Friday, May 2, 2014

Tiny Update

Good morning.

How are you? Did you have pancakes today? Good.

I am still working on all the projects I have going on here (I think there are 7 of them, one of them is about 30 hours in) and I am also working 40-48 hours per week, so if you thought posting once every two months was shitty, welcome to the fucking THUNDERDOME of slack. Anyway.

UPDATES
  1. Binary Domain Review (v2.0) is now up. 
    1. It contains extra visual jokes and lots of audio fixes. 
      1. Since I compress about 5 layers of audio in this review, it compresses strangely, and throws lots of errors I can't figure out. For instance, I can only hear all of the audio channels on my mobile phone by plugging in a set of headphones. 
      2. People reported issues understanding me and the music being too loud, so I changed those things.
  2. One Possible Future is back on track
    1. I have finally found some affordable parts. I think the holidays had drastically increased the prices on NES parts, and thankfully used NES consoles can now be had for sane amounts of money, and in greater numbers.
    2. Any paintwork can now be done at home, due to the warm weather.
    3. Tweaking the board modding and deleting the idea to use red LEDs.
  3. Untitled Video Project
    1. I have an untitled video game video project that should come out late next month. It involves Famicom games and the frustration of not understanding Japanese. I'm not confident enough to go further on the name or the content yet. It looks too much like a shitty version of AVGN right now, which is not my aim. This might get recycled as something else in the future.
  4. Famicom Twin Repair 
    1. This is another project that might get abandoned again, due to my lack of confidence in it's quality. I bought a Famicom Twin by Sharp and explain how to remove the diskette drive and replace broken parts. Part of it will be animated. It's sitting at 40% completion right now.
  5. Protoman Clean-up
    • It's literally been years since I made a similar update saying a Protoman/Megaman helmet creation guide was imminent, and I never finished it. I am going to gather up all my resources and put something out in the next couple of months. It's sort of what started this blog up, so I think it would be a good idea.
** DestructoShop
    • The original idea for this blog was to be a place where people could look at mods to things and learn how to do simple projects on their own. I had also played with the idea of selling things through here for people who simply aren't interested in DIY but want cool DIY'd things other people made. I've been talking with friends about setting up a small shop where I sell modded gameboys and cosplay bits and stuff like that. And t-shirts. This might not go ahead for a long while.
    • I DO have my amazon/ebay stores linked where I do already sell refurbished consoles and games. If for some reason you want one I touched all over, for some reason, you can do that.
Unfortunately that's all I have for now, without going into boring personal bullshit.

Did you put syrup and butter on those cakes, dawg?
Yeah, you know you did BRO.

-K

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Binary Domain Review



EDIT 5-2-14
Check for the updated version of this video on my channel [Binary Domain (v2.0)]. It's better.

What? Oh. Wait, what? OH SHIT! IT'S FINISHED?!
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

  
*Note: The audio is mixed wrong in the first minute of the video, it's not all like that.

IT'S DONE

In July of 2012, I got the idea to start making a review video. At first, I wanted to do a video on a game I knew a lot of shit about, like Metal Gear or Resident Evil, but at the time, I couldn't figure out a good angle I'd have on those games by themselves. I mean, they're two of the most popular games ever made, and I'm just some dick making my first 'real' video. It seemed like a set-up to get verbally assaulted at every minor misconception. I was not prepared for that yet.

Then, I thought, "Why don't I do a review of a game that people probably haven't heard of, but should have?"  That game ended up being Binary Domain, a game I happened upon while reading a list of 'The Most Underrated Games of the Year' on some website. A game where you murderlate robots and people make inappropriate jokes and you could hit robots in their respective mechanical dongs with rockets. It was a perfect fit; the choice was natural.

At the time, 1 week into the project, I was adjusting to a new job and had just gone through a break-up. After about 4 weeks of toiling on it, I gave up on it to focus on work and staying sane. The project sat for a long time, until almost a year later.  I had almost 20 hours of footage to edit (which was capped at 1280i due to my choice of capture card), a 10 page script, and a voice over that was about 40 minutes long. Oh, also, the video was originally going to be half on-camera, half voice over. The problem was, I had no experience doing any of those things, so the footage suffered from bad audio, lighting, lack of focus, and general stupidity, while the voice over suffered from all of the exact same things. Well, not the lighting.

I had to redo a lot of the gameplay to be more coherent, I re-recorded all the audio 2 more times and settled on what I have, and created a bunch of little 8-bit tracks I could play on repeat, two of which survived. I shot, edited, scored, animated...everything...ed...the video myself, and it took almost 6 months of off and on work to get it all done and 'good enough'. I moved the ETA date so many times I just stopped having one. I stopped updating this blog, and used any spare time I was on the computer to work on this silly video in one form or another. It was a fucking nightmare.

This video is a sort of maiden voyage into making more complex videos. I had to learn to do all the things you see while doing all of those things. When I started, I didn't even know how to use Adobe Flash, nor did I really know how to edit video with any complexity. This is a big part of the length of time it took to make. I made it all up as I went along, and it turned out OK.

The Binary Domain review was just a silly idea I had, but it turned into a big thing (a stupid-long video about a game nobody played). I really doubted myself the entire time, and I gave up so many times I lost count. What ended up being a so-so video took hundreds of hours and a butt-load of encouragement from my friends to finish. I am thankful to them for their kind words and the not-so-kind ones that pushed me to complete this. It's not perfect, there are parts where I wander, there are parts where I don't explain an opinion very well, but it's done, and parts of it make me laugh. I've spent enough time on it, it's time for other people to see it.

I'll probably make another one sometime this year. Maybe next year, I don't know. But I do know that I'll be able to do it better, more compressed, more coherent, and with more animated floppy dicks.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for watching. I mean it.
-Kris

(CC Music info below)
"Borderline (Fantastic Vamps : 8-Bit Mix)" by Fantastic Vamps 2007 - Licensed under Creative Commons
"A citizen's welcome to play with the Jimmy Jamming project_Ds_major" by My Free Mickey 2012 - Licensed under Creative Commons this is the cute song for the silly parts of the video
"spacetime(whitecube)" by airtone 2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons
"Ophelia's Song" by grapes 2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution
"Intergalactic Journey" by spinmeister no attribution

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Project: One Possible Future (WORK IN PROGRESS 1-14-14)
Abstract: Customize an NES in the style of a Sazabi model kit, make it play all region games.

A few months ago, I posted a photoshop of a project I started planning. The idea was to customize a NES in red comet red and put a bunch of decals on it. Pretty simple. I soon found my plans to be too expensive, readjusted, and then I fried an NES board. This will serve as a basic write-up on the project. Unfortunately, this is the one project I didn't take too many photos for, so I'll do my best to summarize the process.

Kickstarting the Future
The initial idea was to build this NES for my friend Jay (who I built the Protoman helmet for and is essentially why I started this blog) for Christmas/his birthday (which are about a week apart). Jay likes games, and Gundam, so I wanted to combine those things. I also knew at the time Jay didn't have an NES of his own. Additionally, this project require a 60-72 pin FAMICOM-NES game converter. These are difficult to find, but can be had on eBay. Essentially, the Famicom and the NES are the same machine, but the US version adds 12 more pins. We need a converter to convert the Famicom cartridges up to 72 pins so they can be played in a NES.



This one.

I had a few Nintendos left over from a lot buy on eBay, and one of them was painted. Since I wanted to do a full paint job and a few mods, this was the perfect candidate. Unfortunately, it also had electrical issues, but more on that later. I disassembled her and got her ready for surgery.


Design
I photoshopped a basic idea for what I wanted. Jay really digs Char Aznable, so I figured making a NES in a Sazabi color scheme would be a cool idea. I won't be offended if you have to google 'Sazabi'. I also wanted to incorporate details from Gunpla, Gundam model kits, such as the white decals and black panel lines.




Originally, I wanted to make custom decals that said NES-002 in the same fonts as the Sazabi ones, with custom warnings and technical info on the NES. I priced them out, and it turns out they could cost up to $80.00 USD and would take 3-6 weeks to deliver. My track record with water slide decals is really, really poor, and I was too afraid I'd destroy them while applying them. I changed my plan to reproduction Sazabi 1/100 decals, and altered the paint idea slightly to eliminate the bright red/dark red/black idea I originally had to just be all red up top, gray/black/yellow accents. This cut down on hours of paint/prep time, and also price.

The original design idea. The front had technical info, like CPU speed and RAM capacity, as well as warnings for how to properly insert the game cartridge.
Getting Started on Electronics
When I started I had to do was swap out a I/O power/video box (the metal box) because it was bad, and then pulled pin #4 on the lockout chip. I did this because it wasn't working correctly, and I had planned on using mod carts or Japanese carts and that's just a hassle. This is what causes the 'blinking light' error, which is caused by the Nintendo thinking your game is not an officially licensed game. Unfortunately, even after a new pin connector, this NES thought every game was a knockoff, so the lockout chip had to be disabled.
Disabling the lockout chip. Use a de-soldering tool and a jumper puller or tweezers for best results. Be very careful to not break the pins or force them in any way, you could completely destroy this chip. They're easy to crack.
Audio
I also did the old 'pro sound' two-pot audio-out mod. This gives the Nintendo an 'unmixed stereo' audio. Because it's unmixed, it sometimes results in sound being louder on one side than the other, but it almost totally removes the weird signal noise you'll usually hear with the NES. I'm not going to get into the technical aspects of it, but I prefer the way it sounds to the regular NES audio. It sounds 'cleaner' to me. How-to below.

Here is how you add 'stereo' audio. I meant ONE capacitor each, two capacitors total. I dumbed. The positive leg of the capacitors go toward the audio outs, negative toward the R4/R3. I used 50v caps, you can use bigger ones if you like.
Exterior
Next I took the body parts, cleaned them out, and bonded a few cracks using JB Weld and/or model glue. Then I drilled two ¼ inch holes in the rear for the new audio pots. I later took the case parts into dad's shop and sanded them down with a air powered disc sander until mostly flat. I did this to both halves. I used various grits of sandpaper, but nothing too rough. After that, they were cleaned thoroughly, dried, and sprayed with PPG Plastic Bond adhesion promoter for ABS plastics. Alternatively, you could use something like the Krylon that's meant to bond to plastic.

I sprayed the bottom half matte clear, then set that aside. I originally painted the top half red, red-orange, and black. Black on the insides and vents, red on the left-hand side and door, and orange red on the upper right-hand side. Shortly after This I repainted the orange the same red color on the other side due to it looking stupid. I don't have any pictures of this because I'm a communist.

At this point, the top was red, the bottom was flat gray, and the accents were flat black. It was looking good, so I needed the decals. I found the largest sheet of decals I could on eBay. They were for a 1/100 scale Sazabi model kit, and cost about $8.00. They featured lots of 'caution' decals and 'MSN04' decals, which is what I was looking for. Those came from Hong Kong, so they took about 3 weeks to arrive. 

Problems, Bro
During this time, I decided to mod the board for the NES. Here's where the project was halted and essentially why I don't have any pictures (I thought it'd never get done). I swapped the power LED for a green one, the color of Sazabi's mono-eye, and wired up two red LEDs that pointed upward through the top vents on the NES. I was testing the LEDs, I had not sealed up the solder welds with tape yet, and I dropped a hot wire on the picture processing unit on the main board. It fried the whole goddamn motherboard. I don't have a replacement. The project was abandoned 4 days before Christmas.

Here is how I wired the LEDs...
I found the 17805 power regulator on the I/O box, found output, and tapped that for power. I then just wired two white LEDs in series, then wrapped them in colored tape. That's a good, cheap way to save on LEDs if they aren't going to be seen.
Be sure you DO NOT tap the leftmost pin for power, that's input power. Input power on a NES is actually AC power. Anything taking input power on an NES is bad news for wiring extra shit, it's the same reason you should never use a AC adapter for a NES in something like a Sega Genesis.
At this point after a bunch of trouble shooting the busted NES board, fixing it, modding it, breaking it, then troubleshooting it again, I got really angry and broke it in half. 

Because fuck you, I'm a child.


Resuming the Project
When the decals came in, I decided to go ahead and resume the project. I still don't have the electronics working, but I knew the exterior work was almost done, so I figured I should just make due with what I had. All I had to do was apply the decals, detail the unit, clear coat it, and find new innards.

To start, I wet-sanded the exterior using 1200 grit sandpaper. This evened most of paint out. I highly suggest you do this in between coats of paint, especially if you're going more than a day between coats. It evens everything out and gives the new coat of paint or clear more to stick to. It also makes it easier to stick the water slide decals on.
After sanding, I placed the decals onto the painted case then clear coated them using regular Krylon crystal clear gloss. I've never been good at dry-rub or water slide decals, but these turned out OK. If you've never done it, all you do is dip them in water, wait a few seconds, then slide them off using a moist Q-tip, then smooth out using a dry one. You will need to seal them with clear coat, as they are very brittle. After that, I painted the bottom vents on the case yellow to match the vents on the Sazabi. This wasn't in the original plan, but it makes for a nice little detail.

Status
This is currently where I have left off. I actually did take a few nice pictures of my results so far, and I apologize for how text-filled this article is.

The tape is covering the vents, which are painted flat black/layered with truck bed coating. I didn't peel it away for these pictures because I'm still working on the paint.





What's next?

The NES needs a whole new board, and I've been thinking about a big, white Neo Zeon logo up top.
After that, it needs lightly scuffed with an abrasive pad and then clear coated one more time.

I've applied a few decals to matching controllers, and I'm considering painting them red like I have in the original photoshop. I'm a little worried about the smell, stickiness, and wear that would result on a surface you touch all the time, though.

I will update when I've finished it, hopefully with more pictures.

Materials list (so far)
1 NES
1 can of bright red enamel spraypaint (Rustoleum Safety Red)
1 can of matte Krylon clear coat
1 can of gloss Krylon clear coat
1 can Rustoleum truck bed liner (used as a top coat on black)
1 can of Krylon matte black
1 can of Krylon gloss yellow
1 can of plastic adhesion promoter (borrowed)
2 white LEDs
2 standard audio connectors female
1 tube of model glue or some JB weld (only needed if your NES has cracks!)
1 sheet reproduction Sazabi Gundam model kit Decals
2 1uF 50v Electrolytic capacitors (to protect audio from surges)
Shielded wire
Electrical tape
Lots of goddamn tape

Tools
Sanding block
Power drill
Power sander
Q-Tips
Bowl of water
Soldering tool
De-soldering tool
Tweezers or jumper pullers
Screwdrivers (long Philips head)


Thanks for reading!

Poop.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

15 Years of Pokemon




 
 Hello Pokémaniac People!

I was on reddit and someone brought up that today (Sep. 30th 2013, this may be published later,) is actually the 15th anniversary since Pokémon Blue and Red debuted to shelves in America. This filled me with incredible feels, and I ended up writing a fucking novel about my love of the game, and decided I could edit this into an article for reasons. REASONS.

This actually marks a time in my life when games stopped being just enjoyment or general childlike wonderment, but it really make me feel crazy deep emotions about video games. You see, I've been struggling writing reviews of games for the past year, mostly because of horrifying procrastination, but also because what I write tends to come out really, really gushy. I don't like to focus on the mechanics of games, I mean, I recognize them and analyze them like everyone else, but what I tend to focus on is the emotional gravity the game pushes onto me. I don't so much play games for fun, but to feel truly happy and alive and like everything in this fucking planet is A-OK while I'm doing it. It's a weird muddy affair that causes my grammar to suffer, as evidenced by the previous statements and the ones you are about to read, and many times I convince myself nobody wants to read it. 

But fuck it.

I got this game on or near October 4th, 1998, which would have been my tenth birthday. That means my 25th birthday, Friday, is my TWENTY FIFTH FUCKING BIRTHDAY HOLY SHIT OH GOD I'M GOING TO DIE SOON. Anyway. The added feels of this game coming out the week of my birthday, and my getting it on my birthday, made me remember my experience with the game so fondly it might make you sick to your stomach. Enjoy.

My Life with Pokémon 
 
This was an important time for me. I had gotten a lot of crazy video game stuff for my tenth birthday, including my first Playstation with games (a partial trade my father pulled off for working on a guys Firebird), and I had spent the earlier part of the year playing this first Playstation and obsessing over how the hell to be Resident Evil 2. Technically, I got the PS much earlier in the year, sometime around summer, as a sort of late-Christmas-but-not-quite-birthday-present. I could only play this PS at my dad's however, and with all the crazy graphics and 3D rendering I sort of reverted to playing Gameboy games at my mom's house. The seed was planted however--I wanted more video games like crack, and I was freaking out.

 My birthday was coming up, and Pokémon was just released. I asked mom for it after seeing the commercial of kids making cute monsters fight and I lost my god damn mind and begged for it. She was planning on getting me a game for my red gameboy I got for a previous birthday anyway, just had no idea what.

I only ever had 2 games for it (Iron Man/XO Manowar and Batman: Return of the Joker, both of which were shitty ports of home console games) and had to borrow games from friends, which was a dire political issue. I asked for the blue version because I thought you could only get the Pokémon that was on the cover, and I wanted the turtle thing, because I like turtles, motherfucker.


I opened it up as my last gift. I remember it was last because my mom has always saved the shit I really wanted for last, and I remember being especially mind-fucked. I carefully removed the game from the package, put it in the DMG, and was...surprised at how much reading and boring shit was involved. I just came from gaming on the most amazing game system I've ever seen, seeing fucking Clair Redfield's "photo-realistic" face in cutscenes, shooting shit. This didn't look like it did in the commercial.


 I was mildly upset at first, however, something strange happened: Four hours had gone by. Four.  And the next day, six hours disappeared. From then on, pretty much every day went by quickly. I struggled, at first, but the game gradually became more natural, and I began to love it more than anything I have ever played in my life. I loved the cutesy artwork, the weirdly dark back story of some of the monsters, the shadowy Team Rocket, everything. I played that game every damn day, little by little, with no guides or no coherent strategy whatsoever...until one afternoon...I beat it. I had burned through handfuls of AA batteries, playing the game for so long it actually damaged the label of the game from excessive heat. Seriously.

Yup, heat damage. I remember it happening.

I had finally finished it: At my babysitter's house, friends at my sides with their Red versions in hand,  I teared up with the purest childlike happiness I ever felt. I had spent countless hours of grinding in tall grass, trying over and over to catch Mewtwo, burning through hours of training to defeat the Elite 4, and finally wiping the shitty 8-bit smirk off of that asshole Gary's face (or Red, I think I named him Red.) The ending music to the Staff Credits crawl was the most important moment in my 10 year old life. Over time, our little Pokémon cabal gradually all finished the game, and we all restarted our playthroughs just to do it all over again, as a team of Poké breeders, traders, and opponents. We heard rumors of new Pokémon being hidden in the game, GameSharking, and we hotly debated whether or not it was possible to catch a Mew (nope). It was a group of kids all sharing a mostly single player experience. It was more than a game to some of us--it became our lives.

The time just after I beat Blue Version was the most complete I ever felt as a kid. It was the first game I ever finished. It was the first RPG I ever played. It was the first time I felt like I could actually accomplish something. It was mind altering to be able to see real progress in something that I did my own way. I got to make choices, I got to customize my play style, I got to name the characters and feel involved in the story, I could explore, I could gamble, I could train, and most of all I could share my experiences with friends who also had the game--I never experienced that before. I never sat down with a group of other kids to discuss how to play a game and the things we've experienced. This was more than jumping and shooting shit--this was living via a virtual character in a virtual world, experiencing things that happen in the virtual world almost as if they actually happened.

After this, I became a Pokemon nerd, got into Japanese culture, and in a short time I started to really figure out what I liked. I became obsessed with the feelings I felt with that game, trying as hard as I could to recreate them. I was now a certifiable video game nerd, and I started beating other games with renewed resolution, chasing that high that Pokémon Blue gave me. I stopped asking for anything else at Christmas time and birthdays. I wanted video games, anime, and Pokémon. That's what I lived for.

This is only most of my TCG collection. Can't bear to get rid of it.
 I took this pretty far. I became obsessed with everything Pokémon; from the clothes to the trading card game. I can very clearly remember the first time I cosplayed, before I even knew what that was. I dressed as Ash for the premiere of the first Pokémon movie (much to the embarrassment of everyone involved). Pokémon was the first anime I obsessed over. Pokémon TCG was the first trading card game I ever played, and god damn did I play it. Pokémon was the first manga I read. Pokémon CDs and cards were the first things I ever imported from Japan. It was the first time I recognized that another culture could create something I really, truly loved.
Pokémon was fucking formative for me.
I also just really dug the artwork in the manga.

Aside from completely informing most of my obsessions for the next decade and beyond, this is essentially the story of how video games became my favorite hobby. I always enjoyed games, I had an NES growing up and I got my first Gameboy at around age 7. I had always loved them, but they were mostly a way to pass time when I was bored, or when there were no other kids around to play with. It was never about deep feelings, or learning or sharing experiences. 15 years later, nothing makes me feel quite as happy as sitting down with a close friend and just playing a video game together. Hell, I just love watching people play. I have spent a lot of money as of late on numerous consoles and games, from the Famicom to the latest PC stuff, but the best feeling I ever got from a game happened when I saw those GameFreak Staff Credits for the first time.

With 22 years of gaming under my belt, from the first time I picked up a controller at age 3, with hundreds of games played and thousands of hours of gameplay, I can honestly say Pokémon Blue was the most important gaming experience of my life. It was an important stepping stone in my development as a person; I can't imagine what my life would have been without it. And for that, I'd like to say Happy Birthday to Pokémon Blue and Red. Thanks for changing the way I look at games, and...everything...forever.

So today I'll be popping in good 'ole Blue, and reliving a little slice of my childhood.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I made a comic: To Outer Space!

Hey, I bet you thought I'd never post any finished projects on this page ever again, huh?

Well you might be right.


Anyway, here's a comic I've been working on.
I've never made a comic before, so it's an experiment. Also, I kept quitting and redoing shit (are you noticing a pattern?) and at least one panel is just not great, but I felt like I had to just do what I could and get it posted and done with before it reached indefinite non-finishitude (see: "Jack, The Comic"). Yeah.

It's about being a kid in love with outer space and shit.

*9/20/13 Some words was spelled wrong, fixed it. Probz a good idea to spell chick shit.

As a kid, I was HUGELY inspired by Gundam and other things like it. I was in love with the idea of living in outer space, and that humanity could actually prosper out there, unconfined and open to so many possibilities. There is a video in particular, a much-run Toonami bumper, that probably really did it for me.




Hope you enjoyed it, at least a little bit.
-Late

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Small Update

Hello!

The Binary Domain video is nearly completed, but I'm being super anal retentive as usual, redoing work I already did over and over again. It'll get there.

I've mostly been spending my time working on my eBay/Amazon stores, since I've spent all my time working on projects instead of like, working for money. So now I have a little income incoming and I get to modify and repair consoles pretty much all the time, which is awesomely fun. I tweet about it constantly @jackoctober, check it out if you like tech porn.

I will be updating the blog with a link to the amazon store so people can peep in there. If you're in the market for some consoles it would give me great pleasure if you took a look, although it's hard keeping stuff in stock for long. I mostly deal in DS Lites and such, as those are simple and easy to fix.

I don't really have a whole lot to update with recently because of the new work I've been doing, but I have not yet lost faith in all my media projects. Don't forget me, this shits probably all going to be releasing at the same time.

I shall leave you with this teaser of a project I'm referring to as One Possible Future, because I like the idea of giving projects nicknames and I don't know if I can actually afford to make it happen. If it does, it will get a full work log as I'm doing it (including materials lists and such), which I enjoy doing and people seem to enjoy reading.

Who will survive?


-Late.