your help.

There are things you can do to help, such as:

All of the proceeds from this fundraiser are forwarded to children’s hospitals in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

What are the Raids?

The first Destiny introduced the MMO concept of “raids” into the first-person shooter genre. Simply put, a Raid in Destiny is a six-player cooperative activity with higher challenge than much of the rest of the game.

Players are expected to master complex mechanics and tougher combatants than they’d experience in playing alone. They have cohesive themes and narrative importance to the Destiny experience.

As a whole, they are sharply-crafted and rewarding experiences—that many players of Destiny simply never get to see due to the six-player requirement and time necessary to learn the encounters.

As our team runs the raids, you’ll see clear and concise communication, or “calls,” throughout the experience, and witness the result of teamwork that’s been built over many attempts.

There are seven raids currently available in Destiny 2. We’ll be playing through them in release order, and limiting each raid to a maximum of two hours to ensure we can showcase as many of the raids as possible. We’re guaranteed to run at least the first six raids on Saturday, with a rotating cast of players.

Here’s what you can expect out of each raid.

Leviathan

Grow fat from strength.

Called by a mysterious invitation from the Cabal Emperor, Calus, the Guardians board his pleasure barge, Leviathan. Calus wishes to test the Guardians and their Light to see whether they are fit to serve as his Shadows: trusted operatives and elite forces.

As a raid, Leviathan relies more on mechanics than on enemy difficulty. The first three encounters are selected in a weekly random order. Players will face poisoned water in the Royal Baths, be hunted by Calus’s personal war hounds in the Pleasure Gardens, and run the Gauntlet’s obstacle course before confronting the Cabal Emperor himself in the Throne Room.

Leviathan is a good showcase of clockwork raid mechanics, where each player in the group has a specific job that must be completed to prevent the entire team from losing and having to start over. The raid layout itself is non-linear, and you’ll see us taking secret passages to navigate from encounter to encounter.

The version we’ll run is the “Prestige” version, which adds mechanics to some encounters and raises enemy difficulty.

Grab your Rat King.

Eater of Worlds

In the belly of the beast.

Called back to Leviathan, the Guardians answer a pest control call from Emperor Calus. As the ship slowly consumes the centaur Nessus to create royal wine for Calus’s hedonistic lifestyle, it’s encountered some trouble: a Vex Mind was nestled inside the core of Nessus, it’s been eaten by the ship, and now it’s angry.

Leviathan didn’t have more than a single real “boss fight” throughout the encounter, but Eater of Worlds is essentially a jumping puzzle followed by nothing but a boss fight.

This is a shorter raid; the initial step is a jumping puzzle that requires coordination between all team members, followed by a brief onslaught. Once this is complete, the raid team is confronted by a boss with two phases: a puzzle phase to unlock the boss itself, and then the boss fight itself.

In Eater of Worlds, you’ll see fluid teamwork to deliver matched weapons to various parts of the arena, followed by a final encounter that requires quick field general work to ensure maximum damage to the boss.

Spire of Stars

On the wings of Icarus.

For the third time, the Guardians are called to Leviathan to assist Emperor Calus. The Cabal Red Legion, responsible for invading Earth and assaulting the Traveler at the beginning of the events of Destiny 2, are mounting a final assault to challenge the Cabal Emperor and threaten his position.

Spire of Stars is one of the fewer-run raids in Destiny 2, owing mostly to its combination of heavy mechanics and overwhelming enemy forces. The initial encounter is a challenge of timing and efficient enemy clearing, and it’s then followed by a jumping puzzle that requires teamwork to relay an object from tower to tower.

The final encounter is again in two phases, at the top of the eponymous Spire of Stars. Val Ca’uor is assaulting Leviathan itself, and both he and his warships must be dealt with. The boss encounter is a challenge that requires constant and tight communication, as well as precision when attempting to do damage to the boss himself.

Of all the raids we are running this Saturday, this is the most likely one to run into the two-hour time limit, owing mostly to a lack of recent practice at the encounters. Many of our clan members do not yet have a single completion of this raid.

Last Wish

O murderer mine.

At the heart of the Dreaming City, the home of the Awoken people, sits its greatest secret: Riven, the last known Ahamkara. Ahamkara grant wishes to those who entertain them, but at a price. And this particular Ahamkara has been Taken.

Charged by the Mara Sov, the Awoken Queen, to destroy the Heart of Riven, and thus rid the Dreaming City of a Taken curse, the Guardians enter the Keep of Voices.

Last Wish is the largest and most boss-heavy of all raids across both Destiny and Destiny 2. It ranges from a simple and unlimited-time arena boss fight, to a tightly-timed chase of another boss, to a high-damage fight and then a mechanics-based puzzle, to a complicated boss fight (that we’ll attempt to just out-damage), and then a relay race to cap the entire experience.

Its encounters are both curiously-designed and varied, and remains exciting throughout. If you want to see the greatest mix of Destiny encounter types and strategies, this is definitely the raid to watch.

Scourge of the Past

A vault, filled with the finest wares.

Siviks, Lost to None, a Fallen Captain, seeks to plunder the vast wealth of the Forges of the Black Armory and steal their secrets as his own. Ada-1, the Curator of the Black Armory, has reluctantly sought the help of the Vanguard in repelling this assault on her family’s legacy.

Scourge of the Past is our raid group’s absolute favorite to run when we have six people hanging around and a bit of time within which to complete an activity. It’s largely fun, it moves relatively quickly, and it’s generally easy to complete with a minimum of fuss.

(We’re also still trying to get the space motorcycle from the raid to drop for my son. 30 clears and counting!)

It’s also a very good example of the “introduce one mechanic first, then a different mechanic, then at the end, mash them together!” approach that makes some Destiny raids a joy to teach. It’s again some quick encounters, followed by a two-phase boss fight.

Most of the mechanics are fairly light and rely on good communication and efficient enemy clearing. Some enemies are more dangerous than others in these encounters. If you want to see a raid that becomes super-tight with repetition, this is a good one to check out.

Crown of Sorrow

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Emperor Calus’s appetite for power has ensnared one of his lieutenants in a trap. Gahlran the Sorrow-Bearer has been entrusted with an artifact of great strength: a crown that links him to the evil Hive race and grants him use of their magics. But Savathûn, Witch-Queen of the Hive, has used it as a cunning trap, and a Hive infestation now threatens Leviathan. The Guardians, Calus’s Shadows, are tasked with eradicating the Hive within the ship.

Crown of Sorrow is a return to the innards of Leviathan, and provides a timing-based initial encounter, followed by another jumping puzzle (Leviathan has a lot of bottomless pits, OK?), and then a two-phase boss fight: first with Gahlran’s Deception, and then later with Gahlran himself.

The initial encounters depend more on timing and rapid enemy clearing, while the final boss fight requires sub-teams of two players to control space in tight cooperation, while rotating one-minute timers threaten to kill players throughout.

I rather enjoy this encounter; I get to form a squad with my son to complete the boss fight, which is quite enjoyable. Our timing is almost wordless in most situations at this point, and it’s amusing to find that we are coordinating with fewer and fewer words spoken each time.

If you want to see boss fights utilizing clockwork precision and heavy multitasking to accomplish the correct outcomes, you should watch.

Garden of Salvation

The heart of darkness.

The Darkness is manifest in our solar system with the discovery of a Pyramid on the Moon. Hive there are worshipping the Pyramid, and Nightmares of enemies past roam the system, threatening all. Eris Morn, Bane of the Swarm, has traced the signal from a mysterious artifact to the Black Garden, which is tended by the Vex.

This raid may or may not happen this Saturday; with the 12-hour total time limit, if other raids run longer, we won’t have the time to get into this one. For what it’s worth, our group only cleared this raid for the first time last week, after a bunch of struggling with the boss checkpoint.

If we do get into it, you’ll see some of the most amazing environmental art in the game. Garden of Salvation encounters rely on causing boss damage during specific windows of opportunity. For the first half of the raid, the team chases down the Consecrated Mind, attempting to confront it.

For the second half of the raid, we then battle the Consecrated Mind and later the Sanctified Mind, using a combination of mechanics borrowed from the Gambit game type, and positioning-based puzzles. The puzzles demand careful planning, as when you are helping with that aspect, you are unable to defend yourself from waves of enemies.

By this point, I expect we’ll be mentally tired in any case, so if you are watching, I would not necessarily expect to see a clear on Garden and instead watch us hit either the single-raid 2-hour time limit or the full activity 12-hour time limit.

And then what?

Should we actually manage to complete this marathon within the 12-hour time limit, I’m totally switching from Destiny and just hitting a few shots in Everybody’s Golf.

I have a feeling I’ll deserve it. 🙂

In any case, especially if you have read all the way to the bottom of this post, I hope you’ll stop by this weekend and watch us run some of the most entertaining content that exists in Destiny 2. We’d love to have you along for the ride, and we’d love even more if you are able to donate to Extra Life on our behalf.

See you there. Saturday, November 30, at noon Central time, on my Twitch channel.

I have a day loaded with calls, and will need a break at some point this afternoon, so ask me a question and I’ll answer it below later today.

No-one asked me anything.

After a bunch of messing around with it over my vacation, I pushed the button to mark a 1.0 release of a very, very simple NodeCG bundle you can use for event streaming as a confidence screen generator.

A short demonstration of backlogathon-confidence-screen in action.

You can find the source and installation instructions here.

During my vacation from work over the holiday season, I thought it would be nice to finally sit down with some JavaScript and figure out a few things. My hobby target for this learning has been NodeCG, which is an open source platform used to generate graphics for livestream broadcasts.

It’s very modular, so it’s possible to produce a bundle that does something specific and attempts to do so very well, and then other broadcasters can pull that bundle into their setups and use it as they wish.

It makes use of a JavaScript library called textfit, which calculates a div size (in this case, a 1920×1080 display area), and then resizes the entered text to fit that area without overflow and with avoiding word wrapping when possible. It’s a neat library, and I’m happy to have found it.

For those not in the know, a “confidence screen” is a display that is usually placed within view of on-air talent, to send them information helpful to their broadcast roles. In the case of FGC events, we generally use it to send commentators information on who is playing the current game, as well as who is next up and when ad breaks and other broadcast beats are scheduled to occur, so they can lead into them smoothly.

For those of you who know what this is, I hope you find this useful. If you aren’t aware of what NodeCG is, I hope you take a look at it and consider using it down the road in your broadcast toolchains.

This is the first in what I’m hoping will be a handful NodeCG bundles I would love to help craft that can bring high-quality production concepts to more small-audience streamers. I also plan on expanding on this bundle in the future with a more holistic and information-dense approach to confidence screen displays. (More on that later.)

Year thirty-eight was pretty strange, y’all.

I went to look back at last year’s birthday post so I could address my successes and failures—and I didn’t make one. I suppose that’s basically 2018 in a nutshell. Some thoughts about the last year of my life, though:

My thirty-eighth was a year of professional growth.

I hit some personal milestones I’d set for myself in my career last year, and it feels pretty great. I’ve been working on an important and long-term project at WordPress.com VIP, and seeing that progress has been really good. I feel respected and valued, even when I’m not feeling great about myself or my abilities.

I’ve also been able to continue to build a reputation as a hard-working and dependable volunteer at fighting game events in the Midwest, and have been recognized with staff positions at Frosty Faustings and Combo Breaker, the two premier events in the Midwest.

Having teenaged kids is pretty fun.

I now have three teenagers, and I’m constantly interested in how fascinating it’s been to watch my kids grow up to be young adults. It’s challenging at times, and I feel old a lot more than I used to, but I really enjoy engaging with them and finding out what they are interested in and who they are going to become.

My health continues to be problematic.

I’ve really failed at this one, yet again. I’m still around the same weight I’ve been for several years, and what started as a fairly dedicated gym routine at the start of the year ended up being months of just not going and putting in the work. I have no-one to blame but myself on this one. I just haven’t been able to turn my diabetes around and get ahead of it.

Here are my hopes for year thirty-nine:

It’s time to learn JavaScript.

I’ve been neglecting this professionally for too long. JS is becoming more and more the language I’ll have to work with on the web, and not being at least somewhat proficient with it will eventually become a deficiency. I’m spending some of this week at work on experimenting with JavaScript and trying to learn how it and other modern front-end technologies work.

I’m using NodeCG as a bit of a starting point, because it has a lot of crossover with my hobby life, and presents interesting challenges I can attack that will teach me the concepts I need to continue to develop my technical skills.

I’d like to hit 250 pounds by Combo Breaker.

Can I lose thirty-some pounds in the next five months? I’m invested in finding out. I need to lose some weight. It holds me back in so many aspects of my life, and is a prime indicator of how well-managed my diabetic condition is. I know that weight can be just a number, but this is just a part of my life I feel I need to conquer before I’m 40.

And in the end, the only person I can be accountable to is myself. It’s going to be hard work, and I’ll have to give up things I really like—such as being lazy and a number of food items I love—but I need to get back to physical activity and pair it with controlling my carb intake properly.

I want to start streaming local events.

Last year, I came back from Frosty Faustings and my first work on stream direction alongside Will English with goals to establish myself in the St. Louis area as an event streamer. I have most of the gear I need for the job, and really enjoyed helping run the stream at Frosty. For various reasons, this never materialized.

There’s a possibility that the opportunity will present itself again this year, and if I can smartly approach it, I plan to. I’m still not going to stream anything where I’m unable to attach my name or channel to it in some way, and I hope attitudes towards that have changed here in a way that will allow for me to get more event experience. We’ll see how it goes.

I’d love to be able to engage with the FGC outside of those two specific events every year, but it’ll take some effort and luck.

I’m going to conquer learning Japanese.

Some of you know that I started down this path last year, a bit too late to take advantage of the yearly sale at WaniKani. I managed through the first two levels of learning kanji, and put my learning on hold around mid-year so I could purchase a lifetime membership to the site once the sale came back around at the end of the year.

I purchased my lifetime membership a couple of weeks ago, and I’m already back to where I was when I stopped (I reset my progress back to level one when I purchased the membership).

I’d like to be at level 20 by the end of the year, and start working towards speaking proficiency as well. I’ll be reading through some grammar within a few months, and I would like to be able to take the test for N5 proficiency in December.

So I begin year thirty-nine.

It surprises me sometimes when I think about how much stuff in my life is now significantly far away, temporally. Lots of things have been over for a while now—high school was two decades ago and change, my career change is now over a decade old, and my children are approaching the age when I went off to college. We’re officially done with the “little kids” stage of our lives, and there’s an uncomfortable inevitability to that notion.

I recently listened to a recording of a performance I was part of when I was only two years older than my oldest son. It was sobering to consider.

I’m by no means done with, though. My life didn’t really have solid direction until I was thirty, and there continue to be opportunities that will present themselves as we continue to forge along in life. I count myself amazingly fortunate to be accompanied on this journey by my wife, who supports and encourages me along the way. And we are likewise enriched by the presence of our children.

I’ll try to check in on this stuff every so often throughout the year. And I’ll be streaming live on Twitch later today, as well! It’d mean a lot to me if you’d stop by on my birthday.

Be seeing you.

(I apologize for the lighting quality on all pictures in this post; it is late and I did not feel like messing with it beyond getting clear images.)

I wanted a Crabigator sticker for my laptop now that I’m digging in pretty hard in learning my kanji via WaniKani, and noticed that the Tofugu store was having a pretty rad sale on pretty much everything.

Turns out they have a pretty great set of WaniKani stickers, so I ordered a package that included those stickers and a tenugui with one of their illustrations. They showed up today, and I love the merch:

The stickers are nicely-rendered and high-quality vinyls, and the tenugui is also pretty great. It’s slightly small to fit around my giant gourd as a headband, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to use it that way.

But the coolest thing was this hand-written postcard that came with the merch:

Kristen, I want to say thank you for taking the time to personalize my order, and I hope this will be a good year, as well. I’m a few weeks back into rejoining WaniKani now that I have purchased a subscription, and I’m already hitting those points where I level up my kanji and unlock a stack of vocabulary, causing me to run like I’m being chased by the boulder at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I pushed an update earlier today to fg-reference-screens, which is a repository of captures I have set up you can use to plan layouts for various fighting games by seeing how they will display without having to set up a capture.

I gave it an actual release at 1.0 this time. You can download the ZIP of the screens if you want or check out the repository at any time using the link above.

If you have a specific request I can fill, please file an issue against the repository and I’ll see what I can do as long as I have access to the game—I’m a few games behind in my collection at this point.

Here’s the change log for version 1.0:

* Update Street Fighter V to use Arcade Edition visual changes.
* Add Divekick.
* Add Dragonball FighterZ.
* Add Gang Beasts.
* Add Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2.
* Add Injustice 2. (Yes; I know the match screen is currently missing. Will update that later.)
* Add Lethal League.
* Add Nidhogg.
* Add Nidhogg 2.
* Add NitroPlus Blasterz Heroines Infinite Duel.
* Add Tekken 7.
* Add TowerFall Ascension.
* Add UNIST.
* Add Windjammers.

The next step for this repository is going to be adding some JSON bits to the various directories, so if you want to pull the screens into another application, you can read that data and use it for display.

Have a great Christmas!

This will be my fourth year attending Combo Breaker, and my third year helping staff the event. Combo Breaker is an event like no other, staffed with amazing people who go the extra mile and ensure the experience is top-tier for everyone involved.

I’m not even sure yet what I’ll be doing this year staff-wise, but I’m excited to find out. I’ve run brackets, helped with security, manned the TO desk, done A/V setup and lighting, and generally been available to help with anything needed.

Is this the year I submit a commentary reel and get behind the mic? Stream run? Run emcee for an Auction Tournament? Camera op? My quest to do literally everything I can behind the scenes at a fighting game major continues.

Think about attending and find out with me. Over 700 people have already registered, and it’s only been a few hours. Come celebrate the best of the fighting game community in the Midwest for one weekend to start the summer. I promise you’ll have a great time.

Plan to be in the west suburbs of Chicago on Memorial Day weekend. Don’t miss out.

Some of you know that I had been working on learning Japanese recently in a renewed capacity. I had started on it some time ago in a very casual way as a hobby thing, and last year at Combo Breaker, I was in a situation where having knowledge of the language would have been a huge plus, so I decided to start again.

Jon Chinnery recommended WaniKani to me for learning the language from a vocabulary and reading standpoint, and the system proved to be very helpful and successful. I ripped through the first two levels fairly well and was on my way towards finishing the third, which is where the free tier runs out.

I ran into yet another instance as a bracket runner at CEO where having more functional use of the language would have helped me a lot. I knew that I knew just enough Japanese that I should not attempt to speak it in a functional capacity.

WaniKani has a sale every year around the Christmas season, where a lifetime membership to the service is 1/3 less expensive, so I decided to pare back a bit and wait for the sale. The end result has been that I haven’t touched it in over two months, and the other day, I decided to reset my progress completely to re-start the track and prepare for purchasing the full product in preparation for the next year of learning.

So I’m back on the train of learning a language for the first time since graduate school again. Japanese has proven to be quite difficult, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m planning on taking a fairly long time to get there, as I’m only doing one set of reviews and lessons a day, but the nice thing about WaniKani is that it lets you assign your own pace and handles the spaced repetition for you.

Let me know if you have any tips or suggestions as I learn!