Categories
Fails High Fives

Our Community Chased wundergeek Out, And Perhaps That Bears Reflection

(title borrowed contextually from this tweet)

I’m really sad about this. wundergeek is closing up her blog Go Make Me a Sandwich, from which I have learned quite a lot over the years about how the gaming (both video and traditional) industry treats women both in depictions and in (lack of) inclusiveness.

She writes:

Before Origins, I ended up crying in a bathroom as I chatted with friends online about the vitriolic response to a thing that I’d written. It made me doubt myself so much that I actually wondered if it would be worthwhile going to Origins. Would I even be welcome there? (Spoiler alert: I was.) Fast forward two months to a different crisis before a different convention, which saw me crying for more than a week in the runup to that convention. Truth is, I’ve done a lot of crying about my blog in the past year. But I didn’t let myself think about that, because I had to keep moving forward. I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I had to keep my head above water and just. Keep. Fighting.

Or at least that’s how I was approaching things until several weeks ago, when the final straw happened. As is the way with such things, it was so small. Such a quiet thing those most community insiders, even, probably missed. Really, it doesn’t even matter what the event was. What matters is that it represented a tipping point – the moment in which I finally had to confront the fact that I haven’t felt passionate about what I do here for a long, long time. And for most of this year, I’ve felt only resentment. That this stupid blog has cost me so much, and I feel trapped by it. A victim of my own success – forever tarnished by my connection to it, and yet dependent on the income it provides, that I require because of the damage it’s done to my reputation. (See what a vicious cycle that is?) The final straw made me realize that I don’t want to do this anymore, and indeed, that I was rapidly approaching a point where I couldn’t do it anymore.

Of course, this is made harder by the fact that I hate losing. And there will be people who will celebrate, people who call this a victory, which only intensifies my feelings of defeat. My feelings of weakness. I feel like I’m giving up, and it kills me because I’m competitive! I’m contrary! Telling me not to do a thing is enough to make me want to do the thing. I don’t give up on things and I hate losing. But in this situation, I have to accept that there is no winning play. No win condition. I’m one person at war with an entire culture, and there just aren’t enough people who give a damn, and I’m not willing to continue sacrificing my health and well-being on the altar of moral obligation. If this fight is so important, then let someone else fight it for a while.

There’s a lot more on the original post, which you should read, because it underlines in very stark detail what the problem is and how pervasive it is within gaming culture.

I could share a bunch here about how I’ve read it over the years, how it helped bring these things to my attention, or how proud I always was that it was on WordPress.com (NB: I work for the company that runs WordPress.com). But I won’t.

Nor will I say that she needs to keep going, keep fighting, because at the least she has realized that doing so is not a healthy option and is choosing to cut it out of her life to move forward in other things. We should support that.

What I will say is that as a community, we need to take a look at this, realize that people within our community have chased off yet another person who stepped up and said hey, something is wrong with what we are doing and how we treat people, and realize that when we see that kind of crap behavior, we need to call it out and condemn it for what it is.

Because the more this happens, the greater the chilling effect that stops other people from raising their voices and bringing unique viewpoints to the table.

And that harms us all.

Categories
High Fives Markel!

Getting Things Done

Last week, I splurged and bought an Apple Watch. I’m writing out some thoughts about it for a longer post in a month or two, but I have to say that I love the progress-tracking aspects of it as someone who sometimes struggles with organizing his day properly.

It feels great when my default watch face has closed circles all around the bottom:

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The left one is for Activity, which I manage to fill on days I go to the gym (and not so much on days I don’t). I won’t lie; I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I finish that last standing goal and the watch pings me with this:

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And the app and complication for Things (in the lower-right) have somewhat resurrected my use of the Things as a platform. I’m now organizing the things I have to do and scheduling things like ticket follow-ups and daily mundanity that just needs to get done. Again, it feels great when I tick off that last to-do:

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The other benefits of the watch so far have mostly been a lot less glancing at my phone throughout the day. My early take on it is that doing that alone has made it worth the investment.

I’ll write more another time.

Categories
Games High Fives

Summer Games Done Quick – What to Watch

It’s around the Fourth of July, so that means it’s time for two things:

What is Games Done Quick?

If you have never watched Games Done Quick, it’s a grouping that happens twice a year where people from all over the place get together and “speedrun” games, which is exactly what it sounds like: they are going to try to complete a whole bunch of games as quickly as possible.

The marathon is to collect donations to support Doctors Without Borders (the summer beneficiary of donations), which IMO is a worthwhile organization, so I support and would encourage you to donate during your favorite game or an impressive run.

The whole thing lasts about a week, and there are runs around the clock, so there’s a lot to take in. If you have or haven’t watched, there are some specific runs on the schedule I wanted to point out, so if you are interested in those games or at least want to see what the whole thing is about.

Where Can I Watch It?

Games Done Quick is broadcast on Twitch, here:

https://www.twitch.tv/gamesdonequick

The broadcast will start at 11:30 Central Daylight Time tomorrow (Sunday).

A Brief Glossary

You can find the schedule here, and there are some terms you’ll see in there that might need some explanation:

  • The “per cent” of a run indicates what’s necessary to complete it. In general, there are two types of runs:
    • “any%” means completing the game via any means possible
    • “100%” means collecting everything possible in the game and hitting any and all milestones, such as collecting every item in a Zelda game
  • Some games will run with a specific term in front of the per cent symbol; that’s unique to that game and will indicate a shortened form of the game but not as short as an any% run.
  • For instance, “Low%” means trying to complete the game while collecting as little of the in-game items as possible.
  • “Glitchless” means the runner is not permitted to take advantage of anything unintentional in the game to progress more quickly. (It’s open to debate per game.)
  • Other games will have some stipulations, and they’ll usually be explained as the run starts.

My Picks to Watch

Keep in mind that the schedule can and will change because setups and some games may run over their predicted time, so you should consult the master schedule to make sure a game hasn’t significantly moved before you tune in.

Here’s the stuff I’m looking forward to and think you should watch (all times are Central Daylight Time):

  • 19:48 Sunday – Metroid Prime any%, which is a bizarre introduction to how people beat games quickly by abusing glitches throughout the game, such as going out-of-bounds of the game map to break the sequence of the game.
  • 08:31 Monday – Actraiser Professional Mode, one of my first and still favorite Super Nintendo games. I really want to see how you finish this in around 30 minutes.
  • 11:48 Monday – Mega Man 3 any%, probably the best Mega Man game being run this week.
  • 23:26 Tuesday – Contra III: The Alien Wars any% Hard, which will have insanely optimized strategies for defeating the bosses in each stage.
  • 14:44 Wednesday – Metroid: Zero Mission any%, which is the best Metroid game on the schedule. It’s pretty neat how little runners will collect to blast through the game.
  • 18:42 Wednesday – Quackshot any%, which you should watch because one of my mutual followers, YellowKillerBee, is running it.
  • 07:55 Thursday – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link any% warpless, always a skillful run through the most difficult Zelda game.
  • 16:20 through 19:26 Thursday – The Bethesda RPG block, where people will complete a bunch of Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, and they will do this in completely insane ways to showcase how broken these games really are.
  • 11:04 Friday – Super Mario World All Castles 3-way race, which is easily the best race on the schedule – they will show all three players at the same time and the race can hinge on tiny, tiny imperfections in the runs.
  • 20:02 Friday – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time any% glitchless, which will be nice because GDQ does not often do a glitchless run through this game. The glitched run is ridiculously short and skips almost the entire game, but this should be more detailed.
  • 14:14 Saturday – Final Fantasy VI any% Sketch Glitch, where you’ll see someone run through a game that takes most people 40-plus hours in 10% of that time. You’ll also learn about step-counting and how it’s used to manipulate random encounters in the game.
  • 18:29 Saturday – Super Metroid any% 4-way race, which is basically the capstone run of the event. There’s a huge bidding war with donations to either save the animals at the end of the game or let them die. It’s fun to watch. :)

That’s most of it. I hope you decide to give it a shot and find something to watch and enjoy. If you haven’t watched speedrunning before, it’s an interesting video games discipline and it takes pretty crazy mental focus and hand-eye execution.

Categories
Fails High Fives WordPress

“Real Support”

If you have talked with me, my skepticism with regards to Avyd and what they are doing should not be much of a surprise at this point. (I hesitate to talk about it much because there are good people I respect who are doing business at and with Avyd and I am of course always worried about causing hurt.)

I need to say something about this, though.

Today, they are talking about the support they’ll offer as part of their service:

This reminded me of the job posting they’d put up a couple of weeks ago, about which I’d intended to say something more directly.

The listing is here, but I’m assuming that it will expire at some point, so I’ll put the pertinent bits below:

Responsibilities

  • Customer Service Representatives are responsible for handling our Client’s highest level of service issues to ensure customer issues are resolved in an efficient and timely manner. Agents provide knowledge and expertise to all online customers to effectively resolve any service-related, while balancing both the needs of the customer and the business.
  • Use empathy with the customer; allow them to vent frustrations, while staying in control of the conversation and maintaining focus.
  • Must be able to multi task
  • Follow up with customers to ensure issue has been resolved
  • Will be answering customer support tickets, inbound calls, and support chats.

Successful Candidates will have:

  • Previous Customer Service experience
  • Proficient in typing and computer skills
  • Energetic and motivated personality
  • Gaming knowledge
  • Available to work nights and weekends as needed
  • Be fluent in English
  • Team player
  • High School Diploma or equivalent

What We Offer:

  • Unparalleled work environment
  • Unlimited growth from within
  • Paid training
  • Continued development beyond entry level
  • Travel opportunities
  • Career advancement into management

On its own, that’s mostly fine. It’s a lot of attention-splitting, and the bit about nights and weekends without specifically stating what that means is a little concerning.

And then you get to the stuff about “growth” from the support position. It’s so much of a focus that it’s literally half of the bullet points in the list of “What We Offer.” It’s a red flag, especially when you hit this part:

Job Type: Part-time

Salary: $10.00 /hour

I don’t suppose I need to state that this is in an office and not remote, because the job posting should lead you in that direction on its own.

This is troubling because it doesn’t see support as a worthwhile career in and of itself. I am growing to understand that my current employer is somewhat unique in this, but I want to see the idea and the respect for support professionals continue to grow.

User support has been my full-time, salaried and benefited career for the last six years. It supports my entire household. I have had different responsibilities and been on different teams, but through the whole thing, I have been well-appreciated and been given the ability to build my career on having pride in the fact that I make our customers’ and clients’ lives easier, and that the ability to do so in an exceptional way is deserving of being a full-time employee.

The wage and (lack of) benefits in this Avyd job posting is sadly reflective of how a lot of tech sees support. Support is a place where you go to wage slave until you earn yourself a place as a supervisor, when you make a bit more and maybe get full-time, and then after even more time you might end up in charge of support for something and possibly get a salary and benefits. Or you have the (often just a) pipe dream of learning another skill and changing job responsibilities, which is seen as a promotion simply because you aren’t doing support.

I’m proud to work somewhere that prides itself on seeing professional support as a career, helping people build that career by supporting them and helping them develop, and giving those people good compensation, good opportunities, and good resources with which they can make the services we provide amazing experiences for the customers who pay for them. We make all employees who don’t work in support do a rotation in support every year, and every new hire regardless of position does front-line support for the first three weeks.

User support and respect for the people who work it is foundational to the culture here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter your industry, I encourage you to consider making it just as important to your company as well.

And yes; we are hiring.

Categories
Code High Fives WordPress

WordCamp St. Louis Presentation: Code Review

Howdy! I just finished giving this presentation at WordCamp St. Louis 2016 about code review: about why and how you should do code review on your projects.

The Presentation

Here’s a SlideShare embed of the presentation deck:

Ryan Markel – WordCamp StL 2016 – Code Review from ryanmarkel

And you can download the source Keynote presentation file here.

References

I referenced a bunch of things in my talk and mentioned that you could find those sources in this post, so here’s the list in the order you’ll run across it in the presentation:

Have any questions?

If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or whatever, please contact me. I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Categories
High Fives Movies

“I’m Dad”

If you created this, please let me know and link me to the source so I can credit you because this is too perfect (and also too me):

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(hat tip)

Categories
Games High Fives

First Attack Teaches the Street Fighter V Basics

I haven’t even watched this yet, but I’m going to recommend it just because I know it’s going to be so, so good:

This is a playlist in which James Chen takes you through the basics of the theory behind fighting games. If you think you want to play Street Fighter V (or any fighting game for that matter) you should watch this. If you have ever watched a fighting game tournament and wondered what was going on a lot of the time, you should watch this. If you have a passing interest in game design and want to learn what makes these games tick, you should watch this.

And hey, look—a WordPress-based site. :)

Categories
Games High Fives

How to Use Tech Videos

Viscant with another great post about Street Fighter V on Brokentier:

In the old days your only way of getting new tech was having access to top players. In the old days we also had to walk 10 miles to the arcade. Up hill. In the snow. Both ways. But seriously one of the main reasons I was good at games then was because I grew up in Southern California and was driving distance away from multiple top arcades including Southern Hills Golfland, probably the best fighting game arcade in the whole US. The process of getting tech in those days was just being able to play against guys like Alex Valle, Mike Watson and James Chen and leeching off of them. There really was no shortcut to improving your game in those days; if you didn’t have access to good arcades and good players, improving on your own was near impossible. Even if you were creative enough and resourceful enough to come up with ideas on your own, you couldn’t come up with ideas for every character or get matchup practice by yourself.

In the modern era though, access to good tech is much more equal. If anything we have the opposite problem now. Instead of the average person having no access to good tech, now the problem is having tech everywhere. How do we find the most important tech? How do we prioritize what to work on first? How do we make sure we don’t miss out on anything important?

SFV is coming into the scene in a different world, where the playerbase is much larger and the communication between players is much more frequent and open. This is moreso even than Street Fighter IV. New tech is being found left and right and it’s only the first couple of weeks.

If you are new to the fighting game scene, you don’t know how awesome you have it right now. :)

If you are like me, you are seeing a ton of videos pop up on YouTube explaining how to do very specific things in the game. It can be hard to balance out what to learn and how to apply it. If you want to know more about the best ways to handle this information, check out the full article and follow those basic rules. They’re pretty great.

Categories
Games High Fives

Street Fighter V Breaks Evo Record

This is pretty crazy. As Mike Willams posted on USGamer:

Last year for Evo 2015, Ultra Street Fighter IV hit 2,227 registrants, so this puts Street Fighter V somewhere above that number. The community must feel pretty good about Street Fighter V in order for the game to beat Ultra’s numbers in only a few days.

I think this is less about the community’s feelings regarding Street Fighter V and more:

  • Ultra Street Fighter IV isn’t being offered as a main game at Evo.
  • Street Fighter V is definitely going to be the prime time highlight game for finals. Everybody wants a shot.
  • A new main entry in the series means that the competition field is going to be slightly leveled. People who have been playing for a long time will still be good, but there’s always a few new faces who rise to the top with each new game release.
  • The fighting game community is on the rise—for every game—and events are only going to get bigger.

I’m bummed that I can’t afford Evo this year; it would have been fun. (Though it’s probably best to wait until year two of the finals being in an arena so they can figure it out.)

I still have a room booked for Combo Breaker, though, which I expect will be just as huge when it happens later this spring. I hope I’ll be able to afford to make the trip after the office renovation expenses popped up—it promises to be a fun time.

Categories
Games High Fives

Killer Instinct Season 3 Stage Lighting

I meant to publish something linking to this post on the KI site the other day when the post went up. I can’t ignore this; it looks too rad.

We are excited to be adding several new elements to KI Season 3 that we believe really improve the overall experience, and I’m going to be speaking to the ‘Art side’ of things today.

In terms of visuals, we are adding new graphics technology; reflection tech for the stages; re-introducing screen space color adjustments that work with gameplay; adding an all-new dynamic lighting system that provides greater realism and interaction for the characters and stages. Not only will Season 3 feature this new lighting, but we’ve gone back and re-lit everything for Season 1 and 2 as well. We can’t wait for our fans to see the enhancements of KI’s visuals!

KI S1 had a “deep black” look that many fans really loved, and we’ve gone back to it (with a ton of upgrades!), so you’ll see deeper darks and more “mood” throughout all the stages.

It’s a huge difference just in screenshots. From this:

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to this:

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Killer Instinct is kind of the little fighting game that could; it does a good number of things super-well that other fighters haven’t so far, and it has a dev team behind it that’s committed to making progress on a number of fronts.

The changes they have announced for Season 3 are pretty big changes and I’m looking forward to seeing what the competitive scene looks like in another couple of months.